An/ Sorry for the wait guys, I've had a few things to sort out over the last few days. Anyway here's the next installment.
Once again huge thanks to everyone who has read and/or reviewed. I really appreciate it :)
Hope you like this one.
Today his life had been turned upside down. Of course his life had been turned upside down on many occasions, but Naruto had doubts on whether he could meet this particular challenge. While wallowing in the many thoughts and worries that fled throughout his mind, a bowl of piping hot Ramen was set before him. Often times the smell alone was enough to set everything right in the world but for the first time the fragrance of his favourite meal did not elicit a sense of comfort.
"Can I join you?"
Naruto reacted hesitantly as if he wasn't certain as to whom the question was directed, but he looked to the side mildly and nodded his head in invitation.
"Hey, Iruka Sensei."
Iruka nodded with a gentle smile, one that promised care and concern.
"What are you doing here?" Iruka asked casually although his voice held a certain knowing tone, as if he knew the answer before asking the question.
"Just eating Ramen." Naruto replied although so far as his companion had noted, Naruto hadn't touched a bite.
He couldn't eat...not after the news Sakura had given him. He wondered where she was, wondered if she was upset or angry with him after he ran out on her, the news completely stripping him of all reason as he tore out of their home and ran. Now he was sitting in Ichiraku's moping and wondering what the hell he was going to do.
"Naruto..." The blonde shinobi looked towards his former academy sensei a worry in his eyes Iruka had never seen there before. "What's on your mind?"
There was a long pause as Naruto returned his eyes to the now cool Ramen bowl, eyes that searched for hidden answers as more and more questions revealed themselves to him.
"...Iruka sensei..." His voice was quiet as if he didn't dare speak up through fear of what he was about to say "Do you..." He took a deep breath "Do you think I'll...make a good father?"
Sakura had told him only a few hours ago, she had sat across from him and taken his hands in hers, gripping them almost painfully as she told him of the news she had to share. Naruto remembered her eyes, remembered how they gleamed with something he had never seen before, something complex and indescribable. After that his memory was scattered, he remembered feeling elated and then scared beyond belief, running from Sakura as if he might be sucked into a vortex if he had stayed.
He was of course ecstatic that Sakura was pregnant, that they were bringing new life into the world, but then he was terrified. How could he be a good parent if he hadn't grown up with any? He had met his father for all of ten minutes, his mother only for a slightly longer time...how could he be a good father to his child if he didn't know what fathers did? Didn't know what they said, how they behaved, he didn't know anything.
Iruka sat beside Naruto with nothing but a smile as he moved closer and grasped the younger man's shoulder in reassurance.
"You'll make a great father, Naruto...I believe that."
But Naruto shook his head helplessly "But, I never knew my parents when I grew up, I don't know what it's like to have parents."
"Naruto..." Iruka looked up at the ceiling before looking back at Naruto with a meaningful gaze "Naruto, you're like a son to me. I lost my parents when I was young but it didn't stop me from being there when you needed me, because that is what a parent does." He gave a squeeze of his shoulder "A parent simply loves unconditionally, protects, teaches and is there when they're needed...what I'm saying is that you already fulfil those roles for the village. Being a parent is even easier." Iruka finished with a grin.
"How?" Naruto gaped before gripping a fistful of his hair in frustration.
"Because being a parent is instinctual. Besides...you're not alone, Naruto, you have Sakura."
Iruka knew that his work was done when Naruto's eyes widened in understanding, his mouth twitching at the corner as the older sensei witnessed the return of the more usual Uzumaki Naruto.
"I've got to see Sakura-chan!" Naruto blurted before springing off the stool and charging towards the street "Thanks Iruka Sensei!"
The flaps of the stand fell back haphazardly as the orange clad ninja blasted past them. Iruka ordered a bowl of Ramen before muttering "You're welcome, Naruto."
Out in the street Naruto rushed towards his home, the home he shared with Sakura and hoped beyond all hope that she was still there. When he reached the door he burst through it, stampeding into the house and scanning every corner as he went. To his relief he heard angry steps and Sakura appeared in the doorway, eyes red and puffy from tears but a glare firmly marked onto her features.
"What the hell, Naruto!"
But he didn't say a word, didn't waste time and simply grabbed her wrapping her up tight in his embrace as he pulled her as close as possible into his warmth and soul.
"I'm so sorry Sakura."
"N-Naruto." She sobbed into his shoulder, gripping his jacket in her fist as all of her anger immediately dissipated "I thought..."
"Sakura I'm so, so sorry...I just...I was scared."
"And you don't think I am?" Sakura questioned him with tear stained cheeks.
He hated seeing those tears there, hated them more knowing that he had put them there with his reaction to her news, but he had to tell her, had to explain somehow.
"Sakura...I don't know how to be Dad." He mumbled, eyes blurring with his own tears.
She was silent for a few moments; her heart breaking knowing that Naruto hadn't had parents during his childhood, that he didn't know what parents were like. A tear trailed down his whiskered cheek and she reached up and brushed it softly away. "I don't know how to be a Mum either." Sakura murmured at last "But we can learn together Naruto, just like everything else. Together."
And then he pulled away slightly, looking down into her eyes and seeking out the answers to all of his burning questions...only this time unlike the bowl of Ramen, he found the answers to them in her eyes.