Four-year-old Minato Namikaze crouched in an alleyway, clothes ripped and stomach growling. He was shivering, normally bright blonde hair dark with dirt and blue eyes dull with hunger and exhaustion. He wrapped his arms around himself, eyes searching for something, anything, edible.

Minato whimpered, pulling the only thing he owned besides his clothes closer to him. The tiny puppy had dark fur, made even darker by the dirt, and Minato could almost count all her ribs. The puppy nosed his pants pocket for food, and when she didn't find any, she licked her young master's hand, signaling that she had forgiven him, even though she was hungry.

"I'm sorry, Kaminari," the young blonde whispered. "I'm sorry that I don't have any food for you."

Tsunade wandered the village, tugging her coat closed to ward off the wind. She stopped abruptly when she heard a soft sound, and she turned her head to stare into the alley next to her. She saw a small boy there, with a tiny black puppy next to him. The soft sound she had heard was the dog whining as her owner cradled her in his arms.

Tsunade strode over to them, crouching in front of the young child. "Hi," she greeted quietly. The boy looked up and cowered into the wall when he saw her. "I don't want to hurt you," she assured him. "I want to help. What's your name?"

"M-Minato Namikaze," he stammered, clutching the puppy closer to his chest.

"I'm Tsunade," the older blonde said, smiling gently. Minato stared at her with wide eyes, not believing that someone was actually talking to him. When his parents died, he was forgotten; he was so quiet that no one remembered Hiroki and Kohaku Namikaze even had a son. He had taken care of himself the past couple weeks.

"Where are your parents?" Tsunade asked. Minato gazed at her with unreadable blue eyes.

"They're dead." He said quietly.

She started; if this kid was an orphan, Sarutobi should have made suitable arrangements for him. So why hadn't he?

Well, I can't leave him here, she decided.

"Come on," she whispered softly. "You can come home with me."

The young child allowed himself to be picked up, but Minato whined when the puppy wasn't picked up also. So Tsunade picked the puppy up.

Tsunade adjusted her jacket so that it covered both Minato and the dog. It wasn't much, but it was the most she could do until she got to her apartment.

She hurried through the busy streets, dodging civilians on their way home from the store. Tsunade groaned quietly when she realized that she needed a hand free to unlock her apartment door.

She glanced down at Minato, who was fast asleep, and then the puppy, who was squirming in her arms. She set the dog down and unlocked the door, ushering the little dog inside.

"Minato," she whispered, shifting the child's weight in her arms. "Minato, you have to get up."

Minato opened his eyes tiredly, whining at the sudden loss of warmth when Tsunade set him down on the couch. The medic-nin covered him with a blanket.

"You can get some sleep now, but I need to give you a bath later. And you need some food." Tsunade said. She stood up and was about to leave when Minato's voice stopped her.

"Can I have some food now?" he asked.

"Sure. What would you like?" Tsunade questioned.

"Can I have some ramen?"

"Sure thing, Minato." Tsunade said. "I'll go see what I have."

As she left the room, Tsunade smiled to herself. Maybe taking care of this kid until she could talk to Sarutobi wouldn't be so bad after all.

A/N: Okay, so I was writing one of my other stories when this popped into my head. I loved this idea—mostly because little Minato is so cute—and I decided to write it. Besides, we don't actually know who raised Minato, so I imagine it to be Tsunade or Jiraiya.

Anyways, I picked Minato's parent's names based on their meanings. Hiroki means vast timber trees, which I think fits because they live in the Leaf Village, and Kohaku means amber. I imagine his mother as having a sort of blondish-brownish hair color, so I think that fits her.