In chapter 25 I think of reverse Kurama thinks for a moment of taking Genma with him. Do you ever think of doing a au of it. I just imagine all the shenanigans they would get into.
Genma wakes with a throbbing headache, the vaguely nauseating lurch of a mild concussion, and the scent of rain and wet earth heavy in his nose.
It’s nothing at all like the sea-and-stone scent of Whirlpool Country that he remembers from before, and the air clings like a damp shroud in a way that sea air doesn’t. There’s no sense of Kakashi’s chakra, either, familiar and crackling like lightning. Instead, it’s like someone lit a bonfire right next to his head—chakra burns, as brilliant as standing at the heart of a wildfire.
Taking a breath, Genma opens his eyes, and is immediately confronted by orange-gold and green.
“Kurama-nii!” the little girl calls gleefully, grin wide and bright. “Kurama-nii, he’s awake! Are you going to torture him?”
“Are you going to eat him?” a redheaded boy, even younger than the girl, asks solemnly, leaning over Genma’s other side. Eerily pale eyes blink at Genma for a moment, and then the boy looks up. “Shukaku says you should eat him.”
“Shukaku is about ten cards short of a full deck,” a familiar voice says dryly, and a dark-skinned arm loops around the little boy and scoops him up. “Sweetheart, I thought you were supposed to be emptying out your pack.”
“But laying clothes out is boring,” the girl complains, even as she scrambles up. “They’re not that wet.”
“If you don’t stick them by the fire, they’re going to molder,” Uzumaki Kurama says, crouching down even as he boosts the redhead—the Kazekage’s child, Ichibi jinchuuriki, highly unstable, Genma remembers from the report, and can’t feel anything but bemused—up to cling to his shoulder. The boy latches on like a monkey, apparently perfectly content, and Kurama definitely doesn’t seem to mind, hardly even notices as he looks Genma over a little warily.
“Sorry,” he says, on the verge of gruff, but there’s a flicker in his eyes that makes Genma certain that he means it. “Freak Squad was incoming, and it was put you down or get the kids the hell out of there.”
Given that dropping him was hardly a time-consuming chore, Genma calls bullshit, and lets his raised eyebrow speak volumes as he pulls himself up to sit. Kurama has the grace to look faintly abashed, if not regretful, and he rolls his eyes a bit and huffs.
Well. There’s nothing to be done about it now, clearly, since Genma gets the feeling that Whirlpool Country is far behind them. He looks Kurama over, taking in the ragged clothes, the bare feet, the weary look edging his eyes, and tips his head in acceptance.
“I feel like I picked a fight with a mountain,” he says, keeps it light so that Kurama will know he’s joking even as he puts a hand up to rub at the lump on his skull.
Thankfully, it’s only humor that crosses Kurama’s sharp, almost pretty features. He chuckles softly, reaching out to gently tip Genma’s head forward. It’s a careful motion, and Genma only just feels the touch of claws against his scalp as Kurama shifts his hair. His bandana is still in his pocket, he realizes with something of a start. And—maybe it’s fitting, that Genma took off his hitai-ate before he helped Kurama, but…
Namikaze Minato was Genma’s Hokage, far more than the Sandaime. Minato was the one he loved, the one he would have given his life for in a heartbeat. And it was Minato he was serving, letting Kurama go. There’s no way Minato would ever have kept Naruto away from his last living relative, even if Naruto wasn’t his son. What could Genma do but honor that, when everything pointed to Kurama being benevolent, rather than an enemy?
“A jinchuuriki, not a mountain,” Kurama corrects dryly, letting Genma go to sink back on his heels, though dark red eyes linger on him. “It’s probably the next best thing, though, honestly.”
Genma grins, because he knew Kushina, and he’d definitely agree with that. Before he can say as much, though, there’s a scuffle off to the side, and with a cheer Naruto goes tumbling head over heels, a small white fox in his arms. They’re wrestling, Genma realizes with a start, and—
Six years, and he’s never seen Naruto laugh like that before. Like Kushina, loud and bright, entirely uncontained.
Kurama growls under his breath, more exasperation than anger, and practically dives over Genma, grabbing for the boy, and Genma looks, takes in what’s alarmed the man, and sees the edge of a cliff uncomfortably close. With a curse, he grabs Kurama’s shirt, anchoring him, and Kurama snatches Naruto and the fox up a bare foot from the edge.
“Don’t do that, kit,” he huffs, even as Genma reels him back in, heartbeat still stuttering in his chest at the near miss.
“Sorry, Kurama-nii,” Naruto says abashedly, offering up a sheepish grin that’s entirely Minato and makes Genma’s breath catch a little.
“Oops,” the fox agrees cheerfully, wiggling out of Naruto’s hold. “We’ll be more careful, Kurama-sama.”
