All Naruto characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. The Story is all mine.
Chapter 1: All Grown Up
"Naruto!" she yelled. "Come here! Hurry!"
"What is it Sakura-chan?" he came in with concern written on his face.
"The baby just kicked!" she exclaimed. "Right here," she said motioning for her husband to touch her stomach where she had just felt the first tiny kick of their baby.
Sakura had been sitting on the couch of their small one bedroom apartment reading a baby supply catalog when she had felt the baby's movement. Naruto came in from the kitchenette wiping his hands on a towel. He came home to help out Sakura and had been making shiozake onigiri (grilled salmon filled rice balls) for Sakura's lunch after training all morning. He walked over to her and gently placed a hand on her swollen belly. She laid her hand on top of his and they waited with anticipation of the next tiny little kick.
"There, did you feel it?" Sakura said as a bright smile lit up her face.
"Uh, huh…" the new father replied with excitement and fear in his voice. He had never expected something so small to have made such a change in his life.
"Does that hurt?" he asked her with concern in his voice.
"No silly, it doesn't hurt at all. Although, Temari said that they will get a lot stronger and if the baby is really active it can hurt," she explained.
"I guess she would know. I remember Shikamaru complain about having to sleep on the couch because the baby kicked him really hard in the back a couple of times and he felt safer on the couch than in bed with Temari," he said with a sheepish grin.
"Well, lucky you our bed is big enough that we shouldn't have that problem," she replied with a giggle.
"Hey, you know how I sleep. I didn't want to wake you in the middle of the night and have you punch the crap out of me for doing so, dattebayo!" he said in defense.
He gave her a peck on the cheek before getting up to finish making lunch. 'He really could be sweet when the need called for it,' she thought to herself. He had been working so hard since they found out that she was expecting that he had really surprised her. Tsunade was surprised when he stopped complaining about getting B and C missions and the occasional D mission. They were short on healthy ninja ever since the last major attack on Konoha and they even needed Jounin to take over the lower ranked missions for a while. Naruto had been promoted to Jounin when he turned nine-teen, two years before Sasuke was brought home and things had settled down. Sakura became a Jounin shortly after that, but it had been almost seven months since their last mission together. It hadn't helped the village's situation when their friends started a small baby boom.
Temari and Shikamaru were the first to become parents, followed by Kiba and Hinata. Ino and her new husband, Ishi Mitsuhiro, who was the new manager of the flower shop, had just found out they are expecting twins early next spring. Everyone had thought she would end up with Sai, but she gave up on his social awkwardness in the end and had fallen for the tall man with dark yet handsome features her father had hired almost three years ago. If Sakura hadn't known better; she would say he looked like Iruka-sensei's little brother. He had moved to Konoha as a carpenter, but his forte` was Ikebana and Inoichi had been looking for someone to take over the shop to help Ino's mom since Ino needed to be on missions more and more. Iruka had married Ayame and they were expecting their second child about the same time Sakura and Naruto's baby was due in mid November. Everyone else was either working on a relationship or their careers; or were too busy to have kids any time soon.
"Hey Naruto, could you heat me up some miso soup too? My stomach has been upset today and I think that would help it settle down a bit," she called to her husband in the kitchenette. For some reason miso always seemed to calm her stomach down ever since she had battled morning sickness during the first trimester.
"I was just getting ready to heat up some water for a cup ramen, so you caught me just in time," he called back to her. No matter how much she tried to get him to eat healthier, he always had to have at least one bowl of ramen a day. This thought made her giggle a little to herself which made her tummy jiggle. She could feel another little kick in response to her laughter as if to say, "cut it out mom."
Sakura slowly pushed herself off the couch and waddled over to the small kitchen table where Naruto was setting out their lunch. She sat down and began to eat as he came back with a glass of milk for himself and a cup of ginger tea for Sakura.
"I made you some tea since you said you were a little queasy," he said as he set the tea in front of her. He flashed her one of his famous grins as he sat down.
"What would I do without you taking care of me you sweet baka," she teased. He blushed at her teasing and began to slurp down his noodles.
