A/N: yay i got my first reviews! This took quite a bit longer to write than I had originally expected. I think I gutted the whole chapter like 4 times until I was happy enough with it. Anyway, this chapter is rather long, but things are finally moving forward, now that i finally got over the dam writer's block.
Now, on with the story and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Naruto anime/manga.
No memory of your past, no friends nor family looking for you, and waking up in a dungeon after six months in a coma, only to learn that you might have been a criminal, would be enough to make just about anyone wonder what to make of their lives. And yet, the Hokage offers you an opportunity for a fresh start, to build a new life, as long as you do not harm anyone nor endanger the village. So now I go by the name of Fiore, trying to make an honest living in the ninja village of Konoha, as I recover from my injuries and amnesia, while always having a ninja or two shadow my every move. I can't help but feel alone, trapped, untrusted and unwanted. And yet, as bad as things may look, I can't help but smile at the crazy antics of a young blond boy with a knack for mischief. Naruto Uzumaki, my first real friend, and also my new little brother.
Chapter 2: Readjusting.
I guess this will be my first official entry in my diary. Doctor Orahara suggested that I start to write down what I do during the day, in case I ever forget again. He even got me this little notebook to use as a diary. It's got little cartoon kitties on the cover! They're really cute!
Anyway, Hatori (that's the doctor's name) also said that writing frequently would also help get better control over my hands. It's been about three months maybe since I woke up, but I still feel stiff all over. My handwriting looks little better than chicken scratches, but I guess I should improve as I go. I actually wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow I couldn't read what I'm writing down right now. I'm even having trouble reading what I just wrote. Yikes.
I guess I'm getting distracted. I'm supposed to write what I'm been doing and learning so far, so here goes:
After that day I woke up, I've felt at a complete loss. I couldn't remember my past or even my name. Heck I still can't remember a single dam thing. Still, With Inoichi's help I picked out a new name "Fiorelynn", or Fiore for short. Inoichi later told me that 'Fiore' means flower or bloom, and 'Lynn' means waterfall. I didn't know that when I was picking my new name; I just thought it would have sounded pretty. Either way I'm actually glad I picked something nice. That same day I also meet a few others, the village elder Hiruzen and the investigator Ibiki. I've seen the grandpa a few times, usually about every week, and he's really nice. The other man, Ibiki, I haven't seen him at all lately. The others said that he had to get back to work. Maybe he's a busy man… did I mention he gave me the heebie-jeebies? Might be because of the scars I guess.
The next day was when my rehabilitation started. In the beginning it was mostly slow and gentle movement exercises, and they kept adding things more and more difficult (but nothing impossible). It's paid off, because three weeks ago I was able to walk on my own for the first time! Without holding onto the walls or anything either. Yay for me! Inoichi and Hatori even began to take me out to see the village. I dunno why it's called a village because it looks more like a city, since it's so big and all. Village or city, it looks like a nice place to live.
I've was also assigned other classes, like math, geography, history, and other stuff. Funny thing was, that even though I can't remember my past, there are still some things that I still 'know'. Like I can tell a dog from a cat, what's a melon and what's an apple, and I somehow knew that the sun rises in the east. Inoichi thinks it's because I lost my memory, not my common knowledge, whatever that means. My teacher, she's a nice lady too, her name's Eliza. She sometimes tells me stories from when she was a teacher to little kids. She's retired now, but she agreed to be my teacher for the next few months.
Hopefully soon I'll be able to live on my own. My room is nice and all, but it feels small and lonely after a while. I wonder how it will be living on my own.
6 months later…
It was finally summer. The last of the spring showers had finally passed, and gave way to the hot temperatures day and night. Summer in Konoha wasn't as bad as say… Suna, but the humidity could still get to most people. Especially if one of the tropical storms off from the coast managed to go inland, but that was another matter.
For most people, summer equaled vacations. It was that time of the year were children could be seen playing freely in the streets or in parks during the day. A time when teachers could get a breather, after having to keep control over two or three dozen not-quite-so-perfectly-behaved-little-angels, or just to catch a break from their pranks. Regardless, it was a time for being outside, playing in the sun, running through the tall grass and summer flowers, and basking in the crisp wind that came with the evening.
For some, it was also a time of celebration. For the students of either the Ninja Academy or the civilian schools, early summer was the time when the eldest of the classes graduated. Those that did not graduate would have to wait until winter for their next shot at graduating. But if they did graduate, then they could finally show off what all their hard work had been for. Fresh Gennin could be seen with their newly minted Konoha headbands, engraved with the village's signature spiral leaf, working and training under the supervision of a senior Jounin ninja. Civilian graduates could pick up a trade of their chose and show off their own skills.
That being said, Konoha was a lot livelier than usual, aflutter with excitement, joy and pride.
But for one person, one young woman with no memory of her past, this summer marked a graduation of sorts of her own.
The last nine or so months had been a mini hell for Fiorelynn. Imagine, one day you wake up, in extreme pain and you can barely move. Then you realize that you are in some place you have never seen, a dab gray room completely bare of all decorations. You see some people hovering over your face, people that you do not recognize. And then, to top it all off, you soon become aware that you don't remember a single thing about your life. No names, no faces, no places, nothing. Not a single dam thing that you could confirm that you have done at some point or another, or a person that you have meet at least once.
That was the sort of nightmare Fiore had woken up to.
Oddly enough, the men that had surrounded her didn't try to harm her in any way, well save for that one moment were the doc grabbed her arm to place the IV needle. She was not in any immediate danger, or at least no one had made any kind of threatening moves or gestures, but even in her wacked up, drugged over, and nearly shattered mind, she could tell that something had gone wrong. Very wrong.
Her suspicions were later confirmed, when the village elder, or Hokage as he had introduced himself, had claimed that she had been found unconscious and injured in a town that had been attacked by a group of bandits or criminals of some sort. To add salt to the wound, someone had apparently claimed that someone that looked somewhat like Fiore had been among the bandits when all hell broke out. For better or for worse, no one had been able to confirm or deny if she had been involved in anything illegal as of yet. Maybe she was, or maybe she wasn't. And since she had sustained some pretty serious injuries, or at least serious enough to destroy every single one of her memories and put her in a coma for six months, there was no way to prove or disprove her innocence.
However, the elder had decided to offer Fiore the benefit of the doubt, allowing her to recover and rebuild her life within the village of Konoha, or if some relative of hers appeared and could verify that Fiore was their lost family member, she would be free to return to her home. Either way, there weren't exactly many other options available. It was either to suck it up and try to get back on her feet, or literally give up on living, and thereby asking for some sort of merciful death. She might have not had any reasons to continue living, but withering away and dying wasn't very appealing at all.
So she picked option 1: intensive rehab.
