A/N: Hey there everybody! How about a third "informational one-shot" to share the progress of Anko and Kakashi's journey to parenthood? This story has some humor, a steamy lemon, a little bit of angry language, some chaos (of course!) and that warm fuzzy thing I like so much. If you are a person who does not appreciate lemons, please skip it - if you can. And now, aftering admitting that I do NOT own Naruto, let's begin. Enjoy!
A slow smile spread across Kakashi's face as he looked at his sleeping wife. She lay on her left side facing him. She looks so peaceful, so quiet, so gentle he thought, when he knew she could be anything BUT those things. As he watched her, his heart swelled inside him because he loved her so much. He watched her sleep in the bed they shared as the room slowly brightened with the rising sun.
As she lay on her side facing him, he traced the lines of her face with his eyes. He followed the outline of her face, cheek to jaw to neck, then he let his eyes grace over the sharp upward slope of her shoulder – a place that whenever he nibbled there – would cause her to groan slightly and wind her fingers in his hair. He watched her shoulder as it slowly rose and fell in time with her deep sleep breathing.
His gaze wandered down the length of her arm as it lay casually, palm side down on the bed just below her breasts. That's where his eyes lingered hungrily – how he wanted to gently place his hands on her wonderful breasts and touch them tenderly with the tips of his fingers. He'd love to tease a reaction out of them with his hands, his mouth. But he'd let her sleep a while longer even though a part of him was now achingly wide awake.
He loved Anko's breasts before, but now they've gotten a bit larger. When she stood up, they seemed to stick straight out almost like they were presenting themselves to him while screaming, "COME AND GET SOME!" But that stood to reason. Most women's breasts did tend to plump up quite nicely when that woman was 30 weeks pregnant.
Kakashi directed his gaze finally to Anko's abdomen. He smiled to himself knowing the child inside her was safe and growing right on schedule, tucked away in Anko's belly. Again, the urge to touch her, feel the round hardness that contained his growing child was almost overwhelming. But Kakashi restrained himself. Waking Anko for any reason was always a dangerous task – but with pregnancy hormones added to that – he feared he'd lose a limb, or worse.
Anko was really showing her pregnancy. At 30 weeks, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that one of Konoha's most deadly trained killers was indeed going to be a mother, and soon. Some time within the next 10 weeks, her baby would be born, to the delight of practically the entire village.
There was so much to do to prepare for the brand new baby. Both Anko and Kakashi had read all the literature and gone through all the rough spots that sometimes happen to pregnant people. There were still things that needed to be done. There would be nothing bought for the baby until after it arrived, because doing so would be considered back luck. The ninja parents-to-be had had enough bad luck already with almost losing the baby early on in Anko's pregnancy.
One by one, Anko and Kakashi were subjected to test after test on their path to parenthood. They completed all the preparation they could for the coming of their child, everything except one thing that Tsunade wanted to see them about that very day.
She looks so small and fragile lying like that. Almost childlike herself Kakashi thought lovingly. His heart filled with emotion again as he realized that the lovely sleeping deadly woman next to him was HIS and no one else's.
She twitched slightly in her sleep as if she could feel his eyes on her skin. Sleep a little longer, love he thought, knowing that as her pregnancy progressed, the more tired she seemed to be. He'd let her sleep a while longer before waking her and taking her in to see Tsunade.
Anko rolled onto her back and pushed her head back into her pillow. Her jaw went slack and she let out a loud noise that sounded something like an obscene choking gagging, snozzzz… Then she coughed once, inhaled sharply through her nose and opened her eyes.
Anko blinked a few times, then looked up at the crack in her ceiling and smiled. She stretched her arms and legs straight downward, feeling how the skin over her stomach stretched along with her. Then she felt eyes on her, and she turned her head to look at her husband, who quietly lay next to her wide awake. She did not expect what she saw though. Kakashi's eyes were HUGE and trained directly on her now pointing straight up stomach. To him, as she lie on her back, she looked as if someone had strapped a large mixing bowl to the front of her – her night shirt draped over it, framing it like a large curtain draped dome.
Her smile left her quickly as she assessed her husband's face, "What the hell's your problem?' she barked at him.
Without moving his eyes from her large stomach, he raised his left hand and pointed to it. "Whatta ya got in there? An elephant?"
Lightning quick as usual, Kakashi felt the slap Anko delivered to the back of his head before he even saw it coming.
Anko glared at her husband as he rubbed his head, "It's because of YOU that I look like this!" Kakashi couldn't help himself, and he laughed. "What the FUCK are you laughing at?"
"Language, Anko. The baby's got ears remember?" Anko rolled her eyes at him as he propped himself up on his right elbow. Then he placed his left hand on her stomach. He smiled at her naughtily and said, "If I recall correctly, you were participating quite enthusiastically during the creation of this little one," he patted her stomach for emphasis.
Anko picked up his hand and moved it further across her belly, then pressed his hand against it. They both smiled, their surly moods forgotten as both felt the child inside moving around. Their momentary happiness was interrupted though, as Anko's stomach growled loudly.
"See? You woke the baby up and how you have to feed him, and me!"
Kakashi said, "Him? Do you know something I don't know?" He looked at her, his normally passive face absolutely radiating excitement.
"No. I know what you know. Only Tsunade knows for sure whether this is a boy or a girl,"
"Or an elephant," Kakashi grinned.
Lightning quick again, Anko hit Kakashi square in the face with his own pillow, knocking him backward off the bed. He landed with quite a loud thump.
"Owwwww," he groaned.
"That'll teach you. No calling our baby an elephant!"
I'll never do that again he thought to himself as he slowly got up off the bedroom floor.
Anko got up, stuck her tongue out at her husband, then headed to the bathroom. She spent a lot of time there lately, as most pregnant women did. As her uterus stretched to accommodate the growing baby, it pushed all her other organs out of the way. Her lungs felt smaller, and she got winded often just from walking. Her stomach was squished up and couldn't hold near the volume she was used to, much to her utter dismay. And her bladder, she was convinced, had to be almost non-existent with all the times she had to pee during the day AND night. She was grateful she only had 10 more weeks to go, then she could get back to normal, and breathe, eat and pee like a normal person again. Well, as normal as Anko was anyway.
Meanwhile, Kakashi scurried to the kitchen to prepare a healthy breakfast for his little "mother-to-be." He had watched as her appetite increased while her ability to eat enough had decreased. He did what any good husband would do – he did some research on what kinds of highly caloric food would be best for his wife and child. From the lists of information he'd gotten, he was able to create small yet highly nutritious meals for Anko so she wouldn't get too hungry too soon.
He quickly pulled together a single scrambled egg with lots of cheese in it – that way she'd get a good dose of protein, fat and some dairy as well. And because Anko is Anko, he hid a handful of cooked down spinach in her cheesy scrambled egg. That way, she didn't think she was wasting premium stomach space on "stupid vegetables." In her opinion, the small stomach space she had should be filled with sweets and washed down with some sort of liquid, like chocolate syrup. Instead of sweets though, Kakashi put a handful of cashews on her plate – half of them, chocolate covered.
Kakashi looked at the breakfast he'd prepared and ticked the food groups off in his head, eggs for protein, spinach for veggies, cheese is dairy and fat, cashews, more protein and fat, chocolate – Anko's mood regulator that works better than Prozac – looks like I only missed one…he poured a small glass of orange juice and put it next to her plate. Her high calorie nutritious yet small breakfast was ready and waiting for her. And just in time too, she lumbered into the kitchen rubbing the underside of her protruding belly.
"Breakfast's ready," Kakashi said to her.
"Spinach? Again?" she said to him as she shoveled a large mound of hot cheesy spinach eggs into her mouth.
She's got to have an asbestos lined mouth to eat food THAT hot Kakashi thought, as he noticed that the cashews he'd put out for her were already gone. How does she eat so fast? "Spinach is a very important vegetable for pregnant women Anko. It has a good dose of iron in it, that'll help keep your energy level up."
"You old mother hen," Anko said as she finished her egg, and washed everything down with the orange juice.
Kakashi realized that she'd consumed her breakfast in about a minute and a half. He just shook his head as he prepared close to the same breakfast for himself, with only half the cheese, double the spinach, an extra egg, and no chocolate.
Anko stood up and went to her husband. She pushed herself against his back, her stomach hitting him first, then she wrapped her arms around him as far as she could reach. "Thank you. That was perfect. I don't feel stuffed."
"You're welcome," Kakashi said as he stirred his eggs quickly in the pan they were cooking in. He stopped for a moment as he felt Anko's stomach moving independently against his back. "I still can't get over that. You're not making your stomach move, the baby is."
"Believe me, I have a hard time believing that there's a person in there moving around on their own. It's a little hard to comprehend. But all the moving around just proves that there is a baby in there, and my advanced size is not because of my appetite. So there."
Kakashi turned off the heat to the stove, moved the pan to cold burner, then turned to face her. He held her casually there next to the stove. "You can eat whatever you want after the baby comes, because I have just the thing in mind to burn off the extra calories…"
"Mind reader," Anko said as she stared up into her husband's face happily.
Kakashi felt many things all at once then, wonder at the child still moving against him, gratitude that he'd found his soul mate in Anko, lust in the thoughts that ran through his head as he held her warmly, and absolute love as he looked down into her radiant face. He suddenly had the overwhelming urge to kiss her, not in a desperate way, but in a satisfying fulfilling way. He started to lean down slowly, never taking his eyes from hers. He saw her expression change as he got closer to her face – from happy to serious – a direct reaction to what she perceived he was about to do.
He paused mere millimeters from her lips. He could feel her warm breath coming from both her nose and mouth as he paused there. He felt her reach up slightly, trying to connect with him, trying to touch her lips to his, yet he paused again, just out of her reach, extending the torturous moment before the bliss that would follow.
His hands pulled her slightly closer, yet he didn't crush her to him like he normally would. He gently squeezed her in the circle of his arms, as he leaned forward and finally brushed his lips gently across hers, then back again. One more time across, and he heard Anko inhale deeply through her nose. He knew what that meant – her inner fire had been lit.
Kakashi pulled in one staggering breath himself, then he gently pressed his lips to his wife's'. He felt her grip around him tighten as their kiss deepened. At that precise moment, Kakashi knew that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Not only the luckiest, but also, the happiest.
He pulled back slightly then stood up straight. Anko groaned, "Ooooh, I HATE it when you do that to me! You are SUCH a TEASE!"
Kakashi hugged her tightly to his chest and said, "I promise not to tease you later." She looked up at him expectantly, and he bounced his eyebrows at her. Then he hugged her again, and said, "We've got to get going."
"You're getting much better at being places on time you know. Wanna be late? Just this once?" she said as she attempted to take his hand and pull him in the direction of their bedroom.
He pushed her back slightly away from him and with a shocked expression on his face he said, "Why Anko! Are you trying to encourage me to fall back into my bad habits?"
Anko glared at him and said, "Oh shut up. NEVER MIND! Come on. No bad habits. Let's get going." She angrily pulled herself away from her husband and stomped back toward the bedroom to get dressed. Kakashi smiled to himself, controlling himself not to follow her there and give her exactly what she wanted – what HE wanted – and instead, he slid his semi-hot breakfast onto a plate then sat at their table and ate it.
After cleaning up the kitchen, and watering his plant, Kakashi went to the bedroom to find clothes for himself. When he got there, he found Anko flopped backward on their bed, completely dressed. She had a very familiar black scarf in her teeth. "Wanna play?" she teased as she pulled the black scarf slowly while still holding loosely between her teeth. Kakashi grinned at her, then turned away from her and dropped his pajama bottoms. "Come to MAMA!" Anko shouted, but Kakashi instead went to his closet and pulled out some clothes to put on.
"I'm going to pout all day," Anko informed him. "Why won't you come over here and well, WHY!"
Kakashi turned to her as he reached for one of his many casual masks. He jammed it in his back pocket and said, "Tsunade wants to talk to us about some "very important information that we both need to know." You know what happens when we keep our Hokage waiting."
"Like that ever stopped you before! It's because of me isn't it!" She lay back on the bed, her hands circling her rather large stomach. "I'm not appealing to you any more am I? I'm just a baby machine, all clinical and stuff! I'm not sexy anymore!" Anko whined at him, then turned away and pouted even more.
Kakashi stood absolutely still. He couldn't believe a word of what he was hearing. He'd never in his life met anyone as sexy as Anko. She was practically an insatiable hellcat in the bedroom, and she gave as good as she got. But the sex wasn't the thing that made her so sexy to him. It was mostly the simple everyday things that would often stop him in his tracks. Like the way she held her head when she wanted something, with that stubborn look in her eye that said that things were her way or no way at all. And there were the times when he'd catch a glimpse of her stepping out of the shower, her hair wet and sticking all over her face and neck that made his heart thud erratically. Or how about the way she'd sometimes surprise him and put on his dress shirt, with a neck tie tied loosely around her neck, the tail of which dangled between her breasts – that always stunned him to the core. But she was at her absolute sexiest, when she was mad as hell.
She wasn't mad as hell at that moment; instead, she seemed hurt and sad, almost vulnerable. Very "un-Anko-like." So he sat on the bed and leaned against her back. He said, "You have no idea how sexy you are to me. If I told you all the little things you do, from walk into the room to the look on your face when you're eating chocolate, I could never make a list long enough. I would run out of paper and ink."
She sniffed and turned to him. "Really?"
He leaned his elbow on the swell of her hip and said, "Oh yeah, really. And this," he swept his arm over the bulge of her stomach, "is about the sexiest you've ever been. You have no idea what level of sexiness this goes to. It's so…womanly…curvy…" he leaned over and kissed her hip, "…you are a whole new level of appealing to me and I can't stop thinking about you even when you're nowhere near me…" he leaned in to her and kissed her hip again.
Anko, breathless, looked at him as his head bent to kiss her hip again. She was moved, moved beyond words, so instead of speaking her gratitude, she grabbed Kakashi by the back of the head and pulled him violently to her, pulling him into a desperate kiss.
Kakashi leaned into Anko rather then resist her now. Even 30 weeks pregnant, she was as strong as a bull elephant. And after that first flash fire fueled kiss, he turned into a helpless, absolutely active participant in the sex she wanted.
Anko had originally wanted a quick playful romp, but what Kakashi had said to her, turned it into something different entirely. Passion welled out of her with each quickening breath. Her hands sought to pull him over her, in front of her so she could tear his clothes off. But she wouldn't have to. She heard the zipper of Kakashi's pants, while he was still behind her, his head still locked firmly in her arms, her torso twisted upward so she could bite at his neck more adequately.
She felt his hand push up the back of her shirt. His right thumb then traced directly back down her spine, hooking into back of her pants and underwear, pushing them straight down, while he worked on his own with his left hand. His head was still locked in her iron clad grip, her lips and teeth still working on his neck, jaw, chin.
He whisper/growled, "Let me go,"
"Never," she gasped back as she ran her tongue up the side of his neck.
He ran his right hand right down the separation of her back side, and then kept right on going, curving his hand to fit between her legs, and not too-gently touch her ridiculously ready sex. Anko let out a reflexive grunt, then she gasped as she felt Kakashi's fingers invading her. She let him go slightly, and he slipped from her grip, only to position himself lower on the bed into an angle that would not disturb her, but please her instead.
