*Obligatory 'I don't own Naruto so please don't sue me' header*
Blonding - A Time Travel Fic
Minato Namikaze yawned.
Why was there always so much damned paperwork?
He sighed and stood up, grimacing at the piles that seemed to expand in every possible direction.
"No sense in trying to get any work done while I'm distracted like this," he mumbled to the empty office. Fumbling with a pen for an hour and a half was certainly not productive, even though it looked like he was working his way through the constant stream of mission reports and budget analyses at a decent pace.
He needed a break.
Looking around the room one last time, he had to admit that the space at the top of the Hokage Tower, the one reserved for him once he took office, still had a ways to go before he could properly call it his office. The building still smelled like paint, but that was a worthy price to pay in order to cover over the gaudy neutral colors that his predecessor had insisted on using to decorate – and replace it with a calming, faded red. The Third had claimed that the beige helped sooth him, and helped him stay more productive, but from what Minato had seen of the old Sarutobi in action, he doubted it very much. It seemed like all the geezer ever did was smoke his pipe and write mediocre poetry.
Minato smirked to himself. No wonder he wanted to pass off his hat so much.
He was willing to put up with the smell of the paint and the drywall and the lacquer and the new furniture – because this was his office now. Not the old fart's, not the Senju's, not the Uchiha's; hell, not even his wife's.
Although, he had to admit that the choice of color for the room was loosely inspired by her.
He ran a tired hand through the blond spikes that were stacked haphazardly atop his head like felled logs, smoothing them down momentarily before they shot back up into the air again like they were before, seemingly untouched. The inauguration had been a week ago, and he was still getting used to the fact that people were addressing him as "Lord Fourth" or "Hokage-sama" instead of his name, like normal. It would take a while to get acclimated to it, but it was just a simple little thing that he had caught himself fixating on from the very beginning.
At least Kushina and Kakashi still called him by his name. That was all he needed, to be honest.
He finally sharpened his unfocused eyes, and looked down at his overloaded desk with apprehension; the mountain of paperwork balanced on every available surface definitely hindered his resolve. He leaned over and started to shuffle a few of the loose leafs of paper around across his desktop, before he finally found what he was looking for…
…a small, bronze-wrapped photograph of the love of his life.
He held it tenderly for a few moments, reminiscing on the fond memories of their youth:
…the day she came into his academy class and proudly announced that she would be the first female Hokage, and then promptly beat up the kids that told her otherwise…
…the day she called him a girl; the first time, at least…
…the time they ran into each other (literally) in front of a rather innocuous little ramen stand…
…the moment he realized he seriously, really loved her…
…the day he came to her rescue when Hidden Lightning ninja kidnapped her…
…the day she realized that she seriously, really loved him.
His heart fluttered a little bit in his chest just thinking about it.
Minato set the photograph atop of a precariously perched stack of genin and chuunin mission reports, before turning his attention to the village behind his desk, framed beautifully behind an array of long, wide windows that wrapped all the way around the far side of the office. A swirl of leaves floated by as he stepped up to the one closest to his desk - which had the best view, in his opinion.
The Village Hidden in the Leaves… his village.
The treetops danced in the late afternoon breeze, blitzing the earth beneath them in a beauty of lambent light and warmth. Rows upon rows of asymmetrically placed buildings and shops girdled the soft brown gravel streets below as they wound through the heart of the village; a glowing highway of bustling citizens, bored shinobi and playing children.
He watched one particular group of them as they chased after a small red ball, weaving in and out of the legs of passerby as they hurried home for the evening. Some of the villagers shouted after them, waving a fist in the air, telling them to watch where they were going; but even Minato, from way up above them, could see the warm smile on their faces as they turned back around.
The Will of Fire.
He diverted his attention to the soft white cloth that stretched down his back and billowed out at his ankles. A cursory glance from this perspective would grant him only a flicker of red flame near the foot of the cloak, but he knew that it was much more than that.
With a small snap, the clasp the held the coat around his neck was undone, and Minato gracefully removed it in one fluid motion. He would never tell anyone that he actually had been practicing this move in anticipation – or anxiety – for the two or so weeks leading up to his inauguration. The only person that knew about it was Kushina, but that was only because she barged into their bathroom while he was half naked one morning, doing it over and over again in front of the mirror.
He blushed a little at that, as he held the coat in his hands and traced a few blood-red kanji that were carefully stitched into the back with a skill beyond his years.
He shivered just looking at it – looking at the physical manifestation of his dream. He had wanted to be the one that people looked up to, the one that kept his people safe, since he was a child.
The one that kept the hearth of fire within the Hidden Leaf flourishing and healthy.
He smiled, and looked back down at the gaggle of children beneath him, still trying to go after their lost ball as it rolled and bounced and flipped through the air under the feet of the many villagers. His fingers continued to stroke the kanji for 'fire' absentmindedly as he did so, already lost in thought.
The thought of children was certainly one that egged at the back of any mid-twenties married couple's minds, and Minato and Kushina were no different. There had been many heated discussions regarding the matter, and it was one that Minato was hesitant towards in the beginning.
But after Kushina's persistent nagging and prodding, he finally gave in to the tiny voice in the back of his mind that had been chomping at the bit to raise a family – a proper family.
He wouldn't give his children the same experience that he or Kushina had to endure throughout their childhoods. Not on his watch, as the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf.
