I awoke to the feeling of lightly being smothered, a delicate weight pressed into my back.

A mumbling yawn wiggled my lips as I rubbed the sleep out of my eye.

I glimpsed over my shoulder, face instantly warming in affection. Naru had taken possession of my arm and snuggled herself against my back after I passed out. I chuckled in amusement and managed to crawl up enough to pry apart my peach-coloured curtains, allowing a warm sunshine glow to blanket the girl's blessedly content expression. A calm spring breeze delicately swayed a few locks of her golden hair, further adding to the landmark sight.

'Naru-chan.' I smiled, airing out my bedroom from the windows I just opened, 'She looks so peaceful; so, content.' I softly placed a hand on her head, "You were really lonely, huh?" I whispered to no one in particular. I felt my very soul healed seeing Naru experience her very likely first tranquil night in.

All good things must come to an end, though.

"Naru-chan," I called, speaking softly into her ear. She aroused instantly, much quicker than I expected. I always assumed Naruto was a heavy sleeper. Guess not. Then again, it could also be the fact she had such a harmonious rest for once that she was more than well energized, too.

Either way, she got up; albeit a little drowsily, knees curled beneath her.

I smiled as she mimicked my actions from moments ago, rubbing the sleep out of her eye and yawning widely, "…Good morning."

"Did you sleep well?" I asked, even knowing it was a rhetorical question.

Naru nodded a couple of times, energy surging through her body like the nuclear power plant being switched on, "I slept great!~"

I laughed slightly, 'She's just like me.' I mused, "That's great. What's say we head down and go eat breakfast? I'm sure Mama's made something tasty for us."

"Okay!~" She bubbled.

Manoeuvring our legs to the edge of the bed, we dropped our sockless feet to the beige-coloured carpeted floor, complementing the peach-painted walls of my bedroom. We walked hand-in-hand to the medium-coloured door I then opened and led Naru out of, stepping into our slippers waiting for us just outside the door. Jogging down the stairs, we made our way past the living room door and straight into the kitchen, a mouth-watering aroma hitting our nostrils as soon as we opened the door.

"Oh, good morning you two," Mama greeted, smiling, "Did you sleep well?"

Naru beamed, spherical sapphire sockets glittering, "We slept great!"

A wide grin stretched my cheeks, 'There's the 'Naruto' I know and love.' Girl or not, Naruto would always be an infectious bundle of good vibes and energy. That cliche "Naruto removes his happy mask to reveal his 'real' dark and edgy self could take a long, never-to-return hike to no man's land as far as I'm concerned. There was nothing wrong with being cheerful. Some of the most endearing characters were bubbly, like Fujiwara Chika from Kaguya-sama: Love is War.

"I can tell. You look well relaxed, Naru-chan!" Mom gushed.

She snickered, "Well, I did have the bestest teddy!" She then glomped onto me; said teddy.

"Awwwwwww! How adorable!~" Mama cooed, drawing a smile of contentment from me. "Okay, you two lovebirds!~ Go in the living room." She beamed a ray of pure golden warmth comparable to the sun itself at us, "I'll bring you something yummy."

"Okay!" We chorused, going through the other door that looped around to the living room and Paul's aggressive grunts raged through the TV.

Dad had clearly mastered the art of knowing exactly who entered his space because he greeted us without diverting his gaze from Tekken like some kind of elite sensory ninja, "Ichi, Naru-chan; good morning!"

"Morning, Dad."

"Morning, oji-san." Naru pleasantly followed up, eyes drifting curiously to the TV, "Whatcha playing?"

"Tekken," He answered, finishing a round. He pulled out another controller from down under, turning to us with an inviting smile across his face, "Wanna play? I have a second controller."

Naru's eyes gleamed, hopeful, "Can I?"

A mirthful laugh sung with affection lightly escaped Dad's lungs, "Get over here."

Naru prodded her way over.

"Go easy on her, Pops."

"Now, Ichi-chan; I think you and I both know "going easy" just isn't in my vocabulary!"

"Vocabulary?"

Dad joked as much, but his soft spot for Tekken newbies shone through as he let Naru whittle his health down to the red to as low as possible before combo-ing her out of existence using his least favourite characters like Kuma, giving her the illusion she stood a chance at beating him once. She never did in the five matches they played, but Pops sitting back and cruising in first gear allowed her to enjoy the experience.

Dad and I both recommended Eddy for beginners, but she turned her nose up at the easy route and instead sped right down the hardest route; opting to main King and Panda of all characters! (Partly because Pandas are "cute", she says)

I shouldn't have been surprised really. She did have Naruto's trademark stubborn tenacity, after all.

