The small hoop rounded the neck of the red bottle rapidly, driven the force of the last shot. It was the third time it had landed in that same place and by the teasing loops it was making, it almost seemed like it was fighting with the gravity that was driving it into the center of red bottle neck. Slowly coming to a stop, the hook made a teasing slide to the left, making everyone around the small festival stand gasp, expecting for this shot to miss, but like the last ones, the hoop finally gave into gravity, sinking perfectly in the bottles neck making everyone who had been standing around to cheer like last time. The girl with the red hoops in her hand smiled once again, looking at the stand owner with a triumphant look. It was the third time tonight.
"If everyone was as good as you," the old guy said, handling a big stuffed dragon. "I would be out of business."
"You live on the fees people pay to pal?" a red haired girl about seventeen asked, gripping the stuffed dragon in her hands, looking over at the man with a questioning look.
"No," the old man grinned at her. "On the bribery from the customers who want to get a prize."
That made the girl laugh. "I better be going then. No good on letting people know that this game is rather easy."
The man grinned at her. "Come by next year. I'll have new challenges for you to try."
"And win all your prizes?" that made the old man laugh. "Thank you, old man. I'll see you around."
"Bye." And with that, the people who'd been gathered around the small stand scattered, some lining up to try on the seemingly easy game and others stepping out of the way to enjoy and explore the rest of the festival. The girl in question looked over her shoulder to make sure that her companion was following her.
"Here," she said, handling the stuffed over. "For you."
"Another one?" a deep male voice asked, trying to look over a stuffed frog and a tiger. "I won't be able to walk properly if you keep getting me giant stuffed animals."
"You should be glad that I am actually winning something for you."
"Kushina…" he groaned.
"Besides if you are the guy, you are supposed to be in charge of carrying the stuff for the girl."
"I thought this was supposed to be a date."
"Actually it's not much of a date if I don't get to see you. The whole purpose of this was to get to spend time along together."
Kushina smiled at this, her cheeks turning a faint shade of pink. "Are you saying you don't like my gifts?"
"No, I'm saying that it'll be better if I didn't have to carry these things."
Kushina rolled her eyes. "You can flash them to your–" But before she could finish her question, a yellow flash replaced the figure next to her, making her blink in astonishment. Leave it to Minato to choose this moment to use his Hiraishin No Jutsu. "–apartment."
"Hey," Minato whispered into Kushina's ear, making her yelp and jump away from him. No matter how many times Minato used his Flying Thunder God Technique, she would never get used to it. Especially when he chose to appear behind her, scaring her brains out.
"Don't do that." Kushina muttered, placing a hand on her heart to make it beat slower. "I hate it when you do that."
Minato just grinned. "Where to now?" he asked, taking her free hand in his, forcing Kushina to keep herself from pulling away, since she was still not quite used to the idea of public sings of affection.
"We could always try the haunted house." Kushina offered, walking besides Minato in a semi-comfortable pace.
It had been about a week or so since Minato had pushed her against the tree and kissed her soundlessly, forcing both of them to finally admit that they've been in denial all along, that they did have more than friendship feelings for each other and that they were both interested on trying a romantic relationship. It had taken a lot of nagging from their friends, Minato's sensei and Kushina's brothers to get them to finally admit their feelings for each other, since they were both more than chickened out scared on trying something new that could possibly ruin their lifelong friendship. Or more like Kushina was, still too damn stubborn to admit that that nagging butterflies in her stomach whenever Minato smiled at her were more than just happiness for seeing him happy, that the angry lighting she felt whenever Minato was smiling at other girl was jealousy, and that those stumble words she would say whenever he was near was because she was nervous of saying something stupid. Minato, on the other hand, had everything figure out, his jealousy feelings whenever she was with someone else who wasn't him, the hot blush that would appear on his face whenever that smile of hers would light up her face, the crazy day dreams he had about kissing her. He knew that those feelings went beyond friendship, but it had taken almost as long for him to admit them because he was used to analyzing the situation first, instead of acting on his feelings. Jiraiya had confronted him about this a few months ago, back when they've been in Kirigakure on a very secret mission.
"So, have you kissed her yet?"
Minato sighed, this topic again? "Who?"
Jiraiya gave him a sidelong glance. "Don't tell me you are scared."