He molded his body against hers, his right hand still making Anko gasp with its ministrations. But the loudest sound she made was when he plunged himself into her. Her arms flew above her head as she grasped and then held on to the headboard of their bed as her husband began to roughly make love to her as she lay there on her side.
Anko arched her back away from Kakashi, causing him to hit that one unbelievable spot inside her that set off fireworks behind her closed eyes. Her mouth was open as if frozen in a silent scream as he continued his carnal barrage. She reminded herself to breathe, but as soon as she did, that's when the noise started. She started to groan low and deep in her chest. It rolled upward and outward as Kakashi's rhythm stopped and started again. Then as he readjusted his angle, and quickened his already fast pace, Anko held her breath again feeling herself rushing to the peak of her excitement. She let out a raspy cry as her body involuntarily spasmed off time to her husband's rapid thrusts.
Kakashi smiled to himself as his wife continued to make the noises that always made him lose any control of himself he had left. Then the smile on his face contorted, twisted and turned into the tortured look of a man experiencing his own strong orgasm. He gasped repeatedly, his thrusting out of rhythm now as wave over wave over wave of pleasure engulfed him almost to unconsciousness.
He collapsed backward next to his panting wife. The sudden urge to sleep until Christmas threatened to overtake him. He felt Anko moving next to him, though his eyes could do nothing but stare at the crack in the ceiling. He felt her stomach against his hip, her arm over his chest. He lay there still not able to move, trying to get his breathing under control. She kissed the side of his face and said, "There. All better now. Thank you." She kissed the side of his face again and snuggled into him. He still stared at the ceiling, but managed to throw the arm she was practically laying on, around her shoulder.
When he was able to speak again a few minutes later he said, "Now do you believe me?"
"Hmmm?" Anko purred back to him.
"Now do you believe that you're the sexiest woman in the world to me?"
"Yes. Yes, I believe you," she said as she replayed the things he'd said about her, over and over again in her memory.
They lay there quietly, neither wanted to move. The after sex blissful state had them both claimed. They lay there, smiling away, glowing with pleasure and love for each other.
Then Kakashi stretched his right arm over his head and casually glanced at the clock. His eyes shot open and he said, "Holy FUCK Anko. We're REALLY late now!"
"Huh? We can't be that, oh my FUCK we ARE that late. Quick! We have to go now!" She sat up carefully, knowing that if she got up too quickly, the stretching ligaments in her stomach would put her right back down again. She rolled to her side and sat up and waited. Kakashi on the other hand, practically vaulted out of bed, his pants still down to his knees. He wiggle-walked his way out of the room and to the bathroom. When she thought it was safe, Anko stood up carefully. No felt pain, no nothing. She smiled happily to herself as she kicked her pants and underpants off, then picked them up to follow Kakashi to the bathroom.
After they bumped into each other a few times while quickly trying to finish getting ready, they were soon presentable enough to go see Tsunade…late.
She was going to kill them both.
Anko stomped toward their apartment door. Kakashi fished the black mask that was amazingly still in his back pocket, out and pulled it into place. Then he caught up to her at the door and absently patted her on the behind. "Bastard," she grumbled through a saucy smile, then followed it up with an elbow to Kakashi's ribs. As he almost doubled over, she walked through the door and smiled back at him, "Quit dilly dallying! We can't keep Tsunade waiting any longer!"
"But we're already late! I could just regale her with my tales of being lost on the road of life."
Anko whirled on him, which was a pretty impressive thing for a 30 week pregnant woman to do. She grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his face to her level. "If you "regale" her with one of your EXCUSES, you're totally going to kill my happy pleasure buzz! DON'T. DO. IT. Understand?"
"Yes ma'am. You do the talking."
"Right!" Anko said, "Come on! We've got to get moving!" Anko let go of his shirt and continued her stomping way toward the stairs that led the way out of the building.
Kakashi straightened up and rubbed his ribs. He thought I must be some sort of masochist, because I've fallen in love and married a sadist. I am such a glutton for punishment. "Coming dear," he said as he pulled the apartment door closed behind him.
Outside, the streets of Konoha were busy with people starting their day. The first thing Kakashi did when they started their quick walking was reach for Anko's hand. Anko absently intertwined her fingers with his as if she'd done it all her life. It was automatic now, but it hadn't always been. When they were a secret "item" before they went public with their relationship – public touching was an absolute "no-no," that was unless they were touching while having massive sex in secluded dark public places.
Never in her life would Anko have ever dreamed that she would be walking hand in hand, very publicly down the streets of Konoha with its most renowned pervert. But there she was, doing it proudly; swelling with heartfelt gratitude that she hadn't been stubborn enough to have shut him out of her life just because of who or what he was. When people looked at them now as they walked the streets, some still saw them as the "crazy proctor lady and the pervert." She didn't care what people thought, as she hummed to herself quietly. She knew that not too many people knew what they really were like, that they were two people enrapt with each other on the unexpected journey to parenthood. When she thought about it that way, she found that they were more 'normal' than most people she knew.
Me? Normal? That's a first. She laughed quietly to herself.
"What?" Kakashi asked.
She turned and said, "Just thinking about how normal all this is now."
She held up their linked hands and said, "This."
"Ah," Kakashi said, "and look how normal this is now," he leaned over and put a masked kiss on top of her head.
Anko smiled and said, "I still have a wee bit of a problem with the whole public displays of affection thing,"
"Unless of course, you're having incredibly spontaneous sex with me in a movie theatre, a dark alley, a playground, or how about a certain cement slab?" Kakashi interrupted. He kissed her head again to prove his point.
Anko shot him a look, and so did two random bystanders. "Quit," she said, but not with malice. "What's Tsunade want to see us about anyway? She'd better not even THINK of sending you out on a mission now."
"I don't think that's it. More like she wanted to tell us something important. At least that's what she said when she "summoned" us in."
"Whatever it is, I hope it won't take too long. I'm getting hungry again." She put her hand on top of her stomach and frowned. "You worked off all the calories I ate!"
"You weren't complaining at the time. Didn't you bring anything with you?"
Anko was famous for stuffing chocolate bars, energy bars, and anything else she could get her hands on in the numerous pockets of her favorite coat. She still wore the coat, even though it really didn't fit her anymore. She rifled through the pockets with her free hand and pouted when she came up empty handed.
"Don't worry. We'll get you a snack as soon as we leave Tsunade's office. There are vending machines in the cafeteria. You'll be fine. Can you hold out that long?"
"I suppose," she said as they walked a bit, a little quieter than moments before.
They arrived at the Academy shortly afterward. Kakashi attempted to help pull Anko up the stairs, but she waved him off. She waddled up on her own power instead. He did jump up ahead of her to hold the door open so she could continue her waddle inside.
As was her custom, Anko went straight to the bulletin board inside the Academy doors. "Let's see what she's got you scheduled to do…" she scanned the weekly assignment list, then the monthly. Kakashi's name wasn't on any of them. "Doesn't look like you're on the hook for anything at the moment. That's a relief."
"Yeah, that's good. Someone's gotta be here to take care of you."
"In more ways than one," she said with a wink. Kakashi winked back and then reclaimed her hand as he turned to lead her to the offices of Konoha's 5th Hokage.
Since it was still early in the morning, Kakashi knocked softly on Tsunade's door. They were already late for their visit with Tsunade and there was a very distinct possibility that she might be hung over. He decided that softer was better AND safer at the moment.
"ENTER!" Tsunade bellowed from within.
Both Kakashi and Anko cringed physically. Tsunade did NOT sound happy. But mere moments later, both shinobi stood tall, swallowed loudly and walked through the doors to Tsunade's offices, ready to receive their punishment for their tardiness.
"Well, it's about time you two get here!" Tsunade yelled at them. "It's not like you to be late Anko – Kakashi – I'm used to. What the hell kept you?"
As Anko opened her mouth to speak, Kakashi began, "Begging your pardon Hokage-sama, but on our way here I got a bit los-IRK!!!" Kakashi suddenly lurched sideways as Anko removed her fingers from where they'd just been violently jabbed into his ribs.
Anko resumed the conversation, "Actually Tsunade-sama, what Kakashi was TRYING to say was,"
Tsunade put her hand up silencing Anko. She looked at Kakashi intently, and the furrow between her eyebrows deepened. "Are those fresh TEETHMARKS on your neck Kakashi," she growled.
Anko's eyes snapped open wide and strained sideways to see what Tsunade saw. She mentally beat herself repeatedly as she saw the obvious evidence of WHY they were late. She closed her eyes and shook her head, making a promise to herself to NEVER engage in spontaneous hanky-panky prior to reporting to her boss! At least no hanky-panky that leaves marks she mentally corrected. Why couldn't he have worn a LONG mask today? DAMMIT!
Tsunade growled slightly and said, "Do NOT waste my time again! Am I understood?"
"Hai," both ninjas said with a slight bow. They were both all business now.
Tsunade folded her hands and put them on her desk. She took a deep breath and sighed. Then she spoke, "You're probably wondering why I brought you both here today. To make a long story short, I've brought you here because there's something very important you both have to do before you become parents." Both Kakashi and Anko looked inquisitively and curiously at Tsunade as she continued, "Anko, women have been having babies since man has existed. How much do you know about the whole process?"
Kakashi said, "Well, I think we've got the whole 'making the baby' part down, and,"
"KAKASHI! I did not ask you here to discuss your sex life! I was speaking to Anko, so hold your tongue. Now, Anko, if you would, please answer my question."
Anko started slowly, "Well, from the literature you gave us at the beginning, I know that there is labor involved for a long period of time before the whole pushing part, and then the baby is born. Isn't that right?"
"That's right Anko. I'm glad to see you've done your homework. But you've only covered the very basics. There is so much more involved that happens when your body and your baby decide that the time has come for things to start happening. And that's why I've brought you both here today. I'm giving you both a new assignment,"
Kakashi interrupted, "With all due respect Hokage-sama, I can't leave on assignment, and Anko's in no shape to travel." Anko nodded furtively in agreement with Kakashi's statement.
"Kakashi, I never said anything about you or Anko traveling anywhere. The furthest you'll be traveling is to the hospital. Now, are you ready to listen to your assignment? And before I tell you what it is, I have to lay down some rules first. First of all, you WILL complete this assignment, because it is for your own good. Secondly, I will check to make sure that you are cooperating fully in this assignment! Now, if you're ready, your assignment will be," she paused looking at the worried expressions on the two ninja's faces in front of her, "prenatal childbirth classes. You're both signed up for birthing classes."
"Prenatal childbirth classes? What the hell are those?" Anko asked.
Tsunade said, "They are classes that meet one day a week at the hospital. A registered obstetrics nurse/midwife will be teaching the classes. Each week you will learn more about the whole birthing process and what you can do to make yourselves more comfortable with that process."
Kakashi said, "You're sending us to class? Will there be a test?" He smirked under his mask.
"My, my. Aren't you quite the smart-ass today Kakashi? You do realize who you're talking to?"
Kakashi lowered his eyes slightly and said, "Yes Ma'am. My apologies."
"If I may continue? I have already registered you both for the classes. Your first class is tomorrow night. You will go to the hospital to the maternity and delivery ward, and you will be directed to a classroom where you will begin your preparation classes. Do you have any questions?"
Kakashi smartly said, "No Ma'am."
Anko said, "What time are the classes?"
"They run from 5:00PM until 8:00PM. You will both be assigned duties around the academy for the duration of your pregnancy Anko, to ensure that you both ATTEND those classes."
"You make it sound like we're not going to want to be there Tsunade-sama. Is there a reason?"
Tsunade waited a moment then said, "I really shouldn't tell you this now, but I suppose you should go to class prepared for everything,"
Kakashi thought what the hell is she talking about?
Anko thought suddenly, I'm scared shitless.
Tsunade continued, "each week, you will be going through, IN DETAIL, what happens to a woman's body when she nears the date that she's going to give birth. You will also learn techniques to help ease the pain of labor. Concerning that, Anko, I know some pressure point techniques to block some of the pain, but it won't all be blocked. I need you to know what to do, and learn how to keep your head about you when you're going through your labor. The thing I will warn you both about is…the film."
"Huh?" Anko stammered. Kakashi just stood there in silence waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Yes Anko, you will be shown a film of an actual birth. You are both going to see, in great detail, exactly what your body is going to do, and how it will respond to the powerful messages your brain sends it. It's all very natural."
Kakashi turned white as a sheet. Anko felt like she might throw up, and not from the pregnancy hormones.
"You will also be shown a film on how a baby is delivered via C-section."
Anko piped up, "I thought that's how we were going to do it anyway. Can't you just knock me out, do a quick C-section, and be done with it?"
Tsunade said, "We only do C-section deliveries in very rare circumstances Anko. Only when the life of the baby AND the mother is compromised. It takes a much longer time for a woman's body to heal from a C-section, rather than a normal birth, that's why they are rarely performed. We usually let nature take its course, and only intervene when we have to."
"I understand," Anko said, suddenly terrified, almost regretting being pregnant because of the fear of the unknown that awaited her just 10 short weeks from then.
Tsunade could see Anko's demeanor had changed. Kakashi could feel it. He stepped closer to his wife, and gently put his hand against the curve of her back. She looked up at him and tried to give him a smile, but one wouldn't come. "Don't worry about a thing Anko. We'll go to those classes and we'll learn everything we have to learn. I'll be there with you the whole time."
"Actually Kakashi, traditionally fathers don't go into the delivery room. Some men find it hard to be there when they see their wives in pain."
"With all due respect Hokage-sama, I've seen Anko in a lot of pain on occasion. I've seen her close to death. I plan on being with her every step of the way during the labor and delivery of our child. You'll have to drag me out of there, because I'm not leaving her." Anko looked at him, and he noticed that she'd found her smile again.
"So be it!" Tsunade said. "Tomorrow nigh at 5:00PM is your first class. Get there EARLY because they're going to have some forms for you to fill out. If I hear that you were late for your class,"
"No problem Tsunade-sama, I'll make sure we're there in plenty of time," Anko interjected.
Tsunade softened, "I'm sure you will Anko. For now, make yourselves busy and don't worry about this. These classes will prepare you for everything Anko. They'll give you a solid sense of security after all is said and done. When you're done, there will be no surprises."
"I actually kind of like the sound of that. Thank you Tsunade-sama."
"Yes, than you," Kakashi mimicked.
Tsunade rubbed her forehead, and said, "Alright, both of you get to work. If you have any questions, just ask."
"Hai," both ninjas said, and after a slight bow, they turned and left Tsunades' office.
As soon as Kakashi and Anko were outside Tsunade's office, Anko began to hyperventilate, "Classes? We've got to attend classes, complete with gory details of everything that's going to happen to me? Why can't she just give me the literature and I'll study everything myself? I don't want gory detail!" She paced frantically down the length of the hall and back again, flailing her hands as she did so.
Kakashi himself had just slumped sideways into a wall. On Anko's second pass by him, he put out his arm and stopped her. "Listen. I don't want to do this any more than you do, but I think it's important that we know everything that's going to happen – so there are no surprises."
Anko stopped and looked him right in the face. Then she said something he rarely heard from her as she said, "I'm so scared."
Kakashi's heart almost shattered. But the truth of the matter was that he was just as scared as she was. They were deadly ninjas from the Village Hidden in the Leaves but they had no idea what was involved with the whole birth process. They'd never done anything like this before, and neither had close family to compare stories with, or ask questions to. They knew the basics of babies and would learn how to take care of a baby once it got there. But now, first, they had to learn what was going to happen to actually GET the baby here.