"Ah!" She groaned and scratched her hair in exasperation, "You're good, oji-san."

"Well," Pops did his best to hide his cocky smirk, failing miserably in the process. Being great at Tekken was one thing he took great pride in. He reminded me of my old uncle from my past life. He absolutely loved Tekken, maining the game from the PS1 days all the way to the PS5 era. "It comes from years of practice, Naru-chan!" He placed a hand on her head, smiling more sincerely, "Your time'll come eventually, just like Ichi's."

Naru's competitive spirit blazed brightly within her azure pupils, "Oh, don't you worry! I'm gonna practise my butt off until I can beat you!" You know she meant that wholeheartedly, too.

Dad chuckled, "I look forward to that day, Naru-chan."

A breeze swept through the room, bringing the aroma of seasoned rice, "Food!~" Our star-struck gazes zeroed in on Mama carrying our breakfast on a tray.

"Breakfast time!" She called.

"Yay!" We raced over to the table in showy fashions; me with an athletic cartwheel rolling into a backflip and Naru with an adorable tumble roll; a'la Mario.

"My, you're just as energetic as Ichi, Naru-chan!" Mama commented, singing the girl's praises, "It's almost like having two Ichis around!" She kneeled, propping the tray on the table separating Naru and me.

The bright-eyed girl caressed the back of her head sheepishly, "Well, I can't do backflips like Ichi-chan."

"You'll get there," I assured, bringing my hands together. Two steaming bowls of white rice draped in the yellow yolk of a raw, uncooked egg were placed in front of us, courtesy of Mama.

"Yeah!" Naru agreed brightly, clapping her own palms in front of her glowing whiskered face of pleasant euphoria.

As one, we sang:

"Itadakimasu!"

I picked up the bottle of soy sauce Mama brought out alongside our drinks, sprinkling it over my meal like rainfall, "Want some, Naru-chan?" I offered after I was finished, "Soy sauce goes great with this stuff!"

She lifted up her bowl with both hands, nodding peppily, "Okay!"

I drizzled a generous amount over hers, and she made quick work mixing everything together with her chopsticks and bringing the bowl to her mouth, shovelling a portion within. It didn't even take a second for her face to practically melt in cosy appreciation, "Mmmmmm! Oishiiiiiii!~"

"Right?!" I said, stirring my own food as my rice turned a darkened yellow from the egg and soy sauce, "This stuff is the best!" I lifted the dish up to my lips, piling a mouthful into my tavern and chewing, "Mmmm!" The juicy egg combined with lightly salted rice and soy sauce just hit different. Jeeeeeeez! Who knew a raw egg over rice could be so tasty?

The Japanese were definitely onto something.

"Oh, you kids!" Mama gushed, covering her blushing cheeks with the emptied tray, "You're gonna make me blush."

We beamed, shooting adorable grins of appreciation; practically healing her soul by the expression on her face.

Bubbly hearts were essentially floating to the sky from Mama's head; a glowing expression of marvel shone over her countenance, "Kawaii!"

We devoured our breakfast and a second helping that we requested in near record time, though our healthy appetite didn't compare to Dad's. Man was already on his fifth bowl by the time we were on our seconds and showed no signs of slowing down. I swear, he was like a human version of a Saiyan for real.

"Ah!" I leisurely sat back and caressed my muscled ribs, sighing in blissful contentment, "That was a good breaky," I pressed my palms together, "Gochisousama."

Naru mimicked my actions, "Hm-mmm! Yummy," She grinned, "Gochisousama!"

Mama collected our plates and reappeared just as quickly, cradling a comb within her grip, "Naru-chan." Like a delicate breeze rustling in the air, Mama's gentle voice swayed over Naru's ear. The blue-eyed girl peered up at her curiously, as she kneeled in between us, "Would you like me to comb your hair?"

"O-Oh," The whisker-cheeked toddler sputtered, somewhat alarmed, though she mustered up a shy nod nonetheless, "…Hm-mmm."

Mama held out her arms; an invitation as warm as the bright sun above us, pulling Naru in and onto her lap like a magnet. My soft-hearted gaze observed Mama's own lingering on my new friend's shiny blond crown. A lock of Naru's hair flowed over Mama's hand like a river, a small ruler-sized comb threading lightly through it to avoid hurting her.

"Your hair's very pretty, Naru-chan."

"Thank you."

A bombshell of info silently exploded from Mama's lips like a suicide bomber sneaking up on the player on Rainbow Six Siege.

