To Live is So Much Harder….
A/N: I don't own Naruto, if I did, he'd give up on that Uchiha bastard and the pink-haired banshee!
"Sorry! Excuse me!" a yellow streak apologized as it rushed through the crowded streets of Konoha on the cool, crisp morning. Onlookers stared in wide-eyed wonder before they could register what or who exactly it was that was disturbing them, but once they realized exactly who it was, most of them merely grinned and shook their heads before continuing their way. "Look out!"
Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze sped through the winding roads like a man possessed. It wasn't more than five minutes ago that he had received news that his wife of five years had gone into labor. He promptly vanished before the startled eyes of his sparring partner, Rock Lee, who thought he had used a teleportation jutsu. The answer was much simpler than that, as the blonde shinobi forced as much chakra to his feet and legs as possible, disappearing in a burst of speed and a cloud of dust. In that five minutes time, he had managed to cross most of the Village Hidden in the Leaves, and was now quickly closing in on the center of town. Despite his rush, he still remembered his manners, and apologized as he blazed a trail across the town.
"Coming through!" the hyperactive ninja yelled as he approached a rather large crowd of morning shoppers that had at time decided to visit Konoha's famous market square. Quickly assessing that situation like the experienced ninja he was, Naruto came to the conclusion he was screwed, until he spied a nearby park bench. A foxy grin split his face as he veered toward the bench and, despite the fact that there were a few people sitting on it, planted his foot on the back, launching himself toward the nearest rooftop. The young couple that sat there screamed in protest as he flew away. "Sorry!"
"Watch it, you fucking jerk!" Ino Yamanaka bellowed as she lurched to her feet and shook her fist at the quickly retreating blonde. Turning to her teammate, she watched as Choji Akimichi scrambled to recover the bag of chips he had dropped when Naruto blew through. "What the hell is his problem?"
"You got me," the heavy set ninja replied as he looked at the devastation before him, a pout twisting his chubby face, "Just look at what he did to my chips! It isn't like Naruto to ruin food like that!"
"That's because…wheeze…Naruto isn't exactly…puff puff…himself right now…gasp…" a voice called out from behind, causing them to turn and stare at the figure of the third member of their team, Shikamaru Nara, who was bent over at the waist, trying to inhale huge gobs of air. "Damn, that fucker can move fast!"
"What do you mean by that?" Ino asked, her curiosity quickly overshadowing her anger. Ino was one of the biggest gossips in Konoha, and any little bit of information she could get made her extremely happy. The platinum blonde watched as her friend fell to his butt, then to his back, sprawling out in the middle of the roadway.
"It means that Sakura…wheeze… is having their baby," the dark haired Nara panted, doing his best to ignore the girlish squeal that suddenly erupted from his friend. Glancing upward toward the offending sound, he watched as Ino jumped up and down like a schoolgirl while hugging Choji around the neck, quickly causing the large man to turn blue from lack of oxygen. "Troublesome."
"Shizune!" Naruto hollered as he burst through the doors of Konoha General, causing everyone to jump at the sheer volume of noise the Kyuubi container made in his excited state. Getting no answer, he sprinted over to the nurse's desk "Excuse me, Mariko? Can you tell me what room Sakura Namikaze is in?"
"Sakura? Sure," the nurse answered quickly, pulling a clipboard off the wall. Sakura was still one of the top medics at in Konoha, and just about everyone in the hospital knew her, as well as her famous husband. It was general knowledge in town the Hokage had made him her defacto heir. "She's up on the fourth floor, room 418."
"Thanks, Mariko!" he replied, giving her a goofy grin as he turned and blazed down the hall, leaving a trail a disrupted paper and patients. He vaulted up the stairs and disappeared from sight in the blink of an eye, leaving the nurse laughing at his actions, no matter how disruptive they were. All new fathers were the same, after all.
Within the space of a heartbeat, Naruto had cleared all four flights of stairs and had quietly entered the maternity ward. He had learned his lesson long ago about being loud and rowdy on that particular floor. He still remembered the beat down Tsunade, Shizune, and his wife had given him when he burst in one day and awakened every single baby that was in the nursery. Who know that many screaming babies could be that loud, anyway? Shaking his head of that memory, he quickly sought out Shizune, who he knew would have handled Sakura's case personally. He caught up with her outside Room 418.
