He shot up instantly. A painful grab had shaken him up from his sleep. He still felt drowsy but the incisive voice of Hinata brought clarity of his surroundings.
Naruto's senses gradually regained their functionality, making his eyes able to recognize the outline of his wife and his ears to catch Boruto's crying nearby.

He threw his legs over the side of the bed when he made out the distorted mien of his wife in the darkness. Little tears pricked at the corners of her eyes and it was like every cell in his body awoke with awareness as he saw the drops glimmering in the light of the moon.

"What's wrong?" Panic had settled on his face and showed its trace in his voice. Maintaining tranquility when his wife gave him looks like these had never been one of his strengths.

"Boruto started crying and I tried to calm him down." Hinata held the baby towards him, lightly bobbing him up and down. Her gaze rapidly switched back and forth between her husband and her child. "But he doesn't stop and suddenly he became feverish." The trembling of her voice showed that she was on the verge of crying.

Hinata was usually a composted person, so seeing her in this state frightened him even more. They were both ninjas, and both of them had accomplished to keep a cool head in the worst scenarios. But it seemed like the parents had lost this attribute of theirs when the worst scenario involved the wellbeing of their child.

"He is in pain," Hinata said desperately. Sadness and distress mirroring in her eyes. They rose to their feet and Naruto eyed his son fidgeting his arms in the air while he increased the volume of his ringing scream.

"Let's go." After a second of orientating themselves they hurried out of the room. Their minds perhaps were in great chaos but their bodies moved on their own, finding their way to leave the apartment in a swift quickness.

Hinata embraced Boruto close to her body, trying to hold him stably as they speeded from rooftop to rooftop. Naruto tried to focus on the goal of reaching the hospital as fast as possible but the crying of his son disturbed his attention, every tone was like a needle pinching deep into his body.

There were so many worries nibbling on his consciousness right now, that he wouldn't be surprised if his brain exploded in exhaustion. He was additionally afraid that the exposure to the coldness of the night would worsen his sons condition and that for whatever reason the way to the hospital would take longer than ordinarily.

The frequent visits to the hospital had begun soon after Boruto was born. They had learned that the boy had a low immune function and a general weaker body than the average new-born so he got sick very quickly. Boruto hadn't even reached his first year and they had already been at the hospital too often according to his parents.

Whenever they returned to their way to the doctors the fear of his son's health worsening recurred. Naruto tried to suppress the angst, in the knowledge that he had different things to concentrate on but it creeped back into his mind, infecting every little corner of his head.

He glanced at Hinata beside him and their weeping son in her arms.
He shook his head, reminding himself that this wasn't the proper time to freak out. He had to pull himself together and support his family with all his might.

Naruto had started to hate hospitals. Never had he thought that he might generate a dislike for a building to such an extent. He hated the clinical smell, the lifeless halls and the fact that his visits to this place had become too common.

Hinata was seated on a bench, burying her face in her hands. Her messy hair slightly covered his vision of her but Naruto was able to observe the uncontrollable shaking of her body and how she bit her lower lip, like she tried to force back the emotions from overwhelming her with a wave of sobs.
She was a mess and he knew that his own self wasn't any different.

Naruto didn't want to stand at his current distance to her. He wanted to console her and tell her that everything was going to be alright. But he wasn't sure if this would turn out alright at the end. Just the sheer thought of this scared him to his guts and cramped his heart, causing an unbearable and numbing pain in his chest.

The screaming of his son behind the closed door was ear piercing and contributed to his pain gaining in greatness. He walked up and down as if he tried to shake off the staggering sounds on the other side of the wall. But he couldn't escape it, the screaming had cornered him in his own mind, making it impossible for him to imagine a world without it.

He had sensed that the situation was different than usual. The doctors reaction had been worse than the times before. He could still clearly remember the stern gaze he had seen on them.
The general procedure in the room took longer than he had wished for and he was on the edge of opening the door himself to assure himself of what they were doing inside.
Also Boruto's crying was unlike before and this fact scared him in way it drew a shiver down his spine.

And at this current point it was hard for Naruto to imagine that everything was going to be alright. He was more than scared that it wouldn't be. His optimism had already fled at an earlier point of this night.

