Chapter 1 | Growth

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''Kaira-chan, are you also coming with us to Ichiraku's?''  Naruto asked, sounding quite hopeful. ''I'm treating!'' He added quickly, trying to make his offer sound more tempting

Kaira buried her face further into her scarf when a cold breeze caressed her rosy cheeks. Shaking her head, she declined. ''Thanks for inviting me, but I have to get back home. I can't leave Daichi in Izuna's hands any longer.''

Naruto pursed his lips and nodded, understanding why she couldn't tag along. He was a bit disappointed. Not only he, but also Ino and Choji were slightly disappointed. Kaira wasn't exactly the most fun person to have dinner with. She didn't say much and always left early, but they all knew she was trying. She had warmed up to Naruto and his friends, but she still preferred to stay at home as much as possible. Ino nodded and smiled. ''Maybe next time then.'' She said, before her smile spread to a grin. ''Say hi to Daichi-chan for me!''

Kaira smiled now as well and put her hands in her pockets to keep them warm. Another reason she wanted to go home; she couldn't wait until she got home to hide herself under her warm bed sheets. ''I will.''

After saying goodbye, Kaira continued to walk the way home. This day had been a busy day for her. She had to get up before the sun rose and she finished work when the sun was under, which meant that she was away from home the whole time. She absolutely hated days like this. She'd rather stay at home with her son, Daichi, to take care of him. 

Her job was simple, but tiring. Scouting the area around the village the whole day was really exhausting. Normally, it was just a few hours per day, but when threats were around, like today, she and the others had to keep up their guard and couldn't leave their post all day. Just a few minutes ago, the other scout team came to take their place.

''Ah, Kaira-san!''

Upon hearing her name, Kaira looked over her shoulder and saw Sayuri walking at her, waving happily. ''Are you going home?'' She asked curiously as she caught up with the Uchiha.

''Yeah,'' Kaira breathed tiredly. ''I need to put Daichi to bed. You're going to Izuna?"

A huge smile broke out on her face and Sayuri nodded enthusiastically. ''He invited me over for dinner!''

Kaira looked at her from the corners of her eyes, narrowing them. ''Were your parents okay with that?'' She asked reluctantly. ''They don't really like us.''

And her parents weren't the only ones. Kaira understood very well that the citizens of Konoha wouldn't accept them so easily. They belonged to an organization which brought terror to this village, so, of course, people would be against them settling here. Naruto and his friends were the first ones to greet them every day, talk to them and treat them as equals. Though that was only because of their connections to Sasuke, that was what Kaira assumed.

''It's childish.'' Sayuri sighed and looked at the ground, furrowing her eyebrows in disappointment. ''Izuna and I have been together for a year now, and they still don't want him in our house.'' She murmured quietly. ''But at least they're letting me go to his place now. I can still remember the time when they wouldn't let me meet with him at all.''

''It's only normal to despise us, to be careful around us. We were criminals after all'' Kaira muttered softly. ''We all have been working hard for the village. It'd be easier for everyone if they'd stop looking at our pasts and start looking at what we are doing now.'' She pursed her lips in frustration before she continued. ''It's not like we're here just to live on here, but we're all seriously trying to repent for the bad that we've done.''

''I can see that.'' Sayuri said, smiling kindly. ''And the others will, too. Just give them the time.''

.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.

''Ah, Kaira, Sayuri!'' Izuna spoke as he saw us enter the room together before he turned back to the saucepan in front of him. ''I'm almost done with the food.''

Kaira ran a hand through her hair and rubbed her eyes in exhaustion. ''I'll pass, I'm tired and I'm not that hungry anyway.'' She murmured as neared her brother. ''Is Daichi in the living room?''

Izuna nodded without turning his gaze away. ''He fell asleep on the couch about an hour ago.'' He chuckled, taking two plates out of the cabinet.

''I hope he wasn't troubling you.'' Kaira spoke slowly.

Izuna shook his head and took some knives and forks from the drawer where the cutlery lay. ''Nah, he was a real angel. I played with him a bit and after that he slept peacefully. No trouble at all.'' Kaira could hear the amusement in his voice, which made her feel a bit better about always relying on him when she needed someone to watch her son.

''Thanks for looking after him, Izuna.'' Kaira said as she carefully lifted her son off the couch and held him in her arms. Fortunately, the sudden change of position didn't wake him. ''I'm going to sleep now as well. Have a nice dinner, you two.

''Are you sure you don't want to eat anything, Kaira-san?'' Sayuri asked, concern clearly visible on her face. ''You've worked all day.''

Kaira looked down and smiled softly as she brushed her fingers gently over Daichi's cheek. The sight of him always made her feel better no matter how bad or tired she felt. ''I'm fine.''

''You can always come if you're hungry.'' Izuna said. ''I cooked for four people but Suki just let me know that she's eating out with colleagues. Sayuri and I can't eat that much so there'll always be leftovers.''

''I can take some with me for lunch tomorrow, but I don't think I can get anything down my throat now.'' Kaira said. ''I'm going to my room now. Good night.''

''Good night.'' ''Good night, Kaira-san.''

After Kaira had left the room with Daichi and closed the door behind he, Izuna sighed and scratched the back of his head. ''She's gotten very... how to say it? Motherly?'' He muttered. ''I can still remember how much help she needed when she got Daichi, but now she's doing almost everything herself. Well, she only comes to me when I need to watch him.''

Sayuri pursed her lips and turned her head to face Izuna. ''She doesn't really have a choice. Without Sasuke here, she's all on her own.'' She said as she slowly began to walk at him, the delicious smell of the food filling her nostrils. ''She also doesn't want to lean on the people around her too much. I think it's a good thing that she wants to be independent. She is his mother, after all.''

Izuna smiled and nodded in agreement. He was really glad. At first, he didn't think Kaira'd be able to do it. She needed so much support and sometimes it became too much for her. It was tough, but now, she had grown.

Both as a person and as a mother.

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