Damn, this one took a long time. I'm really sorry, but life is taking a toll on me.
I'm sorry for the long wait and that this chapter isn't very long. I still hope you guys like it and thank you so much for sticking with me all this time.
Two nurses showed up on Sasuke's room, told him that they were going to dress him up for the surgery and asked politely for Naruto to leave. In his dark world with no sight, the raven grabbed his father's hand tighter.
"Can't he stay?"
"I'm sorry honey, but those are the rules," one of the nurses explained. "We're going to take you directly to the operation room. You can stay with your sensei when it's over."
For a moment, Sasuke thought they were talking about Kakashi or even Iruka and wondered why he would have to stay with them when Naruto was right there. "Why am I staying with my sensei?"
"Well, he did stay with you all night," another nurse answered, she sounded older. "Do you want him to get your parents?"
Sasuke frowned angrily as he finally understood what the nurses meant. "He's not my sensei! He's my dad!"
Sasuke didn't need to see to know that nurses were now staring at him in confusion, like everybody else who just assumed they weren't related because Naruto was too young and they looked nothing alike.
"Oh… Oh! I'm… I'm sorry. I shouldn't have jumped into conclusions."
No, you shouldn't, the raven thought angrily.
Naruto sounded far less outraged. "It's alright. Don't worry about it."
"Thank you… Wait… Your face… Naruto-kun? Are you Naruto-kun?"
Naruto stammered for a few seconds before finally giving her an answer.
"Y-Yeah… It's me," he said, though Sasuke wondered why he sounded so nervous.
The younger nurse squealed with delight. "Oh my God! I just… I can't believe it's actually the Naruto-kun we all heard so much about! It's so good to finally meet you!"
"Thanks… Sorry, I don't seem to remember you."
"We've never actually met. I just knew who you were, like everybody else did. I heard you were travelling around the world. It's so good to have you back in the village!"
"Hmm… I'm not back, not exactly," the blond ninja explained. "We came back so my son could have his eye surgery. We won't be staying for long. We will come back, eventually."
Sasuke rolled his eyes under the bandages. He knew what was coming next: the flirting.
"Oh… that's too bad," the nurse answered. "Still, this is a surprise. I saw you a couple of times when we were kids. I used to be in the ninja Academy before failing the Chuunin Exams and finding my true calling. You've grown so much and became so… handsome!"
Yep. She went for the 'growth'. I now Dad used to be an average looking kid, but she's sucking up! Next, she's going to notice me. She's going to start asking questions… like everyone else does.
Just like he predicted, the young nurse glanced towards Sasuke, dismissing his growing pout. By now, she had already noticed that Naruto didn't have a wedding ring. "I had no idea you had a little boy. He's so cute! He's going to need a stick to keep all the girls away when he grows older," the nurse's eyes looked closely at the little boy's face and vaguely remembered another cute ninja boy who all the girls had a crush on. A boy who had turned into a traitor. "I know it's silly, but he kind of reminds me of that Uchiha boy. Maybe it's the black hair. I heard he used to be your friend."
Both Naruto and Sasuke tensed. While the boy just wanted to tell her to shut up, that he wasn't that Sasuke, to mind her own business and leave them alone, Naruto answered as quietly as he could. "Yes, yes he was."
"And you named him Sasuke too. That's very sweet after everything the other one did. We all thought you would hate him."
Sasuke's hands began to shake, while Naruto shook his head and faced the nurse.
"I would never hate Sasuke. He will always be my friend."
"You're so forgiving. That's very noble of you," the nurse answered. "Who would have thought you'd adopt a kid. He's adopted, right? I think it's wonderful you adopted a little boy, even though you're still so young. It must have been…"
"I'm not adopted!" Sasuke cried out, shocking the nurse, her older colleague and Naruto, whose blue eyes widened in disbelief.
"Sasuke…" Naruto said, but was interrupted by his enraged son.
"I'm not adopted! He's my Tou-chan. Kaa-san had black hair and her skin was lighter and I look like her, but he's my real Dad! I look like my Mama and Papa, no one else!"
While the nurse gaped and stared at Sasuke with a shocked expression on her face, Naruto remained glued to the floor, his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open. He didn't know what to say. Should he correct Sasuke? Should he support his claim? What could he say that wouldn't hurt his son deeply, especially after what he had asked him in the previous night?
In the end, Naruto walked silently and pushed the distraught boy into a quiet embrace.
"I'm not him," Sasuke whispered so softly that only his father heard. Naruto rubbed his head and held him until he calmed down.
"Ruki! You should be ashamed of yourself!" the older nurse reprimanded the younger. "Honestly! Look how upset he is?"
