In Which They Argue
"I'm going to get some lunch, should I bring anything for you?" Kushina asked just after she poked her head into Minato's office. He looked up from some paperwork and smiled.
"That would be great, thanks. Just a sandwich will do – I'll pay you back once I have visited the bank."
"No, this is my treat," Kushina objected. Minato opened his mouth to argue, but the stern look the redhead gave him made him shut up and comply. Kushina waved and closed the door behind her. With a content smile she headed for the elevator. She was really starting to get used to being Minato's girlfriend now...
...Until she stepped out of the building and a group of reporters stormed towards her, cameras flashing. She sighed and quickly pushed past them, not wanting to say or do anything that she might regret later. Why was everyone so obsessed with the prime minister? He wasn't a movie star! Though he certainly had the looks of one...
Kushina shook her head and quickly duck into a cafe she usually got hot chocolate from. They had a selection of sandwiches and pies, so they had to do for lunch. She quickly ordered a turkey sandwich for Minato and a sausage roll for herself, hoping to quickly get back to her office and away from the media's prying eyes.
A small television was mounted on the wall and Kushina's attention was drawn to it when a photograph of a familiar face popped up on the daily news. Her jaw dropped. It was Fuka – the police had officially declared her missing! She felt her blood run cold, an array of emotions playing over her. What had happened to her friend? Just where was she? Why didn't she just at least call them to let them know she was safe?
"Miss?" a voice interrupted Kushina's reverie. She quickly jumped out of her worry and smiled weakly at the teenager behind the counter. She took the food and drinks she had ordered and dashed out of the cafe. When she got back to Parliament House, she dumped the food in the kitchen before going to the bathroom. She knew that Minato was probably hungry, but her missing friend was more important right now. After locking herself in a cubicle, she whipped out her phone and dialled Fugaku's mobile number.
He answered on the third ring.
"Yes, Kushina?" he asked, his voice wary and tired.
"You declared her missing?" Kushina gasped.
"I had no choice – it's been two weeks with no contact or sightings."
"Do you think she's in danger?" Kushina asked in a small voice.
"I don't know, I wish I could just say she is throwing a tantrum as always, but she's never disappeared for two weeks before, at least not without contacting one of us."
Kushina nodded. That was true. This had never happened before. Oh, she hoped her friend was alright.
"Are you alright?" Fugaku asked.
"Yes, I'm just worried," Kushina sighed.
"We all are," Fugaku agreed.
"How's Mikoto?" Kushina changed the subject.
"She is well, we are going to the doctor today for an ultra sound."
"Give her a hug for me?"
Fugaku sighed. "I will. And Kushina?"
"We'll find her, I promise."
He hung up with a click.
Minato was exhausted. The paperwork was piling up, even more than usual, and the parliament sessions for the past several days had gone on for hours. Then, of course, there was the matter of his term – it was nearly ending, which meant campaigning in hopes of being voted in again. He hated the campaigns. But he hated the debate with the opposition leader even more. The man was difficult and an absolute pain in the behind. It was at times like these where he wished someone else was in his place.
A knock on his door was a welcomed distraction. He glanced at the clock and smiled, knowing it was probably Kushina with their lunch. He told her to enter.
But it wasn't Kushina. It was a elderly woman with chestnut hair instead, and although Minato barely knew her, he did recognise her immediately.
"Mrs Uehara," he greeted with a forced smile. He stood up and ushered her inside. He shook her hand and gestured for her to sit down.
"I apologise for showing up out of the blue," Chie apologised, "but I hoped to talk with you alone and I knew Kushina would probably be on her lunch break now."
Minato just continued smiling and sat back down again. He wasn't sure what to make of the situation – he did not want to appear rude to the woman who could possibly be his mother-in-law in the future.
Minato blinked at the stray thought. Mother-in-law? Did he really care so much for Kushina that he would consider marrying her? Yes, yes he did. But not right now. They were still young, plenty of time to get to know each other and marriage.
"What can I do for you?" Minato asked as folded his hands together in front of him. Chie nodded slowly, her expression grim.
"Kushina will be very angry when she finds out I was here," Chie said, "but I must do this."
Minato just motioned for her to continue.
Chie inhaled deeply as she gripped her handbag tightly. Minato waited patiently for her to speak, noticing how nervous the woman was. It must haven taken her great courage to come and see him.
Finally she sighed. "I have a favour to ask."
"If it is in my power, I'm sure something can be arranged," Minato replied. Chie nodded slowly, her eyes unfocused.
"I know I have no right to barge in here and ask this, but..." Chie trailed off, suddenly emotional. Minato handed her a box of tissues and she quickly took one to wipe away her tears. She sniffed and placed her hands back on her lap. "Kushina was seven when she came to us. She was a beautiful girl, radiant and full of life, despite her parents' early demise. My husband and I, we were meant to give her a home, a place filled with love and warmth after she had left a place torn apart by war."
