Author's Note: A lot of people have asked about me writing a sequel to A Mother's Love. As many of you probably know I am currently writing a prequel called A Mother's Love: Life of Kushina. Fire and Blood will not be a sequel but will instead be and AU of AML with the significant even being that Kushina is incapacitated for a longer period. The events in AML: LOK can be considered a prequel to both stories.
She felt like she was drowning beneath the heavy waves. She struggled, fought to escape the darkness and reach the surface, to again return to the light. Slowly, painfully, she awakened.
Her eyes opened to a harsh too bright light. Her parched lips managed to whisper a name. "Minato…"
A young girl gasped and then ran out of the room shouting. "Lady Tsunade! She's awake! Kushina is awake!" Shizune raced down the corridor desperate to find her sensei.
In short order Tsunade was hovering over her dear friend performing a diagnostic jutsu and fighting back relieved tears. "Oh thank Kami! Kushina you very nearly died. It's been a whole week; you've been in a coma for seven full days. I wasn't sure you would ever wake up."
"A week?" Kushina's voice cracked.
"That's right," Tsunade said.
"Minato?" She asked with a tiny bit of hope in her eyes. She knew what must have happened, but maybe…
"I'm sorry," Tsunade answered, crushing her faint hopes. "He sacrificed himself to save the village. He was a great man and a true hero."
She shut her eyes. Oh Minato. He was really gone then. Her one true love was gone. But there is someone else I love. "Naruto," she asked with her scratchy voice. "Where is Naruto?" She saw Tsunade take on a fearful expression and Kushina felt fear stab into her heart. "Is Naruto all right?"
"He's fine Kushina," Tsunade assured. "I've been checking on him regularly. He's perfectly healthy. He's in a private room not far from here under heavy ANBU guard."
"Guard?" She asked worriedly. Her mind was still a bit fuzzy but that didn't sound right at all. "Why is he under guard?"
"Kushina," Tsunade hesitated but knew her friend had to be told and it was best if she heard it from her. "While you were in your coma the Council met and came to some decisions about your son. I did what I could, but you have to understand that the majority of them wanted him to be killed."
"Killed?!" Despite her weakness she suddenly sat up. She was rewarded with sudden pain racking her entire body.
"Careful!" Tsunade gently took a hold of her and laid her back down onto the hospital bed. "Kushina your body is in a frail state right now, you mustn't overexert yourself or you could die."
"Why would they want to kill Naruto?" She demanded with her rasping voice. "He is Minato's son! He is sacrificing himself to make Kyuubi a prisoner. He is as much a hero as his poor father!"
Tsunade nodded sadly. "I know that, and I agree with you. That little baby is a hero and the sacrifice he will have to make for the rest of his life is every bit as noble as the one Minato made. But I'm afraid most of the people in this village, ninja and civilian, don't see it that way. They don't see him as Minato's son, or even as an innocent baby, they consider him to be Kyuubi."
Kushina looked up horrified. How could people be so stupid? How could they see a baby and honestly believe he was one of the Biju? "I want to be with him. I want my son."
Tsunade nodded. "We'll get you in a wheel chair and take you to him. But Kushina before we do that you need to know what the Council decided…"
The ANBU guards had tried to deny Kushina entrance to her son's room. A few quiet words from Tsunade had convinced them otherwise.
Kushina was sitting in a wheelchair her baby in her arms. There were scars on his cheeks, but otherwise he seemed like a perfectly normal baby. He was sleeping peacefully in her arms. Tsunade and Shizune were in the room as well. They all looked up when the door opened and Sarutobi entered. He was in his Hokage robes and when he saw her he gave her a grandfatherly smile. "Kushina, I am so happy to see you awake and alert."
Kushina didn't return he smile. Instead she sent him a look of pure and absolute hatred. "How could you?" She asked in a voice that was little more than a whisper. "Minato trusted you."
The smile faded away from Sarutobi's face. He suddenly looked very old and very weary. "I see you have been told about the Council meeting and the decisions that were reached." He looked to Tsunade and Shizune. "Could we have a moment alone please?"
Tsunade glanced at Kushina who gave her a slight nod. "Come on Shizune; let's get a quick bite to eat."
The moment they were gone Kushina began to speak. Her voice was kept low but her anger was not hidden. "How dare you. Hokage or not what gives you the right to strip my son of what is his? He is Minato's rightful heir and will be head of the Namikaze clan one day. How dare you plan to take away his name and declare him an orphan!"
