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Hear the Silence

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“I'm home,” Kyo called out tiredly, having returned from the latest courier mission. Kusa border, this time.

“In the kitchen, Kyo,” kaa-san replied softly, and yeah, it was late; Genma was no doubt asleep.

The last few weeks had been hectic, but at least Katsurou-sensei had kept to his word and not treated her the slightest bit different from how he always had.

It was actually a weight off her shoulders, someone finally knowing.

She hadn't realised how much the secret was pulling on her conscience until it had been lifted, at least partially. Kyo felt happier now.

“Hey, kaa-san,” she said once she'd stumbled out of her shoes and trudged into the kitchen.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Isshun sighed once she got her first look at her. She put her mug down on the kitchen table and rose to her feet. “Are you okay? Katsurou brought you by the hospital, yes?”

“Yeah.” Kyo rubbed at her eyes, blinking blearily at her mother. “It's not that deep; 's gonna be healed in a few days, medic said so.”

“Good.” Isshun sighed, tracing a careful finger over the bandages on her left arm and shoulder.

Iwa nin were vicious, and she'd been hit with high-velocity stone fragments. At least she hadn't been crushed by the earth jutsu like the Iwa Chuunin had intended before Katsurou-sensei killed him, so that was a plus.

“Are you hungry?” Kaa-san asked softly, cupping her cheek and pressing a quick kiss to her temple.

“Mhm,” Kyo hummed tiredly. When was she not hungry? Never, that's when. “Food?”

“Of course,” Isshun replied. She didn't ask if it was okay for her to eat it cold, because neither of them cared much about something like that. “Here you go, Kyo,” she said, putting a plate down in front of her.

Kyo dug in with remarkable gusto considering how exhausted she was.

When she was done, she turned her attention to Isshun, who smiled at her.

“What are you drinking?” She asked. It didn't smell like tea, though she was vaguely aware of having smelled it before.

“This?” Isshun tilted her mug, her smile taking on an fond tint. “This is something of a family tradition, I suppose.” She gave Kyo a considering look, took another sip and then got up to get the kettle. “The tradition, as it was taught to me, is that you get to start to drink this once you've had your first kill.”

Kyo blinked. “But-” She'd had her first kill already, about a year ago, actually.

“You're so very young, Kyo,” her kaa-san sighed softly. “This is highly poisonous, and in our family, we've always waited longer to send our children into the field compared to other Clans.”

“So I'm too young?” Kyo asked belatedly, realising her mum had been waiting for some sort of response.

“I didn't start my poison lessons as early as you did, so I think it would be alright if you had a little.” Isshun hummed thoughtfully. “I'll show you how to make it later, when you're more well rested, okay?”

“Okay,” Kyo agreed easily, accepting the one quarter full cup and took a sip. “This tastes good,” she murmured around the rim of the mug, blinking with surprise.

Poisons tended to taste bitter, but this was sort of sweet.

Well, more spicy than sweet, but there was a definitely pleasant taste to it.

“It's Bloodroot.” Isshun smiled, taking a sip of her own mug.

Kyo paused in the act of taking another sip. “The actual root?” She couldn't help but ask.

Because that was seriously potent stuff.

Isshun hummed an affirmative with a secretive smile.

“Now, drink your tea and then off to bed,” she urged her gently. “Genma's been missing you, so he'll want to spend as much time with you as possible tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Kyo drained her 'tea' and then hopped off her chair and wandered off towards the bathroom. “G'night. Love you, kaa-san.”

“Love you, too, Kyo,” Isshun returned softly, getting up to clean up the kitchen and go to bed herself, too.

.

The next morning, Kyo woke up relatively late.

She got up, didn't bother to get dressed, and instead just wandered sleepily into kaa-san's room and climbed up onto the mattress, finally collapsing next to her mum.

“Good morning,” Isshun said softly, snaking one arm out from under the covers and around Kyo, pulling her closer into a semi-hug.

Kyo grunted a vague response, feeling something press against her hair quickly. “What are we doin' today?” She asked quietly an indefinable time later, feeling slightly more human.

“If the weather was nice, I was planning on the park, and then I need to pick up groceries on the way home,” Isshun told her lightly. “Did you have something different in mind?”

“No,” Kyo assured her easily. It sounded nice. “I need to get some reading done, too,” she admitted, absently rubbing at one of her eyes. “Sensei gave us a few scrolls to memorize,” she added at kaa-san's inquisitive glance.

Isshun hummed and pulled her into a tight hug. “Let's get started on breakfast,” she said.

“I'll get Genma,” Kyo offered and sat up.

The skin around Isshun's eyes crinkled with a suppressed smile and she dropped another quick kiss onto her hair before she got out of bed, walking over to the closet for a set of clothes.

By the time they finally left the apartment, it was around ten thirty in the morning.

Isshun was carrying Genma, but Kyo had insisted on taking the bag with everything they might need in the span of the day.

On the way through the village, Kyo spotted one of her teammates on the other side of the street.

“Be right back, kaa-san,” she said, and jogged across the street. “Hello, Maki.” She smiled at the boy who startled at the sound of her voice and turned towards her with a small, involuntary smile.

“Hey, Kyo,” he greeted. “What are you doing here?” He glanced down at the bag she was carrying and then looked around, as if wondering if Taku would pop up somewhere, too.

“We're going to the park,” she said, pointing over to where kaa-san was waiting with Genma on her arm, watching them with a fondly amused look on her face. “Wanna come?”

“Oh, uh,” Maki blinked, clearly blind-sided by the offer, “won't that be me butting into your family time?” He asked tentatively.

