Disclaimer: Is not mine. God damn it.
I've fallen in love with the idea that one person can change everything. No one knows what happened to Kushina, but in this story she's alive and willing to protect her son at all costs.
This is the first part of the Reset duology. The second will be, rather imaginatively named, Reset: The Naruto Effect. Once The Naruto Effect is finished, I'll write a prequel to the duology called The Minato Effect. It can't be a part of Reset, as it's written as if it actually happened, with no changes to canon.
So! Here you are, if you will. The prologue of Reset: The Kushina Effect.
While the rest of Konohagakure gather together and take comfort in each other, a select group of exhausted shinobi find they still have no time to rest. They sit in an unknown chamber, the flickering light of the many candles casting shadows on their faces.
"So it's decided then." Uchiha Fugaku waved his hand negligently. "Sarutobi-san will resume his duties as Hokage. Now if you'll excuse me—"
Orochimaru hissed. "Just because you have nominated a candidate, Uchiha, does not mean the matter is automatically decided."
"And who would you suggest, Sannin?" Uchiha asked, seemingly pleasant. "It is a well known fact that you desire to see your face on Hokage Mountain, but it appears no one is here to nominate you."
Orochimaru lunged for the head of the Uchiha Clan, but was restrained by Sarutobi's hand on his shoulder.
"Sit, Orochimaru," the Sandaime Hokage said softly before turning to his ex-student's antagonist. "If you have no wish to have your say in the future of this village, Uchiha Fugaku, by all means feel free to leave."
The Uchiha settled back into his chair.
One of the Elders cleared his throat. "So, that's one nomination for Sarutobi-sama. Is there anyone else willing to put forth a candidate?" It went unspoken that there was only one other person in the room with enough power to take the position.
Orochimaru growled and swept out of the chamber.
"No other nominations?"
"What of Tsunade? Or Jiraiya?" Sarutobi suggested quietly.
"Tsunade-san still refuses to return to the village, even imperilled as it was by the Nine-Tails," another Elder interrupted the first. Her voice held nothing but contempt. "As for Jiraiya—" She snorted. "Even if we were to find him, he is not Hokage material."
"Much the same was said of myself, Yamashita Chiaki," Sarutobi said slowly.
The Elder paled. "I – I meant no offence, Sarutobi-sama."
He chuckled, standing. "Not to me, you didn't. But you are right. Tsunade will not return to the village. Jiraiya cannot be found. Orochimaru is not Hokage material." He sighed. "The Sannin will not save us this time. My fellow shinobi, I retired for a reason. However—" Sarutobi held up a hand to ward off the protests. "If there is no other candidate, I will resume my duties as Hokage."
He looked around the room of Elders and Clan Heads. "There is no other candidate, is there?" He sighed again, sitting down. "Very well."
"On to the next problem, then?" The head of the Nara Clan yawned. "Troublesome." He stood. "Unfortunately, I have a family to return to. The fate of Uzumaki Naruto will have to be decided without me." He left.
"Coward," Uchiha muttered idly under his breath. "I suggest it is killed. Any other conclusion reached will…severely disappoint me. I have my own sons to think of."
"Are you perhaps intimating that you cannot adequately defend your Clan, Uchiha?" Hyuuga Hiashi said mildly.
The Uchiha's face darkened, reaching for a kunai.
"Enough!" the newly reinstated Sandaime Hokage snapped. "Fugaku, do not bandy your political weight around in this matter and Hiashi, refrain yourself from provoking him. I am taking of Uzumaki Naruto, the infant. Not the demon fox Kyuubi."
"They are one and the same!" an Elder protested. "Have you not seen him, Hokage-sama? The markings on his face—"
"Occur in every Jinchuuriki," Sarutobi interrupted. "They mean nothing."
"The Yondaime himself said that the Kyuubi would be sealed inside that – thing!"
"Minato's last request was to ask that his son be treated like a hero. You insult his memory by referring to Naruto as a thing."
"We are unsure as to how that seal works, Sandaime," Uchiha said. "What we do know is that if the vessel is killed, the monster is killed as well. Is it not reasonable to suggest that it – excuse me, Naruto – is neutralised? For the protection of the village?"
Murmurs of agreement.
"After all," Uchiha continued. "Are we even sure the brat – excuse me again, Hokage-sama, hero – is even the Yondaime's offspring? Uzumaki Kushina is not exactly known for her—"
The door to the dank chamber was suddenly kicked open to reveal a red-haired woman carrying a squalling blonde baby in her arms. What was left of her chakra had taken on a life of its own, causing her long hair to whip around in a non-existent wind and her bright orange clothing to glow.
"Kushina!" Sarutobi exclaimed. "You're alive!" It was very obviously a quick cover up, but Kushina didn't appear to notice that.