Once Naruto had emptied his cup of ramen, he stood up to make another before announcing, "I've almost got my new technique down."
"Really? That's great! How long before it's perfected?"
"Not too much longer. If I combine it with sage mode and use nature based moves I'll be able to attack before anyone knows what's going on. I've got the kunai all marked with Dad's seal; now I just need to get the timing perfected. Fukasaku is also sending me some scrolls to study, so don't be surprised if a messenger toad shows up while I'm gone. These scrolls are not something I want to carry around on a mission," he announced from the kitchen.
"Did Tsunade-shiso give you any idea what your mission will be about?" Sakura asked after taking a sip of tea. The days were getting colder and the ginger gave off a soothing aroma as she grasped the warm tea cup in both hands.
"No, but Shizune didn't make it sound like it was that big of a deal. Probably just some boring escort mission again, dattebayo," he said carrying in a second cup of ramen. "The worst part will be Tora complaining about the lack of fighting the whole time. You thought I was bad…" he said with a Cheshire cat grin.
"Naruto, no one can beat you in the art of complaining," she said with a hint of teasing in her voice.
"Well, I'm on the receiving end now. I almost feel bad for what I put you guys through," he said with a strong emphasis on 'almost'. He sat down and quickly finished off his lunch. Sakura was still working on her tea and he grew suddenly quiet as he studied her growing features.
"I love you," he said with his voice full of emotion.
Sakura got up from the table and went over to his side. He pushed his chair back from the table and she sat sideways in his lap. Wrapping her arms around his shoulders as he put one arm around her back and one on her round tummy, she gave him a kiss on the lips. She ignored the tiny fluttering of kicks from the baby as she focused her attention on her best friend and lover. However, Naruto noticed and broke the kiss with a huge grin on his face as he rubbed the place where he felt the movement.
"I love you too," she said resting her forehead on his. She put her right hand on his cheek and stroked his whisker marks, sending shivers down his spine and causing him to almost purr. They knew these moments were precious and they savored them every chance they could.
Later that afternoon, Naruto had a meeting with Tsunade about the new mission she was sending him and his new Chuunin team on. Even a simple escort mission could mean that they would be gone for at least a couple of weeks. He walked down the street to the Hokage tower with his head down. Naruto had a lot on his mind and he let his subconscious navigate as he walked along the crowded street. He hated being away from Sakura while she was pregnant, but they needed the money so that they could move to a bigger place before the baby came. Since she was in no shape to do any packing or moving, he was planning on using shadow clones to do it, but they hadn't even had a chance to go looking yet. He hadn't imagined that having a family meant so much responsibility. Gone were the days of doing whatever they wanted to do or complaining about missions that were "boring".
He was turning twenty-two in October, but it still felt a little strange for the former village prankster to now be one of the adults. He had started wearing the longer red sage coat over an orange and black jump suit once he had mastered sage techniques and some referred to him as the blonde Jiraiya with the way he dressed. He even carried the large toad contract scroll on his back. He had finally hit the last of his growth spurts too and had now reached a little over six feet tall. Naruto's features were more mature as well and the whisker marks were now on much more angular cheeks. His broad shoulders were already starting to bear the weight of the village as he moved closer to the day when he would be the next Hokage.
He had been married to Sakura only a couple of months when they found out about the baby. He hadn't really let it sink in until they heard the baby's heartbeat. Tsunade had asked to be their doctor although she was usually was too busy with paperwork to do maternity appointments, however she had said this one was special. The Hokage was acting like an expectant grandmother with this baby and it was so out of character for the super powered woman that they let her have her fun. He let out a great big sigh as he walked up the stairs to the Hokage's office. What worried him the most about being away from Sakura right now was that she seemed like she had no energy and even getting around the apartment could wear her out. She wasn't acting like the same girl with monstrous strength he had always known and he wasn't sure she would be OK without him around.
'No wonder grownups are always so quiet,' he pondered as he walked. 'There is way too much to think about all the time.' He was starting to get a headache from all this worrying and pushed his thoughts to the back of his mind.