For the following months, Fiore spent her days under the watchful eyes of mainly three people: Hatori Orahara, the medic; Inoichi Yamanaka, the psicologist and flower shop owner; And Eliza Toremitzu, a retired teacher that was going help her catch up on academics and general knowledge. The first two had been among the people Fiore had seen when she had just woken up, and Eliza was introduced on her third day of rehab. Once in a while, Fiore would get a visit from someone else, usually the Sandaime, Shikaku (a close friend of Inoichi's that was covering for him) or Miyumi, an assistant of Hatori's. The visits from the later three were rare; instead the former trio became her prime caretakers.
As the days turned into weeks, Fiore soon got familiar with her three caretakers, and how each worked. Her mornings consisted of breakfast, her first round of medications for the day, and physical therapy with Hatori. The man was almost single handedly responsible for teaching Fiore how move about and walk once again. The man was a bit of a prankster, who liked to poke fun every now and then (mainly at Inoichi) and was very patient with Fiore as she was trying to relearn how to use her limbs. He was a bit demanding in his routines, but he knew well enough to not push Fiore beyond her limits.
After lunch and another round of meds, Eliza would take over. She was a stern lady in her mid or late sixties, with her silver hair tied up in a neat bun and her peachy skin portraying various wrinkles, a testament to her age. She usually wore formal robes that were perfectly pressed and complemented her attire with simple, yet elegant jewelry, giving off a professional appearance. Nothing extravagant, but functional and very presentable. Despite her perhaps cold outlook, Eliza was actually very warm and kind when it came to teaching. She had gone through great lengths to figure out which teaching methods were easier for Fiore to grasp, as well as guiding her nearly by hand through most subjects while not making Fiore feel utterly dumb nor treating her like she was some retarded school child. Eventually, Fiore came to think of her of a stern-yet-caring mother figure.
Around sundown, Inoichi would take Eliza's place in watching over Fiore. The blond haired man was the most fun to be around in Fiore's opinion. He was funny, and would find all sorts of little games or toys that would make her smile and laugh. In a way, it was like a break from all the 'work' she had to do during the day, so it was a nice refreshing way to end the day. Fun and games aside, Inoichi would show her various books and pictures of various places or things, to see if anything managed to trigger some memories. Other times he would give her some activities to find out what sort of things she liked. He also helped out with Fiore's state of mind and overall emotional state. More than once had the man pulled Fiore out of a slump or out of depression, encouraging her to strive for a better future for herself. Fiore was actually immensely grateful for that.
After that was dinner, more meds, a little free time, and then bed time. Then it was just rinse and repeat. Day in and day out.
The routine continued for a little over two months, until Fiorelynn finally managed to stand and walk on her own again without help. Once she was steady enough on her legs, the schedule was changed so that each day she would spend it with only one of her caretakers, alternating every other day, and they could take her out of her room and show her around if they wished. Hatori soon found himself teaching her some basic first aid, so that she could address her own wounds if needed, as well as teaching her how to make balanced meals, pointing out what to eat, and what to avoid considering her medications. Eliza would usually take her out to do some shopping in the mornings, getting her familiar with home economics, and spend the rest of the day covering the day's subjects in one of the nearby tea shops her teacher liked. Inoichi usually took her to some of the nearby public parks and gardens to relax from her other two caretakers. When he found out that she had taken interest in all the unusual plants and flowers, he got the idea of taking her to his shop to help out. Gardening soon became a hobby of hers, having found it relaxing and not straining, so he allowed her to work in his flower nursery.
Still, even with all the progress she was making in her road to recovery, there were days when she just felt like doing nothing, depression and loneliness kicking in. She lost count of how many times she wondered if she had no friends or family somewhere out there, and if she did have, she asked herself many times over if they had not been searching for her. Or even worse; had they given up on finding her? Did they believe her to be dead? Or did they just not want her back?
Depressing thoughts indeed.
But that was only one of Fiore's new concerns.
As disturbing as it was to have someone look into your mind, Inoichi was rather professional about it, letting her keep her private thoughts and opinions to herself. It wasn't really an unpleasant experience per say, but it always left her feeling weird afterwards. After about three months of working with him, the blond man had confessed that he had not been able to find a single trace of her past prior to when she had just woken up. It was a hard pill to swallow, but after some convincing Fiore decided to stop trying to figure out who she had been, and started to work towards who she wanted to be. Happy and proud of her decision, the Yamanaka shifted strategies in order to help her achieve her goals.
Fiore's second largest concern became more and more evident after about her forth month of recovery. In her weakened state it wasn't as easy to see but once she had gained a little bit of mobility it did start to become rather obvious. Regardless of now nicely they tried to hide it, Fiorelynn was for all accounts and purposes a prisoner.
Initially she just disliked being confined to her room day and night, thinking that it was just too stuffy after being locked up after so long. At nights, after all of her day's activities were concluded, she was completely locked inside. No such thing as sneaking after hours for a midnight snack for Fiore. At first, she just shrugged it off as some kind of paranoia or fear that she would wander out and get lost, but after a few months of being able to go out into town and come back safely at nightfall, it just felt very suspicious that her caretakers would still lock the door. The second part as to why it felt weird was that she was in no common residential building, nor hospital. It was more like the sleeping quarters in some military facility, considering the large number of fully geared ninja that were all over the place. What put her on edge was that almost all of the ninja she saw while going out or coming back in were on edge, ready to spring into action at the first sight of trouble.
So… what the hell was she doing in the midst of a bunch of trigger happy ninja who looked like they had four or five too many cups of coffee, with trice as many teaspoons of sugar, and just came back from war?
She could understand seeing a good number of ninja, and truthfully expected to always have at least one of those sneaky types shadowing her every move at any given time of day, but the number she saw that were borderline paranoid just… made her feel very uneasy. The Hokage had told her that she was going to be watched until she could be fully trusted, but when it came down to it, Fiore could not get the nagging feeling out of her system that there was more to it than she was being told. Some… other reason as to why she was kept under such close surveillance.
Did they fear her for some reason? She really was in no shape whatsoever to start causing trouble or raising hell. She wasn't trusted with any kind of pointy object that could be used as a weapon either (unsupervised), so that was also out of the question. Then… what could it be?
No matter how much she thought and pondered about it, it just made no sense at all.
At some point, Fiore simply concluded that there was more than meets the eye about her situation, but it was neigh unlikely that anyone was going to tell her the truth. Not her caretakers, and certainly not the Hokage. Someone knew the truth, or at least part of it, she was sure, yet she was not privy to that information.
It might have been unintentional from their part, but that point in time was when the first seeds of doubt and distrust were sown into Fiore's mind. After that, anything and everything she was told she handled with a certain level of skepticism. Even from her caretakers. Or more likely, especially from her caretakers.
After all, since when had anything really been free in life?
