Dear guest, I love you, for you I'm putting out a chapter early. I was only going to update on weekends, but for you I give you a longer and early chapter 3.

Look, I now have the dividers!

I really do thank all of you for reading, you guys make me smile, so from the bottom of my heart thank you!

Shuffling over Nicky tried, yet again, to put more space between him and Snake eyes. After the fight Storm shadow had taken Kimi to a different store to do her shopping, claiming that he couldn't leave her with anyone. The two had left after Storm shadow had given Snake eyes some sort of gesture and Nicky an intense look. So here Nicky was eating lunch on a bench, with Snake eyes less than an inch away, like some sort of guard dog.

Nicky didn't understand why, he in all technicality, had won the fight. He didn't need dark, tall, and creepy watching his back like an over protective dad with a teenage daughter. Grumbling once more into his sandwich, he had reached the end of the bench. Had he been in any other situation he would have shouted till his stalker left, but that didn't work a hour ago, he didn't think it would work now.

He had tried not to look at Snake eyes face the whole time, he had done it when he had first been ditched with him, that was a big mistake. Snake eyes was intimidating during any time of the day, but right now he was just down right terrifying. His face that was usually blank, but sharp, was twisted with malice and anger. His eyes that usually saw everything were sharpened like daggers and hooks that would rip out your soul. His body language that was usually relaxed, but alert, was hard and ridged. And the older boy had proved that running and hiding wouldn't save Nicky from his protective gaze, and people wondered why he was paranoid. Nicky had tried hiding in stores, trees and even in a drainage pipe, but Snake eyes always found him. Creepy ass ninja, Nicky thought while taking a vicious bite out of his sandwich.

He flinched back, he had bit too hard and his lip had reopened, he felt Snake eyes stiffen and move in closer. Quickly sucking on the bruised and swollen lip, grimacing as the taste of copper flooded his mouth, he gave the boy a glance. Snake eyes had calmed down a bit, but still had the hard edge in his posture and eyes. Nicky scowled at his host brother, "Geez, it's not that bad, just a swollen lip, I'll pick up some witch hazel in a bit. If you keep this up I might die from suffocation!"

Snake eyes didn't move away, he just sat there with his almost mask like passive face. Glaring at the man again Nicky grumbled about how protective the guy seemed to be. He's worse then Duke, Nicky thought bitterly. Duke was in more then one way the leader of the group, he started as the captain of the foot ball team, then it just escalated. Duke was like the silent protector of the group of friends. If he even heard of a rumor of some one picking on his friends, Duke was on to that person, fast. He had almost been suspended because he had sent six kids to the hospital, he had broken a bone in each of the kids. The kids had been bothering Nicky for about a week, Nicky insisted he could handle it, he hadn't known Duke for that long. But that all changed when the group of kids had strung Nicky up from a bridge and left him there to get hypothermia, with a concussion.

Duke had gone all out on the group, Road block, who had just moved form Mississippi, had joined into the fray. Both soon became Nicky's best friends, other then Snowjob, who Nicky met during a trip to Canada. From there the group had increased in numbers and Nicky gained more friends who were willing to watch his back, and he theirs. Nicky didn't just threaten to blow up more then one persons house, he had destroyed a few peoples cars. And he would do it again, all for his friends.

And right now he wished that they had all been there, he didn't know when he had started to depend on them, but it had been proven in that fight. He had waited for Ripcord to make some wise crack about the group of bullies and how he was going to show them. He was expecting Scarlett to show up and clock the whole group in the face. He had been waiting for Roadblock to set his massive hand on his shoulder and to send comfort that Nicky didn't need. He had expected Snowjob to magically appear and give them a "friendly Canadian chat". He had waited for Duke to show up and plow threw the store in a protective fit. He had expected his brother to come running up, talking with his tough Brooklyn accent and showing the bullies a thing or two. He had been waiting for a girly British shriek and Breakers wimpy arms to try to pull him to safety. But nobody came, he was by his self, again.

Nicky knew he had won, but only because the group had left. If the three guys, one was knocked out, hadn't have left Nicky didn't know if he could have beaten the other two. The shortest could defiantly take a punch and the biggest was stronger then he let on. Nicky let out a mental sigh, the biggest could have punched him in the back of the head and gave him a nasty concussion. And Nicky didn't want to think about what would happen if the girls did get involved. Sure he had gotten into fights with girls, he had gotten into many scrapes with Baroness. But that didn't make him comfortable with hurting girls, it wasn't that he didn't think they could fight, Scarlett had proved the whole world wrong on that one many a times. It was that he didn't like the thought of hitting someone who he considered more fragile then him. Nicky wasn't delusional, he knew he was small and weak, but that didn't mean that he wasn't going to try.

