"Another one?" Kisame asked with concern from the hallway.
I nodded grimily, not bothering to look up an explain the mess in detail. It was already giving me a huge headache. Grumbling to myself, I shut the lid of my laptop and pushed my chair away from the desk that was littered with stay maps and papers that needed my attention sooner than later.
"How many this time?"
"Thankfully, only one. Zanbatō and Shark Skin were able to outrun the pirates but Hawk wasn't so fortunate. Piracy has become increasingly common in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean this year, but I didn't think they would start attacking in the North Atlantic where we work."
"Well this sucks," Kisame grumbled. "Hawk was carrying around fifty million dollars worth of smuggled diamonds. I was planning on taking the kids out to California this weakened to visit Disney land but now I have to stay home and clean up this mess."
I felt myself perk up a bit at the mention of my kids. "You were planning on taking them to California?"
Kisame gave me a hesitant look before it downed on him what I meant. "I didn't mean that I would-!"
He looked scared. "It wouldn't be the first time I took the kids by myself! And it's only for the weakened. You'll survive...somehow."
"Kisame, do you have any idea how long it would take by plane to get to California? You'd spend the whole day flying there and then another day flying back. That's two days in the air. How long were you planning on keeping them from me?!"
Kisame looked like a guilty kid that was just caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Four, maybe five days...?"
Five days without Sakura's homehade cooking, five days without Haku and Suigetsu fighting over the TV remote, five days without Kimimaro coming home from Karate class to ask with help on a more advanced throw, five days without Juugo's carefully handwritten reminders on the fridge to eat healthy and stay away from Sakura's deserts. There was no way that was happening.
The tall sea dog flinched at the soft tone. "Y-yeah?"
"Do you remember what they called me when you first entered the business?"
Kisame paled a bit and chuckled. "H-how could I forget? The Bloody Demon of the Mist isn't a name you forget after seeing him in action."
"Good. Once I clean up this mess we're planning a trip to Hawaii. If you're good you can tag along." I got up to get my empty coffee mug, hoping to refill it in the kitchen and then continue with the never ending workload.
Kisame followed me into the kitchen, keeping an eye out for any not so little ones who could be dropping in on our conversation. "Hawaii? You mean with Minato Namikaze? Isn't he the mayor over there or something?"
I nodded, watching my drink. Coffee and cream, stirred ever so slightly was the recipe to another six hours of nonstop work without complaint. "You're right. Recently his wife passed away and it's been hard on him, raising Naruto all by himself. He wanted to know if we could come over and spend New Year's with them."
"New Years in Hawaii? Are you kidding me? What are we going to do about all this work that's piling up?"
I stopped mid-step in the hallway to give him a stern glare. "Weren't you the one planning on hauling my kids off to the other side of the country for five days without me? When did work become so important to you?"
"Fine, fine. You win. New Years in Hawaii it is, though I'm not too found of having to share the kids with Minato and his little brat. He's lucky those bite marks healed so easily."
"You were the one showing off your teeth."
Ever eager to change the subject, Kisame moved onto another matter that was bothering the two of us. "You know Sakura, Haku and Suigetsu are all turning nine this coming year, Juugo is turning eleven and Kimimaro might as well be turning twenty eight, he's grown up so fast. I can't believe he's going to be twelve. Pretty soon you'll have a teenager in the house!"
"Hmm," I mumbled, pulling my chair up to the desk and turning on the MacPro. I moved the mouse around a bit and the black screen came to life. The Screensaver turned off to show off a desktop of all four of my kids, half buried in the sand with me behind them, smiling up at the camera that Kisame had used that day.
Kimimaro was on his knees building up a coffin to hold Suigetsu down while Juugo was busy carving mermaid bodies out for Sakura and Haku who were buried up to their waists. The two youngest looked like they were having fun, since Haku was laughing and Sakura was posing with one arm on her hip and the other way out in the air. Suigetsu had fallen asleep (the only reason why Kimimaro had been able to trap him) and was just waking up to find his family surrounding his mostly buried body. The photo captured his surprise right before it melted into rage.
It was a relatively old photo, taken a year or so after Sakura had been adopted, but it had take then us two men a while to pry it out of Kisame's digital camera and fit it onto the immensely huge screen. It was a sad truth to admit, but despite that, I know his children were growing up and out of their childhood. Pretty soon Kimimaro would be followed home by his already growing horde of fangirls and I don't didn't that soon my other sons will suffer the same fate. What worried me the most, was Sakura.
My boys could take care of themselves just fine, I have no doubt. Sakura was the one that still need help and guidance. She was the youngest, of course, and the most naive. Even when she was still living with her mother in that apartment, where only God knows what went on, she still managed to retain her innocence. What would happen when boys started following her home and leaving her notes in their mailbox or at school? It was already happening to some of his boys. How long until Sakura too fell prey to the advances of fate?
Suigetsu had, of course, informed me about the bulling incident in school. I was especially distressed to learn why the young Zaku boy was tormenting my little girl. Of course I was distressed over anyone bullying my little girl, but this one student really shook me up. Of course I had some of my friends deal with the parents of the Kin girl and the Dosu boy, but they were unable to do much when it came to Zaku. So I, being the concerned parent that I am, went to the school board and requested they move the child to a different class. They wouldn't dare defy someone who donates about half of their fundings.