"That was for his own protection," Sarutobi said quietly. "You know how many enemies Minato had. If they knew he had a son the boy's life would be in constant danger. And no one knew if you would ever wake up. Making him an orphan seemed the wisest course, and it was the best one available."
"Well I'm awake now so that won't be a problem will it? Since I am Minato's wife that makes me Namikaze clan head until Naruto comes of age. I'll protect my son, and if you want to assign extra security I won't object." To her shock rather than agree with her she saw him slowly shake his head.
"I'm very sorry Kushina," he told her. "But I am afraid you will not be recognized as either Minato's widow or as Namikaze clan head. So far as Konoha is concerned you were his lover and Naruto his illegitimate son."
She stared at him not believing what he was saying. "I was his wife! We were married a year and a half ago in Whirlpool! I know for a fact that Minato gave you a copy of the marriage documents!"
"He did," Sarutobi admitted. "I have taken the documents and put them in a safe place. When the time is right and Naruto is ready to make his claim I will present them to the Council and vouch for their authenticity. But I am afraid that for now I cannot make them public or acknowledge either you or Naruto as Minato's legitimate heirs."
"You can't do that," she whispered. "How can you say such things?! I thought you were Minato's friend! How can you turn your back on me and his son?"
"Kushina," Sarutobi said patiently. "If I acknowledged you as Minato's wife and legitimate head of Namikaze you would be assassinated within the week."
"Too many people hold too much resentment against you. I am sorry, but to most you are a foreigner who seduced their beloved Yondaime. Were you from Konoha things might be different, but if you were suddenly proclaimed Minato's widow the ugly truth is most people would simply see you as a thief trying to steal the largest fortune in Konoha. Too many in this village would be too violently opposed to allowing a foreigner to claim the Namikaze fortunes and estates. Your life would be in severe danger, and if you were killed what would happen to Naruto then? He would be an orphan and everyone would know there was a connection to Minato. He would be in even greater danger."
"I'll take my chances," she ground out. "I have more faith in my katana right now than I do in you and all your ANBU and ninja. I'll tell everyone the truth and stake my claim to the Namikaze clan holdings."
"Please don't do that," Sarutobi asked. "If you do I will have no alternative but to publicly deny your claim."
"You would really do that? You would really deny me and my son what is ours?"
"Yes, I am very sorry Kushina, but given the climate of fear in the village right now you would never be able to hold your claim. As I've said though, that may change in time, when Naruto is older…"
"To hell with that! Why should my son be denied what is his? All I am asking for is what rightfully belongs to us."
"I am sorry Kushina but I cannot allow it, for your own safety as well as his."
"Then I'll tell everyone the truth!"
Sarutobi shrugged. "No one will believe you. You have no evidence to back your claim. The only people who know the truth are you, me, Tsunade, and Jiraiya. I will not support you and Jiraiya is not in Konoha. If Tsunade is the only one who backs your claim it will look like she is acting to help a friend."
"The entire Uzumaki clan witnessed my marriage," she shot back. "And the original marriage documents are in Whirlpool. I can present them and have a dozen witnesses who know the truth."
The old man sighed. "I will declare the documents to be forgeries and everyone will assume that your family is lying to help you swindle the Namikaze fortune. All you will really accomplish is destroying any possibility that Naruto will inherit in the future. If I am forced to publicly declare Naruto is not Minato's legitimate heir it will be impossible to reverse that in the future. Kushina, please try and understand that this is the best I can do. The Council was adamant that your son either be killed or made a living weapon. It took every favor I had and all my skill just to convince a majority of them to allow him to be treated as an orphan. I was even able to pass a special law to prevent anyone who knows the truth about the Kyuubi from telling anyone else. That way he might at least have normal relationships with those of his own generation."
"How very generous of you," she said bitterly. "You would have had Minato's only child grow up a poor orphan all alone in a village where he was hated. Tsunade told me his name is Uzumaki Naruto; you deny him even his rightful name."
"If his last name were Namikaze that would defeat the entire effort to protect him from Minato's enemies." Sarutobi said reasonably. "Sine you are conscious he will of course not be an orphan. I will have a small house and pension provided for you and have ANBU protect him around the clock, I will also give you as many missions as you like to allow you to earn extra money. Though it may be difficult the two of you should be all right until Naruto comes of age."
"Are you insane?" Kushina asked him. "You think I'd actually stay in a village where he'll be hated and where he is being robbed of his birthright? I'm taking my son back to Whirlpool with me."
