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Hear the Silence

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The first morning after Isshun had left on her mission, Kyo woke up in her parents' bed.

Which made sense, because she'd asked Kou if she could sleep with him last night when he'd been helping her prepare for bed.

Her tou-san hadn't had the heart to say no.

Kyo slowly pushed herself into an upright position, peering around the room, taking in the soft sunlight from the window. It was clearly very early; barely passed dawn, judging by the light.

“Good morning, Kyo-chan,” Kou murmured beside her, making Kyo glance down at him.

The man rolled over onto his stomach and buried half his face in his pillow, peering up at her with one half-lidded eye.

A moment later, one of his arms had snaked around her waist and pulled her down next to him.

“Tou-san!” Kyo complained, though there was the potential for laughter in her voice.

“What?” Kou grumbled. “It's far too early to get up,” he declared and proceeded to cuddle her like a teddy-bear, trapping her quite efficiently against his chest. Gently.

“It's not early,” Kyo lied, giggling when her father's fingers twitched at her sides.

Kou snorted. “The sun's hardly up,” he pointed out dryly, rolling onto his back and bringing Kyo with him so that she was lying on her back on his chest. “Look; it's practically dark out.”

Kyo dutifully looked at the window, and couldn't help but laugh. Because the sky was a pale but cheerful blue and sunlight was clearly streaming into the room.

“Liar,” she couldn't help but snicker.

“Weird. I can't see anything,” Kou mused drowsily, and when Kyo craned her neck to look up at him, it was easy to see why.

“You need to open your eyes, tou-san,” she managed to get out between helpless giggles and the occasional snort.

“Ah,” Kou sighed. “My daughter is too smart for her own good.” And he cracked his eyes open to peer down at her.

Kyo let out a small shriek and tried to worm out of his hold when he began to tickle her.

A while later, they were both dressed and ready for breakfast.

Kyo curiously watched her father stare dispassionately at the stove, as if it had personally insulted him. He'd already gotten out and prepared the ingredients for a simple breakfast.

“But you know how to cook,” she finally blurted, the words on her mind slipping out of her mouth before she could stop them.

“I can make a perfectly decent meal over a campfire,” her tou-san muttered wryly. “Got less experience cooking in a proper kitchen, though.”

Kyo blinked, slipped off her chair and then skipped up to her dad, twisting the knobs on the stove until the gas turned on and ignited and was turned up to an appropriate level.

“Kaa-san does it all the time,” she explained simply, glancing up at her dad's bemused expression.

Kou shrugged and got the frying pan. “It's a good thing we make such a good team,” he mused, ruffling her hair and nudging her back towards the table.

Kyo grinned and bounced back to her seat.

“Are we going back to the training field today?” She wondered once she'd eaten her fill. Not as good as Isshun's cooking, or even as good as the food her tou-san tended to make during their camp practise lessons, but definitely edible and perfectly alright.

“Yes, so go get your kunai holster,” Kou said, collecting the dishes and putting them in the sink. He looked like he was contemplating whether to wash them now or later, but in the end, he turned the water on with a sigh. “And then I want you to put plasters on all the blisters you got yesterday!” He called after her when she ran to her room.

“Okay!” Kyo shouted back.

She got the holster from the bedside table in her room, then went by the bathroom to get the small medical kit they had there, before returning to the kitchen and putting her armful onto the kitchen table.

“Tou-san, can you help be with the holster?” She asked as she crawled up onto the closest chair and settled down.

“Sure,” Kou agreed easily, not taking his eyes off the dishes he was quickly and efficiently going through. “Get started on your hands, though, and I'll help you when I'm done with this.”

“Okay,” Kyo said, turning her attention to the first aid kit.

By the time her tou-san was done, she had put plasters on the worst of the burst blisters she'd gotten over the course of the last week; she was fairly sure she'd gotten blisters on top of her blisters.

Tou-san was taking care of putting the salve on them after every practise, though, so it wasn't that painful. At least not as painful as it could have been.

“Let me take a look,” Kou said after he'd wiped his hands dry.

Kyo held up her hands, which were mostly covered by white medical tape and the occasional plaster.

Her father hummed. “You'll build up the callouses soon enough,” he assured her at the unhappy pout she knew she was sporting but couldn't really get rid of.

She sighed. “But my aim is getting better?” She perked up a little, and Kou smiled.

“It would be hard for you to get worse, kitten,” he teased, winking at the outraged look she sent him in response. “Okay, stand up,” he directed next, picking up the thigh holster. “Look at how I do it.”

“I know, but it's too heavy, tou-san,” Kyo groused. “If I try holding it with one hand, I drop it.” She scowled.

“You'll grow into it,” Kou assured her, laughing softly.

Kyo rolled her eyes. “That's what kaa-san says, too,” she muttered.

And she knew it was true, but why did it have to take so long? The bouts of impatience were coming more often now that she could do more on her own. Like getting a taste of the real deal before having reality crash down on her head again.

