Disclaimer – I don't own Naruto
Warning – Latest Manga Chapter (498) spoilers! Read it before you read this!
Author's note – Inspired by 498 which is the CUTEST NARUTO CHAPTER IN HISTORY! I LOVE Kishimoto for this one. He's proved that he CAN write nice romance - he needs to do more!
Kushina's Red Hair
Ten-year old Kushina fidgeted nervously with a strand of fiery red hair, her green-blue eyes darting uncertainly around the classroom.
They were staring at her, all of them, their wide, curious eyes boring inexorably into her face, scrutinizing her appearance. She scanned over all of them disinterestedly, until a flash of startling blue caught her eyes.
The child had really pretty eyes, Kushina thought. She surmised it was a boy, though with his soft features, sparkling eyes and spiky yellow hair he could have almost passed off as a girl.
They stared at each other for a moment, barely a few milliseconds, until he looked away bashfully, politely diverting his gaze.
"This is Kushina Uzumaki," the gravelly voice of the teacher spoke, breaking the deafening silence which Kushina detested. "She is from Whirlpool."
There was a murmur amongst the children at this, and Kushina clenched her fists as she caught some of the flippant whispers.
'Whirpool? The village that was attacked? I thought it didn't exist anymore.'
'No wonder she has such strangely colored hair, she's foreign.'
'I heard that the shinobi in whirlpool were real weirdos!'
Kushina bit back the explosion that threatened to burst forward from her mouth, gritting her teeth and turning her nose away haughtily as she stalked towards an empty seat and sat down with a thud, ignoring the malicious gossiping. The teacher began some kind of activity which required the students to speak about their ambitions. Kushina slumped forward, her chin on her open palms, and immediately lapsed into thought, her fickle mind concocting several ingenious, creative and highly asinine methods of pranking these new students, most of whom in her opinion, would prove to be either highly irritating or plain mean.
There was no response, as the red-haired girl stared resolutely ahead, her eyes slightly misty and a smirk tugging at her lips.
"Kushina!" the teacher yelled for the third time, and Kushina's head jerked up, her eyes wide as she was jolted out of a rather amusing daydream which consisted of her, the Hokage Mountain, and several bottles of gaudy spray-paint.
"H-hai!" she asked, blushing slightly.
"It is your turn, Kushina," the teacher spoke, his beady eyes reprimanding her for her inattentiveness. Kushina couldn't help it really – she had a very short attention span in general, and got bored very quickly, often requiring physical activities which involved lots of running around and screaming at the top of her lungs to keep her satisfied.
"For – what?" she asked, raising one eyebrow, and the teacher frowned at the slightly insolent tone of her voice; of course, Kushina hadn't meant to be insolent, she was just a little rough around the edges. Since it was her first day, the teacher thought he'd let it slide.
"We are all discussing our goals for the future," he said gently, "Would you like to tell us yours?"
At this, Kushina's eyes widened, and she jumped up, quivering with excitement. She punched the air vigorously, before hollering out her answer.
"I'M GONNA BE THE FIRST FEMALE HOKAGE!" Kushina nearly screeched, and then beamed around at the class, flipping her long red hair over a shoulder and shooting everyone a thumbs up and a cheeky wink.
The class stared back, identical dumbfounded expressions on every child's face, taken aback by this fiery promulgation.
Then, one boy, with cropped black hair and ebony eyes started snickering. A few others joined in as well, a few moments later.
"What?" she snarled at the black haired boy, her eyes flashing, "You think that's funny?"
The boy gave her a rather condescending smirk, nodding slightly.
"Well why? Why can't I be?" Kushina persisted angrily, rounding on him. He didn't answer though, looking away, and another boy, with long brown hair and white eyes spoke up.
"Ridiculous," he scoffed, shaking his head, "A newcomer talking about being Hokage. It is impossible for you, being from another village and being a female, to ever get the position."
"Anyways, we already know Orochimaru is going to get the position next, certainly not someone like you," another boy, who looked exactly like the first spoke, his voice laced with undertones of derision.
"How can you say that you bastard?" Kushina shrieked, hair whipping around as she glowered at the twins.
"It is fated," the first twin replied, his voice hard.
"Why you little-" Kushina began, snarling, but the teacher stopped her, placing two hands on her shoulders and sitting her back down.
"Enough Kushina, Hiashi, Hizashi. Fugaku stop laughing," he said sternly, turning to Kushina and the three boys in turn.
The pale-eyed boys said nothing more, sitting with identical superior expressions on their face, and the black-haired boy turned his nose away with a grunt.
