Walking Around (On Silent Feet), (2017-01-19)

Sakako wakes up to the soft slide of her bedroom window opening in the middle of the night. She keeps her breathing slow, steady, but reaches out with her still developing chakra sense.

No point in giving herself away, though given the lack of alarms and the unbroken defenses…

Just as a hand reaches for her, Sakako springs from her bed.

“Mum!” she cheers, hands around her neck, hugging her tight.

“Shh, shh,” Mum hisses, but she returns the embrace, easily handling her weight as if she were still a baby. After a moment, she sits on the bed, Sakako in her lap, adjusting the both of them comfortably, “Not so loud, dear heart, we wouldn’t want to wake up your dad.”

Sakako bites back the question–why not?–and luxuriates in the scent and warmth of her mum. The way she runs a hand through unbraided hair, maintains contact, close and cozy.

Dad hugs like he’s trying an unfamiliar jutsu, cautious and methodical. Mum hugs like she’s trying to speak without words.

Right now, Mum’s hug says–I missed you, your hair has gotten longer, how are you dear heart–this is a moment for just the two of them.

“I’m home,” Mum says out loud, simply, as if she had just come back from getting groceries instead of having returned a week ahead of schedule from a three month long mission.

Sakako doesn’t need to ask why for that either–the reason is obvious.

“Welcome home,” Sakako mumbles into Mum’s shoulder, feeling absurdly bashful yet pleased.

“Happy Birthday, Sakako.”

There are wolves in the woods.

A phrase meant to indicate that there are dangerous people far more suited and equipped to handle an already treacherous world.

But Sakako has grown up in the heart Fire Country’s forests. Has walked the streets of Konoha alongside creatures that both evolution and humanity has trained into tearing out throats with long, sharp teeth.

She’s not afraid of wolves or the woods, metaphorical or literal.

Bull, older and grayer, but no less formidable, gives her a fond, wet lick up the side of her face. She laughs and pets him in return, before leaving his side to go to the kunoichi club.

She only wipes off some of Bull’s drool.

After all, not every girl gets a personal escort from one of the Rokudaime’s summons.

Sakako’s on watch–the unenviable second shift–when she hears the rustling of one of her teammates.

Boruto had first watch, no need for him to already be moving, and despite his behavior Konohamari-sensei is actually a jounin and not a large man-child.

Mitsuki it is, then.

In the waxing moonlight, it’s easy to spot him, pale hair and skin illuminated. She gives a soft whistle so he can find her in the branches above their camp.

An effortless jump and he joins her, the pupils in his gold eyes nearly round with how dilated they are.

“Couldn’t sleep?” she murmurs, shifting over to make space.

“My optimal sleep time is less than yours,” he says. Because I’m genetically superior, he doesn’t add.

It took a couple of weeks for them to get him to stop saying that.

As far as she and Boruto are supposed to know, Mitsuki is a clanless orphan who is convinced he has superior genes but is nonetheless a fan of their parents and their heritage.

She’s sure Konohamaru-sensei knows the truth of his origins or, at the very least, her parents and Naruto-oji do, but she’s not going to pry.

“What are you looking at?” Mitsuki asks, after the silence has settled. She wonders what he used to do before they became a team, who he turned to after he had finished sleeping but night still reigned.

How lonely.

“The stars,” she says with a shrug, because it’s true enough. She can spot some of the constellations through the canopy of leaves overhead, the brightest and most persistent.

Mitsuki glances overhead as well, before turning to her skeptically, “We don’t need to navigate,” he says, “What’s so interesting about that?”

She almost snaps at him, instinctively affronted, before she bites it back. She loves stargazing because its something she links to her relationship with her parents–the love they share along with stories and memories in the middle of the night.

Who did Mitsuki talk to before they became a team?

Instead of snapping, she begins to speak in the familiar cadence of her mum. “There are stories,” she starts, gesturing overhead, “of the heroes and mythical creatures so great and terrible that they were painted in the night sky as constellations…”

The mornings after she sleeps at her grandparents’ house tend to follow this pattern:

At dawn she’s woken up by a brightly grinning and demanding Baa-chan, who drags both her and Kareru-nii (when he’s in village) to the backyard for morning stretches.

After several missteps of sleepy bumbling and Kareru-nii’s complaints of him being too old for this–citing his official age instead of his physical age–which Baa-chan counters easily enough, they’re joined by Jii-chan who sits on the veranda and watches them with a far too amused smile on his face.

When they’ve finished the stretches, they all go to kitchen to begin preparing breakfast. Though a few minutes of cramped quarters and the problem of too many chefs prompts Baa-chan to kick Sakako and Jii-chan outside to feed the deer.

She and Jii-chan then go out to where the herds have gathered, expectant. Sometimes they talk–about her team, the missions she goes on, the braver deer who eat straight out of her hands–but sometimes they don’t.

These mornings aren’t really silent, but they’re steady and settled. She likes these moments, too.

~

A/N: … I dunno, I had some Sakako feels? Not really a prompt fill, though I did want to make a point of including Mitsuki and Kareru since they haven’t shown up much in previous installments.

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