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A Stranger's Smile

By Princess_Kanako

Romance / Drama

Prologue - October 10th

Prologue - October 10th

"I wish I could take the pain for you."

"I wish you could too. It's not fair. We both experienced the pleasure of his conception. But I'm the one who has to endure the pain of having him."

Minato chuckled.

"Such is the way of the world, I'm afraid."

Kushina glared at him.

"You are so not getting out of diaper duty, mister."

Minato wrinkled his nose at the thought, just as the door opened and Keiko's head popped around it.

"The doctor has arrived, Hokage-sama," she said eagerly, brown eyes wide with excitement at the impending birth. Minato nodded, feeling a smile creep onto his face at the maid's child-like enthusiasm.

"Send him up."

"Hai, Hokage-sama."

Minato took a moment to study his wife. Her face was flushed and sweaty. Her hair was plastered to her head. Her hair was a sweat-tangled-mess on the pillows and her violet eyes were closed, dark circles etched under them. She was still unconscious, probably because of the exhaustion. And she was more beautiful than he'd ever seen her.

Drowned in thoughts, Minato turned his head over to the crib, where his beautiful, beautiful son was now sleeping. Ten tiny fingers and toes. Rosy cheeks. A few wisps of golden hair. And, when the child had opened his eyes for a brief moment, clear blue eyes that never wavered. Minato ran a finger softly down his tiny, smooth cheek, before he carefully traced a little ear.

However, even the sight of his newborn son couldn't help him forget Kushina's condition.

Minato took her hand in his, worry etched on his face. Kushina had been so brave, but she wasn't waking up. She had been warned that childbirth would weaken the seal that held the Kyuubi in place, had been warned that the beast might even break free. Kushina had accepted the warning, almost as if she had predicted it; however, when the doctor had advised a termination, the Red-Hot-Habanero had surfaced and had promptly bitten the doctor's head off for even suggesting such a thing. He smiled.

That was his Kushina; strong both in body and soul.

On the night of October 10th, many lives were lost. Not even the Fourth's beloved wife was spared and, on that night, a newborn babe became Jinchuuriki of the dreaded Kyuubi no Kitsune.

Many would claim that Kushina Uzumaki Namikaze and her devoted maid Keiko died as heroes, sacrificing their lives to assist the Fourth seal the evil Kyuubi and save Konoha. The Fourth was hailed as a hero by the entire village. But Minato didn't feel like a hero. Because in her last moments, Kushina had softly, lovingly, whispered her love and devotion to her son and husband, her boys, over and over again until she died with Minato's name upon her lips.

ANBU squads had found him curled around his beautiful wife, crying, while his son lay sleeping peacefully beside Keiko, who had not only been impaled by Kyuubi, but had forced herself away from the beast and shielded Naruto from the fox's second attempt. She had died as a hero. Kushina had died as a hero. But Minato refused to see himself as a hero.

He saw himself as a failure; to Naruto, to Konoha, to Kushina...

But mostly, to himself.

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