"I'm scared too. But we'll get through this together." He pulled her gently to him. She put her ear against his chest, his steady heartbeat soothing her. He felt her relaxing a bit as her weight against him got heavier. Her breathing slowed. Then without warning, Anko's stomach absolutely roared.
Kakashi said, "Ok. Looks like Junior needs the first of many snacks today. I think there are smoked almonds in the vending machines in the cafeteria. And they have packets of edamame there as well."
"Both please!" Anko said, the thought of food temporarily chasing away her fears of the upcoming classes. The two ninjas walked to the cafeteria in hopes of satisfying Anko's audible stomach as well as her fears.
After eating substantial snacks, and loading her pockets with more of them, Anko settled into the task of sending out invitations to the neighboring lands announcing the upcoming chunin exams. She got about ten invitations written out, but was soon too distracted to do any more. She swore the baby inside her was turning somersaults. She learned that if she pushed her hand against the part of her stomach that felt the hardest, that the baby would usually turn and shift, often making it easier for her to breathe, or on the opposite end, causing her bladder to send an urgent message to her brain of its need for immediate release. So instead of doing the invitations, she played with her stomach, seeing exactly what she could prompt her unborn child to do.
Even though she ate sporadically all day long, when it was time for lunch, Anko made her way happily to the cafeteria. Kurenai and Asuma were already there sharing their lunch and a few stolen amorous looks across the table at each other.
Anko grabbed all the "smart" choices of high density, high caloric foods she could and then went to interrupt her best friend and her best friend's boyfriend, fiancé, or whatever he was. She wasn't sure exactly what Asuma was – but she did know that Kurenai was crazy about him. She could feel the deep love the two had for each other, even before she guessed that they were together. There was just something about the two of them that screamed, "We're together."
Kurenai couldn't help grinning from ear to ear as she saw Anko approaching, carrying her food tray perched on top of her growing stomach. Kurenai squealed, "You look so cute!"
"Why?" Anko asked, "I look like this every day!"
"You don't balance a food tray on that shelf of a stomach of yours every day."
Anko looked down and said, "It is quite convenient, I've got my own built in table." She put her tray down next to Asuma and then proceeded to sit next to him, across from the enthusiastic Kurenai.
"Why didn't you sit here next to me?" she whined.
Anko took a big bite of a rice ball and said around her full mouth, "Because you keep trying to feel me up all the time Ms. Touchy-Feely." She devoured the rest of her rice ball and then stuck her tongue out at Kurenai.
"Fine," Kurenai grumbled. "What's Tsunade got you working on today? More chunin exam stuff?"
"Of course," Anko said around mouthfuls. She had to eat as much as she could as quickly as she could before the message that there was no more room left in her greatly constricted stomach got a chance to reach her brain. "You'll never guess what Kakashi and I've got to start doing tomorrow after work."
Asuma said, "Does it have anything to do with his naturally perverse nature?"
Anko scowled at Asuma and said, "No. Not this time. It's something much, much worse." She shoveled a fist full of yogurt covered raisins in her mouth and chewed dreamily for a moment, waiting for Kurenai's guess.
Kurenai took her turn and said, "Does it have anything to do with taking you shopping because I KNOW how much you LOVE doing that." Kurenai and Anko's failed first attempt at shopping for maternity clothes had been rescheduled four additional times, with Anko always finding some way out of each proposed excursion. She finally relented and went with Kurenai when even Kakashi's t-shirts that she'd taken to wearing, no longer fit her.
Anko chewed a bit more and said, "No. Worse that that."
Anko had Asuma and Kurenai's undivided attention after that statement. Both wondered what was so bad. Anko said, "In fact, it's SO bad that I'm really and truly scared to do it."
Asuma thought what are they going to have to do? Resurrect Orochimaru and make him Godfather to the child?
Kurenai got scared herself because there were precious few things in this world that scared Anko. Most things that scared most "normal" people just made Anko mad.
Anko swallowed loudly and then exhaled audibly. She folded her hands on the table in front of her and said, "Tsunade is making us go…to prenatal childbirth classes."
Asuma said, "Oh, no."
Kurenai said, "Really? I think that would be fascinating!"
Anko screamed at her, "Yeah, it's all fascinating to you because you're not the one who has to go through it all! Everything they teach us is going to HAPPEN to me whether I want it or not! And then there's the film,"
"A film? What film? Asuma asked.
Anko said, "An actual childbirth film where they show you – EVERYTHING."
"Everything?" Kurenai repeated with rapt attention.
Anko nodded furiously, "I am going to get a sneak preview of what is going to happen to me in stark detail."
"But you read all the information already! They say your body just kind of knows what to do when things get started, that it takes over and pretty much does it all by itself!"
"I know! I read everything and I made Kakashi read everything too. But Tsunade is demanding we attend the classes."
"Wow," Asuma said.
Kurenai interjected, "Look at it this way Anko, when you take the classes, you'll get all the answers. You can ask questions of someone who's an expert."
"They better damn well be an expert if I'm going to be there."
Kurenai looked at her best friend and calmly said, "What are you afraid of?"
Anko immediately said, "The unknown. I don't know what to expect of the whole process."
"Good answer, but that's what the classes will cover." She paused then said, "Cut the crap Anko." Anko shot her a surprised death glare. Then her face fell when Kurenai asked, "What are you really afraid of?"
Anko looked down at her food, her appetite completely vanishing as she did. She looked up when Kurenai said her name again and asked again, "What are you really afraid of?"
Anko felt tears prick at the corners of her eyes. Then she blurted out, "I'm afraid I can't do this." Asuma reached over and put his arm around Anko who seemed to be about to break into sobs at any moment. Kurenai leaned across the table and took her hands. "I'm afraid that I'll screw something up. I don't know what I'm doing! How am I supposed to do this? What if I can't do it?"
Asuma hugged her a bit tighter and Kurenai said, "Maybe you're right." Both Asuma and Anko looked at Kurenai as if she'd suddenly sprouted antlers. She continued, "Maybe you can't do this. Maybe you're ill equipped to have a baby. Yeah, you probably can't do it."
"WHAT? Aren't you supposed to be trying to encourage me?" Anko spat back at Kurenai.
Kurenai leaned forward and said, "I can't help you if you won't help yourself. So suck it up, get to your damn classes and LEARN what you're supposed to do! Then you'll have NOTHING to be afraid of."
Anko sat up straighter as Asuma loosened his grip on her. "You're right. I have to learn what I'm supposed to do, and then I just have to do it. Knowledge is power right?"
"Knowledge is power Anko. You'll have all the power and the knowledge to deliver that baby safely after you get through your classes."
Anko stood up and said, "Right! I CAN do this."
"You don't really have a choice anyway Anko. You're so pregnant, your body's going to intervene and make you NOT pregnant in about 10 weeks. What time is your class tomorrow?"
"5:00. Right after work."
"Good. Get to class, learn everything you can. Ask questions if you're confused about something, and then get back here and tell me everything!"
"I'll do it. Thanks you guys. I'm going to go see if I can track down Kakashi. Talk to you guys tomorrow." With a wave, she propped her tray back on her protruding belly and waddled away from them.
Asuma said, "You were a little cruel to her Kurenai. That was kind of harsh telling her that she probably can't do the whole birth thing."
Kurenai smiled at her big ninja and said, "I've known Anko for a very long time. And one thing I've learned about her is that if you tell her she can't do something, she'll do it just to prove you wrong, and piss you off."
"Ah. Reverse psychology. Well played my lady." He looked around to see if anyone was looking, then he leaned across the table and kissed her cheek.
The day wore on as usual after lunchtime. Anko went back to her invitations and daydreams, while Kakashi was off doing God knows what. But soon, Anko realized as she gazed out the window that the sun had starting its western decline, throwing autumn-like colors across the tops of the trees as it slowly sank. It had to be close to time to leave for the day. Still, she gazed out the windows as the colors streaked across the sky, feeling the baby inside her kicking at her left side furiously. She smiled as she put here hand there, continuing to think about nothing, a moment of peace and contentment while she waited for Kakashi to come and claim here as he had become accustomed to doing.
He appeared silently in the doorway asking, "You ready to leave Hon?"
Anko pulled her gaze from the window to look at the man who loved her. She stretched her arms over her head and leaned back in her chair, arcing her back and jutting her stomach out as she did so. "I'm so ready to go. I have hand cramps from so much writing." She shook and flexed her hands, then noticed Kakashi staring at her stomach again.
"Don't say it!" she warned him.
"I wasn't going to say a thing," he countered.
"But you were THINKING it weren't you?!"
"Why Anko, what ever do you mean?" Kakashi asked her as he offered her his hand to assist her out of her chair.
"You know damn well what I mean," she growled as she pulled herself up with his hand.
"I wasn't going to say anything involving large circus animals or pachyderms in general. I was only going to comment on how completely round your belly looks when you stretch backward like you did. It's actually quite fetching."
She walked past him, relieved, and muttered, "You're impossible."
He ran his hand down her arm as she passed and whispered, "Impossibly yours."
She wheeled on him, "I wish you'd quit that!"
Kakashi sighed and said, "What exactly?"
"I wish you'd quit saying such nice things to me when I'm all fired up and ready to argue!" She pouted at him. "It takes all the fire out of me and makes me feel all…mushy."
Kakashi laughed – a ringing peal that echoed down the hall. "Is that all it takes? A sweet sentiment to avoid an argument?"
The fire in Anko raged back to life, "Watch it Hatake." She turned away from him and started down the hall.
He patted her back and said, "There's my girl. Did you get enough to eat to day?" Kakashi knew this was the best most efficient way to change the subject with Anko.
"Actually, I did. Oh, and I told Kurenai and Asuma about our classes."
"Oh really? What did they have to say?"
"Exactly what you'd think – Asuma was freaked out a bit, and Kurenai was all for it."
"Maybe she can go with you to the classes then and I can go over Asuma's,"
Anko cut him off, "Try it and you'll be visiting him missing an appendage."
Kakashi DARED to say, "Should I ask which appendage?"
Anko said flatly, "Your FAVORITE appendage," then she continued her walk toward the exit.
Kakashi quickly said, "I'll be attending class with you tomorrow of course. I wouldn't dream of letting you go through that by yourself – we're in this together. Together we'll learn and together we'll have this baby."
Anko sniffed and hid her face a little.
"Are you ok?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," she said quietly back, "you just did it again!"
Kakashi put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her against him. He smartly asked, "Do we have any bonbons at home?"
Anko's mood brightened immediately. "I don't think so, or are you issuing me a challenge?"
Kakashi looked down at her and said, "Who says 'bonbon' first?" Anko flashed him a wide toothy smile. "I'd say, 'I'll race you' but you're not in any shape to be running anywhere."
Anko said, "But I can walk a little faster now that I have some motivation."
"Then let's go," Kakashi said as he offered his wife his arm. They both walked purposefully into the street, into their apartment building, into their apartment itself and only when they reached their bedroom door, did they stop walking so fast.
The following day passed entirely too quickly for Anko. Every time she looked at the clock, it was that much closer to the time she'd be leaving work and going to her first childbirth class. As the day sped on, her nerves frayed and then began to unravel.
Kurenai, being the best friend she could be, tried to reassure her that the class was there to help inform her of what to expect, not to freak her out completely. She told her, "Anko, that baby's got to come out eventually. Don't you want to know what to expect?"
Anko's reply was, "I rather like the baby exactly where it is right now thank you!"
"But it can't stay there forever, and you can't wish it out! You've got to go through the motions and do what it takes to make it happen. You know you can do it."
"I know you're right – I just wish I didn't have to go to class. I'm not good at being tested, unless it's something I'm good at like throwing weapons, detaining prisoners, testing genin, interrogation techniques – those kinds of things."
Kurenai said, "Just go to class with an open mind – ready to learn. Kakashi will be there and he needs to know what to do too. It'll be fine! Make sure you pay attention to everything they say, because I want to know what's going on too!"
"Ok," Anko said half-heartedly. She knew she'd do it – she'd go to the stupid childbirth classes and sit there bored while some nurse droned on and on about the miracle of childbirth and how amazing a woman's body is. She just hoped they had decent snacks there.
Before Anko knew it, Kakashi was leaning against the doorframe to the room she was working in. "It's time," he said ominously.
Anko put away her things and sighed. "I really don't want to do this." She got out of her chair, walked over to him and put her forehead on his chest. His arms automatically held her.
"I know – me neither. But we need to be prepared. It won't be long now and we need to know what to do."
"I guess you're right," she mumbled into his chest. "Let's get this over with."
"Do you need to stop and get something to munch on? We're going to be there for a few hours."
"No. I'm ok right now. And if they don't provide snacks, it's a good excuse for us to leave early!"
"Good plan," Kakashi said.
They walked quietly through the halls as if they'd just received a death sentence. When they got to the bulletin board by the front doors, Tsunade was there, her arms crossed under her borderline obscene bosom. "Going to class?" she asked accusingly.
Both ninjas said simultaneously, "Yes, Tsunade-sama."
"Try not to look so glum. You may enjoy the classes."
Anko said quite defiantly, "I am NOT going to enjoy any class that makes me watch a graphic childbirth film!"
Tsunade snapped back, "What exactly do you think childbirth is Anko? Do you think you'll experience a little bit of discomfort and then "the stork" will walk in and present you with a perfectly clean little bundle of joy? Well it's NOT like that Anko, and you need to know what to expect and what to do when it's time for that baby to come! It's true that your body will do most of the work itself, but you have to know how to assist it. Childbirth is a process that is not all sunshine and roses – it CAN be quite graphic and even painful! That's why they call the process up to birth "LABOR!" It's hard, but it's not impossible!"
Then Tsunade played the card she knew would inspire Anko into action, "Anko. You're a member of one of the most powerful nations in the ninja world. You are an incredibly strong talented shinobi and already in your lifetime, you've faced much worse than this. You've never hesitated. You've never backed down. You've always plowed on straight ahead like a God-damned bull elephant to get any job done you were required to do." Tsunade saw Anko's face change as her determination hardened it. "Consider this your final mission before your child is born. Now go to class and learn everything you can to prepare for the biggest challenge you will EVER face."
"Childbirth?" Kakashi asked.
"No," Tsunade answered. Then she said, "Parenthood."
Kakashi was suddenly struck silent. He'd been so wrapped up in thinking about the process of childbirth and the classes they had to attend, that he almost forgot that the whole 'parenthood' thing happened after all that! But his thought would have to wait as he felt a firm tug on his arm. It was Anko, with a blazing look in her eyes. "Let's do this," she said to him, and he suddenly felt empowered through her fierce look of determination. God, she's sexy when she looks that way he thought as he felt her tug his arm again. "Let's get moving Hatake! You're NOT going to be late for this!" She began to walk forward right past Tsunade, all the while dragging Kakashi after her. Kakashi gave the Hokage a quick parting wave, Tsunade just leaned against the wall and smiled.
Anko pounded her way fiercely to the hospital where their childbirth classes were to take place. She flung the doors open and walked quickly to the front desk, immediately frightening the young receptionist that sat there. "May, may, uh, may I help you?"
