Naruto: Childhood Memories
Is a collection of one-shots focusing on Naruto's and the other main characters' childhood. Many different moments in their life, which helped them defining who they are today, will be showcased in my one-shots and that is also why the genre will vary.
Hopefully there is going to be a little something for everybody. Enjoy this one-shot!
Heavily, the rain pours down in Konoha. Little Naruto tries to find shelter, however, what he finds is much more than what he hopes for.
Published: 5th April 2018
The warmest day of summer was coming to an end. The surrounding areas of the village that was normally full of life were left in a drowsy silence. It being too warm to do any business outside, the majority of the inhabitants of Konohagakure had stayed in the shade, inside their cool houses, with windows opened wide in the hope of catching a breeze. The only person on the street at this time was a little boy with three whisker marks on each cheek, which made him resemble an animal. Naruto was plodding back to his apartment, alone.
His cargo shorts were covered in dirt, his baggy t-shirt was soaked with sweat and his sandals were filled with dust and sand. If the villagers saw him looking like a mess, they would definitely cast aspersions on him. Actually, even without him looking sloppy, the grown-ups would talk badly about the boy with the yellow-spiked hair anyway. They would show their hatred for the boy at every opportunity. For as long as Naruto could remember, whenever he showed up in public, eyes would always fall on him – a long stare, followed by whispers that broke out like little hissing fires. Deep down, he could not stand their treatment of him. He tried to tell himself that it didn't bother him, and act for others as if he was not bothered by it, but in fact it pained him deeply, every time.
Naruto never understood where the hostility came from, constantly treating him like a second-class commoner. He just wanted to become friends with everybody and have a place where he would belong. Sadly, he always met rejection. Was it because he was an orphan, he wondered. But there were many other children who were like him, given the attack of the Demon Fox years ago. Unlike him, they weren't treated like garbage. The only one who showed any signs of kindness towards him was an old geezer whom he had gotten to know for quite some time now. It wasn't until recently that he found out that he was the 3rd Hokage. Being the Hokage meant that he was not easy for Naruto to approach. It was always the old man who would find him, never the other way around, even when the young child needed him the most.
Unexpectedly, Naruto felt a cold prickling sensation on his nose. Rubbing his nose, he discovered that it was a droplet. When he looked up at the sky, wrinkling his forehead, he was overwhelmed by the enormous pillows of clouds that had accumulated across the sky of Konohagakure. All day he had been outside playing at the playground, and not once did he notice the big clouds , the sky started pouring down water which splattered upon the earth. The little boy jumped in panic before concluding that he should run.
Trying to cover himself from the rain, he put his hands above his head while running – though it helped only a little. After a split second in the deluge, his hair was flat and his entire outfit clung tightly to his body. His mind was now set on just getting back to his apartment as quickly as possible. However, for a little boy to defy the rainy weather was easier said than done. Besides being blinded, it felt like the rain was pushing him to the ground more for every step he took. Panting, Naruto realized there was no way he would get back to his place anytime soon. Thus, he decided to find shelter and wait for the squall to pass instead. Looking around, panicking, he couldn't believe his luck. There, standing out from the grey surroundings was a lantern lightening the street with its warm color. It was suspended from the roof of a shack. The shack's door was still opened. Without thinking twice, the yellow-haired child ran to the spot immediately.
When he finally neared the shack, he recognized that it was Rāmen Ichiraku, one of Konohagakure's famous rāmen restaurants. All of a sudden, his sense of smell was stimulated by a familiar, rich savory aroma coming from Rāmen Ichiraku, which gradually took over his soaked body. His stomach started growling, but the second he felt that sensation he tried to stop it by pulling in his belly. He hadn't had anything filling to eat all day. For a couple of seconds, he hesitated to approach the place and finally decided against it, but the aroma was just too good to resist. Eventually, his legs took him to the shop without any resistance.
Standing outside the entrance with a hunched back, he found the source of the pleasant smell, a big pot bubbling on the stove. Wisps of steam streamed upward from it like smoke from a chimney. His eyes glazed over as he looked at the menu pictures of the different rāmen dishes. Saliva ran from his open mouth to his chin without him noticing.
Mmmm! The soup! The noodle! The pork fillet! SO DELICIOUS!
