Narumi grinned brightly at her first creation. Well, the pancakes were a bit thick and on the browner side, but at least she had finally done it – and everyone had to start somewhere, right?

Narumi hopped down from the stool she had used to reach the stove and proudly carried the pancakes over to the dining table.

Pouring a healthy amount of applesauce over it, Narumi dug in. It tasted delicious.

Almost as good as the one's she had watched the cook make at the orphanage.

Narumi's face fell slightly at that thought.

But another bite from her pancake quickly cheered her up again.

Pancakes were really a wonderful way to start her day.

Hyuuga-sensei had been called for a mission and would be gone for the weekend and despite his warnings not to slack off, Narumi had decided to give herself a well-deserved day off.

Around midday she found herself perched on a rooftop, munching on a dango stick and glancing curiously at some brown thing hiding behind the bushes. It was moving – and was that fur she was seeing?

Narumi leaned forward to get a closer look. It was a cat with a red ribbon behind its ear. Narumi frowned. That poor thing looked quite distressed. Was it hurt?

"Catch it!" a voice suddenly yelled loudly and a boy about twelve stormed onto the street.

"Where did it go?!" a second voice demanded and a female about the boy's age appeared.

"There!" the boy pointed at the brown cat. "Quickly, before it gets away again!"

The cat hissed angrily and jumped between the bushes.

Narumi frowned. Why were they chasing that poor thing? Didn't they see that the cat did not like it?

She chewed furiously on her dango.

The two children went after it.

"Where is it?" the girl demanded. "I saw it jump in right here!"

"I can't be too far away," the boy answered grimly. "Maybe it crawled in somewhere."

"Great," the girl muttered angrily.

Narumi saw how the cat snuck past the children's back. She frowned again. If the cat went into this street it would meet a dead-end and it would only be a matter of time until it got caught.

Making a snap decision Narumi flickered from the roof and appeared right in front of the startled cat. It hissed at her, but Narumi simply put a finger to her lips. "Quiet or they will catch you."

The cat tilted its head. "Meow?" it asked skeptically. Narumi crouched down and carefully extended her hand. "Come. I will help you hide."

Cautiously the cat came closer.

"Maybe it is in there," the boy's voice sounded again.

The cat's eyes widened, and it jumped directly into Narumi's arms, looking at her with pleading eyes.

Narumi grinned "Okay. Let's hide." And she flickered back on the roof, sat down cross-legged, and put the cat into her lap.

The cat meowed in surprise and pressed itself against her. Narumi stroked softly through her brown fur. "It's okay. I have you. Look. They are still searching for you."

The cat calmed and shifted to look down. The two children had been joined by a third and they were now busy crawling around the shrubbery.

Narumi giggled.

"Now that's not really nice," somebody remarked next to her. Both Narumi and the cat whirled around to look at the scantily clad woman who had soundlessly appeared next to her.

Narumi huffed. "It's also not nice to chase a cat." Said cat nodded in agreement.

The woman laughed. "It's a mission kid."

"Hunting cats is a mission?" Narumi repeated incredulously, staring at her in disbelief.

"Jep," the woman answered and flopped down on her back. "A D-rank one. One of those mean ones they sent the poor innocent genin on."

"You're joking."

"Nope. I am not," the woman eyed her curiously. "How did you manage to get her anyway? "

"I offered to hide her," Narumi answered simply.

The woman laughed again. "I like you kid. What's your name?"

"Uchino Narumi," Narumi replied, burying her head in the cat's fluffy fur.

"Well Narumi-chan. Nice to meet you. You can call me Anko," the woman replied, rummaging through her pockets, and pulling out a paper-wrapped dango stick.

"Nice to meet you," Narumi answered, her voice sounding muffled.

Anko hummed around her dango.

"So...who trained you?" she asked casually after a short silence.

"Hyuuga-sensei," Narumi replied, seeing no reason to hide it.

Anko sat up and stared at her. "A Hyuuga? You are being trained by a Hyuuga? Those stuck up pricks? Why?"

Narumi giggled. "Hyuuga-sama is sponsoring me."

Anko whistled. "Man, you must have really impressed him to do that. So which Hyuuga are you stuck with?"

"Hyuuga Ryoko." That was probably the first time Narumi had ever mentioned his full name.

"The Ice King?!" Anko almost dropped her dango stick. "They stuck you with the Ice King?"

"Ice King?" Narumi repeated, raising her head just enough to peek at the woman over the cat's head.

"You don't even know who he is?" Anko sounded incredulous. "Everyone knows that Hyuuga Ryoko is one of the coldest bastards running around. Granted the man's damn good, but his personality…", Anko trailed off. "I can't believe they gave him a kid!"

Narumi swallowed. Yes, that really sounded like her sensei. The cat brushed his head against Narumi's cheek.

She smiled. "Ne…Anko-san…Do you think I can keep her?"

This time Anko really dropped her dango. "You want to steal the daimyo's wife's cat?"

