DOUBLE UPDATE. THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER
BE SURE YOU'RE READING IT IN THE RIGHT ORDER.
I tucked my hair behind my ear, my eyes scanning over the mission report. When I was satisfied with what was written I handed it to my brother.
Naruto sat behind the Hokage's desk, his brow creased in concentration as he read over the mission report I handed him.
It had started off as a simple C-Rank mission, but it had escalated into an A-Rank quickly. Konohamaru had dispatched for help the second he realized his Genin were in danger, and I had been sent out to assist him. The foolish missing-nin didn't stand a chance when Kurama and I entered the scene.
Naruto gave a long sigh when he was done and shot me a jealous look. "I just now realized I always give you two the good missions."
Kurama cocked his head at him, pulling back his lips in a cocky smirk, his ears twitching. "It couldn't possibly be because we're simply the best suited for them."
Naruto huffed at him, and Kurama's tails waved about, as clear amusement rolled off the fox. "Whatever, pipsqueak."
Kurama, at the moment, was roughly the size of Akamaru. At any moment he could push out more of his chakra from the seal and grow to his full size, but everyone in the room knew he wouldn't do that. For one thing, when he was at his true size, it made going about the village far more difficult than necessary. Moreover, whenever we went on missions together, if he was that big, anyone could see him coming. Kurama could shrink or grow his size as much as he wanted to. For the time, he was satisfied with his current size, though.
Finding a way to 'free' Kurama and the other bijū from their jinchūriki had been a tricky thing. Surprisingly, it was a large thanks to the notes Kurama and I had taken when were in that mock-genjutsu world Obito had warped us to.
It relied heavily on pushing out Kurama's chakra—not unlike using his chakra as a cloak—but giving it a more solid and defined base. It wasn't much different than when Naruto passed along Kurama's chakra in canon and gave everyone cloaks.
From that point, it was a matter of solidifying that chakra into a sort of clone, and projecting Kurama's consciousness onto it. It had taken roughly six months after the war of Jiraiya, myself, Kurama, and the other bijū puzzling over the fūinjutsu notes we had taken from that other world and using them as a base.
However, at the end of those six months, each of the bijū was able to project him or herself from his or her host.
Although, they had to always be in a certain range of their host (the range would grow steadily over repetitive use, though), 'else they would find themselves back inside.
Furthermore, after years of working with Jiraiya and Kurama on the forest… we could safely say that we had created a haven for the bijū. The forest was entirely guarded by extensive fūinjutsu layers, and with the bijū's help, access to the forest became limited to a single entry point (The bijū had destroyed the surrounding land to create a moat with the ocean and left open a single narrow pathway they could traverse that was hella booby trapped against human chakra). Not only was every inch of the forest covered in seals that prevented anyone from sensing it, but it also had multilayered genjutsu seals (courtesy of the Toad Sages) to discourage people from evening seeing it.
I had even spent many years showing all the bijū how to create more of these seals through the use of burning their own chakra into the ground (a technique that was used prior to the discovery of chakra ink and was discouraged due to its… thoughtlessness).
I may not have (yet) found a way to keep the bijū from ever being sealed, but I damn well created a sanctuary for them (and mostly likely would create another one as soon as I found a big enough patch of land—Isobu was currently on the lookout for a large enough island).
Matabi, Saiken, Gyūki and Kurama were the only bijū with jinchūriki, but the first three enjoyed their jinchūriki and circumstances, while Kurama…
Kurama definitely wasn't unhappy.
Because of the projection, Kurama and I frequently found ourselves doing missions together. When I joined the ANBU (at the same point Naruto took up the Hokage hat), Naruto officially granted Kurama the shinobi status (after much convincing on my part for both of them) and Kurama joined the ANBU with me (because for shits and giggles, he insisted).
This was met with mixed reactions of the public, of course; however, with Naruto's hero status, and my insult-a-bijū-and-I-will-end-you-slowly reputation, there was no outward resistance. It helped immensely that the current generation of elders and councilmen were significantly biased towards us, or open-minded.
Currently, I served as second-in-command, with Karasu being my commander. Kurama was 'officially' my ANBU partner (although he didn't wear any special gear or masks).
When we were not taking on ANBU missions we were a regular pair of Jōnin.
"Now, now," Kurama said, "don't be jealous. We both know you're just upset because you're forever stuck doing paperwork, while Miwako and I get all the mayhem and gore. The fun stuff."