Then Storm shadow and Snake eyes showed up, like late pizza, unwanted. Kimi had been traumatized and Nicky wasn't trusted to be alone without a babysitter. It took him a few minutes to figure out that the brothers had communicated with some sort of code and not sign language. They must have used it for their sport activities, it was easier when one of them couldn't talk any ways.

Shifting again, Nicky looked over at Snake eyes, his host family were the only people he knew in this whole country. His friends and family were back in America, he had only his host family. He was alone except for four other people, one of which he didn't really like, two were almost needy for his approval, and the last kinda creeped him out. Thinking about it, his friends weren't much better, and he had seen worse odds. So sitting next to him was one of the people he had no choice but to rely on, they could at lest work out some understanding, even if he still freaked him out.

"So creepy ninja anything you want to do while we're here?" Sure it wasn't the best way to start a "conversation", but Nicky didn't really care at this point in time. He needed to get some witch hazel to bring down the swelling, he really didn't want to explain to his host parent why he had a busted lip. Standing up Nicky turned to look at Snake eyes, waiting for some sort of answer.

Snake eyes made an obvious pause, trying to think of how to communicate what he wanted to say to Nicky. After finally making up his mind, Snake eyes stood up and brushed off his back side. He then proceeded to point at Nicky, then to his lip, and a opening of something. Nicky didn't understand at first so the pattern was repeated for a bit. After the third time, Snake eyes added in a gesture of applying something to his lips. Then Nicky figured it out, he wanted to pick up medicine for Nicky's swollen lip.

Nicky figured that Snake eyes would have taken him to some sort of pharmacy, to bad Nicky didn't believe int that crap. He knew that witch hazel was probably the best thing for his lip, it would also sooth the pain and disinfect the wound as well. So with a quick, take me to the herbal medicine shop, they headed off.

Snake eyes took the lead, but didn't let Nicky out of his peripheral vision. Nicky almost snorted at the older boy, he didn't figure he could disappear from Snake eyes. The guy was in all seance a ninja, Snake eyes didn't even make any noise, even when he walked in heavy dress shoes, like right now. He moved with fluency and always seemed to know where everyone was. And the guy had chased him through out the town, and not even Nicky could lose him. Still it didn't take them long, even with the constant change in pace. Snake eyes kept slowing down to make sure Nicky was still close by, which Nicky just groaned at him.

The store looked like your typical old Japanese traditional medicine store, with the creepy dead chickens hanging out side the door. The place was clean never the less, every thing was organized and easy to find. The whole place had been alphabetically organized, and had enough jars to create a castle out of. The store owner was an elder man, who Nicky at first thought was a woman. The elderly man had on traditional bright clothing and looked to be a mixture of Hmong and Japanese. He greeted Nicky and Snake eyes with a bow and a welcome to my store.

"Uh, Hello, I'm looking for Witch hazel." Nicky stated with obvious nervousness, this wasn't the first time coming into a store like this. It just felt different, like he really didn't belong, everything was so strange compared to what he was used too. And he really wished he knew all the herbs that he was looking at. He recognized all the roots and leafs, but he couldn't tell what some of the grounded up powder was. So right now he was a bit at a lose, he needed the liquid form of witch hazel, it wasn't hard to find in America, and he knew of a few places that had it. But he didn't know of any place that might have some Hamamelis virginiana, or witch hazel shrub in Japan.

The elderly man examined Nicky's lip with a knowing gaze, before nodding and pulling out a jar of lushes light green oval shaped leafs with prickly looking flowers. He ground up a few ounces worth and put it into a neat little bag. After tying it closed with a small blue ribbon the elderly man rung up the bag of herbs. With a kind smile he waved the two of after Snake eyes almost pushed Nicky out of the way to pay, "Good day young lads, and come back soon without a broken lip."

Nicky sent back a thank you and I will, before putting the small bag into his overall pocket. When the bag was safe in his pockets he gave Snake eyes a swift kick on the bottom of his shoes as they left. "I don't need you paying for me."

