A/N: I am so incredibly sorry for the delay. I just completed my first year at University; so, I finally have a bit of free time to write. Thank you so much for your patience.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
So, with much delay, here is AAAS: Summer!
An Angel Amongst Shadows: Summer
There was something wonderful about the taste of freshly sliced watermelon amidst the heat of a midsummer afternoon. Among many of the citizens of Konoha, it was considered to be a relief, due to the delicate way in which it dissolved into a sweet and satisfying treat, and Naruto was no exception to this.
From the street, not a single citizen could see the lonely boy watching the sunset from the top of his apartment complex-with a small piece of half-eaten watermelon in his hand. Nor could anyone feel the sun piercing through skin in the same way that he could. He felt as though the sun was reaching out to him, encasing him in its comforting rays. It was almost like a hug. If he closed his eyes and used his imagination, it truly did feel as though someone was hugging him. Those below were lost among the restaurants serving summer specials, spectacular flowers blooming brightly and fountains of shimmering water gushing pleasantly throughout the expanse of the village. But Naruto could hear the sound of people laughing, smell freshly cooked food and the soft floral scents and he could hear the gushing displays of water- he could not experience it in the same way as those below, but at the same time, he gained a much different appreciation of the spectacle that Konoha became during the long and sunny season. For once, he was allowing himself to relax, to listen and to smell, which was an experience in and of itself.
Despite the lovely glow that dappled the fields of Konoha in a sunny blanket each evening, and the way in which clouds softly tumbled by in the clear azure sky, Naruto's least favorite season, happened to be summer. For Naruto, summertime was stagnant and grueling, much like the heat bearing down upon his unclothed back. It may have felt like a hug at times, but it was not always a welcomed one.
There was something incredibly lonely about the summertime. Many children his age were away on vacation with their families, yet at the same time, he also saw more children spending time together at the local parks and in the streets, which only caused his lonesome heart to ache even more. The one thing he enjoyed about the winter was that less people were out and about, which meant that he was less likely to be reminded that he would never be one of them. He would never play hide-n-seek among the streets of Konoha. He would never go on a vacation with his parents. He would never even know his parents. He was different. He was not like them. It was clear that he was unwelcomed.
Naruto had no one to enjoy the summer sun with. He had no friends to play with in the park, despite trying to make friends every single year at the park closest to his home. He never left the village. The spas that he had heard rumors about were just a figment of his imagination. The closest he had ever come to leaving the village was spending time in the forest near the Hokage monument, but he had hardly gone back to the stream- apart from one or two times.
As he glanced up at the lofty clouds, his mind wandered to Minato, once more. He wondered where the man, whom he had officially dubbed as his savior, had gone.
Like the time before, he found himself questioning whether or not Minato was a figment of his imagination. He had idolized those with the title of Hokage for as long as he could remember, but the Yondaime, in particular, had always been the Hokage he looked up to most. Minato was considered to be the true hero of Konoha. Minato: the man who had sacrificed himself to save the village without so much as a second thought, the man the villagers loved, but most importantly, Minato was Naruto's one and only friend. How could he not hold the man in such high regards? He had showed him kindness, compassion and love, when others would not.
As the sun slowly set, Naruto sighed and steadily climbed back down from his rooftop.
Minato sat silently at the foot of Naruto's bedside. The boy looked tired, worn out and a bit sunburnt from spending the entire day on the rooftop.
The loneliness that was always apparent on his son's face made him sick. He could not believe the fate he had bestowed upon his son. The action that was meant to make Naruto a hero had turned him into a monster in the eyes of the public. Naruto had become an object of disgust for the population of Konoha, and Minato could never forgive himself for allowing this to happen to Naruto.
Minato was broken from his momentary self-loathing as Naruto loudly snored. Naruto rolled slightly, before scratching his butt in contentment. Minato chuckled slightly, despite his somber mood.
His heart ached as he slowly placed his hand in the boy's hair. He stroked his hair softly, relishing in the touch. Minato knew it should not be this way. Kushina should be here by his side. The three of them should have lived together as a family, then no one would be allowed to say anything slanderous about his son, not with him in charge of the village.
He knew that Sarutobi had tried to provide Naruto with assistance, the size of the apartment and the food in the fridge were proof enough, but why, had Sarutobi withheld the truth from his son? What was his reason? Did Sarutobi not see the pain in Naruto's eyes? He had be ostracized by the entire village, but for what reason? For the greater good? Why did Naruto have to suffer for his mistake?
