For Kizashi family was nothing less than the utmost important aspect of his life. Maybe he shouldn’t admit that so readily when he was a leading Jonin of his village with more credibility than most. But he couldn’t bring himself to hesitate. Mebuki always said that would be the death of him. But in a safe secure environment he couldn’t bring himself to be anything but prideful of his family. Once upon a time it may not have been so, not so readily at least but the shinobi lifestyle wasn’t an easy one and all too quickly reality sets in.
As a genin reality set in when he watched his fellow comrades be cut down as he and his squad turned tail and ran. At the time it was his biggest shame. Once in safety he ranted and raved, ‘how pathetic, how cowardly maybe if they stayed they could have saved them!’ Maybe, What if, How could we? And when he started going hoarse his teammate grabbed him by the collar and screamed. Sobbing, she insulted him because she wanted to go back. Almost did, but the mission succeeding was important. Did he think she wanted to see her mother get split through the ribs from behind? He hadn’t remembered that. It came back with a vengeance worse than the girl’s own. Her mother who was soft and quiet with a baby voice and big eyes was killed right in front of him. She had gotten their stolen scroll and had been throwing it to him when she was dealt the killing blow. And yet? She thought it was her fault. She had lost the scroll in the first place. She had been on the sidelines with him when the backup arrived. She watched her mother die. At that moment on the wooden floor bruised and weighed down on by his sobbing teammate, he realized. Maybe there was more to a shinobi than how they died. More than the battles they won.
As a jonin reality set in as he fought in the Third Shinobi World War. Out in the battlefield all that ran through their minds was survival and the mission. Yet as he fought he came to witness the real tragedies of war. Children were dead, orphaned and broken down. Trained in ways that crossed all the lines of innocence and humanity. Disregarded and left to die. Children too thin and too cynical. Corpses too small to need coffins that they would never get. Names were written on the Memorial Stone before the ink on their birth certificates had even dried. As the war raged on he came to the realization that more could be done for the next generation. That they were the future and he wanted it to flourish.
When Mebuki agreed to marry him he knew things would be different. Things would change. They would be a family, in a nice big home with a garden and big kitchen. They would make it comfy and pretty so when they came back from missions it would be home. Most mornings he’d wake up to his beautiful wife and most nights he’d spend with Mebuki talking as they held each other. As she walked down the aisle looking so radiant and happy he couldn’t help but feel like life was settling around him. Looking into his eyes, she said I do and they gave their vows; Kizashi knew he would die for her and everything she stood for. The realization came that night, their first night as husband and wife, and he watched as she tried and failed to stay up with him talking. Maybe there were things worth living for. Somethings that needed him.
And as the council called for his presence, mere days since the Kyuubi Attack and hours after Minato’s funeral, he realized that family was worth more than this. His beautiful wife and darling daughter were worth more than the position he practically fought for years earlier. Standing in front of the council, the elders and the wide window behind them all showing the damaged village, he decided they were more important than even this village. Their future and happiness was worth the hours of arguing between him and the leaders of his home. Worth the days of misery and frustration of the Hokage Office.
So with his well of experience and dedicated wife he decided if his daughter was going to become a ninja he would give her his all. He would make her the happiest, most battle ready academy student in her generation. They would teach her all the lessons they learned. And he was proud of his decision. Proud of his daughter and wife and the future she would lead.
Mebuki hadn’t had much. She was the daughter of civilians whose only job was to clean houses. It didn’t make much. Yet Mebuki had wanted more. Even at a young age she knew she would do more, be more. So she asked to be enrolled in the ninja academy instead of the civilian one. Asking turned into yelling and fighting. But she got what she wanted, even if her parents weren’t supportive. They hadn’t let a day go by without commenting. At first it was soft questions on whether she liked the classes, if they were too hard they could put in the civilian classes. The common thought was that when she realized how hard shinobi life was she would drop out. But as days turned into years they grew frustrated. Soft questions turned into snide comments to finally loud accusations.
So Mebuki was a bit rough around the edges. Civilian girl with no support at home and no money. She had a chip on her shoulder and she knew it. No one believed in her, no one took her seriously. Classmates from shinobi families or clans would sigh and complain during spars. Teachers forgot about her. So if they wouldn’t look at her on their own, she would make them. Yelling out answers during class, getting into brawls on the streets and in the halls, stealing. She had quite the reputation by the time the real shinobi lessons started.