Fiore knew, deep down, that sooner or later, she was going to have to pay up. Someone had been paying for her meals, clothing and medication, and some day, they would want to be repaid in full. Not overly surprisingly, the Hokage had informed her on one of his visits that all her treatment had tallied up quite a debt. When she saw the official numbers, she almost had a heart attack. Heartbroken and downcast, she asked how exactly she was ever going to pay off all that debt. That's when the village leader explained that she had already begun to pay it off. All the time she had spent working in Inoichi's shop and gardens, the man himself had taken what he would have paid anyone else for the same work and put it all towards paying off Fiore's debt. It wasn't a whole lot, but it was something. The kage then informed her that once she got full time job, that a small part of her weekly salary would be automatically deducted and applied to her medical expenses. She also was free to make additional payments whenever wished.
It was a sad day when she realized that she had gathered several years' worth of debt without even realizing it at first. Another thing to write up on her list of concerns.
Even with that aside, she knew that something wasn't quite right. It was hidden in the half smiles or in the hollow voice. There was just this 'something' that made her feel like she was being lied to on a frequent basis. Somewhere between the withheld information and what she suspected were half-truths, Fiore came to realize that there was something fairly big hidden underneath a pleasant exterior and caring demeanor.
But most importantly, she knew. She knew that something was up.
If her caretakers wanted to lie in her face while sporting a perfect smile, then she too could play that game. And she would play it well. Let them think that she was as clueless as a child. Let them believe that she was fully under their thumb. In the meantime she would prepare. Prepare for whatever they threw at her. And she would take it all in stride, prove that she was better.
'Let's see how they like it when the truth finally comes out.'
Regardless of the real reasons behind whatever was going on behind her back, as the weeks ticked by, there were times when she felt increasingly hopeless, trapped, and most of all, lonely. Her full recovery still looked to be far off into the horizon. The chances of a long lost relative coming to pick her up were going slimmer and slimmer with each passing day. And her debt… well that just looked like it had no end. It would be a miracle if she managed to pay off all that before she turned into an old crone.
More often than not, she would stay awake into the night, trying to find some reason to live for. Something to look forward to. Or at least just something to make her day to day life more enjoyable.
Thankfully, Inoichi somehow always managed to get her out of her funk. He alone knew most of what was going inside Fiore's mind, and did his best to cheer her up. He was usually bluntly honest about some things, even if he did dance around a few certain topics. But for the most part, yes, he was honest and well meant. Inoichi was also the only one of her caretakers that encouraged Fiore to pick up oh hobbies and to do something new, just for the fun of it.
Perhaps, in hindsight, Fiore liked and trusted the mind reader most out of her caretakers. Coincidentally, he also gave her the longest 'leash', letting her run nearly free in his gardens and his shop's nursery without coming to check up on her every thirty minutes.
At any rate, she dearly hoped that the day would soon come, when the Hokage and her caretakers would find her healthy enough to live on her own. When that day came, it would be one of her bigger steps in moving forward in life. And maybe, just maybe… she it would also be the day she started to get some long delayed answers.
And then, one day, she got her wish.
After much thought over whether or not to release Fiore into the general public, all six of the people involved with her monitoring and rehabilitation had deemed that she had passed their unannounced tests and was safe enough to release from T&I's thumb. Fiorelynn's three caretakers had vouched that she was ready to live on her own and that she had not shown any hostility towards the hidden village. Her sudden distrust and reservations had been cause for alarm initially, but they all accepted that it would do be useful so that she didn't take anything for granted nor get taken advantage off.
And so, after months of weekly meetings and updates on her development, all six of them had come to the consensus that she was good to go. All that was left to do was to officially discharge her from her rehabilitation and to get her started on living on her own. On the agreed date, Inoichi was selected to go fetch her and bring her to the Hokage Tower to wrap up said paperwork.
A few days later, the blond mind reader had showed up on Fiore's door to be her chaperone for the day. The girl had not been informed that she was going to be discharged that day, so she was oblivious. It would be a nice surprise for her anyway. A birthday gift or sorts.
Besides, if it was not a surprise, then it wouldn't have been as much fun.
The day started out fairly normal. Fiore did her usual morning routine and followed Inoichi to a nearby tea shop for breakfast. There, they meet with Shikaku, whom happily shared his table with them and traded stories. Fiore rather liked his stories about towns and cities outside of Konoha, plus he was quite the avid storyteller, even if the shadow user would never admit it in public. In turn, Shikaku and Inoichi laughed at Fiore's latest attempt at rice pudding. It had been a disaster until Eliza, the undercover ANBU, managed to salvage the situation and actually made some pretty good ice pops out of the whole fiasco.
They shared some good laughs and later parted ways once their meals were finished. It was only later, when Fiore started to realize that she was not in a part of town she was familiar with, did she start to get curious. Maybe they were just picking up some supplies for Inoichi's shop. Yeah, that was probably it. No need to get hopeful right?
"So, where are we going again?" She asked the blond man next to her, trying to mask her increasing hopes.
"To the Hokage Tower, to meet with the Hokage. Since you are now close to being fully healed, you should be ready to live on your own." Chuckled the man, as he broke out his surprise. "I bet you are glad to hear you will finally be moving out."
Fiore's mind completely shut down for about 10 full seconds. She drew a complete blank until her mind finally managed to wrap itself around what Inoichi had just told her. She was going to be free.
'Oh hell yes!' She managed to contain herself on the outside, even thought she was very close to start jumping all over the place in happiness. She almost glomped the blond man there and then, but she knew that Inoichi would get in trouble if she did. So she limited herself to jumping a few times in place, and throwing her arms in the air once while mentally yelling 'Yaahhhoooo!' She then noticed that she was falling behind, so she quickly bounced a few steps in order to catch up with the man, with a grin on her face. "Finally! After all this time, I was beginning to believe that I was going to remain in there forever! I'll finally be able to move out of that tiny little room and stretch my legs out."
"I figured you would be happy." Smirked the man. "So congratulations are in order. We got a little something prepared just for the occasion. But you will have to wait until later. First we have to clear out some paperwork."
Fiore just smiled brightly. She was beyond happy. If anything she was ecstatic at the news. "I wonder what could it be?" she sing-songed. "Cake? Presents? That book on flower arrangements we saw the other day? Or –"
The rest of the walk to the tower was filled with soft chatter, Fiore trying to pry information out of Inoichi in regards to this surprise they had in store for later that day, and said man skillfully evading each and every one of the woman's attempts, all the while smiling good naturedly seeing that she didn't gave up until they reached the tower.
During the trip to the tower, Inoichi found himself reminiscing about everything he had happened during the last year and a quarter. It had been a long year, filled with ups and downs, but in the end it was worth it. The end result was walking right next to him, in the form of a young lady that was still trying to guess as to what was going to be her surprise present. She had indeed come a long way, from comatose and bedridden, to the happy, giddy, slightly hyper woman following him.