Naruto pouted. "You don't have to rub it in, you know."
"Ah, but I do," Kurama purred.
I coughed. "If that's all, Aniki…"
Naruto sighed. "Yeah, yeah, you're dismissed."
I smiled. "How's Hinata?"
Naruto beamed. "She's great. The doctor said it'll be a boy, you know!"
"A boy?" I echoed faintly, then smiling more widely, I said, "Congratulations!"
"I can't believe an idiot like you is going to be a father," Kurama griped.
"Oh, shut up, tsundere," Naruto dismissed.
"What did you call me."
I held up my hands in a peaceful-like gesture. "Children, behave."
"If you're going to eat with me, then you better henge into a human," I warned.
"I thought you liked me just the way I was," Kurama mocked.
"I do," I told him, "I just don't want you anywhere near my food as you are now. You shed."
"One time. One time, and you can't just let it go."
"Says the master of all grudge-holders," I snarked. "Need I bring up Madara-sama?"
Kurama snarled. "You better not, if you know what's good for you."
"I think I rest my case."
Kurama sneered at me, "I'm not changing into that god-awful form just to make eating easier for you."
His 'human form' was a hit and miss. He hated it at times, yet he seemed to relish the fact that it made some people extremely uncomfortable, and that he had acquired many fan girls from it (which irritated Naruto, and amused me to no end).
He wasn't actually human. It was just a transformation—no different than Naruto's Sexy-no-Jutsu, which was the argument he used whenever I teased him in that form. He was 'merely using the tools given to him to make life a living hell for petty, pathetic humans.'
Still didn't mean he wanted to use the henge frequently. He still couldn't quite get the hang of walking without tails.
It was actually quite cute seeing him wobble uncomfortably.
"Hmph," he huffed, sticking his nose up in the air. "Just for you having the audacity of suggesting that form, I'm picking out what's for dinner."
"Fine with me," I said, trailing behind my dearest companion, with a bemused smile on my face.
Kurama and I lived in a spacious apartment, a block away from ANBU HQ. We used to live in the ANBU HQ exclusively, however, recently, I had made a special request…
A request which required me to move out of the ANBU HQ and get my own apartment. It was fairly large—ANBU pay was very good—with three bedrooms. One for myself, one for Kurama, and one for my… request.
It had a large living room with plenty of room for me to do basic stretches, and a fairly big kitchen.
On the walls were many pictures. Mostly of my friends, and family, but there were some pictures of places Kurama and I enjoyed going to, or wanted to go to at some point.
Kurama was curled up on the couch, pulling out a large book and flipping through it. I headed to the kitchen, knowing from experience that Kurama couldn't cook to save his life (much to his ire, and Naruto's smug glee). In his defense, he didn't need to eat; it was more of a luxury than anything.
About halfway through making dinner, there was a quiet knock at the door. Kurama didn't glance up from his book. "It's Taji."
"Come in," I called out, "the door is unlock."
Wasn't much point of a locked door in a world filled with shinobi. I had my own security measures, certainly, but I hadn't finished installing all of them. There wasn't much of a rush when you had a very lethal, and very grumpy bijū living with you and everyone knew it.
Taji, a young woman with dark brown hair pulled back into a bun, and who liked to dress sharply, entered the room. She was wearing the largest smile I had seen today on her face. "Miwako-san, I have important news for you."
Satisfied that nothing would explode if I stepped away, I walked out of the kitchen and gave Taji a curious, but cautious look. "Is it about…?"
"Yes," Taji said quickly, beaming. "The paperwork went through. You've been approved."
Kurama sat upright on the couch, his ears raised in surprise, and his eyes wide. He remained like this for a couple of seconds, before his ears flattened against the back of his head and he awarded Taji a warning glower. "You better not be messing with her, woman…"
"I'm not," Taji exclaimed. "Miwako-san's been approved to adopt the baby. She'll be here in three days."
Warmth. Undeniable warmth, and bubbling happiness, burned inside of me. I was flying high above the clouds—soaring above all the worries and stress of life. Nothing could bring me down. Nothing could touch me.
My heart pounded furiously inside of my chest—it was so loud I could hear it in my head—and my eyes were stinging something fierce. I was so happy.
I was so, so happy.
