A Sick Reminder

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto in any way, shape, or form.

Author's Notes: For the record, this is not a Naruto/Shizune pairing. This is a Family fic. I saw that other authors have played around with Naruto being taken care of by someone when he was sick, but I was surprised that no one tried this with Shizune yet. I wanted to be the first, so I wrote this.

Second, I was going to write two one-shots with a Christmas theme to them, but I just couldn't find the right inspiration. I tried using the "Gift of the Magi" story, but I just couldn't seem to write it, and I have no good ways of doing a Christmas one-shot for my other ongoing fics. So, instead you will get treated to something that I have written that, for once, stars Naruto and a different female character from the series. I hope it works out well.

Finally, there may be some moments of OOC, and an event that is non-cannon, but fits for my story and I could see this happening to him without there being a village of mob-chasers and demon-beaters. You don't have to be violent to be cruel. If this stuff is not to your liking, than you can stop reading now. Finally, there will be no intentional bashing in this one-shot. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

On a cool spring evening, our thirteen year old blond protagonist Naruto Uzumaki was having an argument with his tenant, the Kyūbi no Yōko. What had been the cause of this debate? It's simple. Naruto had started to question his relationship with the Fox. It began to dawn on him that he had been giving too much authority to the Fox. After all, Naruto was the prison and host for the beast, right? So, why did Naruto allow it to boss him around, only giving chakra when not doing so would jeopardize Naruto's life, and by extension its own? Naruto felt that he should be entitled to the chakra of his tenant by his own terms, not by the Fox's generosity. After all, that was the design of the seal, right? So, Naruto went into his mindscape, and voiced his opinion to his tenant. Sufficient to say, it wasn't amused.

"You insolent runt! Who are you, a puny little human, to demand anything from something as powerful as me, let alone my chakra?" questioned Kyūbi.

"Well, you're trapped in my body as a freeloader, I'm the one that has to keep the both of us alive – no thanks to you – so I think a little rent is in order!" yelled Naruto.

The Fox chucked, confusing Naruto. "I think you misunderstand our particular arrangement, runt. It is you who is a 'freeloader.'"

"That's not true!"

"Isn't it? Face it, without me you would be a shell of your former self, if you even survived that long." Before Naruto could retort, the Fox continued. "Your body has become so dependent on my chakra, that if I were to cut off the flow of my chakra to your body, you would not be able to properly function without it."

"Yeah, right. I could so survive without your help, Kyūbi-teme!"

"Is that so, runt? Then, why don't we test that little resolve of yours, ne?"

"Nani? What are you talking about, you bastard?"

The Fox grinned. "Simple. I completely cut off my chakra from your system. You will only have your own reserves to work with. We shall see how long you shall last without my so-called help."

"You're on! You just watch; I can still be a great ninja without your help!" With that, Naruto left his mindscape and returned to his sleep. The Fox couldn't help but chuckle in his prison as his container left.

"Little does the fool realize just how dependant his body actually is on me. We shall see how he will react when this all comes crashing down on him…perhaps this will teach him some humility, and about how much he needs the assistance of others."

The first three days after the argument between jailer and prisoner were alright for the most part. Naruto was able to keep up with the rest of his team for a little while, but then things started to go downhill. He had troubles keeping up with Sasuke during spars, he couldn't make as many clones as he could previously, and he found himself to be more tired and irritable than usual. He could tell something was wrong, but he didn't know what, so he did what he would always do if something was bothering him; grin and bear it.

It was the fourth day after his deal with the Fox that Naruto could tell something was definitely wrong with him. He had begun to cough up greenish phlegm; he had a pounding headache, it felt like a kunai had been stabbed into his chest each time he tried to take a deep breath, and he could never quite get warm, even though his forehead felt like it was on fire. Naruto had never felt this bad ever, so it was a shock to him when he couldn't figure out why he felt this awful. Then, it struck him like lightning; this was probably one of Kyūbi's tricks to get him to concede that it was right! Deciding that the Fox wasn't playing fair, Naruto entered his mind-scape to "talk" to his prisoner. He stormed down the sewers of his mind and stood defiantly in front of the Fox's cage.

