Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me and I will be making no money from this story. This is simply a work of fiction by a fan.

Pairings:SasuNaru, one-sided GaaraNaruto, plus others

Warnings: Yaoi, angst, mpreg OOC, language, Naruto's POV

Special thanks to mystiewolf for the great beta read.

Hidden Heartache

Chapter 15

I refused to speak to Sasuke for the rest of the day. He tried to engage me in another conversation, but I ignored him. My only focus was on the baby and taking care of him. I needed time to deal with the situation and to calm my growing anxiety. I thought about going back to Konoha and raising the baby with Sasuke, but it wouldn't work. Our relationship was too tense to involve a child and I couldn't subject my baby to anything similar to my childhood. Besides, as a criminal my freedom was in jeopardy and I was too tired to think about fighting let alone actually doing it.

By the next morning, things still looked bleak as I tried to work out an escape plan. Good thing my lower abdomen was feeling better as Kyuubi continued to heal me. Yesterday it had hurt to move around and I couldn't get out of bed, but today the pain had considerably lessened and I was able to move around my room. The skin around the area was still tender and as my mobility increased so did the scrutiny of the others.

The baby cried almost every three hours. He was tiny but always hungry. I demanded the right to feed him. At first Sasuke and Sakura had objected but they caved as the feedings started and no great tragedy befell me or the baby. In the beginning, my body couldn't handle changing the newborn or burping him. Any added pressure or weight felt as though the stitches were being ripped apart, so I left those tasks to Sasuke and to my surprise, he didn't object. It didn't take me long to realize that the baby's primary care givers were me and Sasuke. Kakashi and Sakura popped in but didn't offer any help.

Today I changed his first diaper. It was a little awkward at first and annoying when Sasuke showed me how to do it, but I didn't object. His parenting skills surpassed mine and it hurt. Not because he was good at it, it was easy to see his expertise and gentleness, but because I still planned on leaving. While Kakashi and Sakura only came in the room every now and then, Sasuke never left. When he was tired, he slept sitting up in the chair and no one commented on the situation. It annoyed me that Sasuke watched my every move. Did he think he needed to protect the child from me?

"Naruto," Gaara said as I put the baby down for an afternoon nap.

"Gaara," I responded glad to see him. I looked over towards Sasuke who just stared at us and the current situation hit me. I looked towards Gaara and apologized. "I'm sorry about the mess."

Gaara didn't look angry. "Don't be. If anything, I need to apologize to you. I couldn't keep my promise," he said.

Gaara is a great person. To bad he doesn't see that quality in himself. Everything is my fault. I came here begging for help and now Gaara's apologizing for not being able to help me enough. "No it's alright. If Tsunade didn't come, then my baby might not have made it," I said and truly believed it. No matter what had happened, my baby was alive and that's all that mattered.

Gaara looked towards Sasuke. "We need to talk. I would wait until you're alone but it doesn't seem like that will happen." He paused, waiting for my full attention, "Do you want to go back to Konoha?" he asked.

Up until this point I didn't think I had a say in the matter. I had to fall in line and return or continue to run. No one actually asked me what I wanted. I needed to know what he was asking, but before I could respond Sasuke said, "He doesn't have a choice."

Sasuke's voice was icy, cold, and a little scary. I looked down at the baby and rubbed his back. "How about we finish this conversation outside? I don't want to wake him," I said.

Gaara nodded, turned, and walked out the door. Sasuke maneuvered his way in between us as we continued down the hall towards the large sitting area.

"Sit down," Sasuke ordered as he directed me towards the couch.

Now he was starting to piss me off. I wasn't a dog that needed a master. I glared at him but before I could speak, he continued, "You've been on your feet all morning. If you overdue it, then you'll be confined to bed again."

I hated it when he was right. My abdomen started to feel sore, so I complied. "Fine," I grumbled then focused on Gaara.

Gaara stood to my left and Sasuke positioned his body to my right. "Naruto, do you want to return to Konoha?" he asked.

I thought back to my childhood and the council members. I lived with hate everyday of my life and I wanted more for Kei. But what about Sasuke? Did he still not want children? He was taking care of the child and staking a claim to him, but I wondered if he really loved him, or did he see him as a possession and a responsibility? "I don't know." I answered. Right now Konoha only represented pain for me and Kei.

"How about you stay here? I'll help you raise the baby. I understand what it means to be different and can relate to the child the same way you can," Gaara said.

Sasuke's body tensed and he look towards me. I refused to make eye contact with him. "You mean you'd let me stay," I said but couldn't contain my shock. I'd thought after the baby's birth I'd be asked to leave.

Gaara started to walk towards me but Sasuke moved in between us and stopped his approach. I understood Sasuke's orders to stay with me but Gaara wasn't a threat. Why was Sasuke acting this way? "I'd never had any intention of forcing you to leave. It's your choice. I won't let others force you to do something you don't want to do. I would like you to stay. It's nice being close to you and I'd like you to always be here," Gaara said.