Minato sighed. He trusted Sarutobi, and he respected his choices. He knew the Konoha elders and current Hokage must have a good reason. If people knew Naruto was his son, Naruto may end up in harms way-though, it appeared as though he underwent constant bullying despite that information being withheld. Minato could not help but wonder if it truly would make a difference. Sure, it was possible that people would target Naruto due to his lineage, but Minato was dead, what good would it do to attack the son of a dead man for revenge? Minato figured that Sarutobi wanted to protect Naruto from those outside the village-those who had a grudge against him. And though he truly did appreciate the fact that Sarutobi was trying to protect his son, he could not help but feel hurt. His son had no idea who he was. He knew nothing about his parents. He did not know how much he was loved. If Kushina were to see this, Minato knew that she would break down. Minato shivered at the though of his wife going on a rampage throughout the village. Kushina would have made every single person that had said a slanderous word against Naruto apologize. She would have forced people to see that her son was no monster, and she would have shown others that the Kyuubi did not define Naruto.
A slight sliver of sunlight slowly began to rise from behind the mountains. As the sun slowly ascended, Naruto twisted away from the light, pushing his face deeper into his pillow. A grunt of muffled irritation filled the room, and Minato chuckled lightly. Apparently, Naruto's waking habits were just like those of his mother. Every single morning, Kushina would pile pillows on top of her head in order to block out the sunlight. Minato had always been somewhat of a morning person, and after being appointed as the Yondaime Hokage, he learned to truly become a full-fledged morning person. He could wake up before sunrise, and somehow, he was always able to smile shortly after waking. Kushina, on the other hand, would moan in protest. She would throw pillows at the window, and once, she nearly broke them. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with. It was almost painful to see Naruto mimicking the habits of his late mother. He was unconsciously going through the same routine that Kushina always had as she woke up. For Minato, it was bittersweet to watch. A part of his beloved still lived on, through their son, but that fact alone could not make up for losing her.
Despite his body's protests not to, Naruto slowly opened his eyes. He blinked sleepily, before yawning and stretching. As he did so, he accidently hit into something warm and soft. Naruto blinked once more, before his eyes shot open in alarm. He yelped in surprise and fear, before his brain registered that the presence with him, in the room, was a safe one.
"M-Minato?" Naruto said in surprise, before grinning widely as Minato affectionately ruffled Naruto's hair. Naruto quickly sat up and looked at the older man expectantly. Suddenly, the boy looked anything but tired. He appeared to be wide awake and full of his usual energy.
"Good morning, Naruto."
"I'm so glad that you're here, Minato! I have something that I want to show you, dattebayo!" Naruto jumped off of his bed, an animated grin decorating his face. Minato laughed loudly at his son's flamboyant display of enthusiasm.
Naruto rummaged through his drawers, a look of deep concentration adorning his face. Suddenly, his eyes widened and brightened with glee as he pulled out a piece of long red material. One of the edges of the material was stuck in the back of the drawer, and Naruto attempted to yank it out. Minato walked over and helped Naruto; together they were able to remove the piece without causing a single tear.
Minato waited patiently as Naruto smoothed out the material. Naruto caught him eyeing the material with a curious expression, but Naruto immediately sent him a disapproving glare, "You can't look at it yet, Minato! I need to fix it first!"
Minato chuckled and turned away from the boy, peeking over his shoulder from time to time as the boy worked to fix the piece. He made sure that Naruto never caught him trying to peek. He did not want to ruin the surprise, yet his curiosity was overwhelming and pushing aside his morals. Once Naruto had properly adjusted the piece and draped it over his shoulders, he strode confidently across the room and stood in front of Minato.
"So, what do you think?" Naruto beamed brightly as he saw Minato's smile widen.
A variety a different shaped black flames dappled the bottom of the cloak. The paint that had been used to create said flames was crumbling off slightly, and it was evident that several chunks had fallen off. In some areas, the coating had been applied much thicker than others, and it was evident that Naruto had run out of paint due to a slight change in the coloration of the flames. Despite the imperfections that most would notice, Minato thought it was beautiful. Th time and effort that Naruto had placed into the piece was unmistakable. It was clear that he had truly studied Minato's own cloak. Minato was incredibly moved by Naruto's creation. He was proud. He finally understood what other parents had told him in the past. He understood their desire to show off the accomplishments of their children-no matter how minor said accomplishments may be. If Kushina had been here, she would have jumped from pure joy. She would have snatched Naruto up and run around the entire village, proudly showing off the cloak. Minato smiled warmly as daydreamed of a different life. A life he would never know. He frowned slightly, but he quickly realized that Naruto was waiting for his reply. The previous thoughts were soon forgotten as Minato turned his attention to Naruto.