"Shizune? How's Sakura?" Naruto asked earnestly, his eyes filled with worry. He and Sakura had been married for a number of years before they had decided to start a family. Everything went well at first, but Sakura had developed some problems about halfway through her pregnancy, causing her to cut back drastically on her medical work. This, in turn, drove his wife crazy, having to stay at home all the time. "How far along is she?"
"Huh? Oh, Naruto!" the medical nin started as she stripped herself of the soiled doctor's gown and gloves she was wearing. "Yeah, Sakura and the baby are just fine! You can go in now if you want."
"She…she had the baby already? I just got word she was in labor! I know it didn't take me that long to get here!" the blonde choked. He was looking forward to being there when his child was born, and he began to curse himself for being so slow.
"It's not that, Naruto," Shizune calmly stated, doing her best to reassure the young man that she looked at like a little brother, "Her water broke several hours ago, but she was too weak to move and call anyone. Sasuke went by to check on her like you always ask him to do, when he discovered her. He rushed her here as fast as possible. By the time we got her to a room, the baby's head was already crowning. It was a good thing Sasuke got her here when he did!" Naruto visibly relaxed.
"Sasuke! Thank God!" Naruto sighed in relief. In the year and a half that he had been back, Sasuke had been a godsend for the Namikaze family. He was the first one that had congratulated the couple when they announced that they were having a baby, as well as the one who volunteered to look after Sakura while Naruto was out on missions or training. Sasuke was the one who suggested what the problem was with Sakura when she took a turn for the worse during the pregnancy.
"My mom had the same problem when she was pregnant with Itachi and I," Sasuke had told Lady Tsunade and Naruto when Sakura collapsed in the Hokage's office one day, several months back. Much to everyone's surprise, his diagnosis was correct, causing Tsunade to order Sakura home and to bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. Sakura shot both Sasuke and Naruto a withering glare upon hearing this. She was not a happy camper, and she made sure her teammates knew all about it.
"See, I told you that he wasn't as bad as everyone claimed he was," Naruto said, giving Shizune a thumbs-up before giving the medical nin a hug and turning to the door to his wife's room.
Naruto grinned when he remembered back to when he finally tracked Sasuke down and managed to break the genjutsu that Madara Uchiha had placed Sasuke under. Between the two of them, and their summons, they managed to defeat not only Madara, but Pein and the rest of the Akatsuki as well. He smiled when he remembered the looks on Sakura's and Tsunade's when he and Sasuke stumbled through the gates of Konoha, supporting each other. It took a lot of fancy talking and pleading to keep Tsunade from executing the last Uchiha on the spot. As it was, Sasuke still ended up spending a couple of months in jail until the Hokage and the Council decided his fate.
He was finally reinstated as a ninja of the Leaf, but he was still listed as a Genin, and would continued to be until he proved his loyalty to the village once more. Sasuke finally proved his worth when forces of Oto attacked, lead by his old team. Naruto and Sasuke stood back to back outside Konoha's walls and slaughtered most of the invasion force, including the leaders Kabuto, Suigetsu, and Juugo. Sakura and Tsunade smashed Karin into meat paste when she tried to attack the Hokage Tower. The rest of the Oto nins chose the better part of valor and ran for the hills, never to be seen again. Sasuke was immediately promoted to Jonin and joined the rest of Team 7 in the upper tiers of Konoha's ninja ranks. The only ones missing were Kakashi and Sai, both having been slaughtered by Kabuto early in the fighting. Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and Yamato mourned their passing, but continued on with their lives. It wasn't too long after that battle that Sakura decided she wanted a baby, which brings us up to the present.
"If you say so, Naruto," Shizune replied to the retreating back of everyone's favorite blonde ninja before continuing on to finish her paperwork before heading to the Hokage's office, "If you say so…"
Naruto's heart was in his throat when he slowly opened the door and spied his wife lying asleep on the bed before him. She looked so exhausted, causing him to feel so bad, knowing that he was the reason for it. He wished that he had listened to his gut and stayed home that morning, rather than listening to his wife who sent him out of the house to work off some of his nervous energy. Her pink tresses were plastered to her forehead from the sweat of having the baby. Naruto noticed Sasuke was sitting beside her and holding her hand, the two of them sleeping peacefully.
"Wow, that must have really wore you two out," Naruto whispered as he went over to the sink and wet down a washcloth before returning to his wife's side and began to lovingly wipe down her face. He looked down on her beautiful face as he wiped the sweat from her brow and he couldn't believe his luck. Of all the goals that he had set for himself, the fact that he got Sakura Haruno to be his girlfriend at first and then his wife was the one that he thought was the furthest from becoming reality.