His team was waiting in the hallway in front of the Hokage's office. There were two boys and one girl all about 19 years old, but they seemed to be fairly relaxed (bordering on bored) when he arrived. He knocked at the door before going in, leading the way for his young Chuunin squad. The Hokage had just put together the new squads and this would be their first A-ranked mission as a team. He hoped it would be uneventful, but if it was a celebrity or wealthy person, there were always attacks by bandits or low class rogue ninja.
"Domo," he called as they entered the Hokage's office. He was still one of the few ninja she didn't yell at for not waiting for an answer before letting himself into her office.
"Ah Naruto, just in time," said Tsunade in her usual serious tone as she looked up from the paperwork she had been studying. "As you know this is an A-ranked escort mission. It will be to escort the Waterfall Country's princess to her wedding to the youngest son of the Fire countries Daimyo. I want your team to make sure that the trip is uneventful and that she arrives safely before the wedding next week. You will also add to the security at the wedding, so I want you to be prepared to stay until the Daimyo's personal guards take over fully once the honeymoon starts."
"Hai," said Naruto and his team. "Just one question, did she ask for my team personally?" Naruto inquired. He remembered the last time he had escorted her and she couldn't seem to keep her hands off of him, no matter how many dirty looks Sakura had given her.
"Yes, so you should feel honored that the Daimyo trust you enough to allow your team to go," she said with a smile. She had known full well from Sakura's reaction when they had gotten back what had happened with the Waterfall Country princess, even though Naruto had not done a thing to encourage her actions. At the mere mention of the princess's name, Sakura had thrown a chair out of Tsunade's office window. It then took Naruto another half hour to calm her back down before they could give Tsunade their report.
"Hai, well we'll be off as soon as we are ready to leave," he responded with only a slight blush on his cheeks. He hated guarding the Waterfall princess, but she was always asking for him no matter where they were escorting her to, even now that he was married and she was engaged. He turned to leave only to hear the Hokage clear her throat.
"One more thing, have Sakura stop by the hospital before you go. I want to have her help me with a few things and there is something I need to talk to her about," the Hokage added.
"Hai, Tsunade-baachan," he replied as he lead his team out the door. He may be growing up with his new title of dad, but he still couldn't bring himself to call her 'Hokage-sama'. His team followed him out the door and down the hall.
Tsunade was walking to the hospital to make her daily check on the staff and patients when she saw Sakura walking up the street. She had long since stopped wearing her usual vest and mini skirt in favor of a dress that covered her ever growing features. It was a longer red dress that resembled the one she use to wear as a Genin, but gone was the Haruno family crest and it was replaced by the Uzumaki swirl on the left sleeve similar to the one Naruto always had on his old jacket. Tsunade stopped and waited for her young apprentice to catch up before she continued onto the hospital. Sakura had spotted her and gave a little wave. She was finding it hard to pick up the pace, but she was walking as fast as possible in her condition. She kept thinking she should take walks more often. Without being able to train or go on missions, she was starting to get really stir crazy in their little apartment.
"Tsunade-sama, Naruto said you wanted to talk to me, so here I am," she smiled a worn smile. She was about ready for a nap when Naruto had swung by the apartment to tell her about Tsunade, the mission and to give her one last kiss before leaving town. She didn't like the details of his mission and she would miss him immensely, but they didn't have any other choice at the moment.
"Hello Sakura. Sorry to make you come all this way, but I wanted to discuss some things with you," replied the Hokage. She could see how tired Sakura was and felt sorry for her young apprentice. "Are you getting enough sleep? You look like you could take a nap right in the middle of the street," the older blonde asked.
"Well, I was about to fall asleep when Naruto stopped by the apartment. This kid is really draining all my energy away. We did have one bit of excitement this morning. We got to feel the baby's first kicks. Naruto was lucky he was home for lunch, or he would have missed it," Sakura bragged with a tired but excited smile on her lips.
"That was something I wanted to talk to you about. At your last appointment I was a little worried about how much energy the baby was taking from you and I wanted to have you stop by and let me check a few things to make sure the two of you were OK. I will need you to do some chakra building exercises and I'll have Hinata check your chakra levels at the same time," explained Tsunade.
