AN: Finally, here's the last chapter. A big, final thanks to all of you…this story had been sometimes a rough ride, and it was your encouragements that saw me through it, so thank-you all.
…and they had the happy ever after ending…
The hospital was a scene of major uproar; a flux of wounded, bloodied shinobis was brought in, nurses and medics alike scurrying to attend to each man and woman that needed emergency care. In the pandemonium, Sakura had to shout to be heard as she gave precise instructions to those carrying in their incapacitated comrades, directing them towards treatments areas according to the types and degree of wounds, at the same times assigning the medic-nins to each tasks.
Despite the Konoha hospital being one of the best of the five nations, right then it was mostly a case of management by crisis seeing the bulk of patients been brought in within the short span of time, and priority was given to those most severely wounded. Tsunade, who had been summoned in such time of crisis and Shizune were each currently performing an emergency surgery, so that left Sakura at the front line to give a first diagnosis and treatment and sorting the patients accordingly.
Outside, an even bigger chaos reigned; streets were littered with a large amount of explosion debris, a couple of buildings partially blasted off and on fire, the acrid smell of smoke filling the nose and the whole shinobi force, those who were still capacitated, rushing and dashing about, shouting, dispensing and following instructions, while in the background, loud explosions could be heard from different part of the village.
The air was frazzled with thick tension and a distraught urgency. Konoha had been attacked – in the dead middle of the night, where most of the populace had been sleeping.
They had been attacked with a precision that indicated an implacable planning, by what looked to be a group of about a dozen immensely powerful men. Sakura was still dumbfounded that the enemy had dared to make such an attack on Konoha; they must have been very confident of their power to have even considered attacking Konoha with such a small man-power.
And they were powerful; the Konohan shinobi forces were still under the shock of the extensive damage done in such a short instance. True, Konoha had known worst in the past with Orochimaru and Pein attacks – but still, it was unthinkable and shocking to sustain such an outright attack like this one now, within the depth of their village, considering the peace that had reigned over the nations for so many years.
But at the same time, they did have a warning about something brewing up. The last two attacks on their walls and people had been a stepping stone only, they now realized in retrospect when they had identified the one that was apparently leading the attack: the leader of Wheat Village.
Fortunately, Konoha's evacuation system was still among the best ever known, and the civilians, down to the very last ones, had been efficiently and successfully shepherded to the refuge found deep within the Hokage monuments cliff, while all the shinobi had immediately stood up to defend their homeland.
It was now almost three hours since the initiation of the attack, and the last information that had reached Sakura and the hospital staff was that most of the enemy had been brought down. Konoha might have been taken by surprise, but their power and defense strength was still one of the best of the five nations; Konoha refused to bend in front of the enemy and the shinobis would not give in so easily, and had shown their worth by managing to contain the damage as much as possible, and eventually subdued a huge chunk of the enemy's force down.
And while battles had raged outside at different locations in the village, the trio eminent medics, Sakura, Shizune and Tsunade, had been working assiduously on their bloodied, broken shinobis, mending them back to life. They have had uncountable injuries, ranging from minor to severe, but no casualties, yet. Sakura was resolved that she would not lose more men to Wheat country. She still had the deaths of the genin and the jounin in her conscience, and she refused to fail again.
She felt a terrible apprehension gliding down her back; a fear for Naruto's safety. She had faith that he would succeed in driving the enemy out: Naruto would never let his beloved Konoha be taken over, definitely not under his leadership. But her worry was that he would do anything, going as far as to take reckless risks, in order to protect his beloved village.
It was very hard for her not to be out there on the field for the battle, but she knew she was more needed here in the hospital. As a medic, her priority was to save lives – it was her way to shoulder Naruto in protecting Konoha.
Still, the fact that she had no actual idea how Naruto was faring agonized her. And even if it was usual protocol for the still capable shinobis to bring all the wounded that they can to the hospital, there could be some which had not been able to make it or some who would need treatment on the spot. There could a close one who needed treatment out there.
Tsunade emerged from the treatment room, having finished with her intervention.