I wanted to form words—to thank this women for all the work and effort she had put into this to making sure this was a success. I wanted to hug her, and leap up and shout to the sky that I was going to be a mother.
Yet, I couldn't.
Words failed me, and I couldn't bring any sort of sound to make it past the lump in my throat. I just stood there, trembling and crying, a stupid grin on my face.
Taji, realizing what was happening, wiped at her eyes. She was smiling so brightly at me. "I'm so happy for you, Miwako-san. It's been an honor to take this case on for you."
Two months ago, Sasuke, Kurama, and I had been sent out on a mission. A serial killer had been butchering families in one of the smaller countries—Kusagakure. We found him in no time, and put an end to him, unfortunately, not before he took care of one last family.
A family of Uzumakis.
Now, I knew the Uzumaki clan had simply scattered, and not gone completely extinct. I knew that, yet, upon realizing who they were, I hadn't been able to repress my surprise at it.
The murderer had claimed the husband, wife, and the grandfather, but we stopped him before he could harm the two-month child.
There was no one left to care for that child.
And in that moment of holding her, I knew, I knew, I wanted to adopt her.
I couldn't just up and steal her away (legally)—she was technically a citizen of Kusagakure (and a well-known one, sadly), so I brought her to my brother, and asked for his help.
Kusagakure, while on fairly good terms with Konohagakure, was not about to let us have their last Uzumaki.
The case had been a ruthless one, but Taji, our lawyer, was stubborn as can be.
"Thank you," I finally managed to whisper. Kurama had gotten off from the couch and brushed himself against me briefly in a rare gesture of comfort. "Wh-When will I…?"
"Three days," Taji said. "I'll have her delivered straight here."
"Thank you," I told her again. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, bayo."
Taji wiped at her eyes again. "It was my pleasure, Miwako-san. I hope you have a good night."
"You, too," I whispered, watching her leave. Still trembling, I fell to my knees and wrapped my arms around Kurama. "I did it, Kurama. I did it. I'm going to be a mommy. I'm going to have a daughter."
"Congratulations, kit," Kurama said softly. I sniffled and buried my face against his fur. "… Why don't we just order in tonight? I can already smell the food burning."
I gave a watery chuckle. "Yeah, okay."
"I'll go ahead and tell your moronic brother that you'll be taking maternity leave starting tomorrow," Kurama continued, "and I'll order the food. So… stop sniveling in my fur. It's gross."
Pulling back, I wiped at my nose and eyes with my sleeve. "Sorry."
"No, you're not," Kurama grumbled. "Go collect yourself."
"Okay. Thank you."
Ten minutes later there was excited pounding on my door.
"It's unlocked, idiot," Kurama snarled. He had been sitting on the couch, watching me move about the house in a tornado-like fashion, furiously cleaning and baby-proofing everything. Once I had calmed down enough to stop crying, it really hit me that I would be having a baby.
A minor panic attack had hit me, and I began to swiftly make sure everything was ready for her.
Naruto busted into the apartment, carrying bags of food. A very pregnant Hinata giggled lightly, and trailed behind him. "I have food! Don't worry, Miwako! CONGRATULATIONS, BY THE WAY!"
"Watch the volume, fool," Kurama snapped, wincing.
Naruto was practically bouncing in place, his eyes lit up. I grinned at him, my previous anxieties melting away to bubbling happiness, as they always seemed to do when I was with my precious brother. I hurled himself at him, throwing my arms around his neck and he picked me up and swung me around. "I'm going to be a mother, ya know, bayo!"
"I'm going to be an uncle, ya know!" Naruto cheered, setting me down. "Ah—Ah—where do you want this stuff?"
"We brought you dinner," Hinata explained, "and food for the week—for you and the baby. Have you picked out the furniture?"
I shook my head frantically, chewing my bottom lip. "I—I wanted to make sure I got her first, ya know?"
"I told ya, ya would," Naruto exclaimed excitedly, clapping his hands together. "Even if I had to kidnap her myself!"
"Naruto," Hinata warned lightly, "kidnapping children is never a good thing."
Naruto sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine… Not kidnaped… Rescue her myself."
"Much better," Hinata laughed.
Naruto grinned at his wife and turned back around to face me. "Then you'll have to go shopping tomorrow, yeah?"