No longer would they look at her as some waste of time. Now they would pale and the clan children would sneer down at her. Crude, brutal and unpolished. But a threat nonetheless.
Now people would believed her to be apathetic. They believed she would be a ninja, the kind that lived for battle and likely went insane. Dying in a bloodbath most likely.
She remembered the time a girl from Konoha’s sister village, Uzushio, enrolled. She was younger then Mebuki by a year, with bright red hair and a dream to be the first female Hokage. Mebuki remembers scoffing at the thought. Sister village or not, no one would want someone with deeper ties to another village as their leader. It was common sense. Seeing her around though Mebuki could see the similarities everyone said they had. Despite her reputation Mebuki didn’t bully kids. She fought to be noticed, not to hurt people. Not people who didn’t deserve it at least. The girl, Kushina, was loud and violent like her but… But Mebuki knew she was alone like her too.
So maybe Mebuki would look for her everyday. Maybe she scared off some punks who talked about the redhead behind her back. Maybe Mebuki liked the girl. It came to a head when she graduated.
The day was bright, it was early in the afternoon, and kids were adjusting and readjusting their headbands. Running up to parents and siblings and they were congratulated for making it. It was a beautiful scene. It made Mebuki sick. Couldn’t they be happy at home? Did they have to laugh so loud? So what if their parents were telling jokes? Telling their kids they couldn’t wait for the first mission. So what if their parents were proud of them? So what if hers’ weren’t? They may not be here for her, when she got home… they wouldn’t be there either. She didn’t need her parents! She was a kunoichi of the Hidden Leaf! She didn’t even want-
“Hey! You! You Mebuki? You the Scarlet Hammer?”
Mebuki turned around to see who wanted to fight her now. “ Yeah, what of… it” She stopped as Kushina stood in front of her, looking like she was going to scold her. “Um… Yeah, kid?”
“You’re the one that keeps doing stuff behind my back! I don’t need your help or anything! I can pound anyone into the dust, so don’t go making me look weak!” There was a moment of silence. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Haruno Kizashi had to be the most obnoxious man Mebuki had ever met. It was War, they had missions that, if failed, could end the lives of hundreds. Yet here was Haruno Kizashi, making jokes in a Hot Springs one town from their destination. They should be planning their next move to ensure this mission ended smoothly, yet by some terrible grace of God, Haruno Kizashi had managed to talk their commanding officer into going into some random, irrelevant Hot Spring, wasting their time. Haruno Kizashi seemed to be having a grand old time. Yet she wanted to get on with the mission. The sooner they got home the soon they could go back out and do more. The more they did in the least amount of time, would all go to ending this War. But now they would be a day behind.
“Are you okay? You seem really tense.”
Of course. The bane of her existence. She turned and stared up at Haruno Fucking Kizashi. “If you want I could give you a massage.” He wiggled his brows, as if something so dopey would ever work. “No. I do not want a massage . What I want is to not hear your voice for the rest of this mission. And when we get back to the village, I don’t ever want to see you again. Got it?!”
Mebuki turned sharply on her heel. If he just wanted to stand there with his big eyes and pink hair then he could. She was going to get ready to leave early the next morning and then sleep. This wasn’t a damn vacation, they weren’t supposed to spend all night drinking themselves into a stupor. If he wanted to die in their next comfrantation than she wouldn’t be wasting her energy trying to save him. Some people just wanted to be known in history, no matter how small. The Memorial Stone was always the easiest to use. How many idiots recklessly sacrificed themselves just so their name would be remembered on the Stone. If Haruno Kizashi wanted to be one of them, then so be it. Idiot.
Mebuki was no medicnin. She had struggled with the basic first aid as a child and it had only gotta marginally better. Medicnin were scarce and most were out on the frontlines. Despite the severity of the mission they weren’t seen as being important enough to have one of the few medicnins still around on their team. Thankfully none of them had been critically harmed but most of their medical knowledge was being pooled to keep the severely harmed alive. Stable but not out of the danger zone. None were sure whether they could move them or not. Then the discussion of whether they should wait and see if they can heal some or if they should just risk it. Risk them . Mebuki herself was a bit out from the campsite bandaging herself to the best of her abilities. They wouldn’t get anywhere if they all just arguing amongst themselves. At least she could put herself out of the situation and keep calm. They wouldn’t like to see her join the fight.