"Kushina I cannot…"
"Don't you dare!" She said sharply. "You don't get to have your cake and eat it too. You say he is not Minato's legitimate heir, that he and I have no connection to Namikaze. Fine then, that also means you and this damn village have no authority over me. I am not a Leaf nin; I am not even a citizen of Konoha since I apparently never married Minato. I am a ninja of Whirlpool as for my son, who is an Uzumaki after all; he is a citizen of Whirlpool and part of my clan. You have absolutely no right to keep me and my son here against my will."
"That is true," Sarutobi answered carefully. "And if you wish to leave with your son I will not try and prevent it. But please understands that if you leave I will no longer be able to protect you or Naruto."
"I think I'd rather do without your protection Sarutobi. I do have one request though; all m y private belongings are in the Namikaze mansion. I trust I will be allowed to get my property before I go?"
He nodded sadly. "Of course, though you will not be permitted to take anything that belongs to the Namikaze clan. Just so you know the estates have been placed in trust and sealed. No one will be allowed to use them, that specifically included the jutsus in the private library."
"I understand, wouldn't want the whore from Whirlpool making off with the family silverware."
"Get out," she said coldly. "I think we understand each other just fine old man."
Nodding he turned to leave. "I am sorry; I honestly did the best that I could."
"Yes, and wouldn't Minato be proud if only he could see what you've done?"
Sarutobi lowered his eyes in shame. He really had done all he could for her and for Naruto. But he was still ashamed that it was so much less than they deserved.
It was three days before Kushina recovered enough to leave the hospital. When she did so she had Naruto in her arms and Tsunade and Shizune at her side. She was in her red and black body suit with her katana in its sheath on her back. She had a full set of kunai, shuriken, and explosive notes in her possession. She was glad to be so fully armed. The way people were staring at her and her child she thought she might have to fight her way through.
Along with Tsunade and Shizune she had four squads of ANBU escorting her from the village to the mansion. People understood that ANBU always meant business and whatever their feelings the common folk maintained enough sense to keep a safe distance. That didn't prevent them from staring with those hateful unforgiving eyes. It also didn't keep the occasional fool from shouting, 'whore' or 'monster' or 'demon.' Seeing so much hatred being directed at her and her child she longed to take out her katana and give them something to really fear. If you only had one neck I'd hack it through.
When they reached the Namikaze estate they saw a seal on the gate. Two ANBU escorted her, Naruto, and Tsunade onto the grounds. Shizune and the rest of her escort waited at the gate. When they reached the mansion itself she saw there were seals not only on the door but every last window as well. Inside the building was dark and quiet. The servants of course were long gone. The place had been so full of life and happiness not too long ago. They had spent their time getting Naruto's room ready and making plans for the baby. Though it had been delayed she had finally brought Naruto home. But he would not be allowed to stay. All this is yours my darling. Your father wanted you to live here and carry on his clan's name, this place and everything in it belongs to you. No matter what Sarutobi or anyone else says.
They came to the master bedroom. "If you don't mind, I'd rather not have two men looking while I sort through my panties." Kushina said pleasantly.
The two ANBU looked at one another. One wore an owl mask and the other a ram's. The two men had plainly been expecting to go in with them. Finally the one with the owl mask nodded. "We'll wait right here, you have fifteen minutes."
"Thank you sooooo much," she said as she shut the door. Kushina instantly handed Naruto over to Tsunade. "Pack up a bunch of my clothes, I don't care which." She whispered and hurried over to the far wall.
"What are you doing?" Tsunade asked.
Kushina pressed a concealed switch that looked like part of the window sill. Soundlessly a hidden door within the wall slid open. "I'm getting my son his legacy." She slipped into the hidden passageway and was gone.
On the table in the private library she hurriedly stacked what she could. She had gone to Minato's family den first where he kept his family's jewels. He'd given all of them to her upon their marriage and told her the safe's location and combination. Inside was an ornate wooden jewelry box with eight little drawers. Inside were rings and earrings studded with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones. There was a diamond necklace with over two hundred individual stones, all of them at least two carats. The necklace alone was worth five million ryu; the rest of the jewels combined might be another three million. She opened each of the little drawers and dumped the contents into a cloth sack on her belt.