The table jerked suddenly, knocking down the almost empty bottle of sake (1). "I'm not afraid of anything." Minato muttered, gripping Jiraiya's collar with death grip. His eyes turned a deep ice blue, heavy contrast from the usual sky blue. "And would you keep your voice down? We aren't even supposed to be here. The last thing I want is to cause a commotion that would bring Kiri's complete army down on us."
"My mistake." Jiraiya said, leaning back against his seat. "You really live up to your reputation when you look like you are about to kill your teacher."
Minato just shrugged, looking down at his empty glass which he hadn't even drunk from once.
"You should hurry up you know." Jiraiya continue, gesturing for a waiter to bring another bottle. "Kushina is an attractive girl and most people realize that."
"What do you mean?" Minato asked, looking up from the table to his semi-drunk teacher.
"Don't play dumb with me Minato. You are too smart for that." Minato narrowed his eyes in annoyance. "The only reason other guys are too scared on approaching her is because she's good friends with you, but if they notice that she's nothing more than just your friend, some guy might gather the courage of actually approaching her and asking her out."
Minato rolled his eyes at that. "Well she has a right to date other people."
"But you don't want her to." Jiraiya noted.
This made Minato give a mirthless laugh. "Is that obvious huh?" he asked, looking out the window. "Maybe…maybe is good that she's leaving soon."
"What do you mean?"
Minato looked back at Jiraiya with a grim smile on his lips. "It's just that I can't help but think about her whenever I'm not around her, and when I am around her I can't help but–" he eyed his teacher, wondering how he could phrase it without triggering one of his sensei's comments.
"I know how you feel." Jiraiya assured him, pouring himself another round of sake. "But it's better to say things and accept regret that spent the rest of your life wondering what could've happen if you've gathered the courage to say it."
"I guess." Minato sighed, looking down at his hands. He wasn't in the mood to discuss his love life.
Jiraiya eyed him. "Oh, you annoy me sometimes." This made Minato look up. "Could you, for once in your life, do something without thinking too much about it? Even though you think five faster than a normal person it wouldn't kill you to be spontaneous sometimes."
"How rude, there are times when I'm spontaneous." Minato pouted.
"Yeah, and I could probably count them on one hand." Sighing Jiraiya set his empty glass on the table once more. "You better act now before someone else beats you to it. Kushina draws a lot of attention and she might get snag up before you analyze the situation from every possible angle and come to a decision in a couple of years."
Now looking at his red haired companion that was trying very hard to keep the blush from her face and her eyes straight ahead instead of on the ground below, Minato couldn't help the grin that spread across his face. Granted, it had taken him quite a few years to come across his feelings for Kushina, a little nagging and teasing from his sensei and a very annoying guy who had dared take Kushina out on a date a few days weeks back, to make him realize what an idiot he had been all this years. He had one of the most amazing girls in front of him and he was just too damn scared to admit that those nagging waves of anger whenever she was enjoying herself with someone else (preferably a guy) were because he was jealous, wanting to snag her away so she would only pay him attention. It was always irritating whenever he had to split her between her friends, her team and her sensei. Sometimes he just wanted to flash her back to his apartment and lock her away, so she'd be there from him and only him.
"What?" Kushina asked, stopping abruptly.
"What?" Minato blinked confused, being shaken out of his thoughts.
Kushina frowned at this. "Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked, her tone annoyed. "Do I…have something on my face? Oh my god that's it. That's why you have such a weird look."
Minato couldn't help but laugh as Kushina let of his hand and went to check herself into one of the many mirrors a mirror stand was selling. Since she'd never been one to really care about her appearance, watching her fumble with her face, trying to see if there was indeed something there. It was adorable to say the least.
Walking over to her, Minato grasped her hand once again, steering her away toward the cotton candy stand. "There's nothing wrong with you," he smiled over his shoulder at the blushing Kushina. "You look beautiful."
And she did. It was amazing that someone who didn't care much about her appearance had taken so much time into dressing up tonight. It made him feel special, that she had taken the time to actually dress up for him. Her usual Kunoichi outfit was replaced by black Kimono with green, blue, red and white flowered imprints. The thick red and white belt hugged her figure perfectly, showing all the right curves enough to make him drool but not flashy enough to draw attention. Much. Her hair was pulled up neatly in messy bun supported with black chopsticks. She had light eyeliner, a little bit of blush on her cheeks which were turning rosier with the faint blush and he could detect the tiniest hint of lip gloss on her lips. She looked perfect. And upon saying this out loud Minato received a playful punch on the arm.
"You idiot, don't get cheesy." Kushina glared, which wasn't as effective considering the dark blush on her cheeks.