Snake eyes simply continued to walk next to Nicky without any sort of acknowledgment. Jerk, Nicky thought with a hurt pride, first the guy babysits him then pays for his stuff like he was some girl. Nicky could fill his checks puff out in rage, man Snake eyes was more annoying then Ripcord, and tried even less then him too. He hadn't even known Snake eyes for a whole 24 hours, but Snake eyes had made it his mission to look after him. Nicky just figured Snake eyes had some sort of complex like Duke did. Nicky simply shrugged it off, Snake eyes would be Snake eyes, as Roadblock would so poetically put it.

With that all settled the two began to just walk around the shopping district, not really going any where in particular and just looking at everything. Nicky would fill the silence with light but snappy comments about everything and anything. As they past a small store, Nicky was drawn to the window, it was a small little store full of traditional Japanese culture. It was about the size of Nicky's family bathroom, very small, but filled to the brim with object of all sorts. With a small glance over at Snake eyes Nicky said, "Lets go in here."

Snake eyes seeing that Nicky was practically melding with the glass window gave a simple nod before entering, Nicky fallowed closely behind. Nicky didn't understand why, but after being separated form his friends for so long, a little more then 24 hours, he started to really miss them. And every one really did want to come to Japan, so this looked like a perfect place to buy them something, just a little souvenir. Maybe he should get them some charms, god knows Ripcord needed all the help he can get. Nicky began to search the store for charms that meant certain things.

Good luck for Duke, something pretty for Scarlett, good fortune for Ripcord, wealth for Roadblock, protection for Breaker, and happiness for Snowjob. Looking over the small cluster of charms again, that seemed right. Now what should I get for my parents, Nicky mentally asked himself. Maybe some paper lanterns, and some cool bandana looking things for his brother. Nicky quickly smiled and ran the short few steps to the young woman running the cash register. After waiting for Snake eyes to buy some sort of carved wooden figure, the two left.

Keeping the bag close to his body with a tight grip Nicky, began to let his mind wonder to how school was going to be. He knew that he was going to go to the same school as Snake eyes and Storm shadow, but that was about it. Deciding to break the silence again with a question Nicky asked, "So where can I pick up a uniform for school?"

He knew he had the next two days off, but still he like being prepared for any situation. Snake eyes simply gave a small tug on Nicky's sleeve, Nicky figured out that it meant to fallow, before turning around. Nicky fallowed a small distance away, he didn't really want to lose the silent boy in the big crowd. Only Nicky could call out if the two got separated and Snake eyes couldn't call back to him. After the short walk they arrived at a school store, it was the biggest store in the area. The Store was around the size of a normal small store in America. The store was lined with school uniforms and required bags and note books for classes.

As soon as the two entered they were greeted by a man in his mid 30s, the man was well dressed in modern dark colored clothing. After a short explanation of why the two were here by Nicky the worker herded Nicky over to a small stool. Snake eyes took a seat not to far away and prominently turned into a statue. The worker made Nicky stick out his arms for measurements, and introduced himself as Kishino. "And what brings you to Japan?"

Nicky shifted his footing to get more comfortable, "I'm here for the foreign exchange program."

"Really now? I haven't seen many students form China, who are you staying with?" Kishino simply began to start up a conversation with his customer, as he started to measure Nicky's shoulders.

"I'm from America, staying with the Arashikage." Nicky simply answered, he was used to people asking him if he was from China, and some times Korea. He had even had a few people try to speak Chinese at him, to which he just answered back with a snappy and rude comment.

Kishino was taken back apparently, because he paused in his measurements, "My apologies, is this your first time in Japan?"

"Yeah, one of my friends has been here before, but this is my first time."

"Oh, I know you will have a lovely time here. If you don't mind me asking what happened to your lip?"

Nicky licked over his swollen bottom lip, he had pretty much forgot about it. He thought about it before replying as best as he could in Japanese, "I got into a fight with some others."

"I see that is quite unfortunate, how long are you staying?" Kishino moved down to measure Nicky's waist.

"For about a year, maybe only for the school year. It all depends on my family and my host family."

Moving to do Nicky's legs Kishino called up, "Well I hope you have a nice stay here, I'm almost done, is there anything else you need other than a few school uniforms?"

Looking over at Snake eyes Nicky shook his head, he didn't think that there was much else he needed, and if he didn't it wasn't like he couldn't come and get it here. "No I don't think so."

"Very well, if you would please write down your address I will have them delivered to you tomorrow morning." Kishino said while writing down the measurements. Snake eyes stood up and handed Kishino a business card, Kishino nodded before awkwardly taking the small rectangular piece of paper. Nicky quickly pulled out his wad of money to pay for the uniforms, he wasn't going to let Snake eyes pay for his stuff again, Nicky was a little too prideful for that.