His words sounded great. He could give me the one thing I'd always wanted, companionship. But it sounded like he wanted something more than friendship. "Gaara it sounds like your proposing," I said half heartedly because there was no way he could be serious.

We looked at each other. "That's up to you. It could be a proposal if you want it to be one," he said.

There was a long silence while I thought about the situation. Gaara was offering me a new life. If I wanted to, it could be a life with him. I thought about it. Gaara made me feel safe. He understood and listened to me like no one else. "I don't know what to say," I said. The situation was a complete surprise. How could I miss Gaara's feelings? He always wanted to protect me and he showed a lot of patience. He was everything a person could want, but there was something missing and I couldn't figure it out. Why didn't I see this coming?

"Dobe, I've already told you. You're returning to Konoha," Sasuke said from his spot between us. I looked towards him and glared. "You're not marrying him. There's only one place for you and that's back home," Sasuke said.

"I make my own choices," I screamed at him. I'd reached the end of my patience. He had no right to come in here and take over. I wanted choices. I needed control over my life. Why was it only Gaara understood that? Couldn't Sasuke see what he was doing to me?

Sasuke moved closer and gently ran his hand through my hair. "Naruto, I won't you let stay here with my son. You don't have a choice," Sasuke said.

"He has a choice. If he doesn't want to return he doesn't have to," Gaara said.

"Gaara it seems as though you don't want to protect the peace between our villages," Tsunade said as she entered the room.

"I want Naruto to be able to make his own choices. I won't let you bully him into doing what you want," Gaara said to Tsunade but the last part he directed at Sasuke.

Tsunade shook her head. "The village will never let him live somewhere else. I won't let him go either," she said.

Gaara looked towards Tsunade, "Under our treaty I'm bound to return any missing nin but the baby is a different story," Gaara said.

"What do you mean?" Sasuke said coldly.

"The baby was born in my village and is therefore a citizen. You can read the treaty for yourselves if you have any doubts. As you know I'm responsible for all of the Sand Village citizens," he said.

"Are you saying you'd hand over Naruto but keep the baby?" Tsunade asked.

"If Naruto goes back with you he'll be imprisoned and never see his child," Gaara said.

"If Naruto agrees to return he won't face prison time, but if he's forced back then I can't be held responsible," Tsunade said.

"If Naruto is forced back, then the child remains here. Unless you want to start a war then that will be your responsibility," Gaara said and then I understood. He was giving me choices. He would give me a home if I wanted it. If Tsunade forced the issue he would keep the baby. Of course, it wouldn't be allowed and it would cause an incident that could destroy peace between our villages, so for the greater peace, I would be able to stay. Of course, there would be stipulations that would need to be worked out. Gaara was creating a mess that would take years to work out in order to give me choices. If anyone else threatened to keep my baby, I would attack them, but even though Gaara said he would do it, I trusted him.

"He's my son. You can't keep him here," Sasuke said realizing Gaara's plans.

"I don't acknowledge that. Besides even if it's true it doesn't change my legal right an obligation to decide the future of my citizens."

"Fine but when Naruto agrees to return then he will take the baby and you relinquish all claims," Tsunade said. "He can remain here until that happens, but he won't be allowed to travel."

"So basically he can only leave this village to return to Konoha." Gaara said.

"Yes and of course Kakashi's team will remain here as well. Someone has to watch Naruto and make sure he gets the medical care he needs since you proved it's too much of a responsibility for you to handle," Tsunade said slightly angered by the outcome.

"Well then it's a good thing you were here," Gaara said. "Now, can I continue my conversation with Naruto?" Gaara asked.

"No," Sasuke said.

Tsunade looked at him. "Of course. He's a guest in your village, but Sasuke and I will remain here. Just in case you try to persuade Naruto to do something that's not beneficial," Tsunade said.

"That's not really necessary," Gaara said. "Naruto, I'll talk to you later, but remember what I said. I will help you."

Gaara started to walk toward the door. "Bye Gaara. I'll talk to you later." I said in order to tell him I wanted this conversation to be continued. He nodded in understanding before leaving.

"Are you going to force me to go home?" I asked.

"Naruto I can help you if you agree to return on your own, but if I force you back, you will be imprisoned and Gaara will make relations between our villages difficult. After some time, the child will be returned to Konoha, but the damage done to our villages' relationship will be irreversible. I'd rather not do that," Tsunade said.

I looked away and refused to answer. There was too much to think about and I really didn't want to think at all. "I'm going to check on the baby," I said before walking out the door.

I stood over Kei's crib looking down and waiting for Sasuke to enter and ruin the quiet moment between the two of us. He looked like an angel when sleeping. I knew that being partialy my child he would never be looked at as angelic. The overwhelming responsibility of being his parent finally hit me. The decisions I made would affect his whole life.

"He's perfect Naruto," Shikamaru said as he entered the room.

"I know," I said because it was true.

"I'm sorry," Shikamaru said.

I shook my head, "No you only did what you thought was best. Did you get into trouble?" I asked. After all, he was helping a missing nin.

"Not yet. No one knows where you are except the people you've seen," Shikamaru said.

"There going to force me home," I said.

