Author Note: Ayame, Fearless Master, and Misao belong to Karama9 and were used with permission. GO READ HER STORIES. Contact her if you want to use them. If you use them without permission, I will sic certain plot bunnies on you - the ones that crave blood.
"Is it on? Is it recording?" The Hard Master frowned as he turned the video camera over in his hands.
"Why are you asking me?" The Soft Master joined his brother. "I don't know how this works."
"What did Tomisaburo say?"
"He told me to push the red button!"
"Okay. Then it's recording."
The Soft master frowned. "Are you sure? This is important." He suddenly looked up when a small black figure walked across the room. "Hebi no Me!"
Snake-Eyes stopped in his tracks. There was a light patter as he ran over. "Yes, Soft Master?" he said in his usual quiet voice as he bowed deeply.
"Is this thing recording?" He held out the camera.
Snake took the camera and looked next to the lenses. "I'm pretty sure it is. The red light is on."
"Do you know how to use it?" A shake of the head. "Alright, then. Go get Tomisaburo. Tell him I request his presence."
The boy bowed again before hurrying out the door. Satisfied, the Soft Master turned to his brother and opened his mouth to speak.
Snake beat him to it. "TOOOMMY!" A uncharacteristically loud scream rang around the courtyard, drowning out the noise of a usual work-filled day.
The two masters exchanged a stunned look. A silence-filled minute passed before the Soft Master spoke slowly. "... Well... he has a strong set of lungs-"
He was once again interrupted when another yell ripped through the air. "WHAT? I can HEAR you just fine, you know? You DON'T have to yell!"
"They both do." The Hard Master beamed happily. "They'll do well in endurance training, you mark my words, brother."
"They're only eight years old," his brother said, a little irritated. "I thought we decided to have them focus on flexibility and speed until they reach their growing age. Then you can work them into the ground as many times as you wish."
"Soft Master wants to speak to you," Snake said, a lot quieter. The sound of a second pair of feet confirmed Tommy's arrival. After the usual small squabble that seemed to be their way of greeting each other, the two boys entered the room and bowed to the two masters.
"Tomisaburo." The Soft Master held out the camera. "Today is an important day. Make sure this is recording."
"Hm?" Tommy took the camera and turned it over in his hands. "It's recording." His face twisted into a thoughtful expression before suddenly lighting up. "Is it Aunt Misao?"
Soft Master sighed. "Yes, Tomisaburo. The baby was born late last night. Please, don't disturb her too much. She's still exhauste-"
The combination of rapid, excited chattering and two pairs of running feet quickly disappeared down the hallway. He barely caught Tommy saying something about him and Snake being the 'best cousins in the world'. The Soft Master sighed again, shaking his head slowly. "I'll go after them." He rolled to his feet, grunting quietly.
"Leave them be." The Hard Master chuckled as he sipped at his tea. "Misao adores them, anyway."
Misao's eyes fluttered open as the noise rapidly grew louder. Memories of last night's pain made her wince, and she reached up to tiredly rub at her face. She made a mental note to apologize to Healer for anything she might have said, thrown, or ripped during labor. It took a whole lot of patience - and great dodging skills - to help the women of a ninja clan give birth.
A small movement at her side made her turn. Warmth blossomed in her chest as she carefully took the tiny life form into her arms. "My baby, my darling baby," she crooned as she kissed the infant's soft, warm forehead. All the pain - all the waiting - was worth this little child. Her baby. Her love. Her life.
That was when she noticed that the noise had stopped. Frowning, she eyed the door suspiciously, daring whatever malevolent force may exist behind it to burst in and try to harm her baby.
The door did, indeed, open, but slowly. A giggle slipped past her lips. Healer entered quietly, dragging two small forms behind him. "Keep your voices at a whisper." he half-snarled to the two. "You don't want to startle the baby."
"Yes, Healer," both boys whispered obediently.
Healer frowned, but let them go. "Misao..."
"I'll be fine. They just want to see the baby." Despite her words, she held the infant a little closer to her body.
"Aunt Misao! Baby cousin!" Tommy chirped as he ran towards Misao with Snake-Eyes hot on his heels.
"Whisper!" Healer hissed.
Misao couldn't hold back a smile as both boys slowed down. Tommy placed the video camera on the bedstand, with the lens facing her and the baby, and pressed the red record button. Snake-Eyes was at her right side, half on the bed with his feet still on the floor. His bright blue eyes were wide with wonder. Tommy soon joined him. She affectionately ruffled both of the boys' hair.
"Tommy, Snake-Eyes - this is Kimi Arashikage." She held the warm bundle just a little bit higher. The boys strained for a closer look.
"She's pink!" Tommy exclaimed. Nearby on a spare stool, Healer flinched at the sound.