Just like he'd do his best to watch over each and every one of those children playing down at the foot of the tower.
He frowned, and turned his attention back to the cloak that was sprawled out over his arms, and at the clenched fist that was now wrapped solidly around the 'fire' kanji in a fervor of determination. He instantly let it go, for the sake of his coat, before he slyly threw it back over his shoulders and allowed it to settle behind him, not minding too much one way or another that a few pieces of paper on his desk fluttered to the floor from the air currents.
With the cape firmly back over his form, high collars flanking either side of his face in a rather exuberant fashion, he took a few steps towards his office door, determined to go out and see his village firsthand.
The paperwork could wait.
A young boy, one that couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old, came running up to Minato as he completed another slow walk along the less crowded paths in the village. He immediately jumped in front of the man and bowed his head deeply, a huge grin on his face.
"Iruka, please. There's no need for that," Minato said with a warm smile, before he leaned down and ruffled the hair of the scar-faced child softly.
Iruka frowned indignantly, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he did so. "Hey! Cut it out! It's bad enough when my mom does it…" he pouted, turning to the side to avoid looking at the blond-haired man in the eye.
He pursed his lips in a mischievous manner, as he slowly turned his head and moved his eyes up the body of the Fourth Hokage.
Standard issue, black shinobi sandals.
A pair of calves, each bandaged in a soft-white gauze that wrapped under his shoes and up into his simple blue pants.
The aforementioned blue pants.
A brilliantly vibrant – and surprisingly clean – white cloak, adorned with an embroidered ring of fire that wrapped around the base of the cloth.
A pair of battle-hardened, yet still kind and inviting, peach-colored hands, loosely set beneath two dark grey sleeves that wrapped up and underneath the cloak.
A forest green jounin-level flak jacket, pockets and shoulderguards obscured by the cloak as well.
A high-collared neck; one that led up to –
A pair of warm, loving, kind azure-blue eyes. If a pair of eyes could smile, Minato's would be grinning from ear-to-ear. But it was more than that: they seemed to pierce his very being, and look into his soul, unadulterated, and warm the coils of his heart from the inside out.
Iruka's face immediately began to heat up in embarrassment as he felt the Hokage's gaze meet his, and he looked away immediately.
"Now, now, Iruka, what's with the visual patdown?" Minato softly chuckled, bending over and placing a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Is there something wrong?"
"N…no… I was just…" Iruka stuttered, trying to come up with a good excuse.
Minato just laughed, a little harder this time, as he gripped the boy's shoulder in an effort to stabilize himself as he stood again. As soon as he was back on his feet again, he immediately released him, once again diverting Iruka's gaze up to the man's eyes.
"Would you like to grab something to eat? I'm starving; haven't eaten anything today," he said with another smile, before guiding Iruka along beside him, not waiting for an answer.
Iruka looked up at Minato blithely as they walked, trying to think about what to talk about. The silence between them was definitely comfortable, but Iruka still couldn't help but feel uneasy for taking up the time of such an important person in the village.
Finally, his brain made a contact and he blurted out, "Wait, where are we going?"
Minato patted him on the back, and looked down at him with another grin. "It's a little ramen place that's just up ahead! I go there all the time."
Sure enough, a small booth with a few kanji-adorned pieces of cloth in front came into view, and the pair of Leaf citizens approached happily.
Minato plopped down in the seat to the far left with a long, satisfied sigh, and Iruka, not knowing how to proceed politely in the situation, followed suit with a gulp. He didn't want to step all over the man's kindness.
"What'll it be, Hokage-sama?" came the voice of an old man from behind the counter, holding a small noodle strainer in his hand as he turned and greeted the pair. He looked down at the boy, and smiled warmly. "Oh, and who's this?"
"My dinner guest for the evening," Minato smiled. "And I'll have the regular, Teuchi."
"Of course! Coming right up!" Teuchi raised the strainer in affirmation, before turning to Iruka. "And how about yourself?"
Iruka spaced for a moment, trying to quickly remember the types of ramen that he knew of, or even the ones that he liked in particular. After what felt like an eternity, he blinked, and quickly said, "I… I'll have the same!"
"Alright!" Teuchi said with another smile, before beginning to turn around. "Two extra-spicy flaming miso ramen bowls coming right up."
"Wait, what!?" Iruka jumped, as the two men laughed and shook their heads.
The door to the Namikaze residence clicked shut a moment later, as the soft sounds of sandals being removed rustled throughout the house.
Then, suddenly, there was the rushing sound of a pair of feet-on-tile as they whipped around the corner from the kitchen and into the entryway.
Minato fell backwards onto the closed door, partially-removed shoes flying through the air as Kushina practically tackled him with a bear hug.
"Ow! Did you have to do that?" Minato whined a bit, rubbing the back of his head that had made contact with the door in an exaggerated manner.
She socked him in the shoulder, before pulling him up by the collar of his flak jacket and into a brief kiss.
"Welcome home," she said more softly, as she broke the kiss and helped him back up to his feet properly.
"It's good to be home," he said completely truthfully.
Kushina's eyes suddenly lit up like fireworks as realization clicked in her brain. "Oh! I almost forgot! Dinner is almost ready…" her eyes turned mischievous as she turned back towards the kitchen, "Hokage-sama."