But, how long would it be before something like this happens again? How long until Sakura actually starts liking boys? That last though scared me a little. I could scare off boys that liked her just fine, but if she really liked someone and ends up dating and marring them....my precious little daughter will move away and start a new family without me!
With this motivation, I set to work cleaning up the mess Idate's ship had caused me.
"I don't care as long as we have fireworks," Haku answered me, stepping off the ship. "Why do you asky, daddy?"
I shrugged, keeping an eye on the luggage as it was carried down the plank for us. "I just wanted to make sure you are okay with this. I would really hate it if you guys were miserable. What do Kimimaro and Sakura think about this? They're the only two I haven't asked yet."
Haku frowned, looking over to where Kisame was helping Sakura off our ship. She was a pale shade of green and stumbling all over the place. Kisame looked like he was trying to glue back the pieces of a priceless doll, rather than guide his adoptive niece off the ship. I sighed at the sight and managed a weak grin. She was still pretty cute, after all. "I thought I told her not to have so many slushes when traveling. She knows it gets her sick."
"Uncle Kisame and here were having a contest. Uncle Kisame won," my son answered for me.
"No wonder he looks so guilty. serves him right, tricking her like that. We'll have to get something hot for her to drink once we get to Naruto's house. " Hearing the boy's name, Haku sighed and looked away. "What's wrong?"
"Last tim I saw Naruto he thought I was a girl! He needs his eyes looked at."
I chuckled, remembering the incident. "That was a long time ago, Haku. Sakura wasn't even with us yet. He'll see you manlier side once he gets to compare you to Sakura, I'm sure. You are her big, protective brother, aren't you?"
Haku blushed a little bit as he watched Sakura trip and fall into a pile of parked luggage. I was a bit embarrassing to his little sister stumble around like a drunk when he was the one who was suppose to be protecting her. "I guess so, but I'm not doing a very good job, am I?"
"That's not your fault, Haku. Kisame is the adult and should have known better. I'll have to have a word with him later." And he was being so good too. Maybe it was a mistake allowing him to tag along with the rest of us. Then again, it wouldn't be the same for the children if he wasn't there. That was the only reason he was here to begin with.
"Zabuza!" Hearing my name called, I turned to see a young, blue eyed man with spiked blond hair pointing every witch way, waving from the dock. A young boy that was without a doubt his son, waited at his side. Dispite what he's been through Minato Namikaze looked healthy enough.
I grinned faintly and waved back, leaving sakura and Kisame behind to approach the pair. "Hello there Mr. Mayor. How are you and little Naruto doing this time of year?" I bent down to look at Naruto in the eye. "I hope you two had a fun Christmas and got a lot of nice toys."
Naruto grinned brightly, surprising me. This was his first Christmas without his mother there for him. I though he would be a bit more quiet. "Yup! Santa brought me a brand new video game that I wanted for the Wii and uncle Kakashi brought over his old quad for me to train on! What did Santa bring you for Christmas?"
I grinned, showing off those pointed teeth he seemed to love so much. "I got a lot of nice things, but I don't play with toys so much anymore. I leave that to my kids."
I looked back over my shoulder at Haku who was standing with his three older brothers and pointed them out to Naruto. The blond little bundle of energy smiled once again and waved wildly. Suigetsu was the only one who waved back wildly. Haku looked halfhearted, Juugo looked shy, and Kimimaro appeared bored. "HEY GUYS! WANNA PLAY KATANA AT MY HOUSE?" Naruto shouted down to the kids who were waiting by the car.
"I DO! I DO!" Suigetsu yelled, jumping up and down. "I'LL SO KICK YOUR-"
"Suigetsu!" Kimimaro hissed, hitting his younger brother upside the head. "Watch your mouth. Sakura can still hear you."
I laughed along with Minato, following him into his car as Kisame ushered the rest of my children into the large van we were renting. They would follow behind us, seeing as how the small cherry red corvette that could barely fit us three couldn't transport all of us.
I offered to let Naruto ride with the rest of my kids, but he wanted to ride with his dad and beat Suigetsu home. I couldn't help but flinch at imagining the temper my most violet son would have once he was confronted with his loss in a race. Suigetsu hated loosing anything, but races were a touchy subject.
I turned around in my seat to face my old friend and former partner in crime. Minato straightened out after meeting his wife and distanced himself from the business. I respected him for this, even though I chose to not do so after finding my own loving wife who was still very much present in my heart, even after so many years. I waited a moment before speaking, knowing his answer wouldn't be one I wanted. "How are you holding up."
He smiled, grimly. "It's been a few months now. I'm learning to deal with it." I could tell from the distance tone in his voice that was a partial lie. "It's not...easy," he added. There was the truth I wanted.
"You're little ball of lightning will help you more than anything else, friend. I know that was how it was for me when my wife..left. Haku was my life and my light. Without him I don't know what I would have done."