As the rain landed heavier on Naruto, he snapped out of his trance. He took a step away but soon felt the urge to smell and take another glance. Looking around the eatery, he noticed that the place was deserted, with only empty stools at the dining booth and the kitchen – possibly because it was past dinnertime already. What does it matter if the place is empty or not, the child thought. Either way, he would never get his tiny hands around a bowl of rāmen from Rāmen Ichiraku anyway.
Ever since Naruto had discovered that the rāmen shop existed, he had wanted to try a bowl – or two. Occasionally, when he wandered around the area hungry, he would sneak quick peeps inside the eatery every few minutes. Though, he never would stay for a meal. He dared not to. There were always people and they might scold at him if he showed up, even he hadn't done anything wrong.
Before leaving, he took the liberty to breathe in the exquisite smell and to look at the pictures for one last time. Suddenly, the pictures were obscured by a man with a distinctly square-shaped face wearing a white mesh-top cap and a traditional white chef uniform. The young boy was jolted by the appearance of the man. On instinct, he ran away as fast as his legs could carry him, though he quickly stopped short in the rain when he heard the man call out from behind the counter.
"Hey kid. Do you wanna eat something?!"
Standing at the corner of the shop, Naruto stood with his body parallel to the street while he awkwardly craned his head backwards to get a look at the man. He thought that should he have to run again, this position would be the best to do so.
"Do you want to eat rāmen?" the man asked, and a bright smile appeared on his face before he made a gesture to the child, "Go ahead. Take a seat. I'll make one right away."
Once inside, Naruto shook his hair vigorously and wrung his t-shirt like a cloth letting the water land on the floor with a splash. Slowly the child approached the grown-up with care, leaving a trail of water behind him. Although he had just been handed a towel to dry himself, he had yet to say a word to the man.
He took a seat on a padded stool and paid attention to the bowl placed on the serving counter. It was as if the man wanted the child to observe his cooking skills, and he succeeded. Naruto observed with fascination how the man prepared the noodle soup dish. His movements were even comparable to a ninja's. With a blink of an eye, the warm miso-seasoned soup was poured into the bowl. The strained rāmen was subsequently bathed in the soup before Naruto knew it. The chef then covered half of the bowl with three newly sliced roasted pork fillets. To decorate the other side, he placed bamboo shoots, dried seaweed, fish cakes and two halves of a soft-boiled egg that had been marinated in soy sauce, giving the egg a glossy brown surface. To put a finishing touch on his dish, the chef sprinkled the bowl with the finest chopped spring onion before serving it to the hungry boy.
The young child's face lit up when he saw the final result. The appearance of the dish was more beautiful in real life than in the pictures. He dragged the white ceramic bowl closer to him on the counter. As he did, Naruto appreciated the warm feeling from holding the bowl between his hands. Staring with big eyes at the bowl, he took a good sniff of the food. Immediately, the sound of his stomach rumbled across the shop. It was louder than before, almost like a thunder. The young boy then gazed into the eyes of the middle-aged man who sniggered behind the counter. The little child met with the exact same look when he first met the 3rd Hokage – friendliness. Even without saying anything, it was like the man understood what Naruto was thinking. The next second, the uniformed man made a sign indicating that it was all right for him to eat.
His eyes glistened with delight for his first bite. He put the noodles into his mouth, slurped and was overwhelmed by the soft consistency and the incredible taste of the rāmen. Slurps followed slurps, and soon after, the child lifted the great bowl to his lips, tipping it back to drink all the rich and full-bodied soup. He would not dream of leaving a single drop behind.
The rain in the background, which sounded like the pork fillet being fried on the chef's skillet, continued to haunt the village. Naruto was just happy that he was at a cosy place eating a warm meal that someone had cooked for him. A sudden fuzzy feeling started rushing all over his body. He didn't know what that sensation was exactly. Nonetheless, he liked it.
When the child lowered the bowl, his eyes met the man's. He grinned so wide that his teeth showed. He started taking a liking to the man dressed in white. The chef grinned back at the little child, "You can certainly eat fast. I take that as a compliment," he said surprised, taking of his cap to let his scalp breathe.
Just as the child was about to get some money out of his pocket, the man stopped him instantly, "Don't you worry about the money, boy. I've decided it'll be the shop's treat tonight."
Hearing that Naruto's grin turned even brighter, "Really? Sugoi! Thank you so much, old man! I'm Naruto, by the way!"
"Like the naruto-maki," the man commented, holding a white fishcake with a pink spiral pattern to show the boy what he meant.