Kurama rolls his eyes, but he sets Naruto on his feet, then lets Gaara slide down to join him. “We’re going to be up here for one night. Please try not to die, okay, brats?”
“Are we giving you gray hairs?” a blonde preteen asks solemnly, looking Kurama over with sharp eyes. “Anzu said we were, but I don’t see any.”
“If anyone could, it would be you four,” Kurama says dryly. “But no. I’m fine.”
Yugito eyes him for one more moment, then nods, apparently accepting that, and says, “Naruto, Gaara, come help me lay out your clothes so they’ll dry. You don’t want to be wearing wet things tomorrow, do you?”
“Aww,” Naruto complains, though by the way he bounces over to her side, it’s probably not nearly as much of a problem as he’s making it seem. Gaara casts one more look at Genma, faintly cautious, and then follows.
Genma watches them for a moment, taking in the small cave they’re all camped out in. outside, rain is sheeting down, and grey clouds obscure everything, though Genma can’t tell if the cloud-cover is particularly low or if they’re up high. No defining characteristics, beyond the rain, and at this time of year that could mean they’re in Ame, Grass, southern Lightning Country, or anywhere near the eastern sea.
He glances over at Kurama to find the man watching him closely, still sitting next to him with one leg bent and an elbow looped around it. Definitely not the pose of an enemy, or even someone suspicious of Genma’s motives, and that’s…strange. Kurama shouldn’t know anything about him, and certainly not enough to mark him as something besides a possible threat.
Then again, Genma supposes that he wouldn’t be conscious anywhere near the kids if Kurama thought he was a threat. Probably would have been killed back in Whirlpool Country, honestly, and it’s not a comforting thought, but it’s still reassuring. Kurama’s doing everything possible to protect the jinchuuriki children, and Genma knows bone-deep that he won’t let any harm come to them.
“What’s happening tomorrow?” he asks mildly, carefully leaning back to brace himself against the wall of the cave.
For a long moment Kurama just looks at him, dark red eyes assessing. He looks so much like Kushina, from the shape of his eyes to the angle of his jaw, that it’s a little eerie, but…comforting. Genma’s spent the last six years with the only reminder of Kushina being her son, and for all Naruto will likely look like his mother when he gets older, for now his father’s coloring overwhelms it. It’s impossible not to see Minato, when Genma looks at him, so the shadow of Kushina in Kurama’s features is a welcome one.
Raggedly cut red hair sways as Kurama tips his head a little, and his lips tip up in a hint of a smirk. “If I said Kiri, what would you do?”
Kiri? Genma blinks, entirely taken aback, and—he’d honestly been expecting Kurama to say Ame. It would at least make more sense than the Bloody Mist.
Except maybe it wouldn’t, because Kurama’s been hitting all the highlights in his jinchuuriki-acquisition tour, and besides Bee, the only ones he hasn’t visited yet are Yagura and Kiri’s second human sacrifice.
“…You’re going to take four kids into Kiri,” he says, even so, because the bloody graduation exam might have stopped when he was a kid, but that doesn’t mean Kiri is anything even vaguely close to stable.
Kurama blinks, and then snorts. He curls his legs under him, shifting forward, and says, “You know, most people skip over the fact that they’re kids, seeing as they’re jinchuuriki too.”
Genma rolls his eyes at the man, because after Genma committing treason for him he should damn well know better. “Most people probably didn’t have to deal with a pregnant Kushina. Believe me, that’s not something I could forget.”
The slant of Kurama’s mouth changes, a faintly bittersweet smile crossing his face. “Yeah. She was a terror, wasn’t she?”
“The biggest terror,” Genma says fondly, because Kushina may as well have been a second older sister, and he adored her for everything she was. These last few years have been torture, only being able to involve himself in the barest fringes of Naruto’s life, unable to be anything but an invisible watcher most of the time. It hurts, even more so because he knows it’s the exact opposite of what Minato and Kushina would have wanted.
Well. Thinking like that, it’s easy enough to know what to do next. Kurama said he was planning to bring Naruto back to Konoha, and that’s good enough for Genma.
“So,” he says easily, pulling a senbon out of his sleeve and flipping it through his fingers. “What are our plans in Kiri?”
Kurama’s eyes widen, and he looks up at Genma sharply. Genma just grins back, lazy and maybe a little challenging, and watches the realization flicker across that familiar-unfamiliar face.
“Well,” Kurama drawls, “hopefully I’ll be able to find a babysitter. And then I was planning to go punch a goddess in the face. You up for it?”
Raidō is going to murder him, but it’s still nowhere near enough to make Genma back down. He holds Kurama’s gaze, tucks the senbon between his teeth, and smiles. “I did always like to dream big.”