A/N: I want to thank all of you who either favorited, alerted and/or reviewed the first chapter of this story! Originally I wasn't sure if I was going to write more... but I felt inspired to do so. Expect two more chapters at the most from this story, one will be set in the summer, the other set in the fall. I hope this new update does not disappoint!
Warning: Cursing and very mild violence
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Story Related: Three-four months later…
An Angel Amongst Shadows: Spring
A sweet aroma of flowers slowly graced the village of Konoha. Brilliant shades of pastel yellow, vibrant purple and light pink dotted the gardens of many citizens and the fields surrounding the village. Trees were budding with life, as the harsh and cold winter months reached their end. The cycle of life was once again revived in the sunny afterglow of the previous evenings rain.
It was a busy day in Konoha, as many citizens glided across the town in search of their favorite seasonal foods, especially the fruits that they were unable to have in the deep winter months. Booths with fresh produce lined the streets, and the village was more animated than ever. The fresh smell of cooked bread encompassed the newer district of the village, and many were gathered around in anticipation to see if the new store was as good as it's bread smelled.
Two pregnant women could be seen animatedly speaking to one another, both awaiting the arrival of their soon to be spring babies. Happiness radiated off of each woman. Their heartfelt laughter easily lit up the marketplace.
Outside of the village, in a tree not too far from the Hokage monument itself was a young boy, dressed in dirty orange pants and a black shirt adorned with a red swirl. He watched the village with a hungry desire, taking in the sights beneath him. He wondered if he would ever be able to walk through the village without one person glaring at him. He sighed. He knew it was an impossible dream.
A few months ago, Naruto had gained his complete zest and confidence back. He had walked through the streets without so much as a single glance at those who had looked at him with revulsion and disgust…
Minato had changed that.
But now, Naruto's resolve was crumbling once again. The more he thought about his chance of breaking out of his undeserved hatred, the more he felt his determination falter. He was beginning to question whether or not that whole scene with Minato…or the Yondaime had ever even occurred. Naruto had begun to think that it was simply a nice dream, a wonderful dream really.
Minato had been the kindest person that Naruto had ever met. Sure, he had acted sort of odd, but no one had ever treated Naruto so gently. Naruto craved that same attention once again, but he knew it was futile to think that Minato would come back… The Yondaime was dead…He had been dead since Naruto was born. It was not possible for him to be here.
Yet Naruto knew in his heart that he had been. He had felt Minato's hand on his head, and he had felt him ruffle his hair. He had heard his voice. He saw Minato break that horrible villagers hand! It just…it could not have been a dream.
However, anything else did not make sense to Naruto. How could a dead person, suddenly appear before him? It was illogical, but then again, Naruto was never one for logic.
Naruto sighed and jumped down from the tree. This tree had become his hiding spot and his sanctuary over the past month. He loved it because he could watch the village during the day, without fear. Naruto also loved that he could see the Yondaime clearly from his post. Minato's face was strong and formidable upon the Hokage Monument, nothing like the warm smiling face that had looked down at Naruto.
Minato had become somewhat of an idle for Naruto over the past few months. His new goal was to become a better Hokage than Minato himself, who was often revered as the best of the Kage. Naruto wanted to be kind like Minato, and he wanted to have the same faith in himself that Minato had so unconditionally shown.
Naruto slowly walked down the path toward the village. He was not usually the type to think so much. He had become a take action first type of individual, but he figured that came from years of running and moving his body without thinking. It was the only way he knew how to survive. He had learned to follow his first instinct without a second thought. When he was running he did not have time to have second thoughts, he only had time for rash decisions.
If Naruto spent a lot of time thinking when walking through the village, he was more likely to be attacked because he would not be aware of his surroundings. Whenever Naruto made his way back into the village, he never sunk to deep into his thoughts because he had to be on alert. If he was not on alert, he would end up bruised and bloody, both of which he had managed to avoid for nearly two weeks now.
