Title: Symbol of Her Burden

Author: Shawny Wong

Characters: Minato x Kushina

Warning: Spoilers up to manga chapter 499!

All jinchuuriki carried a physical manifestation of the bijuu sealed within them somewhere on their body. Whether it was the dark rings around the eyes of Ichibi's host, the razor sharp, claw-like fingernails of Nibi's host, or the "tattoo" on the face of Hachibi's host, the demons always left their mark. Always. No seal – not even the strongest seal in the world – could ever completely conceal one of the tailed beasts.

Kushina supposed she should consider herself lucky. At least, her mark wasn't immediately obvious. She didn't have whiskers on her face, or "tattoos" on her body, or claws instead of fingernails. Though if she had to choose, she would've picked a tattoo because tattoos were cool and she could've made up a badass story about them. Unfortunately for her, she didn't get anything as cool as a tattoo.

What she got was red hair – and she hated it.

It was such an vivid color that it made her stand out like a red beacon in a sea of green. It was long, which constantly made her a victim of hair pulling by bullies and cowards who liked to fight dirty. And it always got in her way, getting tangled in branches and leaves whenever their class trained in the forest.

She'd tried cutting it short – to a more manageable length – but it never lasted.

The moment she got upset... it grew.

The moment she got spitting mad, it grew from shoulder length all the way down to the back of her knees and it took on a life of it's own – waving wildly behind her... exactly like the bushy red tails of the nine-tailed demon fox.

After the fifth or sixth time it "miraculously" grew back, she stopped trying.

Red hair was the symbol of her burden.

So she hated it, until the worst day of her life... Her kidnappers had almost taken her across the border of Fire. If they had succeeded, she would've been dead within days – if not hours. As it was, they were less than 10 miles from the border and she had almost given up hope.

Her savior was the last person she expected. (She recalled with a bit of shame how rude she'd been to him during their academy days – and calling him a "girly boy" to his face – when all he'd done was try to befriend her.)

"How did you find me?" she asked, genuinely curious.

"How?" Minato smiled down at the girl in his arms. "I noticed your beautiful red hair right away."

Kushina blushed until her face was as red as her hair.

… if Minato liked it, then maybe she could learn to like it, too... maybe.


Author's Notes:

After the surprise revelation in manga chapter 499... (I did not see that coming!)... I wondered. If Kushina was the previous jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, then why doesn't she have whiskers like Naruto?

FYI, I'm currently working on a handful of Naruto drabbles. So I thought I'd start a drabble collection for them. Future Naruto drabbles and ficlets will be added as chapters to this fic.