Kyo tilted her head. “You're family too, so not really.” She shrugged. “What are you doing here, anyway? You like to spend time with your sisters on your days off, right?” She asked, taking hold of Maki's hand and towing him over to her mum.

“Chisa-chan's got a cold, so kaa-chan's busy.” Maki shrugged, scratching absently at the healing scrape on his elbow. “And I don't really want to get sick,” he added in a mutter.

Kyo squeezed his fingers and turned to Isshun, who was watching them curiously. “It's okay for Maki to spend some of today with us, right?” She asked with a hopeful smile.

“Of course,” Isshun replied, unfazed and calm.

Kyo beamed at her mother and then turned back to Maki, who's hand she was still holding. “Did you bring your scrolls with you?” She questioned curiously.

Maki grimaced. “I'd like to say no, but I always end up with them in my pockets, because I'm somewhat terrified sensei's going to cross-examine me about how hard I tried to learn it all, way before I'm ready,” he confessed.

Kyo snickered. “That does sound like something sensei would do,” she agreed easily. “Wanna practice together?”

“Please,” Maki agreed with a relieved air.

They walked in silence for a while, the only one making any noise being Genma, who was babbling enthusiastically at Isshun, their kaa-san nodding solemnly at appropriate intervals.

“You realise we're gonna have to get together and teach Taku all of this once we've got it down, right?” Kyo asked casually, eagerly watching for Maki's reaction out of the corner of her eye.

The boy nodded along, until he actually registered the words, and froze. He remained motionless for all of a heartbeat, before he slumped with a heavy sigh and resumed walking.

“Sensei's gonna call it a great opportunity to reinforce the lesson and learn it even better, isn't he?”

“Most likely, yeah,” Kyo agreed with a cheerful grin. He would be right about it, too, because teaching someone else what you'd learned was proof that you'd really learned it properly.

When they finally walked into the park, Isshun spread out the trusty baby blanket in an out-of-the-way spot and settled down with something to read, while Kyo took Genma and went to the sandbox, Maki trailing after curiously.

They ended up building weird constructs for Genma to smash to pieces with small, eager hands until the little boy ran out of energy.

While Genma napped, Isshun provided Kyo and Maki with lunch and then watched them settle down with their identical scrolls.

“So what is Katsurou having you learn?” She asked idly, tucking the thin blanket more properly around Genma where he lay beside her, sleeping. Isshun glanced up when they didn't immediately respond.

Kyo exchanged a look with Maki and gave her mum a sheepish smile. “...are we allowed to tell you?” She asked uncertainly, because sensei hadn't said anything about it, but at the same time... things like these weren't something you spread around.

Maki was frozen on the spot, looking like he was contemplating making a run for it.

Thankfully, her kaa-san just smiled, looking amused. “I'm fairly sure anything deemed safe enough to give a Genin will be safe with me,” she said.

Put that way, it made a lot of sense and made Kyo feel all kinds of embarrassed.

She giggled shortly and scooted over to her mother to show her the scroll.

Isshun scanned the page they were on with interest, making a small, curious noise in the back of her throat. “Katsurou's having you learn code? Already?” She mused thoughtfully, turning her gaze on first Kyo, then Maki, who squirmed uncomfortably under the attention.

“He wants us to memorize it,” Kyo huffed, pulling the scroll back to herself to scowl down on it. “And he won't even tell us why,” she complained half-heartedly.

She was sure Katsurou-sensei had a very good reason.

That he wasn't sharing.

Isshun hummed. “Well, that's not one I'm familiar with,” she said, causing both Kyo and Maki to slump disappointedly. “But I can still give you a few tips when it comes to memorization,” she added, raising an eyebrow at them.

Kyo grinned at her kaa-san, and even Maki perked up.

“You're awesome, Isshun-san, thank you,” Maki said fervently, shuffling closer until they were all sitting in a tight group, listening to Isshun's impromptu lecture on memorizing large amounts of information quickly.

By the time Genma woke up, Kyo and Maki were both deeply concentrated on their task and barely noticed Isshun picking the little boy up to take him to the closest restroom to change his nappy and clean him up a bit.

When she eventually came back, she brought enough dango for all of them with her.

“So are you going back home or would you like to stay around for dinner?” Kyo asked when they began to pack up and leave.

“Kaa-chan's probably wondering where I am by now,” Maki muttered reluctantly, frowning down on the blanket he was folding. “And she asked me to pick up a few things,” he added, as if just remembering.

“That's okay,” Kyo assured him, “we're getting groceries, so you could buy what you need, come home and eat dinner with us and then go home?” She suggested hopefully.

Today had been a really nice day, and it wasn't very often she got the chance to just hang out with her teammates without there being any training involved.

She liked it, and next time, they'd have to bring Taku along as well.

“Are you sure it's not an inconvenience?” Maki asked, shooting a long look at Isshun, who seemed to be immersed in wrangling a tired, cranky baby Genma.

“Our home is always open to you, Maki-kun,” Isshun assured the boy with a quick, distracted smile. “Same as it's always been for Kou's teammates and whatever other friends I'm sure Kyo will eventually make.”

“I've told you, Maki,” Kyo said, grabbing hold of his hand again with a grin. “Teams are family.”

In the face of that, Maki quietly admitted defeat and came with them when they left for the convenience store the Shiranui family usually frequented, and then ate dinner with them, spending the meal exchanging light-hearted complaints about Katsurou-sensei with Kyo.

When he left for home, it was with a smile on his face and a promise to give Isshun's regards to his mother.

-x-x-x-