"I'm going out there," Sakura informed her former master. The flow of incoming wounded was tapering down by now anyway, they should be able to manage without her.
"Yes, Naruto may need you," Tsunade nodded before Sakura could say anything further. The older woman knew how hard it must be for her former apprentice to be in the dark about her husband. "We're okay here, you can go. But do take someone with you," she warned.
As the Hokage's wife, Sakura was bound to be a prime target, and Neji, being the meticulous chief of defense and security that he was, had firmly warned Sakura against taking un-necessary risks and to always be escorted if venturing outside. Under normal circumstances, Sakura would have been obfuscated by the demand; she was a powerful Kunoichi of her own, and she did not need anyone's protection. But she understood the severity of the situation and the importance of avoiding to be taken as hostage at all cost. She would never want to be Naruto's weakness in front of an enemy.
"I'll ask one of the ANBUs to accompany me," she reassured Tsunade. They had a team of ANBUs stationed around the hospital as security, though it was mostly for the patients' safety than anything else. With the former Godaime presence within the hospital, the enemy had to be crazy to venture in, Sakura thought wryly.
Right when she was about to set out, Konohamaru and Moegi appeared, carrying an injured Udon in between them. Sakura immediately attended to the wounded but still cheerful Udon, doing a quick routine poison-check, precaution which she had insisted on applying for each wounded shinobis; Udon's system was clear of any poison, and a quick scan showed no life threatening injuries.
"Lana-san, please direct him to Ahiko-san," Sakura instructed the charge nurse. "He has a broken rib on the left side and some gashes." Turning towards at the two worried team-mates, she reassured them, "He'll be all right."
"We've brought down our opponent," the young Sarutobi said tiredly and triumphantly.
"Konohamaru, I need to go out there; would you accompany me please?" Sakura asked the young Jounin.
"Go ahead, I'll stay with Udon," Moegi immediately nodded.
The night was still dark, dawn still about an hour away. The early spring air was chilly in this early morning hour, and Sakura felt the sting of the cold on her cheeks as she and Konohamaru sped through the streets. Sakura had a first proper look at the extent of the damage. She was relieved to see that it was mostly superficial damage; but this was the least of her worry right now. These were only materials and infrastructure, and they would be repaired within days at most. Konoha always bounced back on its feet.
Her utmost concern was for Naruto. She was anxious to get updates from Konohamaru.
"At first, Naruto Nii-san was fighting with three opponents at once, one of which was the leader of the group," Konohamaru told her, knowing that she would want to know about him first. "Kakashi and Sai took over one of them, and the last I saw them Naruto Nii-san and the remaining two opponents were near the main gates. The leader is strong. All of them were strong, in fact. We suspect that they've been using forbidden techniques or doping of some sorts to boost their power; they were too strong for normal human beings."
Sakura felt her anxiety for Naruto increased upon that information. She refused to think about the probability of anything bad happening to him. It was barely one month since they had started their real marriage, and the idea of anything happening to him, the merest scratch, brought a deep, unfathomable agony within her. She had always been concerned about his safety, but now it had roofed to another level completely.
"He'll be all right," Konohamaru told her, guessing her worry. "It's Naruto. No-one's going to defeat him, especially not within his own village. They may be strong, but Nii-san and his will are even much more stronger."
Sakura gave a tight smile and nodded, though the knot in her throat refused to ease up.
Both of them did a scan to detect any possible wounded as they hurried by. They passed by some randomly scattered fires; fires caused by the explosions that Sakura had been hearing from within the hospital. A group of shinobis was already active in attending to the fires, and some had even started to clear the rumbles away, as if impatient to put the attack behind them.
As the two neared the main gates, they crossed Kakashi and Sai. Kakashi was bleeding profusely from a deep gash across his shoulder, while Sai's wounds seemed to be minor. Sakura immediately set out to heal Kakashi's wound, and she worked they learnt that the duo had overcome their opponent.
"Any news about Naruto?" She asked, trying to hide her anguish, but Kakashi could clearly see through her worry.