"Hey, you stupid fox, I agreed to have you cut off your chakra, not all this other crap you're trying to pull! It ain't gonna work, I'll never concede, you hear me?"

The fox responded, bearing his teeth for the world to see and blood red eyes peering through the darkness with a pleased look on its vulpine face. "I don't know whether to be amused at your predicament or at how foolish you are to realize that you are sick…"

"Sick? How can I be sick? My healing abilities should prevent me from getting sick-"

"Excuse me, your healing abilities? Ha! That particular trait is because of me, runt, not you." At Naruto's befuddled expression, the great Demon Fox knew that he needed to explain further. "As I said, it is my chakra that gives you your rapid healing. It is also my chakra that augments your immune system. Over time, this has lead to a dependence that your body has in order to hear itself properly. In other words, because your immune system is almost completely dependent on my chakra to function, without my chakra, you basically have no immune system. That is how you got sick."

Naruto paled at that. When he made the deal with the Fox, he was under the impression that his healing abilities were his own, not the product of the Fox. If this was the result of not having any demonic chakra running through his system, then it made him even more venerable than he realized. Still, Naruto was nothing if not a young man with his pride, so he would never admit to his weakness.

"Well, I guess that just means I have to wait until I get better. I've taken care of myself for years unaided; I can go for a few more days."

"It's a shame you don't have anyone to take care of you. Perhaps if you had someone – like say, a mother-"

Naruto slammed his fists into the cage and glared at the fox while leaking killing intent. "Don't you ever use that word in front of me, you hear me? I don't need pity; I will be fine on my own!" Though, if you were to look closely enough, you could see salt water begin to leak out of his eyes.

"Fair enough, runt. Though I will say this; if you are at risk of dying from this I will step in, deal or no deal. I can almost guarantee you, this will not be something that you can do on your own, and I will not perish because of your stupidity and stubbornness." With that, the Fox fell silent, leaving Naruto to try to figure out how he was going to help himself.

Tsunade Senju was sitting behind her desk with Team Seven reporting for their daily dose of D-ranked missions. Well, with three members of Team Seven; Naruto for some reason was missing. Looking at the other members of Team Seven, Tsunade attempted to see if any of them might have known something. Sakura Haruno looked irritated but didn't seem to know anything. Sasuke Uchiha was indifferent, most likely because he wanted to continue his training rather than wait for his comrade, and Kakashi Hatake didn't seem to be paying any attention to the situation at all, instead opting to read his copy of Icha Icha Paradise. It was times like this that made Tsunade wonder if this was how Kakashi led his team all the time, or whether he was just trying not to look panicked at missing one of his students. As it didn't seem like any of the three ninjas before her were willing to start speaking, she felt that the burden fell onto her to find out what was going on.

"So, Kakashi-san, do you happen to know where Naruto-gaki is today? Or, were you hoping that the rest of your team was going to get a mission without him?"

Kakashi, immediately catching the accusing tone under the Godaime Hokage's statement, raised an eyebrow as he stowed his novel away for later. "My apologies, Hokage-sama, but Naruto didn't exactly show up at our meeting spot today. Since he never showed, I assumed that he was probably training with Jiraiya-sama today."

Tsunade raised an eyebrow at that. She had just sent Jiraiya out on a mission earlier, though she supposed that Kakashi probably didn't know that, so she wasn't completely surprised. Still, Naruto's team could have at least checked to see what was going on. "Did you even bother to check his apartment?"

"I generally don't invade my student's privacy unless I need to."

"And I take it neither of your other students checked either?" Sasuke and Sakura shook their heads as Tsunade growled. "Perfect. Shizune!"