“That's because it's true, Kyo-chan.” Kou smiled and then lifted her down to the floor, keeping any pain he might be feeling at the action off of his face. “Now let's go.”

“Yes, tou-san,” Kyo said, walking towards the hallway, followed closely by her father.

While Kyo practised her aim, throwing kunai after kunai in a dull, repetitive manner that was rather monotonous but necessary, Kou worked on getting back into shape.

It was fascinating to watch him, whenever she had to collect her knives, or when she needed a breather or risk bursting into tears from growing frustration levels.

Kyo kept at it, though. Right up until it felt like the skin was coming off her fingers, her arms ached and it felt like her stomach was gnawing on her spine.

“Tou-san!” She called once she had put her kunai away, hands held to her mouth to help her voice carry. “Lunch!” She added when the man paused what he was doing to glance over.

Kou glanced up at the sky, to get the sun's position, relaxed out of the kata he'd been in the middle of -a different set from the ones he had taught her- and walked towards her.

Kyo eyed him carefully, taking in the perspiration on his brow and the way his chest worked to provide him with enough oxygen.

“Kaa-san said to take it easy,” she reminded him carefully, not completely sure how he would take the sort-of-reprimand.

“I know, kitten,” Kou sighed heavily, grimacing a little, but not at her, she didn't think. “This is it for me today, unfortunately.”

“Okay,” Kyo said. “Should we stretch?” She asked, partly because she thought her arms might need it, and partly because her tou-san definitely looked like he should. “My arms feel like they're gonna fall off,” she added with a frown.

Kou huffed out a quiet laugh. “I'll show you how to stretch them out properly,” he promised.

Once they were done with that, the two of them set off back towards Konoha proper.

“We're meeting up with Yuuta and Ryota for lunch today,” Kou eventually said, making Kyo blink and look up at him.

“Does that mean I'm old enough to meet them properly?” Kyo wondered curiously.

Kou glanced at her. “What do you mean?”

“Yuuta told me I hadn't met them before because it's customary to wait until children start the Academy,” she told him easily, near enough skipping along beside her dad.

She didn't get it; a moment ago she'd been exhausted, but now she was fine? Being a kid again was honestly baffling.

“Did he?” Kou muttered, and there was a small, wickedly amused smirk on his face. “That's interesting.”

Kyo glanced up at him, but when he didn't say anything else, let it go to jump in a water puddle that had survived from the rain they'd gotten two days ago.

Kou led her to what looked to be a bar or restaurant.

When he moved to enter, she slipped her hand into his and made sure to walk close to her dad's leg. That didn't mean she wasn't curious; just a bit cautious.

Her tou-san seemed to know where he was going, though. He even greeted the man working behind the counter-thing like he knew him. Which probably meant he'd been here before.

A lot.

“Kou!” Yuuta called once they'd gotten half-way through the restaurant, and her tou-san steered them towards that table without pause.

“Hey, guys,” Kou greeted them with a smile, helping Kyo climb onto the booth seat with one hand and then sitting down next to her. “I've been told you've already met Kyo.”

“Yup,” Kyo chirped, curiously trying to look everywhere at once, staring around the restaurant and the customers with wide eyes. “At the hospital.”

“Yeah,” Yuuta said slowly, blinking a bit at Kyo before turning to her dad. “What happened to the kid's hands?” He sounded like he somehow doubted Kou's parental skills, now that Isshun was no longer in the village.

“Blisters,” Kyo chirped before her dad could so much as blink.

He sent her an amused glance, before turning back to his two teammates. “I heard that the two of you would've liked to wait with the meet and greet until Kyo start the Academy,” he drawled casually, slumping back in his seat and eyeing his two friends with blatant amusement.

“No offence to your kid, of course,” Ryota returned evenly. “But it's not like we have much in common with her until then.”

Kou snorted. “Kyo, did you remember to bring part of kaa-san's lesson with you?” He asked, not taking his amused gaze off his teammates.

Kyo tilted her head, but instead of answering, she began to go through her pockets. She was pretty sure she had remembered...

“Yeah!” She cheerfully exclaimed once she'd found what she was looking for, holding the small, carefully folded square of paper up for her dad to see. “Should I take it now?”

“You would know better than me, kitten,” her tou-san replied amusedly.

Kyo blinked, thought it over and slowly nodded. “Kaa-san said we're almost done with this one, so it would probably be better,” she mused, and proceeded to carefully open the folded paper packet. A task made harder by all the medical tape and band-aids on her sore, stiff fingers.

Then, with little fanfare, she tipped the fine powder into her mouth and swallowed it down, the bitter taste familiar by now and hardly enough to make her so much as blink.

When she had tucked away the paper into one of her pockets and turned back to the three men sharing the table with her, two of them staring intently at her.

“What?” She asked, blinking confusedly.

Instead of answering her, Yuuta and Ryota turned on her tou-san.

“Tell me that wasn't what I think it was,” Yuuta near-demanded. “Isshun isn't even in the village.”