"He led the leader of the group and the second adversary out of the village," he told her, his tone carrying the worry he himself was feeling. He was not happy that Naruto had ventured alone out of their walls, taking on two opponents, on top of it. He and Sai had been impossible to follow him, their opponent having kept both of them thoroughly engaged in battle.
"The good news is that we have ten of them down already."
Konohamaru cheered in triumph and Sakura felt relieved at least by this positive news.
"They were all extremely powerful; and the leader even more so. I detected a seal in them which seemed to be boosting their chakra levels," Kakashi continued.
"So you were right, Konohamaru," Sakura remarked. The enemy were using techniques to boost up their power.
Sai shook his head as Sakura made a move to scan him for the extent of his injuries. "I'm fine. These are only superficial. We should hurry to Naruto," he urged. "Even he will not last long taking on such two powerful opponents at once on his own."
Sakura nodded and the four of them rushed off.
"Neji, Lee and Ten-Ten are still fighting an opponent at the south gate, while Chouji, Shikamaru and Ino are with another one the east gates," Sai filled her in as they hurried. "Naruto is fighting the remaining two."
Shikamaru and Chouji appeared at that instance.
"Our opponent's down too," Shikamaru informed them.
"Ino?" Sakura immediately asked, but Shikamaru gave her a reassured nod. "She has headed towards the hospital to see whether she can help."
The Nara was immediately displeased upon hearing that Naruto had left the boundary of the village. "How could he be so reckless, going beyond the gates alone without any back-up," he ruminated as the group rushed past the gates. "There could be a group waiting to ambush him, all we know!"
An explosion rang a bit further out, and the small group rushed in the direction from where the sound came from. They came to a clearing and they had to halt, shielding their faces against the burst of scorching hot air that blew at them. The force of the chakra blasting about was staggering in its power. The whole area was a chaos of a mass of uprooted, charred trees and a raging, infernal fire.
Eyes burning and watering, Sakura frantically peered through the chaos and the billowing, churning fire and smoke, and in a distance, saw what looked to be a huge armadillo. She stared at the thing, which was momentarily still, and she was stunned at the sheer palpable power oozing out of it. Standing on top of its grayish brown shell they could see a man, shrouded in black clothing, sprouting some unfamiliar jutsus which was causing beams of chakra to flare from his hands.
"That's the leader," Shikamaru said.
The beast moved. Despite its size, it moved at an astonishing speed, its movement so rapid that it was almost a blur to the naked eyes.
"Don't get too close," Kakashi immediately cautioned the group. They could easily be trampled.
"Is that a summon? Has Naruto Nii-san managed to bring the second enemy down?" Konohamaru wondered aloud.
The leader was obviously directing that hard shelled beast, which was sprouting similar chakra beams as the man but in a much gigantic proportions at the figure that suddenly appeared in front of it.
As Sakura peered harder, she saw not one figure; but two figures running around the huge beast.
Naruto, in Kyuubi mode, was easily identifiable. It took her some long seconds to identify the second figure fighting by Naruto's side: Sasuke.
Together, the two were fighting the monstrous thing, which seemed to be immune to any attacks that they were throwing at him, its impeccable amour a perfect defense. In front of the worried group's eyes, the armadillo synchronized between rolling into a compact ball by englobing the man within its shell as Naruto fired a Kyuubi bomb at it, the attack merely bouncing off the impeccable amour, then unrolling itself the minute time Naruto paused to build another chakra ball, to immediately fire an attack at him; at the same time it's massive tail sweeping to ward off Sasuke's chidori, like a bat sweeping off a mere ball.
Both Naruto and Sasuke had not much defense against the destructive fire being beamed towards them, and were being more on the defensive rather than on the offensive, Naruto using flash steps and Sasuke using body flicker to dodge the incoming, rapid destructive attacks.
The scene reminded her so much of the final battle in the fourth war, when the two had fought together against the real resurrected Madara and the Juubi, almost losing their lives in the process. At the moment, though, Sakura could not even foster the tiniest happiness that the missing member of team 7 had joined hand with Naruto to fight the enemy; right now, her main concern was her husband, and she could only watch with a mounting fear as the two former teammates fought together with their life.