They saw Hinata sitting on the edge of a bench in the hall outside one of the rooms of the maternity ward, her baby asleep in the carrier she had on her back. Hinata had been working part time at the hospital since her little girl, Kita, was born. With all the new little babies Tsunade was really thinking that they needed to get that new preschool worked out before all these babies turned two. She thought it was ironic that once Akatsuki and Sasuke were old news how quickly their population had taken off. It was like a weight had been lifted off the whole village.
"Hello, Hinata," Sakura said greeting her friend with a quiet tone so as not to wake the baby. "I can't believe how big she's gotten since I last saw her and that little tuft of black hair… how cute. How have you and Kiba been adjusting to having her around?"
"She's been a real good baby so far, but I still have to get up a couple of times a night so I still feel like I don't get any sleep. She gave us her first smile the other day. It was when she heard Kiba and Akamaru coming home and it was just so precious," related the proud mom.
"OK, Sakura, Hinata, let's go into exam room three and get ready. First I'm going to check your progress then I'm going to hook you up to the baby monitor so that we can monitor both of your heart rates. I also want you to mold chakra at the same time. Hinata, watch her with your byakugan and let me know if there is anything out of the normal. Sakura, why don't you just lay down on the bed and let's get started," instructed Lady Tsunade.
Sakura laid down on one of the beds before Tsunade proceeded with listening to the baby's heart. Tsunade had done all the usual measurements of her growing belly and the baby's heart sounded good so they were ready for the chakra tests. Hinata had activated her byakugan while Sakura proceeded to mold chakra. Tsunade kept a watch on the monitor that they had hooked up to monitor the baby's and Sakura's heart rates. It didn't take long for them to run through the series of chakra molding excises before they were done. Sakura was looking even more worn out by the end and Tsunade had Sakura remain on the bed.
"Sakura, this won't take very long to get the results, so go ahead and take a nap. You look too tired to walk home and when you're ready come by my hospital office and we'll talk." Tsunade covered the poor girl up with the blanket from the end of the bed before giving the growing bulge on the bed next to her a loving touch. She and Hinata exited the room and closed the door behind them.
"Hinata, did you see what I think you saw?" the Hokage asked the young woman walking with her.
"Yes, Hokage-sama. The baby is already working on a good size chakra system. I haven't seen that well developed of a chakra system in such a little baby," said the shy kunoichi next to her. Hinata's little girl was still sleeping soundly. You could just see a little bit of black fuzz on the very top of the tiny head that peeked out of the carrier.
"That is what I thought. It isn't unheard of for babies of ninja parents to have chakra systems before they are born, and I've only seen it three times. It makes for a long and tiring pregnancy for the mom and Sakura already looks worn out. We'll just have to keep a close eye on her to make sure that she doesn't over do it. I don't think she'll need bed rest, but she's not going to have any energy to spare until after this baby is born," explained Tsunade as they continued down the hall toward the Hokage's small hospital office. She didn't use this office much and Sakura had been using it the most up until she went on maternity leave a week ago.
"Enter," replied Tsunade while she sat at her desk. You could tell this was normally Sakura's office, but Tsunade used it on occasion so that she didn't have to run back to the Hokage mansion every time she needed something. There was a wedding picture of Sakura and Naruto in the left corner of the small desk. Sakura had also set up a small bookshelf next to the desk at one point. It was filled with well worn medical journals and manuals that she had studied when she first started training with Tsunade. The office was very empty other than these two things that served as a reminder of the days when she used to be at the hospital almost daily. Tsunade sat with only one set of medical records in front of her.
"Domo," Sakura said as she entered. She looked much better now that she had had a small nap upstairs.
"Please have a seat. I think I know why you are tired all the time, more than a normal pregnancy anyway," Tsunade began as Sakura took a seat in the chair across from her.
"The baby is OK, right?" said the concerned first time mom.
