Gilded

Chōmei

Summary: With loving parents and plenty of friends, unease is the last thing that Naruto should be feeling. But it lingers in the back of his mind, clouding his sight with suspicion and paranoia. Why do his dreams feel so real? Why does he remember things that never were?

Gilded

Chapter 7

Chōmei


~o0O0o~


"Mom?" Naruto called into the house as he waltzed in through the front door. "I'm home!"

Just as the scent of something absolutely heavenly drifted its way passed his nose, Kushina's head poked out through the kitchen. "Back already? Couldn't stay away from my cooking, could you?"

Naruto didn't argue the point, simply nodding with a wide grin (and some drool, though it was quickly wiped away) as he slid into the swiveling chair by the kitchen counter.

After a moment, Kushina looked up from the sizzling and crackling pops of whatever it was she was stirring over the stove, the way she delicately balanced her spatula in her hand vaguely reminiscent of a sword. "Well, squirt? How'd your mission go? You didn't screw it up, did you?" She punctuated the statement with an accusing stare.

"Of course I didn't screw it up!" Naruto yelped, squirming under his mother's scrutiny. "All we did was walk the porn star lady to the castle then come back home!"

A pause, the calm before the storm.

Let it be known that Naruto had not yet learned the art of the white lie.

Kushina narrowed her eyes to damning slits of motherly judgement, and Naruto suddenly broke out into a cold sweat. "A porn star?" she asked, her voice deceptively calm. "Your father gave you a mission to escort a porn star?" Her hair ominously began to twitch and move like it had a life of its own.

Naruto, no doubt sensing his impending doom, desperately tried to protest his innocence. "M-Mom," he stuttered, "it was just an escort mission! I never saw anything, I swear!"

Kushina didn't look convinced. In fact, she looked like she was moments away from tanning his hide.

Minato chose that precise moment to teleport home, right next to his son. Naruto shrieked, having already been put on the edge with his mother's anger, his father's surprise appearance being the straw that broke the camel's back, and he burst out of the house like the hounds of Hell were snapping at his heels.

Minato looked after the disappearing form of his wayward spawn, utterly baffled. "What's going on with Naruto?" he asked, half wondering if he should just chase him down and haul him back home. When no answer came, Minato frowned and turned towards his wife. "Kushina, is somethi—" He trailed off when he saw the expression his wife was wearing, and a very large part of him immediately dedicated itself to going over all escape routes.

"Mi-na-to," Kushina ground out through clenched teeth, pinning him with a stare that was like that of a cat on a mouse—wide, unblinking, and downright predatory. "A porn star? You had our son escort a porn star?"

Minato blinked. Was that all Kushina was mad about? "Of course I did. It was an easy escort mission, and with Kakashi's injury Team Seven hadn't left the village in a while, so I thought this would be a good chance for them to—"

Minato vanished as the spatula swung through where his head had been a mere second earlier.

He wisely decided to spend the night working at his office.


~o0O0o~

After a long and tense conversation the following day in which Minato and Naruto somehow managed to convince Kushina that it really was just an escort mission, she finally stopped threatening them with pain and suffering (much to their relief), then proceeded to call them both sissies and laugh at how fast they'd run from her (much to their annoyance).

The tense atmosphere dissolved with hugs and laughter around the kitchen table, the gentle warmth of food and family drifting in the air.


~o0O0o~

Wishes are a part of human nature. Everyone wishes for what they don't have, like a genie's going to pop out of nowhere and give it to them. The cartwheel broken? Wish you had a spare? That sort of thing. The wishes that make life a bit easier.

But then, there are also the kinds of wishes that have meaning, wishes with the power to bring great change.

For instance, take an orphan. This orphan wishes he wasn't cold or hungry, but more than that, he wishes he wasn't so alone. He wishes that he actually mattered to someone.

These kinds of wishes, if granted, change entire lives. And after that, what started out as a single change becomes a cascade effect.

The door banged open. "I'm home!" Naruto yelled, slipping out of his shoes while trying to keep hold of the groceries.

This is one such wish.

"Welcome back!" his mother called from inside the house. "Did you get the squash?"

And the consequences are immeasurable.

A firm grip on the bag in his hand, Naruto walked down the hall into the kitchen.

"Yeah, it was half-off. Old man Daisuke said he had a bumper crop."

"Really? This late? Huh." Kushina frowned speculatively as she brandished a kitchen knife while leaning back against their fridge. Naruto set his heavy load down on the kitchen counter, then stretched his aching muscles.

Kushina smiled impishly. "So?" she said.

Now it was Naruto's turn to frown. "'So' what?"

Kushina scowled in a motherly 'you-know-exactly-what-I-mean-now-stop-messing-around' sort of way. Naruto gulped, then blushed. "Umm . . . Hehehe."

His mother's eyes widened. "You mean you actually did it?"

Naruto's blush darkened, and he actually looked away to hide his surging embarrassment. Kushina seemed not to notice as she squealed. "Oh, my baby boy got his first date!"

Did she really have to be so loud? This was embarrassing! "M-Mom, this really isn't—"

"Oh hush, you," Kushina retorted, her tone brokering no room for objections. "We're going to celebrate this whether you want to or not!"

"I'd listen to her if I were you." Mother and son turned to see Minato casually sprawled out on the couch, thumbing through another one of his newspapers. "There's no talking your mother out of something like this."

Kushina's scowl returned. "You didn't use the door. Again."

Minato barely even looked up. Clearly he had a death wish, or was just far too used to his wife's ire. "Uh huh." He turned another page, his eyes glued to the tiny words and black-white photos.

"You know how annoying it is that you don't use them. We paid good money for those!"

"Hiraishin is faster," Minato responded easily, frowning at another crossword puzzle that was criminally simplistic.

"Who cares?! This is just lazy!"

Naruto rolled his eyes with a dramatic sigh, then turned away from the kitchen. These 'arguments' of theirs were pretty much routine by now. Tuning out most of the good-natured bickering, he walked towards the door. "I'm heading out! Can't keep Sakura-chan waiting!"

"I don't know, Kushina. Not walking anywhere leaves me plenty of energy for the bedroom."

Naruto stopped and slowly turned around, horror dawning on his features as his eyes grew impossibly wide. He saw his mother freeze, appraise her now-smirking husband, then grin lecherously with a massive blush across her face. "Let's see you prove it, blondie!" She grabbed Minato so quickly that even he was hard-pressed to react, and in a moment they'd vanished upstairs.

Naruto stood there in a daze, his mind absolutely numb with revulsion. Then the moaning started, and Naruto practically broke down the (unlocked) door in his haste to get out of there. There were some things that no child should ever have to witness!


~o0O0o~

Far away, a lone young man walked towards the Village Hidden in the Leaves with steel in his hand and power in his eyes. With each step he took, the leaves, the soil, the very air around him began to lose its luster and slowly fade. Yet he continued undaunted, his heart resolved.

One way or another, this world would burn.


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