"Aww, I get enough of that already at work," he pouted playfully, before following her in and sitting down at the table across from where Kushina was now brandishing a pot filled with steaming hot rice.
For most people, the sight of the Red-Hot Habanero wielding a weapon – or something that could be misconstrued as a weapon – was enough to send them packing. But Minato couldn't care less – all he could care about was food. Her food.
He may have already eaten a bowl of ramen with Iruka, the academy student, earlier that day. But nothing, not even a full stomach, would stop him from putting away several plates of his wife's delicious homemade cooking.
It almost made the pain and suffering of paperwork throughout the day worth it…
"Eat up!" she said with a grin as she heaped a large pile of steaming vegetables and beef onto the pile of rice stacked up like a mountain amid his plate.
"With pleasure!" he said, breaking his chopsticks and beginning to eat.
Several minutes of comfortable silence stretched between the two, as the two of them together decimated the pot of food on the stovetop before it could even think about getting cold. Minato ate with a respectable grace, while Kushina… didn't.
After a few more minutes of silent chewing, Kushina looked up from her messy place at the table and smiled over at her husband. "Sooooo… how was work today? Now that you're the big shot Hokage?"
Her teasing was in jest when it came to him, unlike most of the people she interacted with. Minato paled at the thought of going grocery shopping with her; there was no doubt in his mind that she would curse out anyone and everyone that had the audacity of even thinking of getting in her way as she did her thing. He made the mistake of going into a 24-hour convenience store with her one night for some ice cream, and nearly had to reattach the arm of the poor shopkeeper when Kushina learned they were all out of Rocky Road.
He shook his head visibly, much to Kushina's confusion, as he grounded himself and smiled back at her. "You know I've only been the Hokage for a week now. It's been nothing but paperwork for the past lifetime…" Minato grumbled that last bit, pouting again lightheartedly.
He typically didn't act like this around other people, but Kushina tended to bring out this side of him – the side that even he himself wasn't sure existed after his participation in the Third Great Shinobi War a few years before - if you could call destroying an entire battalion of Stone ninja singlehandedly mere participation.
"Yeah, so? You're the Hokage now!" she said with a warm admiration in her eyes. "You had better do a damn good job keeping that seat warm, because once you get bored with it and go off to create some new fancy jutsu in all your spare time, I'm taking it for myself!" She pounded her hand on the table, causing the plates and bowls to rattle all over the place, sending crumbs and pieces of rice flying through the air and onto the carpet. "Hell yeah, y'know!"
Minato couldn't help but laugh at his wife's crazy antics – she was the light of his life. Whatever emotional battery he consistently drained down while at work was always immediately recharged the instant he opened that door and smelled her lavender-scented hair from across the house.
"What's so funny?" Now it was Kushina's turn to pout childishly. Although Minato had to admit that she far, far outclassed him on that front. He simply put on a mask of ignorance, looking over his shoulders behind him as if to find some third person, before turning around and looking back at her in shock. "Who, me?" he pointed to himself dumbly, barely constraining a cheeky grin before it grew across his face.
He loved this girl.
Kushina laughed this time, before leaning over the table and socking him again in the shoulder.
"You deserved that one, you doofus," she said with a giggle, before settling back and patting her belly with one hand, while stifling a burp with the other. "Whew, I'm stuffed," she said with a grimace as the food settled in her stomach.
Minato rolled his eyes with a smile and shook his head. "You know, I'm starting to really wonder who wears the pants in this relationship."
Kushina didn't bother to move; only looking his way and raising an eyebrow. "You're figuring this out now?" Then, she broke out in a fit of laughter that bounced off the walls of the kitchen and reverberated through Minato's heart. He couldn't help but join in.
After the two of them calmed down, Kushina wiped the tears from her eyes and sighed. "Ahh, that was a good one." Suddenly, her eyes narrowed in indignation, as she looked at the freezer with poorly suppressed curiosity. "Say, do we have any ice cream?"
Minato immediately paled before gulping and shaking his head. "Ehrm, I think you finished it off yesterday," he said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head in nervousness.
"Hmmph." Kushina slumped back in her chair, crossing her arms and frowning like a child. "Oh well."
A few moments of comfortable silence hung in the air, while Minato shook his head and began to gather up their dishes and taking them to the sink. He took off his cloak carefully, draping it over the back of his chair, before donning a small, grey apron and getting to work on washing their plates and silverware.
As the water hissed from the sink, Minato neglected to hear the chair behind him shift slightly, nor did he notice as his wife slowly walked up behind him.
Naturally, then, he jumped when she wrapped her arms around his chest from behind, enveloping him in a tight hug. He immediately decompressed, releasing any of his nervousness from the sudden 'attack' like a balloon in the wind.
He flipped the faucet off and turned in her arms to hug her back properly, before looking down at her.
There was no other word for it. She was just plain happy.
"Hey, Minato? Can I ask you a question?"
Her happiness evaporated immediately, giving way to nervousness. He could tell by the way she worded it, and the fact that she was being much more polite than usual, that this was a serious question – one that she had been chewing on all dinner long.
"Of course you can. What's got you bothered?" He said with a smile, wiping the stray red hairs out of her face.
"Well… you know how we decided that we wanted to have children?" she began slowly. A paleness creeped its way onto Minato's face, but she only laughed and lightly tapped him on the forehead with her palm. "It's not that, you silly. We still have a ways to go before I'm even ready to be pregnant. You have nothing to be worried about."