"It reminds me of your Mama's hair."

I did a double-take.

"You…" Naru froze, "You know my Mama?"

This was news to me, too, but thinking about it, it probably shouldn't have been. Minato was the Fourth Hokage before he passed so the villagers had to have known him, and by extension, his wife. Itachi made it clear to Naruto in the war arc that one doesn't get chosen as Hokage simply because one is strong; one gets selected as Hokage once they're recognized by the village.

"Oh, yes," She giggled with fond mirth, "Me and Ichi's Papa used to run into your parents frequently visiting our favourite café. Your Papa used to go around the village bonding with all the villagers and your Mama would accompany him all the time." She explained, "Kushina-neechan was as strong as she was pretty and really lively and bright." Amusement danced over her placid face, "You know, you take a lot after her."

"Really?"

"Yes, definitely," She gently embraced her shoulders, "You have her complexion and personality."

Mama lightly touching on Kushina's lore was interesting and something I could buy, considering Kishimoto never really went into much detail regarding the redhead's upbringing and life in Konoha. All we know from the manga was that kids had attempted to bully her because of her unusual red hair before she slapped them up and sent them packing. Whether she had any friends or admirers was up to speculation.

If I recall correctly, the anime may have added a filler scene of her crying on Mito's lap which may imply she had none. I doubt she and Mama were close friends, considering Mama's age. She was 24 now and Kushina and Minato died somewhere around their early to mid-20s, probably around the same age as Mama now.

She would've been 7 when Kushina first landed in Konoha at 12. It was likely that she saw Kushina disposing of some ballsy fools trying to step to her and began hero-worshipping her, if her affectionate usage of nee-chan was any indication.

"Wow," A whisper full of awe left Naru's lips, "I had no idea."

"…I guess you wouldn't," Mama's voice fell down to a similar volume; a wistful sheen glistening in her eyes, "Tell you what? I'll tell you more stories about your Mama before bed tonight, okay?"

Naru turned her head, looking up at Mama with wide hopeful eyes, "You mean I can stay the night again?"

"Of course, you can! Any friend of nee-chan's is a friend of ours!"

"Yay!" She endearingly latched onto Mama's waist, "Thank you so much!"

Her wholesome cuddle of affectionate gratitude caught Mama off-guard for a brief second, expression flashing from gentle surprise to kind warmth, "You're welcome." She returned the affection, enveloping Naru in the love only a mother like her and Kushina-san could give.

Dad and I silently watched their beautiful display of bonding with happy smiles, sharing enthusiastic grins with one another.

Our household felt even warmer just then.


"We're off now!" We bid farewell to Mama and Pops in the doorway, tucked into our sandals with the beaming sun glowing against us.

"Have fun, you two!" Mama said.

"And be safe," Pops advised.

"We will," Naru and I replied simultaneously, smiling at each other and stepping fully out of the doorway hand-in-hand, closing it behind us. It felt like we were really brother and sister being seen off by our parents on our first day of school together.

"Your parents are really nice, Ichi-chan!~" Naru remarked brightly, back in her orange shirt and yellow skirt from yesterday; a braid now hanging from the right side of her face courtesy of Mama's handiwork. She had also kindly washed and ironed Naru's clothes overnight, too.

"Yeah, my parents are the best!" I declared with euphoria.

She giggled, fingers curling over her mouth, "I see that!" She dropped her hands behind her back, swaying in place with a bright elation, "And I thought your Mama didn't like me."

"What'd I tell ya?" She giggled and I softly pried her hands free, taking one in my own and leading her off our walkway, "Now, let's get going at Sonic-speed!" I smirked, facing away from Naru and putting her hand over my shoulder.

A blink, "Sonic-speed?" She accepted her first-ever piggyback ride, however, curling her arms around my neck as I scooped up her legs and sat them on my hips.

I looked over my shoulder, smirk softening to a smile, "I'm gonna go really fast, Naru-chan, so hold on tight, okay?!"

Realization stretched her eyes wide, "How fast?"

I chuckled, "You'll see."

Did I become "one with the wind" or did the wind merge with me?" This was the question I asked myself, blistering away from my home with a speed that would make Yoruichi blush; the world blurring around me and a grip tightening on my neck.

"Whoaaaaaaaa!" Her legs dangled in the breeze like a towel hung up to dry in a tornado storm, "Slow down, Ichi-chan!" I heard her implore, "I'm gonna throw up!"