A rustle in the nearby bushes, sent Naruto completely on edge. He turned quickly and brought up his arms in defense, waiting for someone to strike. When nothing happened, he released some of the tension in his back and slowly straightened his stance. He looked at the bush for another moment before sighing. It must have been an animal of some sort. He walked toward the bush, only to be pushed from behind.
"Ah!" He yelped in surprise as his whiskered face smashed into the ground. He felt rocks digging into his skin and the smell of warm blood flooded his senses.
"Hah! You fell for it monster boy!"
"What a stupid fuck!"
Naruto looked up to what appeared to be two genin boys, both of which he had never seen before. One had dark black hair with an odd blue streak running through it, while the other had light brown hair. Naruto was sure he had never seen either.
The boy with the blue streak, and the bigger of the two, placed his foot on the small of Naruto's back crushing Naruto's body into the ground. Naruto bit his lip incredibly hard, trying to prevent himself from crying out in pain. He knew that if he made a sound it would only cause the boys to further their endeavors.
"Why are you doing this?" Naruto hated how weak his voice sounded. He hated how he had fallen into the victim role once again.
"Because nasty freaks like you should burn in hell." The blue streak boy said venomously. Naruto bucked his body after this comment and tried to escape the grip of the obviously stronger and older boy.
"Let. Me. Go." Naruto said angrily. He was not some creature, damn it! He was a living breathing human being. He was no different than either of these two genin boys. What did they have that he didn't?
"Make me." The boy with the blue streak in his hair quickly aimed a punch at Naruto's face, but Naruto rolled out of the way. The blue streaked boy cursed violently as his hand smashed into the ground, a pained cry echoed through the forest floor.
The brown haired boy ran over and pushed Naruto aside, as he tried to help his friend.
"Don't be a dumbass Kano! Don't help me, get over there and beat that filthy creature." Kano stared at the other boy for a moment before he nodded reluctantly. Naruto took this instance to stand up and he started to make a run for it, deep into the forest. He knew this forest like the back of his hand, he had spent so much time hiding away in there that it was almost like a second home.
He heard the one streaked hair boy bellowing angrily.
"You dumb fuck Kano! Don't just stand there! Chase him!"
However by the time Kano had begun pursuing Naruto, it was futile.
Naruto ran as fast as he could to the only place he knew he would be safe. His short legs pumped quickly and he briefly turned around to reassure himself that he was not being followed.
Naruto arrived at his destination and slowly sunk to the ground. His heart was beating erratically from the long and fast paced run. He sighed in relief as he lay in complete silence. Sweat slowly slid down his face and mixed with the blood slowly drying on his lip. Naruto's back was throbbing in the spot where the kid had stepped but Naruto had felt worse before…he had had worse done to him before. He was thankful that the boys had only managed to bruise his skin.
The sound of the small body of water beside him calmed his sense and cooled his nerves. He could feel the slight waves of cool air radiating from the small pool of fresh water beside him. A slight stream of water flowed into it from the surrounding mountains. This was the only true place that Naruto felt complete and utter peace.
No one else ever ventured up here. Whether it was because the ninja were simply to tired or the villagers to scared, neither of the aforementioned groups ever made the long trek up to this hidden paradise. Maybe they did not know about it, Naruto hoped so. He loved this place and anyone else having knowledge of it would only ruin it entirely for him.
Once Naruto caught his breath, he slowly sat up and inched toward the edge of the water. He dipped his hands in and brought the cool water to his face, relishing in the soothing affect it had on his wounded lip. He smiled at the relief he felt consuming his body.
Naruto heard the all to familiar plopping noise of an animal of some sort jumping from the pool of water. He smiled as he saw a small frog inhabiting a rock inches from the waters edge. He made his way toward it and smiled happily at the fragile creature.
Naruto slowly scooped the little creature into his hands. It reminded him of gama-chan, which only increased the breadth of his smile.
"Hello." He said quietly. The frog started into his eyes. No fear was present in its face, though Naruto was not sure if a frog could even show fear. The frog remained in his hands for less than a minute before quickly jumping away. Naruto felt his smile falter, and small tears threatened to pool from his face.