Kushina flushed, her nails digging crescent-shaped indentations in her palm, as she fumed in silence.
Oh she would get them back once it was recess. She would spray-paint those twins' long silky hair orange, and make that dark-haired boy eat dust.
"Minato, it's your turn," the teacher said, oblivious along with the rest of the class to the murder intent radiating off the sulking little kunoichi in the corner.
Minato stood up slowly, and Kushina noted that he was the girly boy with the bright blue eyes.
What a flake, she thought loftily, though she had to admit he was kind of cute.
Minato smiled cheerfully, his eyes crinkling up at the corners.
"I want everyone in the village to acknowledge me and be Hokage," he said, echoing Kushina's sentiments, though his voice was much calmer than hers.
Kushina's lip started bleeding from the force with which she bit down to stop herself from bursting out again.
That pansy is never going to be Hokage! She thought, sneering to herself. Look at him, he's such a wuss!
However, no one in class scorned him as they did Kushina, and the little redhead wondered why, before dismissing the thought and returning back to her devious schemes, adding the yellow-haired Minato to the list of people she would get revenge on.
After all, if the idiot wanted Hokage, that meant he was now her Eternal Rival.
When it was break time, Kushina wandered around aimlessly for a while, before choosing a shady spot under a tree to settle down.
She leaned against the bark, pulling out some cup ramen and began to voraciously devour her meal, slurping contentedly at the noodles, are earlier annoyance with her classmates dissipated.
She sat there in peace, until the dark haired boy from before sauntered past, leering at her.
"Buzz off, Uchiha," Kushina snapped, recalling the boy's name from earlier.
Fugaku Uchiha scowled at her for a moment, before speaking in as frigid a tone as he could muster.
"I wasn't aware that I was even speaking to you, Uzumaki," he spat.
"Your hair looks like a chicken's butt," was Kushina's unrelated, yet scathing response.
Fugaku was stunned by this – no one had ever insulted him before, or even spoken to him in a derogatory manner.
"It's better than yours," he retorted acerbically, "You look like a tomato with hair like that!"
Kushina's eyes widened at this.
"I – wh-what?" she sputtered. "I do not! Take that back!"
A small group of children had gathered around the area, and were watching the fight with bated breaths.
"Yes, you do," Fugaku said, laughing scornfully. "You have a round face and your hair is red! Bright red! You look just like a fat tomato!"
"Tomato-face! Tomato-face!" a few voices from the crowd jeered.
The children were enjoying this – Kushina was an outsider who had expressed an almost blasphemous desire to be their Hokage, more inappropriate since she was from Whirlpool. And Fugaku was an Uchiha, and hence popular and elite; all the kids would jump at the chance to get on his good side.
"Tomato! Tomato!" more children joined in the chant, not quite realizing that inside of Kushina's determinedly furious facade, the girl was actually quite upset.
"No – no, I'm not!" Kushina shrieked, her eyes stinging.
"We'd never want a tomato-face like you as Hokage! No one would!"
"Shut up!" Kushina cried, stamping her foot. "I'll beat you all, believe it!"
"Like a weakling like you can do anything!" a boy with spiky brown hair called, grabbing her bento box and turning it upside down, so that Kushina's lunch of ramen noodles sloshed to the ground.
Kushina ground her teeth – that was the last straw.
The could insult her hair, they could call her a tomato, they could insult her dream of being Hokage.
But no one – meaning no one – wasted Kushina Uzumaki's RAMEN.
"You asked for it – tte ba na," she muttered, eyes gleaming dangerously until she pounced into the rambunctious crowd, bright blue chakra swirling around her.
Kushina had always had a special type of chakra, which often materialized out of her body when she attacked. It wasn't really a wastage since her reserves were gargantuan, but she couldn't control it. It leaked out like a catharsis of emotions, whenever she was excited, angry or frustrated.
And right now, she was furious.
She charged at Fugaku, and the brown haired boy with a wild war-cry, her red hair buffeted by the sizzling chakra.
After that day, no one called her weak.
After that day, no one disparaged her dream of being Hokage.
After that day, no one ever called her a tomato.
Kushina, after pummelling Fugaku Uchiha's face into the mud, gained somewhat of a fearsome respect from the other academy students.
She had a new nickname now – The Bloody Habanero.
Kushina gloated her victory for exactly thirty seconds.
After that, she collected her belongings, grimy bento box and all, and stormed off, tears sparkling in her eyes.