Minato couldn't help but let a small sigh escape from his lips. Becoming the Fourth Hokage, and getting news that you were a father in the same week? That would just be too much.
Kushina's continued question broke him out of his thoughts. "Well, I was just wondering…" she fidgeted a bit I his arms, "…what you would want to name the baby, if we had one."
He blinked. 'That's what she was so worked up about asking me? What, is she afraid I'm going to name the kid after ramen or something?'
"Uhh…" he started, obviously not sure how to answer the question. Kushina immediately jumped back, a look of guilt and embarrassment on her face.
"Don't worry! You don't have to answer it now," she said apprehensively, hands raised in front of her in a calming manner. 'Does she really think I'm going to get MAD at her for asking?'
Minato gave one of his trademark smiles – one of the ones that could warm the cockles of even the devil's heart.
He walked over and wrapped his arms around her in a quick embrace, before pulling away from her, hands on her shoulders.
"Why on earth did you think that I wouldn't want to answer that question?"
She twitched a little under his prying eyes. Their power was not lost on anyone, least of all Kushina.
She could do little to resist their warm and tender gaze.
Her mouth went into overdrive, trying to spit out the string of words that her brain was producing at a speed that put the Flying Thunder God to shame. She kept going, and Minato just watched her as she went along, her eyes pressed shut.
"-verbeengoodatstufflikethis y'know? And I'mjustworriedthatI'mgonnapickabadname andourchildisgonnagrowupbeingbulliedorharrassedandit'llbeallmyfau-"
Her eyes shot open as Minato silenced her with a kiss, much to her surprise. She melted a little in his arms, before he moved back a bit and smiled at her.
"You don't have to be nervous. I won't get mad at you, I promise. I don't really have any ideas right now," he scratched the back of his head again sheepishly, "but I'd love to hear what you had in mind?"
He phrased the last part of his question in an attempt to help curb her anxiety and self-doubt. From the sigh of relief and slight smile that appeared on her face, Minato internally sighed as well.
Minato blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
Now she looked agitated. "Menma, y'know! That's my name suggestion." She mumbled the last part, as if she didn't want to admit to even herself.
Why was she so ashamed?
"What, like the ramen topping?" It was well known that Kushina loved ramen. Minato was a fan as well, but nowhere close to the level of fanaticism that his wife had for Teuchi and his humble stand. He thought about suggesting a name ramen related in jest, once the topic came up, just to make her laugh, but he wasn't expecting her to be seriously contemplating it.
Nor was he expecting the question so soon.
But it made sense, now that he thought about it.
Kushina cringed, and Minato immediately realized that he had said that with a little more uncertainty than he had meant to. 'Boy, I bet she is beating herself up something fierce inside her mind right now.'
"If you don't like it, you can just sa-"
"I love it."
Kushina blinked, and looked back up into her husband's smiling eyes. "What?" she mouthed in shock, her voice apparently not working.
He leaned in to kiss her again, before giving her a big bear hug. "I said I love it, silly. Menma is a great name."
He could physically feel the anxiety leave her body and pass through him into the night sky. It was a strange feeling, but he quickly composed himself when he felt her completely relax in his arms, all of her worries, her doubts, her insecurities leaving with it.
It was a magical feeling, and he couldn't help but squeeze her tighter with a smile.
"Thank you, Minato."
He blushed a little at the absolute sincerity behind those words, and was about to pull away from her to look her in the eye, like he always did, when she returned the hug with just as much, if not more intensity than he did.
"Oof! Don't… mention it… suffocating… me…" he croaked from within her frightening strength, and she immediately released him.
He took a few deep breaths, before grinning down at her sheepishly.
"We still have a while, you know. Neither of us are quite ready to be parents, so if you come up with something better before then, then we can talk about it further?" She looked up at him inquiringly, seeking his approval, which he readily gave.
"Of course," he smiled. "But Menma is great. For now, that's choice number one. We can add more to the list when we think of them."
"Great!" she exclaimed, jumping up and pecking him on the cheek, wrapping her arms around his neck.
He pulled her in for another hug, before the two pulled apart once more. Minato turned to get back to the dishes, but a hand on his arm stopped him, and he turned to look at her again.
She had a look in her eyes – one the Minato knew too well. It was a look of hunger. Infatuation. His heart skipped a beat, and he nearly dropped a plate on the ground. "…Wh…whuh?" he said dumbly, as she smiled at him seductively.
Kushina leaned up to his ear quietly, and Minato just stood there like a scarecrow, not sure what to do.
When he felt her hot breath on his ear, his own breath hitched, and he had to brace himself on the countertop in front of him.
He could feel her smile as she began to speak.
"Take me to go get ice cream. I want some damn Rocky Road."
Minato sat in bed; lamp on, book open. It happened to be his favorite read – and he always went to sleep with its message implanted in his mind, in order to mentally prepare him for the next day's work.
He turned a bit, pajamas rustling under the sheets, and looked over to where Kushina was resting beside him, a large (and empty) tub of ice cream lying on its side on her nightstand, dripping what was left of the chocolatey concoction all over.
As if she knew he was watching her, she belched loudly in satisfaction, and tossed a gnawed-upon spoon into the empty bucket, causing it to rattle and fall to the floor, face down.