"I-I'm sorry… I'm really sorry," Ruki said, blushing with embarrassment.
The older nurse pushed Ruki out of the room so that father and son could have some privacy. Naruto took Sasuke into his arms and held him close to his chest until the little boy calmed down.
"Sasuke, everything is going to be okay," Naruto promised. "You don't need to be upset."
"They keep doing this," the little boy whimpered.
"Everybody knows that I'm adopted right away, because I don't look like you at all!" Sasuke rubbed his wet bandages and lowered his head. "I wish I looked more you."
"Sasuke…" Naruto grabbed one of his little hands and rubbed them gently against his. "I'm very happy that you feel that away, but… it wouldn't be fair to Fugaku-san. You look like your birth parents, who loved very, very much. You should be proud of their legacy."
The raven nodded with a saddened expression on his face.
"I know," it wasn't like he didn't want look like his other Tou-san and Kaa-san or pretend that he wasn't their kid. He loved them, of course he did. He just wished he could have been Naruto's son as well, even if that was impossible.
"Being adopted doesn't make us any less of a family," Naruto went on. "You know that, right?"
"Yeah… I just wished everyone else thought that too."
The nurses returned five minutes later. Though everyone sounded very optimistic about the surgery, Sasuke couldn't help but shake with pure terror the moment Naruto had to let go of his hand and the doors closed on the operation room.
This was it. He was going through surgery. He could go blind.
"It's going to be okay," one of the nurses said, rubbing his shoulder while another helped him get on the operation table. He wasn't even aware that he was whimpering until Tsunade called him on it.
"Hey Sasuke, this isn't like you. Where's the brave young man I know?" Tsunade asked, her voice as calm and confident as ever. Near his left, Sasuke thought he heard another woman breathing which he guessed was Sakura. "Don't be scared and give us some credit. Sakura and I are more than ready to win this battle. Didn't Naruto teach you to trust your comrades?"
"Yes. He said… you're the best."
"You're damn right. So lay back and relax. You're in good hands."
Sasuke bit his lower lip, forcing himself to stop sobbing like a scared baby. He was a shinobi and he shouldn't show weakness in front of the Hokage.
Whatever happened, he was going through it like a warrior.
"I'm going to give you a shot that will put you to sleep," Sakura said, grabbing his arm gently. "It will only hurt a little."
True enough, Sasuke felt the prickle of the needle and a burning sensation on his arm before the world faded into black.
By the time the surgery was over, Sakura sighed with relief. She didn't realize how tense she was until she removed her mask with trembling fingers and felt a crushing sensation on the back on her skull. She had never been this concentrated during a small surgery, but it couldn't be helped. She was treating Sasuke after all and there was no way she was going to let him down.
While Tsunade ordered the nurses to change Sasuke's bandages, Sakura stood by his little body, watching him sleep. It brought back memories of another time, when Sasuke had been injured and in so much pain that he had fainted in her arms while all she could do was scream his name and yell at an unconscious Naruto to help her.
Unlike that time, however, now she had been able to do something to help him.
"It's going to be okay, Sasuke-kun," she whispered, grabbing the raven's warm hand.
When the doors of the operation room opened, Naruto stood up with a jump and ran towards Sasuke.
Sakura let go of the raven's hand.
"How did it go? Is he okay? Did you fix his eyes?" the blond asked anxiously, his hands touching the boy's hair gently.
"Everything went smoothly," Tsunade answered. "We stabilized the pressure and we successfully merged together the chakras. His sight should return in a few hours."
Naruto smiled, his eyes shining. "So… he's gonna be alright?"
"I'm confident on his recovery. We should be able to take of his bandages tonight."
Sakura couldn't help but stare while Naruto stroked Sasuke's hair, listening to Tsunade's words. He didn't seem to be doing it consciously; it was more like a habit. There was a familiarity there that seemed strange to Sakura. The Naruto she remembered wouldn't care for Sasuke so gently, he wouldn't be that comfortable touching him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Because she wasn't really paying attention before, Sakura finally noticed how much Naruto had changed as well. He wasn't the irresponsible boy she had to nag about eating vegetables or clean up his house anymore. This Naruto had grown into a man, not just physically but emotionally as well.
Obviously, being forced to raise a child had made him a lot more mature. That was when it finally hit her.
Being with Sasuke every day since he was turned into a baby had made Naruto grow as close to Sasuke's transformed state as a parent to a child. That was probably the reason Naruto's judgment was so blurred by emotion. He had grown too emotionally attached to Sasuke's child form. Maybe to the point that he preferred this boy to his original self.
Naruto… would you even want Sasuke-kun to change back?
