Through her agony she heard a baby's cry. She opened her eyes and focused. "Give him to me." She said weakly.
The attending physician checked her pulse, it was dropping dangerously. "Kushina, you've lost a lot of blood. You need immediate surgery or you're going to die!" The sight of all that blood bothered her but she couldn't let herself freeze up when her friend's life was at stake.
She held out her arms. "Tsunade give me my son."
Frowning Tsunade nevertheless put the wrapped child into his mother's arms. "All right, but only for a moment. Then we have to begin the surgery."
She carefully took her son and smiled down at him. He had his father's eyes. He was crying. "Shhh, hush now my little one. Hush my little Naruto. Your mother is here and everything is all right." And as she held him he quieted down. It stunned her just how much she loved him. "Everything is all right my little one." She whispered to him.
"Kushina I have to take him." The man she loved, her husband, the father of her child spoke.
She looked up into his face and saw his tears. "No," she begged. "I take it back! You can't use him for this! Please Minato I beg you! Not for this! Isn't it enough that you're going to die? Must you do this to your own son?" Her voice was breaking. She knew there was no choice but she didn't care.
"Whose child shall I choose?" Minato asked sadly. "How can I ask some other parent to make a sacrifice that I am not willing to make?"
"I don't care!" She wailed and held him closer. "It's too much to ask it's not fair!"
"No Kushina it's not." He agreed sadly. "But it must be done."
"I am sorry Kushina but you have to go into surgery right now." Tsunade put a needle in her arm and injected her.
"No… don't… don't…" Kushina closed her eyes.
Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure took his new born son into his arms. He wept unashamedly. "Forgive me my darling wife; forgive me my beloved son for what I must do now." He looked at Tsunade. "Will she be all right?"
"I hope so but I can't guarantee it."
He nodded. He prayed that both she and Naruto would be all right. But he knew that whatever happened he would not be there to see. "Please tell her that I love her and am truly sorry, but this is the only way."
"I will tell her." Tsunade promised. But she knows all ready.
He looked at his crying son. "They'll see you as a hero my son. They will honor you for the sacrifice you make for their sakes."
Tsunade watched him leave the operating room with his son. I am never going to see that brave man again. She couldn't even spend any more time regretting Minato's fate. She began the emergency surgery to try and save his wife. I shouldn't even be here. I should be in a casino hundreds of miles away But when a friend asks you to deliver her child how do you say no? She truly hated being in Konoha. Everything here just reminded her of all that she had lost. And now here she was trapped in the middle of a tragedy of epic proportions. If I survive this I swear I am nevercoming back to this village ever again.
She slowly opened her eyes. There was sunlight coming through a window. She was lying in a small bed.
"Good you're awake." A familiar voice spoke.
She had to focus for a moment. "Tsunade?"
Tsunade smiled and nodded. She stood up from the chair she'd been sitting in and stretched. "You're very lucky that I came. It was close, so how do you feel?"
"Tired, more tired than I can ever remember being."
"I believe that. You're going to need to stay in bed for at least a week to fully recover."
Then she suddenly remembered. She sat bolt upright and was rewarded with a sharp stabbing pain in her belly. "Minato!"
"Easy, easy!" Tsunade eased her back into the bed. "No sudden movements! Your body is in a weakened state. You need to take it easy."
She looked up at her friend. "Tsunade, is Minato?"
Tsunade shook her head. "I'm very sorry Kushina but he's gone. But he didn't die in vain. He stopped the Kyuubi and saved this entire village."
She shut her eyes and grieved for him. Oh Minato why? She opened her eyes and began to look about the room. "Naruto!" She looked at Tsunade in panic. "Where is Naruto? Where is my son?"
"He's alive Kushina and unhurt." Tsunade assured her but then looked worried. "Right now he is with the old man. There is an emergency meeting of the Council. They are deciding his fate."
"What do you mean his fate?!" His mother demanded. "I want my son right now!"
"Kushina I can't bring him to you I'm sorry."
"Then bring me to him!" She tossed off her blanket and began getting out of bed.
"Stop!" Tsunade grabbed her. "Kushina if you push too hard you'll reopen your wounds and die!"
"Fine," she grunted in pain. "Get me a wheelchair then, but I'm going to my son."
Seeing the look in her eyes she knew there was no arguing with her. She turned to her assistant Shizune. "Please bring me a wheelchair."
"The demon must be killed now!" Uchiha Fugaku roared to the general approval of the Council. "We cannot afford to waste the heroic sacrifice of the Yondaime! We must complete what he began!"
"That would be quite short sighted." Danzou stood and spoke firmly. "This child could become Konoha's ultimate weapon. Alone he could guarantee this village's supremacy.
"And I say letting it live even a moment longer is too dangerous!" Fugaku demanded.