"Damn, that was good," she said with a groan, stretching her back as she prepared to go to sleep.
Minato only chuckled to himself, before returning to his book. This was his favorite part, after all.
If there is peace in this world, I will find it.
Minato stared at the pages of the book, lost in thought, as he scanned through. Suddenly, one particular paragraph, one that hadn't caught his eye particularly before, rang out to him like the call from an angel.
Wh… who are you? What is your name?
Minato put the book down.
Kushina blinked, not quite asleep yet. "Huh?" she grumbled, before turning around to look her husband in the eye.
What she saw was something she called his 'Hokage face' – his eyes were narrowed at no one in particular, and his mouth was pursed closed in a line. He was concentrating on something, and from the looks of it, it was something big.
"Naruto," he repeated, still looking at the wall. Finally, he broke the connection with the invisible person, and looked down at her. His eyes began to twinkle in the light, and he smiled so sincerely that it made Kushina's heart melt.
Still, she was half asleep, and was exhausted. "Yeah, that's the character from that book that Jiraiya wrote, right? It wasn't bad – at least, it was better than that pervy smut he's pumping out nowadays." She grumbled and sat up a bit, rubbing her eyes with a yawn.
"Naruto," Minato whispered.
And that's when something clicked in Kushina's brain, and she shot awake like a bullet. Her eyes drifted to her husband's, who was still eyeing her with a glimmer of hope.
"Naruto," she whispered back, wide-eyed.
"Naruto!" Minato shouted happily, wrapping his arms around Kushina.
She started laughing, hugging Minato back tightly.
He joined her shortly, and they just sat there, content with the world, as their laughter died down.
"Naruto," she replied with a beaming smile, nestling under Minato's arm, before she felt something warm and heavy connect with her head, followed by the soft sounds of unconsciousness.
She looked up at the blond man, careful not to disturb his rest. His head had fallen sideways onto her own when he fell asleep from pure exhaustion, his face mirroring her expression of utter peace. She eased away from him and forced him further down the bed into a proper sleeping position.
With another warm grin, she leaned up against him and fell asleep as well.
They had made their choice.
Minato sniffled in boredom as his eyes swept over yet another budget proposal. This one was for the academy's taijutsu department. He shook his head and stamped it, asking himself how a department that is supposed to be training students how to use nothing but their bodies in combat could siphon so much money out of the city's coffers.
With a sigh, he nonchalantly discarded the paper into the bin at the foot of his desk labeled "OUT", before smoothly bringing his hand to the top of the massive stack to his right and looking over a genin mission report from three days ago. Minato understood the need to develop protocol and routine within the young fledgling ninja community, but still – he could go without having to read and sign off on yet another cat retrieval mission.
He scratched his eye with his free hand, pen perched above the signature line in the other. With an exasperated sigh, he willed it to move.
He then dabbed his stamp in the ink pad, pen still in hand, and slammed it down over top. When he released it, the kanji for 'four' was emblazoned over his name in a bold red ink.
Another piece of paper was disposed of via the "OUT" box, and another unfiled mission report found its way onto his desk.
It continued like this for three hours, before the sweet embrace of death took Minato away from this world…
…or so he wished.
Nope, the clock didn't lie. He had another four hours to go.
With an audible groan, he slammed his head into his desk in the pinnacle of boredom. 'Maybe I can modify the Hiraishin to speed up time,' he brainstormed in jest. To prove his point, he rolled his forehead around on the tabletop, mumbling obscenities under his breath and pulling at his hair with his hands.
"…that damn monkey…"
"You know, Minato, I never took you for a drunkard," came a gruff voice from across the room.
The Hokage blinked, stilling the movement of his head.
"Is that who I think it is?" he mumbled from his desk.
"The one and only!" the man proclaimed proudly. "The bold, the daring, the devilishly handsome, the gallant toad sage Jir-"
Minato was suddenly across the room, with his hand over his sensei's mouth and a frown on his face.
"Please, for the love of Kami, not now," he grumbled. "I've had a really, really long day."
"I'll say," chuckled Jiraiya, as he pried the man's hand off of his face. He just smirked, and pointed to Minato's forehead.
Minato raised an eyebrow, then brought his hand up to his face, where he plucked his pen from his tangled hair. He sweatdropped as he tossed it over his shoulder, where it landed with a soft tap in his pen jar on the corner of his desk.
Jiraiya just rolled his eyes at the showmanship. "Nice moves, but I didn't come all the way back to the Leaf village just to watch you do parlor tricks, Hokage-sama."
"Augh! Stop calling me that. Or, at least, stop calling me that in that patronizing way…" Minato grumbled, already back at his desk in a flash of yellow and white. He leaned forward onto his desk, before rubbing his eyes again for good measure. "I trust you have news to report, then?"
Jiraiya immediately hardened, before frowning and nodding at Minato. "Yes. We have narrowed down where Orochimaru's currently holed up. It's in an abandoned bunker on the outskirts of town, past the city walls. I recommend sending an ANBU team out to take care of him."
"You're not volunteering to deal with him yourself?" Minato responded, a faint hint of surprise in his eyes. Otherwise, however, his 'Hokage Face' was primed and ready.
"I thought it was implied," Jiraiya said, as he turned and walked over to the window behind Minato's desk. He, too, liked the view – just not the job that came with it. So he settled for the occasional visit every now and then. "I'd be leading the ANBU team, of course."
