"Oh my God," Ino sighed, laying back against the pillows. "I feel like I just got hit by a truck."
"And you look like it, too, babe," said Shikamaru with a smirk, not even bothering to look at her as he disparaged her appearance. His exclusive attention was devoted to the small blue bundle in his arms as he leaned back in the plastic chair next to Ino's bed.
"I'm too tired to deal with your shit attitude," Ino snapped.
"Relax," Sakura chided from her bedside, stroking her sweaty blonde hair. "You've been through a lot, piggy. And so has the baby, last thing he needs to hear two hours after he's born is you screaming at his father."
"Well if I can't do that, can't you use your hospital influence and dig me up some fucking comfortable pillows?"
"Not like I have much influence yet," Sakura reminded her with a smile. "It's not like they give extra privileges to premed students. Things like comfortable pillows don't come with the package till you're a resident."
"Ugh. What a useless godmother you're turning out to be."
Sakura could only laugh; Ino was handling the sensitive post-birth hours with all the fire one would expect from her, folding her arms and sniping at everybody. Everybody except the gorgeous little boy in Shikamaru's arms: blue eyes, messy black hair, six pounds, two oz and eighteen inches long.
It was nearly midnight. Everyone was exhausted. The birth had been difficult. Sakura's hand was still numb from Ino holding onto it so tightly and her eardrums ached from all the screaming, but she would never be anywhere else. The baby was healthy and beautiful, Ino had made it through the birth safely, and everybody was fine. She couldn't ask for more.
"Hey, Sakura, you wanna hold him? I gotta grab some shuteye."
For once, Sakura didn't begrudge her best friend's boyfriend for his sleepiness. They'd all been through a lot that day, and she was sure Shikamaru's hand bore the same numbness Ino had inflicted in hers. He hadn't fainted, at least, something a lot of first-time fathers experienced in the delivery room.
She smiled and nodded, quickly squirting some of the hospital-provided sanitizer onto her hands and letting them air dry before reaching out to accept the baby.
Shikamaru passed him over and Sakura let herself melt. The baby was so very small, pink and a bit wrinkled but breathtakingly beautiful. He was sleeping soundly, freshly changed and wearing blue cotton; she pressed a kiss to his warm little forehead and smiled down at him.
"And you still don't have a name for him," Sakura said, shaking her head. "That's unlike you, Pig, not having everything planned out to the last detail."
"Well I wasn't exactly expecting to have a boy," Ino sniffed. "I was so sure it'd be a girl. I had a ton of names picked out for a girl."
"You're the one who wanted it to be a surprise," Shikamaru snarked, as he squeezed himself into the hospital bed beside his cranky girlfriend. "If you'd just let the obstetrician tell us the sex when she knew it five months ago, we wouldn't be in this situation."
"What's the situation?" Sakura couldn't resist asking.
"A carnation pink nursery at home with a ton of baby girl dresses."
Sakura made sure to keep her laughter to a minimum so as not to disturb the little one in her arms. A soft knock at the door interrupted whatever name Ino was about to call her boyfriend, followed by Naruto poking his head inside.
"Can I see the baby?" he asked excitedly, without bothering to ask if Ino was all right. "Can I hold the baby? C'mon, Ino, let me see him!"
"Keep your voice down," Ino snapped. "He's sleeping! You can hold him if you shut up till he's eighteen."
"Come here, Naruto," Sakura said with a smile. "First sanitize your hands. I don't want you getting ramen juice all over my godson."
Naruto was all too eager to obey, and when his hands were to Sakura's standard, she had him pull up a seat beside her. It was adorable to witness; normally burly, happy-go-lucky Naruto was as rowdy and wild as any 21-year-old college football player, but he was staring at the baby with open fascination, silent in his awe. He held out his muscular arms with an air of uncertainty to accept the little bundle she carefully passed over.
"Always support his head," Sakura instructed. "Infants can't do it on their own. All right, there you go, just like that."
"He's so little," Naruto whispered, reverent.
"Have you ever held a baby before?"
"Nope, Sak. This is my first time."
"That's what she said," Shikamaru quipped. Ino, too tired to bark at him, just giggled and rested her head on his shoulder. He slung an arm around her and pressed a kiss to her forehead; both of them were asleep in the next minute.
"Where is everybody?" Sakura whispered to Naruto.
"Kiba's stuck working late, he's gonna come by when he gets off in a few hours. Hinata was here earlier but she had to leave, something with her sister. Chouji's on his way down now from Suna, his family was on vacation when they got the call."
"They're gonna spoil you rotten, baby," cooed Sakura to the nameless little boy sleeping in Naruto's arms. "We all are. You're a natural, Naruto, look at you!"
He beamed at the praise and blushed all the way to his ears.
"So what's this little guy's name?" he asked quietly.
"Don't have one yet. Ino was sure she was having a girl. You know how she is."
"Typical Ino," Naruto scoffed. "I'll just call him Naruto Jr."
"She's gonna kill you."
"It'd be worth it. Wow, Sak, he's so small. How long till he can walk? Gotta bulk him up, get him ready for football season."
"That might take a little while," she giggled, then yawned.
"You've been here since she went into labor?" Naruto asked. "Geez, you should head home, get some sleep. You've gotta be as tired as they are." He jerked his head towards Ino and Shikamaru, both fast asleep and snoring on the hospital bed.
"I don't want to," she admitted. "I don't want to miss a second more than I have to. But you're right; I've got exams tomorrow. You picked a hell of a time to be born, sweetheart. Here, Naruto, let me put him back in his crib, wanna give me a ride home?"
"Yeah, sure. See ya, Junior!"