"Why..." He whispered, " Why does everything I touch or go near, run away from me?"
"Who…no what am I?" The words escaped his mouth brokenly. He felt himself heave slightly. His shoulders hunching, trying to prevent the sobs from breaking free. He promised himself he would not cry again.
"You're Uzumaki Naruto, the future Hokage of Konoha." A warm and familiar voice sounded from behind him, and Naruto's head immediately snapped up and turned around. His heart pumped in elation.
"Minato!" Naruto jumped up in glee. Less than two feet away, beneath the shadow of a blooming sakura tree, was Minato. He was smiling sadly at Naruto, and he outreached his arm, beckoning for the child to come forward.
Naruto's face lit up and his eyes danced with renewed color. The Yondaime was not just a figment of his imagination! He was alive and here before Naruto once again. Naruto ran forward and nearly hugged Minato before he shyly stopped himself.
Although Minato had been friendly toward him before, he did not know how much was too much. Minato may have been kind, but maybe the thought of Naruto's touch would repulse him too. Therefore, Naruto stopped and immediately placed his arms at his side.
Minato bent down and smiled at the boy.
"Naruto, come here."
Naruto's eyes widened as he watched the older man hold out his arms. A warm smiled graced the Yondaime's face as he looked at the young boy.
Naruto moved into the embrace. He had never been hugged by anyone before. Not even as a child. The feeling was incredibly odd to him. He had never been in such a close proximity to another person, aside from the fights he had been in. But he had never been the object of another person's affection.
Naruto had never felt so warm, so comforted…so safe before. Something about this hug felt right. He felt like he could trust the strong arms holding on to him.
When Minato pulled away, he frowned when he saw the crusted blood on Naruto's lip.
"Naruto, what happened?" Minato reached into his holster and pulled out a handkerchief of some sort, he slowly dipped it into the stream before coming back and wiping Naruto's face.
"Well, I was on my way back to the village when two genin boys attacked me! But guess what Minato I got away!" Naruto beamed happily. He missed the look sadness combined with pure anger that crossed over the older man's brow.
"Minato, where did you go?" Naruto looked up at the older man curiously.
"I had somewhere that I had to be Naruto, but the important thing is that I am here with you now." Minato smiled softly, the sadness never truly leaving his eyes.
"Naruto promise me that you will not doubt your self-worth again…" Minato's voice held a certain air of authority that Naruto could not help but immediately respect. He nodded vehemently. He wanted Minato's approval more than anyone's. If he could have that ounce of approval from his idol, he knew he would be able to deal with his attackers.
"I promise, dattebayo!" Naruto smiled eagerly at Minato. A deep chuckled erupted from Minato at Naruto's enthusiasm. He smiled at the verbal tick that Naruto had inherited from a certain beautiful redhead that he had once had the pleasure of knowing. Minato frowned slightly but smiled once again when he saw her reflected in Naruto beside him.
Naruto and Minato sat in quiet silence for a moment. Both enjoying the others company among the chirping birds and bubbling stream. The smell of fresh earth and air permeated around them, and Minato found himself at ease. He glanced over at Naruto from the corner of his eye and sighed. How he wished he could stay here forever with his son…
"Naruto, I'm sorry I wasn't there this time."
Naruto looked up at Minato in confusion. "Huh?"
"I wasn't able to stop those boys from harming you." Minato said slowly, pain was evident in his voice but Naruto did not notice the grieving behind the man's voice.
"Oh! It's okay! I handled them on my own! What kind of future Hokage would I be if I couldn't take on a couple of lousy genin?" Naruto said enthusiastically. Minato chuckled slightly.
"You know Naruto, there is a lot more to being Hokage than the physical strength to beat another shinobi in battle." Minato smiled knowingly as Naruto's eyes widened in wonder.
"What else is there Minato!" Naruto jumped up and down eagerly. If he got tips from the Yondaime Hokage, he would be one step closer to his goal! Not to mention an advantage over other contestants! No one else would be able to say that they had received advice from the Yondaime himself.