Jiraiya started at this, before turning with a raised brow at his pupil, who was still facing forwards at his desk. He hadn't moved at all.
"Might I ask why?"
"As much as you think Orochimaru is your responsibility, I'm not so sure. He may have been the friend and rival that you strove to save from himself in the past, but the fact of the matter is that it's Sarutobi that needs to do this."
Jiraiya's eyebrows threatened to shoot into orbit. "That old geezer? Are you sure?"
"Come now, Jiraiya, be nice," came a soothing voice from the office doorway. "I thought I taught you better than that."
Another eyeroll from the iron-white haired man. "Sensei. Might as well come in."
"Who said that was your say?" Hiruzen smiled, shifting his pipe from side to side in amusement. "Last I checked, this wasn't your office." He turned to Minato. "How's the hat treating you, my friend?"
An exasperated look was his response. Hiruzen chuckled to himself, as he closed the door behind him with a small click and strolled casually to the window that Jiraiya was occupying.
"Beautiful view, don't you think?" he mused out loud. His reply was a nod from his student, and a grunt of affirmation from his successor. They were obviously waiting for him to speak his mind on the matter at hand. The old Hokage was known for deliberating heavily on things before opening his mouth. They didn't call him the Professor purely for his repertoire of ninjutsu alone, after all.
After a few puffs from his pipe, he turned and looked at Minato, who had swiveled in his chair to observe the two older men with a raised eyebrow.
"I accept your proposal. Give me a team of ANBU and his location, and I'll set him straight."
Minato nodded once, turning back to his desk to fumble through his papers. "Alright. I'm granting you full authority on this task. Do whatever it takes to stop Orochimaru." He tugged on a sheet of paper that was about halfway through one of his piles, holding it steady with his free hand until the paper came free. With a cursory glance, he nodded, and handed it over to Hiruzen. He then locked eyes with the man, and folded his arms in his lap professionally. "I mean it. By any means necessary."
Jiraiya tried to hide his discomfort in the statement by turning back to the window with crossed arms, but considering he was among two of the only people on the planet that knew Jiraiya better than he himself did, it was in vain.
"Sensei…" Minato began with a small smile, "I know that you want to do this. Trust me, I understand it. If one of my team mates decided to become a missing-nin on his own accord, I'd do everything in my power to get him back. We all would.
Hiruzen nodded to this, turning to face his student. "Do not worry, Jiraiya. I'll see to it myself that his actions are stopped, one way or another." He folded the paper that Minato gave him and stashed it away within the confines of his rolling robes.
Jiraiya sighed, and closed his eyes, arms still crossed. "Alright. I trust both of you. Just… be careful, alright? I don't want to lose two members of my team at the same time."
The old Hokage just chuckled at this, waving his hand through the air dismissively as he began to take his leave. "Who do you take me for, Jiraiya?" He stopped about halfway to the door, before turning his attention to the blond man sitting at his old desk. "Have a good evening, Minato."
The Fourth smiled warmly and waved a little to the man, as he turned and strolled out the door.
Not long after, the brazen figure of his sensei began to walk towards the door as well.
"I'll see you around, Minato."
"Of course!" Minato smiled slightly. He knew Jiraiya was peeved at him for pulling rank, but it had to be done. Hiruzen had specifically asked for Jiraiya not to be included in the task, and the blond man had almost immediately noted that the Toad Sage would not be happy about it. But the Third had only smiled mischievously, stating that it would be a good opportunity for Minato to stretch his Hokage muscles and put his personal feelings aside for the good of the village.
As much as it pained him to admit it, the old man was right. He was still wet behind the ears when it came to his job, and every piece of (mostly) harmless experience he could get, he should snatch up as quickly as he could.
His smile faltered a little more as the man began to slip through the door.
Then, he jumped, remembering something he was supposed to ask.
"Wait! Sensei?" he called out, just as the man's white hair disappeared from view.
For a moment of tense silence, Minato thought that Jiraiya had simply ignored him out of spite, and he sighed, sinking back into his chair.
But then, the grinning mug of the legendary pervert manifested itself in the doorframe.
"Changed your mind?"
Minato deadpanned, shaking his head. "What? No. I just wanted to ask you something."
The Sannin frowned and grumbled, but made no sign of stopping his blond student from continuing.
Acknowledging Jiraiya's consent to continue, Minato smiled cheekily, and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Actually, I'd rather we talk about it over dinner. It involves Kushina as well. Would you be willing to come over at, say, sixish tonight?"
Jiraiya made a show of himself, vivaciously sighing, and slumping back against the door in exasperation. "Aww, do I have to? That seriously cuts into my research time!" he cried, sliding to the floor in a defeated heap.
"You know as well as I do that you'll have more than just the bathhouse women to deal with if you blow Kushina off like I know you're thinking about doing," Minato quipped immediately, a small vengeful smile creeping onto his face.
Jiraiya's expression paled to the point where his forehead and cheeks were completely intangible from the white hair that jetted every which way around his forehead protector. It was quite the sight – seeing the fear in the legendary shinobi's eyes at the mention of Kushina's wrath.
Then, he paled himself when he realized how much trouble he would be in if Jiraiya didn't show up.
So Minato became ghostly white as well.