"There is no it" The Sandaime said quietly and with dignity. "There is a him." He pointed to the crib beside his seat. Amazingly the child was sleeping peacefully through all the shouting. "Do you understand what it is that you are suggesting Fugaku? You wish not only to murder a helpless infant but the Yondaime's only son."
"I am truly sorry that it is necessary to sacrifice the Yondaime's son to guarantee the survival of this village. But how many innocents have died already?" Fugaku asked. "I say the demon must be killed!"
"TOUCH HIM AND I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU!!" A woman's voice cried out from the doorway. They all stopped to look. There was Uzumaki Kushina in a hospital gown sitting in a wheelchair being pushed by none other than the Sannin Tsunade.
"Sarutobi, give me my son. I am taking him home with me right now." Kushina demanded.
"How dare you interrupt us!" Uchiha Fugaku spoke up. "This is a meeting of the Council. You have no place here."
"My place is wherever my son is!" Kushina shot back. "And as for a meeting of the Council I believe Namikaze has a hereditary seat does it not? With the death of my husband I am now head of the Namikaze clan."
"Husband?!" Koharu shouted.
"When were you married?" Danzou demanded.
"A year and a half ago in Whirlpool country. Minato-kun wanted to keep it secret to protect me. He did however have the marriage documents filed with the office of citizenry so that in case we had children their citizenship would not be in dispute. Sarutobi can personally vouch for this as Minato gave him the papers."
Before an argument could erupt Sarutobi spoke up. "It is true and I can provide you all with copies of the documents."
An unhappy murmur ran through the Council. Everyone had known that Kushina was the woman in the Yondaime's life. No one questioned Naruto's paternity. But it made a world of difference to them whether he was a fatherless bastard or the legitimate heir to one of the richest and most honored clans in Konoha.
"This makes no difference!" Fugaku shouted. "Whether the child is legitimate or not he must die to preserve Konoha."
"Lay one finger on him and I will kill you!" Kushina threatened.
"And if she doesn't then I will!" Tsunade growled. "I am Naruto's godmother and I'll slaughter anyone who threatens my godson."
Hyuga Hiashi suddenly stood up. "The Hyuga clan will also protect this child." He declared loudly which brought all conversation to a halt. "Hyuga and Namikaze have shared close ties for generations and the Yondaime was a dear friend to both me and my wife. Out of respect for his memory we will not allow any harm to befall his son."
This declaration by the Hyuga clan was decisive. Even Uchiha Fugaku had no stomach for openly opposing the Sandaime, a Sannin, Namikaze, and Hyuga. Kushina looked over to Hiashi and bowed her head to him in deepest gratitude. Hiashi nodded in acknowledgement.
"Sarutobi give me my son." Kushina said. Nodding Sarutobi reached into the crib and did just that. His mother took him and held him close. "Shhh, there, there, my little one it's all right now. I won't let anyone hurt you." The sight of a mother holding her child made many of the Council members who had been calling for blood just moments ago reconsider. They were all ninja, they were all killers, but even for ninja there should be limits. Uchiha Fugaku did not change his mind though he remained silent.
"I am going to pass a special decree." Sarutobi announced. "In order to give this child some chance at a normal life. I order that no one who knows the truth of the Kyuubi be allowed to speak of it to anyone who does not know. And this will include speaking of it to your own children. The only people who shall be permitted to do so shall be the sitting Hokage and Naruto himself when he gets older."
"You should really still be in the hospital." Tsunade repeated.
"No," Kushina repeated. "If the Council members were that savage I certainly don't trust the regular villagers. I can better protect Naruto here than in a hospital. All the servants have worked here for years and loved Minato. I trust none of them would ever harm his son." Tsunade sighed once again defeated. Kushina gave her friend a sly little smile. "So you're his godmother huh? Funny I don't recall me or Minato ever offering you the position."
Tsunade looked a bit embarrassed. "It's called a bluff. Sometimes you can convince an opponent you have more in your hand than you really do."
Kushina shrugged. "It's fine Tsunade. Since you've volunteered the job is yours. If anything happens to me I expect you to take care of my son."
Tsunade looked at her in panic. "Nothing had better happen to you! I am not cut out to be a mother!"
Kushina enjoyed her first honest laugh since the whole ordeal had begun. "You'd better heal me well then."
"Look Kushina." Tsunade said seriously. "I'll stay until you're well but once I leave I'm not coming back."
"Awww, so you never want to see me or your godson ever again?" She held up her son so his smiling face was looking directly at the Sannin. "Naruto-kun would miss you, wouldn't you my little Naruto-kun?"
Tsunade looked at the child's adorable little face. "Stop it! You are shamelessly using your baby's cuteness against me!"
Kushina gave her one of her huge smiles. "Whatever works."
Tsunade grinned. "All right I'll tell you what. Since I have two reasons to come back here I'll promise to return for at least a few days each year. How's that?"
Kushina turned her son around so that he was facing her. "Well what do you think?" Naruto laughed at the funny face she made. "Naruto and I accept your terms."