Snake-Eyes slapped a hand over his friend's mouth. "Shhh! You'll wake her up!"
Tommy pried his fingers off. "She's already awake. Look at her!" He indicated to the baby. Sure enough, two black eyes stared sleepily back at them. "Hello, little cousin," he whispered, giving a small wave.
Snake looked up at Misao. "Can she be my cousin too?" he asked. "I... I've always wanted a cousin."
Misao ran her fingers along his cheek. Foreigners were rarely seen around the area, and even fewer had his hair and eye color. Although he stuck out like a sore thumb, she had grown quite fond of him. "Of course," she murmured. "She can be your cousin."
Snake's expression brightened. "Thank you, Aunt Misao." With that, he joined Tommy in waving at the new baby.
Kimi blinked several times, her young eyes unfocused and her sight blurry. She saw something - two somethings - flashing in front of her. She squirmed, unsure what to make of this phenomenon, before deciding that the somethings wanted to hurt her.
Snake and Tommy clamped their hands over their ears as Kimi began crying, shrill and loud. Her little mouth was wide open, and her eyes had all but disappeared. Misao responded by rocking her and holding her tighter.
Healer immediately stood up and strode over. "Boys, out!" He grabbed them by the back of their shirts and dragged them towards the door. On the way, he snatched the video camera off of the table.
"What did I do?!" Tommy struggled. "Leggo! I wanna see the baby!"
"You scared the baby - that's what. I told you to whisper!" Healer fought to maintain his grip. At least Snake-Eyes wasn't resisting. "And you already saw her. Come back tomorrow, when Misao has regained her strength."
"What? Why? Aunt Misao!"
Misao gave a tired smile. "I do feel a little weak. Thank you for visiting me, though."
Tommy scowled, but reluctantly followed Healer out. "Goodbye, Aunt Misao. Snake-Eyes and I will come back tonight with cake."
Snake-Eyes sputtered in surprise. "But I don't know how to bake."
"Oh, no you won't." Healer handed him the video camera. "Misao is on a special diet to make sure her milk is as healthy as possible for her baby. You can give her or the baby a gift, though. Now, run along. Your aunt needs her tea."
"Oh. Okay!" Tommy grabbed Snake by the sleeve and dragged him away. "Bye, Healer!"
Healer sighed and rubbed at his eyes tiredly "Bye, Tomisaburo. Don't get into too much trouble." He turned on his heel and walked back to the bed. It was bad enough that he had gotten no sleep last night. He really didn't need two hyperactive boys bouncing around the newborn.
The sight before him helped ease some of the stress. Kimi had stopped crying, and was sleeping contentedly again in her mother's arms. Healer smiled. Moments like this helped reassure him that he wouldn't regret becoming the physician of this god-forsaken ninja clan. To add to his improving mood, Misao's aim wasn't as good as Ayame's had been. He still wasn't sure how Tommy's late mother had managed to pull a throwing spike out of thin air after he and the Fearless Master disarmed her. He thought that wives in labour threw things at their husbands - not at the doctors trying to help them. Nonetheless, he had worked on his dodging as soon as his shoulder had healed, and it paid off last night.
"Here." He handed Misao a cup of herbal tea. "This will help you sleep."
She took the cup with one hand and made a face after one sip. "Still no regard for taste, I see," she chuckled as she slowly drank.
"Medicine isn't supposed to taste good." He yawned. "It's medicine, not food."
"Speaking of sleep..." Misao placed the empty cup on the bedstand. "You should get some. You look tired."
"Doctors are always tired." He dragged a stool to the bed and sat on it. He folded his arms on the bed and rested his head on them. "Especially doctors who have to deal with crazy ninjas everyday." His eyelids started to droop. "Wake me up if you need anything," he mumbled as he slipped into a much-needed nap.
Misao stroked his hair. "I hope I won't need to," she whispered, before looking at the doors. "Alright, boys, you can come in, but be quiet or else he'll wake up and chase you out."
Snake-Eyes and Tommy silently entered with the video camera, took one look at the sleeping man, and immediately covered their mouths to muffle their giggles. Misao held a finger to her lips in warning, but grinned anyways. Both boys slowly climbed onto the bed, their eyes darting between the baby in Misao's arms and Healer's slumbering form.
"Hello again, little cousin," Tommy murmured as he gently stroked Kimi's cheek with one finger. As expected, the baby turned her head towards him. "Healer is asleep, so I can talk to you now. Do you know who I am? I'm Tomisaburo - your cousin. Your other cousin is Snake-Eyes. He's a gaijin, but don't let that bother you. He's friendly enough. Once you're old enough, maybe he'll teach you gaijin-speak."
Misao chuckled quietly as Snake-Eyes scowled.
Special thanks to Greentigerr for being my editor.