Inoichi found himself smirking at the young lady's antics. Fiore's face had just been priceless when he said where they were going. She went from completely dumbstruck to happy, brighter than the sun, in a few seconds. Maybe because he was reminded of his own daughter's infectious energy, and maybe because this would be the last day he would be seeing Fiore as her Psychologist. After working with her so long, his feelings were somewhat akin to what teachers probably saw when their students graduated. It was bittersweet, because he would get to see his patient take her first real steps towards her new life, but it was also like saying goodbye. He took the time as he guided her through the busy early morning streets towards the iconic tower at the heart of the village, to remember just how far Fiorelynn had come.
Despite her presumed background and history, there was nearly nothing that could tie Fiore to Ouka, save for a few facial features. After much therapy she had turned into quite the beauty. Her skin had regained a healthy tan color after spending days out in the sun, her reddish chestnut frizzy colored hair reached just passed her shoulders, and her amber eyes really brought out her natural red-gold highlights. She was somewhat plain in the face with no truly outstanding characteristic other than her bright eye color. Some might call her pretty, but not overly attractive. Unless of course, they saw the rest of her body. Now that she was not skin and bones anymore and stood within her proper weight range, she had filled up quite nicely. A large bust, a slim yet not overly defined tummy, large hips and good strong legs would have been the envy of many women. Had Eliza and, to a lesser degree, Inoichi's wife, not given her a crash course in how to dress in a feminine and dignified manner without bordering into slutsville or whoretown, she probably would have found herself being the center of attention among many men. Inoichi remembered having paid a handful of bribes to Ibiki to make sure Anko never heard or saw of Fiore. He never would have heard the end of it if Anko had been the one to teach Fiore how to dress her style.
Thankfully, she had learned well how to dress in a modest manner. Today, her clothing consisted of a long brown skirt, and a loose fitting short sleeved green shirt with red, orange and light green flowers and flourishes. It was comfortable, practical and did not reveal much at all. Other than that, she wore a plain brown belt loosely around her waist, a pair of comfortable sandals, a dark green headband to keep her hair out of her face, and a backpack where she could carry her snacks, medicine and any other odds and ends.
Inoichi chuckled at the memory of the first time he had brought Fiore over to work in the back gardens. His wife had been fired up and royally pissed off to say the least. She had thought that he had snuck back home, bringing some street slut for… umm… some morning romance, thinking that Ino was as school and that she was off with her friends. He managed to save his skin from a year long sentence of sleeping on the couch (and keeping his manhood intact) by very quickly explaining Fiore's amnesia and mental state, and why he had brought her. While skeptic at first, she had given him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to poke and prod the younger woman for information. It didn't take her long to discover that he was telling the truth and she quickly warmed up to the girl, taking her shopping and tutoring her on all feminine topics. Despite the scare, Inoichi still had to take his wife out for romantic dinners for the rest of the week, even after assuring his wife that he had no romantic interest in Fiore what-so-ever.
Pushing that particular memory aside, Inoichi would also say that he was proud of how much Fiore had grown and matured mentally. She still had a childish side, with a weak spot for all things cute, warm and fuzzy, but she had become very responsible in her own way. She had a prideful streak in her, and fiercely independent when possible. Yet she also knew when to admit defeat, and ask others for help when she really needed. When approaching new things or new people, she was generally curious but also very cautious. She was polite when talking to strangers, and overall had a friendly disposition towards others. Interestingly enough, she would take just about everything she learned or heard with a grain of salt, never fully trusting strangers. He had a bit of a sneaky feeling as to how that distrust developed, himself having taken part in that most likely.
That, or she had somehow picked up a healthy dose of shinobi paranoia after being with Jounin ninjas almost 24/7 for over six months.
Either way, he had let that slide, opting to instead earn her trust back and letting her keep her secrets. Everyone was entitled to having a few secrets.
Well, as long as no one was hurt or harmed due to those secrets at least. And so far, Fiore's newfound light paranoia hadn't affected her recovery rate or her willingness to cooperate. So all was good, for now at least.
In other matters, he had noticed that Fiore seemed to do better in groups of few people. Both Eliza and his wife confirmed this, saying that Fiore did not do to well when she was taken shopping during the early morning rush hours. Large crowds and lots of noise easily grated on her patience and placed her in a bad mood. In short, it all pointed towards Fiore being an introverted person. She did have a slight tendency to think out loud, but so far she had not gotten into trouble because of it yet.
Still, all things considered, Fiore had grown on him, up to the point he considered her like another daughter or a baby sister. He certainly was not going to just sit on the side and let some uncouth moron try to hit on Fiorelynn. Interestingly enough, Shikaku had been the one that had pointed out his newfound overprotective tendencies. Initially the shadow user had mocking him a bit for it, but he also later praised him for it, saying that it was good practice for whenever he would need to scare off little boys that went chasing after Ino.
Besides, he had also caught Shikaku using a few of his own signature jutsus (discreetly of course) to manhandle some unsavory types that had been trying to flirt with Fiore or that had made some very inappropriate remarks.
With a smile on his face, Inoichi placed aside his memories to focus one again on the here and now, focusing his attention back on where he was going and to the person right next to him.
Alongside him, Fiore was just taking in the sights and sounds, once she finally gave up on trying finding out what was going to be her surprise present. He knew that this was the first time she had seen this part of the town so he let her look around as she pleased. Once in a while she would ask about a building or what did some things do. He happily answered all her questions as they kept moving on. Soon enough, the Hokage tower came into view, just under the shadow of the Hokage Mountain (which was graffiti free today).
"Wow." Fiore said as she stopped in the middle of the road to take in the sight.
She had never before seen the monument clearly in full. Just glimpses of it that were obscured by the various buildings and roof tops. But to see the whole monument in its daytime splendor, with the iconic Hokage Tower at its base was truly a sight to see. After gawking at the sight a bit, she realized that her guide had not stopped, so she quickly ran up to him to catch.
"That place must be important. Is that were we are going?"
"To the tower? Yes. The Hokage works there. That's his office. The monument behind the tower is depicted with the faces of all our past and present Hokages." He explained as they neared the building, briefly explaining some of the most impressive and known facts of each Hokage. The secretary at the entrance waved both of them through as she had known in advance that they would come.
After some careful weaving around the crowds, in particular a group of kids that had in their arms a feral brown cat with a little red bow on one ear, they soon navigated their way to the uppermost floor, where the Hokage's Office resided.
There was a brief flash of fear in Fiore's eyes as she stood in front of the foreboding double doors, flanked by a Chuunin guard to each side. Her past fears and depression flared in her mind, fearing that maybe she had done something wrong or if she had gotten her hopes up for nothing, and that she was not going to be released just yet. Without knowing, she bit the inside of her lower lip, as the anxiety started to buildup. However, a strong hand on her shoulders brought her out of her internal debates.
"You'll do fine." Inoichi reassured her with a soft smile. "You worked very hard all these months. This is your reward. You are ready for this."