"It's only normal for guys to compliment their girlfriends when they look good." Minato smiled, rubbing his arms. Kushina could look like a girl all she wanted, but weak, she was not. He was sure that she could hit harder than he did.
"Well don't do it!"
Minato raised an eyebrow at this. Although he knew that Kushina wasn't someone who was comfortable with compliments, he didn't know that she would get this standoffish with him about it. "Why?" he repeated, not convinced by her previous answers.
She glared at him, but Minato stood his ground, pulling on her hand so that she would turn around and face him. Staring into each other's eyes, Minato could tell that there was something about his comment that was bothering her, something that she didn't want to let him know about. It wasn't in his nature to pry, but when it came to Kushina, he did a lot of things that weren't considered normal for him.
"Just leave it, ok?" Kushina finally said, turning her eyes away from his. She was hiding something and they both knew it.
"Fine." Kissing her forehead, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Where do you want to go next?"
Looking around Kushina asked. "How about the Haunted House?" Minato just made a face. "What?"
"The Haunted House? Really?"
"What?" Kushina echoed, still confused. "Oh come on don't tell me you are scared." When Minato said nothing, Kushina rolled her eyes. "It's incredible that Konoha's Yellow Flash, feared among all five nations, who can kill two hundred men without breaking a sweat, faster than one would blink, is scared of going to a fake haunted house."
Minato just pulled her closer, hiding his face in her hair so she wouldn't see the trouble look in his face. Since he was little Minato had always had trouble facing the supernatural, be it a ghost or witches or anything that had to do with something he couldn't explain or see or kick. His opponents needed to have physical bodies or else his cool would jump out the window. And even thought he knew that the haunted houses in these festivals were just people with make up on and costumes, he couldn't really seem to be able to get past the first few steps without running out screaming like a girl.
Kushina on the other hand, loved scary stuff, especially things that had to do with the supernatural. Unfortunately, she had never seen or come across anything to be considered supernatural. Sure she knew talking frogs, people with the ability to fly and body switching techniques, but that was normal in their world. What she'd always wanted to see was a ghost. A real one at that. Not the ones where people pulled a sheet over their heads and made wholes for eyes. Those had to be an insult to however ghost really looked like.
Sighing, Kushina looked back at Minato. "Fine," she agreed pouting. "Where do you want to go?"
Minato thought for a moment, looking up at the full moon. "We still have a little while till the fireworks, how about we try–"
"Look its Ichiraku's post!" Kushina cried in happiness, interrupting Minato by taking his hand and leading him toward the stand.
Minato couldn't help but smile as Kushina dragged him to the small stand, where a few people were already sitting taking their orders. It was a well known fact among Konoha that Kushina was one regular at the ramen restaurant, having nothing else whenever she ate out (which was always) than ramen. It was wonder how she hadn't fattened or died by now.
"Hey old man!" Kushina smiled brightly, taking a seat in one of the free seats.
"Good evening, Teuchi-san." Minato said more politely, taking a seat besides Kushina.
"Ah Kushina, Minato-kun, good evening." Teuchi smiled back at them, watching very closely. "Say, are you…here…together?"
Kushina blush a little, but smiled none the less. "Yup. Our very first date."
"Is that right?" Teuchi gave Minato a skeptical look. "Well congratulations you two."
"Thank you." Kushina smiled, leaning over to sniff the aroma of the boiling noodles. "I'll have a large miso ramen please.
Teuchi looked at Minato. "Um, salt ramen for me."
"Coming right up." Teuchi turned his back to them to get the soup and noodles prepared.
"Where are all the chopsticks?" Kushina asked, looking around the table for them.
"Oh, I think we are all out." Teuchi looked over his shoulder. "I'll go get more–"
Kushina raised her hand. "No need, old man. I'll get them. Just tell me where they are."
"But are my costumer–"
"Pff. Please, is no big deal." Kushina waved her hand unconcerned. "Besides if you leave, who is going to prepare the ramen? Where are they? In the back?"
"Over the bags of flour, top drawer."
With that Kushina got up from her seat and disappeared behind the counter, eager to get the chopsticks. Once she was out of earshot, Teuchi turned back to Minato.
"So this is your first date, huh?" he asked, leaning over the blonde.
Minato sweat dropped. "Yeah."
"You better not hurt her. She's been through a lot. It wouldn't be–"
"Don't worry about it," Minato smiled reassuringly at the old man. "I don't plan on hurting her. She's…she's someone very special to me. The last thing I'd want is to make that smile disappear from her face."