She trailed off again a dabbed her cheeks with a tissue. Chie sighed and looked straight into Minato eyes. "We failed. Instead of giving her the home she deserved, my husband's dark past came back to haunt us...and she paid for it. I know what he did is inexcusable, but Toshi is a good man, Minato. A very good man, which is why I stayed."
"Kushina doesn't quite see him the same way," Minato pointed out.
"I know," Chie smiled weakly. "I know she doesn't. She's never seen him carefree before everything went downhill. He used to be so happy, so wonderfully brilliant. But he got involved with the Yakuza at a young age and no one ever really escapes them, not even when you think you've broken free of their hold."
"It was the Yakuza that he owes a debt to?" Minato asked, surprised. Chie nodded.
"His father had also been involved with them, as a teenager, Toshi had thought it was a good idea to follow his father's footsteps, but he was soon proven wrong. He regrets his decision every day."
Minato nodded, but he doubted Chie had come all the way just to tell him about her husband's involvement with the Yakuza. She had wanted to ask him a favour, so he decided to get straight to the point.
"I'm sorry, Chie, but you said you had wanted a favour?"
"Oh, yes," Chie muttered. "I can see that you care about Kushina deeply. She might not be my daughter by blood, but she is still my little girl, and I her future husband to be a good man. I can see that you are indeed a good man and not likely to make a silly mistake like my husband did, but I would still like to get to know you."
Minato frowned. Where was she going with this?
Chie noticed his frown and sighed. "Like I said, I have no right to ask this, but do you think you could persuade Kushina to come over for dinner with you sometime?"
Minato blinked, his frown melting into a stern gaze. He did want to accept, for he also wanted to get to know the people that raised Kushina better, but he knew she would oppose the idea. Because dinner meant sitting at a table with Toshi and there was no way she would be comfortable with it.
"It would mean so much to us," Chie continued. "Toshi misses her, he doesn't admit it out loud, but I can see it in his eyes."
Minato felt his jaw tense. Toshi missed her? In what capacity? As a daughter? Or as a living sack he could abuse? Minato shook his head. No, he couldn't think like that. He could not lower himself to those thoughts, judging someone without having met them was unfair.
Minato sighed. Oh, what was he going to do?
Kushina didn't bother to knock when she returned to Minato's office with lunch. He smiled when he saw her, but the smile did not reach his eyes. She frowned, but shook it off. Perhaps someone said something to upset him?
"Is turkey okay?" Kushina asked as she handed him his sandwich. He nodded. She sat down opposite him, lifting the lid of the box that held her sausage roll. "How was your morning?"
"Hectic," Minato replied just before took a sip of his coffee. He pulled a face, which made Kushina laughed. He had taken quite a liking to her coffee, and now anything that she didn't make tasted terrible to him. It was flattering.
"What about yours?" Minato asked.
"Eh, alright," Kushina responded. "You have some calls I had to take messages for, but none of them are urgent."
"You can send those through after lunch."
Kushina nodded and took a bite out of her roll.
"Any news of Fuka?" Minato asked.
Kushina sighed. "She's been declared missing."
"Don't be. It's not something you would have been able to prevent."
Silence followed. As the two ate, Minato's thoughts returned to Chie's visit. How on earth was he going to approach this? Kushina would react badly to the suggestion, but he promised Chie that he would try.
"What is it?" Kushina broke the silence.
"What?" Minato asked, pretending as if nothing was wrong.
"You look worried, what is it?"
Minato bit his lip. Should he lie? Should he tell the truth?
Finally he gave in. "Your mother was here earlier."
Kushina had just been about to take a bite of her roll, but she paused midway, her eyes wide. She looked up into Minato's eyes, a small hint of fear and anger in them.
"What did she want?"
"She invited us over for dinner," Minato whispered, hoping Kushina might no hear him. She did, of course. She always heard him.
"She did what!? The nerve!" Kushina exclaimed angrily. She dropped her sausage roll and stood up, the anger now very visible on her face and in her posture. "What was your response?"
"I told her I would have to discuss it with you first," Minato replied.
Kushina snarled. "You should have told her to leave. You should have said no."
"Kushina," Minato sighed. He knew she would react this way, why didn't he just keep his mouth shut? "I couldn't do that. She's your mother, I must be polite."
"No, you don't," Kushina hissed. "You don't owe that woman anything! How dare she think I will be okay sitting at the same table as...as..."
Kushina trailed off, her facial expression suddenly dark and her eyes glassy. Minato stood up, ready to pull her into his arms and allow her to cry on his shoulder, but she stepped away from, as if his touch burned her. He flinched, hurt that she would reject his comfort.
"I need to be alone," Kushina muttered, then she grabbed her roll and hot chocolate and stormed out of the room, slamming the door violently behind her. Minato just stared ahead. He knew that the argument was inevitable, but that wasn't what bothered him. It was the look on her face, the one that appeared when she stepped away from him. It tore his heart apart. Because no woman deserved to look that broken. Kushina had told him what Toshi had done to her as a child...but had she really told him everything? Because he had a feeling she hadn't...and that scared him.
Just what had she truly gone through?