Fiore calmed down and smiled back. It was almost freakily scary how easily the mind reader could figure out what she was thinking without doing any jutsus, but he also knew just what she needed to hear.
Taking a deep breath, Fiorelynn steeled her nerves. 'Yes, you are ready.' She thought with a grin on her face and a newfound determination in her eyes.
And right behind her, Inoichi nodded in approval. He then extended an arm to knock on the grand double doors before him.
In another part of the city, Hiruzen Sarutobi, Sandaime Hokage of Konohagakure was, unsurprisingly, deferring from facing head on the most fearsome and terrifying enemy any kage could ever face. The dreaded paperwork.
Had it been any other day, Hiruzen would have allowed himself to get distracted by a great number of things. It ranged from dropping a surprise visit to the academy to see the children practicing or studying, sneaking out of the office for some tea and cookies, playing a round or two of shogi with other village elders (shinobi or not), taking long walks through the city, or his personal favorite, pulling out a copy of Icha Icha (autographed by Jiraiya himself no less) and catching up on Shiore's daredevil romantic adventures. But today was different, even if paperwork was still being pushed to the back burner as per norm.
Hiruzen had actually arrived much earlier than normal to his office, but he took every precaution to enter his office while not being detected by his office chuunin assistants and secretary. The only people that knew of the legendary professor's early arrival were his personal entourage of ANBU guards, and they knew better than to blab on their leader's current location. The reason behind the stealthy entrance was because Hiruzen needed to find a few documents and have them ready by the time Inoichi and Fiore arrived later in the day. He had after all, promised Fiorelynn all those months ago that when she had recovered sufficiently from her rehabilitation, that he would offer her options on housing and job hunting.
Had Fiore's existence not been kept a closely guarded secret from the whole village, the God of Shinobi wouldn't have required the extra level of stealth and secrecy. He probably could have looked for the housing and job opening documents during regular office hours, but even he did not dare getting seen with those files for no apparent reason by his secretary or assistants. Much less by his 'advisors'. Given that, the early hours of the morning, prior to his expected arrival time, was the perfect opportunity to search through the papers in peace.
Maybe there was a bit of a personal challenge into that decision. Besides, what kind self-respecting Kage would he be if he could not sneak by some of the best of the best his own village had to offer? Now he knew what Naruto just loved pulling pranks on the ANBU. It was just too much fun being able to get away with it without getting caught. Not to mention, who in their right mind would accuse their Hokage of drawing cat doodles on ANBU's capes, while they were on duty and were wearing them, with neon highlighters?
Hiruzen prided himself in still having his ninja skills up to snuff. Oh yes.
Personal challenges aside, the Sarutobi patriarch managed to successfully accomplish his mission undetected. Once he had separated the proper files he left the thin folders in a secret compartment in his desk, right under his Icha Icha books, and headed back to this residence. He still had just over two hours to grab some breakfast and casually walk to his office in broad daylight as if it really was the first time he arrived there that day.
No one was any wiser to the Hokage's activities.
His personal guard however, did get a good kick out of it, letting out a few silent chuckles.
Several hours later, Hiruzen was once again sitting in his chair, working through the piles and piles of never-ending paperwork. When he felt a soft chakra flare outside his double doors, accompanied by knocking on the solid wood, Hiruzen offered a quick prayer to Kami up above for the respite. He knew who was outside by the chakra flare; the nocks were just out of politeness and respect.
Quietly, he yawned into his hand, and then rolled his shoulders to get some feeling back into his stiff limbs. In hindsight, he really shouldn't have hunched over the desk to read the papers, yet for some reason someone kept making their writing smaller and smaller! At that pace, he would need to acquire a microscope just to read regular papers. Never mind the hidden fine prints! Still, he would deal with the perpetrator later. First things first, he had to clear his desk and put all those dam near useless sheets of paper somewhere else. Not having a whole lot of time, he opted instead to just shove the stacks onto another nearby table. Then he pulled out the two ledgers he had prepared earlier that morning.
"Come in." Hiruzen beckoned the two outside as he closed his drawers.
With the Hokage's permission, Inoichi pushed the doors open and gestured for Fiore to step inside, closing the door behind both of them.
Once inside, Fiore got a good look at the office. The room itself was spacious and looked comfortable. The center piece was the aged desk that was for once paperwork free and the large comfortably looking swivel chair behind said desk. Two padded chairs were placed before the desk for the guests. A few pictures adorned the walls, pictures of the past Hokages and other shinobi that had grown to make a legend of their own. Bookcases filled with books, tomes and scrolls covered one wall, while another part of the wall held a beautiful ink painting that held a poem written on one side. There were a few other things, such as an extra work table, spare foldable chairs, and a few other odds and ends that did give the room a more personal touch. Lastly, the large sliding windows in the back gave a beautiful view of the center of the village.
"Good to see you Inoichi. I was wondering when you would come. And hello to you as well, Fiore." Greeted warmly the legendary Professor. "Come, take a seat please."
"Good morning Hokage-sama" said Fiore, polite as she had been instructed, though there was a twinkle in her eyes of barely restrained energy. There was no doubt that she was excited.
"Mornin'." Inoichi replied as he walked up to the desk along with Fiore, each one taking a seat.
"I'm glad to see both of you here today." Hiruzen began talking. "Although I guess Fiore here has an idea about why I had you bringer her here, Inoichi." He chuckled, while the other two smiled, or in Fiore's case, outright beamed in anticipation. "Well then Fiore, let's make this official. Congratulations on having finished your rehabilitation." He finished with a smile.
Fiore was through the roof. She literally jumped off her seat and pulled the nearest person, being Inoichi, into a fierce hug. The blond man could have easily dodged her, but she let her have this little moment of happiness.
"Grats kiddo. You finally made it." He said as he returned the hug. "I guess you're a big girl now, huh."
"Dam right I am!" She exclaimed after letting go of Inoichi. Both of the men (not hidden) laughed good naturally at Fiore's little show of bravery. Those that were hidden, cracked a few smiles behind their masks.
"Indeed you are. You have most certainly proven that. Hatori and Eliza have given me their final reports on your progress, and along with Inoichi and myself, we have reached to the conclusion that you more than surpassed out previous expectations on your recovery. You truly surprised us all." The Hogake said after their laugher died down some. "Hatori did mention that you are still taking medicine. So just make sure you don't forget to take it and fill out your prescription until he says so." He added.
Fiore nodded. "Yes, I know. It's still annoying that I still have to take medicine after all this time, but at least it's no were near the crazy amounts I had to take at the start." He complained half-heartedly as she took her seat once again.
Hiruzen smiled at the woman's response. She really did remind him quite a bit of Naruto, but mostly just on their stubbornness and determination.
"All in good time my dear. For now, it is still best that you continue taking your medication until Hatori clears you. But let's move on for now.