Kishino moved to the cash register to ring up Nicky's perches, and waved the two off. "Feel free to come back again if any thing is wrong with your uniforms."

The two then continued their journey with out purpose, till Snake eyes pulled Nicky's sleeve. Nicky simply shrugged and mumbled something about ninjas, and fallowed Snake eyes as they walked in the direction that Nicky thought the car might be. Giving a look at his watch Nicky realized it was around 4 in the afternoon, they should be getting home. And Nicky needed to come up with an excuse for why he had a broken bleeding lip.

Nicky didn't know what Hard master knew about Kimi's bullies, maybe he already knew. Or maybe Kimi was like Nicky, ashamed or too proud to tell his parents that he was being bullied. She may tell her father what happened, or she could chose to keep it a secret. Right now it all riding on what Kimi was going to say.

Nicky sat stock still, he hadn't felt like he was in this much trouble scene Ripcord had convinced the group to sneak out to go to a party and all their parents came to get them. Hard master, who sat right beside Nicky, had been told about the whole fight. Kimi had told him everything, and the older man looked less than pleased. So here Nicky was sitting in the families dojo, apparently the whole family had a thing with martial arts, with a very unhappy host father on his left.

After what seemed like forever in Nicky's mind Hard master spoke, "Do you know what you have done?"

Nicky stiffened and clamped down on the need to run, the old mans voice was even scarier then Storm shadows earlier that day. "I beat up on some bullies who were harassing Kimi?"

Hard master let out a deep breath, the man was way past mad, before answering back, "No, you put your self in danger. You could have put both, you and Kimi, in great danger. The group could have had a weapon or you could be sent back to America, or worse sent to prison."

Nicky didn't school the flinch that he made, all he did was just stand up to some bullies and now he was the one in the wrong? It just didn't make sense, "So what? Was I supposed to have just left her to them? Let them rip her apart emotionally and maybe physically?"

Nicky didn't even bother to try to hide the anger in his voice. He wasn't the one at fault here, it had been the group of fools who had messed with some one who wasn't as strong as them. He was the one who was right, he was the one who had stood up for someone he hadn't even known for 24 hours. Yet, he was the one who had done the world some sort of injustice?

Hard master didn't respond at first, obviously trying to keep his blood pressure low. Again the older man let out a deep breath before speaking, "No, you should have just taken her and left, not try to fight them. I don't know what your parents let you do in America, but while you are here you will respect and obey my rules."

Nicky unhappily nodded, there was no way he was going to win against the older man. Giving out a sigh Nicky figured he should at lest ask what these rules were, "Ok, so what are the rules here?"

"No fighting unless absolutely necessary," Hard master put up a hand to cut Nicky off, "That was not necessary. If you insist on getting into more fights then I will have no choice, but to send you home. Other then that you only have to keep your room clean, try your hardest in school, and be to meals on time."

The older man gave Nicky a kind smile, he realized that Nicky hadn't meant to cause trouble. Nicky had only wanted to keep his daughter safe, and for that Hard master was thankful for, "Now then if you insist on getting your self into more trouble we will have to train you."

"Uh, I'm not really good at commitments..."

Hard master let out a small laugh, the boy really was quite young, he was almost to young to be on his own in a foreign land. "Alright, but before you leave for your room, have some tea with me."

Nicky nodded, he couldn't get in that much trouble when it came to drinking tea, could he? Moving around on the pillow to get comfortable, Nicky didn't think too much could happen. After a short pause Nicky could help but wonder where was the tea, no one had brought any and there was nothing in front of them.

Hearing the sliding of the dojo doors opening Nicky turned his whole body to see who had brought them tea. He was a bit surprised to see Storm shadow enter with Snake eyes right behind him, the two were wearing work out pants and Snake eyes was wearing a regular long sleeve shirt. Moving so he was facing forward again Nicky looked at Hard master, "So where is the tea?"

"We will drink after Storm shadow and Snake eye are done with their evening spar." Hard master simply stated. Nicky just sent back an ok, before the two turned to face the soon to be sparing duo.

The two stood at three paces away form each other. Storm shadow's stance was much more aggressive, as if he wanted to fight to the death. While Snake eyes, was like a snakes more deffensifve, coiled in on it's self ready to strike. Their eyes focused on the other, trying to see where to strike and when, it made Nicky shiver with their intensity.