Anko put her left palm flat on the reception desk and leaned into it. With her other hand, she pointed at her stomach and said, "Childbirth classes. Where do we go?"
The receptionist calmed slightly and said, "Oh yes! I see now. You will take the elevator to the third floor, turn right and follow the hall to the signs that say 'Labor & Delivery.' There's a sign on the door waiting for you."
"Thank you," Anko said curtly as she turned toward the bank of elevators not far from her. Kakashi said nothing; he just followed his determined wife to the elevators.
Once they were inside the elevator and it was moving upward, Kakashi stole a sideways glance at Anko. She was leaning against the back wall of the elevator, the determination her face had been sporting gone, and an indifferent look on her face. He believed that he was more nervous than she was then. So he did the one thing he thought they'd both benefit from, without looking at her, he reached out and took her hand in his. He immediately felt more solid, more grounded, and not quite as nervous with his wife's warm small hand in his. When he stole another sideways glance at Anko, she seemed to be slightly smiling, and that made him feel even better.
The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. The two of them looked at each other and then stepped out of the corridor. They turned right and began to walk, hand in hand. Anko broke the silence when she said, "Should be just a ways down the hall. I see the big "Labor & Delivery" sign up ahead."
"I hope they go easy on us the first day," Kakashi said. "Kind of ease us into the whole thing."
"They probably will. Tsunade said she set these classes up for us. We'll just ask the nurse to slow down if we think it's going to fast."
"Yeah. Good idea," Kakashi said, "That'll make it a little more bearable. Hey, here's our door." Just as they had been informed, a sign with the words "Childbirth Classes TODAY" was taped to a door to their left."
"You ready?" Kakashi asked.
Kakashi reached out and opened the door for his wife. What they saw when they stepped inside was NOT what they expected. Not what they expected at all.
They were both under the impression that a nurse was going to be teaching THEM the ins and outs of the process of childbirth. There was nurse there all right, but she was standing in the middle of twelve other couples who were all sitting in a circle around her on the floor, supported by pillows!
THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE HERE! Anko screamed in her mind. She immediately regretted coming to the class. She thought she'd get one-on-one+Kakashi instruction! But NO! This was a "GROUP" thing! But in her attempt to retreat and run back to the elevator and tell Tsunade "FUCK THAT," she heard a voice say, "Come in, come in! Looks like we've got some shinobi in our class! Not unheard of, but a rarity these days. Please come in!"
Anko gave Kakashi one panicked look, which he returned then they both felt the nurse pulling them into the room. "Now, don't be shy! We're all here for the same purpose. Follow me please; I need you to fill out some paperwork. Your Hokage signed you up for classes, and I wasn't sure if you'd actually come or not. But here you are!" She led them to a sectioned off part of the room where a desk and three chairs awaited them. The nurse sat behind the desk and opened a folder. "You must be Anko," she said to Anko, "and Kakashi. Welcome! The first thing I need you to do is fill out these forms. It's just standard information on what your preferences for your labor and delivery will be."
Anko took the form from her and said, "We have preferences? I don't understand,"
"Oh, not to worry my dear! We'll be going over all of that in class. In a nut shell, we like to know ahead of time if you'd like medical assistance during your labors, or if you're going to tough it out and delivery the baby without medical intervention."
Kakashi said, "You mean drugs?"
"Yes!" the nurse shouted. "We don't normally use epidurals, as most women choose to have a 'natural' birthing process, but some women prefer them. It's entirely up to you."
Anko asked, "What would you suggest?"
The nurse said, "I shouldn't influence your decision either way Anko. Let's just say you put down what you THINK you might like, and then after you're more informed, you can always change your mind."
"And you say most women go without the drugs?"
The nurse nodded, "Ahum – most do indeed."
Anko put a big check mark in the "No medicines" box, and said, "Well no drugs it is then."
Kakashi said, "Wow, you're brave."
Anko looked at him and said, "I'll have you there to hold my hand, and for me to scream at. I should be ok."
The nurse interrupted, "Oh, fathers are rarely present at the birth,"
Kakashi said, "Begging your pardon ma'am, but wild horses wouldn't keep me away from the birth of my child – or from Anko when she needs me."
The nurse said, "When you put it that way, I'm sure we can make an exception. You are shinobi who are fiercely loyal to this Village, and I'm sure that that fierce loyalty extends to each other as well." Both ninjas nodded. "Then I'll write under the 'Special Requests' section that you Kakashi, be allowed to be present for the labor and birth."
The nurse stood up, "I'll give you both a few minutes to fill out these papers, then we'll get started with class." She walked out to join the other couples.
Both shinobi filled out the paper that seemed to just be a long list of vital statistics on both of them. They both got a little stumped when asked who their 'next of kin' were. Kakashi asked quietly, "Does she mean besides you? Because if she does, I'll put down Asuma. He's like a brother to me – some days."
"Good idea," said Anko, "I'll put you down, with a slash, and then Kurenai."
"Ok. Wow, look at this list of diseases! Those are all a big 'no' for me. They want to know what surgeries I've had? Are they kidding? I've had so many just trying to put me back together again after some of the crazy missions I've been on,"
Anko shushed her husband and said, "Just put, 'see medical file.' They've got all the records on you that they'll need."
"Smart thinking. In that case, I'm done."
"Don't forget to sign and date the bottom," Anko reminded him.
Kakashi signed his paper, Anko signed hers. Then both got up and reluctantly went to join the group waiting for them.
The nurse called to them, "Yes! We're all ready to begin. Anko and Kakashi please take some pillows from the shelves and join us. These will be your pillows to use each time you come for class. A drawer is available with your names on it, and that's where you'll place your pillows at the end of the day. Now! Let's begin shall we?" Anko and Kakashi grabbed a few pillows each then joined the group. Anko found it difficult to get all the way down to the floor, but Kakashi helped her. She took a quick look around to see how the other women were positioned – most of them were practically sitting in their husbands' laps, completely supported by pillows. A few just leaned into their significant others, using them AND the pillows to support their bellies.
The nurse began, "I'd like to welcome you all to the first of eight childbirth classes! I am Nurse Jinchi and I will be guiding you on your path to parenthood! How many first time parents do we have here today?" Anko immediately raised her hand as did eight of the twelve other couples. Anko noticed that Kakashi hadn't raised his hand. She elbowed him in the ribs.
"What?" he asked.
"She asked how many first time parents are here today, and you didn't raise your hand." Then a shocked look ran across her face, "Is there something I should know?!"
Kakashi shook his head furiously, "NO! No, nothing! I wasn't paying attention,"
"Well get your head in the game Hatake!" Anko whispered furiously, and Kakashi immediately shot his hand up to join hers.
Nurse Jinchi continued, "Good! All you first timers will have a lot to learn, but never fear! This is why you're all here. Is everyone comfortable enough?" Positive murmurs swept the crowd, Anko and Kakashi just nodded. "If for any reason you need to stand, use the restroom, or change position, please feel free to do so. I want this to be a very comfortable experience for all of you. Now before we begin, are there any questions?"
A girl sitting three couples away from Anko and Kakashi raised her hand. "Yes?" Nurse Jinchi said.
"Uhm, pardon me for asking, but will there be any snacks?" Anko nodded in agreement and looked toward Nurse Jinchi. She also decided immediately, that she liked the girl who asked the question that she was sure so many of them were wondering about. She still hoped that Nurse Jinchi would say "no" because then she'd make the excuse that she was STARVING and would have to leave early.
The nurse said, "Of course we have snacks! When we take a break, I've got goodies for everyone."
"Dammit," Anko said under her breath. Kakashi just patted her hand in acknowledgement.
"Now then, shall we begin?" Before the nurse could really get started, Anko raised her hand, "Yes Anko?"
Anko cleared her throat and said, "Is it true that we're going to have to watch a graphic childbirth film?" Instantly, murmurs started amongst the new first time parents.
"Not exactly," Nurse Jinchi said, "in fact, you'll be watching TWO films!"
Anko thought she heard Kakashi gag. She herself felt slightly faint.
"Now don't get too concerned about the films. One will show a natural birth, the other will show the other option. In case any of you develop complications during your labor, or your baby's life is in jeopardy, you will need to have a caesarian birth. I will show you a video on what happens if that's the case. Any more questions?" Everyone was pretty much too stunned to make a peep. "Then let's get started! Some of the things we are going to go over today are, optimal nutrition for pregnancy," Kakashi pointed at Anko, and she made a face at him, "helpful herbal teas for relaxation – decaffeinated of course! We'll go over the anatomy of the female reproductive system and how it works during labor, and we'll also touch on some relief for common discomforts that may happen to you during your last few weeks before labor, and during labor itself. Everybody with me so far?" She paused and looked around the circle of soon to be parents. "Excellent! Here we go."
Nurse Jinchi started right off with dispelling rumors of what labor and childbirth actually were. She patiently answered questions in between the material she gave to the group of would-be parents around her. Anko noticed that Kakashi paid very close attention to the nurse as she taught about how nutrition is so important for the growing child, and the mother preparing to give birth to that child. He also seemed to pay extra close attention when Nurse Jinchi brought out an anatomically correct see-through model of the female reproductive system, complete with a curled up baby inside. At first she just figured that Kakashi's perverted nature had taken over as he stared at the anatomically correct model, but then she saw that he was genuinely interested in how everything really worked. Anko herself was quite amazed to learn exactly WHY her bladder was so small, and she couldn't eat the volume she used to. With all that baby inside a person, everything had to go somewhere, and it seemed as if a woman's organs just got squished up against other organs.
After their anatomy lesson, Nurse Jinchi said, "How about we all take a break? I'm sure a lot of you have had the restroom on your minds for quite some time now. How about we meet back here in fifteen minutes? If you come back in ten, the snacks will be waiting!" The group was dismissed to relieve themselves, get up, stretch, and reposition themselves for the rest of class.
Kakashi pulled Anko off the floor. She stood up and stretched, causing him to stare at her stomach again. She almost slugged him, but decided against it, thinking there were too many witnesses that might accuse her of 'spousal abuse.' Instead, they walked out into the hallway toward the restrooms.
"This isn't as bad as I thought it'd be, but I'm still concerned about a few things," Anko said as they walked.
"Me too," Kakashi said as he walked beside her. "Those films worry me."
Anko nodded. "I'm just glad she finally gave us a break. My feet were going numb from sitting on the floor so long."
"We'll re-arrange the pillows when we go back in. She said there would be snacks when we came back."
"Thank God for that! I was starting to feel a bit empty in the stomach area. Junior here seems to suck up everything I eat so quickly."
They stopped in front of the women's restroom. "I'll be waiting for you right here when you come out," Kakashi said. She gave him a quick smile then hurriedly waddled inside, hoping a stall was open for her to use.
As soon as she emerged from the restroom, Kakashi noted the relief on her face. "That bad huh?"
"Yeah. That bad," Anko said. "Now, about those snacks?" She almost raced him back to the classroom. When she got there, there were all kinds of little packaged snacks from mini rice balls to nuts to packets of edamame to dried mango and chocolate covered raisins. She wasn't surprised to see the chocolate snacks go first, even though they'd just been schooled on 'smart nutrition.' As she poured chocolate covered raisins into her mouth, pocketing some mini rice balls and edamame for later, she noticed Kakashi's look. Then he just shook his head and led her back to the re-forming circle of pregnant ladies and their 'significant others.'
Nurse Jinchi called them to order, "Are we ready to finish up for today? Ok. The last thing I'd like to go over today is discomfort during the end of your pregnancies and into labor and birth itself. How many of you feel some discomfort already?" Every female hand in the room went up. Jinchi pointed to one lady and asked, "And what type of discomfort are you feeling right now?"
The lady said, "My legs are swollen and sore."
"That's from fluid retention. How many weeks along are you?"
"32," the woman answered.
"You're right on schedule then. Usually around 31, 32, 33 weeks, you will begin to retain water as your body prepares for the final stages of pregnancy. Moderate movement and some light leg exercises will help alleviate that. I have some leaflets that will aid in this."
Nurse Jinchi went around the room, asking each woman what her current aches and pains were, and asking them how far along they were in their individual pregnancies. When she got to Anko, Anko answered, "I'm not too achy right now, but I do get horrible tendon pain if I get up too fast." Lots of women nodded their heads; they'd all had that at some time too.
"Hmmm, that's pretty good if that's all you're experiencing right now. But being a shinobi, you were probably pretty fit when you got pregnant." Anko smiled to herself, because she knew she was EXTREMELY fit. How else would she have been able to hang off of fire escapes to have sex with Kakashi? A high fitness level, that's how. "And how far along are you?"
"Only 30? You look as if you're further along than that. I was worried when you first came in. I thought that you'd never make it through our eight week class and you'd deliver your baby way before it ended! But you should be just fine with a couple of weeks to spare. My advice to you on the tendon pain, just shift from one position to another slowly. Let your tendons warm up and lengthen a little at a time. That way you won't have that 'pull you back violently' feel."
"Ain't that the truth," Anko agreed.
The nurse then moved behind a table outside the circle of couples. "I'd like to talk now about ways to alleviate discomfort before and during labor. Some of these "cures" may seem silly; but most of them come from women who've already had children. If you are achy, especially in your lower back, a warm bath usually helps the muscles relax. Make sure it's a deep bath too – it'll help support your body and take pressure off your legs and hips."
Anko felt a hand down her back at the mention of warm baths. Those were Kakashi's favorite, even though the two of them had a bit of trouble fitting in the tub together now, what with Anko's stomach being as large as it had become.
"Make a nest of pillows and prop up everything that's achy. You'll find that the more you're supported by pillows, the less your body has to support."
"Check," Kakashi whispered in Anko's ear. She almost giggled as she remembered the "pillow sex" they'd had.
"Here's one that you may find funny," she held up a baseball. "No, you're not going to throw this at your partners ladies, even though I'm sure a few of you may want to!" Anko immediately eyed Kakashi who pretended to not be listening. "But your partner is going to take this ball and push it into your lower back and roll it around. Sometimes, the muscles in your lower back can contract so hard that it's painful. Rolling a hard baseball over them can help loosen them up and help relax you." Anko liked the sound of that one and made a mental note to send Kakashi out to buy a baseball to put in the bag she intended to take to the hospital.
Nurse Jinchi continued with some final thoughts after she explained more about pain relief methods. She didn't talk about medical intervention, aka 'drugs' but went for the more natural choices first. She ended the evening on a final note, "I know you ladies are anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks away from delivering your babies, but I want to make sure you know one very important thing. No matter what happens, if your water breaks, you go to the hospital immediately. There will be no waiting, no hesitating. If it breaks, you go. The "water" is one of the many things in place that is protecting your baby. Without it, a lot of bad things could happen to your baby. So if you find yourself doing something that doesn't feel like urination, yet you feel very wet, get to the hospital and get checked out. Am I clear?" Heads nodded all around the circle. "Good! I have a packet of all the information we covered today that I want each of you to have and study. Next week, we will discuss exercises, stretches and exploring our fears. Good night everyone!" Nurse Jinchi then picked up some small plastic handled bags and headed toward the exit.
En masse, the couples got up off the floor, picked up their pillows and lined up to put them in their drawers. Kakashi stuffed the pillows they'd used in a large drawer that had Anko's and his name on it, then they turned toward the exit. As they passed the snack table, Anko quickly palmed another packet of mini rice balls and stealthily slipped them into her pocket for later.
