Tiger's Mask

Annmarie Aspasia

She comes back to Konohagakure sometimes, when she finishes all of the missions on the list the Hokage has given her. Usually there are no surprises: she slips through the gate, races across the rooftops, spends fifteen minutes in the office of Sarutobi-sama, who somehow always has a list of new missions waiting for her, and then disappears once again.

So it's a great shock when she dodges into the underbrush to avoid being sighted by a genin group leaving the village, and finds herself staring at a ghost from the past.

Same blonde, spiky hair -a little shorter than she remembers, but too similar nonetheless- same glowingly brilliant blue eyes, same well-tanned skin. She shakes her head to clear it, mentally listing facts to bring herself back to earth. One. This boy's hair is shorter than Minato ever kept his. Two. He's maybe twelve years old. Konoha and the village hidden in the whirlpool didn't integrate until she was eleven and Minato was fourteen. When Minato had been this age, she hadn't even known he had existed. Three. This boy has strange, whisker-like scars on his face. Three on each cheek, perfectly parallel.


The kunoichi immediately looks away from him, and her gaze falls on another ghost from her past. This one is real, but less shocking, because she doesn't immediately recognize him. Ironically, it's the mask more than the silver hair (silver hair is not, after all, altogether uncommon in this village) that gives away the identity of the genin team's sensei as Kakashi-kun, the former student of her former lover.

Almost against her will, her eyes begin to stray back to the blonde-haired genin, and she forces herself to stop. She was never supposed to see him after that fateful night, over a dozen years ago. She swore to herself that she would not. This time it was an accident, and therefore forgivable, but if she were to look again...

Her eyes twitch involuntarily, and she closes them. She will have to spend hours purging this memory from her mind. She swore not to see the boy, to influence him, and if she allows herself even a moment to dream...

If Kushina allows herself a moment to dream, she will not be able to stop herself from trying to make the dream into reality, and that is not an option. She bargained away her rights as a mother years ago, in exchange for the life of her... of the jinchuuriki. The jinchuuriki Uzu- the jinchuuriki Nameless Naruto, who is anything but her son.

Technically, she isn't even Kushina any longer. Just Tiger, a faceless ANBU who visits her village no more than three times a year.

This sort of goes with my other drabble, With A Face Like Stone.

~Annmarie Aspasia