On cue, Shizune walked into the office. Shizune had dark eyes, dark hair with bangs framing her face. Her bluish-black kimono was trimmed with white and closed off with a white obi. Being carried in her arms was her pet pig, Tonton. Shizune had traveled with Tsunade ever since she left the village after the death of Shizune's uncle Dan. Now that the two of them were back in the village, Shizune had become Tsunade's assistant, as well as being a leading medic at the Konoha Hospital.

Shizune bowed respectfully. "What do you need, Tsunade-shishō?"

"Shizune, it would seem Naruto didn't show up with his team. For what reason, apparently no one else knows. I want you to go over to his apartment and find out why Naruto is skipping out on missions. Knowing him, he probably just slept in, but he cannot be pardoned from duty without cause."

"Hai, shishō," Shizune replied. Shizune left Tsunade, her pig Tonton and Team Seven – who was now on standby under Tsunade's orders until they could find out what happened to Naruto – in search of the wayward genin.

Shizune was walking at an even pace down the road to Naruto's apartment. A part of her had a feeling that Naruto was probably goofing off somewhere to annoy his team, but another part worried about the young blond she had begun to care about. Ever since she had seen Naruto put himself in the line of fire for Tsunade against Kabuto, Shizune had begun to see Naruto as one of her precious people, to almost the same degree as she saw her master. He was a good kid who got a raw deal in life, with few people that gave a damn about whether he lived to see another day. It was hard to see him get glared at constantly by people who he protected every day by being a jinchūriki. In fact, Shizune was proud to be a member of Naruto's surrogate "family."

Thinking about that made Shizune's thoughts go south. Most people might not think it when they see how chipper she can be sometimes, but Shizune is a fairly lonely person. Because of her obligations to Tsunade, Shizune didn't exactly have time for relationships. If that were not bad enough, she was what many considered to be a "plain Jane;" that is, she wasn't exactly attractive, but not entirely unattractive either. She wasn't like Kurenai, who had an exotic look about her, or Anko who was wild and unrestrained, or even like Yugaō Uzuki, who despite being in ANBU was still a highly sought after kunoichi.

Even if some guy did find her attractive enough though, then they would have been deterred by her connection to the Legendary Sucker; most guys didn't want to end up on the business end of Tsunade's fist should something go south. Thanks to those two factors, when it came to love, Shizune was left high and dry. It didn't help that she wanted to experience what her master had at one point, even if her lover only ever wanted to adopt a child. But, no guy would approach her, so she was left to daydream. Yeah, it might have sounded cliché, but her biological clock was ticking, and damn it she wanted a kid, even if she had to adopt! Oh well, beggars can't be choosers. Ignoring her angst over being single, she made her way to Naruto's apartment. Shizune walked up the stairs to his apartment and knocked. When she didn't receive an answer, she knocked again. She knocked a third time before opening the surprisingly unlocked door and walking in.

Naruto was not having a good morning as he was drinking a glass of water in his kitchen. His head was pounding, his stomach was doing flips, and he was still coughing up this weird greenish stuff. He knew he was getting worse, but he didn't have much choice. He was not feeling well, and since he had never been sick before, he had no medicine. He contemplated going outside for help, but since he was not exactly the most liked person in the village, he would have been a sitting duck. As sick as he was feeling, he didn't doubt that there would have been someone that would have loved to have taken advantage of that. Just as he was about to crawl back into bed, he heard a knock on the door. That didn't help his splitting headache. He went to walk to the door, but collapsed on his way to answer.

'Great, I really don't need this right now. Me, too sick to even answer the door, but too irritated at whoever is going open that an exploit my weakness. Damn this illness to Hell…'

Naruto kept his eyes open to see who was trying to get to see him, only to see it was Shizune. He was surprised, but relieved at the same time. At least she wasn't going to make fun of him, he thought.

Shizune opened the door, only to find Naruto on the floor, groaning in what appeared to be pain.

