Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, I make no money, so please don't sue…
Notes: I hesitate to label this AU/AR…because I can see this possibly happening in canon.
A little one-shot set pre-Naruto (Minato and Kushina are genin) and follows Secret Family Jutsu.
Uzumaki Kushina scowled in deep thought as she sat in her favorite tree—her "thinking tree". It was an old, squat tree with thick branches that were easy to sit on and dense leaves that gave her privacy. It was a nice hideout that no one knew about except for her, and the perfect place to do something that she rarely did: think, long and hard.
I think I may have crossed a line somewhere…
Apparently Namikaze Minato's words weren't just an expression of humiliation. He genuinely seemed to hate her now. Whenever she tried to interact with him, he'd glare and glower and make sure that his back was never ever to her. And that was when she could find him. He was avoiding her like the plague.
This was not what she'd been aiming for when she'd loosed the wrath of the Sennen Goroshi on him.
She had desired his respect. Uzumaki Kushina was not just some girl. She was a force to be reckoned with!
In her experience, the best way to go about this was to beat the person in question in something that they were good at. Namikaze was a ninja and he was good at fighting, so she needed to beat him in a fight. But apparently what it took to beat him crossed some line…
What a wuss, she snorted. All four of my brothers used that on me at least once each! You don't see me sitting around and sulking about it. He's a boy; he should be able to suck it up!
Sighing, she closed her eyes and slumped back against the rough tree trunk.
"Hey, little sister, you had better be careful. We'll forgive you for anything—we're family, we have to. But you pull half the crap that you pull with us on other people and you're going to get in serious trouble…"
"Stupid Kenshin-nii-san!" she muttered. "What did he know…"
He knew everything, of course. He was the oldest, the heir to the family, the second dad…or at least he acted like one. Generally stoic and serious, he was a big softie underneath and tried to look out for everyone.
And being older and more experienced…he was probably right.
Damn him! she pouted. He's dead and he still has to be right! The bossy old jerk-face is probably shaking his head at me from the afterlife…
Growling, she wriggled around on the tree branch she was sitting on until she was laying flat on her back.
I can fix this…the question is how?
Kushina wriggled some more and laid on her stomach to stare down at the grass below.
Well…I humiliated him, so…I should humiliate myself to even the score. But how? What will soothe that fragile ego of his?
And then she had a flash of brilliance.
I'll let him decide!
Grinning, she dropped from the tree and went about locating the blonde boy. The sooner this was resolved, the sooner she could get on good terms with the touchy Namikaze. Once the score was evened, he wouldn't have any reason to be sore with her and he might even find it funny.
She sure thought that it was!
Eventually she located him outside of a sushi place. She didn't mind sushi, but she preferred her food hot, or at least warm. When he caught sight of her he frowned warily, hugged his bag of food to his chest, and shifted so that it was impossible to get behind him.
Wimp, she mentally snorted, but kept her expression apologetic. It's not his fault, I guess. He's an only child—no big brothers to toughen him up. His skin is thin and he's all soft and squishy inside…
"Okay," she began bluntly. "I've said it a bunch of times already, but I'm sorry. I'm sorry and I want to make it up to you. Tell me what you want me to do."
He eyed her warily. "What do you mean?"
"Tell me what you want me to do," she repeated. "If you want me to wear pink tomorrow, I will wear pink. If you want me to dye my hair green, I will dye my hair green. If you want me to announce that I am a stupid loser in the middle of the market, I will shout it at the top of my lungs. I embarrassed you, and now I will embarrass myself so that we will be even.
"Tell me what you want me to do."
He stared at her. "I can ask you to do anything?"
"Well, nothing dangerous," she amended. "But yeah, tell me to do it, and I will do it. I wanted to win against you so that you would take me seriously as a ninja, not make you hate me forever."
The blonde genin quietly considered her offer. Kushina did her best to wait patiently. She had made a mistake, and now she was fixing it.
"Alright," he said finally. "Tomorrow, I want you to clean yourself up, I want you to wear make-up—a little bit, but you have to wear some—and…" His blue eyes were steely. "I want you to wear a dress."
Trust a genius like him to figure out what she would find the most personally humiliating. Dresses were evil. There was no kind of clothing she despised more. But…
"Okay," she nodded sharply. "Tomorrow, I will get extra clean, I will put on some kind of make-up, and I will wear a dress."
…Now, where the heck am I going to get a dress?
Minato boredly lounged on a park bench as he waited for his red-haired foe to either show up or back down.
He hoped that she backed down. If she couldn't uphold her end of their little deal, she would have to leave him alone for good. That would be a dream come true.
But if she did show up and meet his demands, he would still win. She was a tomboy and forcing her to do many of the feminine things that she'd rejected would be torment for her. And forcing her to do it in public for a full day would guarantee some level of embarrassment for her.
It wasn't anything like the violating thing that she'd done to him, but it was the best he could come up with without sinking to her level and turning that jutsu back on her.
It probably wouldn't work if I tried it, he sighed. She claimed that she learned how to do that from her brothers, who did it to her. She wouldn't like it, but she would be prepared to bear it.
And there was a second reason that he'd chosen the dress as punishment. He was admittedly curious to see how she'd look. The girl always had at least one smudge of dirt on her face, a boyish haircut, and wore baggy boy's clothes. What did she look like under the scruffy tomboy exterior?
If she shows up, I'll find out…
Minato sighed and ran his fingers through his spiky hair. He hoped that his sensei wouldn't come looking for him to train today. If the elder ninja saw what he was doing, he'd assume that his student was going out on a date, which was absolutely not true.