It had happened not too long after he had come back from his Toad Sage training. He had finally gotten the message that Pein and Konan had attacked Konoha looking for him, but by the time he had arrived, the damage had been done. Several of Pein's slave bodies had been destroyed, but so had much of the village. Many civilians and ninja had been injured or killed, and the stress all the medical nins felt was overwhelming. Naruto wondered the village, helping with search and rescue efforts, offering aid and comfort where and when he could. He almost cried when he came across his favorite ramen stand and saw the owner's daughter, Ayame, sitting there holding her father's head in her lap. Teuchi looked as pale as death, but due to Naruto's enhanced senses, he was able to tell that the old man was alive. Gently, he lifted Teuchi from the ground and launched himself toward the hospital. Once there, he met up with Tsunade, Shizune and Sakura and begged them to help the man who had fed him for all those lost and lonely years.
Naruto stayed around the hospital and helped when he could, using his massive reserves of chakra to help boost the healing abilities of the various medic and doctors, most notably Sakura. Her chakra reserves over the years had grown, but they were nowhere near what she needed for what she did. Sakura, like her knuckleheaded teammate, liked to push herself harder than she should. Over the next several days, Naruto had to stop her several times to rest and recover. Toward the end, the stress finally hit her hard, and she broke down. Naruto, seeing the lady that he loved crying her eyes out, did what came naturally. He walked over and held her close, letting her lean on him, physically and emotionally. When she was done, Naruto had a soaked jacket which he laughed about as Sakura blushed a deep scarlet. She began to apologize for her weakness when she looked up in his eyes and saw something that she had overlooked for years and years. Sakura had later told him that she saw nothing but pure, unadulterated love in his eyes that day. It wasn't long after that Sakura asked him out on a date. A year later, they were married, much to the surprise to all their friends.
Naruto finished up taking care of his wife, then reached over and stroked her cheek. She smiled in her sleep and snuggled into his hand like she always did. Naruto smiled back, this was something he did every morning when he woke up, and she reacted the same way each and every day. Once more, he thanked God for his blessings as his wife began to stir from her slumber.
"Mmmm, Sasuke…" she muttered softly as she turned her head toward Naruto's hand. The Toad Sage chuckled softly at this, knowing full well that his best friend was the last person she had seen before falling asleep.
"No, my little blossom, it's your husband," he whispered into her ear as he bent down and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Sakura slowly opened her eyes and gazed into the bright blue orbs of her mate. "How are you feeling?"
"Naruto," she whispered hoarsely, her throat still sore from the screams and cries of childbirth. "You made it."
"Of course I did," he replied cheerfully as he grabbed a glass and filled it with ice water and a straw. He carefully placed the straw to her lips, allowing her to sip and ease the pain in her throat. "I'm just sorry I wasn't there for the birth. I wasn't there for you," he added sadly.
"That…that's okay," she said softly as she tried to sit up some in her bed, causing her husband to reach over and help her up some, propping a few pillows back behind her to help support her. "I didn't know I was going to go into labor today. I was the one that sent you out today, remember? I'm just glad you asked Sasuke to look in on me… ooohhh…" she moaned. Naruto quickly reached over and took her free hand, doing his best to comfort her.
"You okay, hon?" the blonde asked nervously, scared that some thing was wrong with his wife. This was, after all, their first child. The first of many. He hoped. If she didn't kill him for putting her through this first.
"Just a little sore, baby," she answered back, taking her other hand from Sasuke's and placing it gingerly on her now deflated stomach. Before he could dash outside and yell for Shizune, she grasped his hand tighter. "I'll be okay, I promise."
"You're sure?" he worried, but a quick nod from her reassured him. Naruto let out a big sigh of relief before noticing that his best friend and brother was beginning to stir from his own sleep. "About time you woke, you worthless bum!"
"Naruto?" he asked as he stretched in the chair in which he sat. Opening his eyes, Sasuke turned and glared at the hyperactive Sage that stood on the other side of the bed. "Who are you calling a 'worthless bum', you stinking pile of cow turds?" Naruto sniffed his armpits and clothing before walking around the bed to look the Uchiha square in the eye.
"What do you mean 'stinking'? I'll have you know, I took a shower just last month, like clockwork!" he replied, doing his best to match Sasuke's harsh glance with one of his own. He failed, as a huge foxy grin split his face, one that was matched by his friend. Both Jonin clasped right hands and enveloped each other in a proper man-hug.