"Mn," I confirmed. "Right now, I've just been cleaning, and… and baby-proofing most of this. I'll have to buy some actual items to properly baby-proof the apartment, but…"
"This is so great," Naruto cheered. "I'm so happy for you, Imouto."
"We both are," Hinata added.
"Thank you, Aniki, and Hina-chan," I told them, beaming.
"Yes, yes, we're all happy," Kurama grouched, "but where's the food?"
"You don't even need to eat," Naruto pointed out.
"I may not need to, but that doesn't mean I don't want to, stupid boy."
I rubbed the back of my head sheepishly the following morning as the Rookie Nine, and their spouses, along with their senseis, Team Gai, Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Shizune stood outside my apartment the following morning.
"The idiot told us last night," Sasuke explained.
"Oi!" Naruto protested.
"We're all going to work together to help you make sure the apartment is ready. Yosh!" Lee declared.
"Calm down," Neji sighed.
"Thanks," I said, smiling at all of my friends and family.
"We can split up to buy the furniture, clothes, food, medicine, and baby-proofing stuff—you can personally check in with each group," Sakura suggested.
"We want to make this as easy as we can for you," Sasame added.
I bowed, feeling my cheeks flush with pleasant embarrassment. "Thank you all very much. You have been very supportive of me these past couple months, and I'm very grateful."
Jiraiya laughed loudly and clapped me on the back. "No need to get all formal. We're all friends here, yeah?"
"That's right," I said, straightening back up and smiling.
"Naruto, Hinata, Kakashi, Gai and I will be doing the furniture and toy shopping," Sasuke said, already turning. "We'll be at Mimi's whenever you're ready to join us."
"R-Right," I said, surprised they were already organized.
"Obviously Sakura, Tsunade, Shizune, Tenten and I will be doing the clothes shopping," Ino boasted.
"Chōji, Karui, Kiba and I will be doing food shopping for the month," Jiraiya said, winking at me. Chōji gave me a thumbs up and a grin.
"A-And Shikamaru, Temari, Shino, Lee, Neji and I will be shopping for all the essential medicine you may need," Sasame added.
Asuma and Kurenai exchanged smiling glances. "We'll grab all the baby-proofing stuff you need. Trust us. We know exactly what you'll be needing."
Kurama cleared his throat. "I will be going with them."
This seemed to cause some surprise in the group and I raised an eyebrow at Kurama. "I didn't think you'd be interested in this sort of thing."
Kurama only gave a shrug in response, his gaze steadily looking away, and his ears pressed flat against the back of his head.
"What about this?" Ino demanded, holding up a little frilly pink dress with strawberries on it.
"That's not practical," Tenten objected. "What if she's a tomboy?"
"She's two months old," Tsunade said dryly. "She won't be doing much of anything, except eating, and sleeping. And dirtying some diapers, of course."
"Tsunade-sama has a point," Shizune put in. "We should get what's most comfortable for her to wear."
I cleared my throat. "Um, don't I get a say in this?"
"No," they chorused.
As I entered the furniture shop, I caught myself staring at Naruto and Gai sitting in opposite racecar beds making odd noises.
Hinata was giggling at Naruto, while Sasuke and Kakashi were nowhere to be seen.
Not missing a beat, I turned around and went to go find the only two sane people I could trust this task to. They were simple enough to find, and once I did find them, I asked, "What do you have for me?"
Kakashi gestured towards a simple wooden crib. It looked nice, and very sturdy, with pretty engravement reminiscent to a kimono's imprints. There were painted flowers all over the bottom of it, almost as if it were a field of flowers. I reached out a hand, slowly tracing it along the wood. It was smooth to the touch, no fatal flaw in sight. I gripped it, shaking it a little.
"I'll take it," I said, "if this is your best suggestion."
"It is," Sasuke replied. "I'll go grab the manager, while Kakashi shows you the rest."
I trailed behind Kakashi, and he showed me a rocking chair, changing table, dresser, chest, and bookshelf. Each of them seemed to have been made by the same person, for they all shared a similar style. I agreed to each of them by the time Sasuke returned with the manager.
"She wants them all?" Sasuke asked, glancing towards Kakashi.
"Yep," Kakashi said.
"We'll take the set, then," Sasuke told the manager.
I reached towards my pouch to grab my wallet, but Kakashi's hand snapped out and grabbed mine. He gave me his eye-smile, and was already handing a large fold of bills towards the manager, as was Sasuke. My eyes widened. "But—"
"You can't just let me spoil you this once?" Kakashi asked, seemingly hurt.