I didn't ease up, accelerating even higher; strafing left and right from any obstacles standing before us. The seconds blew by in a flash and the rural-looking downtown of Konoha central appeared over the horizon. I picked out the highest static-looking building I could see, blitzing toward it with a light of yellow and orange all but trailing behind me.

"Look out, Ichi-chan! We're gonna crash!" Naru pointed out frantically.

Impressive that she was adjusting to my speed, but I shouldn't be surprised.

Naru's talent was unrivalled.

A smirk swept over my lips, "Nah. Check this." I burst into overdrive as my favourite ramen-loving Jinchuuriki screamed in my ear and pressed her face into my shoulder, rocketing upwards along the wall and exploding high in the air with so much force Naru essentially flew off my back.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Her voice echoed in the winds of our high altitude above the clouds.

My smile softened whilst I manoeuvred in the air, reaching out to her and grabbing her hands, "Isn't this amazing, Naru-chan?" I asked, allowing gravity to take over. A slow descent ensued, rewarding us with a picturesque view of the sun beaming a ray of gorgeous light upon the Hokage monument.

My light voice gave her pause, "Huh?" She blinked, taking in her surroundings. Those blue eyes of hers sparkled, widening in awe at the village and the four stoned faces that overlooked it, "Ahhhhhhh…" A breathless exhale escaped her lungs, "We're so high up."

I grinned, "Right?"

She returned it with one of her own; those whiskered cheeks of hers imbuing it with the look of a smiling fox, "You were right!" Resting her forehead against mine, she finished with a gentle murmur, "This is fun."

"Always wanted to show you this, Naru-chan," I whispered back.

We fall into a comfortable silence, no pun intended, admiring the scenery granted to us by our airborne trajectory. Only when the buildings started to materialize into view did an all-important question blossom in Naru's head, startling realization adorably flashing over her face.

"Hey, I just thought of something."

"Yeah?"

"How're we supposed to land safely?"

I chuckled, "Leave it to me." I scooped her up, cradling her like a baby. She sputtered, instinctively wrapping her arms around my neck.

The ground felt like grass to me as I easily cushioned my impact. Flying forward again at breakneck speeds, I shot up the cliffside, bouncing off of the stoned face of Naru's father before landing on my feet.

"Andddddd we're here!" I announced, setting a wobbly Naru down on her feet.

"I'm never doing that again," She assured, eyes swirling and body swaying back.

"Careful," I said, steadying her and helping her to her knees.

She inhaled, taking deep breaths to come down from the high of our mini adventure. She then blinked, surveying the darkened patch of hard high ground we were on before looking at the village below, "Hey, we're on the Hokage Monument."

"Yeah," I clarified, propping down next to her, one leg carelessly swinging over the edge, "Since Mama was telling ya a bit about your folks, I thought it would only make sense to visit this place."

"My parents?" She cocked her head.

I pointed down at Minato's face, "See this guy?"

Naru crawled forward a little, tracking where my finger was aimed, "The Fourth Hokage?" She shrugged, "What about him?"

"This is Kushina-san's husband."

Realization dawned on her like an avalanche, "You mean?"

"Yup. Namikaze Minato, the Fourth Hokage himself, is your old man," I remarked, "Haven't you ever wondered where you get your looks from?"

A shake of the head, "Nuh-uh, but now that you mention it, my hair does look a little like his." She looked shook, for all extents and purposes, "Wow, the Fourth Hokage is my papa. I can't believe it. So, that means," A sniffle, the lights of her sparky blue eyes dimly fading, "…He."

"He sacrificed himself for you, because he loved you, Naru-chan," I murmured, gazing up at the sunlight. "Just like Kushina-san. They gave their lives for you because you're their little girl," I glimpsed Naru's astonished eyes quickly filling with hope like a warm bubble bath, "It's a parent's duty to give up their life for the sake of their child."

"You really think so?" She asked-, no, pleaded. She sounded so vulnerable and desperate and it tore my heart apart.

"I know so," I said and the warm resolve on my features calmed her, "They entrusted you because they believed in you. That's what being a parent is all about. I would know, I have two of them!" I laughed slightly.

My light jest worked wonders restoring Naru's mood, "Yeah!" She wiped a tear, "I think you're right." She was startled by me bear-hugging her tightly, "Ichi-chan!"

"I'm happy you came into my life, Naru-chan!" I beamed.

I felt a pair of hands wrapping around me, "You big dummy!" She jested, "I'm the one who should be saying that." She hugged me tighter, murmuring her gratitude with so much warmth and sincerity, "Thank you for saving me."

"You're welcome."