The Key

Tsunade fiddled around with the huge pile of paperwork, glancing across she couldn’t help but grin at Aiko’s puzzled expression, she then continued to dig through her paperwork “ah here we go” Tsunade shouted in victory and gave the papers to Aiko. Aiko looked at Tsunade with a annoyed expression and went back to scanning over the sheets, putting a signature here and there, a heavy sigh escaped Aiko as she was required to fill in yet another page of details.

“I know it is annoying, but you got to fill thoese out if you want to stay in the village, standard procedure angel” Aiko looked up at Tsunade smirking at the old annoying nickname. Tsunade smiled happily “lucky for you, Konoha is short on housing but” Aiko frowned knowing where this was going. Tsunade out her hands behind her back, grinning cheekily at her “I think I know where you want to stay anyway”.

Aiko looked at Tsunade in shock and in disbelief unconsciously she took a step back from Tsunade’s desk. Tsunade pulled open a draw and showed Aiko a insignificant looking little key. Aiko’s large blue eyes bulged out in shock. “That’s right, the very same key you gave to the housing official so many years ago”.

The little girl of four, so young, so small for her age and barely able to see over the top of the table.

The gentle, annoyed looking face of a man on the other side of the table, the forehead protector symbolising a Shinobi official and Jounin burdened down by his own paperwork, peering down at this tiny child.

  The girl’s tiny hands clasping a large silver key, large to her fingers and totally brand new … a key that had been cut not that long ago that grey afternoon …

… Not many days after it had all been over …

The Official had to lean forwards to catch what the frozen lips were saying, to try to comprehend the emotions swirling with a furious force in her large blue eyes …

“I … this is … a-apartment key … it’s – it’s right in the middle of … so he should be safe …”

The Official frowned in incomprehension, confusion blanketing across soft brown eyes.

“For my … my brother … to-to have …”

The man, frowning a little, stretched out his large, calloused hand, and watched her small, tiny little fingers hover over his palm, watched a silver glint as her precious offering was placed earnestly into it …

“To look after him until he can … until he … I mean, until I …” The little girl’s voice trailed away, miserable.

“Until she returns.”

The firm sentence had been finished with softness and determination, the voice with all the strength of the young woman behind her.

Tsunade stepped into the light for the first time, stepped up behind the little girl, who now had her head bowed, ragged strands of dirty golden hair falling across her face, plastered against her forehead, . The Official started a little when he recognized who the young woman was, but Tsunade was already leaning over, placing her hands on the little girl’s thin, slender shoulders.

“Keep that key, and the apartment that belongs to it, safe for when the owner comes to claim it. He’s only small now, but …” Tsunade raised her eyes, beautiful golden-brown eyes ...”But that will be the place he will be waiting until he is found again, until he is … claimed by the only one in this world he belongs to … now.”

The young woman’s slender fingers gently shifted on the girl’s shoulders, directing her away from the enormous desk, and the confused Official.

“Keep him safe, until she returns …”

Until she returns …

The End

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