Kushina did not like picking fights – she did not like antagonizing people, but everyone here was so hostile towards her. It's like they harboured some sort of inexplicable animosity, even though she'd never done anything – hell, she barely knew any of them!
They'd called her names, they'd wasted her lunch, and they probably hated her now, even though she'd bested a few of them in battle. It gave her no pride, and Kushina slumped onto a swing in the Academy Park, sniffling as she leaned her head against the shiny chain.
She'd actually been looking forward to this day. She'd wanted to make friends with people, and be acknowledged. That's why she'd spewed out all that stuff about Hokage – to make a good impression, so people would want to befriend her.
But it had all backfired miserably.
"Why does everyone hate me," she murmured aloud, her voice slightly choked because of her tears, "I didn't do anything – tte ba na?"
"I – don't hate you," a meek voice spoke, and Kushina whirled around, shocked to meet the wide blue eyes of Minato.
"Wh-what?" she asked, hastily rubbing her eyes against her sleeve. "Who're you anyway?"
The blonde-haired boy smiled slightly, looking straight at her.
"Minato Namikaze," he said, his voice soft. "I'm your competitor to become Hokage, remember?"
The corners of his mouth lifted when he said this. His tone was slightly teasing, though not cruel like the rest of them. Kushina immediately decided that even if he looked rather flaky, she certainly liked him.
"...oh," Kushina said, at a loss of words.
She was uncharacteristically silent for a moment, pondering this, before she voiced her thoughts.
"Why're you being so – nice to me?" Kushina blurted out.
Minato raised an eyebrow, sitting on the swing next to her.
"Why wouldn't I be?" he asked, puzzled.
"Like, I – I don't know," she confessed, "But the others – they – they're – mean..."
It sounded rather pathetic to her ears but Minato looked sympathetic.
"They're just idiots, don't pay attention to them," he told her, in that same calm voice. "And anyways – you sure showed them, didn't you?"
Kushina bit her lip, nodding, turning away from him to stare at the ground. A pity really – he had quite a nice face.
"What's wrong?" Minato asked after a while.
"I – probably shouldn't have attacked them like that," she said, a tinge of regret creeping into her voice. "I just – my chakra does that when I'm angry, I can't help it..."
"You have some pretty – special chakra," Minato observed, choosing not to comment on the rest of it.
"Yeah, I do," Kushina mumbled. "D'you think they'll hate me?"
She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to stop the tear that threatened to roll down her cheek. There was a soft rustling sound, and she opened her eyes to see Minato standing in front of her, looking at her with those bright blue eyes, his hand outstretched towards her, holding a light blue handkerchief.
"Th-thank," Kushina murmured shyly, taking the proffered handkerchief. She slid off the swing, and sat down next to the pole, leaning against the hard metal.
"Do you want something to eat?" Minato asked, crouching down next to her.
"I saw what they did to your ramen. It was really horrible of them. I have some lunch left, we can share if you want," he suggested.
They sat for the rest of the break, eating in silence. For once, Kushina did not gobble down her food like a hog. Though Minato's lunch, which consisted of rice balls and curry, wasn't as good as her precious ramen... the fact that he was willingly sharing it with her made it taste that much better.
I guess I won't spray paint his hair, Kushina decided. And if he beats me in Hokage, it wouldn't be that bad either, 'cept the fact that he's a wuss...
Of course, this notion was dispelled that very afternoon, when Minato proved to Kushina and the rest of the class what a genius he really was.
"Still think I'm a – pansy?" Minato asked, smirking slightly, though he stumbled over the last word. He gestured at his perfectly formed shadow clone. It was certainly advanced, especially for a newbie at the academy.
"What? I never said that!" Kushina cried, denying this passionately.
"I could tell you thought it," he told her, and she shrugged, conceding.
"Alright – fine... you – looked kinda – timid?" she offered, eyes apologetic. "I didn't know, I'm sorry!"
"That's okay," he said, looking over at her own mangled attempt at a shadow clone. Somehow she'd created fifteen, and had no idea why. They were all malformed however, and lay on the flood in a convoluted, disfigured heap.
"Hehe," Kushina chuckled awkwardly, pulling at a bright red lock of hair. "Um – I kinda – lost control of my chakra..."
"D'you want me to help you?" he offered immediately, and she narrowed her eyes, before nodding enthusiastically.
"Sure!" she said excitedly, grabbing his wrist, "But first, let's go get Ramen! I'm starved!"
She dragged him towards Ichiraku's, not noticing the slight blush that had tinted his face.
When Kushina was fifteen, she was kidnapped.