Mebuki remembered when Kushina and her had been fighting outside, years into their friendship, and some Hyuga had stumbled onto them. At first they thought they had interrupted her training and fiercely apologized for concerning her. Apparently she was out there training, they were right, but she was training to get her frustration out. It seems that even the silent clans had tempers, too. They were just better at hiding it. Actually her temper was much like theirs. The conversation turned to whether or not they should be hiding their tempers, clan or social pressure be damned. But she was persuasive. Soon they would meet up weekly to learn to control their fury. Weekly turned into twice a week, then every other day and soon the Hyuga had become one of Mebuki’s closest friends.
“Need some help?” She jerked her head up and looked into the shadowed face of Haruno Kizashi. Letting out a sigh Mebuki just sagged. Really, did this man ever quit? “Here let me do it.” He bent down and reach for her wrist and bandages. “Its fine, I’m fine. If you wanna help join the debate.” Was it that hard to see she wasn't in the mood? Did she have to run all the way to Konah to get any peace and quiet?
“I… wasn’t trying to… offend you. Um,” he fumbled, scratching at his ridiculous pink hair. “I’m actually not that good at -I mean I’m good enough to bandage your arm but not - not that you couldn’t do it well, just, well you looked like you having a hard time. So I thought… “
Maybe it was the adrenaline leaving her body, or the feeling of a mission going well, or she was just really tired. Hell maybe Mebuki was finally losing her mind, but at that moment, looking at Kizashi blush, looking all flustered but genuine as he choked on the foot in his mouth, she felt a great fondness for the ridiculous man in front of her.
And when she realized, she just started laughing. Because wasn’t it just yesterday she was cursing his name and back? Didn’t she not, to his face, declare she never wanted to see him ever again? And yet, mere hours ago she saved Kizashi from losing his head multiple times after she had decided, hours before that , to leave him to his fate.
And now she was leaning on him laughing her ass off as she was filled with a warm fondness. Leaning back she almost started laughing again, Kizashi was sitting there in front of her, eyes wide like a child that couldn’t understand what he’d just seen. Hell even his hair seemed to have reacted! It reminded her of when a cat was spooked and its hair puffed up.
“I’m sorry? Um, I wanted to really thank you actually. You when out of your way to save my ass a few times and I wanted you to know I really appreciate that- more than appreciate! I know you don’t like me and the least I could do is help you bandage your arm. I guess I must have seemed so been so inconsiderate to y-” Mebuki waved her arms in front of her. “Stop! Stop! What are you talking about? Calm down!” A beat.
“What didn’t you hear? I mean sorry.” It was his turn to sag. Again he ruffled his hair. “I guess I should… “
“I guess you should keep talking.” she hummed.
“Did you hear anything I said? Now I’m kinda embarrassed,” he looked up through his eyelashes. “Kinda?”she whispered. Kizashi leaned forward on his thighs, “Yeah, I usually don’t get embarrassed. I’m pretty charming.”
Mebuki stopped. She was a finger’s length from his face, she could seen his blue eyes, ‘Were they always this blue?’ and his growing facial hair. She leaned back and coughed into her fist.
“What did you mean about the ‘I’m an inconsiderate bastard’?”
“Oh, those weren’t my exact words but. Well you must have someone on the frontlines, right? I know its hard for people to go on missions when their loved ones are in enemy territories and they can’t go off to help.” Mebuki stopped. “Oh. No not really. Not for me anyway.” she breathed. Kizashi seemed surprised. Of course, normal people had family that they talked to and worried about. “No I just think this is a serious situation and you’re taking it too lightly! I’m not weeping widow or something!” she thrust her arm out to him,” Are you going to bandage me up or not?”
“Yeah, sure.” He worked in silence. The only noise was the forest and the arguing in the distance. Kizashi finished and handed her the left over bandages and Mebuki swiftly put them away. Neither moved.