"We're paying for it with, or without your permission. It's not a burden. It's not an obligation. We want to do this, Miwako," Sasuke said flatly.
At a loss for words, I just nodded my head in awe and surprise. "Thank… you?"
"Now that we have an idea for the style you want, we'll be able to pick out the toys easily enough. Go ahead and check on Sasame and the others," Sasuke said.
I blinked. "Oh. Right. Thank you… very much."
"We're family," Kakashi said quietly. "No need to thank us."
On my way towards Sasame, I ran into Kurenai, Asuma, and Kurama.
"Are you guys already done?" I asked in surprise.
"Yep," Kurama said. "We're heading back to the apartment to set everything up."
Kurenai and Asuma eyed Kurama with open amusement. This confused me, as Kurama's ears tilted back in response—it was his way of blushing, almost.
"Yes, I suppose we will. Unless… Kurama, would you like to stay with Miwako?" Kurenai asked slyly.
His ears flattened against his head and he snarled silently at them. "Don't be absurd."
Just what happened while they were shopping to cause unusual interaction?
Knowing my thoughts were echoed—as even if Kurama could project himself outside of his prison, our connection couldn't be severed so easily—inside Kurama's head, I looked at him quizzically. He only shook his head, and proceeded to march past me.
"How much do I owe you?" I asked.
Kurenai shook her head. "No need. Jiraiya already paid for it."
My brow furrowed. "O-Oh. I see. Then, thank you for doing this."
Kurenai smiled at me. "It's not an issue at all, Miwako-chan. We're all one big family, aren't we?"
I blushed at her words. "I would like to think so, Kurenai."
Her smile grew. "Then let's leave it at that. See you later, Miwako-chan."
The day went on like that; I circled between each group, taking in their advice and purchasing a vast majority of items. Most of them helped me carry it back to the apartment—while the rest would arrive tomorrow.
It didn't take too long. By later afternoon, all the shopping was done and I was able to return home to Kurama.
On my way home, though, I ran into a familiar face.
"Gen-kun?" I asked in surprise. The young man—the previous ANBU Commander, Kitsune—awarded me with a warm smile. He had retired from his post as Commander a handful of years ago after he personally trained Kurama and I in the ways of ANBU. He became a Jōnin instructor last year, and his team would be taking the Chūnin Exams soon.
Life as a Jōnin instructor seemed to be well suited for him. After years of working in the ANBU with him, it was easy to renew our close friendship from childhood and develop it into something a bit more permanent, and stable. I knew ANBU wasn't something that Gen would be doing all his life—he had too much of a warm heart to stay in that cold place. It was I who recommended to him that he took a break and trained his own team of Genin.
Kakashi always said it was training team seven—raising us—that really helped put his Black-Ops days behind, or at least helped them become bearable. It took some needling on my part, but Gen relented and retired.
He had confided to me not even a month afterwards that it was probably the best decision he had ever made. While he missed the more interesting missions of the ANBU, his team had really become a significant part of him—he described them as his kids.
Which wasn't too far off from the truth. Two of them were orphans, and the other came from a rich family whose parents rarely spared her the time of day. Short of adopting them, they were his kids. They were a family.
"I was looking for you," Gen said, an easy smile on his face. "I heard you were successful in your adoption."
"Yes. I'll be getting her in a couple days," I said, smiling in return.
"That's amazing," Gen congratulated me. "I'm really happy for you."
I beamed. "Thank you. Kurama and I have been looking forward to this for a while."
Gen chuckled. "That grouch? Will he, ah, be helping you raise her?"
I shrugged. "I wouldn't presume him to, but he might. He's really happy for me, even if he won't admit it."
"How can you tell?" Gen inquired.
My eyes brightened. "You know already, Gen. I'm his jinchūriki."
Gen shook his head. "No, no. If that was the case then Naruto could read him like a book. I've always been curious about this, but never really wanted to pry. Now, though… Well… you two always seem to know what the other is thinking. And you've… well, frankly, you don't show as much interest in anyone else like you do with him."
I hesitated, "What… do you mean?"
Gen's eyes widened as he realized what he had implied. "Not… not in that sense, just… That you feel more comfortable with him than anyone else."
"How can you tell?"