"Naruto! Oh, what happened to you? Are you hurt?" Shizune began running a diagnostic technique to test whether or not Naruto had any physical injuries. While she didn't find any physical injuries, she actually took a good look at Naruto and realized that he didn't look well. He appeared to have a fever, and he overall looked sickly. As Naruto appeared to only groan in response, Shizune helped him back into bed. After tucking him back into bed, she began to run a full scan of him, coming to one conclusion.

"Well, it appears you have a case of pneumonia, Naruto-kun," Shizune stated.

"Good, it has a name. It would have been a real crisis if it was some unknown illness…" Naruto trailed off sarcastically. It's not that he wanted to be rude, but he was irritable, and Shizune pretending to actually care about him was getting on his already frayed nerves.

Shizune frowned. "I was just trying to help you, Naruto – "

"I don't need help. I've been fine on my own for this long; I can continue to – "whatever he was going to say next was cut off by a coughing fit. Once that settled down, he tried to pick up where he left off. "As I was saying, I'm going to be fine. I'll manage just like I always have and just like I always will…"

Shizune stiffened at that. She had momentarily forgotten that Naruto lived by himself. He wasn't probably used to someone trying to help him out when he was sick. That might also explain why he didn't have any medicine, or why he didn't go seek medical attention. He assumed that no one would help him, or that he would be ignored and passed over like he was in the past.

Still, he needed some form of treatment, or he was going to get much worse. "Naruto-kun, I know you are not feeling well, but I can't leave you here by yourself. Pneumonia is serious, and without proper treatment you could get worse. I know you may want to take care of yourself, but Tsunade-sama and I would feel more comfortable if you were given treatment for this rather than enduring it. So please let me help you, Naruto-kun, unless you want me to take you to the hospital when all you need are some antibiotics, fluids, and a little TLC."

Naruto looked defiant for a moment, but quickly deflated. As proud as he was, he knew he was sicker than a dog, and he needed help. Still, it didn't mean that he had to like it. He knew that the only reason Shizune was doing all this for him was because she felt sorry for him. She would take care of him, make sure he lived, and then go back to helping out Baa-chan while he was ignored once more. Such was life for him.

A question had popped into Shizune's head, one that she should have asked earlier, but it slipped over worry for Naruto. "So, Naruto-kun, how did you get sick? From what I've read on your file, you've never been sick before."

Naruto sighed. He was tired, and the question and answer session was tiring him out. He answered as best as he could. He told Shizune about his argument with Kyūbi, about how he had been fine for a few days, but got really sick, and everything else up until Shizune found him. Just seeing the look that Shizune gave him, Naruto knew this was going to be a long day…

It was nighttime, and Shizune was by Naruto's bedside, watching him sleep while occasionally laying a new washrag on his head. She had sent a Shadow Clone earlier to Tsunade's office to report on Naruto's condition, and the Sannin-turned-Hokage had been more than understanding, if not a little irritated by Naruto's attitude. Of course, that was Tsunade's way of showing she cared; sometimes, she just had a difficult time showing how she truly felt around people. After the meeting, her clone gathered some general groceries for Naruto and picked up some medicine while Shizune tried to get Naruto more comfortable. She got him to take a shower earlier in the day while she cleaned up his apartment. She had swept the dust, took out the trash, and overall just made sure that things were cleaner for him, and perhaps a little easier on his lungs. She had gotten him into his sleeping attire and tucked him in for the night, and he was asleep almost instantly. Apparently, he was more tired than he let on.

In fact, it was almost like she was his mother, the way she acted. That should have shocked her, but surprisingly she felt comfortable with that. Naruto was a good kid, and frankly she thought that anyone would be proud to have someone like Naruto as part of the family, in spite of his flaws. Perhaps she could share that with him…

She was brought out of her musings by Naruto, who was talking in his sleep. By the sounds of it, he was having either a memory based dream, or a nightmare.

"Mommy, please, I'm sorry…Please, don't leave me here! I don't want to go back…Please…." If one looked close enough, you could see his pillow case get slightly damp. From tears or sweat, it was difficult to tell.