"It's very well done, Naruto. I like the flames. Did you draw them yourself?" Minato said animatedly. As he looked the cloak over, he felt his heart swell with pride. The cloak was a bit too big for the boy, but eventually Naruto would fill it out. It was very similar to Minato's own cloak; however, the color scheme was different, and it was a bit thinner. Naruto had done all the work himself-that much was obvious.
"Yes! I found the material behind one of shops in town! It was sitting in a cardboard box next to the garbage bin. I asked the owner if I could have it, and she told me that I was free to take it from her! I washed it at that stream, remember, the one we spent time at during the spring? The moment I saw it, I knew that I had to make a cloak just like yours, dattebayo!"Naruto spoke quickly. Minato nodded, indicating that he most definitely remembered and that Naruto was free to continue without fear of interruption.
"Also, the Sandaime gave me the black paint! He told me that he was impressed with the energy I've placed into this project!" Naruto beamed proudly at Minato. The cloak showcased just how small Naruto's frame truly was. Minato was slightly taken aback by how small Naruto was for his age, but he chose not to dwell on that fact.
"The flames are very nice. They're even better than the flames on my cloak."
"Thank you, Minato!" Naruto ran up and hugged the older man with incredible force.
"It's perfect attire for a Hokage," Minato said happily as he stroked Naruto's hair lightly. Naruto smiled up at him.
"Do you really think so?" Naruto's eyes widened, and a small smile graced his face. If his cloak was approved by an actual Hokage-well, that was a dream come true, especially if said Hokage was the Yondaime Hokage.
"I know so. It looks very distinguished, and the flames are very powerful looking. Any Hokage would be proud to wear it, Naruto."
"Thank you so much, Minato! I am going to wear it every day when I become the Hokage! Um, Minato?" Naruto suddenly became quieter.
"What's the hardest thing about being the Hokage?
"Well, it can actually be quite stressful, Naruto. There is a lot more to it than the title itself. It is a huge responsibility, and believe it or not, it requires quiet a bit of paperwork," Minato laughed loudly as Naruto groaned at the mention of paperwork.
"Bleh, I hate paperwork!"
Minato chuckled, "It's not my favorite task either, but it's necessary for maintaining order in the village. But for the pure at heart, like you, paperwork is hardly a hindrance once you truly experience what it means to be the Hokage."
"Heh, I find that hard to believe. I'm not very talented when it comes to paperwork, but I trust you, Minato." Naruto smiled, because he truly did trust Minato. He finally had one person that he could trust in his life, yet it was not the same. Minato was not a constant. He had only appeared three times that was hardly enough for Naruto. He nervously shuffled his feet, before speaking, "Um, Minato, how long are you going to stay today?"
"I'm afraid that I cannot stay long, perhaps an hour or less."
"You can't stay longer?" Naruto tried to contain the disappointment that he was feeling, but it easily leaked out through the tone of his voice.
"I'm sorry, Naruto, but I truly cannot do so. I want to, but it's just not possible."
Naruto sighed, but he decided not to press the subject any further. He did not want to push Minato away from him. He could not afford to lose such a precious person.
"Minato, what do Hokages do when they're afraid? Or lonely?"
Minato looked down at the boy sitting beside him, but Naruto refused to acknowledge his glance. He continued to look forward, a slight pout gracing his lips. Minato was suddenly struck with an idea. He quickly reached into his pocket and pulled something out. Naruto perked up slightly.
"Naruto, whenever you feel alone or afraid hold on tightly to this kunai, and remember that a part of me will always be with you. I might not be able to be by your side every day, and I most definitely will not be here to protect you from every threat, but I will never truly leave you. This kunai is very special to me; it's part of my signature jutsu, and I want you to have it," Minato chuckled as Naruto's eyes widened. It was his last hirashin kunai. He had no other with him, but giving it to Naruto felt right. He knew Kushina would be proud of him for giving it up. Naruto slowly reached out his hand as Minato placed the kunai in Naruto's palm. Naruto closed his hand around it and pulled it tightly against his chest.
"I'll keep it forever, dattebayo! Maybe one day, you can teach me how to use it!" Naruto looked up gleefully at Minato. Minato smiled.
Naruto and Minato sat side by side watching as the sun continued to rise. They cracked the window open, as the room grew hotter, letting a light summer breeze roll in. Together, they watched the clouds lazily floating by, laughing as they pointed out various animals and objects that took shape in cloud form- while Naruto subconsciously gripped the kunai closer to his heart.
A/N: Once again, thank you to all of you who waited for this update, I know it has been far too long, and I cannot begin to express how bad I feel for taking so long. Thank you for reading! This chapter is fairly mild in comparison to the others, but I wanted one chapter in which Minato didn't appear while Naruto was being assaulted in some manner. I wanted one chapter with a lighter tone, because the next chapter will be sadder, I suppose.