"Yes, like the naruto-maki. They're really yummy. I like the spiral thing that they have in the middle," he explained, making overlapping spirals in the air with his index finger.
"I'm glad you think so. They're usually not the most popular toppings among my other customers, which is sad, because I like making them from scratch. I'm Teuchi, by the way, I'm the owner of Rāmen Ichiraku."
"Nice to meet you, Teuchi-occhan. Your rāmen is really, really incredible. I can't get enough of it. It feels so good in my tummy," the kid patted his stomach happily. The fuzzy feeling appeared all over his body again, "I can keep eating this forever! How have you learned to do this?"
"Well, I have done this for a very long time, you know. I was just a young apprentice when I started out. I have perfected my craft for over 25 years. If you want to become the best in this business, you need to start out young." Teuchi crossed his arms while looking proud. In the meantime, the child tried to count to 25 with his fingers but had problems when he ran out of fingers to count.
"I wish I could make a dish like this," Naruto said with amazement, smiling at the man.
"Since you like rāmen that much, maybe you should consider becoming a rāmen chef too. That was how I got into the rāmen business. I enjoy eating and making the dish, especially for other people. Putting a smile on people's faces, like yours for instance, is the greatest reward you can get."
"Nah, Nah, I already know what I want to become when I get older."
"Oh, and what is that?" Teuchi sounded intrigued.
Naruto thought he would never ask. Getting all excited, he stood on his stool, put his foot on the dining booth and leaned towards the owner to finish his pose.
"I'm going to become the Hokage, dattebayo! I want everybody to acknowledge me, recognize my skills and abilities," He said it with seriousness in his eyes. Right then, the stool tilted sideways and took him with it.
"Oi, Naruto, are you okay?" Teuchi leaned over the counter to find the young child on the floor. Luckily, nothing major happened to the child.
He looked around at the chaos he made. Putting his hand behind his neck and looking sheepishly at Teuchi, he apologized sincerely and got back to his seat.
"Haha, so I see. You want to protect the village! That is very admirable, boy," Teuchi said with a smile on his face, "Hokage - that is also a nice goal you have set for yourself. Can't wait to see your face on the Hokage Rock–"
Naruto interrupted him abruptly, which the chef hadn't anticipated; "What? They are going to put my face on the Hokage Rock? This face? My face. They are going to take away my face to put on the Hokage Rock?!" the little child's voice cracked. He then pawed over his face with his tiny hands. Suddenly, he realized that the 3rd Hokage's face was on the rock monument too. Knowing that he started to panic and asked more questions that even bewildered Teuchi, "Have they stolen the 3rd Hokage's face and made it bigger on the rock by using a jutsu? Wait, I just saw him days ago and he still had his face then, but, how? A demon? Have I spoken to a demon all this time? Is the whole village protected by a demon?"
The owner of Ichiraku laughed with big amusement and patted the boy's head, "No, Naruto. Relax. The carver will literally not use your face. The carver will carve a perfect copy of your face by studying your face from a picture."
Upon hearing Teuchi explain, the little child breathed more easily, "You could have told me that in the very beginning. I almost peed in my pants!"
One thing was certain, as much as Naruto wanted to become the Hokage, he didn't want to live with a faceless head – that would be too scary for him and the village. Teuchi continued laughing so much that his eyes started to water. When his laughter subsided, he carefully examined Naruto's face with curiosity.
"Teuchi-occhan, do I have something on my face?" Naruto kept wiping something off his face that wasn't there.
"No, my boy. It's just… you remind me of this guy, actually this couple, I once knew." The grown man said nostalgically.
"Who?" the young boy said, before taking a sip of water.
"The Fourth and his wife. They used to come to my rāmen shop a lot."
The boy almost got choked on his sip of water, "What? Me? The Fourth?! Me and the Fourth are similar?"
"Yes, and to tell you something, they were regular customers. They had their first romantic meeting in my shop. Not to brag about it! In fact, you are actually sitting on the same stool the 4th Hokage sat on. That was his favorite spot."
"No way!" The young boy was completely blown away by the news. He couldn't believe that he and the Fourth, Konoha's Yellow Flash, were alike – he was the hero who saved Konohagakure years ago from the Demon Fox, the one who also sacrificed himself. Come to think of it, other than that courageous act, he knew nothing about the Fourth. In order to know more about the hero, whom he resembled, he started to ask more questions: "In what way did I remind you of the Fourth?"