"The baby is better than OK from what Hinata and I could tell. Sakura, there are only three times in my career that I've seen this before, once with Naruto's mom. Sakura, the baby is already working on its chakra system. That also means the baby is taking a lot of energy from you to do this. Kushina went through this when she was pregnant with Naruto. I didn't find anything in the Namikaze files and I don't have anything on any other Uzumaki relatives, so this may or may not be hereditary. This little one is most defiantly Naruto's child," she said with a smile. "Now, I don't want you to push yourself until after this baby is born. I suggest that you stick to just walks and keep the house work to a minimum. Now may be a good time to recruit your mom into helping while Naruto is on his missions. With as much as the baby pulls from you when you mold even a little bit of chakra, I don't think you'll be too useful if we have any hospital emergencies either. I wouldn't worry about this, but I do want you to let me know if you feel worse than usual, just in case."
"Yes, Shiso. So you really think the baby will be like Naruto when it comes to chakra capacity?" she asked her mentor.
"I don't know for sure, but Naruto, Sasuke and Itachi were like this before they were born and they all had good size chakra systems when they started the academy. Of course, part of Naruto's chakra capacity is now due to the Kyuubi, but he had a good sized one to start with. It may be part of the reason that the Fourth's seal worked so well on him. Kushina had a long pregnancy, or she said it felt like it, but you should have seen poor Sasuke's mom," she said with a sympathetic smile.
"Sasuke's mom had it both times? Oh, I hope this is it. I don't know if I can last two more months," said the young mother.
They talked a bit longer, mostly about village and hospital news. Tsunade helped Sakura out of her chair when it was time for them to part, Sakura back home and Tsunade back to her office. Tsunade hugged Sakura and reassured her that everything would be fine before she left. Tsunade couldn't help but wonder if Sakura would be all right at home alone with this news without Naruto to share it with. Maybe she should have Hinata or Temari check on her later since they had newborns of their own and Sakura could talk to someone who would understand some of what she was going through.
Naruto was leading his team through the trees at a fast pace. The sooner they got this mission over with, the sooner he could be at home with Sakura. He really hated leaving her after he saw how tired she was lately. The third trimester was starting to be worse than the first and that wasn't helping him from worrying about his young wife.
"Naruto-taicho, you are awfully quiet. May I ask why?" questioned the young ninja named Tora. He was one of Konohamaru's friends and he was slowly warming up to his new captain.
"Oh, sorry. Guess I've got a lot on my mind. Nothing for you to worry about," he smiled back. He couldn't keep the worried look completely off his face, but he needed to try so as not to alarm his young team.
"Naruto-taicho, I'm sure Sakura-sensei is fine," added the young medic ninja named Ren. He was from the same class as Tora and one of the few boys to take an interest in medical ninjutsu. He seemed to have a real talent for it too.
"Huh?" Naruto replied at the accurate guess of the young medic.
"Sakura-sensei is one of the best medic ninja's I know. I know she's fine," he replied.
'Easy for you to say,' thought the nervous father-to-be.
"I know she's fine, but thank you for the sentiment," he replied out loud.
"So Taicho, who is this princess we are escorting?" Tora asked. "She seems to know you."
"I have escorted the princess from the Waterfall Country a couple of times before. She's pretty easy to watch as long as you don't mind frequent stops to shop along the way and I'm sure that we'll be stopping by at least one spa," he said with a chuckle as he remembered the last shopping trip he had to follow her on. He had ended up with arm's full of boxes and bags and Sakura went from her normal jealousy to laughter at the sight of his full arms.
"A spa? Shopping?" said the young man with a bit of a scared expression on his face.
"Hehe, don't worry, we'll have at least one skirmish along the way for you to use your ninja skills," he assured the teen. "I'll have Erika follow her into the spa while we men watch the outside. You'll only have to worry about balancing boxes and bags beyond that."
Erika was the quiet one and the only female on the team. She reminded him a lot of Hinata when she was younger, yet she was as big hearted as Choji. He could see the two young men making annoyed and disgusted faces out of the corner of his eye and he had to stifle a laugh. He could see that Erika was trying not to laugh as well.
"Tora, if you can't handle the shopping I'll go," she laughed at the expense of her teammate.
"I can handle anything. Just watch!" he retorted.
Naruto couldn't hold back his laughter any more at this point. It sounded way too much like something he would have said a few years ago.