"I think that's for the best. You have a lot of people who will help you in Konoha," he said.

"I don't want my choices taken away. I want to choose where I live and how to raise my child," Naruto said.

"But you're a ninja. That was the choice you made and as a ninja you can't just leave," Shikamaru said.

"So in the end, I don't have a choice," I said. Everything was out of control. My plans were ruined. I couldn't make decisions for my child and out of everything, that hurt the most. I wanted his life to be perfect, but the way things stood now, I'd be lucky if we could achieve a quarter of the things I had planned for us.

"I shouldn't be telling you this but if you want to remain in the Sand village, Gaara can make it happen," Shikamaru said.

"How?" I asked.

"I'm only telling you this because I'm partly responsible for what happened. This is my way of making up for it," Shikamaru said. Before I could contradict him and tell him he wasn't responsible, he continued, "Gaara's claim to the baby as a sand citizen gives him the right to make decisions for the child. If the village forces you back, it doesn't include the child. He will allow you to stay as a representative from the village and allow the child to be raised as a Konoha ninja. Tsunade and the council will agree in time. If you decide to stay, it can happen. You won't have complete freedom though. If they force you back, then all contact with the child will end, but I doubt Gaara will keep the baby. He will probably force the village to ignore your actions that led to you becoming a missing nin and then relinquish the Sand Village's claim of the child's citizenship." Shikamaru said. "Politics can be confusing, so don't worry about what's happening behind the scenes. If you really think Konoha will be completely unbearable, then you do have a choice. If you're fighting because you feel you need to prove something you can stop."

Did I have something to prove? I wanted choices and Gaara was giving me those. The one thing I needed to feel was power. "Shikamaru, Gaara offered me a place to stay but he offered me a place by his side. He wants to be more then friends." I don't know why I was confiding in him but he knew everything and for the last few months had helped me. He also saw how Gaara acted around me, what he did for me and if Shikamaru was going to give advice he needed to know everything.

"That is troublesome. Feelings will complicate the matter. Besides you don't love him."

He was right. I didn't love Gaara, not in the way I loved Sasuke. Loved? Did I still love Sasuke. This was too much. There was so much to think about that I couldn't think about anything else. Why did everything have to become so confusing? "I don't know what to do," I said.

"Right now just relax. You've just had a baby and I can imagine how overwhelmed you must feel but stop and think about it. Remain calm and level headed. I'm leaving on a mission tomorrow," Shikamaru said.

"You're going?" I asked.

"I'm sorry, but I'm a ninja and I don't get to choose where I go," he said.

In his own way he was telling me I didn't really have a choice either. Even though I could remain here with Gaara, I had other obligations. "Bye Shikamaru," I said.

"Sasuke can be a bastard, but he will help you and don't take the things he might have said literally. Talk to him. Goodbye Naruto," Shikamaru said walking out the door.

Talk to Sasuke? Was that possible now? It had been months since we really talked, but now we had an important reason to. Maybe it was time to get things out. If I decided to remain here with Gaara or go back with Sasuke, certain things needed to be said and understood.

Sasuke entered shortly afterwards. "Sasuke," I started to say but stopped myself. I wanted to know if he trusted me. Could we be parents together? What happened to us? What were we? But I couldn't ask anything.

After a long silence Sasuske spoke, "What is it Naruto?" He stood and walked over towards me and sat on the edge of the bed.

"It's nothing," I said unable to ask any of the things I wanted to know. He didn't respond, but he waited. He knew my inability to stay quiet for long periods of time. The questions started to appear in my mind and before I knew it one escaped my lips. "Do you regret what happened? Do you wish it never happened?"

I couldn't meet his eyes and the silence between us lasted awhile before he asked, "Do you?"

I immediately shook my head no. "I love Kei and he exists because of that night, but you didn't ask for this and I heard you tell the council that you didn't want children. If you are here because of obligation, I don't want that. You can go at anytime."

"I don't regret what happened. Naruto, you are important to me and I won't let you go. I might have told the council I didn't want children, but that's changed. I won't deny my son."

"Sasuke, I'm afraid. Over the last few months I replayed parts of my childhood. Everyone hated me. I can't allow that to happen to Kei."

"Don't be stupid. It won't be the same. Kei will have us," he said.

"That might not work out. Sasuke there is something I have to tell you." I took a deep breath before I spoke again. "What if my feelings for you are not purely those of a friend? It's possible there might be something more," I said.

"You really are slow. I didn't have sex with you because of our friendship. There has been something going on between us for sometime."

"What is it?" I asked, hoping he would find the words to describe us. Was this love? I thought it might be at one time but everything is so confusing. I felt an attachment to Gaara and I trusted him. Everything with Gaara felt safe, but I didn't want him.

"I don't know, but we can figure it out," he said. I saw Gaara and Sasuke and envisioned my life with both of them. Why was everything so confusing?

AN: Thanks to all reviewers. The reviews lets me know if the story is working or if something needs to be added. Chapter 16 is about halfway done and it will still need to be edited after it is written, so it will be about two weeks before it is posted. Remember to review.