"Yeah," Teuchi agreed, turning back to cook the noodles. "Kushina seems like the kind of person who always seems better off smiling. A frown wouldn't really seem like her thing."
"Yeah," Minato agreed, watching the old man's back. "I just hope that–"
"Found them." Kushina sat back down, laying the chopsticks on the table. "How is the ramen coming along?"
"Just a few more minutes!"
"Urgh! Why does it have to take this long?"
"It's only been two minutes, Kushina." Minato reminded her.
"What are you? Father time now?"
Minato just stuck his tongue at her, tuning back to the old man when he placed a steamy bowl of hot ramen in front of him.
"Enjoy your meal."
"You too, Kushina."
"Thanks old man!" Kushina grabbed her chopsticks. "Man I'm starving."
After eating and making small talk with Teuchi, Kushina paid the bill, to which Minato complained that it was his job to pay for things, especially on a date, gaining a sore arm from Kushina, stating that she was not follow that old fashioned crap.
"But it's customary for the guy to pay." Minato said, massaging his sore arm gently.
"Well you'll have to get used to the not so customary way with me. I'm not the kind of girl to follow stupid rules."
Minato opened his mouth to say something else, but Kushina interrupted him once again. "Oh look, they are about to start the fireworks!"
Taking his hand, Kushina lead them toward the gathering crowd. "Wait," Minato tugged her arm. "I know a better place to watch the fireworks."
"Better than here?" Kushina raised an eyebrow, letting herself be lead away.
Minato just smiled secretly, taking her through the woods, away from the noise and light of the festival. It was dark. Darker than she had actually expected from the full moon, making it hard to see where she was going.
"Can you see where we are going?"
"Then how are–?"
"I know this path well enough." Minato explained, gripping her hand tighter, but not tight enough to cause damage. "I know where we are, just trust me."
Kushina forced herself to relax, knowing that with Minato she would be safe. Granted, she was a fine Kunoichi who could take care of herself just fine, but whenever she was around Minato…she got this feeling of security in her stomach, as if nothing could harm her. It was disgusting in a way, but amazing in others.
"We are here." Minato said, stopping abruptly.
Kushina stepped around Minato, trying to make out in the dim light where they were exactly. "Where–?" She stopped herself short when the light of the moon finally illuminated the place enough to let her see where they were.
There was a waterfall a few feet away, dripping loudly into the river that divided the ground. There were a few trees surrounding them, but for the most part it was clear. She could also make out a few flower beds here and there, making the air around them smell very strongly of pollen and perfume. With the steam the waterfall was making, it seemed more mythical than anything.
"This is–" she didn't even know how to describe it. Beautiful was short for this.
"Yeah." Minato smiled, watching the red head. "I stumble across it a few weeks back. I come here whenever I need to think."
"Then, is this your second time here?" Kushina teased, looking over her shoulder.
"More or less." Minato played along, walking over to her wrap his arms around her waist from behind.
Kushina leaned against him, opening her mouth to comment back but stopped when a shiny light caught her attention. "The fireworks."
"They finally started." Minato looked up toward the color painted sky.
"About time." Kushina sighed, leaning her head against Minato's shoulder.
"You are very impatient."
Kushina turned in his arms. "Right." She stuck her tongue at him, wrapping her arms around his waist.
"I'm glad you agreed to come." Minato whispered, cupping her face with his hands.
"I'm glad you finally had the courage to kiss me." Kushina teased.
Minato groaned, burying his face in her neck. "Why does everyone keep saying that? I don't over analyze things."
"Of course you do," Kushina laughed, leaning away slightly to look at him in the eye.
"Well at least I don't charge in without a backup plan."
"Hey I don't–"
But she didn't get the chance to finish that sentence, because Minato leaned over and kissed her, melting away whatever response she had for him.
Peruzka: I thought it would be kind of cute if Naruto had inherited his fear of ghost from Minato rather than Kushina. It would be cute to see Minato actually scared of something. :]
Also for those who don't know what the Tanabata Festival is, in short (if you are too lazy to Google it) is a festival held in Japan in the middle of summer where they celebrate the reunion of two lovers who have to cross a river to meet. So whenever the full moon is out they sort of cross the river and reunite, once every year (except when it's raining they have to wait yet another year). Seriously people Google it, I suck at explaining this.
(1) Sake: is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice.