Shinobi Isekai!: Round Three! @morrowyn
Happy Birthday

11:30! I'm not late! ..・ヾ(。><)シ

"Han-chan! Han-chan! Come see what Mushi found!"

Sakumo watched as Benihime ran up to the new addition to the temple's residency. The boy was friendly and quick to smile, but there was a wariness in his orange eyes that Sakumo—indeed, any experienced shinobi—recognized. This was a child who'd seen suffering. It was heartbreaking that a boy his age would already be out on the frontlines. He may have been taller than Roshi—a fact Benihime refused to let the jinchuriki forget—but he was still younger than the youngest genin out fighting for Konoha. The war had the academy handing out graduations sooner to bolster the fighting forces, but Sakumo wasn't sure it was worth it. There were too many children sent away from the village only to never return. Iwa must be even more desperate, for children as young as Han to have shadows in their eyes.

Benihime was enamored with the boy. She had nothing but smiles for him, eagerly showing every nook and cranny of her home to her new friend. The boy was good natured and let himself be dragged around, smiling at the insects she presented like prized dogs. It was a little sad to watch, actually. She was so alone out here, she willingly associated with a known jinchuriki—though he was still unsure how well she understood what that meant—and welcomed him, a soldier of an enemy nation, into her home. Having someone her age around must have been a breath of fresh air.

Ah, but they were both very…large children. No eight year old in Konoha stood taller than an adult man. Though Roshi was rather short, it was still jarring to see. How tall were their parents? Sakumo wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know. Benihime, at least, had some ties to Kumo. Her hair and skin could only have come from there. Her file said she was from Taki, but Sakumo hadn't had the opportunity to ask her about it. Roshi was so protective of both children, it was all Sakumo could do to speak to them.

He was still teaching Benihime to read, though—using books curated by Roshi, of course. She was a fast learner and eagerly absorbed every lesson. Soon, she wouldn't need his help, and he was afraid he'd have no reason to stay beyond his mission. After a couple of months in her company, he'd come to be rather fond of the chipper girl and he was reluctant to reduce her to an asset for his village. She was sweet, if a bit strange, and he knew the temple was beyond her control. It was certainly influenced by her, but, even when she was gone, out foraging or checking her traps, no one new happened upon the ancient complex. He wasn't in the loop regarding the fighting in the area, but he was sure there were still forces from both nations in the forest. Clearly, there was something keeping them at bay, and it wasn't the happy girl with the golden hair.

"Lamenting your impending eviction?"

Roshi's words caught him by surprise and he turned to look over at the other man. They were both perched on the wall above the moon gate the herd of cattle and horses used to enter the courtyard for the sacred pool. How they managed to drink from it with the beast of a turtle snapping at them from below the surface was beyond him. Han was good with the horses, he'd noticed, though they were skittish and wild. Roshi, too, had a rapport with the troupe of monkeys, the violent alpha male allowing him near even as he regarded the children with suspicion. All the animals avoided Sakumo.

"What do you mean?"

Roshi smiled, straight white teeth peaking out from the beard that was starting to take over his face. "You don't remember? Tsk, tsk, tsk, how tragic." He leaned over to Sakumo, dark eyes glittering with mischief. "It's our birthday next week."

For a moment, Sakumo was very confused. Our? What our? His birthday was in September and the next week would be the first in July—.

Ah. That's right. He was supposed to leave after Benihime and Roshi's shared birthday. That date marked the end of his welcome. Sure, he could stay after that point, but, if he did, he might be met with the same fate that befell his two juniors. No one had told him what exactly happened to them, only assuring him that they were alive and well. If he tried to stay past whatever birthday celebrations were in the works, he might find out firsthand exactly what happened.

"Ah," he said, mind still racing. "That's right. I'll have to find a gift."

Roshi snorted. "Don't bother. Watching you leave will be the best present I've ever received."

Sakumo wondered internally if the jinchuriki had ever received a gift at all, but he dismissed that rude thought before tit could take up space in his mind. "Not for you. For Beni-chan."

Some of Roshi's aggression left his expression. "Yeah. Kid deserves something nice."

Indeed. She didn't even know when her actual birthday was, so odds were she'd never celebrated it. He was long removed from the supply lines supporting Konoha's occupation of the region as he was afraid to leave the temple lest he lose his access. The only things he had were his clothing, weapons, and armor. Roshi and Benihime were the ones who provided food, hinting and gathering in the forest. Since his arrival over a week past, he had taken to following in Benihime's footsteps, leaving Sakumo alone in the courtyard with the turtle. He felt guilty about not contributing, so he tried to help prepare meals and preserve food, but Benihime often pushed him aside, declaring the sanctity of her organization 'system' and forbidding him from the kitchen. Roshi, too, and it looked like Han would soon be joining them.