Shizune was curious. As far as she knew, Naruto didn't know anything about his biological parents, and nothing in the files she had seen suggested he was ever adopted. So, what was he dreaming of? Shizune decided to ask him in the morning. For now, she would wait and see.

Morning came, and Naruto was being fed a simple soup. Shizune had him take his medicine already, and had him on bed-rest while she took care of him. None of this made any sense to him. She said she could have taken him to the hospital and had someone else take care of him. So, why didn't she? Surely she had better things to do than to take care of him, right? So…


Shizune looked up. She wasn't quite sure what he was asking for. "Excuse me?"

"Why? Why are you taking care of me? Why are you doing all of this? You don't have to do any of this, so why are you staying here?"

Shizune looked startled at first, but then she looked at Naruto tenderly. "Why wouldn't I?"

Naruto looked confused, but Shizune continued. "For someone that talks so much about having precious people, Naruto-kun, I'm surprised that you haven't realized that you are precious to others. You are a very important person to a lot of people. You have Iruka-san, Tsunade-sama, Jiraiya-sama, Kakashi-san, Sasuke-san, Sakura-san, and so many others. Just because you were alone before, doesn't mean that no one cares now, Naruto-kun."

Naruto looked genuinely surprised. He knew that there were people that were precious to him, and he suspected that some of those people felt the same way, but he never heard anyone except maybe Iruka actually tell him that to his face. The idea that someone thought he was important enough to be considered precious brought about conflicting emotions for him.

Sensing his conflicting emotions, Shizune decided that now was as good a time as any to bring about her question. "So, Naruto-kun. I couldn't help but hear that you were talking in your sleep last night. You said something about you mother, but I don't remember you ever mentioning that you were adopted. Do you care to share what your dream was about?"

Naruto was troubled. On the one hand, he had never told anyone about that memory before. It was painful for him to remember, and part of the reason why he didn't want to think about that word with the Fox. On the other hand, he couldn't really avoid the question, and knowing her, Shizune would most likely keep digging until she found out. Plus, a small part of him wanted to talk about it to someone. He decided to share.

"A lot of people don't know this, Shizune-nee-chan, but there was a time where I was going to have a mom. It was before I got this apartment, when I was in the care of one of the orphanages. I was trying to play with the other kids one day, like I always did back then. One of the matrons talked to me and told me that there was someone waiting for me out front. I went out the front door and I saw this lady standing outside. I can still remember her. She had this medium length blond hair, green eyes, and this smile that made most people just stop and stare; for a moment, I thought that was what an angel from the stories I had heard of was supposed to look like. She was even wearing this white dress."

"I asked her who she was, and she told me that she was my birth mother, and that she had been looking for me. I was so happy. I had finally had a mom, and she had been looking for me. I didn't even bother to question it; I was pretty lonely back then. She held me close, and she had told me all the things one thinks a mother is supposed to say to her child, like how much she loved them or how she was happy to be reunited. I remember we spent the whole day together. We went to the park, we had lunch together, and we even watched the clouds roll by for a while. It was supposed to be the best day of my life."

Naruto then began to talk in a saddened voice. "Then we walked back to the village. She brought be back to the orphanage, and began to walk off without me. I tried calling her back, asking for her to take me with her. I thought I had done something wrong. I was begging for her to pay attention. I remember she turned around to look at me with that damn smile on her face. You want to know what she said to me? She said, 'Yeah, like I would ever want a demon for a son.' She walked off, leaving me crying in the middle of the street before the matrons brought me back in. I was told later by Jiji that she had played a prank on me; I guess he had an ANBU or someone watching over me, and they found out that she wanted to prank me just for the heck of it. I guess that's when I started calling the people that liked me part of my family, since I knew no one would actually want me. Once I became a genin, I asked the Old Man to erase that part from my file. I didn't want to be reminded of the fact that no one would ever want me as a part of their family," Naruto concluded, knowing that now all he would receive would be her pity for falling for a trick like that.