For a while after the Third Shinobi War everything in Konahgature was peaceful. More than that, it was dream like. Many surviving shinobi married. Many kunoichi gave birth. And a new Hokage was appointed. As the ceremony continued Mebuki couldn’t help but think that whether it was her husband up there or Kushina’s, that the village would be in good hands. And as she turned to the woman mentioned, Mebuki felt a stab of guilt. Despite the years she always felt the same pain looking at her once friend. At first it was anger, then betrayal and hurt but nowadays it was it remorse.
A few years into Kushina’s genin days she went to visit Uzushio. But when she came back she refused to spend time with Mebuki. At first she assumed it had something to do with Kushina’s family. She had been so very anxious to go. Because of that Mebuki tried to be around Kushina even in silence. But silence turned into avoidance. Then news of Uzushio’s destruction shook Konoha. Mebuki had gone straight to Kushina, but she was nowhere to be seen. Mebuki assumed she needed time to mourn. Kushina’s culture was a little different than Konha’s. So she waited. She would check in on Kushina, but she never stayed long. This turned into anger. Then Kushina was kidnapped. She didn’t learn about this from Kushina, she didn’t even learn about this from gossip. No, she learned this from Namakaze Minato. She learned that her best friend was kidnapped a week ago from the boy she didn’t like as he was talking to his sensei. It wasn’t even directed to her! No one wanted to tell her that one of Mebuki’s few friends was taken out of her own home. Kushina didn’t tell her!
The fight that broke out between the girls was monstrous. It was only made worse for Mebuki when she saw Kushina and Minato had apparently started dating days after. Was that why Kushina was ignoring her? Did she not want to be around her now that she had a boyfriend? Or did Minato think ‘Scarlet Hammer’ Mebuki was a bad influence? Did Kushina even defend her? She never thought Kushina would let a boy get between them, but she could see when she was not wanted.
Looking back Mebuki knew she made wild assumptions. She’d had the liberty of going on missions with Minato himself and he was nothing but kind to her, despite the crude and callous way she treated him. She knew she made a mistake. But how could she even start to mend the gap? It only got worse when, on one of those missions, Mebuki apologized to Minato only for him to wave it off because his girlfriend was much the same way. ‘Her name is Uzumaki Kushina, ever met her, Ms Mebuki?’
Kushina never told Minato about her. She didn’t want to remember her. So Mebuki swallowed her words and denied knowing her. At the very least she could respect Kushina’s wishes.
Years later and Mebuki still regretted her decision, and was reminded of it every time she saw Kushina.
Finding out she was pregnant was both the most joyous moment and most heart stopping in Mebuki’s life. Telling Kizashi was the loudest. And as she prepared a few things became apparent around her. Many fellow mothers were also due around the same time. Many clan heads would be having children in the same year as her. And Kushina was pregnant.
The lineup for pregnant women around Mebuki was Kushina and her close friend Uchiha Mikoto, the wife of the Uchiha head, Tsume, the Inuzuka clan head, the Ino-Shika-Cho clans. ‘And didn’t that bring up questions’ As well as the Abrume and Mebuki’s friend Hyuga Hitomi, who married the clan head, or at least one of them, she would never understand the “Main vs Branch” separation. And all of those children would be going to the academy with her baby. All these heavy hitters would be around her kid. Taking the teachers’ attention. Bragging about their clan hidan and kekkei genkai.
Mebuki was violently reminded of her own childhood. The anger, resentment, the betrayal, the self-hatred, the hours spent training alone because no one cared if she passed or failed or died or-
“Honey? Mebuki are you okay?! What happened?”
She turned to her panicked husband and followed his line of sight. Oh, she had broken the dinner table under her grip. “Kizashi? Do you think our child will be… “
“Will be what, darling?” What did she want to say? Strong? Independent? Skilled?