She lived alone, being an orphan, and it hadn't been difficult.
The shinobi had broken into her little apartment, gagging her and binding her before she could react. The restraints were enforced with chakra to prevent her from using any of her special ninjutsu; they'd heard about it, and come prepared, with clamps that would absorb her chakra the moment it leaked out.
In fact, they had kidnapped her purely for her chakra.
Kushina's screams were muffled, but she punched, kicked and bit, drawing blood and causing the men to emit a string of colourful curses, rivalled only by her own mental ones.
However, they successfully kidnapped her, and dragged her out of the Leaf Village, which had become her home over the past four years.
Kushina moved along in despair, wondering if anyone would rescue her, hoping someone would notice her absence before it was too late.
She had grown fond of the Leaf Village, and particularly fond of her classmate Minato Namikaze.
He'd outgrown the 'girly' stage, and he was quite handsome now, with his chiselled features and piercing blue eyes. Kushina suspected she'd crushed on him for about a year.
She wondered if Minato would notice she was gone – they hung out a lot, so he probably would.
But would he be able to do anything? And even if he could, would he care enough to save her?
Kushina didn't know, but her mind worked furiously, devising a plan that could possibly save her. Inspiration struck her like a lightning bolt.
Slowly, carefully, hiding her actions from the shinobi around her, Kushina plucked strands of her blood red hair, dropping them on the ground below.
Her hair had always been a garish red color, and she hated it; but now the unusual shade could come in handy. The bright strands would hopefully form a trail, and that way, someone would know where she was being taken.
There was a slim chance it would actually work, but it was better than nothing, Kushina thought, as she mechanically tugged off one long strand after another, her fate now resting with the wisps of hair.
"K-kidnapped?" Minato's face went pale as his sensei recounted the news to him the next afternoon. He'd been concerned when Kushina didn't show up to Ichiraku's for their daily lunch and was headed towards her apartment to check, when Jiraiya told him what had happened. His heart had nearly stopped in his chest when he'd heart.
"Don't worry son," Jiraiya said, ruffling Minato's golden hair. "Sarutobi-sama's sent out three ANBU squads to look for her. They'll have her back in no time."
Minato however, couldn't help but worry, a chill setting in his spine as he thought of his vivacious redheaded friend with her impish smile and sparkling eyes.
After pestering Jiraiya and the Hokage every thirty minutes to see if they'd heard any report on Kushina, Minato decided to take things into his own hands.
He donned a cape, packed his supplies, and sped out of the Konoha Gate with such urgency, that when the guards were asked how and when he'd escaped, they'd replied saying that all they could see was a flash of yellow, and he was gone.
Kushina slumped against the grungy stone walls, breathing heavily.
They'd extracted quite a lot of her chakra, and it had left her exhausted.
She'd been gone for over a day.
Kushina wondered, her hope in Konoha dwindling by the minute, why no one had found her yet.
"My lord," the man with the dog mask bowed.
"What news do you have?" Sarutobi asked, hands gripping the wooden desk tightly.
"My dogs could not catch her scent," the ANBU replied. "There is no trace of her anywhere. Squad Three could not locate her with the Byakugan either, and we do not know the identity or location of the kidnappers."
Minato leapt through the tree tops, cerulean eyes scanning the ground below.
His heart was thumping wildly, the incessant mantra of KushinaKushinaKushina repeating inexorably through his mind.
'I won't lose her,' Minato promised himself, firmly pushing away the panic that threatened to inundate his senses.
A sudden flash of red, bright red, thin as a razor wire, caught his eye – Minato's stomach lurched as he thought of Kushina – his hotheaded Kushina with hair the color of volcanic lava.
'That's it!' he thought, leaping down towards the source of red color.
His heart leapt as he picked it up, the long red strand slipping through his fingers.
She was quite smart, coming up with a method that would lead him straight to her.
"I'm coming, Kushina," he affirmed lowly, before taking to the trees again, moving with inhuman speed as he flitted through the forest.
There was a clattering sound as the heavy metal bars broke from the force of the concentrated wind chakra, clamouring to the floor.
Kushina jolted awake, eyes flying open, slightly relieved to have been awoken from her troubled sleep. She'd been dreaming a rather terrible dream, about a monstrous fox, an oversized toad and Minato.
She felt warm hands on her shoulders, and then a palm pressed against her forehead, before a pair of arms wrapped around her shoulder and under her legs.
Kushina felt the cold, hard stone of the cell leave her, as the warm arms held her, cradling her, pulling her towards a muscular chest.