Kyo tilted her head, peering at the man. “Kaa-san's been giving me lessons almost a year now,” she informed the man primly, smiling sweetly. “Tou-san's teaching me to throw kunai properly, too,” she added happily, proudly showing off her battered hands.

Kou ruffled her hair, making her frown and bat at the offending paw. “What do you want to eat, kitten?”

“You choose,” she returned, not even having to think about it.

If her tou-san really had been here a lot before, then he'd know what was good and it wasn't like she had any dietary restrictions here. Which always managed to send a spark of glee through her.

“So what else have your parents been teaching you?” Ryota asked, giving her a curious look.

Kyo peered back at him, sent her father a questioning look and when he nodded, seriously thought about it.

“There's lessons with kaa-san, which is fun,” she smiled, “katas, camping and throwing kunai with tou-san.” She frowned a second. “Meditating?” She offered quizzically, peering at her dad again.

“Isn't that a bit much? The kid's only three,” Yuuta asked carefully.

“Oh, and the chakra thing!” Kyo added with a grin, having just remembered. It was almost disturbingly easy to forget, sometimes, because chakra was such a normal thing here.

When she practised with her kaa-san it felt like just another game, really.

Kou paused. “What 'chakra thing'?” He asked, peering curiously at her.

Kyo eagerly held out her hands towards her father, palms up. “Put your hands on top of mine, tou-san,” she instructed eagerly. She'd actually wanted to show him, but had forgotten all about it when the man had gotten injured.

Kou readily enough did as asked, sliding his much larger hands over hers so that their palms were touching.

Or, rather, Kou's palms were covering all of Kyo's hands and then some.

Kyo closed her eyes, face screwing up in concentration before she managed to direct a small layer of chakra to her hands.

Chakra was strange; it was a bit like having an extra set of muscles, but at the same time, it was more like an extra sense. Flexing it took practise and focus.

It was getting easier the more she practised, but after having identified it that first time, she was almost always aware of it on some level now. It was just there, like a small pool of comforting warmth in the pit of her stomach.

Kyo opened her eyes and pulled her hands downwards, grinning with satisfaction when her father's hands were pulled down with hers, effectively stuck together by her chakra.

A small, barely noticeable pulse of chakra from Kou had them separated in a jiffy, and Kyo looked up at him with a wide, proud smile.

Kou grinned right back. “You've been holding out on me, Kyo,” he accused, ruffling her hair again until she couldn't help but laugh.

“Stop it!” She whined, pushing his hand off her head, and she just knew her hair was standing on end now. “You're making it static,” she grumbled, still managing to sound out the word her kaa-san had informed her was the correct term just the other week. “Didn't you bring me here for food, tou-san?” She asked next, trying to make her hair lie flat again. “I'm hungry,” she informed him with a sniff.

Kou sighed with exaggerated disappointment. “Bossy little thing, isn't she?” He asked Ryota, who just blinked back.

“Are you sure you're Kou's daughter? Isshun I can sort of see, but this guy?” Yuuta asked with a small, teasing smile playing around the corners of his mouth, jerking his thumb at Kou, who rolled his eyes.

“I'm gonna order the kitten and me something to eat, so keep an eye on them while I'm gone, Kyo,” he requested with a smirk.

“Okay,” Kyo chirped, smothering a giggle into the crook of her arm, peering up at the two shinobi who were staring after her Tou-san with bemused looks on their faces.

Kyo leaned her arm against the table and rested her head against it. “Are you two doing missions on your own when tou-san's re-cuper-ating?”

Ryota smoothly turned back to look at her. “We can work together with other teams, though not as well,” he said blankly. “So basically, yes.”

“Oh,” Kyo blinked wondering what that would mean for them. “Tou-san's probably going to be well enough to go back to work soon,” she admitted, drooping at the thought.

“We'll do our best to bring him back to the village, kid,” Yuuta said after an uncomfortable lull in the conversation.

“I know,” Kyo returned solemnly. “But if both tou-san and kaa-san are away, I have to stay with obaa-san,” she told them, scowling at the thought.

Ryota began to laugh, a low, rusty-sounding thing that nonetheless conveyed his cheer and good humour well enough.

“Ah, yes. Good old Haname.” He shook his head. “I bet she's happy about you following in your parents' footsteps,” he mused with a wicked grin, showing a bit more teeth than strictly necessary.

“Ecstatic,” Kou said with a snort, putting a plate of something that smelled heavenly in front of Kyo, who perked up, practically drooling at the sight of food.

She was perfectly happy to listen silently to the three adults' conversation while she consumed her lunch.

It felt like quite the feat, but she managed to eat all of it.

When she was done, she put the chopsticks on the plate, pushed it further onto the table, away from the edge, and then crawled into her dad's lap and almost instantly fell asleep.

She wouldn't wake up until the next morning, and she could only hope her tou-san had gotten one of his friends to carry her home, because he really shouldn't carry any weight until his wounds were fully healed.

-x-x-x-