Seeing that the beast had moved further away, the group cautiously made to proceed further, but they were barred by an energy field which acted like a high wall.
"This is Naruto's energy shield," Kakashi said. It was the same shield that the Yondaime had used to imprison the Kyuubi during his fight with him. "Naruto must have erupted it to protect the village from the ravaging destruction of the beast."
Wordlessly, Sai painted an eagle and an instance later, he was soaring high in the sky, moving above the shield wall to join the two in the battle. His overhead attacks did not succeed, though, the leader zooming in on him and destroying his ink jutsu. Sai had the barest time to draw another eagle which swooped him up before he crashed to the ground, and not giving up, set out to launch more attacks from overhead, while the Naruto and Sasuke continued with the ground attacks.
The remaining stood helplessly outside the shield, watching the ferocious battle raging in front of them. A short distance away, Sakura saw a huge fallen mass. She realized that it was Gamachi.
"It's Gamachi," she shouted to Kakashi. They skirted around the energy wall to the fallen toad. He was wounded, but not fatally, they saw with relief.
"I can't do anything for the boss," the huge toad groaned. He refused to go back in his realm, wanting to see the battle through. "The second enemy transformed into that beast," he told the group. "It has the best defense – it shell combined with its tail. Nothing can get through those, not even Naruto's Kyuubi bombs. And it's timing its attack to perfection; Naruto is not being able to get an opening. It has a wide visual range with its eyes positioned thus, and is able to see any stealth attempt being made on it. One of its attack is leveling ten of Naruto's and Sasuke combined attacks."
That info was staggering and depressing.
"What sort of jutsu are they using, to have a human transforming into…that thing," Sakura said, looking at the monstrous beast in disbelief. Her attention was focused on the now three figures clamped into a ferocious battle against the enemy, a painful lump in her throat, deep anguish filling her.
Shortly, Neji, Ten-Ten and Lee landed besides them, all three of them carrying the marks of a ferocious battle. They had managed to bring down their opponent too, so that left only the leader to be brought down.
"This thing has a chakra volume as great as a bijuu!" Neji said worriedly, his byakugan activated. "It carries the same seal I've seen in the other opponents, which is supplying both it and the man with unlimited chakra. They will not run out of energy soon, and if this battle continues, Naruto will run out of energy before them."
"But Naruto is not even going full on him," Lee pointed out.
Right then, the leader howled a maniacal laugh, his eerie laughter carrying out to the group. "You thought you were invincible, Hokage of Konoha? Your village's defense had been so easy to bring down! It was a kid's play!" he boasted pompously. "We have been observing you for a long time now, same as for the other villages. After you, it will be Suna's turn! Then we will rule the world!"
"Huh, Cocky, much? Is this guy for real?" Ten-Ten said indignantly. "Maybe someone should let this deranged man know that all his stooges have already been brought down?"
"Why is there always some madman dreaming about taking over the world?" Kiba raged as he, Shino and Hinata dropped to the ground besides the group. "Don't they have better things to do?"
"So they knew of our strengths and defenses. That's why my bugs attack is ineffective on them," Shino muttered. "They activated a chakra layer every time my bugs would approach them."
"If only the three could get to the leader," Shikamaru murmured, as they watched yet another attempt of Naruto's failed, the Kyuubi bomb still ineffective against the shell. The beast's tail sweep off another attack that a few clones of Naruto had tried to steal on it the minute it unrolled. "It's obvious that the man is working in sync with the beast. If we can get the man, the beast won't be as effective as he is now."
"But how can they get to the man?" Lee asked, as they watched all attempts of the three to get to the man being thwarted. Apart from the man being almost twenty feet above ground and having a perfect vintage point to fire jutsus at the three, the beast's claws and tail were proving difficult to get past.
"If they cannot get up to the man, then maybe we can make the man get down to them!" Sakura said suddenly. She had to do something; anything. It was her team fighting out there, and as part of that team, she owed it to the three and herself to do something as well, not just stay here, inactive.
Shikamaru looked at her, immediately catching her drift.