Surprisingly, his cheeks took on a light pinkish hue and he glanced away. "Just… can."
Uncertain of what to say, I remained quiet.
It was true that over the years Kurama had been my closest companion, short of my brother, then Kakashi and Jiraiya, then Sasuke. While I cared for all of my comrades deeply, and there was very little I wouldn't do for them, it was hard to care for them like I cared for Kurama.
Kurama… I had, literally, opened up my mind to Kurama. Because of our connection as jinchūriki and prisoner, we were able to share our thoughts and feelings with one another instantaneously. When I released that seal, and I shared every bit of me to him, it opened a whole new connection. We never had to express ourselves through words or physical actions, because the other could simply feel it through the seal.
Granted, this connection was entirely one-sided when I originally opened the seal. Kurama was extremely careful not to let his emotions echo back to me. Over time, though, through a combination of Kurama sincerely opening up to me, and I being able to pick up his cues easier… the connection wasn't so one-sided.
That kind of connection—that kind of companionship was… incredible. To have that complete openness with someone and have them return it with acceptance was… amazing.
Of course, there were moments where I wished he couldn't sense what I was feeling. Times he frustrated me to no end, but those moments were far and few in between. It was hard to stay mad at someone that literally saw you at your worst, saw all of your shameful moments and still accepted you.
So, naturally, I was very comfortable around Kurama. He was my sun, and I his shadow—or maybe I was his sun and he was the shadow? He was constant, and it would feel incorrect if he wasn't with me.
We were more than friends. Kindred spirits would be the most accurate description for us, I suppose.
We would never be romantically involved—for numerous reasons—but I doubted that I would ever find that sort of companionship, or even seek it out.
Because no matter who I chose, no matter who I courted, it would pale in comparison to absolute acceptance I felt with Kurama. Physical relationships seemed rather mundane, too, when I compared the two. Well, that, and I quite literally lost that drive a long time ago. Hormone supplements could only go so far, after all.
I was spoiled in my companionship with my dearest friend.
I didn't need or want anything further. I was genuinely, sincerely, and absolutely happy with my life right now.
Explaining that connection, however, was difficult. Those who have never been a bijū host couldn't understand the mental connection that can be opened up between the two. The closest normal people that could understand would be the Yamanaka family—and indeed, I had described the connection to Ino, and she related it to a rather intimate form of mind walking shared between closest comrades in the family. She also said that had I described it to anyone else, I would have probably sounded insane.
Clearing my throat, I managed, "We've been through a lot together. It's hard not to feel comfortable around someone who is literally inside your head all the time."
Gen gave a small smile. "I guess that's true. I just… Well… I knew that you lost interest in… well, dating, around the same time that Kurama was given a physical form…"
I laughed at his assumption. "I'm not into bestiality, thank you. I'm just… well, you know what happened with the Akatsuki. Once the war was over, I asked Tsunade to give me a different sort of supplements. I didn't care too much for being interested in anyone, as I was worried it would cause me to lose focus on my dreams for the bijū. I was determined to not get sidetracked, hence why I left the village with Jiraiya to stay with the toads during that time. After a while of being on it for a while… I just liked not liking anyone.
"It gave me time to focus on myself without worrying over others. I got to figure more about who I was, and what I wanted outside of my brother and the bijū. I don't need a romantic companion to be happy. I've accomplished a lot in my life time. I've made numerous lifelong friends, fought so many battles and won. I've become an established fūinjutsu master, and I've pioneered a new life for bijū.
"And now I'm blessed with being able to start a family of mine, to have a daughter that I can raise and love, just as my mother wanted to do with me. It may be a bit of an unconventional family, but I know this girl will be coming home to a wonderful life, filled with people who love her and will support her," I finished softly. Then, realizing I had been talking for a while and Gen was looking at me with that soft warm gaze of his, I blushed sheepishly. "I'm sorry for the monologue. I know it must seem strange to a lot of people that I'm choosing to raise her without a father, but…"
Gen reached out and grabbed my shoulder, squeezing. "That girl may not have an ordinary family, but it's not less of a family. I really am happy for you, Miwako. I hope you know that I'll always support you."
I gently took his hand in my own, smiling openly at him. "I know, Gen-kun. You're a true friend, and I'm grateful to have you."
A conflicted look crossed over his face before he cleared his throat and pulled his hand away. "You're probably wanted back at home. I'll see you around, Miwa-chan.'