Kushina looked up, her heart leaping with joy as a familiar pair of blue eyes gazed down into her own.
"M-Minato?" she asked weakly, still fatigued since her chakra had been drained from her.
He nodded at her, a look of immense relief across his features.
"You're alright?" he whispered, his breath ghosting across her ear, and Kushina nodded, a funny fluttering feeling manifesting itself in her stomach.
Then without warning, he leapt up, and sped away with an alarming alacrity, holding Kushina tighter in his strong arms.
Kushina lost track of time, feeling Minato's accelerated heart beat against her cheek as he rushed towards Konoha, her figure nestled comfortably in his arms.
He could tell they'd drained up most of her chakra and it would take her time to replenish it. And they had to reach Konoha with utmost urgency, in case the kidnappers discovered her absence and sent more shinobi after them. So he continued to carry her wordlessly.
Though Kushina, the usually hyper-active kunoichi that she was, would normally abhor having to be carried by a male (this would display weakness, and Kushina Uzumaki was not weak, damnit!) for once, she found herself not minding so much.
In fact, she rather liked the feeling of Minato's muscled arms wrapped around her, as he carried her bridal style through the moonlit night, the silver rays illuminating his features, causing his blue eyes to look like pools of liquid silver in the night.
Finally, he stopped, atop a large pine tree. They were just one hundred metres away from Konoha now. Kushina could see the Hokage Monument, the features carved into the rock standing majestically over the Leaf Village.
She wondered why Minato had stopped though, and turned up to look at him. They were hundreds of feet above the ground, and a there was a slight breeze, whipping his short blond locks. He was looking down at her, his blue eyes smouldering, and Kushina's felt her heart skip a beat.
"Like... I guess I should thank you for rescuing me?" she offered, feeling uncharacteristically shy as he held her to him.
"You're welcome," Minato murmured, not breaking eye contact. "I would have searched and searched until I found you."
A few years ago Kushina would have found the comment flaky and corny, and she would probably have mocked him for it. But now, it made her stomach somersault and her heart race.
"How – did you find me?" she asked softly.
He smiled at her, his fingers finding their way into her long red hair.
"I – noticed your beautiful hair right away," he told her sincerely.
"M-my hair," Kushina was stunned, "You think it's – like, beautiful?" she whispered disbelievingly.
"I do think your hair is beautiful. I think you're beautiful as well," he said smoothly, though she could feel his breath catch in his throat, and the sudden irregularity in his heart beat.
Spurred by this, Kushina wrapped her arms around his neck, smiling to herself as she noticed his blue eyes widen. She leaned forward, boldly pressing her lips against his.
Minato's lips were soft and warm against hers, and though he didn't respond at first, after a few seconds they began to move against her own, as he kissed her beck gently, tenderly, pulling her even closer to him.
They kissed for a while, atop the tree, under the moonlit sky, until Kushina pulled away, beaming.
Minato stared at her, a bit dazed, his eyes unfocused. Kushina thought he looked absolutely adorable.
"I love you," she told him, kissing him on the nose.
His mouth fell open, and Kushina felt triumphant for a moment, before there was a sudden lurching feeling in her stomach, and she felt herself plummeting down.
Later on, she'd admit that expressing your love to someone while perched atop a very high treetop is not a very good idea.
Luckily she'd cushioned their fall with a jutsu, using the last reserves of chakra.
Still, Minato had a few broken bones, and so did she; they'd heal quickly though, and be back to normal soon.
And though Kushina hated hospitals (despite the fact that Jiraiya, Minato's sensei arrived often with Ramen for her and porn for Minato; Minato immediately disposed of this erotic literature, blushing furiously as Kushina laughed at him) this time, they really weren't that bad.
For instance, at that very moment she'd snuck into Minato's room and snuggled into his hospital bed (though the nurse had warned her against it the last two times) and fallen asleep with his hard chest as her pillow, his arm wrapped protectively around her frame, one hand resting atop her silky, tomato-red hair.
Kushina, the Tomato, the Bloody Habanero... whatever it was, she loved her hair now.
After all, it had bought Minato to her.
A/N – the storyline was shamelessly copied from the manga (other than the bit of them falling of the tree – that was my own, since with Kushina you have to have some insanity occurring)
It was, for once, soooo cuuuuuute! I loved it!
I also made up the bits about Sasuke's dad teasing her (ironic he calls her a tomato, his future son LOVES tomatos)
I so love Kushina and Minato! The awesomest canon pairing till date... the Yellow Flash and the Bloody Habanero!