"We can try, and give them a few seconds at least by a surprise element. With his Hirashin, a few seconds could work for Naruto," Sakura pressed on, hopeful.
Shikamaru nodded, "We can give it a try. But we must warn Naruto. I need Ino!"
As if having heard her husband's wish, Ino appeared. "I'm wanted?"
"We need you to communicate our plans to Naruto," Shikamaru quickly explained to her, and set out the strategy. Since the fourth war, Ino had mastered the art of communicating by mind without causing the recipient to lose conscious.
"Naruto will have to give his best shot at this," Neji said.
"Move back!" Naruto called out to Sasuke and the above hovering Sai, after he had carefully listened to Ino's short, precise message being relayed to him. He wanted them out of the way for the attack he planned to launch.
The imperative tone of the command warned Sasuke and Sai that the blond must have something up. After a moment of hesitation, the two complied, and moved a distance away, though both stubbornly staying close enough to intervene in case needed.
"Now!" Shikamaru gave the signal.
With a bellow, Sakura jumped and pounded her chakra laden fist with all her might to the ground.
The few, precious seconds that the enemy took to realize that the ground was caving in beneath them and both the beast and him was crumbling down was enough; Naruto acted on the minute opening, blurring to the man and crashing an Oodama rasengan into his stomach, while two of his clones which he had stealthily readied each launched a Kyuubified rasen-shiruken on the sides of the beast as it was still in the process of closing its amour.
There was a deafening blast which projected a huge wave all around, forcing everyone back in spite of the energy barrier; then with a loud howl the beast along with the leader on its back crashed to the ground. There was a loud Boing! And the beast transformed into a bloodied, badly charred bulky human form. At the same time, not having the support of the beast anymore, the leader in turn fell to the ground, a bloodied gash in his stomach.
"No…!" shouted the man, enraged. "How could this happen? We cannot lose! We cannot be defeated!"
"You can be and you have been defeated," Naruto coldly told the man, looking down at him. "All your men had been defeated. You shouldn't have attacked my home!"
Applying a move that Sakura had taught him, Naruto pressed two fingers at the side of the man's neck, who instantly went limp.
"He did it!" Kiba yelled; but the group could not move through the energy barrier which was still erupted.
"Wait," cautioned Neji. "All of you stay here until we've cleared the area."
Sai motioned some of the ANBU to move forward as Naruto finally dispelled the energy barrier.
"Take them into custody. We need to interrogate them to know everything about their group, whether they have more people lying in wait," Naruto told the ANBUs and they took care of the two now unconscious men.
While Sai and Neji carefully scooted the area to give clearance, injured and bloodied, Naruto walked over to where Sasuke sat, as injured and bloodied as him, and slumped besides him on the fallen tree trunk.
"You came," said Naruto, looking at the Uchiha. Just about when Naruto had been despairing, taking the two powerful opponents at once had been getting its toll on him, the Uchiha had appeared.
Sasuke sighed and nodded. "For my two sons, and more importantly, for Itachi." Itachi, who gave his all for Konoha, even beyond his death. "I would never let anything happen to his legacy," Sasuke said quietly.
Naruto smiled and nodded. "For Itachi," he repeated. Protect Konoha. That had been Itachi's nindo.
"And I will need to protect Konoha for my kid too, now," Naruto said softly, looking at Sakura across the distance separating them, who had stayed put at Neji's order, surrounded by the others. She looked shaken but was all right, Naruto noted.
Sasuke raised a battered eye questioningly.
"I'm going to be a dad," Naruto chuckled incredulously, rubbing the back of his head. "But she does not know it yet!"
Sasuke smirked. "So you'll be the one announcing her. Unpredictable, as usual."
"All's clear," Sai announced, and Naruto rose to his feet, Sasuke following suit. They started to walk in the direction of the waiting group; in the direction of Sakura.
"You will take the position of Konoha Police now," Naruto stated rather than asked. He was done with asking. He looked at Sasuke's silent face. "What are you really afraid of?" He asked finally, and Sasuke looked sideways at him, his dark eyes troubled.
After a short silence, The Uchiha said quietly, "What if it's really in my blood…being evil, and what if I turn against Konoha again?"