Narumi's eyes widened. She had not known who this cat belonged to. She hastily opened her mouth to say that no, she did not want to steal it, but was interrupted by the woman who grinned brightly at her and simply said. "Sure. Why not. But it needs some planning."

Narumi's jaw dropped.

"Anko-san…why are we buying hair dye?" Narumi asked as she trotted after the enthusiastic woman.

"Because everyone would recognize her right now," Anko replied, browsing through the different aisles. "She's quite famous around Konoha. Well…more like infamous. But her only defining features are her brown fur, the black lines, and the red ribbon. Take that away and nobody will find out a thing." Anko glanced at the girl. "That is also a good thing to keep in mind when you try to hide."

Narumi nodded. "So, black dye?"

Anko smiled. "Yes." She picked up the hair dye. "The dye will do it for now, but we will need something more permanent in the long run. Seals," she added when she saw Narumi's curious gaze. "I am not a seal master but making one to permanently change the hair – or fur color should be possible. It just may take a while."

Narumi nodded again. "Um, Anko-san, why are you helping me?" The question had been bothering her for a long time now.

"Why?" the woman grinned. "I already said it – I like you – and this is the most fun I had for a very long time!"

Anko twirled around and rushed to the next aisle. "Ah we will need the brown one, too."

Tora was not very pleased at the prospect of entering the water. Narumi scratched her behind the ears. "You need to get in. Or you can't stay with me. And I want you to stay."

The cat meowed in displeasure and allowed Narumi to set her into the sink. Anko carried the dye in. "It's ready."

Narumi nodded. "Hold still now", she whispered to the cat. She put her gloves on and carefully massaged the dye into the cat's fur.


"Looks good."

Tora was sitting on a stool and Narumi and Anko were leaning over her, scrutinizing her critically.

"The black lines are completely hidden now," Anko remarked. "She does not look like Tora at all anymore."

Narumi grinned brightly. "Great. We did it!"

"Not just yet, kid," Anko replied and gathered all their used supplies up. "We still have to make it permanent – and Tora needs to vanish."

Narumi stared in horror at the dead cat in front of her. "Where did you find that?!"

"I made some subtle inquiries about whose pets died recently," Anko replied, mixing up the brown dye. "And I found that one here, the poor thing died recently in childbirth."

"You stole a body," Narumi muttered. "You actually stole a dead cat's body." She did not know whether to be horrified or amused.

"Jup," Anko answered, not sounding concerned at all. "Now be a good girl and help me dye it."

Narumi could not help it. She snorted.

Narumi and Anko were hiding behind a tree, cautiously peeking around to observe the mission office.

The three genin who had been assigned the Tora mission were trudging back, looking downtrodden and covered in twigs and leaves. Their sensei was holding a dead cat in his arms.

It did not seem like a happy procession.

"They spent the entire day searching," Anko whispered in mock sympathy. "Poor things."

Narumi felt a twinge of guilt, but quickly cast it away. If they had been better, they would not have failed their mission.

Narumi stilled, troubled by her own thoughts. Just when had she started to think like that?

"But it seems like it worked," Anko added cheerfully.

Narumi nodded. It had. She grinned. She actually had a cat now!

She just needed a new name for it.

"And what exactly are you two doing?"

They whirled around.

A scarred man was standing in front of them, arms crossed and eying them critically.

"Ibiki-san!" Anko chirped. "How nice to see you. What makes you think we are doing something?"

The man snorted. "Because I know you, Anko. You are always up to no good. But dragging kids into it," he glanced at Narumi. "That's a new one for you, too."

Anko threw an arm around Narumi's shoulders and grinned. "Rumi-chan is cool."

Ibiki-san raised his eyebrows. "High praise coming from you. But don't change the subject. What are you two doing hiding behind a tree?"

"Counting," Narumi replied immediately, surprised at herself.

The man turned towards her; his eyes boring deeply into hers. "Counting?" he repeated skeptically.

Narumi suppressed the urge to fidget under his sharp gaze and nodded seriously. "Anko-san said that most active shinobi were male. I wanted to see if she was right. So we came to the mission office. Anko-san counted the males and I the females. So far I got up to twenty-four."

"And you were hiding being a tree to do that?" Ibiki-san asked drily.

"We could hardly stand there and point at them," Narumi huffed. "That would have been rude."

The man threw an amused glance at Anko, who grinned at him. "I see what you mean."

"Fine," he said finally. "Get back to your counting," he gave both of them a pointed stare. "Don't get caught."

He walked off.

Anko laughed. "Don't mind him. That excuse was actually pretty good. Ibiki-san just knows me too well to buy it." She paused. "I think he likes you."

Narumi blinked. "He does?"

Anko shrugged. "He likes people who can lie to him with a straight face."

What a strange man.

"Yoru," Narumi decided, curling up into her futon with the cat in her arms. "I'll name you Yoru."

Yoru licked Narumi's nose and closed her eyes.


Honestly, I don't know where this came from. I just wrote about Narumi eating dango and the rest...well, I guess Anko made one of her entrances again and now they are partners-in-crime. *xD*