"Let's go, the sooner we get there, the sooner we can get her to her fiancé," he said as he increased his speed urging the teens to do the same. They were soon just blurs as they raced through the trees towards their destination.
Naruto and his team had successfully finished their mission, the princess was now married and off on her honeymoon with her new husband. The expected shopping trips and spa trips had been harder on the teen boys than on him for once and he couldn't help but laugh when Tora, the proudest of the three, had to do most of the parcel carrying. She had flirted as expected, but she was a lot better behaved now that it was her wedding they were off to. It had felt like a long two weeks for him and he couldn't wait to get his report done and home to Sakura as soon as possible.
Once he had finished his report and turned it into Tsunade's assistant he took off as fast as he could back to his apartment. If only there was a way to stay at home and take care of her and still go on missions. He had thought of using clones, but none of his missions had been close enough to home to where he could manage it. It wasn't long before their apartment was in sight. Sakura had moved into his old apartment after the wedding and it was proving too small for even just the two of them. He had hoped to do a little apartment shopping in between missions, but they hadn't had a long enough break. He turned the key in the door and opened it to find Sakura sleeping on the couch with a pillow tucked under her head and another under her belly. He could see that she'd gotten a little bigger since he last saw her.
'She looks so peaceful sleeping there,' he thought to himself. 'Just seeing her lie there makes me realize how much I've missed her these past two weeks.'
He took off his shoes and crept over to where she was and knelt down next to her sweet face and gave her a peck on the cheek. He patted her swollen belly and was about to stand up when he felt a strong hand on his arm.
"Tadaima," he said in greeting.
"I've missed you. When did you get back?" she said as she pulled him back down so that she could look him more in the face.
"Just now. Sorry to wake you, but I couldn't resist giving my angel a kiss," he said with a worried and loving smile on his face. He moved in closer so that he could give her the long, passionate kiss he had been longing to give her for the last two weeks. Once the kiss had ended he asked, "How have you been feeling?"
"Exhausted. I'm starting to think that sleeping the next two months might not be such a bad idea," she said as she used Naruto's arm to slowly pull herself into a sitting position. "How was your mission?"
"Nothing too eventful. Mostly shopping like the last time we guarded her. The wedding had more dignitaries than I've ever seen, but the kids did a good job. I think Ren is your biggest fan and if you weren't married to me, I'd worry about him trying to flirt with you too, dattebayo," he said with a wink.
"Do you think I'd fall for a young medic over the strongest man in Konoha?" she teased back.
"Who else could put up with your monstrous straight?" he teased as he sat next to her on the couch.
"Shannaro," she said weekly as she punched him in the shoulder. It wasn't very hard, but then again she didn't have the energy or the chakra to do much damage.
"Ouch!" he gave a weak cry. He could tell that she wasn't feeling good from the fact that his shoulder really didn't hurt. "So, what did Tsunade say at your last appointment?"
"She said that the baby is just fine and it's right on schedule. She did say that the reason why I'm so tired is that the baby is already working on its chakra system," she explained. "It seems that your mom had the same problem with you." She said this as she poked him in the ribs.
"Hey, don't blame it on me! This kid is half yours you know," he said rubbing the sore spot she had just made in his ribs. "But, I don't see how that would make you tired."
"OK, knowing you I'll try to make this simple, but whenever I try to mold chakra the baby steels it from me. The baby also steels any energy that I have normally too, so Tsunade-shiso said to take it easy," she explained.
"Well, I'm here now, so until Tsunade-baachan sends me off again I'll do as much as I can," he said as he gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze. "We can get that apartment hunting done too. I'm expecting at least a day off, but if she's worried about you maybe we'll luck out and get a few extra days off before I leave again."
"I've circled a few ads over there on the kitchen table. Maybe you could check them out for me and narrow it down before we make the final decision together. I need to run to the grocery too. I haven't really been cooking since you left so we don't have any real groceries, other than the cup of ramen. I still can't eat that stuff," she said wrinkling up her nose at the thought of instant ramen.
"I'll get the groceries too. You just take it easy. I can do more than one errand at a time. Besides, that's what shadow clones do best, dattebayo!" he said with a huge grin.