In the private library she retrieved all the family jutsu scrolls. She could sort them out later; bit she made very sure that the one and only copy of the legendary Hiraishin no Jutsu was one of them. She placed them all on the table along with a couple photo albums that were also kept there. She then brought out a blank scroll with an ink jar and brush. She was a long way from being a seal master like Minato or Jiraiya. But her darling had taught her the basics of the art and that was enough. She wrote down the necessary formula onto the blank paper. Then, using the bare minimum of chakra she made a hand sign. "Seal." Everything that had been on the table vanished. On the scroll new symbols appeared representing those objects. She rolled the scroll up tight and slipped it into her body suit between her stomach and her body armor. With that done she hurried back to the secret passage.
They left the mansion with two large packs stuffed with clothes and with their escort none the wiser. From the estate they were headed straight to the gate. As they passed the Hyuuga estate Kushina glanced at it. Hiashi had been Minato's closest friend and she considered him and his wife to be dear friends as well. But neither of them had visited her in the hospital. They had done nothing to try and help her or her son. She was left with no choice but to conclude that like everyone else in Konoha they had decided to abandon her now that Minato was gone.
All along the way to the gate she encountered more of the same ugly looks and hateful shouts. Every one only made her that much more eager to get back to Whirlpool and her clan.
"You know you two don't have to escort me," Kushina said.
"Don't worry," Tsunade answered with a grin. "It's not like I want to stay in this village any more than you do. Besides, it's been a long time since I've been to Whirlpool, it'll be fun."
"Thank you, both of you." She looked at them gratefully. "It means a lot to me to know that at least the two of you still support me."
As they neared the gate Tsunade smiled. "Well it looks like we're not the only ones."
There waiting for them were two young teens. One with an ANBU mask in the form of a dog in his hand.
"Kakashi, Rin, thank you for seeing me off," Kushina said. "I'm sure Minato would be grateful to know his students came to see me and Naruto."
Rin came up to her tears in her eyes. "Is it true? Are you really leaving for good?"
Kushina nodded. "With the way things are I think it's for the best. Naruto won't be treated fairly in this place. In Whirlpool he'll be loved and respected, and he'll have a huge family."
"But it's not fair!" The girl cried out. She looked lovingly at the little baby.
"No it's not," Tsunade said. "But for that you can blame the people of this village. Their own cruelty and heartlessness have forced this situation."
Kakashi slowly stepped forward until he was shoulder to shoulder with Rin. His hitai-ite was covering his left eye while his right was looking down at the baby's face. "He looks just like sensei," he said quietly. "How can they hate him?"
"I don't know," Kushina said. "But they do.
Kakashi looked up from Naruto's face to Kushina's. "Kushina, I want to make a request. Please let me come with you."
"What?" Rin gasped and turned to him. "Kakashi you can't do that!"
"She'd right," Tsunade said. "Shizune and I have been given special permission to travel as we please from the old man. You can't leave the village without permission, you know that."
"If you do you'll be a missing nin! They'll send hunter nins after you to track you down!" Rin said fearfully.
Kushina smiled gently. "Thank you Kakashi, I truly appreciate the offer and I know Minato would be very proud of you. But I can't ask you to make such a sacrifice for me."
Kakashi calmly produced a piece of paper and handed it to Kushina. "The Hokage has granted me permission to resign my ninja status and leave the village."
That produced gasps not only from Rin, Tsunade, and Shizune but from their ANBU escort as well. Kakashi was only fifteen but he was all ready becoming a Black Ops legend, the famed Copy ninja.
Kushina did not gasp or make a fuss. She took the document and read it silently. It was indeed a letter from the Hokage with his seal and signature releasing Kakashi from his status as a ninja and permitting him to leave the village. "Why would Sarutobi do this?"
"I told him that I could no longer serve this village," he answered calmly. "In my life there have been two men who I truly admired and wanted to be like, my father and my sensei. One was scorned by the people and ninja of this village until he was finally driven to commit seppuku. The other sacrificed himself for the sake of Konoha, only to have his lady love and his son hated and driven out." He pulled off his hitai-ite, careful to keep his left eye shut. "So far as I'm concerned this village does not deserve my loyalty. If you'll let me, I want to help protect my sensei's son. I want to try and be a role model for him just like Minato-sensei was for me. But whatever happens I will no longer serve this ungrateful village." Taking a kunai he slowly and deliberately slashed the metal on his headband, neatly cutting the leaf symbol in two.
"Kakashi," Rin looked at him horrified. "You can't… you…"
"I'm sorry Rin, I really am," he told her gently as he replaced the now slashed hitai-ite. "But I can't serve a village that treats its heroes this way."
Kushina looked at him. "If you are absolutely sure then you are more than welcome to join me. My clan and village would welcome you."
"Thank you Kushina-san."
And so the five of them departed and left Konoha behind.