It was silent for a moment. Shizune didn't know quite what to say. She knew that Naruto had problems, but she never imagined anyone would be that cruel before. Although, this did give her an opportunity to tell him how she felt about him now. So, Shizune began to speak.

"I would want you."

If Naruto's head had shot up any faster, his neck would have broken, but she continued anyway. "You are a good person, Naruto. You show kindness to complete strangers, you never go back on your word if you can help it, and you have a level of compassion that is nearly unmatched by anyone. You are a hero for simply being alive. If I was your friend, I would proudly brag about it to everyone I met. If I was your actual sister, I would shout it from the highest point in the village and parade around like a fool to tell everyone." She then held him close, as if to show that she wasn't lying and that she actually did care. "And if I was your mother, I would hold you close and tell you every day how precious you are to me, and how much I love you."

Naruto knew then and there that she was telling the truth. Unlike the other woman, he actually knew Shizune, and she wasn't one for lying, especially about important stuff like this. Naruto couldn't hold it back anymore; he bawled into Shizune, gripping her kimono like a child scared of lightning for the first time. Even if this was only for this one time, he wanted to feel like he was wanted, like he was loved. The two held each other, falling asleep together. If one looked closely, you could begin to see a red glow appear briefly around Naruto's seal before disappearing.

A week went by, and Naruto was brought into Tsunade's office to be cleared medically. Shizune had spent the entire week taking care of Naruto, making sure he took his medicine and was otherwise taken care of. Naruto was upset that the week was going to end, and that he would have to go back to being alone in his apartment again. But, he also knew that it was probably better this way. At least, that's what he thought.

"Alright, well you appear to be all healed up, Naruto, though I do want you to take it easy for at least another two days or so. Recovering from something like pneumonia is tough, and I don't want you overstraining yourself again, with or without Kyūbi's influence. Is that clear?"

"Sure thing, Baa-chan!" Naruto may not have been happy, but he might as well play the part. "So, can I go now?"

"Not just yet, Naruto. There's one thing left that I need you to see before I let you go." Tsunade then gave Naruto a set of papers. He was confused at first, until he read the top. Then, he froze; he could not believe what was happening.

"This is, this is…."

Tsunade smirked. "That's right, gaki. Those are adoption papers, signed by myself, making Shizune your adoptive mother."

When Naruto began sputtering, in an attempt to say something, Tsunade interrupted him again. "Now, I know what you are thinking. Technically, you're not too old to be adopted. In the eyes of most shinobi, you are old enough to make adult decisions, but in the eyes of Hi no Kuni and people like the Daimyo, you are still a minor; it's simply overlooked that you also serve in the military. That means that you can still be legally adopted by someone as long as you are not eighteen."

Naruto then turned to Shizune, still not believing what he was hearing. "Naruto-kun, do you remember two days ago when I stepped out for a few hours?" He nodded. "Well, I was talking with Tsunade-sama about adopting you. No one deserves to not have a family, Naruto. I meant it when I said that I would be proud to have you as a part of my family. As long as you don't mind a plain Jane as a mother, I would be honored if you would let me adopt you."

Naruto's lip trembled as he absorbed what was happening to him. Finally, someone wanted him; it wasn't some prank. He was wanted. He was loved. He almost knocked Shizune over as he nearly crushed her in a hug, exclaiming his acceptance to the entire room.

Tsunade couldn't help but smile. She knew that Shizune had wanted a family of her own for a while, and seeing those two as mother and son somehow felt fitting for her. Tsunade may have missed her chance with Dan, but she wouldn't deny Shizune or Naruto this chance for the world.


So that's my story. I hope to be back up and running again during the New Year, and one of my resolutions is to plan out more than a chapter ahead at a time for my fics so I can update faster, and more importantly to get back to my fics. I never intended to go this long without writing, and for that I apologize. If I ever take that long to update again, feel free to PM me, and I will try to go faster. Just don't overwhelm me with e-mails nagging me. I hope you guys tune in, and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Please Read and Review.