Hours later, when Sakura was finally done with her paperwork, she decided to check up on Sasuke once more. This time, she wasn't surprised to find Naruto sitting beside the raven's bed, holding his hand as he slept, thought it still felt strange to her.
Last time she had seem those two together, they had tried to kill each other. Their blows had been so powerful that they almost blew up their own arms. However, the most heartbreaking thing was the realization that no matter how much Naruto tried to call Sasuke and bring him back to their side, the raven would never accept his friendship, opting for his pride and solitude, living in a dark world of revenge and madness.
Sakura wondered if some of that madness still lingered in Sasuke's child form or if even that had been completely erased by the jutsu.
Naruto yawned and rubbed his eyes when he finally noticed the pink haired young woman by the door.
"Sakura-chan?" he asked, discomfort and guilt still written all over his face. "Is there something wrong?"
Sakura shook her head. "I just wanted to check up on Sasuke-kun. I see he's still sleeping."
"Yeah. He should wake up at any moment though. That's what Baa-chan told me," the blond scratched the back of his head. "Do you… do you wanna sit down?"
Sakura remained silent for a few seconds before grabbing another chair a sitting beside her old teammate. Naruto smiled shyly before facing Sasuke once more.
"Thank you for helping Sasuke," Naruto said.
"There's no need to thank me. Of course I would help Sasuke-kun."
Naruto nodded. "I'm still grateful though."
The two teammates sat in silent for a while, feeling as if a wall was between them instead of a few centimeters of air. It might as well have been.
"I felt crushed with guilt," Sakura finally said.
"The day Tsunade-sama told us that Sasuke-kun was dead, I felt horrible about myself. I felt that I had been too weak to help Sasuke-kun or you and that you had to live the rest of your life with the burden of killing him because of that. I mourned Sasuke-kun, but… it also felt that the Sasuke we knew had disappeared a long time ago and there was no hope of bringing him back. Mostly, I felt guilty for not being there for you."
Naruto looked down. "Sakura-chan…"
"Tell me the truth, Naruto," she interrupted. "Did you think I was so weak that I couldn't handle Sasuke-kun's transformation?"
Naruto sighed and stared at Sasuke's sleeping face.
"Not weak. I would never think of you as weak, Sakura-chan. I just… thought that seeing Sasuke as an infant would be too difficult for you, because of the way he was and because he had no memories of us. But especially because it had been so difficult for me… I wanted to protect you from that."
The young woman closed her fits. "So you decided to lie. Those are really weak excuses, Naruto."
"No! I always planned on coming back to the village and telling you the truth, but I was scared for Sasuke. I knew you guys would come after Sasuke and me when we disappeared and I wanted Sasuke to be happy and free from the people who hated him and wanted him dead as long as possible," the blond faced Sakura. "That's why I told Tsunade Baa-chan to tell everybody he died. I needed time to allow him to grow up, so I could explain everything to him first. If had brought him back right away, he would have been incarcerated and killed. I know it's unfair to the people that he killed, but the Uchiha Sasuke that did all those things was gone. Killing him while he was a baby wouldn't change anything except give people their wish for revenge."
Naruto had point. Sakura had to agree that if the blond that brought Sasuke back, his victims would have wanted retribution, and there wouldn't have been anything the Hokage or anyone else could have done to prevent it. Still…
"The Uchiha Sasuke that did all those things was gone."
"Why not come back and try to keep Sasuke-kun's identity a secret?" she demanded to know. "You didn't have to lie to everyone to keep him safe. We could have helped. Maybe we could have found a way to break the Kinjutsu."
Naruto's eyes widened with a mix of alarm and sadness. "Sakura-chan, there isn't a way to break the Kinjutsu. I know. I've looked for it. The people from the clan who created it told me."
Sakura's anger quickly returned. "And that's all it took for you to give up? You just stopped when someone told you it was impossible? You've really changed, Naruto."
"I never thought you would give up on Sasuke-kun this easily," she went on, tears brimming in her eyes. "The Naruto I remember would never stop trying to find a way to bring Sasuke-kun back. Even if he was mad, Sasuke-kun didn't deserve to have his life distorted this way. He'd have hated it. This jutsu might have not killed him, but it took away his identity. How can you possibly be okay with that?"
This time, Naruto's eyes hardened.
"I wasn't okay with that… at first. That's why I searched for months on ways to reverse the jutsu. The moment I realized Sasuke had been turned into a real baby, all I could think of was turning him back to normal and get my best friend back. I even got mad at the baby he had become because he wasn't acting the way Sasuke did. I thought bringing him back was the right thing to do, until I realized that would never happen and I was just hurting his current self. Sasuke was given a second chance to be happy by Itachi, and he deserves it, damn it." Naruto shook his head and glanced at the sleeping child. They really shouldn't be talking about this beside Sasuke. What if he woke and heard them? "Sakura-chan… please try to understand. Sasuke needs this second chance. His memories might be gone, but our friend is still here. He might not be exactly like he used to be, but he's still Sasuke. We can't change him back, but we can be with him as he is."