"I saw that," Kakashi said.
"That's only because you're shinobi. No one else saw a thing. Plus, if you keep your mouth shut, I'll share them with you later."
He turned to her and said, "That's not what I'm going to want later." He continued to look at her, and was surprised when her cheeks pinked ever so slightly. He soon realized why she reacted like that - they were standing in front of Nurse Jinchi, who was holding out a plastic bag full of information to them.
"How did you like your first class?" the nurse asked.
Anko said, "It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be."
"And you Kakashi? What was your impression?"
"It was very informative, especially that anatomical see-through model. Where might one get one of those, and do they have them for sale loca," his final words were cut off when Anko silently stepped on his foot.
Nurse Jinchi smiled at Kakashi and said, "Yes, the workings of the female reproductive system are complicated indeed. I like to bring out that model because sometimes men just don't know what goes on "down there," as well as what happens inside a woman's body. It's a good learning tool."
Anko thought my husband the perv. He probably got turned on by an anatomical plastic model.
Nurse Jinchi then said, "If either of you have any questions, feel free to contact me any time. I work on the Labor and Delivery ward during the day, and teach these classes once a week during the evening. If you need anything at all, I'm usually here. Get some rest Anko. It was nice meeting you and Kakashi."
Anko and Kakashi both bowed slightly, and with Kakashi's hand on her back, Anko walked out the door into the hallway.
The two very relieved ninjas walked down the hallway and soon were outside the hospital on their way home. They walked quietly, Anko with her arm loosely draped inside Kakashi's. Anko pulled the cool damp early evening air deep into her lungs, and exhaled it rather quickly making a big of an "ouch" sound as she did so.
"Baby kicking?" Kakashi asked.
Anko rubbed the side of her protruding belly and said, "No. The baby's quiet right now. It seems that when I walk, he or she settles down."
"With the motion of your body, it's like you're rocking them."
"I never thought of that before, but that makes total sense." She rubbed the side of her belly again and smiled at the thought that simply walking rocked and comforted her baby.
Kakashi interrupted her thoughts and asked, "Then what was the noise you made?"
"I think I took too big a breath. Remember where the lungs were in the anatomical model?"
Kakashi thought happily about the plastic women's body and all the parts therein, "Yeah, the lungs were pushed upward and constricted."
"There's your answer. I took in more air than I had room for."
"Ahh, I see. Other than that you're feeling ok?"
"I'm feeling amazingly well considering that I waddle like a duck, I can't breathe or eat much, and I have to pee all the time. The whole experience with class tonight, was really fine. And you know what? I'm almost looking forward to next week's class. Isn't that weird?"
"Not really. I feel the same way."
"But there is one thing that I am NOT looking forward to."
Kakashi patted the arm she had draped over his and said, "What's that?"
"She's going to be all over you tomorrow."
Anko looked at Kakashi expectantly, "Maybe I can call in sick! I'm 30 weeks pregnant, and have hardly ever missed any time at work. Maybe Tsunade will let me have a day off!"
"You know that'll just make her angry."
Anko knew she'd be making her best friend angry if she did ditch work the next day, but sometimes Kurenai drove her BANANAS with all her girly enthusiasm! Still, they were best friends, and best friends, as well as lovers, compromised at times. "All right, I'll go to work, but so help me if she tries to feel me up again, I'll lock myself in a room somewhere and form some sort of sealing jutsu that she can't undo!"
"She's just excited for you."
"I know she is." Anko was quiet for a few minutes thinking that Kurenai really was the closest thing she ever had to a sister. If she'd had an actual sister, she's sure that she would share everything with her. Since Kurenai was the next best thing, Anko decided to cut her a break and tell her what she'd learned in class, but she drew the line at the whole feeling the belly thing.
Kakashi heard cellophane paper crinkling. "Do you need your hand back to open that?" He saw Anko's hand had retrieved the package of mini rice balls she'd swiped.
"Nope. I got it," she said as she brought the package to her teeth and swiftly tore the top of the package. She squeezed the package and a rice ball scooted up to where the bag was torn, and she deftly popped it in her mouth. She chewed happily and smiled at Kakashi. Kakashi just smiled to himself and looked away, knowing perfectly well that when it came to food, if Anko lost both her arms, she'd still find a way to feed herself. Anko would NEVER starve.
Their evening had ended without incident, much to the shinobi's amazement. But to Anko's surprise, the next morning, she didn't wake with the sun as she usually did. In fact, the alarm clock blared, startling her. She flailed her arm toward the clock, forgetting that between it and her was her sleeping husband. She smacked him soundly on the cheek.
"OW!" Kakashi yelled loudly.
Anko tried to roll over and sit up at the same time, then grabbed her stomach and lay back down. "I'm so sorry! I usually wake up when the sun comes up, but the alarm scared me! I was just trying to shut it off."
"By beating me awake?" Kakashi said coolly while rubbing his cheek.
Anko replaced his hand with hers, and she rubbed his cheek for him. "I'm really sorry. It was an accident."
Kakashi took her hand, kissed her palm, then sat up and shut the alarm clock off himself. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, and put his feet on the floor. Shirtless, and only wearing a loose pair of pajama pants that hung on his narrow hips, he rested bent over, placing his elbows on his thighs. He reached up and scratched at his head with both hands, causing his skyscraper hair to stick up in all directions. Anko giggled.
Kakashi whirled to face her, "What?"
"You're hair is bigger than ever. I think you might need a trim."
"I like my hair big. It's saved me from concussions on occasion." He stood up and linked his hands behind his back and squeezed. Both his shoulders made audible pops. He shook his arms out, rolled his head on his neck from right to left, then he turned to face his wife. She had the biggest grin on her face that he'd ever seen for a morning.
"Again, if I may ask, 'what?'"
Anko kept smiling. She was lying on her side looking at him. "Turn around again," is all she said.
He leered at her. "Were you checking out my backside?"
She nodded, "I was checking out ALL of your back, from top to, shall we say, 'bottom?'" She giggled again. "Have I ever told you that your back looks like a sculpture?"
Kakashi turned his head and tried to look at his own back. "No, you haven't."
She purred at him, "When you just sat up and leaned over, I could see every muscle and ripple of your back. You are perfectly made, I swear! God must have modeled the blueprint of the perfectly built male after you."
"Really? Or is it just the horny pregnancy hormones talking?" He slid back on to the bed and lay facing her.
"Not the hormones this time. I'm just trying to tell you that I appreciate how you look. All lean and muscle-y, and well, HOT." She reached for him and kissed him quickly on the mouth, her eyes flashing and animated.
"Hmmm," Kakashi hummed, feeling quite good about himself. "Wanna stay home today? I'll let you "study" me if you like." Instantly his thoughts flashed to Icha Icha Teacher's Test and exactly how the teacher in that novel "tested" their student.
"Oh, I'd like that a lot," Anko said as she ran her finger from the triangle shaped hollow of his neck and collarbone, down and over his chest, to the small bunched ripples of his upper stomach. He fell on his back as her hand traveled to the top of his pajama pants. After a big sigh, he grabbed her wrist, pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed it.
"It kills me to deny you something that I know I would enjoy so much, but you know that our beloved Hokage is waiting for us today."
"I'm sorry my dear. But come on. You know Kurenai will come here and break the door down if you don't get to work and give her some information today. Besides, we'll have plenty of time to play tonight. Have you ever read "Icha Icha Teacher's Test?"
"You know I don't read those things. I've only glanced at a few of them that have interested me."
"You should really look into that one," he said, then he kissed the tip of her nose. He patted her hip, then swung his legs away, stood up and stood there for her enjoyment. He heard her sigh loudly, so for her amusement, he flung himself forward and did a few very slow pushups against the wall. He could feel his shoulders and back responding as the muscles contracted in response to his early morning exercising. After the fourth one, he stopped and turned to see a wide eyed Anko smiling back at him.
"More please!" she said.
He walked to the closet to get a work uniform and said, "Later. When we have more time."
Anko rolled away from him and grumbled a few nasty names at him. Kakashi just grabbed his clothes, chuckled a little and left their bedroom, reminding himself of just how happy and lucky he was to have Anko as his wife.
Their regular morning routine resumed after the "spectacle" Anko enjoyed, and their walk to work ensued as it usually did.
Anko said, "I can't believe how disappointed I am that the class last night wasn't more,"
"Horrible! I wasted all that time and energy being upset and nervous about the class, and it was actually quite informative and almost relaxing!"
"Then that's what you should tell Kurenai when she attacks you today."
"I will. There really isn't all that much to tell. Dammit!" Kakashi looked at her. "I forgot to bring the literature that nurse Jinchi gave us. If I would have brought that, it would have kept Kurenai busy for a little while."
"Do you want me to go back and get it?" Kakashi said as he paused and halfway turned back toward the apartment they shared.
"No, I'll give it to her tomorrow. I'll just have to deal with her myself today."
They resumed their walk to work, and weren't surprised in the slightest when they saw Kurenai and Asuma waiting outside the academy doors when they got there.
Kakashi said, "Brace yourself, she sees you."
Anko did, and said, "I'm ready." She waved to Kurenai, who immediately left Asuma's side and ran straight for her.
Kurenai completely ignored Kakashi, but embraced Anko while eliciting an earsplitting squeal. Anko winced noticeably. Kakashi felt bad. He figured that if Anko had winced at Kurenai's excited squeal, how had the baby reacted? He thought it best not to find out, and decided to leave the scene as quickly as possible. So he reached over, gave Anko's exposed arm a slight squeeze, then left to join Asuma by the academy doors.
Finally, Kurenai let Anko go somewhat, but screamed, "TELL ME EVERYTHING!"
"In a minute, JEEZ!" Anko said trying to maneuver herself out of Kurenai's grip. She contemplated lying to Kurenai or being vague, but then thought differently as she realized that it might be a good idea if someone other than Kakashi knew what to do and what was going on with her, just in case something were to happen. Knowledge is power, and she decided right then, that Kurenai needed that power too – just in case.
Kurenai practically bounced in front of Anko, such was her excitement. Anko said flatly, "I'll tell you everything you want to know, but here's how it's going to go down. You will ask one question at a time, and I will answer them one at a time. Got it?" Kurenai grinned widely and nodded fiercely. "Ok. Go ahead. Ask away."
Kurenai grabbed Anko's arm and steered her toward the Academy. Then out of nowhere, Kurenai hit Anko with a blurred barrage of multiple overlapping questions. As they walked, Anko stared at her best friend in total disbelief. One at a time, one at a time, ONE AT A FUCKING TIME DAMMIT! She thought loudly to herself, trying to out-shout Kurenai in her mind. Finally, she'd had enough, "KURENAI!" she shouted at her.
Kurenai stopped walking and said, "Uh, what?"
Anko sighed. "What part of 'one question at a time,' didn't you understand?"
Kurenai smiled and said, "I guess I did get a little crazy there didn't I? I'm sorry, but this is just so exciting, and I want to know everything! Ooh! Did you see the film yet?"
"Stop right there! That's one question. I'll answer it. No. We have not seen the film yet. Next?"
"Was the class terrifying?"
Anko held her hand up to stop her friend. Then she said, "When we first walked in, sure it was. We had no idea what to expect. And even worse, we thought we were being taught one-on-one, but when we walked in there were a bunch of other couples there too!"
"YES!" Anko shrieked back. She found was actually starting to enjoy her conversation with Kurenai, now that it was more give and take, rather than give and take, take, take, take.
The two lady ninjas walked and talked their way into the academy, Anko answering every single question Kurenai could think of until they had to go their separate ways and work on their assigned tasks.
The week went by quickly and it was soon time for Anko and Kakashi's next childbirth class. They went to it with a newfound courage and optimism, not fearing the unknown anymore, but hoping to learn new things that would make Anko more comfortable in her last nine weeks of pregnancy. Anko needed all the help she could get.
As each day progressed, she grew more uncomfortable. She wasn't the tallest ninja in the world, and the baby she was carrying seemed to be growing very quickly, taking up more and more space. She began to tire easily. She dozed off in meetings, and slept longer hours. She was constantly eating to keep up her energy, but she couldn't consume enough calories to keep herself satisfied. Kakashi did his best to continue to supply her with wholesome good highly caloric foods, but eventually, even that diet ended up being not enough for her. He'd taken to making her ice cream milkshakes with scoops of protein powder added, which she swore her undying love for him for. And as the weeks grew along with Anko's ever expanding mid-section, their love bond grew as well.
Kakashi became extremely protective, often to the point of annoying Anko.
Kurenai became Anko's support. She learned that if she gave Anko a little bit of space, that Anko was more than happy to spend hours with her, talking about the classes she and Kakashi had and were attending. She told Kurenai everything. She asked Kurenai to help her exercise after the second class. She showed her some of the stretches that she had to do. Kurenai assisted or watched her do them. She actually preferred Kurenai for this, because when Anko would get on all fours and stretch her back when Kakashi was around, he'd often end up right behind her suggesting things continue "doggie-style." Kurenai on the other hand, watched and assisted, but never said a thing or referred to anything "doggie-style."
Anko told Kurenai that they'd done a whole section of study about the fears of childbirth and the misconceptions of what happens. It was totally enlightening to Anko, and she passed on her education to her best friend. By the third class, both Anko and Kakashi were totally engaged in the whole process. They went over the actual process of labor and birth, and how to take care of a newborn baby right after it's born. Anko learned that it takes about eight hours of labor to dilate just three centimeters. For a baby to be born, a woman would have to dilate 10 centimeters. Over 24 hours labor just to get ready to push? She thought as she did the mental math in her head. Then she thought what the HELL did I get myself into?
As the weeks of waiting wound down, and Anko spent more and more time sleeping, her dreams changed. She dreamt that a kickboxing kangaroo was living inside her, only to wake up to her baby pounding away on her liver and kidneys. Another time, she dreamed that a small herd of elephants had taken up residence inside her. One time, she frightfully dreamt that when she looked down at what was supposed to be her protruding stomach, that there was nothing there. She grasped her flat stomach screaming, "Where's my baby?!" in her dream, only to wake herself up to find her hand protectively next to Kakashi's on her large stomach.
Only four more weeks to go.
Anko and Kakashi eventually attended six childbirth preparation classes. They learned and decided on what types of medical intervention they would allow during the birth. Anko was still determined to do everything natural – let her body do the work, and have no drugs administered unless there were complications. They learned about different positions during labor that helped to alleviate pressure and pain in the woman's body. She often had to smack Kakashi back to reality when practicing these so called "positions." Mostly, they learned how to use breathing to control the pain of contractions, to breathe "through" them until the contractions ended. But the hardest thing Anko tried to learn was how to "relax" during labor. She had a hard time relaxing ANY time, so how was she supposed to focus her mind enough to will her body to relax when it was working on its own, and she was in pain? She was going to have trouble with that one.
The seventh childbirth preparation class was about to start when Kakashi helped Anko waddle through the doors. "I bet they show the film today," he said to her as he helped her inside the classroom.
"I still don't want to see it," she said back to him.
"I think I might want to now. You're really close you know. Tsunade said you would probably have the baby a week early because of the size of him or her."
Anko had to agree. She actually wanted to have the baby THAT DAY to get it over with. She was extremely uncomfortable, having to carry the weight of a baby, and all the other things that went along with being pregnant; the extra fluids, the extra blood, the amniotic sac that was full of water to cushion the baby, and everything else. Her legs were swollen, she was tired, she couldn't breathe fully, she could barely eat, and the baby was playing her kidneys like maracas at that very moment.