Finally Storm shadow moved forward in a flash, with his right palm open aiming for right side of Snake eyes' face. Snake eyes coiled back moving his weight to his left foot and swiped Storm shadows arm across his body. He then countered with a right kick to Storm shadow's ribcage. Storm shadow ducked under the kick and delivered a few jabs to Snake eye's chest, only the first hit. Snake eyes, open palmed the rest, and shot back a swift punch to Storm shadows neck.

The two continued on with jabs, kick, open palms, and punches, for a long while. Nicky sat there rooted on the stop, the two were ruthless in their attacks. Every time a blow hit Nicky could feel his muscles in that area clench up, it was brutal. It was right then and there that Nicky really understood why Hard master was so worried about him. Nicky wasn't even close to being able to defend himself like these two were. He had relied on getting away and his pain tolerance till his friends started watching his back. If any one of those bullies had as much skill and talent as these two, then Nicky could have gone to the hospital or worse wound up dead.

It looked like the two could go on for hours, but really Snake eyes could feel his breath quickening and his stance lowering. Storm shadow wasn't doing much better, the only thing keeping him at the pace that they were going at was the simple rage he felt. Using his rage as a source of strength, Storm shadow tried to delivere a fast chop to the side of Snake eye's head, who changed his footing to block. Seeing the chance Storm shadow swept his foot in a powerful mill, effectively knocking Snake eyes of his feet. Using the air born body as a target Storm shadow gave a bone breaking blow to Snake eyes' chest. If the younger of the duo could speak, he would have let out a pained sound from the blow. Hitting the ground hard Snake eyes quickly swung up his arms to catch Storm shadow's next attack.


Harm master's voice cut threw the match that had a violent end. Storm shadow after coming back to his sense, let his brother up. When Snake eyes had proper footing the two bowed to their father and took their seats next to the two. With a clap of his hands Hard master summoned up one of the house's help, and with a quick command the tea had arrived. After bringing in a small table, the tea was set up and the four were given their tea cups.

While every one else drank their tea Nicky couldn't stop the sickness he felt after seeing the brothers "spare". Nicky kept playing the last few hits over and over in his mind, if Hard master hadn't have cut in then Storm shadow could have delivered a fatal blow to Snake eyes' heart. It had left him shivering, Nicky couldn't understand how Snake eyes could sit down next to his brother who could have killed him.

Snake eyes and Storm shadow didn't even try to make eye contact, let alone their way of communicating. In stead Hard master had set them across from each other, using Nicky and himself as dividers. Sensing the harsh atmosphere, Hard master asked Nicky a question, "You mentioned that your friends called you "Tunnel rat", why is that?"

Nicky, who hadn't taken a sip from his cup, quickly looked up in surprise. He had forgot he mentioned that, setting down his tea cup Nicky began to rub his face into his brother's old bandana. He had taken up a ritual of putting it on when he was stressed, he felt safe when ever he had it on. Like his brother was right with him, and would show up to protect him. So he had tied it around his neck after getting to the Arashikage residence. With a small pause he gave his answer, "One of my friends has a habit of nick naming people. He took one whiff of me after I had gone sewer spelunking, and asked "Where have you been crawling Tunnel rat?" and it just stuck. He names every one."

"Sewer spelunking?"

"Oh yeah, that's right, I guess no one told you guys." Nicky began to think of how he could explain what his habits, or hobbies, were in Japanese, "I like it under ground, I like using what the earth gives you know? So I learned about all sorts of medical plants and I like running around the New York sewer system."

"Why? It sounds disgusting down there, running around in so much filth." Storm shadow scoffed at Nicky. He couldn't see the point of running threw such garbage, he didn't see the point of becoming so filthy.

Nicky sent Storm shadow a glare, "I don't know, maybe you shouldn't wear so much white? You seem to ruin the color."

Nicky would have felt a small twang of remorse for the snappy comment, but he was still disturbed after watching the spar. Storm shadow had gone at Snake eyes with the intent to kill, "There's no on to bother me down there, just me and my thoughts. And besides if the bullies can't find you, then they cant hurt you."

After letting the last sentence slip Nicky could feel Hard master and Snake eyes stiffen, and Storm shadows rage build. Nearly kicking himself Nicky quickly guzled down his tea and was about to say good night when Hard master's voice cut through his panic, "So you have been... Mercilessly bullied?"

Nicky felt his checks heat up and his pride sting, yes he had been bullied, but Hard master made it sound like Nicky couldn't do anything about it. Nicky felt as helpless as when if first started in pre-school, and he hated feeling helpless. As far as Nicky was concerned he could handle himself, ninja martial artist excluded. With a small glance around Nicky retorted hotly, "Yah, so?"