"As promised, I've selected a few places where you could live, and I also have here a list of some of the current job openings that you may like." He then grabbed the files he had separated earlier and gave one folder each to Fiore and to Inoichi. "Look them over, and feel free to ask questions. We can help you go over them so that we can find the best option for you."
Between the three of them it took about two hours to go through both folders. Fiore's lack of overall working knowledge proved to be quite the handicap when trying to find her a well-paying decent job. In the end, they had to settle on something that required not much skill at all so that she could work herself up and hopefully pick up some much needed experience on the way.
Sadly, the remaining job openings left much to be desired. But beggars couldn't be choosers, so Fiore decided on two part time jobs. Oddly enough, they were almost the same, but just differed in the location. One was cleaning duty at the hospital while the other was at the ninja academy. The two were close enough to each other, plus they pay was a little better than some of the other offers. The opportunity to pick up some offhanded medical knowledge was a nice plus too.
Browsing through the housing listings was somewhat less problematic. The main difficulty there was trying to figure out what places were within Fiore's price range that were hopefully not too run down or in bad neighborhoods.
In the end, they all agreed that they would have to see the apartments in person to actually see the condition that they were in. Inoichi volunteered to accompany her for the journey, offering valuable input and preventing any dubious dealings.
And speaking of dubious dealings, while Fiore had been busy looking over both ledgers, Hiruzen and Inoichi had been locked in a silent debate through subtle ANBU hand signs. Mostly it revolved around Inoichi pointing out which of the listed apartments were in bad areas and which jobs were just a cover story for underground dealings. The blond man had in fact removed several pages from both folders that he did not approve of without Fiore noticing.
After all, he did not break his back turning Fiore into a proper lady just so that her first real job ended up in a brothel. Oh Hell no!
To his relief, the Professor saw his blunder and approved of Inoichi's intervention. He also signaled some of his hidden ANBU to go investigate said places. If there was something fishy going on, he would see to it that it was stopped before it spread. The last thing he needed was for greedy and sinful civilians to gain even more power; he already had enough dealing with their half-baked ideas and proposals that only benefited themselves and lined their pockets.
Once Fiore had picked out a few apartments, she and Inoichi left to go window shopping. It took better part of the afternoon but it needed to be done, since the listing on paper rarely revealed the true story.
By the end of their hunt, Fiore had decided on a quaint little apartment that was in an older part of town, mostly inhabited by seniors and a few others that were still single. The building itself was three stories high, divided into eight apartments. The apartment she picked was one of the smaller ones. It had 1 bedroom, 1 kitchen/dining room, 1 small living room and a full bathroom. It was in decent shape, with all the basic appliances installed and working, and most importantly, it was within her budget. There was also a small balcony that gave a bit of a view or the once lively Uchiha clan grounds. It was now little more than a ghost town with one single living occupant, but gardens and forest line brought at least a nice sight away from the dull colors of the city.
By the time the sun was setting and the first starts were slowly appearing in the sky, Fiore had finished and filled out all the papers needed and had already taken her few personal belonging and moved into her new home. She didn't a whole lot of things to move, but still it was nice knowing that she would be able to furnish and decorate the place as she pleased.
"Ready for your surprise?" Inoichi asked Fiore once everything had been put into place.
In all the hub-bub of the day, Fiore had completely forgotten about her surprise present. She sheepishly grinned while rubbing the back of her head, but then perked up fairly quickly. "Sure!"
"You forgot, did you?" he chucked briefly after seeing Fiore's expression. "No biggie. I've been carrying it around with me this whole time. Here." He said as he pulled out a scroll from within one of his flak jacket's compartments and handed it over.
"Huh? A scroll?" Fiore curiously took the offered scroll and unrolled it. She hadn't been expecting to receive a little piece of paper, but maybe it said something of importance.
Once unrolled, she found what looked to be a letter addressed to her.
After extensive research, the remaining culprits behind the fires in the small village of Gozoukaiya have been found and arrested. Among the criminals there was a woman matching the physical descriptions that we had previously believed to be you. The woman that was caught had a history of small time pickpocketing, petty thievery, and other criminal activity. She will be spending a lengthy time in prison for all the damage done.
With this in hand, you are hereby cleared of all criminal suspicions and charges. You are now allowed to move about freely in the city of Konohagakure as your wish. I am also attaching to this scroll some of the documents you will need should you wish to acquire traveling permits to leave Konoha. You may ask at the Hokage office for the full list of needed documents.
As for what happened to you, the most likely conclusion we could draw up is that you were simply traveling when you got caught in the crossfire. Gozoukaiya is mostly a farming community, but it also serves as a place to stop and rest since it is part of a frequently used trading route that eventually leads to the Fire Capital. Merchants, traders and traveling entertainers have often stopped there for the night before continuing on their way.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to track down any possible family members of yours. If you do have any remaining family, then they are most likely to hail from outside of the Land of Fire, or in a very remote location within Fire.
Hopefully this message puts some of your fears to rest and answers some questions that you have had for a long time.
Lastly, congratulations on your recovery.
-Ibiki Morino, Head of T. & I.
Inoichi waited in silence as Fiore read the scroll, giving her some space and she digested the info. He knew what the scroll said, since he and Ibiki had gone through the collected data before they decided to give Fiore the official report. He hoped that the news would be much welcomed and appreciated.
"It wasn't me…" She managed to croak between tears with a slight smile on her face, then quickly engulfed Inoichi in a strong bear hug. "It wasn't me. I'm innocent!" she chanted into his flak jacket.
Once the surprise of the moment passed, Inoichi smiled back at the woman, gently wrapping his own arms to comfort her. "That you are little flower. That you are. You should have never doubted yourself. I figured you would have wanted to learn about this so I brought it with me. Thought it would give you some peace of mind."
They stayed like that for a few minutes in near silence, Inoichi letting his pseudo elder daughter cry her heart out in relief and joy. He was actually happy for the young woman, glad to see her finally shed herself out of the fears that had been plaguing her for so long.
After a while, Fiore finally released Inoichi. "Thank you." She murmured after composing herself. Then she realized that she had virtually tackle hugged the man. Her face turned a slight shade of red from the embarrassment. "Um… sorry about that. Hehehe." She quickly apologized.
"Bah, don't worry about it." The blond dismissed Fiore's worries with a wave of a hand. He wasn't really mad about getting hugged; he had actually been expecting something along those lines. "But, I also got you a little something else. Me and the guys but a little something together for you. Merimi, my wife, also pitched in." he began explaining as he pulled out a second scroll from his vest, laying it over the counter and opening it up.
Fiore, meanwhile, wiped away any remaining tears from her face and looked on curiously. "Oh? But I thought the present was this report." She asked somewhat confused, pointing towards the release papers from Ibiki.