"I see you've realized that both of us are in a pickle," mumbled a wide-eyed Jiraiya. "I guess I have no choice. Should I bring a bottle of wine or something?"
This snapped the Hokage out of his terror-induced trance, and he simply gave a warm chuckle. "Oh, no, none of that. She's just making some sort of ramen dish. You know her and ramen."
Jiraiya didn't skip a beat, although his pupils did dilate slightly. "Right. So two bottles then?"
Minato sighed and slumped forward a bit. "Yeah, that'd probably be a good idea. You know how she is with ramen."
With an apprehensive gulp, Jiraiya slowly stood up, his legs shaking nearly imperceptibly – not that Minato didn't notice. "…right. I guess I'll see you tonight then," he said with a sheepish grin, and he was simply gone in a flash of leaves and hormones.
"Pervert," mumbled Minato, as he rolled his eyes and began to forage through the mounds of paperwork that manifested themselves across his desk on a nearly minutely basis.
Another insurmountable period of time passed, before the sun's harsher gaze began to bear down on Minato from behind the paned glass of his sterile red office.
He really needed to do some redecorating. Everything looked to fresh – too new, and too uninviting. The only addition he had made in the last day to his drab workspace was a large round rug that was centered under the small, plain light fixture that fought off the darkness in the corners.
Although this rug was, undoubtedly, special.
He had spent the better part of four hours the previous day with ink-covered hands and arms, frantically scribbling away the formula for his most powerful and long-lasting Hiraishin seal on the bottom of it. If anything were to happen while he was away from the tower – or hell, even the village – he could focus on the seal from a massive distance (much further than with his normal, hastily applied Hiraishin seals) and move to it instantaneously, with little to no difference in chakra draw.
Well, not at that time, at least. He had pumped so much into the seal itself as to offset the costs later that Kushina had found him that morning, in his pajamas, passed out across it in sheer chakra exhaustion. It was… embarrassing, to say the least, but it was certainly worth it. The Hokage Office was now certifiably his main hub – and his most powerful transportation and offensive jutsu had to accommodate for it.
He had thought about placing one in the living room of his home, but for the time being, a ring of four Hiraishin kunai could do the job and then some. Besides, he couldn't simply have four kunai jutting out of the floor of his office, where people would be no doubt flocking for mission assignments, emergency summons, or the like, now could he?
With a sigh and a contented smirk, Minato realized that he was down to the last stack of paperwork on his desk. It was getting easier, that was certain. Now it seemed like he would be going home a mere three hours late, as opposed to the past weeks' six to seven. It was a wonderful change of pace – he'd be able to walk home while the sun was still somewhat up!
That thought alone made Minato's heart soar, and he began to attack the stack of paper with renewed vigor.
That was, of course, until he smelled… something.
'What are Genma and his team doing now?' Minato frowned, setting his pen down and looking upward.
The smell that his Hiraishin jutsu left behind when pumped with a rather… significant amount of chakra. He remembered his first few attempts to get the hang of the space-time jutsu, and the smell alone still sent his body into Pavlov-induced nausea tremors.
But he had compensated for that by refining the technique significantly – so much so, in fact, that by the time it was used in the Third Shinobi War, there simply was no smell whatsoever.
Completely untraceable, and completely undetectable.
He narrowed his eyes slightly at the rug in his office. 'Is the seal interfering with something that Genma's squad is practicing?'
He knew that his personal guard was working to refine their own performance of the jutsu, but that it was simply not coming along as well as they would have liked.
But he immediately crossed that theory out when he saw the waves of heat began to permeate off of the ground, above his rug, distorting his view of the back wall and door ever so slightly.
That was not right at all.
He had never seen the Hiraishin do anything close to what it was doing now.
Or, rather, what he thought it was doing. 'It could be something completely different', he suddenly thought. His eyes widened in fear momentarily, before he steeled himself once again.
'Did the Stone figure it out? Did they find a weakness, a way to use the Hiraishin against me?'
Another blast of ozone stench attacked his nostrils, and he grimaced. The density in the office was becoming tangible – and the papers on his desk were starting to stir a little on their own accord. He could feel the waves of gravity hit his body, increasing ever so slightly as time went on.
Minato grimaced, and reached for his kunai pouch, preparing for the worst. Whatever it was that was happening, it was simply not natural, and most certainly not good.
There was a blinding flash of light, and a brilliant burst of pure energy that blitzed away from the rug. An earsplitting crack echoed through the room, deafening Minato significantly, and he flew backwards out of his chair and on to the ground in a confused stupor.
He shook his head and tried to regain his senses as quickly as he could.
'Did a bolt of lightning just hit my office?'
The ring of tinnitus in his ears began to slow slightly, granting him more and more of his hearing each passing second.
"…ou doing?! You could have gotten yourself killed! I can't believe you! This is... this is unbelievable! You're lucky we left when we did, because your mother is going to tear you a new one when she gets home!"
"But I didn't do anything wrong!"
"Like hell you didn't! That technique… it's not simply for show, y'know! There's a whole process behind it! Trying to use it incomplete like that is, no joke, and I'm totally serious when I say this, deadly! You know how long it took me to get right? A solid month! Hell, it took upwards of three years for the damn thing to be developed in the first place! You can't, and I mean can't, pull it off in just one week!"
"Come on, dad! You're being an asshole!"
