The snow glided towards the ground slowly, getting caught in branches and spider webs, gathering on benches and porch eaves, pure white against the shadows of midnight. The first snow of the year.

Naruto's breath fogged the glass of the window when he exhaled; he hastily smeared the back of his hand across the glass, removing the condensation. He rubbed the moisture off on his pajama bottoms and returned the hand to cupping the small body in his arms.

He propped the infant against his shoulder, admiring her coppery-red hair as it glinted in the light from the street lamps outside.

Naruto slid a glance over his shoulder at Tayuya, who was curled up asleep on the bed. She would have murdered him if she woke up to find he had moved her daughter from her arms, even if it was just three feet away.

Naruto shifted his weight from one foot to the other silently, making a sort of make-shift rocking motion. His daughter, Tayuya still couldn't settle on a name, moved her head to look at him with shockingly bright blue eyes.

Her small lips didn't move, though. She had been born silent, not wailing as he had heard babies did when they were removed, wet and bloody, from their mother's womb. Sakura expressed concern when, four hours later, the child had still not cried, she thought that it might be because of 'vocal chords failure'.

Naruto could see where his genes had attributed, slanted blue eyes identical to his own, one birthmark on each cheek, and the swirl on her navel. The rest of her looks had come from Tayuya, as obvious as her fiery hair and nose to her lips, which Tayuya say look like her mother's.

His daughter's arm tightened around his neck, her eyes closing again.

Naruto watched the snow for a few minutes, before turning and placing her exactly where she had been before and lying down on the vacant side of the bed.

Tayuya would probably wake up, like she did every night, with 'sudden' anxiety that Orochimaru would come for her daughter, even though he was dead and all of his left-over subordinates thought she was dead, in about ten minutes.

He felt her start, a small gasp, and she pulled her daughter closer into her bosom. He could practically feel her heartbeat, quick and unsteady, pulsing through the mattress.

And the worst thing he had feared for his daughter so far was that she'd become eye-candy for some undeserving young men.

And that what was left of the Akatsuki would come looking for him again and get her instead.

And he was pretty sure that Sasuke still had a grudge against him…

The possibilities made him shiver, especially in the darkness of midnight, when all the horrible things in your mind reach out like tendrils to choke you. Naruto stared at the ceiling.

Things looked a lot worse at night, when you had time to think things over and the sunlight stopped blinding you to how bad things are.