Fandom: Naruto

Rating: K

Pairing: Minato/Kushina

Summary: Kushina looks like a mess, has her identity as a stalker revealed, and perves on her neighbour, all within ten minutes. But it's okay, because there will always be ramen.

Disclaimer: Anything that you recognise does not belong to me. And anything that you don't recognise probably doesn't belong to me either.

Uzumaki Kushina heard the newspaper drop outside her front door. The delivery boy was right on time—the crack of dawn, just as always. Since she hadn't been able to sleep the night before, she figured she might as well entertain herself with the latest headlines of gloom and doom. What ever happened to uplifting story headlines?

Still dwelling on the topic, and trying to remember the last time she had read an encouraging front-page story that warmed the heart and made her feel all lovely and fuzzy inside, the redhead belted her robe around her middle, unlocking the three deadbolts on her door and releasing the chain. Call her security conscious, but until she could afford a bigger house in a better neighbourhood, she wasn't taking any chances, especially since the couple that lived in the bungalow opposite hers had gotten burgled a fortnight ago.

As soon as Kushina reached her letterbox, she realised her mistake. It was six in the morning, and she had assumed no one else was out and about, not at this ungodly hour.

Kushina always had a lousy sense of what normal people would and wouldn't do.

The guy next door, the one that she had been eyeing for weeks, was getting his paper, too.

Oh shit, was Kushina's first thought. Great. Just great. This is—this is just typical. My life. This is my life, fuck it. Fuck my life.

If only the floor would open up and swallow her whole. Here she was in her ratty old robe, with her hair looking particularly orange and bearing more than a passing resemblance to a bird's nest. Not only that, but she wasn't wearing any makeup so all of her zits were on display (there were quite a few as she was due for her period in a few days), and she was pretty sure that she had panda eyes due to lack of sleep the previous night. Not exactly the first impression she had in mind when she met the guy face-to-face.

As if the universe wanted to humiliate her at this hour simply because no one else was up for it to get its chuckles from, her neighbour couldn't have contrasted her aapearance more. He looked like a fantasy come true; no shirt and low-slung pajama bottoms hung loosely from a trim waist, and his blond hair was sleep rumpled and fell adorably over his blue, blue eyes.

And he had dimples.

Oh boy, she was in trouble.

"Hi there," the god of Sexy said, walking up to her and quirking an eyebrow with a smile. "Guess I'm not the only one who couldn't sleep last night." And there were the dimples again.

"Um…" Great, Uzumaki, just great, Kushina thought. Nothing like mono-syllable grunts to let him know just how intelligent you really are.

"I'm Minato," the blond said, holding out a perfectly tanned, sculpted arm.

She really wanted to introduce herself, but was terrified that she'd get too close and he'd get a whiff of morning breath, something she wasn't keen on letting him get acquainted with, especially looking the way she did. Why, oh why, didn't she get dolled up before opening the door this morning?

"Kushina," she replied—mumbled, actually.

His hand still hung between them, and she felt like an idiot. Was it too late to shake it? Would she look even dumber if she grabbed his hand at the instant he dropped it?

Why? Why was life so hard?

She must have been staring at his very nice-looking, very masculine hand for too long, because Minato said, "I won't bite, you know… well, unless you want me to, that is."

That broke the ice, dispelling the air of uneasiness Kushina was feeling.

She laughed and took his hand.

"I'm sure you won't," she said, smiling genially. "It's nice to meet you."

"You, too. I kept hoping I'd run into you sometime, but you always seem to be on to go."

"Really? I haven't seen you out a lot." Oh god, why, oh, why did she say that? Now he'd think she was some kind of stalker.

"Well, I work at home, but I like to run a few times a week to get some exercise in."

"Oh, okay."

Thinking of him running made her give him the once-over and take note of his glorious abs. What she wouldn't give for a physical picture of them so she could stare at it whenever she wanted to, free to squeal her heart out after a long day's—

Oh god. Oh god, she was such a creep. Snap out of it. Snap out of it, Uzumaki. He's looking. He's looking, he knows you're the biggest pervert on this street, oh great, you moron—

"You know, I think that ogle deserves some payback."

"You do?" she squeaked, clutching the lapels of her robe together, blushing the same colour as her hair.

"Absolutely. And I get to name my price." His eyes twinkled.

Kushina really hoped that Minato's price wasn't something crude and smarmy that would ruin her god-like image of him.

"Do you eat ramen?"

The abrupt subject change caught her completely off guard.

"Um, yes," she spluttered, blinking bemusedly.

"Do you have ramen?" Minato continued.

"Of course."

"No, there's no 'of course' about it. I ran out last night, and I… I just need it. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms, it's ridiculous. It's partly the reason I couldn't sleep last night. So yeah, that's it. That's my price. Ramen. My price is ramen."

"O…kay. Did you want me to go get you a few packets or something?" Kushina winced after the words came out; her voice sounded more disappointed than uncertain, but she couldn't help it.

"Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of sharing some ramen, maybe with… you?"

Kushina looked up in surprise. Minato was staring determinedly at his feet, scratching his elbow nervously, a tinge of pink splayed across his cheeks.

She looked down at herself, then back up at Minato.

"You really sure about that?" she asked dubiously.

"Kushina, I've been sure since I saw you stumble out of your car a week ago."



"Oh," she said, nodding. The smile crept onto her face slowly, and things suddenly felt right for the first time in a long time.

Kushina led Minato into her cheery little kitchen, showing him to a chair at her table while she took out a pot and began boiling some water, all the while exchanging banter with her neighbour and hoping that this would be the beginning of many more mornings of ramen together.

A/N: I don't even know. This was fun, though.

I will get around to something meaningful... soon.

Reviews make me happy :D