Minato blinked. 'What the hell is going on…?'
He groaned, and slowly regained his footing, using his desk as support as he did so. His mind subconsciously prompted him to summon his ANBU guard, but he stopped himself before flaring his chakra. He was the only one here, and it didn't make sense to put anyone else in harm's way if he could help it.
He wasn't called the Yellow Flash simply for show.
After another moment of head shaking, he blinked his eyes a few times in order to fight away the fuzzy aftereffects of the strange explosion that had happened not moments earlier.
But his eyes shot open the instant he took an apprehensive look at the scene before him.
Minato honestly had expected to see a massive hole in his office, leading down to the ground floor, and a massive fire beginning to flare up and around the place where his rug used to be.
Instead, there were two blond men standing atop its completely normal spot in his office.
Well, one was a man, at least.
The other was a boy – a genin, by the looks of it.
And the man was righteously pissed.
"ASSHOLE?!" he bellowed, gripping the hand of the boy just a little tighter, causing the kid to grimace slightly under the pressure. "I'm not the asshole here, Boruto!"
"What?!" the boy crowed, fighting out of the man's grasp. "How can I be the asshole?! You're the one that stopped my match prematurely like that! Now I have no chance-"
Minato raised a dumbfounded eyebrow at just what he was looking at, tuning out whatever it was that the boy was going on about at the time. It took him a moment to realize that he was, in fact, not hallucinating, and once he had solidified that… crucial fact, he finally took the time to observe the situation properly.
To the right of his desk, towards the middle of the room, was a boy. He wore a black, high-collared shirt, accented by a vibrant red lining that highlighted his white v-neck shirt and incredibly… familiar blond hair – which was shaped surprisingly like a large yellow leaf that had landed on his head. A black shinobi headband christened his forehead - although Minato couldn't tell what the insignia said. He assumed that it was one of the Leaf's, because his secretary wouldn't have allowed them up to his office if that weren't the case…
Minato blinked again and rubbed his head with his hands. The theory that he had misjudged the chakra calculations for his seal and it had simply knocked him out while he was working was growing stronger in his mind all the while. That would mean that these two bickering shinobi were sent here to speak with him… and they had yet to notice that he was practically unconscious on the floor.
'Just how long had I been out?'
"You listen here, young man! I have the power to take that headband away from you for this! I'd watch your mouth if I were you, y'know!"
Minato's eyes shifted to the left, which made him audibly gasp.
It was like looking in the mirror.
A tall, lean-yet-fit man stood with his arms crossed next to the boy, shooting him a glare that would surely be deadly if looks could kill. His frame was wrapped by an orange-black longsleeved shirt that led down to a pair of basic black pants and high-brimmed sandals that went up to his calves. His blond hair was cut somewhat short, but still leaving enough to show just how unruly it was, as it shot every which way haphazardly.
But what surprised Minato the most about this mysterious newcomer was the fact that he, too, wore a short, yet impressive, white cloak. From the angle that Minato had on the man, he could see that it was also accented with flames along the bottom, and there was… writing? down the back, just like his.
Minato stood there, flabbergasted, as the two shinobi (he assumed the one on the left was also a shinobi, just by the way he presented himself) bickered with one another unendingly.
"Uh…" he said unconsciously, as his mouth opened and closed rapidly, trying to come to terms with what he was seeing.
The boy suddenly twitched slightly, and turned to look him right in the eye, where he frowned confusingly.
The boy had startlingly beautiful, electric blue eyes – as well as…
…a set of whiskers?
No, they were just birthmarks, it seemed. But nonetheless, it was certainly an interesting physical characteristic.
The man payed no attention to the boy's shifted gaze – instead, it made him angrier.
"Boruto! Hey, Boruto?! Are you paying attention, damn it? Just what-"
Minato watched in a form of mild apprehension as the man's eyes traced the newly-identified Boruto's line of sight to himself.
A pair of calculating, rage-filled, loving eyes locked onto his own, and immediately shot open.
As did Minato's.
They were exactly like his. The color, the size of the pupil, the way they sat on his face.
Although, he had to say that the shape was different. Yet, still, it was oddly familiar…
Minato's eyes shifted to the man's cheeks, where a similar set of whiskers sat upon his face.
'Father and son,' he subconsciously concluded, not that the rest of his mind took heed.
He watched in mild fascination as the man's face contorted into fear, worry, uneasiness, happiness, then anger.
Then, he turned white as a ghost.
Minato blinked, finally somewhat out of his trance.
"Uhh," he repeated, clearing his throat, and sitting back down in his seat. "Can I help you gentlemen?"
Now it was the other man's turn to gape like a fish out of water. He took a step forward, stopped, then turned to look at the office he was standing in.
Boruto, now slightly nervous at the man's antics, took a step back and watched him as he silently observed his surroundings.
"…Dad?" he said trepidatiously, eyes shifting from blond man to blond man.
The part of Minato's brain that was responsible for deductive reasoning silently cheered in the recesses of his mind.
The boy's father stopped immediately, before he turned to look at Minato again.
His eyes glazed over slightly in confusion, then realization – or, at least, what Minato assumed was realization.
He took a few protective steps towards his son, grappling Boruto's shoulder harshly, as he continued to look at Minato with fearful anger.
"Shit!" he simply stated, before the pair disappeared in a swirl of leaves.