"I see," Hard master's voice no longer held the worried edge it had before, he sounded much calmer now. With a small smile on his face Hard master asked with warmth filling is voice, "Is that why you fought with the ones bothering my little Hime?"

Nicky no longer felt helpless, now he felt guilty. His host family must think that he had stepped in because of a personal vendetta. In a way he had, but he also didn't want Kimi to be tormented like he was, Nicky had nightmares because of some of his bullies. Giving a small nod, Nicky didn't want Kimi to ever go through what he had, "I just didn't want them to think that they could do stuff like that to her. I would never wish something like that on Kimi-san, she doesn't deserve that."

"And what doesn't she deserve?"

Nicky started to squirm in his seat, why did they feel the need to involve themselves into his personal problems? Was it because he was smaller then them, were they planing on using it against him? Nicky felt the paranoid fear creep into his mind, they might have been planing this from the very beginning. Using his hand that wasn't occupied with shakily holding on to a tea cup, Nicky buried his face into the bandana. He could feel the three sets of eye staring him down, trying to make him crack.

Shakily Nicky took a deep inhale of the similar scent of his brother and him. Letting the familiarity calm him, he glanced around again. Everyone, even Snake eyes had a concerned look on their faces. They didn't want to harm him, they were worried about him, they cared. He didn't know why but this made a lump form in his throat. Sure he had people that cared, but he always felt alone. They, his host family, didn't want him to be alone. Swallowing Nicky finally answered the question, "I was picked on, a lot, it escalated form teasing to some time me having to go to the hospital. Some people just don't know when to stop, and I don't want to have that happen to anyone else."

Snake eyes and Storm shadow smoothly shifted over so they were closer to their host brother. After the smaller boy stood up for their sister, that was what Storm shadow saw him as. Not many had risked their well being for some one they hardly knew, and from what Kimi had told him, the small boy didn't even hesitate to save her. She had told him about how scared she was and then Nicky had came, like a fair tail, and saved the day. He had been furious with the boy at first, he had left her all by herself, and the fools saw an opportunity, but after Kimi explained what had happened, Storm shadow didn't feel hatred for the smaller boy, instead he felt the need to protect him. The boy had foolishly thrown himself into a fight for their sister, he couldn't ask for more in a younger bother.

"I see, just know while you are here Nicky Lee, you are part of our family. And if someone were to hurt you, know that they will feel every bit of our wrath." Hard master spoke mostly to his sons, they had been rather upset as of late. He knew how competitive they were over his approval, and knew that they might turn on their younger guest. But from how the two had placed themselves next to the smaller boy, he knew that he didn't need to say anything, but a little verbal grounding never hurt. And seeing Nicky shift in embarrassment only made him smile more, it was obvious that the smaller boy had been mistreated throughout his life. Even from the information and picture that was sent to him when he was asked to shelter a foreign exchange student, it just made his parental instincts beg him to help the boy.

And the night before didn't help settle Hard master's instincts, Nicky had had a horrid nightmare. From what he could see the boy didn't even remember having one, like it was a normal occurrence. He only understood that Nicky's dream had something to do with being held down, which meant that the boy was worse off then he let on. It made his heart break for the small boy, he had talked with Nicky's parents and they had told him that they couldn't get Nicky to go get help, the boy felt like it was running way form the problem.

Nicky could feel the atmosphere shift to one of pity, he didn't need their pity. He didn't need someone to baby him, because they found out his childhood wasn't full of sunshine and lollipops. Even if it did feel nice that these people, who were complete strangers, wanted him to feel comfortable. With a small shift in his posture Nicky began to think of something to change the topic to. He could bring up school, but that could wait till tomorrow. With a big grin Nicky finally spoke, "So when can I learn to become a master ninja?"

Ok, dramatic twist I didn't intend for this chapter, enjoy?

I felt like the boys would still have their intense rivalry, with out killing each other. And I knew that Storm shadow wouldn't "like" Nicky without some sort of reason to, because you know he's the "almighty Storm shadow".

I'm basing Hard master more of the movies and originals, rather than Renegades. I think he would be a silent but loving father, who would feel the need to take care of everything. And I didn't want a yelling Hard master in my story, sorry~ Also sorry for the lack of Kimi, she becomes a big part of the story later.

Thank you all again for reading, ta ta for now!