"Thanks for being there for us, bro. For being here now!" Naruto said gruffly, doing his damnedest not to cry. "If I had lost her, lost them…"
"I understand, man, I really do," the dark-haired Uchiha replied as he glanced past his best friend and looked at Sakura. She turned and looked away from the sight of male bonding.
"So," Naruto quickly broke the embrace and turned to his wife as he looked around the room somewhat, " where is my son? I was kinda hoping that he would have been in here so that I could properly greet him." Sakura's eyes widened slightly before she spoke up.
"Shizune had him sent to the nursery right after he was born," the pink haired Namikaze replied as Sasuke stepped out the door. Naruto looked a little worried about that. "It's just routine. Standard procedure. They were going to clean him up, weight him, and such…" Naruto nodded his head in understanding. Several minutes passed before Sasuke and a nurse walked back into the room, the nurse carrying a small, moving bundle in her arms.
"Lord Namikaze, would you like to hold your son?" she asked gently as she passed the squirming, wrapped bundle over to him. He frowned inwardly for the briefest of moments. Ever since he had come back from his Sage training, more and more people began to use that title with him. It was no wonder that Jiraiya had dislike it when people used it with him, it felt so false. All dark thoughts passed from him though in the instant he held the small bundle of life in his arms.
From the moment that Naruto had learned that Sakura was pregnant, he did something that everyone thought was silly at the time. He talked to the baby. He would always fall to his knees and give Sakura's belly a hug right after he had done the same with her. He would sit and talk to both of them for hours, as Sakura would giggle at the silliness of his actions. On days that he would forget to talk to his son before he left for work, the baby would give Sakura all sorts of fits until she would track him down or until someone would drag the blonde knucklehead home to talk to the baby. After Sakura was put on bed rest, he would come home in the evening and lay there speaking soothingly to his son, gently sending warm waves of chakra into his wife's belly to help ease her and the baby's discomfort. It worked every time.
"That's strange," the nurse stated a she watched the small baby become still as he laid in his father's arms. "He's been the busiest and loudest baby I've seen in a long time. Nothing but fussy since we took him to the nursery. But just look at him now! You are going to be one hell of a father!" Naruto blushed at her statement.
"Yeah, he's definitely a daddy's boy," the blonde whispered as he gazed down at the precious bundle in his arms. The baby in his arms reached out with one pudgy little arm and touched his face, his little eyes still closed but a small baby smile caressing his lips. "Look, he's smiling!"
"Aww," the nurse cooed as she looked down on the little bundle of energy in his father's arms, before a look from the Uchiha caused her to frown and leave the room. "I'll come back by later to take him back to the nursery. You should get to know him."
"Thank you, nurse!" Naruto beamed as he turned back to his wife, a smile brighter than any she had ever seen before adorning his face. "Look Sakura, our son!" Sakura smile softly as she watched her husband walk toward her, their son in his arms. He sat down beside her in the chair previously occupied by Sasuke and began to study his son's features in the light provided by the lamp over Sakura's bed.
"Something wrong, baby?" his wife asked cautiously as a strange look took over Naruto's face. Sasuke stood in the corner of the room furthest from the new family, his hands in his pockets. Naruto continued to look at his son as he began to reply to his wife.
"Not really. You know how a baby usually looks something like his parents? You know, like Asuma and Kurenai's little girl looked just like her mother, but had her father's eyes? The same with Iruka and Ayame's little boy. But you know, I really can't tell who's feature's he has? They seem so familiar, but I really can't place them…" he said as he handed the baby to his wife, who had stuck out her hands to hold the little Namikaze.
"Well you know, sometimes that just doesn't happen," Sakura said quickly as she took her baby in her arms, who promptly began to squirm and fuss as soon as he was out of his father's reach. Naruto began to say some thing in return when the blanket on the top of the baby's head fell away, revealing a head full of jet black hair.
Naruto's heart tightened in his chest, realizing that something was wrong. From what he knew of both his and Sakura's family, no one in at least the past five generations had black hair. A deep dread began to crawl into his gut as the little baby in Sakura's arms finally opened his eyes, revealing not sky blue nor green, but black. It all began to click into place, the color of the hair and eyes, the shape of the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin. They were all unmistakable. The baby in his wife's arms, the one he had grown to love more than life itself, the one he would talk to for hours each day , the one that became the center of his universe was not his.
The baby's true father was Sasuke Uchiha.