The eagerly awaited opening of the door cut off Naruto's line of thought. He helped Hinata stand up again but didn't let go of her hand after doing so. He squeezed her tightly in effort to comfort her and also himself.
They watched several people leave the room until on of them halted in front of the married couple. The doctor shortly gazed at them before he finally opened his mouth.

"I can reassure you that we were able to decrease his temperature and he isn't in a critical condition anymore." Naruto and Hinata visibly relaxed their shoulders and clasped each others hand even more firmly, as though they wanted to prevent themselves from falling over in relief.

"But I still want to observe his infection, so we will keep him here at least over the night." The parents nodded and their expressions stiffened again. The doctor patted Naruto's shoulder in hope of them getting rid of at least a bit of their concerns. "You can go inside, a nurse will check his condition later. Please try to rest a little bit."

Stepping into the room they noticed that Boruto had stopped crying and it was odd how unfamiliar it was not hearing it anymore.
A dim light made it possible for them to detect their child lying in a see-through box. An IV was connected to his small body.
Hinata drew in a sharp breath, that she tried to weaken in volume. Boruto looked so fragile and weak that it endangered her knees in giving in. Desperately she held onto Naruto. She pressed him so tightly that the fear of breaking his arm crossed her mind.

Their eyes fixated their son as they drew closer to him. His face was reddened but a calm expression had settled on his sleeping face, silently giving his parents a little solace.

The child's hair was messy and still visibly wet from his sweat. Hinata's fingers itched with the urge of running her hand through it. She wanted to hold him, caress him and ensure that he was going to be fine again.
She felt hopeless that she couldn't do anything to make her son feel better.

"He must be in so much pain," Hinata whispered, her hand traced the plastic of the box. Naruto looked up from Boruto and searched for her gaze but her sight didn't leave the child.

"I feel as if I failed as a mother." Saying the words out loud added in their hardness. She hadn't been a mother for very long but already fostering these thoughts felt like a hard and ruthless kick.

"Hinata…" His resounding had been nothing more than a breath, too shocked was he at her sudden revelation to be possibly able to bring out another noise.

"This seems like the first test and I failed miserably." She didn't give the impression that he was talking to her husband but rather quietly scolding herself. Her voice seemed distant and hollow.

"Hinata-" Naruto's already widened gaze gained in size. For once his formidable ability to find a way to speak in any situation let him down, leaving him in speechlessness.

The woman didn't gave him the opportunity to express himself either way as she continued without even moving an inch in her poise.

"Isn't a mother supposed to protect her child." She knew that she was still young, they both were. There was still a lot that she needed to learn about caring for a family and she was aware of that. But standing in the hospital and looking at her child like this, when his birth was still freshly in her memory, hurt. It hurt beyond all comparison.

Hinata noticed the blurring of her vision to an extent that the image of her son faded, the poor light source being the only thing left in her view to recognize. It took her a few moments to realized that tears were the culprit to her beginning blindness.

Her eyes shed a silent drop, running down her pale cheek. The lump in her throat grew distinctively and another attempt of opening her mouth endangered her to choke up before she would even be able to utter a word.
Her hands clenched the seam of her shirt and she lightly tugged at its fabric, her fingers ready to drill holes into the clothing.


But Naruto interrupted her by grabbing her shoulders and turning her towards him. Seeing her like this was torture.
She looked at him with a slightly agape mouth and with eyes that appeared even bigger compared to their usual form because of the wetness in them.

She gave him an expression that made it seem like she had just registered his presence.

"Listen to me closely," he spoke in a voice that restrained in its volume but not its firmness. "None of us would have been able to prevent this. Things like this happen and it's no ones fault." Naruto squeezed her arms to feel certain that he had her full attention.

"You didn't fail as a mother and I'm more than sure that you never will." He cupped her face and brushed away the trails of tears with his thumbs while he guided her closer towards him. Her lip was still quivering and her mouth firmly pressed together but the hardness and despair had escaped her eyes, allowing the well known glint back into her gaze.

"We are a family and families go through things like these to become strong." He probably was the last person to actually know how families worked but he had had enough time to picture his own vision of how it would be.

Naruto's hand moved to the back of her neck, where he ran his fingers through her hair before her led her into a hug, giving her the chance to release her sobs into his chest.

