"And here she is!" Suigetsu announced, gesturing dramatically to one of the incubators with a wide grin.
Gingerly, Karin inched forward, wincing at the muddled stabs of pain she felt despite her painkillers. Peeking into the heated box, she examined the tiny human, trying to decide if it was normal or not. It had a sparse mess of red hair and pale skin, and there didn't appear to be any watery or fishlike features.
"Sakura says my mutations don't carry over to children very well," he said, also looking in at their daughter.
Daughter. Suigetsu's daughter. Her daughter. Both their daughter.... It was definitely a hard concept to wrap her head around. The drugs didn't seem to help matters, except maybe for mellowing her out.
"So, she'll look just like me?"
"For the most part. She'll still get, like, behavioural traits and bone structure from me, I think."
Studying the baby for another moment, she said, "I think she has your chin, then. It looks hideous."
"No, that's definitely yours," he disagreed, smirking. "So's the nose."
"I do not have a deformed chin! And you're the one with the weird nose, not me."
"Fine. But when we get home, I'm getting everyone to compare our chins and noses."
"Should we get ready to throw a house-warming party, then?"
Turning, the pair saw Sakura standing in the doorway, lips smiling and arm linked with Sasuke's.
Shrugging, Suigetsu turned back to Komyoko. "Depends how much longer we have to stay here."
"It shouldn't be too long," she said, releasing her boyfriend's arm and approaching the new parents. Peeking into the incubator, she continued, "Karin and Komyoko are both healthy. A few more days and you're home free."
"Good," Karin sighed, allowing herself to sag with relief. "I'm tired of hospital food and weird nurses coming to check on me. All they ever do is tell stories about the birth and other babies."
Sasuke, who had moved to join them beside the incubator, glanced at her with a slightly raised eyebrow. "Are you going to be that impatient with Komyoko?"
"See, the difference there is I actually have control over her – if she's whining because she's hungry, I feed her. If she's whining to be annoying, I tell her to shut up and go to her room. Can't do that with a nurse."
"You've got a point," Suigetsu said, nodding while he continued to watch the sleeping infant. "Though, I think you may have to wait a few years on the 'shut up and go to your room' thing."
"That's fine," she said, shrugging. Then, glancing toward Sakura, she added, "Babies spend most of their time sleeping anyway, right?"
"Yeah. It's getting them to sleep when you want them to that's the hard part."
"Oh, that's no big deal – Suigetsu can handle the midnight crying."
With a wordless cry of protest, he opened his mouth to argue, then paused, seeming to reconsider. Grinning slyly, he instead said, "Alright, deal. But, you have to handle diaper-duty."
"Wha-? Ew! No!"
"C'mon, fair's fair."
Sighing, Sasuke pinched the ridge of his nose, murmuring to Sakura, "I think we're the ones who'll be losing sleep."
"That's... definitely a possibility," she murmured in return, laughing nervously.
By the end of the week, both Karin and Komyoko were ready to return home. The mother's stitches had been removed, and she was healing quite nicely (something that made Sakura insist she try breast feeding), and Komyoko didn't seem frightened by anyone in the odd little family.
It was as they headed home to the apartment that Karin realized one crucial detail – they didn't have any baby-care products. Not even a crib or diapers.
When she mentioned this, Naruto (unsurprisingly) was the first to volunteer his services.
"That's... probably not the best idea," Sakura said, grabbing her friend by the shoulder before he could rush off. "I'll go with you, since you have no idea what to look for."
"And what are we supposed to do while you're gone?" Suigetsu asked.
"Take care of Komyoko and keep her happy with what we already have at the apartment."
"Easier said than done," he grumbled, too late to be heard as Sakura and Naruto rushed off in the opposite direction.
Twenty minutes later, Karin sat on the couch breast feeding the baby (one of the many things Sakura had instructed her on). Juugo and Sasuke were in their respective rooms, while Suigetsu sat at the kitchen tables, drumming his fingers on the wooden surface.
"How long does it take to get stuff for baby?" he grumbled. "She couldn't need that much."
Karin snorted. "Trust me, there's a lot. She gave me a whole list."
"No, idiot – Sakura!" Then, frowning, she asked, "Why are you out here, anyway? Don't I deserve a little privacy?"
"Someone needs to open the door when they get back, which I imagine would be difficult with someone hanging off your chest. Plus, I don't want to interrupt Sasuke's brooding time."
"I don't think he broods much anymore," she snickered. "He's too busy daydreaming about Sakura. I bet he secretly has papers with 'Haruno Sasuke' written all over them."
Both of them shared a good laugh over that (which did not please Komyoko, who had been jostled from her feeding place as a result). They managed to stifle their laughter when the infant started crying, though their wide grins remained in place.
As the redhead readjusted the infant, Suigetsu watched silently for a minute, thinking.
"...That must've been hard on you."
"Sasuke and Sakura. I know you liked him, so don't bother denying it."
She sighed, rubbing at her eyes (her glasses were sitting on the coffee table, out of the baby's reach. She didn't care what anyone said – she wasn't risking another broken pair). Was it really worth the effort explaining things to him? It would probably just get her mocked even more....
"I talked to him about it the other day," she admitted quietly. If Suigetsu didn't want to listen, he didn't have to. "He said Sakura's suffered a lot because of him and I deserve better."
Silence greeted her. Which seemed pretty predictable, since this was Suigetsu she was talking to and he-
"Have you found someone yet?"
It took a moment for her realize what he was talking about. "I-" she glanced around the apartment, thought about her friends, her sudden family. "No.... I think I'll be fine."
Still seated at the table, he focused a sidelong stare on the back of her head. Lately, he had been experiencing unusual feelings and thoughts toward her, ones that made him wonder if Naruto had been right that day in the ramen shop. Now was one of those times.
"Well... don't stop looking, okay?" he said, then immediately resisted the urge to smack his head off the table. What the hell was that? Weren't ninjas supposed to be trained in the art of subtlety?
With a smile (maybe he had been worried about her when Juugo attacked. Maybe he wasn't as bad as she had thought), she said, "I'll be sure to keep my eyes peeled."
Then Sakura and Naruto were bursting through the door, so loud that Suigetsu had to tell them to shut up before they woke Juugo or Komyoko a heart attack.
While everyone was bustling about the apartment, trying their hardest to be quiet while arguing over where to put things ("A crib in the living room? Are you crazy?"), Karin sat in the middle of it all with a broad smile.
"Welcome to the family," she whispered to her daughter.
Author's Notes: Finall! I finished! =D This fic turned out a lot differently than I expected (though, I didn't actually plan anything, so that's not so surprising), but I'm reasonably happy with it overall. Thanks so much for all the reviews and feedback everyone gave me - I really appreciate it!
Hopefully you enjoy this last chapter as much as all the others. =D
Disclaimer: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of its characters.