In reality, that report had been perhaps the best gift she could have wished for. There were simply no words to describe how good it had been to read those words. Relief had simply flooded her system, finally killing the last bits of doubt that had hovered over her since she had woken up. Fear and doubt had plagued her for so long that she had begun to believe that she would have to live out the rest of her life with the stigma of a passed criminal on her head. But now, it was gone, like dust in the wind. It was no more, and it was gone for good. She was free to write her own destiny, with her own hands this time, and she would be working on a blank stale instead of amending for past deeds.
So when Inoichi started going about a second gift, Fiore could not help but feel that she could not ask for more. The report was more than enough. "B-But that's too much! It's no really necessary–" she tried to stop the man but to no avail.
"Now, now. Don't be like that. Besides, we can't just let you lose in an empty house." the man grinned as he bit down on his thumb and dragged a thin clear line over the center of the second scroll.
A split second later, a small puff of smoke emanated from said scroll, obscuring the view. When the smoke finally cleared out, Fiore just stood speechless.
What was once a bare counter was now covered in various boxes of ranging sizes. There was a small set of pots and pans, another of dinnerware, silverware, an assortment of cooking utensils, various glasses, mugs and cups… it was literally a bit of everything to fill up and stock a kitchen. There was also a pair of sets of bed sheets and a comforter in another box, along with a pair of towels for the bathroom.
Just about everything she had planned on getting as soon as she could to furnish the apartment. And in the colors she liked to boot.
"By the gods…" she gapped.
"We figured that the place would be bare save for some of the appliances, so we got you all this to get you started. And no, before you even try, I'm not taking this back. It's yours now." The man crossed his arms with a smile on his face. "Besides, my wife would kill me if she saw you living in a bare apartment."
Both laughed at that comment, because they knew it was true. Merimi was a strong willed woman, and she could not stand to see someone living in dismissal conditions if it was through no fault of their own. When it came to a woman's dignity, or how properly stocked her kitchen was, there was no stopping that woman until she had her way. Yes, this had Merimi written all over it, so there was no refusing this gift.
"I… I'm at a loss for words. I… I would never have expected this much… This is just… I mean… wow…" Fiore said as she went about getting a better view of all the items.
Inoichi grinned as he watched Fiore cautiously inspect everything as if were delicate glass. "Then don't trouble yourself with words and instead just accept this gift and make good use if it."
The auburn haired woman chuckled in defeat. "I will. And thank you. All of you. For all that you have done for me." She said after turning around to face the man that had helped through thick and thin. A genuine smile of gratitude graced her face.
"Anytime." Inoichi's own smile softened. "I guess I'll let you unpack and I'll head home." He made a turn to leave but stopped just before his hand reached the door's handle. "Oh one more thing." He turned back to see Fiore once more. "And feel free to drop by for a visit. I'm sure Merimi and Ino would just love to hear what you have been up to."
"I'll be sure to visit before the week is over." Fiore promised. "It's the least I can do after everyone put so much effort into all this."
And with that, they exchanged their farewells. Inoichi leaving to go towards his home, and Fiore was left to do another round of unpacking.
It was well past midnight by the time Fiore was finally done. It had taken her a longer than expected, but she had taken the time to write down a shopping list for anything and everything that she was still missing. She wasn't missing a whole lot, but the fridge needed to be stocked and cleaning supplies were nowhere to be found. Shopping was on her list of things to do after work tomorrow.
But first bedtime. No use getting up late and screwing up on the first day of her new job.
Tomorrow would be the beginning of her new life.
Work at the hospital the next day wasn't overly glamorous nor exiting. Fiore had arrived before 7am with a few minutes to spare at the hospital entrance. There wasn't a whole lot of movement in the morning, but there were a couple of young shinobi getting looked over after coming back from a mission with minor wounds. Pearly white walls stood mostly bare and undecorated, along with a matching plain ceiling and speckled gray with white tile floors. Perhaps the most noticeable feature was the stench of strong cleaning products and antiseptics. The front desk and the nearby waiting room held a little bit of color, in the form of a pair of large scenic paintings and a couple of large fake potted plants.
At the front desk, she introduced herself to the nurse in turn. The older woman there called over a colleague of hers to show her what she would be doing while working at the hospital. The newly arrived nurse got her a uniform and began to show her around. The place was rather big, being 4 stories high and with two more underground levels for storage and additional machinery. After the quick tour, Fiore followed the nurse for the rest of the morning changing bedspreads, sheets & pillow covers, washing the laundry, sweeping and mopping, and clean a few bathrooms.
The hours went surprisingly quickly, and before she knew it, it was already noon. The end of her shift.
After lunch and putting away her uniform, she packed her things and left for her second job. Janitorial duties at the Academy.
The academy was a few minutes' walk from the Hospital, and surprisingly close to the Hokage tower. At least Fiore wouldn't have trouble finding the place. The building itself was quite distinguishable, not to mention all the noise and chatter of children was also a dead giveaway. She smiled at the sight of all the little ones running around and bragging about their latest exploits. Quite a few of those stories were obviously tall tales, but she found them humorous all the same. 'Let them have their fun, they are still kids after all.'
Patiently, she waited for most of the children to leave the school, taking a seat on nearby bench across the street that was under a shady tree. He had some time at her hands, since the large clock at the entrance said it was 1:45pm and she had been instructed the day before to arrive by 2:15pm. While she waited she got a few odd looks, but for the most part no one talked to her, save for a quick greeting before moving on. She didn't mind it at all; she didn't know anyone there either so it was no true surprise. She preferred her little corner of solitude anyway.
When the clock stuck two o'clock, Fiore got up and made her way into the Academy. Most of the children had already left by then, with only a handful of stragglers remained playing in the playground still waiting to get picked up.
Since she did not know her way around the school, Fiore opted to ask one of the teachers for directions. To her slight irritation, the Chuunin teacher called her if she was looking for a child of hers. It took just about every single drop of willpower within her to calmly explain that she was there for the job opening, and not to pick up a child. She had been very close to chewing out the teacher, but then again, she was technically old enough to have a child… or two. She dearly hoped that she did not have any children as of yet. She certainly had no intentions of having babies any time soon.
The Chuunin quickly saw his blunder and quickly apologized for assuming wrongly. Afterwards he guided Fiore towards the main administration office to get her set up. Once introductions and pleasantries were exchanged, Fiore was given a quick tour of the Academy and shown were all the cleaning supplies were stored. She also got a written list of what she was expected to do in each room. For the most part, it could be summed up to sweeping the floors, mopping, cleaning the windows, wiping down the desks and washing the blackboards.
Cleaning at the academy was a lot less hectic than at the hospital. For one, since classes were over for the day, there were a lot less people moving about. And those that she did encounter were not going to and fro in a complete frenzy. The academy was nearly deserted for the most part actually. The people she had come across with were a pair of teachers that were grading papers and another teacher that was cleaning the small training field adjacent to the academy building that was littered with blunt kunai and shuriken. Granted, had it been early in the morning it would have been a completely different story, but now in the afternoon the school was bathed in a calm and almost lazy aura.