They never did get a good sonogram of the baby either. So whatever was born to them was going to have to be a total surprise. They hadn't even settled on a girls' name or a boys' name. They'd talked about it, but couldn't settle on anything permanent. They decided to let the baby be born, then choose a name that would be suitable.
Nurse Jinchi greeted them as they walked in, "Welcome Anko and Kakashi! Oh my Anko. You look like you're ready to go any minute now!"
Kakashi helped Anko onto a nest of pillows. She said, "I'm ready to go NOW! I want this to be over with!" Anko looked around as other mothers-to-be tittered and giggled at her. Kakashi sat on the floor next to Anko and leaned against her and the pillows.
Nurse Jinchi walked over to Anko and said, "Hold still a minute," then she looked Anko in the face.
Anko's eyes darted to Kakashi, who shrugged at her. "What? What is it Nurse Jinchi?" Anko asked.
The nurse just smiled at her and said, "It's nothing Anko. I was just checking on an old wives tale. You see, old women used to say that when a woman's nose widens noticeably when she's pregnant, that she's about to give birth."
Anko's got a bit nervous as her hands went to her nose. "Is my nose wider? Can you tell?"
"I can't tell," Nurse Jinchi said. "But I don't see you every day. Kakashi, do you notice a difference?" Anko swung her head around to face Kakashi.
He looked at her intently. Since he was the Copy Ninja, he was known to notice every minute detail of anything he was looking at. He scanned his wife's face, and paid particular attention to her nose. He shook his head, "I don't see a difference."
Anko was slightly relieved, yet disappointed in the same instant. She wanted to feel somewhat normal again, but most of all, she really wanted to meet her baby.
"Very well then," Nurse Jinchi said. "Shall we begin class?" She stood up and went to the center of the group of couples.
"Good day everybody, and welcome to your seventh childbirth preparation class!"
"Here it comes," Kakashi whispered in Anko's ear. She answered him with a scowl.
Nurse Jinchi continued, "We've got a big day ahead of us today. Lots of topics to go over! Today we're going to talk about how your bodies will recover after you give birth, and what to expect in those days afterward. We're also going to discuss post-partum depression. A lot of ladies feel this because of the huge decline in pregnancy hormones after the baby is born. I'm here to tell you that it's completely normal, so don't be afraid of what you're feeling. If you feel that you can't cope, please see a professional who can prescribe something for you."
Anko got a little nervous when she heard that. Will I be able to handle this? She thought to herself. Then Nurse Jinchi went on.
"And we will be covering one more big thing in tonight's class!" she said.
"Get ready," Kakashi breathed at Anko. Anko fought the urge to elbow him in the ribs.
Nurse Jinchi said, "We're going to go over the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your babies."
Anko turned to Kakashi in horror. She whispered quickly, "I forgot about that! That's going to be worse than the film!"
Kakashi suppressed the chuckle that threatened to explode from him. He said, "I'll be happy to help in any way I can with that part of the child rearing."
Anko looked at him as if he were crazy. "What? You're going to attempt to breastfeed the baby?"
"NO!" Kakashi almost said loudly. "I'll be happy to get you whatever you need when you are breastfeeding, as long as you allow me to be present once in a while just to see how it's done."
"Either you are an incurable perv, or you're hopelessly curious."
Kakashi said quietly, "I believe the latter is more accurate."
"Fine then. Shut up and listen. We have things to learn." Both shinobi directed their attention to Nurse Jinchi as she began to educate everyone on recovery from birth, postpartum depression, and breastfeeding.
Kakashi sat there completely enthralled by all of it. Anko kept shifting positions trying to find some way to be more comfortable.
By the end of class, Anko felt mildly ill. Kakashi felt thrilled that he'd learned so much, especially about how women's breasts actually produced life sustaining perfect food for their babies. Anko was sure he was only totally interested in breastfeeding because it involved breasts themselves. She was going to have to have a talk with him about that later.
Finally, when Nurse Jinchi asked if there were any questions, Anko raised her hand.
"Nurse Jinchi, you said we'd be seeing two films. I take it those are going to happen next week?"
"They certainly are. You are all now prepared with the knowledge it takes to go through labor and delivery of your babies, so next week, I'll actually SHOW you what to expect!"
"Ha!" Anko said at Kakashi.
"Fine," he muttered back to her.
"If that's all for tonight, I'll dismiss class. Have a good week everyone!" Nurse Jinchi dismissed everyone. Kakashi jumped up and attempted to extract his wife from her nest of pillows on the floor. When he succeeded in pulling her from the pillows and somewhat upright, he noticed Nurse Jinchi standing by him.
"Kakashi. Anko. May I have a word?"
Kakashi nodded, and Anko said, "Certainly," which came out like a grunt.
The nurse waved them away from the exiting couples.
"Sit down for a bit," the nurse said. Both shinobi sat in chairs by her desk. "I'm worried about you Anko."
Anko was shocked. She didn't know what the nurse was implying, but she didn't feel any different than she'd felt for the last two weeks. Kakashi instinctively and protectively leaned toward his wife.
"I know you're probably 37 weeks now Anko, but I can tell you're very close to going into labor. The signs are all there."
Anko and Kakashi were stunned. Anko said, "But it's too early isn't it? I have three more weeks to go. I'm not ready! WE'RE not ready!" Then Anko wrapped her free arm securely around her huge stomach fearing the baby would be in jeopardy if it were born too soon. Kakashi scooted closer to her.
"Don't worry Anko. Your baby is fully developed. After 36 weeks, a baby's chance of survival is almost 100% no matter when it's born. But I see that your limbs are swollen, your face is fuller,"
"But my nose?" Anko asked.
"I really can't tell," the nurse said. "Everything else is there though. But there is one thing you need to watch for."
"What's that?" Kakashi asked.
Nurse Jinchi leaned toward them and said, "If you find that Anko looks 'smaller' than she does right now, know that your time is short. That will mean that the baby has dropped into position, and it will be just a matter of time until Anko's body responds to that. Anko, if you suddenly feel that you can breathe a little better, you're close."
Anko sat there scared, then she tested herself, and she couldn't breathe very much at all. Not yet she thought as she sat there with her arms wrapped around her belly.
"Watch yourself closely this week Anko. I know from experience what to look for. Be careful going home. If you need anything at all this week, let me know. Hopefully I'll see you back here in a week for the films. Take care," Nurse Jinchi said as she stood up to see them out.
After Kakashi pried Anko out of the chair and out the door he said, "How are you feeling?"
"I'm scared to death," Anko said. "I don't know what to do, what to expect, I feel crappy, and the baby seems to be spinning or doing somersaults or something! I want this to be over with, yet I'm still scared." She paused and looked at him, "I'm freakin' out!"
Kakashi stepped toward her and folded her in his arms, "My ninja needs a hug," he said as he held her in the hallway of the hospital.
Anko hummed into his chest, then said, "I can't be bad-ass all the time." He held her tighter until she was ready to make the journey home.
Anko found that she couldn't sleep that night. She was nervous about what Nurse Jinchi had said about her. She got up and fidgeted around the apartment, taking breaks often. She was physically tired, but she was so uncomfortable, she couldn't find the right position to sleep in. Kakashi slept silently in their bed. She secretly wanted to beat him awake with a pillow just because he was sleeping so soundly while she was up and anxious. Instead she sat in a kitchen chair and played with Kakashi's plant, Mr. Uki.
Stupid plant she thought at the green potted plant that was one of the few things Kakashi had brought with him when he moved in with her. Then she looked into the living room and noted what was formerly "his couch," that ran parallel to hers. Oh the fun we've had on that couch she thought and she smiled quietly to herself. The baby pushed her entire stomach to one side then, and she held her stomach and breathed through the anatomical shift. I swear sometimes, it does feel like there's an elephant in there! Then her stomach shifted back to a round shape, and the baby quieted.
She was hungry. This is ridiculous she said as she lurched out of her seated position and lumbered toward the fridge. She opened the door and stuck her head inside where she was face to face with a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup. She had it open and tipped upward in an instant, feeling the cold heavenly bliss fill her mouth. She swallowed, exhaled loudly, then put the bottle back, disgusted that she was already feeling full from one mouthful. She went back to her kitchen chair and sat.
She couldn't get comfortable sitting, so she got up and took a hot shower. It helped relieve the achy-ness in her back, but her stomach and sides ached from the weight of the baby pulling her forward. Gravity was working against her so badly now. She dried off and went back to bed.
She grunted and shoved a pillow under her calves. Then she turned on her side to face her sleeping husband, shoving one pillow under her belly, hugging it and leaning into it. Still, she found no real relief. She flipped on her other side, almost getting mad that her tossing and turning didn't wake Kakashi. At that moment she really wanted someone to complain to, and he wasn't awake to be that person! She was getting pissed. She stared at where the crack in her ceiling would be in the darkness and she waited. She decided to try some of the relaxation techniques in hopes that her body would respond and let her sleep a little.
She was so tired. When sleep did come, it took her completely, so completely, that she didn't hear the alarm when it went off.
Out of nowhere, she was shaking.
Anko surfaced toward consciousness and started to come around. She was shaking, or more precisely, she was being shaken. "Anko. Honey. The alarm went off. Are you awake?" She recognized the voice. The man she loved. She smiled before she even opened her eyes, then she frowned as she felt her body and all the aches and pains in it.
"I'm awake," she said.
"Stay where you are," the voice of her beloved said. "I'll tell Tsunade you're not coming in today."
Her eyes snapped open blearily, "You can't do that. I've got assignments for another week yet!" She attempted to sit up.
"I can tell you didn't sleep last night, you look exhausted. You're not going to work today." He pushed her back into the nest of pillows she'd made. She didn't resist. "I'll tell Tsunade and Kurenai that you're home getting some rest today. Don't be surprised if Kurenai shows up on her lunch hour or something."
"That's fine," Anko said as she rolled on her side to face her husband. She was instantly on the path back to an uncomfortable sleep.
Kakashi stared at his wife, watching her slip back into sleep. He didn't want to leave her. He looked at her face and was positive that it would be best if he stayed home with her. She's so tired he thought. If she needs anything, who'll get it for her? I've got to go tell Tsunade that I need some time off to take care of her. He stood up and went to the kitchen to make her an ice cream milkshake with protein powder in case she woke up and was hungry. After he made it, he put it in a bucket of ice to keep it cold for her, and placed it on the bedside table close to her head so she could reach it quickly if she needed to.
With a final glance at her sleeping form, he readied himself, then went to work. He raced there, not stopping to get lost on the road of life, not being distracted by anything. He was totally focused on finding Tsunade and telling her that his wife needed rest, and he needed to tend to her.
When he reached the Academy, he found Kurenai and Asuma lingering outside as they tended to do. The morning was crisp and cool, and the two of them were standing close to each other talking quietly outside the Academy doors. Kurenai noticed Kakashi as soon as he approached.
"Where's Anko?" she said, an obvious edge to her voice.
"She's home resting. She didn't sleep well last night. I've got to find Tsunade and let her know that Anko's staying home today."
"Is she ok?" Kurenai asked. Asuma's body language portrayed his silent concern as well.
Kakashi rubbed his hand on the back of his head and said, "I don't know. She doesn't seem well. She's so uncomfortable, and last night at class, the nurse said she was concerned about her – like she could have the baby any day."
Kurenai said, "But she's only 37 weeks right? She's got about 3 weeks to go yet."
Kakashi said, "Any baby that's 36 weeks old is considered full term. Anko could go at any time. Listen, I've got to find Tsunade and let her know."
Asuma said, "Let's go find her pal." He opened the door and held it as Kakashi, then Kurenai went inside. He followed right behind them.
Kakashi pounded on Tsunade's office doors. The three Leaf Ninjas waited outside hoping to hear Tsunade's angry response. After a few moments, they received no answer. He pounded again and started to get agitated. "Figures. She's not in yet." Kakashi said to his friends.
Asuma said, "Keep it together man. We'll find her. In fact, here's what we'll do. You go to her apartment and see if you can find her. When you do, tell her everything. Kurenai, you go stay with Anko. I'll wait here in case Tsunade comes here."
Kakashi nodded. "Ok." He reached in his pocket and handed Kurenai his apartment key. "Thanks Kurenai. I'll be there as soon as I can after I find Tsunade."
Kurenai took the key and said, "Don't worry Kakashi. I'll take care of her." Secretly, Kurenai was thrilled to be blowing off work to take care of her best friend. Secretly, she was scared out of her mind as well, wondering if something might be wrong with Anko or her baby.
Two of the three shinobi left, while Asuma kept watch over the Hokage's offices hoping he'd find her to tell her what was going on.
Anko slept fitfully. She tossed, turned and dreamed that she was singing loudly, "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas," as the baby inside her moved, stretched and shifted.
Kakashi arrived at Tsunade's apartment minutes later. He knocked loudly on the door and waited. He closed his eyes and listened with his enhanced hearing, but could hear no movement inside the dwelling. He darted from window to window to see if he could make out any movement inside – and saw none. He thought maybe she went to the hospital for an early shift then in a flash, he headed in that direction.
Kurenai opened the door to Kakashi and Anko's apartment with the key he'd given her. She immediately went to their bedroom where she found Anko sleeping on her side, her arm over her belly. Her face looks different Kurenai thought as she squatted next to the bed to look at her sleeping friend. I'd better keep an eye on her she thought as she sat on the ground next to the bed, her eyes trained on her best friend.
Asuma waited outside Tsunade's offices asking anyone who walked by if they'd seen the Hokage or heard of where she might be. He got no leads on her whereabouts.
Kakashi arrived at the hospital and went directly to the receptionist. "Good morning," she said brightly, "I remember you. You were here for childbirth classes right? Have you had your baby yet?"
"No, we haven't had the baby yet. Listen, I'm looking for Tsunade. Is she in the hospital this morning?"
"Hold on and let me check," the receptionist said as she picked up a clipboard with names on it. "It doesn't look like she's been in yet this morning. Sorry."
Kakashi had an idea, "Is Shizune here?"
The receptionist scanned the listings, "She is. On the research and development wing. But you'll need assistance to get there,"
Kakashi stopped her, "I know where it is. Thanks." He was off an instant later, remembering precisely where the restricted research and development wing was, having been there a few times when Orochimaru's body was still physically in the ninja world – before Itachi did them all a favor and disposed of it.
Anko groaned in her sleep. Kurenai watched her closely, ready to jump into action, and apply all the things she'd learned from Anko's classes if need be.
Genma walked down the hall toward Tsunade's offices. Before he got there, Asuma left his post and approached him, "Hey man, have you seen Tsunade this morning?" Asuma asked.
"Sorry, haven't seen her here yet," Genma said.
"Where's Shizune now? You think she might know where Tsunade is?"
"Shizune's got an early shift at the hospital. Some sort of genetic research thing she's working on. Why do you need Tsunade so badly anyway?"
"It's Anko," Asuma said. Genma's face flashed concern briefly, then he brought himself back under control.
"What's going on with Anko?"
Asuma said, "I don't know all the details, but according to Kakashi, she's not doing too well. She's staying home to rest today, and we're trying to find Tsunade to let her know."