"You must care about your comrades and the village. Their safety is of the utmost importance Naruto. When you're Hokage, you have to be willing to make sacrifices a normal person wouldn't have to make… You have the lives of everyone else as your responsibility…" Minato peered down at Naruto who was listening eagerly.
"So…I basically have to be powerful enough to protect all those people?"
"It's not only about the physical power to do so but the mental power as well. It's a very straining job-" Minato laughed as Naruto pouted at the mention of mental power. He ruffled the boy's hair. "Not too much mental power."
Naruto stuck out his tongue and pushed Minato's arm away playfully.
"However…do you want to know the most important part of being Hokage Naruto?"
Naruto immediately sat up straighter and nodded quickly. "Yes, dattebayo!"
"You have to have a pure heart, and a true love for the village and the people in it. Naruto, you have an incredibly pure heart. You are forgiving and one day the villagers will take notice to you. They will see you as someone great. You just have to show them that you're worth their praise. And trust me, you will be able to prove it to them."
"How do you know?"
"I have faith in your abilities Naruto."
Naruto smiled warmly at Minato. He had not felt this happy since the last time he had been in the presence of the Yondaime. Minato was the kindest person that Naruto had ever met, no wonder he had become Hokage. Minato made Naruto believe in himself fully. He felt that with Minato by his side, he could do anything.
Minato was his friend. Naruto suddenly smiled to himself. For the first time, Naruto truly had someone he could really call his friend. Naruto could only assume that this is what friendship was…that this was what friendship felt like. Naruto felt that a friend would definitely be someone who cared about him when he was hurt, and Naruto also felt that a friend would support another's dreams. He smiled again and looked up at Minato who was watching the stream slowly bubble. Minato then turned to him and smiled back just as brightly.
"Thank you for being my friend."
Minato felt his heartbeat quicken and his eyes immediately felt wet. He reached over and ruffled Naruto's hair once again.
"No, thank you Naruto, for being mine." Minato smiled at the boy and sighed as he felt his chakra draining. He only had a few minutes left at best, unless he wanted to use up all his remaining chakra. But he hoped to see Naruto a few more times before his chakra was completely gone.
"Naruto, I'm afraid I have to leave you again. I'm sorry, but I promise I'll be back." Minato felt his heart nearly break at the sight of Naruto's disappointed and blatantly sad face.
"Wait, why Minato! Don't leave!" Naruto said desperately.
"I cannot stay any longer Naruto." Minato could hardly look at his son without crying. The pure look of hurt on Naruto's face was too much to handle. What would Kushina do? Minato nearly snorted, Kushina would have embraced the boy and never let go. She would have shouted her "dattebane" in happiness, and he smiled as he imagined both Naruto and Kushina using their verbal ticks together.
"Remember what I told you about being the Hokage Naruto. It's important that you keep the village and your comrades in your heart." Minato stood and placed his hand on the boy's head once again. He swallowed thickly as a lonely tear slid down his face.
Naruto looked up at him with tears blocking his vision.
"I will Minato…" He whispered.
"Thank you Naruto." Minato said quietly before he made his way back into the shadows of the forest, he turned back and smiled warmly at the boy before he disappeared into the darkness once again.
Naruto felt emptiness inside, where moments ago he had just felt warmth. He wanted to chase after Minato and stop him, but he knew his efforts would be in vain.
Naruto glanced one last time at the clearing and slowly made his way back to the village. One day, when he was a shinobi, he would protect the village and his comrades with his life. He promised himself and Minato. He could not forsake his promises. From that point on Naruto decided that he would not go back on his word. Minato trusted him to live the truth life of a shinobi and Minato trusted that he would one day become Hokage. Naruto smiled, he would definitely make that happen.
A/N: Why, Kishimoto-sensei? Why did you kill Minato and Kushina? *cries* Heh, sorry about that...every time I write or read about Minato and Kushina I cannot help but feel incredibly sad. Their story is so tragic. Anyways, thank you for reading! :D -jesokaa