Smiling at the more relaxed atmosphere, she went about filling out her list of chores at her own pace. Quite the difference compared to the near madness that went down in the hospital, especially in the emergency and intensive care units. Over there she had been pressed to keep up with the nurse that was showing her (more like dragging her) around, but there at the academy she was free to set her own little schedule. As long as she got things done, the school officials didn't mind exactly how she did it.
After getting a good idea of the general layout of the building, Fiore set off to start cleaning. For the first few hours, things progressed rather smoothly for Fiore. As expected, some rooms were cleaner than others. One in particular had little bits and spots of cake and frosting littered all over. Someone had a birthday probably. 'At least someone is living it up.' She thought to herself. That room and another where someone had spilled soda pop near the entryway gave her the hardest time out of the bunch. Dam sticky stuff did not want to get out of the floors!
It wasn't until later that day, when she was on the last stretch of rooms on the ground floor, did something completely unexpected happen.
She had just finished cleaning one of the rooms for the youngest of children and was about to walk into the next one. As she was opening the door, she saw a little blond haired boy with big blue eyes, staring right back at her. The boy was no older than ten years old, and was wearing blue shorts and a white shirt. He also held a cardboard box in his hands. Fiore couldn't see what was in the box but judging from how the little boy was having trouble with it, she guessed it was rather heavy for the little fella. But perhaps the oddest part of the boy was the three, single line, scar-like markings he had on each cheek on his face.
"What are you doing in here so late little fella? Shouldn't you be at home?" she asked, with one hand still on the doorknob, concerned for the little guy. School had ended over four hours ago, and surely no teacher was crazy enough to hold the kid in detention so late.
The blond boy just blinked at her, looking completely confused for some reason.
'Poor kid, maybe he's keeping busy waiting for his parents to pick him up? No, it's too late for that. It would be down-right inhuman to keep him here so long. Chores for some reason? Still weird but maybe plausible.' She thought to herself, seeing the lack of response coming from the little blond.
Taking pity on the boy, she decided that it would be better if she brought the kid to the school officials. Surely someone there would be able to contact the boy's parents so that he could go home.
"You okay there kid? Where are your pa— uh?" She pushed aside the door to be able to step into the room, but as soon as she pushed the door all the way, he heard an odd clicking sound.
"No wait! Don't—" Fiore heard the boy yell in panic, followed by a loud thud of several heavy objects hiding the floor.
However, the rest of the boy's warnings were cut off, as Fiorelynn found herself drenched in a large bucket full of sticky colored water. She barely had enough time to raise her arms to block the bucket from hitting her head, but that did not save her from getting completely soaked through.
Neither of the two moved, filling the room in complete silence for well over a full minute. Unknown to Fiore, who had her eyes closed when the bucket of questionable water fell on her, the room's other occupant, the little blond boy, had gone almost deathly pale.
Normally, for one 11 year old Naruto Ukumaki, seeing one of his pranks go off perfectly was a matter of pride in itself. But today, he had spent all of his detention time planning out this particular prank to get back at that crummy teacher that had once again sent him off to detention for some dumb reason he had made on the spot. Naruto liked his other teacher much more, Iruka-sensei, but his other guy just grated on his nerves till no end. He couldn't remember his name even. Just goes to show how little he cared about that teacher.
But going back to the prank, Naruto had painstakingly set up the relatively simple yet effective prank to piss off his non-favorite teacher. It was a classic really, take one bucket of water, add a packet or two of gelatin mix, a little corn starch to thicken the mixture up, and voila! A sticky and colorful mess on demand. Once the glop was properly mixed and stirred until it had just the right consistency, it was only a matter of properly rigging the door, so that the trap was not visible from the outside and for it to go off right.
He had not however, thought of the possibility of someone else, other than the mean teacher, to walk in on him and set off the trap.
The new cleaning lady, or he supposed she was since he had never seen her before, had found him just as he was packing away the rest of this 'pranking toolbox'. Said lady look at him with eyes different from those of most of the village. There was no hate, no glares, no venom nor any kind of evil intentions. In fact, she looked confused and concerned for him, which was something almost completely foreign to him. Her voice was also devoid of that sickly sweet tune he had seen some of the villagers use when trying to lure him into traps or do him harm. These genuine feelings of concern had been what had caused him to freeze on the spot, completely confused. For the most part, Naruto usually went that extra mile to make sure that those few people that were nice to him did not get caught in his pranks (save for Iruka-sensei and old man Sarutobi once in a while.) It was only when she pushed the door aside and tripped the trap that he snapped out of his stupor.
'Oh crud, oh crud, oh crud— I just pranked someone that was nice to me.' He thought as he saw the lady standing under the doorframe completely covered in blue-green sticky water.
Fiore on the other hand, braved opening her eyes to see the damage. She could certainly feel it, as her waterlogged clothes stuck themselves to her skin and a few trickles of water ran down her arms and legs. Not overly surprising, the damage was rather extensive.
"Wh-what is t-this?" she asked mostly to herself, feeling as how she felt slimy all over with every single movement she made.
Across the room, the little boy burst into hysterics, dropping the box he had in his arms without a second glance. "Ohmygosh Ohmygosh I'm sorry! I didn't been too! Ok maybe I did, but it was to catch that mean teacher, not someone else! I didn't know there was anyone else in here so late a-and— I'M SORRRYYYYYY!" Yelled out the blond in panic, not that Fiore could make heads or tails of it after the first 30 seconds. Her mind had simply shut down, only registering the sticky gooey mess that as dripping down her body.
How the heck could the boy say all that in a single breath? Only Kami knew.
Regardless of the boy's babbling—erm… long winded apologies, Fiore was trying to wrap her mind around just what exactly she had walked into to. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard someone running down the hallway followed by a loud yell.
Five seconds later, a man appeared behind Fiore. The man had chocolate brown hair tied up in a very neat pony tail, mahogany eyes that were currently lit aflame with indignation, and a peculiar scar that ran across his face just over the bridge of his nose. He was wearing the usual blue ninja uniform with the green Flak jacket identifying him a Chuunin or higher in rank.
"Uh oh… I-Iruka-sensei…" the little blond went pale at the sight of his academy teacher.
The teacher needed no more than a second to realize what had happened. Besides, Naruto's face had guilty written all over it.
"YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE YOUNG MAN!" shouted the scarred man, further scaring the little troublemaker.
A/N: And Naruto makes his grand (or not so grand) appearance. But no worries, Fiore won't stay mad at the pipsqueak for too long.
Just in case, Inoichi sees Fiorelynn as a daughter, hence why he got somewhat overprotective about her. Likewise, his wife (I'm calling her Merimi here since she doesn't appear to have an official name in the naruto wiki) also took Fiore under her wing and set her straight.
Reviews and constructive criticism is very much welcomed!