"So…" I trailed off, raising an eyebrow as I entered the apartment.
Kurama crawled onto the couch, sniffing. "What?"
I smiled slyly, plopping down onto the red couch next to him. "Mind telling me what happened with Kurenai and Asuma?"
He snorted. "I merely asked questions."
"That's all," Kurama insisted.
"Okay," I allowed, still smiling. "Then what were the questions?"
Curiously, Kurama seemed even more embarrassed than before. His ears were pressed hard against the back of his head and he seemed to bury his snout into the book he had pulled out. "N-Nothing of consequence."
"Kurama," I sung, leaning on my beloved companion. I rested my head on his shoulder, looking up at him with the smuggest look I could muster.
His red eyes glanced over my way before they quickly snapped back towards the book—I realized it was even upside down at that point—and his tails curled and uncurled anxiously.
I wrapped my arms around him, singing again, "Kurama…"
"FINE!" he howled, throwing me off him and standing up. He stood on his hind legs, his face twisted into a snarl while his tails still waved around in obvious anxious embarrassment. "But you will NEVER speak of this again!" he roared his words.
Amused at his reaction, I answered, "I promise."
"I was… merely asking them what it mean to… to raise a horrific abomination!" Kurama snapped.
I frowned at that, waiting for him to continue. Kurama seethed, and he seemed to have great difficulty spitting out the words. "I only asked questions in… in what to do. In… in what would… be… the… best… way… What I would need to do to… to… How to become an acceptable pare… pare… paren…"
He shuddered. "That's it. That's all it was."
My eyes widened as I realized exactly what Kurama was getting at. "You wanted to know how to be a good parent."
He snarled at me. "I'll be leaving now."
I leapt up from the couch, grabbing his clawed hand and pulling him towards me. In a smooth motion, I had wrapped my arms around him and was hugging him tightly. "You are so not going anywhere, Kurama."
Kurama growled and roared at me, his form convulsing—it was obvious he was torn between ripping me apart and storming away, and just accepting what was coming his way.
I pulled away from him, my eyes shining and a smile blooming its way across my face. "There's nothing wrong with asking those questions, Kurama. In fact, it makes me very happy you did. Kurama, you mean the absolute world to me and I want you to be a big part in this child's life with me."
Kurama's ears twitched, and I slowly stepped away from him, giving him room. "You've been a constant in my life, Kurama. You have always been there for me, and I know my trust will never be betrayed by you. I trust you with more than my life, Kurama. I trust you with my happiness."
Kurama's gaze lowered. "I know."
"And I know this will probably be a big change for us," I allowed, "and neither of us really have experience in this area, but… but I know we'll do very well together. I have faith in us, Kurama. The two of us—the two of us really could take over the world together."
He snorted, his tails settling down. "Of course we could. Everyone is a peasant beneath us."
"Exactly," I laughed, smiling warmly. "I love you, Kurama. You're the greatest partner anyone could ask for."
Kurama's ears cocked forward towards me—a sign of affection I had learned from my many years with him. "You're okay." He cleared his throat. "Since this… brat… will be a part of your life—and consequentially my life—it just… You are obviously very excited for this to work out well, and I..."
He shrugged, obviously uncomfortable with finishing.
I reached forward and grabbed his hand, squeezing. "I know."
He didn't have to say it. He never had to say how he felt.
I always knew. I could read him like a book.
I didn't want to let you down.
Reaching forward, I gently kissed the top of his head. "I'm always proud of you, Kurama, and I know you'll be a wonderful influence for her."
He snorted, a sort of pleased foxy grin crawling its way on his face.
She was tiny.
Her hair was a curly bright red, and she was currently bundled up in a soft pink blanket. The day she arrived was a nonstop party from morning until evening. Everyone wanted to meet her, and everyone wanted to congratulate me.
When the meet-greets were finally over, the three of us returned to the newly refurbished and baby-proof apartment.
Exhausted, I collapsed onto the couch while Kurama went to order some food.
My eyes, as they had all day, returned back to my daughter.
I couldn't seem to say it enough—couldn't seem to think it enough.
I had a daughter.
I had a daughter.
My little Rirī.
She was asleep—the poor girl was so tired from all the ruckus today.
Kurama opened and closed the fridge, snorting. "The top shelf is filled with nothing but breast milk!" he complained. "This place is going to reek."