Was there anything he could give her that she couldn't just make for herself? She was so proficient at everything she did. Weaving baskets? She did it for fun. Preserving food? She could do it on her own, but she generously allowed him and Roshi to feel useful. Training? She had a routine in place that she let Roshi impose upon, sometimes. The only thing he'd ever done for her was piece her ears and it wasn't like she had another set of earrings on hand that needed placing.

He would leave like he said he would, but he did want to give Benihime a parting gift. What could he give her? She had everything she needed and he didn't have the means to give her anything she might want.


"No~! Get out! You'll ruin it!"

"You get out, brat!" Roshi growled, shoving her through the door of her own home. "You're not allowed to cook, today!"

"It's your birthday, too!" She returned, trying to push back against the much stronger man. "Why do you get to cook?"

"That's my birthday present, Hime-chan," he said with a malicious sneer. "I get to mess with your spices."


The door slammed shut behind her and she could just hear the click of nonexistent locks. He was gonna ruin her system!

"Beni-chan, happy birthday."

She turned around to look at Han, the newest addition to the growing jinchuriki clan. He was nice, but he was a little serious for her tastes. It wasn't entirely unexpected, given the kind of life jinchuriki were often forced to live. So, she went out of her way to try and make his life a little more fun. She wasn't sure she was succeeding, but he hadn't complained, yet. He might, soon, once he found his confidence, but, until then, she would just try to make him happy. He was smiling a little awkwardly at her and she returned it with a wide smile of her own.

"Thanks a bunch, Han-chan!" She reached out to him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and letting the taller boy carry her weight. "Roshi is messing up my kitchen~!"

"Damn right!"

She raised her eyebrows as the older jinchuriki yelled out from inside. Han didn't have eyebrows, but he got his confusion across perfectly clear.

"You want to work on your birthday?"

No. Of course, not. It was really nice of Roshi to take over her position in the kitchen. She appreciated the thought behind it. But. BUT. The thought of him messing up her organization was giving her hives. All those jars looked exactly alike. If he moved them, she wouldn't know until she put sugar in the food instead of salt!

She couldn't just reject his attempt to be kind, though. Tch, so unlucky.

Fun? Fun things happening?

Mushi had landed on her back while she was languishing against Han. She pulled back and stood on her own two feet as the beetle crawled over to his customary place on her shoulder.

"Yep. It's my birthday. Fun is mandatory."

Fun! Fun things!

She laughed at Mushi as he hissed with excitement. She still remembered what he considered fun and, while a jump from the cliff probably wouldn't kill her, now, she wasn't sure it constituted typical birthday shenanigans.

"Is he talking?"

She looked up at Han, a smile on her face. He didn't think she was weird for talking to bugs. It was a small, needless, concern of hers when he first arrived, but he dismissed it quickly. If anything, he was curious and asked a lot of questions she was happy to answer. Well, Choumei was happy to answer through her.

She wanted to ask if Kokuo was making it easier for him to get along with the wild horses that came to the courtyard to drink from the turtle pond. She didn't, though. Sakumo was still around, after all, and, while he never left the temple like they did, she couldn't be sure what kinds of evil little spy jutsus he was using. She couldn't even be sure Han knew she was a jinchuriki, too.

Well, he would, soon.

"Are the two of you off to wreak havoc?"

Both children turned to look at Sakumo as he approached them, one hand in a pocket. Han's expression immediately closed off. Well, it was to be expected. Sakumo was wearing a Konoha headband and only twoish weeks ago Han was fighting a war against people wearing that swirly symbol.

"Yep," she said cheerfully, gladly taking the spotlight. "What about you, old man? Gonna stick around and do old man things, like always?"

His expression didn't sour like it usually did when she used that nickname and she knew there was something different going on. He noticed her noticing and sighed with a smile. He sank to one knee, the hand in the pocket coming out. In a weird, inexplicable flight of fancy, Beni actually thought he might be proposing to her.

He reached out and took her hand, placing what he was holding into her palm.

"It's not much," he said with a crooked smile. "But it's all I had to give. I hope it's to your liking."

He pulled his hands back, revealing a cute little wooden ladybug, spots burned into its shell. There was a metal hoop twisted into its neck—it looked a little painful, actually—and a string run through it. It was an adorable charm! Maybe she could put it on her necklace!

She looked up at Sakumo, her face hurting with the force of her joy!

"Thanks so much! I love it!"

A tension left his shoulders and she took the chance to throw herself at him, eliciting a surprised chuckle from her sudden display of affection.

"I'm glad you like it."

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