She blinked and the chakra died down. "Of course I'm alive, old man." She turned to the baby in her arms and put him over her shoulder, patting his back until he burped. She laughed at him, apparently oblivious to the incredulous looks being directed at her.
One of the guards, a chuunin with virtually no field experience ran past her into the room.
"I'm sorry!" he babbled. "I'm so sorry, but she just barged in and she was carrying the demon child and—"
Kushina snarled at him, the chakra force billowing out again as she took two sharp steps forwards and punched him in the side of the head, knocking him out. She turned her irate glare to the assembled Elders and Clan Heads, brown eyes almost red in her anger. She seemed to have remembered her reason for barging into the room in the first place.
"I'm sorry, I appear to have gotten briefly off track," she said, and her voice was deathly quiet. "Now, would someone like to tell me why, exactly, a meeting was organized to decide the fate of my son and I was not invited!"
"Possibly because we knew you would react like this," Uchiha drawled.
She hissed and went to throw the nearest heavy object at the Clan Head. This happened to be Naruto and she couldn't put him down to pick something up so she was, unfortunately, unable to injure the Uchiha. "I thought I was meant to be dead." she growled instead, shooting a hurt glare at the Sandaime, who winced.
"I heard you before. You were talking about killing Naruto. My baby, and straight after Minato was taken from me. Old man, how could you?"
There were several shocked gasps at the way Kushina had addressed Sarutobi. Even as a former Hokage, he deserved respect far above that of 'old man'.
"If you had been listening like a shinobi instead of a common fishwife, Uzumaki, you would have heard the Hokage defending your – ah, son." Hyuuga sniffed.
"Oh, shut up you snobby bastard. What's got up your nose, found a split end or something?" she snarked childishly, trying to bring her chakra under control.
There was a stifled snort, and if Uchiha hadn't been so well-bred, Kushina would have thought it came from him.
"Let me tell you now," she continued. "If you want to kill my son, as cliché as it sounds, you will have to go through me."
"Please, stop abusing the italics," Uchiha muttered. Louder, he told her, "That can easily be arranged, you realise."
This time it looked like she was seriously considering throwing her son.
"We are not going to kill Naruto, Kuhina."
Her brown eyes widened, losing the red tint as her chakra finally calmed down. "You – you're not?" she whispered, clutching him closer to her chest. He sneezed.
"We're not?" Uchiha raised an eyebrow.
"Right, that's it—" Kushina moved forward in a blink, leaving Naruto in a bemused Sandaime's arms and rolling up her sleeves, fully intent on throttling the head of the Uchiha Clan. Naruto gurgled happily and reached up to tug on Sarutobi's goatee.
"Kushina!" he barked, absently replacing his beard with his finger. "Need I remind you that you are only here in this village—"
She pivoted around to face him. "Bastard old man, give me back my baby!" She snatched Naruto out of his arms. "I fought for this village like I fought for my own. I would die for Konohagakure! I damn well nearly did."
"I see what you mean by the italicising," Hyuuga muttered to Uchiha, who nodded back sagely. Kushina ignored them.
"And now you – you're threatening me? With exile?" She shook her head angrily and a close observer could see a tear flying away. "Fine then. I'll leave." She turned on her heel towards the door.
She didn't pause.
The young woman felt a bit like a yo-yo, turning back and forth but the Sandaime was basically demanding her to stay and no one demanded anything of Uzumaki Kushina. Her teeth were clenched tightly as she spat a reply back him.
"I don't think you quite understand the situation, old man. Minato is dead. He is dead!" she screamed suddenly.
The entire room was silent, watching her slightly crazed eyes. Kushina didn't care what they thought. Her lover was dead, and now they were trying to take her son?
"He is dead," she repeated in a quieter tone. "And our son is the only thing I have left of him. I love Konoha like I love the village I was born into, but I love Naruto more."
"He killed the Hokage!" someone yelled.
The chakra flared again and the red veil fell over her eyes. "He – did – not! Minato chose to perform that jutsu. He chose to seal the demon inside our son so that your lives could be saved. Don't you get it? He did it all for you! You, who cowered and hid your children away because as much as you love your Hokage, you love your pathetic Clan reputations far more."
"He shouldn't have had to ask! It doesn't matter! The only thing that makes a Jinchuuriki into something evil is people like you who automatically assume the vessel is the demon. 'Who wants a monster in their family'." She spat, literally, on the floor. "I do. Because whatever he carries inside of him, he is still my son. And you all sicken me for believing I would think otherwise." She went to leave and then paused one last time. "And you know what? I'm not leaving. Not until you drag my cold, lifeless body out of those gates, because Naruto deserves a place here as much as any of your children." Kushina finally managed to compose herself, and with quiet dignity, ended her tirade. "He is the son of the Yondaime Hokage. I will ensure that you all remember it."
I had so much fun writing that. I hope you had as much fun reading it!