I laughed. "Don't be silly. Come on, we should put her in her bed. I'm sure she'll wake up soon in a couple hours anyway."
"You and the brat should be grateful you have me," Kurama sneered. "I don't need to sleep."
"I don't need nearly as much sleep as others do, either," I pointed out, ruefully getting up from the couch. Kurama smirked at me, trailing behind me. I headed down the short hallway, entering her bedroom. With ease, I switched my grip on her to pull back the blankets in the crib.
However, when it came time to actually placing her in it…
I bit my bottom lip, giving a torn look between her and the crib.
"Miwako…" Kurama warned.
"But she's finally here!" I whined softly.
His face twisted into an annoyed snarl, and he gracefully took her out of my arms before putting her in the crib. "Let the monster sleep comfortably for at least a little while before you harass her with your motherhood obsession."
I stuck my tongue out at him and he deftly swatted me with his tails.
"Now let's go eat," Kurama grouched. "It's been a long day."
"Really? It seems like it flew by for me."
Too quiet for me to hear, Kurama muttered softly, "Me, too…"
Woo hoo! Another one down.
I hate fight scenes though. Like… I hate them so much. It was Tobito's fight that really put this story on such a long hold because no matter how I wrote it, I just wasn't happy with it. I don't think I will ever the type of author that drags out fight scenes, no matter what. Completed four other big stories by this point and I just cannot bring myself to enjoy writing fight scenes.
On that note: if you see any typos / grammatical errors / contradictions please let me know. I did my best to catch errors, but I know sometimes my brain just automatically fixes what I'm seeing so I don't catch everything. The contradictions are pretty important, too, as I don't want to leave any gaping plot holes. I think I didn't leave any obvious ones, but it's been a while since I originally started this story, so who knows?
Words: 249, 499
Favorites: 3, 251
Follows: 3, 538
Reviews: 2, 829
Pages: 635 (It was those movies that really added the umpth)
IN REGARDS TO THE ROMANCE / KURAMA AND MIWAKO:
Honestly, after everything Miwako has gone through, and her severe trust issues, I don't think romance was really in her cards. I'm not even sure if she'd be able to have a proper relationship, even if she had the body parts for a sex drive.
In truth, if she were to "end up" with anyone, it would be Kurama. Not in a bestiality manner, I don't think that would cross their minds. I just think their relationship is something closer to total and complete acceptance of one another. They care, obviously, very deeply about each other. They love each other, even. But, in regards to the more lustful kind of love? I just don't see either of them holding much interest in it.
Kurama for the obvious reason of he wasn't built for that kind of thing, and Miwako because that kind of love would just be too intense for her to handle in a healthy manner.
In my head these two are inseparable. They have an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind-bond that transcends the simple idea of "romance". What they have is important, precious, and unique. It's rare, nearly impossible, to find someone you can be entirely open to, trust completely, and love unconditionally.
These two would grow old together, happily enjoying each other's company for however long the other is around. They would support each other; care for each other; and most importantly: accept one another.
Which was, essentially, one of my biggest themes for this story: acceptance.
To accept another, you first have to accept yourself.
I am sorry for those of you that wanted her to end up with Kitsune or Sasuke, but with the way I have built Miwako, and to best go along with my themes (acceptance, endurance, growth), I just don't see her opening herself up to them the way she has with Kurama.
Kurama is the only one to know about her past life. He's the only one who knows and has firsthand experience to her very interworking. Her mind was literally opened up to him. And in time, he returned the favor.
I know this Kurama has developed to become vastly different from canon, but I do believe I developed him in a reasonable manner throughout the story that this ending doesn't seem farfetched.
Sorry again for the atrociously long wait for this ending!
Funfact: Rirī means Lilly
I did draw a final fanart for this ending, little Rirī as a toddler being held by Miwako. Link should be on profile, or you can just go to my deviantART account (Charredblossom16), or copy and paste from nyere:
I wanted to draw Kurama with them—as a kind of family photo, but I can't draw animals worth shit, so that got scrapped.
Thank you everyone who went through this story with me—whether from the start, or just somewhere along the way, or maybe even after this story has been completed. It's been a hell of a ride, but a very enjoyable one at that.
I hope I succeeded in conveying character development, as well as my themes of acceptance/endurance.
Happy musings, my dears.
So one last time!
Reviews are love!