Izuna didn’t know what to do with this information.
On one hand, he wanted to tease his rival with it, but on the other hand he preferred not to soil the relationship he was building with Tobirama. Especially not after that migraine debacle a few weeks ago.
Tobirama had been so gentle and sweet with him. He had held his hair (and braided it!), cooled his head with that water technique. It was his migraine-struck head that didn’t think of asking for a washing cloth instead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had fallen asleep against Tobirama while they were sitting on the edge of the bathtub. The water against his head did feel really nice.
Izuna thought, when he had woken up in his bed, that he had dreamt everything. There was simply no way on earth that Tobirama would put up with that. But when Izuna had heard the sound of a brush on paper in his room and took a careful look around his dimly lit room to see where it came from.
Tobirama was sitting at the table in his room doing some work. Izuna couldn’t really say anything for a moment because he was quite embarrassed that it was reality, but his stomach had let him known that he needed to eat something. So, Izuna had announced that he was awake, and together they ate the noodle soup that Tobirama had made. And it was delicious! The perfect soup for someone who was feeling ill. Tobirama had stayed with him the whole day and when he left, since Madara came home, Izuna had thanked him. Tobirama had simply told Izuna that he should take better care of himself and tell him when he was feeling ill. Izuna had smiled at Tobirama.
Neither of them had mentioned anything of that day afterwards. Which Izuna was still grateful for, since he was still embarrassed.
The information he had wasn’t meant for him at all. Izuna had picked it up from a conversation between his brother and Hashirama. Izuna didn’t know the context of the conversation, and honestly, he couldn’t care, but at some point Hashirama had mentioned that Tobirama liked teddy bears.
Teddy bears. Tobirama and teddy bears. What?
Izuna had wondered if he had heard that right, but he didn’t need to wonder long because Madara had choked in his drink asking if Hashirama was joking. And no, apparently the white demon of the Senju liked teddy bears. Hashirama had explained that their father had ridiculed Tobirama for it, so Tobirama did not have any teddy bears in his possession anymore. Not even after their father passed on and Hashirama had told him that it was okay.
And that brought Izuna back to the present.
No, I’m not going to tease Tobirama with it, he thought.
He was standing in front of a shop with all kinds of toys and stuffed animals on display behind the window. Izuna had just completed a mission and was roaming the streets of the city when the small store got his attention. From the looks of it, these were handcrafted high-quality goods. The work of a real artisan. He was still heavily sunken into his thoughts when an elderly man walked outside.
“Can I help you with something, young shinobi?” the man asked. The man, probably the toymaker himself, was late in his sixties and walked a bit with a hunch.
When Izuna didn’t react, the man asked again, “Young man, are you searching for something?”
“What? I’m sorry!” Izuna bowed sightly to express his apology. He was really flustered that he hadn’t heard the man.
“It is alright. You were deeply thinking about something. Do come in, do come in. There are more inside,” the toymaker laughed. He walked inside and waved towards Izuna to follow him.
I’m going to regret this, thought Izuna while he walked inside.
When Izuna walked inside, he noticed that the shop was bigger than it looked from the outside. The shop wasn’t really broad, but it was really deep. All the walls were filled with display cabinets to show the goods the man sold.
Wow. Izuna felt like a small boy again. He never had seen so many toys in one place, “Sir? Did you make all these?”
“I did indeed, together with my wife and son. My father was a toymaker before me and this shop is a legacy. Now my wife and I run it. Do you like it?” answered the toymaker proudly. He had walked to the counter that was in the middle of the shop and sat down on a chair.
“I’ve never seen so many toys in one place,” confessed Izuna out loud this time. He was completely captivated by everything he saw. Izuna walked from display to display.
There were wooden puzzles, beautifully crafted trains, building blocks, dolls, stuffed animals. Everything you could think of, this shop had it.
Izuna walked over to a display filled with stuffed animals. There were frogs, koala bears, deer, and elephants. “May I touch them?”
The toymaker smiled at the innocent question, “Of course.”
Izuna had picked up the koala, and it was soft! He stroked his hand through the fur of the animal. “It’s so soft. Which fabric are the stuffed animals made from, if I may ask?” Izuna looked up at the toymaker.
The toymaker walked over to him, “All the animals are made from angora wool.”
“Angora wool?” Izuna looked bewildered at the man, “What kind of wool is that?”
“Angora wool comes from Angora rabbits. These rabbits are a kind of breed best known for it’s long and soft coat. Their wool has a soft and silky touch, so it is great to make stuffed animals with it,” explained the toymaker.
“Oh. Do these rabbits live here, in the Land of Fire? I’ve never heard of them,” Izuna asked. Who would have thought that he would learn something today.
“The Land of Fire doesn’t have them, no. They originate from the Land of Earth. Twice a year, merchants travel from there to the Land of Fire to sell their goods, and among these good is also this angora wool. Had you mentioned what you were looking for?” asked the toymaker.
“No. I’m indeed searching for something. I’m looking for a teddy bear. But I don’t have any specifications in mind,” Izuna carefully placed the koala back on its display.
The toymaker walked further into the shop, past the counter. Only then, Izuna saw that there was a whole collection of teddy bears.
“Is the bear for a special occasion? A birth? Or a date maybe?” The toymaker smiled teasingly at the last question.
A small blush spread over Izuna’s face. “Ah, no, just a ‘thank you’-gift for a friend…” Suddenly Izuna wasn’t so sure anymore if this was a good idea.
Could he do this? Was it weird? Would Tobirama think he was trying to make fun of him? No, this was a bad idea. Tobirama would definitely be mad. Izuna put his hands in his hair and was looking around as if he desperately wanted to be somewhere else.
“What’s on your mind, young one?” the toymaker asked, interrupting Izuna’s maelstrom in his head.
“Uhm, it is just. It is for a friend who likes teddy bears, but they do not know that I know… and I want to avoid seeming like an asshole,” Izuna thought out loud.
“Tell me about them,” spoke the toymaker gently.
“Well, uhm, they are hard-working. Too hard-working, if you ask me. Really kind and gentle. And apparently, on the contrary to popular belief, they are also really soft….” Izuna had trailed off and started to play with the end of his ponytail. A habit he never lost when he got nervous.
Izuna was still looking around when he suddenly saw The teddy bear.
He walked over to it, and looked again at the toymaker for confirmation that he was allowed to pick up the animal. When the toymaker gave him permission, Izuna gently picket the bear up.
It was a snow-white teddy bear. It had a black nose and light-brown eyes. The fur of the bear was fluffy and soft. Like the fur of the koala, but less smooth. It was the type of bear that could sit up on its own, so the body of the bear was firmer. And with 30 cm, it was of medium size.
“Is this more of a show model, so to speak, instead of a toy?” Izuna asked. He kept looking at the bear.
“That is correct. The body of the bear is made steadier, so it can sit straight. It has a wired frame for strength,” the toymaker slightly bent the arm of the bear to show it.
This teddy bear was perfect.
“How much for this?” Izuna asked without thinking.
The toymaker walked over to the counter and wrote down the price.