Naruto huffed. "Then I'll be your safety net," he said firmly.
Sasuke started, the claim reminding him of when he had promised the same thing to Juugo. His lips rose in a small smile, and Naruto took it as a yes, finally.
Sakura had been watching the two, first and foremost relieved that Naruto looked all right. Seeing the serious way they were talking, she had curbed her instinct to rush to them, giving them a few minutes to sort out whatever they were discussing. She took her time and shakily walked towards them, meeting them halfway. As she neared them, she saw that both looked so gleeful, and realized that they had actually enjoyed fighting alongside each other. Her heart lifted at the thought. Maybe they were in the road of healing their bond, finally.
Sasuke stepped aside as they reached Sakura, giving the couple some privacy.
Sakura immediately scanned Naruto's frame for any major injuries, relieved when finding nothing serious; then whacked him hard in the chest.
"How could you be so reckless, baka," she berated him. "You're not supposed to follow the enemy blindly beyond the territory like that!" She was not aware of tears flowing down her cheeks.
Naruto wheezed at the punch, but a wide grin brightened his face. He was used to her punch followed by a hug by now; she did it after the Pein attack and after the battle with Madara. The punch conveyed her worry about him and the hug her love. That was her way.
The way of his Sakura-chan, his wife. The ultimate mixture of hardness and softness.
"I love you too!" he exclaimed, grinning cheekily and blue eyes dancing.
Sakura hiccupped between a sob and a laugh and launched herself in his waiting, strong warm arms.
"I love you," he whispered intensely in her ear, getting serious, brushing his lips against her temple.
Sakura drew a jagged breath. "I love you too," she choked, her face buried in his chest.
She loved him; with all her heart, soul and body. She was so totally in love him that life had a new dimension and meaning, that the sun seemed brighter and the nights deliciously rapturous, that she was always filled with this transcending happiness.
She raised her head to look at him, her love for him brightening her beautiful teary green eyes. "I love you," she said again, her watery smile turning wider.
"I love you." She could not seem to stop saying it now that she had said it for the first time.
Naruto hugged her tighter. He felt a joy starting from deep within him and spreading out all through his being, brightening his face. He had always known; but it was still great to hear her saying it. Grinning happily, he brushed his lips against her forehead; it was the most he can allow himself to do what with the large audience they had right now.
He gently put a warm palm over her flat stomach. "You should be more careful now, Sakura-chan," he whispered.
She looked at him questioningly.
"We have conceived. I felt it when I was in Kyuubi mode. You're carrying our baby," he said in a hushed tone, the words declared so precious.
Sakura felt her breath catch, and her jaw hang down. "What..!"
She had not known…It was so very stupid of her, being that she was a medic and all; but she had not have the tiniest clue. She had sometimes been irregular in her periods and having been in the deliriously happy haze the past weeks, she had totally disregarded any delay as a warning sign. Making a quick mental calculation, she realized she must be six weeks pregnant already.
"We're having a baby!" she said in wondered tone, her eyes wide with joy, and Naruto nodded, sharing her wonder and happiness.
"You're having a baby?" Ino squealed loudly behind them, making the couple jump; she had been close by, tending to Sasuke's wounds, and could not prevent hearing Sakura.
"Who's having a baby?" Kiba asked from a distance, ears immediately perking up.
"They're having a baby!" Ino announced to the group with a loud whoop, even as Naruto and Sakura was trying to shush her up.
"Pig!" Sakura hissed, turning bright red as all eyes turned towards them.
Shikamaru groaned. "Can't you let the guys make the announcement themselves?" he chided his wife, but Ino waved her husband off, too excited to pay heed to his chiding.
"As the future Godmother I surely have the right to announce the news!"
Sakura sighed in exasperation at her friend's antics, but her ire was quickly forgotten as Hinata and Ten-Ten rushed to her side, all beaming happily, while an ecstatic Naruto was subjected to some typical back-slaps from the guys.
"Spring-time of youth!" Lee cheered loudly.