“Happy?” he repeated, “Of course! Mebuki how can you question something like that? We’ll make sure our precious flower is happy, healthy, strong, and beautiful like her mother!” She sighed. “What if its a boy Kiza?”. “Aww! Furin! Don’t call me thaat.” he moved to wrap his arms around her,” Its mean.” he whispered into her shoulder. “Kizashi, please.” He straightened and looked into her eyes. Now somber, he continued to whisper. “What’s scaring you, Mebuki?” She looked away but didn’t move out of his embrace. “It’s just… you know I told you how hard it was for me to have no one growing up. What if it’s like that for them? What if they treat them like they treated me? I don’t come from a renowned clan or notorious ninja family, what if I can’t help them? What if, what if they resent me for not knowing more or helping or having any specialties or… “
“Oh Mebuki.” Kizashi moved her face to look at him again. For a moment his heart wrenched at her teary eyes and ashamed face. “You are the strongest woman I know. You managed to go through dozens of neighsayer and ignorant pricks to become one the best martial artist in the village. You were the one who has saved hundreds of our comrades during the war when you could have just left, you risked your life repeatedly to finish your missions with all teammates alive. I would not be here if it weren’t for you. Our new Hokage wouldn’t be here without you! You’re clever and determined and intelligent. I’ve seen you beat Naras at shoji! I’ve seen you out run Inuzaki in races! You’re a master tactician and empathetic to even people who’ve wronged you.” He kissed her cheeks gently. ”And if I may say so, the most beautiful, sexy woman in all the Elemental Nations.”
“Kizashi, please,” she pushed his shoulders back but he kept leaning back in.
“No, no I’m serious. In fact, if my beautiful, radiant wife would be so agreeable, I’d like to show you exactly how grateful I am that this goddess would allow me to lay my mortal hands on her heavenly body.”
She laughed, and leaned back into him.”Kizashi you absolute sap.”
Staring into the eyes of the Nine tailed Beast was petrifying. What was worse was the memory of her daughter in the hidden pathways out of the village with the rest of the civilians and children. Giving Sakura to a civilian friend and reporting to the Hokage Tower had left Mebuki with a sense of dread. And as she watched her comrades fall and buildings collapse she couldn’t shake the need to get her husband and go back to their daughter. She couldn’t stop this beast, Mebuki was sure of that. Tailed Beasts needed to be taken care of with fuinjutsu not pure raw strength or genjutsu. Kizashi and her were not going to be helpful in this situation. One swipe of the monster’s tails killed handfuls of her comrades and destroyed neighborhoods. What she needed to do was take her family and run. Mebuki couldn’t heal her comrades, she couldn’t stop the beast, she couldn’t even think about anything other than her baby girl. Could she really throw herself recklessly into the battle and leave her daughter to live as an orphan?
And it was these moments of indecision that caused Mebuki to be struck down.
It would be weeks before Mebuki could walk again, but with the situation concerning the Hokage position and that poor boy, she wasn’t eager to be ‘useful’. That poor baby being used as a vessel for that monster, being seen as that monster, and having that over his head his whole life. She couldn’t believe Minato would dare do something like that to anyone, especially a baby. Let alone his son. The whole situation was disheartening. Kushina and Minato were dead, the village was in shambles and worst of all they blamed it on a baby . Naruto, that was the boy’s name. He would be taking his mother’s surname as it was decided no one would know who his parents were.
It was an idiotic plan. Tell no one who his parents were, tell no one that he was a jinchuriki, tell no one that he was innocent. They acted as if he would never find out about the beast inside of him. As if he didn’t deserve to know his parents. It made Mebuki’s blood boil knowing the village was spitting on Kushina and Minato’s deaths. Minato gave his life for this village and now his son wouldn’t get the common decency of knowing his father. His son would never know his parents, not even their names. It was disgusting.
And where were the close ‘family and friends’? Where was Mikato? Where was Hitomi? Where was that godforsaken Sanin?! That pervert who could never shut his mouth about how proud he was of his student. As if Minato’s accomplishments meant Jiraiya was worth anything more than a dirty old man with no responsibility.
Maybe it was the tension in the air, or the harsh reality of the situation but Mebuki was fuming. How could they do this? How can they condemn a child? Destroy his future and will as if it were worth nothing. As if he was worth nothing. How could they? How could the Council? How could Lord Third? Minato? Kushina?
How could Kushina do this? How could she do this to her? Why would she go off and die before Mebuki could even apologize? Before they could be friends again? Why-
Maybe Mebuki didn’t have much. But she had her husband and her daughter. She had her family and maybe her friends were gone. Maybe she made mistakes and she may even be too harsh. But for Haruno Sakura, for her daughter, for her future and happiness, Mebuki would give her all.