The memory of cold metal against my templet, my finger on the trigger-flashed through my mind. So many times I thought it was better if I just died as well. I would be better if I just took my life and went wherever she was. I couldn't stand not being where she wasn't. My other half had died! What was I to do?
Haku's crying woke me up and brought me back to reality. There was someone who needed me! Someone she left behind for me to take care of. I couldn't wast everything she died for. Her-our little Haku. The thing I remember most about that time was the feeling of his tiny fingers wrapping around one of mine. That same finger had almost pulled the trigger and blown my brains to bits. Maybe that's why it felt so much like he was holding me back with all his strength.
"Here we are," Minato said, pulling up into his driveway.
"Alright! we won, dad! We beat them! You too, Mr. Zabuza, you won too," Naruto cried, jumping out of the car and jumping around. I caught the secret smile his father was trying to hide as he watched his son. I knew it was only a matter of time before those scars healed up until they were nothing more than a line of raised skin you can trace in remembrance.
Kisame's van pulled up and Suigetsu was the first one out. He called Naruto a cheater because it wasn't a real race and soon their argument had evolved into an agreement to settle it over video games. At the mention of video games Haku and Juugo followed, willingly.
I grew a little worried when I didn't see Sakura run after the boys like I thought she would. She was so excited to see Naruto, too. I turned to see Kisame carrying my daughter out of the van, her face still a pale shade of green. "What's wrong with Sakura? She's not still sick is she?" I asked, concern rising.
"She passed out in the car. She doesn't have a fever or anything, so she should be okay. Hey, Namikaze, could she use one of your spare rooms to lie down in for a few hours?" Kisame asked, cradling the skinny little child in his arms like a small doll that could break at any moment.
My friend grinned, laughing at the way I was glaring at fish face, most likely. I really was going to kill him if something turned out to be wrong with Sakura because of him. "Sure thing, Kisame. I have plenty of extra rooms she could use. help yourself to one."
The shark like man nodded, avoiding my glare as I followed him in. "Kisame this is your fault. If she doesn't get better in time for fireworks you'll be sorry," I grumbled, keeping an eye on her.
She twitched in her sleep and groaned in pain, hugging her stomach. My heart left in my chest, fearing the worst. I could feel Kisame beside me tremble in what I hoped was guilt. I knew he was sorry, but it was so much easier to deal with all this when I had someone to blame. My little girl was in pain, d*** it! How else was I to feel?
"I already feel sorry, okay! I promise I'll never do anything like that ever again!"
"You had better not. You know she gets sick easily."
Minato came up behind up, watching as Kisame set Sakura down in a bed that was close to a bathroom, just in case she needed to empty her stomach. "Will your little girl be alright, Zabuza? I have some medicine if she needs it."
"Thanks, but I don't want to wake her up. We should just let her sleep for now. She'll feel better when she wakes up. Right Kisame?"
He grinned nervously. "Right!"
After than Minato shared his Hawaiian tea with the two of us, explaining the chain of unfortunate events surrounding Naruto after his mother's death. Supposedly, a group of younger aged gangs had taken an interest to the small boy and Naruto had returned the interest. Right now it was nothing wore than a few shoplifting events, but the father was worried for his child who had more than enough money to buy a candy-bar.
"So what should I do?"
"Vacation. Get him away from those guys."
"Can't, my job won't allow it."
I frowned, knowing what he meant. "Politics are one big mess. I try and stay as far away from them as possible."
I was about to say more when a loud crash interrupted my train of thought. It sounded like it came from the room next door where Sakura was sleeping. The three of us were out in the hallway before any other human could blink, taking in the scene with mixed feelings.
"You can't have her! She's our sister!" Haku whined next to Suigetsu.
Naruto was inside the room Sakura had been sleeping in, hiding her tiny form behind a plastic light-saber. I noticed both my sons had one two. Theirs were blue and green while Naruto's was red. Sakura was awake, and she looked healthy, if not a bit dazed by all the action.
Good, she was feeling better.
"Sakura said she would play with me!" Naruto replied, holding up his plastic weapon.
"But Sakura is our sister, not yours!" That was Suigetsu.
"So? She's my friend!"
"You still can't marry her!"
I almost choked at when Haku had to say. What was that Naruto kid thinking about doing with my baby girl? i turned to Minato to ask for his help dealing with his son and was disturbed to see him grinning slyly. He looked like he was planning a diamond heist. "Minato Namikaze, stop it right now!"
"Oh come on, you wouldn't mind staying a few extra days, would you."
"Hey Sakura, have you ever been to a Karaoke bar?"
AU/ Looks like someone has his eye on a could be daughter in law. Bwahaha. Poor papa, he worries over his little girl way too much. I can see it now, Naruto and Minato Namikaze Vs the whole family in an all out battle for Sakura's future. Heaven help them. Their next vacation will land them in Arizona, probably. I'll leave you all to guess who is waiting for them there. (Snicker, snicker)
I killed myself writing this out. My family took me out all day for my birthday yesterday, so I didn't have enough time to submit it. But if you want to blame someone/something, blame Blood+. I was watching all the episodes on youtube and have become quite addicted. Too many story ideas spilled out of those episodes. (Shy smile)