And the spring sun rose from the horizon, blasting the surrounding with the bright light of its first sunrays, hitting on Sakura's pink cheeks and wide, happy green eyes as she and Naruto was congratulated.
Finally, the group slowly made their way towards Konoha's gates, a slight breeze raising and blowing the first early spring's sakura blossoms across their way. A new beginning of another cycle.
A very distraught Naruto furiously paced the corridor of the hospital, to and fro; his fists clamped by his sides, a deep frown etched between the deep-worry laced blue eyes, his hair tousled from the numerous times he had raked his fingers through them. It was October the 8th, two days before his birthday, but that was the least of importance right now.
"What are you doing out here?" Kakashi's voice suddenly said, "Shouldn't you be in there?"
Two heads turned in the direction of the new arrival. The frantic Naruto got even more agitated and launched in a long, excited jumbled tirade which Kakashi could not make head or tail of.
"What he's trying to say is that he's been kicked out," Sasuke finally said quietly. He was still wondering what the hell he was doing at the hospital at this ungodly hour. But even he could not have left the Hokage alone in his pitiful state.
He had come across the Hokage couple by pure chance – having finished his night shift at the Konoha police quarters and on had been on his way home. Naruto, carrying last-stages pregnant Sakura in his arms, had been rushing to the hospital. The obviously harried Hokage had been trying not to speed too much, in fear of jolting his precious load.
"Sasuke!" There had been a deep relief in the voice as Naruto had hailed the Uchiha. "Sakura-chan has started her labour!" He had had announced in a high-pitched tone which denoted his extreme tension and panic.
"Naruto, there's no need to panic!" had gently chided Sakura, and had immediately started on a low painful grunt, which had caused the poor blond to panic even more.
"And she tells me not to panic!" the blond had squeaked in alarm as his precious Sakura-chan had doubled over in pain.
"I'll go ahead and warn the hospital of your arrival," had proposed Sasuke, but Naruto told him that their ANBU guards had already gone ahead for that.
"Accompany us," Naruto had requested and seeing no reason or excuse of why to refuse, here Sasuke was, at the hospital, keeping the distraught blond company.
"Is she having complications?" Kakashi asked, and Naruto went into another long incomprehensive tirade.
"Nothing major," Sasuke had no choice but to play the interpreter again, "But he has hyperventilated twice," pointing to the pacing Naruto, "and Tsunade-sama had kicked him out; for the time being, at least."
"What is he doing out here?" another voice quietly asked and Sai noiselessly appeared. "Why isn't he inside with her?" He had asked the ANBU guard to inform him when Sakura went into labour, and so he had come immediately.
"He has been kicked out…for the time being," Kakashi quickly filled him in.
Sai gave a silent nod to Sasuke. Having been assigned to help Sasuke in the building up of the Konoha police force, the two had been working together the past months, and had reached a quiet, friendly truce. With Naruto being involved in the project a lot, the three, along with Sakura and Kakashi, had fallen back into a comfortable relation.
The three men fell into silence, while the soon-to-be dad resumed his pacing.
"She could be dying in there," Naruto uttered in a horrified voice, stopping abruptly in his pacing and going very pale as a loud cry reached them. It was definitely Sakura's voice.
"Calm down, Naruto, Tsunade-sama is with her; she'll be fine," Kakashi tried to soothe him.
At the same time, the door was jerked open and a nurse appeared. "You can come in now, Hokage-sama, she is about to give birth."
"Sakura-chan!" He burst into the room and rushed to the delivering table, eyes frantic as he searched her pain-ridden face. "Are you all right? Are_"
"Get a grip of yourself, gaki, if you don't want to be kicked out again," Tsunade barked. "She's giving birth, not dying! Now, calm down and hold her hand!"
Naruto swallowed hard and immediately complied, while Sakura tried to give him a reassuring smile as yet another contraction rode through her.
Fifteen minutes later, Naruto held his son in his arms. The active, crying baby, wrapped in a blanket, was a spitting image of his father.
"The Namikaze gene run strong," Tsunade observed, her eyes moist as she looked at the miniature Naruto and Minato: spiky blond hair and cerulean blue eyes.