He glanced up at the sun to gauge what time it was—
"Alright, the sooner we start the sooner we finish, right?"
He turned…and tried to reconcile the voice he'd heard with the person he was looking at.
She wore a pale blue sundress with purple butterflies printed on it and strappy white sandals. Her red hair was unusually short for a girl, but neatly combed and her bangs were held out of her face with a little butterfly-shaped barrette. There was a hint of lip gloss on her lips and a shade of nail polish that matched her outfit painted on her short but neatly-trimmed finger and toenails.
She was cute.
There was no way that Uzumaki Kushina's voice had come out of her mouth.
"Have you gotten a good enough look yet?" Kushina asked impatiently.
"Uh…y-yeah," he nodded jerkily and lurched to his feet. "Yeah, let's go."
He never really knew what to do with girls. They were a strange species, always whispering and giggling and traveling together in groups, especially when they went to the bathroom together. It was impossible to guess what they really wanted or how they would take fairly innocent comments. And the prettier the girl was, the harder she was to deal with. One of the things that Minato dreaded most was dealing with a crying girl.
Gender had never been an issue in his dealings with Uzumaki Kushina. She was a girl, but she looked rather boyish and acted very boyish. It was easy to ignore her gender and just treat her as he did other ninja.
Now it was a problem.
Minato stiffly led her through the village streets. He walked beside her but didn't touch her. She looked irritated and he really didn't know what to say to her so they did not speak to each other.
This is stupid, he chastised himself. She's still Uzumaki-san, she just cleaned herself up. Tomorrow, she'll be back to being the scruffy tomboy again. Nothing has changed, nothing will change.
He surreptitiously rubbed his sweaty palms on his pant legs and tried to end the tense silence.
"Where did you get the dress?"
"I borrowed it from one of my neighbors," she grumbled sourly. "She was a nice enough lady, but she kept thinking I was going on a date and she had way too much fun dressing me up. I felt like an overgrown doll."
Minato opened his mouth to apologize, but caught himself. He had no reason to apologize. This was her apology to him.
"Ah," he mumbled awkwardly.
Silence returned and they kept walking. He led her through a market square near the heart of the village, past a popular park, and past several casual restaurants frequented by ninja their age. He tried to keep from staring at her, but his eyes kept drifting back to her, fascinated by her startling transformation. Several other boys seemed to like looking at her, too.
Okay, Minato decided, when he spied yet another boy (a fourteen-year-old, two years older than they were) looking at Kushina with too much interest. That's enough.
"Let's go this way," he muttered, changing directions suddenly and grasping her wrist so not to lose her in the afternoon crowd.
He led her away from the bustling heart of the village towards the quieter outskirts. At a small abandoned lot that was overgrown with wild flowers he let go of her wrist and sighed in relief. He'd never expected to enjoy today's activities, but he hadn't expected to be so bothered by them. It was just supposed to be a way of making peace.
Peace was good. Peace was better than conflict. Minato would like to get along with everyone if he could.
But this whole mess was thoroughly ridiculous.
"What's the deal?" the girl asked suspiciously. "I thought I was supposed to follow you around the village today."
"We're still in the village," he shrugged and fingered some of the weedy wild flowers. "I just felt like finding a quiet spot for a while."
"Okay," she muttered.
Minato settled down on a cinder block and tried to roll the tension from his shoulders. Ever since he'd laid eyes on her, he'd been anxious and on edge for no reason at all. They'd barely been walking around for two hours and he felt worn out.
He glanced over to find his companion examining a sunflower-ish bloom a few feet away. She sniffed at the flower and gently fingered the orange-ish yellow petals. The irritated look that had tightened her face had eased, leaving her calm and peaceful. It was a radical change from the rough, tough persona she loudly and boldly projected most of the time.
Her spine immediately stiffened and she spun on him. "What was that?"
He paled. I said that out loud?!
"Well?" she demanded.
"I…I said 'pretty'," he gulped.
"What?" She tilted her head. "The flower?"
"Well, no…" His face felt hot. "I-I meant you."
For a minute she stared at him, slack-jawed. Then her eyes darkened, her lips tightened, and her hands balled into trembling fists. And then she socked him in the mouth.
"Shut up!" she snapped and then stormed off, every line of her body crackling with fury.
Minato held his throbbing mouth and stared after her.
But…I thought that girls liked being complimented.
Jiraiya sighed and shook his head as he watched things fall apart from a nearby rooftop. He'd been intrigued when the two had met up, doubly so when he realized who the girl was, and had tracked them with great interest. With how young they were he didn't expect anything terribly serious, but it had looked promising.
Of course, Minato just had to pick the most difficult and unusual girl in the village to try playing at boyfriend/girlfriend with…
Utilizing his great stealth, Jiraiya moved to follow the tomboy to see if he could determine the root of her unexpected reaction. The red-head didn't run, but she stomped quickly, and kept going for several blocks. When she stopped, she braced her shoulder against a brick building wall, hugged herself, and trembled.
…She's scared, he realized. Poor thing. At her age and with her lifestyle, she's probably never been flirted with before. She doesn't know how to handle it. She doesn't know what she wants.
It was a shame. She was a surprisingly cute little kunoichi. When she grew up, she'd be a pretty woman.
Minato has good taste, he thought as he left the girl be. He just moved a bit too fast for her. In a few years, though…
Jiraiya giggled and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
It will be interesting, to say the least.