"But is she ok?" Genma asked, old feelings and hopes he'd suppressed bubbled toward the surface, then turned into genuine concern.
Asuma answered, "I really don't know anything. We're just trying to find Tsunade."
"I was assigned to work with some genin today, but it can wait. I'll help you find her."
"Good, because I'm staying right here in case she turns up."
Genma said, "I'll check with Kotetsu and see if she mentioned to him where she'd be today. We'll find her."
"Thanks," Asuma said, then Genma was gone.
Anko opened her eyes and saw Kurenai sitting on the floor by the bed. "Hey," she said throatily as her scarlet eyed friend smiled back at her.
Kurenai ran her hand across Anko's forehead and said, "How're you feeling?"
Anko made a face and said, "Not all that great. I'm so tired, and everything hurts. It's not pain, pain, but I'm achy all over, almost like I've got the flu or something."
Kurenai left her hand on Anko's forehead and said, "I don't feel any fever, so you probably don't have the flu."
Anko made another face and closed her eyes.
"What's going on?"
Anko put her hands on her belly. She said, "Everything feels, tight, for some reason. Here, feel this." Anko took Kurenai's hand and place it on her stomach. Kurenai was at first thrilled, then nervous as she felt the tightness Anko was describing.
"Are you in pain?" Kurenai asked.
"Not more than usual. This tightness doesn't hurt or anything, it just feels like everything is squeezing a bit. I think I'm having Braxton-Hicks contractions or something."
"Don't we need to get you to the hospital then?"
Anko said, "No, remember what I told you about these? They're 'practice' ones, not the real deal. The only reason we'd have to go to the hospital is if my water broke. That's what Nurse Jinchi said anyway."
Kurenai said, "Oh, good. Kakashi is off looking for Tsunade to tell her you won't be in today, and Asuma is waiting outside her offices in case she shows up there. Kakashi sent me over to keep an eye on you, so just relax. Are you hungry? I think Kakashi left you some breakfast."
Anko said, "Not really. I'm more tired than anything."
"You can go back to sleep if you want."
"I think I'm going to do that," Anko said as she shifted slightly and jammed another pillow under her stomach. Then she winced and held her belly again.
"Yeah." Then she snuggled into the pillows that supported her. Kurenai was quiet as she watched Anko doze off.
Genma raced through the academy trying to find Kotetsu. He scanned the bulletin board and found that Kotetsu was actually off that day. He flew to the apartment Kotetsu had and knocked loudly yelling, "Kotetsu! Are you awake?!" Genma soon heard shuffling and locks shifting. The door opened to Kotetsu, whose unruly hair was even more so.
"What do you want Genma! It's my day off for crying out loud!"
"Listen to me. Did Tsunade say she was going to be anywhere in particular this morning? Did she have any appointments?"
Kotetsu thought a minute and said, "She didn't mention anything to me. Why?"
Genma blurted out, "Anko's not well. We're looking for Tsunade to let her know."
"Is it the baby?" Kotetsu asked.
"I don't know what's going on, but I assume so. I've got to find Tsunade."
"Want me to look too?"
"Naw, you go back to bed. I'll try and figure out where she is. Thanks anyway."
"No problem. Hey, Genma."
"If anything happens with Anko, let me know ok? I'll be sending positive thoughts her and Kakashi's way, hoping that everything's good."
Yeah, me too Genma thought. "I'll let you know if anything happens. Thanks again." Then he was gone, trying to think of where Tsunade might be.
Kakashi raced through the hallways of the research and development area. He looked in every window of every room. He even entered areas where he didn't have permission to, only to be told that Tsunade wasn't in the area he'd invaded. He continued on, only wanting to find his Hokage, so he could return to his wife. Kurenai's there. She'll take care of her he thought as he continued to search for Shizune. He finally found her, working over a microscope in a side room. He burst in.
"Kakashi! Oh my gosh, you startled me! What are you doing here?"
"Begging your pardon Shizune, but do you happen to know where Tsunade is right now?"
"Now?" Shizune asked. "Uhm, no, I really don't know where she is. Did you try her offices? Or maybe the rest of the hospital, because I know she's not in research and development this early."
"I've searched both. Do you have any idea where she might be?"
"What's going on Kakashi?"
Kakashi sighed and said, "It's Anko. She didn't sleep well and I made her stay home to get some bed rest today. I wanted to let Tsunade know what was going on with her."
"Is she ok?"
"I'm not sure. I want to get back to her as soon as I can, but I've got to find Tsunade first. Kurenai's with her now."
"Well that's good. I'm sure Kurenai will look out for her. How about I help you look for Tsunade-sama?"
"I don't want to take you away from your work,"
"I insist. I know a few places she might be. There are a few late night sake bars that she frequents that she may still be at. I'll check them. Is there anywhere else you can think of that she could be?"
Kakashi thought for a minute, then thought the more people we have looking for her, the more likely we are to find her. "Nope, can't think of where she might be, but I can think of the one person who may be able to help find her. Thanks Shizune. If you find her, tell her Anko's at home resting, and that I'm looking for her to explain the details."
"Will do, Kakashi."
Kakashi left in a blur, hoping to find the one person he needed to help him canvas the area and find Tsunade.
Asuma looked right and left down the length of the hall and back again. With each pass, there was no sign of Tsunade.
Kurenai watched intently as her friend slept, noting the pained looks her face took on from minute to minute.
Genma started on the outlying areas of the village and worked his way in, asking anyone he saw if they'd seen Tsunade that morning. He had no luck.
Kotetsu ignored Genma's suggestion that he go back to bed. Instead, he dressed and went to the center of town, asking people if they'd seen their Hokage. No one had.
Shizune whisked out of the hospital and began to methodically visit sake bar after sake bar looking for her mistress.
Kakashi found the door he was looking for. Rather than knock on it, he leapt to a window overlooking a bedroom. Inside was a snoring ninja. He rapped on the window, but the snoring ninja kept on snoring. He jiggled the window and found it to be locked. I don't have time for this! He shouted in his head, then he whipped through a series of hand seals. When he finished, his left hand had a 6 inch blade of chakra extending from it. He slid the chakra blade through the miniscule separation in the window, angled it upward and heard the window lock open. He pulled his hand away, releasing the chakra and with his right hand. He opened the window and easily let himself inside. He put his hand on the snoring ninja's shoulder and shook him saying, "Naruto, wake up. I need your help."
After three or four more shakes, Naruto woke up with a snort. He looked at his former sensei and said, "Kakashi-sensei? What are you doing here?"
Kakashi said, "I'll buy you all the ramen you want if you'll get out of bed and do a massive shadow clone jutsu for me. I have to find someone."
At the mere mention of 'ramen' Naruto sat upright in his bed. "Lead the way Kakashi-sensei! By the way, who are we looking for?"
"Tsunade." Kakashi said.
"Granny Tsunade? Why?"
"Let's just say, I need to speak to her immediately. Can you help me find her? All the ramen you can eat…"
Naruto stood up and made his hand seals, saying, "Massive Shadow Clone Jutsu," before Kakashi could get out of the way. The hundreds, then thousands of Narutos exploded out the open window, taking Kakashi with them.
Before Kakashi hit the ground, he had another idea. Sakura he thought, and as soon as his feet hit the ground, amongst the thousand Narutos, he bounded off in the direction of her apartment.
Asuma waited, Kotetsu inquired, Genma searched, Shizune checked, the Narutos looked, Kurenai kept watch, and Kakashi slowly lost his mind.
It had only been thirty minutes since Kurenai arrived. Anko had been asleep, awake, and now was asleep again, or so it seemed. Kurenai really couldn't tell. Anko's face was very animated for a person who was asleep. Kurenai watched as Anko's forehead wrinkled, her eyes squeezed tighter, then relaxed for moments at a time. Slowly, Anko's eyes opened once again. "It's ok, I'm here," Kurenai said, shifting to her knees so Anko could see her better. "How are you?"
"I don't know," Anko said.
"You were having Braxton-Hicks contractions a few minutes ago, then you dozed off again. What's going on now?"
Anko looked around, "Where's Kakashi?"
"He went to work. He's still out looking for Tsunade. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
"Good," Anko said as she shifted onto her back. "Oh," she said as her eyes opened wider.
"What's the matter?" Kurenai asked.
Anko's eyes got really wide then. She shifted to her side and said, "Oh no."
"What! Tell me what's wrong!" Kurenai almost yelled. She got up off the floor and went around the bed to stand right next to Anko.
Anko looked at Kurenai with terror in her eyes. She said to her best friend, "I'm wet. I think my water broke."
Kurenai pulled the blanket that was covering Anko off her, and on the sheet below Anko's body she could see a large wet area. Kurenai said, "Where's the bag you're taking to the hospital, we have to go."
"But Kakashi!" Anko said as she sat up.
"I'll leave him a note. We're going to the hospital now; you know what the nurse taught you!"
Anko stood up carefully, nodding the whole time. She knew she had to go right away, but she couldn't do this, she wouldn't be able to do this without Kakashi.
Kurenai grabbed her by the arm and said, "Let's get you cleaned up before you go. Where's your bag?"
Anko pointed to the closet. Kurenai whipped it open and found a small duffel type of bag on the floor. "This it?" she said pointing to the duffel bag.
"Yeah. Put it on the bed for a minute will ya? I want to make sure a few things are in there."
"Anko, you don't have time! You could be risking your baby's health by just standing around!"
Anko ignored her, and instead opened the bag. On top of everything that was inside was a baseball. Anko smiled at it, then looked at her night stand. "One more thing," she said as she lumbered to the night stand. She grabbed her favorite picture of her and Kakashi then tossed it into the bag next to the baseball. "Now I'm ready."
Kurenai zipped and grabbed the bag. Then she extended her arm to Anko, who surprisingly, took it. "Let's get you to the bathroom." She and Anko went there, then Kurenai helped Anko sit on the closed commode. She put Anko's bag down then wetted a wash cloth and said, "Do a quick once over. I'll go get you something to wear." Anko nodded and did as Kurenai had instructed her. She stripped off her wet undergarments and wiped herself down quickly. Then Kurenai came back and handed her a fresh maternity shirt, some stretchy pants and fresh underwear. She asked, "Do you need me to help dress you?"
Anko said, "No, just go find me some shoes. I can't find my feet anymore, let alone see them. They're the only things I need help with."
"Ok," Kurenai said as she went back to the bedroom in search of Anko's shoes.
Anko started to panic. As she slipped into her fresh clothes, she stared at the bag she and Kakashi had packed to take to the hospital to have their baby. The baby's coming she thought and got scared out of her mind. I need Kakashi with me. She froze for a moment, wondering what was taking Kakashi so long. Why hadn't he found Tsunade?
Kurenai scuttled back into the bathroom with Anko's shoes. "Come on, hurry up! We have to go!"
"Jeez Kurenai, it's a little hard to hurry when you're this pregnant! Go leave Kakashi a note on the kitchen table. Put Mr. Uki on the note. He'll be sure to notice it then."
Kurenai stared at her, "What's a Mr. Uki?"
Anko exhaled loudly, "His plant! Write him a note; tell him we've gone to the hospital and to meet us there. Put the plant on top of the note on the table and he'll see it."
"Ok!" Kurenai ran out of the bathroom and Anko dressed the rest of the way, thinking to herself, come on Kakashi, come back home!
Kakashi beat on Sakura's door. "Sakura!" he shouted loudly as he continued to knock. He heard movement inside, then Sakura threw the door open. She was fully dressed and wide awake looking.
"Kakashi! What's going on? Where's Anko?"
"Never mind that, do you know where Tsunade is this morning?"
"She's not at the Academy or the hospital?"
"No and no. I've got to find her."
"What's the matter?"
"Anko's exhausted so I told her to stay home today. I've got to let Tsunade know, but I can't find her anywhere. Kurenai's with Anko back at our place, Asuma's waiting at Tsunade's offices in case she comes in to work, and I've got Naruto canvassing the entire village with his shadow clones. We haven't found her yet. I've got a bad feeling about this."
Sakura said, "Do you want me to go check on Anko? Make sure she's ok?"
"Yeah. I think that'd be a good idea. Come on then." Sakura pulled her apartment door shut and prepared to follow Kakashi back to his apartment. A black and orange ninja crossed their field of view before they could take off. "NARUTO! WAIT!" The ninja skidded to a stop and turned to face Kakashi. "Have you found her yet?"
The Naruto waited a second, seemed to be thinking, then said, "Nope. Haven't found her yet."
Kakashi figured that this Naruto was a clone, then said, "Tell the rest of, well, YOU, that if you do find her, that I'm going with Sakura back to my apartment. Bring her to us there all right?"
"Okey-dokey Kakashi-sensei! Never fear! I'll find Granny Tsunade and have her to your apartment in no time! Oh, and good morning Sakura!"
"Thanks Naruto," Kakashi said.
"Good morning Naruto, now hurry up!" Sakura said back to him. He smiled at her, turned and was gone.
"Let's go Sakura," was all Kakashi said, then the two ninjas traveled at full speed back to Kakashi's apartment.
Kurenai grabbed Anko's bag after leaving a note for Kakashi. Then she helped Anko to her feet, and out the door. She noticed that Anko seemed to be stalling, and she knew why. She was trying to wait for Kakashi to come back home, but neither knew when that would be. Minutes later, the two lady ninjas were walking the streets in Konoha, heading to the hospital. One holding a duffel bag full of clothes and items of comfort for a laboring mother-to-be, the other holding her belly, and her breath.
Asuma contemplated leaving his post, then he thought better of it. I feel so useless just standing here doing nothing! I could be out looking for Lady Tsunade instead of leaning against this wall, waiting to see if she comes here. But the plan is for me to stand like a sentinel and wait in case she comes here. I hope Kakashi shows up soon and tells me they've found her. Asuma shifted his weight against the wall, keeping an ever vigilant eye out for the Hokage.
Shizune, Genma and Kotetsu were having no luck at all. Genma had worked his way around the entire outskirts of the Village and no one had seen Tsunade that morning. Kotetsu had asked villagers in the inner most part of the Village if they'd seen the Hokage, and none had. Shizune checked every single late night sake bar that she knew that Tsunade frequented, and none had seen her the night before. All the while as the three searched, they noted Narutos darting here and there. All three surmised that Naruto had been pressed into service to help find Tsunade. With this many people looking for her, why couldn't she be found?
Kakashi and Sakura flew up the stairs to his apartment. He tried the door and found it was open. "Kurenai!" he said not too loudly, not wanting to wake Anko if she was still sleeping. He ran to the bedroom, with Sakura following closely at his heels. His eye darted around the room when he found no one there, not Kurenai, and not his Anko. But his acute sense of smell picked up something else – something smelled damp.
He ran to the bed and saw what it was – a large damp area on Anko's side of the bed. It's not urine. Oh fuck.
"Kakashi, where are they?"
Kakashi ran to the closet that happened to still be open. He saw that Anko's bag was gone. "Quick Sakura. We have to go. We have to find them."
"Them? Now Anko's missing too?"
"No, I have a pretty good idea where Anko is heading. We do still have to find Tsunade, but that's going to have to wait. I think Anko's water broke. She's heading to the hospital with Kurenai."
Sakura smiled at her former sensei and said, "That means the baby's coming soon. I'm so excited for you!"