A tired Sakura smiled glowingly as she took in the sight. She watched Naruto's face as he gazed down at their son nestled in his arms, the pride and love that blazed in his eyes bringing a lump to her throat. He raised his head to look at her, the same love for her glowing in the blue eyes. He bent to bestow a warm kiss on her forehead.
"Our son, Sakura-chan," he whispered, awed.
She chuckled and nodded, feeling as awed as him as they both looked at the tiny being held between them. "Yes. A mini-Naruto!"
The past nine months of marriage had seen her and Naruto's love for each other grow even deeper than ever, if possible, and she knew that parenthood would bring another step in their bond; step she was so looking forward to.
"Can I take him to meet Kakashi sensei, Sai and Sasuke?" Naruto asked a short while later, after both mother and baby had been properly cleaned and dressed and Sakura had fussed over their son thoroughly.
"Are they here?" she exclaimed.
"Yes, they've been keeping me company."
"They can come in, I'm decent now," Sakura proposed.
"I'll call them in," Tsunade said.
Sakura smiled happily as the members of recomposed, former team 7 filled in the room and Naruto proudly showing off their son.
"Let's have another baby."
Okay, it was not how he had planned to say it; definitely not this rushed and abrupt. But the words were out and could not be retracted to be re-phrased now.
Uzumaki Naruto nervously shot a sideways glance at his best buddy, his long term pal, his timeless confidante, his wife and the mother of his son, awaiting her response in trepidation.
The two were sprawled on the lush green grassy ground under the shade of the wide oak tree where he had proposed to her some time back, the warm end-summer breeze ruffling over them, the sun still blazing hot in the spotless blue sky and ten days shy of one year old baby Uzumaki Yoshito sleeping blissfully on the spread blanket besides them.
Uzumaki Sakura turned to look at her husband with a glare of affront.
"What? Have you gone out of your mind? Yoshito-chan is not even one year old yet!"
"He'll be one year in ten days!" Naruto protested.
"It's too early!"
"Come on, Sakura-chan…don't you want to give him a little sister?"
The image of a baby girl made Sakura pause and waver for an instance, but then she recovered quickly and resumed her glare at her husband.
"No, not now, it's too soon yet!"
"A cute, chubby, darling little daughter…"
"…" Sakura felt herself melting at the thought. A blue eyed, blond haired baby girl…
Naruto, seeing the struggle in those beautiful green eyes, immediately pounced on it. "We can start on it immediately if you want!"
Green eyes snapped wide. "Naruto…"
But warm, hungry mouth was already at work on her neck. His hunger for her had never decreased.
"What_..." She tried fighting off the heat that was blooming through her. Her fiery response and need for him had never decreased.
"No!.." She knew it was losing battle as hungry mouth took hers in a kiss, her blood pounding hotly in her veins as warm hands moulded her hips to bring her flush to him, his wonderful taste and delicious scent seeping out into her senses and soul. She had never yet been able to resist him.
"We can be seen!" She managed to gasp as he released her mouth momentarily.
"Let's go home then!"
Only a wisp of air remained under the oak tree as their son in one arm and his wife tightly held to his side by the other, Naruto blurred away in a flash step.
An instance later, Tsunade, who was having an afternoon snooze in an armchair in the cool shade of her terrace, was jolted upright as a now wide awake, gurgling Yoshito was deposited in her arms.
"Baa-baa!" Clapped little Yoshito gleefully.
"We'll come to get him in one hour…no, make that two hours," Naruto hurriedly told the befuddled woman and before to could open her mouth to place a word, disappeared in a blur, a reddening Sakura still tightly held to him.
So, once again Sakura find herself following her idiot of a friend and husband in a reckless, mind-lowing, rapturous endeavour, once again exhaltingly putting the what ifs aside and letting it on him to deal with the consequences when they come.
AN: Seeing how Minato - who was a calm person - was pannicked when Kushina was giving birth and which resulted him being scolded by the Third Hokage's wife, I figure that Naruto would be ten times worse and Tsunade being Tsunade even more scolding! Hence my version of a pannicked Naruto while Sakura is giving birth XD.