"You look a lot like him in his younger days. The bright yellow hair, the haircut and the eyes…"
"Yeah? And, and?" The child's eyes sparkled like a clear night sky. He really hoped that he had more in common with his idol.
"That's it. Huh, I thought I had more, but I guess I was wrong." Teuchi finished the sentence embarrassedly.
"Wait, what?! That's all? I thought you said I reminded you of the Fourth?" Naruto asked with a pouty mouth.
"Yes, I said the Fourth and his wife."
"You mean…Ehh… his wife?" The sound of him being more like the Fourth's wife was not well received. "No offense, but she couldn't possibly be cooler than Konoha's Yellow Flash?"
"Oh, you would be surprised. She might not be a Hokage, but she was as cool as her husband! Like the Fourth, she was also fierce," the man said with a smirk. "She was the only one who could put the 4th Hokage in his place. And when she got angry… Oh boy, no one could stop her. I never saw her in action, but from what I have heard, she was a force to be reckoned with. Because of her fearsomeness and her long red hair, she was nicknamed 'The Red-Hot Habanero'.
"Haba…haba?" Naruto knitted his brows.
"Ha-ba-ne-ro. It's one of the hottest chilies in the world. If you like a spicy rāmen, then you should try and add this to your bowl. Its unique citrus flavor…" The yellow-haired child spaced out immediately when the chef talked about the property of this specific chili. He did not understand what he was trying to tell him. However, he did like the name of the chili.
Habanero… The Red-Hot Habanero and Konoha's Yellow Flash! What will my nickname be? 'The Best Ninja That Ever Was in Konoha'. No, that's too long... 'Konoha's Number One Ninja'. That's too short…
Luckily, Teuchi stopped his explanation and went back to the main point. "Anyway. She got the perfect name for herself, I would say. But of course, she was more than what I just mentioned. She possessed a gentle side too. She was very good with kids, especially with my little daughter, Ayame."
"Ahem, old man… so what… do she and I have in common then?" Naruto asked, in a way that sounded like he didn't actually care, but in reality he did. Although Naruto thought that the woman sounded scary, he was starting to find 'The Red-Hot Habanero'-person interesting. With a nickname like that, she deserved his attention.
"Right! The first thing that caught my attention was your catchphrase. She used something… Oh what was it exactly? Something dat…well it had datte in it. Similar to yours…,"
"Dattebayo!" Naruto shouted with excitement.
"Not quite like yours, but close enough…maybe 'Dattebane'? Anyway, definitely the catchphrase. I have noticed that you are energetic and loud just like her. Well, she was mostly loud when people made fun of her hair and for being a foreigner."
"I'm not loud!" the yellow-haired child exclaimed at Teuchi, who in turn sent him a kind look that could be interpreted as 'are you sure about that?', "Oops…" he said sheepishly.
"Ha ha, Naruto, that's okay. What else… she too wanted to become the Hokage, the first female Hokage, to be exact. Funny enough, she married one instead. And of course, let's not forget to mention her favorite food. Just like you, she loved rāmen, particularly shio rāmen. She had tried rāmen in her home country before, but she hadn't had it since she moved. And I remember, it was my first time serving my rāmen. She happened to be my first customer, a guinea pig, so to speak."
"Hihi! She was a guinea pig!" The yellow-haired child giggled when he imagined her as an animal instead.
"No, a guinea pig as in using her in an experiment, a test." The chef explained cheerfully.
"Ahhh, okay, guinea pig. Got it!"
"Where was I. Oh yes, when she finished the bowl, she sobbed."
"Yes, that was my reaction too, in the beginning. At first, I thought my broth was inedible, too salty, but she ate it all in one go. So, that couldn't be it. Later, she explained that the reason she had sobbed was that she could taste the ocean and nature. Not literally. It's a figure of speech," Teuchi assured Naruto of what he meant before the little boy could jump to any hasty conclusions, "My rāmen, for her, felt like home."
"Yes, that's what she said. Remember, the Land of Fire was not her native country. She was originally from the Land of Whirlpools, but unfortunately shortly after she arrived here in Konoha, her country was left in ruins due to war. She hadn't ever been able to go back. She had no one in Konoha except for her guardians, but they were only there to do their duty, and nothing more. So basically, she was all by herself in a foreign place,"Teuchi was saddened by his own talk. "Luckily, over time, she found her husband, The Fourth. Fun fact, she didn't like him in the beginning. She thought he was a wuss, but things change as they always do over time, and human opinions about other humans are no different. They ended up creating a new home for themselves where she could belong. Even so, she continued to come to this rāmen shop to order the same shio rāmen, every time she wanted to recapture the feeling of her childhood home or let the Fourth know what her old home was like," Teuchi ended proudly.