He had come to the realization that no matter how much he had longed for a family there would be times where the life in a group like this wouldn't be as perfect as he had imagined. But wasn't supporting each other through bad times the quality a family was about? At least it was in his vision of it.

Naruto hummed quietly with his arm dangling over the crib. He watched the sleeping Boruto, his eyes engrossing every of the child's movements. Sometimes the infant would audibly smack his lips or shake his little fists, and it would cause his father to form a soft smile. The rhythmical movement of his chest soothed Naruto in a way and he had to keep himself from wanting to stroke Boruto.

Sometimes it hit him hard like falling rocks that he was a father. There were times where it felt surreal, making him pinch himself to prove its reality.
Being a father was even more than he had imagined and he had to be cautious of so many things. But it was strange that when he watched Boruto he didn't just feel the significance of his paternal duties but also the awe of the actuality that he could call this being his son.

"Naruto-kun?" A murmur resounded behind him and he turned his head. The bedroom was dark but he could make out how Hinata rubbed her eye in doziness.

"Hinata, I'm sorry, have I woken you up?" Naruto adjusted the stool again which he was sitting on, since the wooden piece of furniture had rocked dangerously when he rotated.

"That's okay," she answered in a gentle but sleepy voice and approached him carefully as she crawled to the other side of the bed.

Even though Boruto had been released from the hospital more than a week ago, the couple had attained a certain paranoia of leaving their son alone for more than a few minutes. The most quiet sounds roused them at night and whenever they had a harder time to console his crying it carried the anxiety of him falling sick again.
It might sounded meticulous and overall stressful, but they had automatically introduced the behavior of not staying apart from him for too long.

It had become a grave fear to the intensity that they had relocated the child's crib from the nursery to the bedroom. They would eventually have to get rid of this newly emerged habit of theirs, but for the time being they felt more at ease this way.

"You should go to bed, you have a lot of stuff to do tomorrow." Hinata had stepped up behind Naruto, touching his back with her legs. Nevertheless, her contact continued to cause a pleasant warmth inside of him.

"You're right, it's just…" He was scared that he might miss Boruto getting worse again. He indeed had comforted Hinata on their last scaring trip to the hospital but he had needed some consolation not very long after. He had been just as devastated and wrecked as she had been. Never would he long for Boruto to be in pain like that ever again.

"I know." Hinata had embraced her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. Straightaway Naruto felt warmer by her closeness. He stroked her hand and stretched his mouth into a smile.

"But he is probably gonna be alright. I mean, he got some pretty strong parents."

"Look at how much you have grown." Naruto massaged Boruto's pudgy arms and legs. His chubbiness made him want to squeeze the child tightly between his arms.

"One… and two." He put Boruto his socks on one after another, trying to tickle a smile out of him when he brushed his feet. "Still a tough nut to crack, eh?" he mumbled as he narrowed his brows and pouted at his sons motionlessness.

"Whatever, I kinda like you anyway." Naruto put on a cheery expression and delicately lifted him from the changing table. He inspected the infant tilting his head at his father and eyeing him curiously, his big blue eyes glimmering the way his mother's did.

"Tou-chan is proud of you, ya know?" The grin on his face step by step developed into a tender smile. "You've gotten pretty strong." He recalled the hospital visits he didn't miss the slightest bit and was glad that the most frightening visit had also been their last. Watching his son becoming stronger day after day slowly chased away the threat of his health to decline again. And it made him proud, and happy, and a bunch of other emotions he would fail to take apart.

Naruto's eyes glazed over and he blinked to get rid of the establishing liquid.
"What are you doing, nearly making me cry on your first birthday," he scolded smilingly. Naruto sniffed and Boruto stretched out his arm, in attempt to get a hold of his father's nose.

The man wrinkled his nose and exposed his teeth, when Boruto started to babble incomprehensibly, his goggling eyes still staring at his father's organ of smell, not giving up despite it being out of his reach.

"Naruto-kun, are you coming? The others are probably waiting already." Hinata's distant voice resounded from the living room and Naruto called back that he was on his way before he held Boruto closer.

"Let's keep it a secret okay? No tattling." The boy clapped laughingly but his burst resulted in him eating his fist. He looked up at his father and Naruto drew the boy into a steadier embrace.

"I love you, son."

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