He doesn’t mean to trip.
Hardly anyone means to trip, but he especially didn’t mean to do so now, back stepping as quickly as he could after listening in on his sister’s conversation with her weird friends.
Mum sent him to the shop to bring some things for Shikako and remind her about family dinner on Saturday. He didn’t really think much about the closed sign or the locked door: Shikako’s been teaching him lockpicking, on the off chance he might want to follow her in her business and because it’s a handy skill to have, or so she says, and he knew she was there and thought maybe it was a test because it’s not as if business hours mean anything to family, right? Except she didn’t appear when the bell above the door jingled, and he heard yelling coming from the back room and so he went further into the shop (after locking the door behind him, of course) but when he got close enough to actually hear the words more clearly–to understand them–he realized it wasn’t an argument.
Well, it was an argument only in the sense that there was a lot of shouting and disagreements.
Mostly, it was a plan for a heist.
And at first it didn’t make any sense because… because Shikako’s supposed to build vaults and locks and safes not break into them! But there was her voice, logical and methodical, painting such a clear and feasible picture that eventually the argument–the planning–simmered down into agreement.
And in that silence, Kinokawa realized what he heard. And he tried to back away, so as not to get caught, but Shikako only ever trained him in lock picking not any of her other, apparent, criminal inclinations and so in his hurry, he tripped…
… and knocked over the stand of antique keys Shikako keeps to build custom modern locks for fun.
Naruto is the one who gets to him first–or rather, leaps over him to get between Kinokawa and the exit–but Sasuke is the one that pulls him to his feet. Roughly, at first, until he sees Kinokawa’s face, hands gentling almost immediately.
Kinokawa flinches anyway. Not so much out of fear but out of shock. Has everyone Kinokawa known his entire life secretly been criminals this whole time?
Shikako finally follows, her weird pale and quiet friend in her shadow, and the air suddenly goes taught like a string about to snap.
He wants to blurt out excuses, wants to wipe his memory, wants to undo time and just wait in the front of the shop where there weren’t secrets and criminal plans being flung about for little brothers to hear. He wants to apologize.
Shikako gets to it first.
“Ah, I should fix this,” she says, before kneeling down and beginning to pick up the scattered antique keys on the ground.
Reflexively, he does the same. Slipping out of Sasuke’s loosened grip and picking up keys. Shikako glances up, gives her friends–fellow criminals?–a look, and the three of them leave.
It’s quiet but for the soft clinking of keys in cupped palms, the stand being brought back upright, and the somewhat out of tune low humming Shikako does as she works.
It is weirdly soothing, organizing the keys by their labeled tags back onto the stand, that Kinokawa almost startles when his sister speaks again.
“I’m sorry, Kino,” she says, elbow lightly jostling his shoulder as she puts another key in its place. “You weren’t supposed to hear any of that.”
For a moment, Kinokawa pauses. He knows Shikako would never do anything bad to him, but that thought still flashes across his mind–Nara quick and prone to paranoia.
“I hope we didn’t scare you,” Shikako continues. Kinokawa feels relieved followed immediately by bubbling guilt at feeling such.
“No!” Kinokawa denies, assures, “I wasn’t–I’m not scared.”
Shikako smiles, but it’s a kind of sad, disbelieving smile. “You weren’t supposed to find out this way. Although, I guess there are worse ways.”
Another thought comes to Kinokawa, “Were… were you ever going to tell me?” And another, left unasked: am I the only one who doesn’t know?
Shikako answers both, sighing, “I don’t know. A part of me wanted to tell you–all of you, Shikamaru and Mum and Dad–about what I really do–I do so much good, Kino, I can’t even count how many people we’ve helped–but it’s not like I can just say it during family dinner.”
No, certainly not. Definitely not with their dad being the governor’s chief of staff, or Mum being a police sergeant, or even Shikamaru’s own budding career as a behavioral analyst with the FBI.
Kinokawa can see why Shikako would keep her job–hobby?–a secret.
“I can keep it,” Kinokawa volunteers, because he knows his sister wants to ask but doesn’t think she can. But he’s not a baby anymore, “I can keep it secret,” he repeats, “Until you’re ready to tell them,” he adds.
From the shaky smile on Shikako’s face, it’s her turn to feel relieved, and she pulls him into a hug.