Naruto enjoyed knowing that he and the Red-Hot Habanero shared surprisingly many common characteristics. However, after listening to the end of the tale about the Red-Hot Habanero, he was reminded of just how lonely he was in reality. Even if the Red-Hot Habanero was brought up alone just like the little boy, at one point she had friends. She had a family. She had a place she belonged. Naruto, on the contrary, had none of those things when he was born and that was still a fact to this day. All this time, he was left by himself like a stray dog. Nobody talked to him, nor cared for him. Nobody wanted him around. Recalling how the children at the playground got picked up by their parents earlier today, seeing them holding hands, he wished he could experience that too. If only his parents were around, the situation might be different. He wondered what home must feel like.
"What's wrong, Naruto?" Teuchi asked the child worriedly.
"Teuchi-occhan, what is home? What does home feel like?" Naruto looked eagerly at him, observing that the man was surprised by his question. Before answering him, Teuchi took a deep breath.
"Well, Naruto, it can depend on many things. Some would simply say that home is a place where you live, sleep, shower, and eat, which is correct. But for me, home is more than just those things. Home is something more personal. It's a place I enjoy being every day. It's a place where I can find my wife and daughter, the people I want to hug when I return home. It's where I can spend time with friends and family and create blissful memories with them. Home is where I can find peace and quiet from the outside world and be myself. I like to think home as a feeling of love, warm, comfort and security. Basically, if you feel these things for a particular place, then home can be everywhere."
Is that what the warm-fuzzy feeling was earlier? The feeling of… home?
"It might be difficult to understand at your age, but once you get older, it will make so much more sense to you. As mentioned, it's different from person to person so for sure, once the time comes, you'll have your own idea of what home truly is for you."
"Is it like…," Naruto hesitated to answer, "like here? Rāmen Ichiraku is where I can find and eat your rāmen, my favorite food in the whole wide world. Rāmen Ichiraku is where I can stay warm and be me without getting in trouble. Rāmen Ichiraku is where I can have fun with you, Teuchi-occhan! Rāmen Ichiraku is home!"
When the owner of Rāmen Ichiraku realized what the little kid had just said out loud, he shed small tears. Quickly, he turned around to wipe his tears away with his sleeve before he faced the young boy with a big smile, "Pretty much, yes!" he sniffled. "What do you say to another round of rāmen? You can have as much as you want for free today."
"Really?! With extra narutos?" The little boy got back his cheerful mood again.
"Sure thing! One pork rāmen with extra narutos, coming right up!"
"I like you, Teuchi-occhan, dattebayo!" Naruto screamed out loud and grinned.
"I like you too, Naruto! Remind me next time to introduce you to my daughter. I'm sure you will both get along just fine."
Eight bowls of rāmen and many more stories about the Fourth and his wife later, the sky broke like an egg into full sunset. Naruto felt there was no need to go back to his empty apartment at the moment. There was nothing there waiting for him anyway, beside the four naked walls. Instead, he decided to stay. For now, for the very first time, Naruto had everything he needed right where he was – a friend and rāmen to his heart's content – a place he belonged. As the Red-Hot Habanero would say, he was home.
The 34th ending of Shippūden was the main inspiration for this story, together with Shokogeki no Souma. Writing about food is so much fun. Along the way, I discovered that the light novel, Konoha Hiden, had already covered their first meeting. Luckily, that portrayal was only one page, from Teuchi's POV and not detailed.
This one-shot is dedicated to my friends from the Fanfiction Review Movement community, for their kindness and encouragement. Like Naruto, after years away, I have found a place where I belong, here on this site. I recommend you to check their stories by clicking the link in my profile. Support constructive criticism, Support FanFiction Review Movement! #FanfictionReviewMovement #FRM
My sincere gratitude goes to Illuminated for β-reading and for also encouraging me to keep on writing.
Lastly, I would like to thank the readers and reviewers too for your generous inputs and support.
It's always nice to know that somebody on the other side of the screen likes my stories. Thus, please, show me some love. Keep the reviews coming.
Ps. another one-shot is under construction! Please, vote in my poll to have an influence on who my next one-shot should focus on.