The medical ninja remained silent for a few seconds, her eyes fixed on the raven's face.
"You keep saying that there isn't a way to change him back," she finally said. "But I was told about Kabuto's experience. He broke the Kinjutsu."
"That almost killed him!" now Naruto was getting seriously scared and angry at his teammate. "You weren't there, but I was! I saw him deteriorate day after day. It was horrifying. If the effects of those drugs hadn't worn off, he would've died. Didn't Baa-chan tell you that?"
Sakura nodded, her eyes unwavering. "She did."
"Then you know that's not an option," he rubbed his eyes, suddenly feeling very tired.
They stayed quiet for a while again, both staring at the sleeping child, thinking of what they believed was best for him.
"He's your kid now," Sakura said.
"You think of Sasuke-kun as your kid. Am I wrong?"
Naruto nodded. "You're right. I didn't want too, at first. I wanted things to stay the way they were. I wanted Sasuke to be my friend and rival, nothing more, but then… I don't know how to explain it. I just began caring for him in a different way. I didn't know it was paternal love until he called me "Papa" the first time," when Sakura remained silent, Naruto went on. "Look, we shouldn't be talking about this in front of Sasuke. He knows a bunch of stuff about his past, but not all of it. There are a lot of things that he's not ready to deal with, so…"
A knock on the door, made both ninjas stand up and turn around.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you," Kakashi said, walking towards his former students. "I wanted to know how Sasuke is doing."
Naruto relaxed and played with a lock of his son's hair. "He's still sleeping, but Tsunade Baa-chan said that the surgery was a success. We're gonna take of his bandages tonight."
"Really? That's good to hear," Kakashi said, smiling under his mask. "Iruka and the others are gonna be relieved. They all wanted to come and visit but we thought it might be a bit overwhelming for Sasuke. Is he going to wake up soon?"
"Hmm… I don't know. He could wake at any moment, but he was really tired from last night. He didn't sleep very well."
Kakashi nodded. "That's understandable. So, would you like to eat something? I bet you're starving."
Naruto shook his head. "No, thanks. I'm fine." Unfortunately, his stomach decided to prove him wrong by growling like an angry animal.
"Seems like your body doesn't agree with you, Naruto," Kakashi said. "When was the last time you ate something?"
"Well… yesterday… at my house. But seriously, I'm fine. I want to be here when Sasuke wakes up."
"We won't take long, besides Iruka is dying to talk to you."
Naruto glanced at his son, visibly torn. Kakashi tried really hard not to laugh on how overprotective his student had become. "Come on. It will only be for a few minutes."
"Maybe I should leave a clone in here."
"You could, but I don't think you should. Hear me out," Kakashi added as soon as he saw that Naruto was not going to agree. "Sasuke is safe, Naruto. This village is his home. If you don't start to relax and give him a chance to be by himself in Konoha, then you'll never be able to bring him back."
Naruto sighed, but didn't disagree. He knew he was being overprotective, but he just couldn't help it. "I know, sensei. It's just… if something happens…"
"Nothing is going to happen," his teacher said. "You're going to have lunch with people who care about you and then you can come back and cuddle your boy."
Naruto smiled, not noticing Sakura's awkwardness. "I guess."
"Great. What about you, Sakura? Do you want to join us?"
The medical ninja shook her head. "Thank you, Kakashi-sensei, but I think I should go back home and get some sleep. I'll see you later."
Glancing at Naruto for a second, Sakura left the room and vanished behind a corner.
"Well, shall we? If you want, we could bring something for Sasuke as well," Kakashi said as he walked towards the door.
"He would like that. I promised that I would bring him ice-cream and I always keep my word," Naruto covered his son with another blanket and kissed his forehead lightly before following his sensei out of the room. "I'll be right back."
After Naruto and Kakashi left the room, Sakura returned to corridor and watched her sensei and the blond leave the hospital. A few minutes later, after making sure that Naruto wasn't coming back, she finally opened the door and went into Sasuke's room once more.
And Sakura is going behind Naruto's back.
If this had been another fic about Sasuke turning into a child again, Naruto would have done anything in his power to change him back. It's because he raised him as his son that plotline didn't happen.
I hope you guys enjoyed Naruto and Sakura's talk. Sorry again for the delay and thank you so much for still reading this.
See you guys later!