Kakashi stood still for a moment and let that thought sink in. He was finally going to get to meet his child. A wave of warmth spread over him at the thought of Anko, him, and their child finally together – a real family. Then he said, "Tsunade can wait. Let's go find the ladies and get to the hospital. Sakura, I'm…going to be a father. Soon." He smiled under his mask, causing Sakura to almost cry with joy for him.
Sakura gently took his arm and said, "Let's go. You've got a baby to have."
"Oh God, that's right. We've got to find Anko and make sure she's ok."
Sakura said, "She's got to be on the way to the hospital with Kurenai if she isn't there already. They'll be fine, you'll be fine, everybody will be fine! Let's go!"
Kakashi nodded and followed Sakura out the apartment door, never even noticing the note left by Kurenai under Mr. Uki.
Narutos were all over Konoha, crossing paths, peeping in shops and homes, looking everywhere for Konoha's Fifth Hokage. Different Narutos were stopped by Kotetsu, Genma and Shizune, and it was confirmed that all were looking for Tsunade. One Naruto crossed paths with Anko and Kurenai on their way to the hospital.
"Kurenai-sensei! Anko-sensei!" the loud ninja shouted as he dropped down in front of them.
Kurenai said, "Naruto, we don't have time to talk. We're going to the hospital."
"Jeez, Anko-sensei, you look like you swallowed an elephant. Are you all right?"
Anko cradled her stomach and said, "I've been much better kid. Have you seen Kakashi recently?"
"YES! He said that if I found Granny Tsunade that I was to tell her that he and Sakura were going back to your apartment, and that she was to meet them there if I found her."
Anko winced a bit, rubbed her stomach then looked at Kurenai. "But he wasn't there! And we just left a little while ago! Find him Naruto. Tell him that Kurenai and I are on our way to the hospital."
"But Anko-sensei, he wanted me to find Granny Tsunade,"
"Find them both! We don't have time to stand around, chatting. Find them Naruto!"
"RIGHT!" the enthusiastic ninja shouted back enthusiastically, then he leapt away.
Kurenai said, "Kakashi was pretty smart to enlist Naruto's help."
"Yes he was. I just hope they run into each other and Kakashi gets my message. Come on, we've got to keep moving." The two lady shinobi continued their trudging slow journey to the hospital.
Kakashi and Sakura arrived at the hospital and rushed to the receptionist area. "You're back again," the receptionist said. "Any luck finding Lady Tsunade?"
"Not yet. Listen, is my wife here? Anko's her name. Has she checked in to the maternity ward recently?"
The receptionist scanned her list of patients and said, "No, we haven't seen her today. Does she have an appointment?"
Kakashi said, "No. We believe her water broke, and she's on her way here with her friend."
"I'm sorry, but we haven't seen her yet today."
"I have to find her," Kakashi said. "She's got to be on her way here."
Sakura said, "Kakashi, we got here so fast, we probably flew right by them. Let's go back slower and I'm sure we'll run into them. Just try and stay calm. We'll find them."
Kakashi nodded, grateful that Sakura was his voice of reason in this panicky situation. "You're right Sakura." Then he turned to the receptionist, "If my wife comes in, tell her I'm out looking for her and make her STAY HERE. I'll be back."
The receptionist said, "Of course." Then he and Sakura left to find his wife and her best friend.
One of Naruto's clones ran through the Academy looking for Tsunade AND Kakashi. He found Asuma outside Tsunade's offices. "Asuma-sensei! Have you seen Granny Tsunade or Kakashi-sensei?"
"Sorry Naruto. I'm waiting here in case Tsunade comes in to let her know that Kakashi is keeping Anko home today to rest."
"Things have changed since then Asuma-sensei. Originally, Kakashi-sensei woke me up and asked me to help him find Granny Tsunade with my shadow clones. We still haven't found her. I've also run into Shizune, Kotetsu and Genma, all of whom are looking for Granny Tsunade as well. Then, I crossed paths with Kurenai-sensei as she was taking Anko-sensei to the hospital. Then Anko-sensei asked me to find Kakashi-sensei and let him know that that's where they were going! But I only saw him earlier, when he told me to tell Tsunade when I found her that he and Sakura were going back to his apartment to take care of Anko and she's obviously not there!"
Asuma's mind boggled, "That's insane! So Genma, Shizune, Kotetsu, and about a thousand of you are looking for Tsunade, Anko and Kurenai are headed to the hospital, Kakashi and Sakura WERE going back to Kakashi's apartment, but now you've got to find Kakashi again too?! Holy crap."
"Yeah, that's what I say. Well, I've got to keep searching Asuma-sensei. There are a few places I haven't been yet."
"I'll stay here like they wanted me to, but kid, make sure you send one of your clones to let me know if you DO find Tsunade, so I can catch up with everyone at the hospital, ok?"
"You've got it Asuma-sensei! Off I go!" Then Naruto was gone.
Asuma thought to himself why is it that everything turns to chaos and confusion at the worst possible time? He silently worried about Kurenai trying to keep everything together for Anko, he worried about Anko herself, and the anxiety she must be experiencing, and he even worried about Kakashi and how frantic he must be. They needed to find Tsunade and fast. If Anko was going to the hospital, they needed Tsunade to be there.
Two of the Narutos bumped into each other at the Village gates. Shikamaru and Lee were on guard duty. Shikamaru was leaned back in a chair with his arms behind his head, while Lee was doing deep knee bends behind a table.
Both Narutos shouted, "Shikamaru! Bushy-brow!"
Lee said, "Good morning to you Naruto!" but he never stopped his deep knee bends. Shikamaru just grunted in his general direction.
The Narutos put their hands on the table in front of the two ninja watchmen and said, "Have either of you seen Granny Tsunade?"
Lee immediately said, "She and her little pig left here an hour ago," then he began a series of rather violent looking trunk twists.
Shikamaru said, "She said she was going to take Tonton for a walk, and that she'd return after that. In fact, she should be back very soon."
One of the Narutos said, "We can't wait! We've got to find her immediately! Kakashi-sensei needs her!" Both Narutos prepared to run out of the village gates in search of Konoha's Fifth Hokage, but then Lee interrupted.
"Naruto. Would you like my assistance in finding Tsunade-sama?"
"That's ok Bushy-Brow. We've got this. Plus, I don't want to take you away from your assignment. If you see her before we do, tell her to go to the hospital because that's where Kakashi-sensei is!"
Shikamaru said, "Don't tell me - he's hurt again."
"No, he isn't, but Anko-sensei is going to the hospital. Something may be wrong with her."
"Nothing wrong with the baby I hope," Lee said between trunk twists.
"Kakashi-sensei didn't say. Listen guys, we've got to go. If you see Granny Tsunade, send her to the hospital!"
"Why do I need to go to the hospital Naruto?" Naruto turned to see Tsunade and Tonton standing a few feet away from him, walking toward him.
Naruto rushed to her and said, "Oh, Granny Tsunade I'm so glad to see you! Everyone's been searching for you all morning! Quick! You have to come to the hospital with me! Kakashi-sensei needs to see you. He's headed there because Kurenai-sensei is taking Anko-sensei there!"
Tsunade got a serious look on her face. She scooped up Tonton who responded with a small grunt, then she said, "Lead the way Naruto!" The two clone Narutos sped off in the direction of the hospital with Tsunade and Tonton in close pursuit.
News traveled quickly through Naruto's shadow clones that Tsunade had been found and was on her way to the hospital. Genma, Kotetsu, Shizune and Asuma were all told. All four immediately abandoned their searching, or their waiting, and headed for the hospital themselves.
All over Konoha, smiling Narutos popped from existence.
A few streets away from the hospital, Anko and Kurenai sat on a bench to rest. Kurenai said, "I can only give you a couple of minutes, then I'm carrying you there if I have to."
"Ok! Ok! Jeez woman! YOU try and carry around all this extra weight, while your whole mid-section is squeezing. I needed to catch my breath!" Anko noticed that her breathing had increased, she was breathing more rapidly, and her lungs were expanding more. "Oh boy," she said, causing Kurenai to look at her with concern.
"What is it?"
"I can breathe."
"That's good. That's important. Is that a bad thing?"
"It may be." Anko stood up and said, "How do I look?"
Kurenai said, "It might be me, but your belly looks smaller."
"That's why I can breathe. The baby has dropped into position. We've got to get to the hospital now!" Anko started on her way, wondering where Kakashi was, hoping against hope that he was waiting for her at the hospital. Kurenai picked up her bag and hurried along behind her.
Naruto and Tsunade arrived at the hospital, where Tsunade immediately inquired as to whether Anko had been admitted yet. The receptionist said that she had not. Kakashi was not there either, but Genma, Kotetsu, Shizune, and now Asuma were. They exchanged stories and were all very thankful that Naruto was part of their village. He blushed slightly, then smiled widely dreaming of all the ramen he was going to eat courtesy of his former sensei.
They all decided to stay and wait for half an hour, then they would go searching for Anko, Kurenai, Kakashi and Sakura if they had to.
Kakashi's eye scanned back and forth across business fronts, houses, food stands, everywhere, and there was no sign of his wife and her best friend. He knew they had to be on their way, their paths just hadn't crossed yet. This has been about the hardest test I've ever been put through – trying to find everyone including my pregnant wife! He continue to scan buildings and between the buildings, hoping to catch sight of her soon.
"I think I see them," Sakura said suddenly. Kakashi's eye snapped up.
"That's them. Come on Sakura," and they both broke into a dead run.
Kurenai said, "They found us Anko!" Anko stopped walking and looked up to see her husband, followed by a pink haired girl running their way. He brought Sakura? Excellent. Good thinking Kakashi. She was so relieved to see him that she almost wept.
Kakashi was single-minded as he completely ignored everything else going on around him. His only mission was to get to his wife, then get her to the hospital. He skipped to a halt in front of her, threw his arms around her and said, "I shouldn't have left you. I should have stayed with you."
"I'm ok," Anko said into his chest. "Kurenai took good care of me."
"But your water broke didn't it?"
"It did. And Kurenai jumped into action and got me moving to the hospital. I had no idea how long a walk it would be."
"It's not that far a walk," Kakashi said. "You've done it dozens of times."
"True," Anko replied, "but I haven't done it while I was experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions."
Sakura immediately dropped to one knee and pushed herself between the hugging ninjas. "Gimme some room Kakashi," she said as she placed her hands gently on either side of Anko's protruding belly. She waited silently, closing her eyes, and then she felt Anko's abdomen contract slightly. "You're right about that Anko. Let's get you in and hooked up to a monitor to keep track of things." She stood back up and began to walk back toward the hospital.
Kakashi picked up Anko's bag in his right hand and offered her his left arm. Kurenai offered Anko her right arm, and together, Kurenai and Kakashi helped Anko walk the rest of the way to the hospital.
When the foursome finally got there and through the doors, a relieved roar went up. Apparently, Naruto's shadow clones told more than a few people that Anko-sensei was on her way to the hospital.
Anko was shocked and even a little embarrassed to see that everyone was there who could be there. Everyone had come to the hospital when they heard that it might be time for Anko and Kakashi's baby to be born. As Kakashi spoke a third time to the receptionist to get Anko registered and admitted, Anko took note of some of them: Shizune and Genma stood close to each other, both smiled at her; Kotetsu and his crazy hair beamed at her; Ibiki stood behind everyone, a blank look on his face, but a smile touching his eyes; Jiraiya was there, standing by Tsunade, and Naruto was standing next to her. There were at least two dozen other shinobi there - genin, chunin and jonin alike - all because of the event that was going to happen soon.
Kakashi touched her arm and said, "Are you ready?"
"Just one minute. There's something I have to do first." She turned toward the crowd and said, "Thanks everyone for coming down here. But I've got to thank someone in particular. Naruto would you come here for a minute?" Naruto pointed to himself with a questioning look on his face. "Yes, you Naruto. Come here!"
"Yes Anko-sensei," he said as he gingerly trotted up to her. He still held a healthy fear of the crazy proctor lady, but he'd warmed up to her since she'd married his former sensei, even though he did still think she was completely nuts.
As soon as Naruto got close enough to Anko, she grabbed his face and kissed him on the mouth. Naruto's eyes shot open, wondering when he'd feel the killing blow that Kakashi was sure to deliver unto him. Instead, nothing happened, and Anko let go of his face.
"Thank you for everything today. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't have found Tsunade, or Kakashi, and everyone here wouldn't have known what was going on. We're lucky to have you Naruto."
Naruto blushed fiercely and said, "You're welcome Anko-sensei."
Kakashi interrupted and said, "Thanks everyone, but I'm afraid we're going to have to leave you now. We've got a baby to deliver." A cheer went up in the waiting area as they turned to make their way to the labor and delivery ward.
Asuma put his arm around Kurenai who was close to tears. They both watched their friends, soon-to-be parents, walking away from them. They were slightly confused when Anko and Kakashi stopped walking and had a quick conversation. They saw Kakashi nod, then they watched as Anko and Kakashi turned and faced them.
Anko said, "Well, what are you waiting for?"
Kurenai and Asuma looked at each other in confusion, then back to their friends.
Kakashi said, "Aren't you coming with us?"
Kurenai practically exploded with elation as she grabbed Asuma's hand and dragged him toward Anko and Kakashi. She let go of his hand long enough to take Anko's and give it a squeeze, while Asuma clapped Kakashi loudly on the back. "That still hurts Asshola," the soon to be father reminded his friend.
The four friends piled into an elevator that would take them to the labor and delivery area of the hospital. They were quiet in the elevator as it dinged its way to its destination. None of them had any idea of what would happen to them during Anko's whole labor and delivery, but it mighty possibly test of their friendship.
The elevator doors opened and all four stepped out into the maternity ward hallway. "So this is it," Asuma commented as they walked forward down the hall.
"This is it," Kakashi said.
Anko gasped loudly then. Immediately, three sets of hands were on her, but she waved them all off. She said, "I just realized something!"
"What?" Kakashi said for everyone.
Anko smiled and said, "We never did get to see 'the films.'" Everyone laughed.
Anko walked slowly with the three people she loved most in the world at her sides. Soon, a fourth person would join their ninja family, and she couldn't wait to meet them. She knew she had a long and probably painful road ahead of her, but she was ready to travel it on her and Kakashi's journey to parenthood. With him by her side, and good friends to support her, she knew she could do anything.
Minutes later, she was in a bed with a monitor strapped to her stomach, her husband holding her hand, and her friends sitting beside her. Then Nurse Jinchi walked in and said, "I had a feeling you were going to have your baby sooner than later Anko. Before things get going, do you have any questions?"
Anko thought what, is she going to give me a test on everything I've learned so far? She looked at Nurse Jinchi and said, "No. I've got this."
"But you haven't seen the films! I could arrange to have a portable DVD player brought in and," four "NO's" silenced the nurse.
Anko looked at her and said, "No thanks." Then she looked from her husband to her friends and said, "I think I'm going to be ok." Nurse Jinchi patted her foot and left the room, and Anko settled back to wait for the first "real" contraction to hit her.
Twenty minutes later – it did.
A/N: YEAH! I dropped you off the cliff just in time for the REAL action to start! Don't be too mad at me, the story had to end here, so the next one could pick up. I hope you liked this one. The final one will wrap up everything, and usher in the new Asuma/Kurenai spin-off. Keep an eye on my profile for the date of the final one-shot. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you soon!