Naruto passed the baby back, and Sakura gently placed him in the hospital crib beside Ino's bed. Ino stirred at the noise and reflexively checked the baby, already attuned to the requirements of being a mother despite her exhaustion and bad mood.
"You headin' out?" she asked Sakura, after she was sure the baby was asleep and fine beside her.
"Yeah. Got that nightmare exam tomorrow morning. You gonna be okay without me?"
"I'm gonna sleep till Christmas."
"I bet. Call me if you need anything, I'll be in tomorrow to help you check out and everything. I'm serious, Pig, if something's wrong…"
"I know, I know, Mother."
"Good. Love you, baby." Sakura kissed her best friend on the cheek and smiled down at her. "I'm proud of both of you."
Once at home, Sakura kicked off her shoes and jacket and released a heavy, tired sigh. She'd been at the hospital for over 24 hours and she was willing to bet it showed in her looks. A good cup of tea would do her wonders, then a long night's sleep.
Unwilling to wait for the tea kettle, she microwaved a teacup full of water and let a peppermint teabag steep for a few minutes, standing at her kitchen counter and thinking on the days' events.
She literally couldn't imagine being Ino right now. This morning, Ino had been a normal 21-year-old girl, a good student, popular and busy and in a solid relationship. Now, just hours later, she was a mother. There was a baby that was 100% reliant on her to survive. She was no longer just Ino Yamanaka. Everything was different.
Sakura almost envied her that new responsibility. She wanted kids someday like almost everybody else, but couldn't imagine having them so early. She was nearly finished with college and after that, it was off to medical school, followed by internships and a residency, and…other mitigating circumstances that would make having a family somewhat difficult. She was happy with her life and where she was headed, but seeing that glow in Ino's face, that unmistakable joy under all that bad attitude, she'd be lying if she said she wasn't jealous. Not of the circumstances, necessarily, but definitely of that glow.
Her hand flew reflexively to her flat stomach, and she sighed as she removed the teabag from her cup, tossing it at the trashcan. It hit the lid and fell to the floor with a sick little squelch.
I'll get it tomorrow, she thought with a roll of her eyes, leaning back on her counter and sipping the microwaved tea slowly.
Ino's offer to make her godmother was of course expected, but Sakura was nonetheless deeply touched. She knew that if the circumstances were reversed, Ino would have been her first choice as well. 'Godmother' was just a title, of course, and she would only be expected to show up at big family events and buy the little boy good presents for special occasions to fulfill her duties, but it was also a show of faith. The odds of anything happening to Ino or Shikamaru were slim to none, but if for some reason their little boy found himself without his birth parents, Sakura was the one they'd chosen as a contingency.
Long day, she thought with a yawn, smiling into her empty teacup. I MUST be exhausted, getting all philosophical with this.
She dragged herself into her bedroom and collapsed on the mattress, clothes still on, and shut her eyes. Mentally, she flicked through all the things she had to take care of tomorrow: exams, top of the list, followed by returning to the hospital with a change of clothes for Ino when she and the baby were discharged…
She was nearly asleep when her phone rumbled in her pocket. Growling a little under her breath in annoyance, but realizing it might be Ino with an issue at the hospital, she pulled it out and quickly read the text.
"Where are you?"
Quickly she shut her phone again and tossed it away from her, a chill rocketing down her spine. She jumped up out of bed and compulsively checked to make sure her front door was locked, then she flitted through her apartment drawing curtains over her windows.
You should've known better than this, she chastised herself harshly, locking her bedroom door and forcing herself to lay down again. Mixing business with pleasure. THIS is what you get!
She hated thinking of him right before falling asleep, especially after such an amazing, draining day.
I don't want him to be my last thought tonight, for once, Sakura thought, fighting against the feeling of uneasiness that coursed through her as she made herself close her eyes. I want to think about the baby, how glad I am that he's healthy, how glad I am that Ino made it through everything okay. I want to think about graduation, it's so close and then medical school. I want to think about some wonderful new guy waiting for me just around the corner once I pull my head out of my ass and stop dating DICKHEADS.
Mulish to a fault, Sakura buried her anxiety under sheer stubbornness, and soon after drifted off to sleep.
Tuesday, October 27th
"Thank you for coming at such a late hour, Miss Haruno. My name is Detective Morino. Please, have a seat."
"I…I got the, um, the phone call. So it's…it's true, then?"
"I'm afraid so, Miss Haruno. First responders arrived on the scene – corner of Eighth and Lex – but there was nothing they could do. Both Mr. Nara and Miss Yamanaka were pronounced DOA. We're waiting on all the reports, of course, but several eyewitnesses claim they saw a blue Toyota swerve into Mr. Nara's lane; apparently, to try and avoid its path, he drove off the road and the car hit a tree."
"Oh my God. Oh my God. They…they've got a, um, a son. As-Asuma. He's…oh my God please no. Please tell me he wasn't in the car!"
"No, he was apparently being babysat by a family friend. Mr…Chouji Akimichi, according to the report. Mr. Akimichi is keeping him overnight until other arrangements can be made."
"I understand that neither Miss Yamanaka nor Mr. Nara have other relatives? Parents, uncles, aunts, siblings?"
"N-no, they don't. Ino's dad skipped town after she was born, her mom died of lung cancer a few years ago. Shikamaru's parents died in a car accident when he was young. I'm…I'm Asuma's godmother."
"Yes, we've already checked over the official documentation."
"So…so you can't make other arrangements. What, like CPS?"
"In cases of orphaned children, we…"
"Don't say it! Oh my God, no. I can't do that. I can't let him be taken away. I'll take care of him. I'll…I'll take him in. I have to. I've got to, Ino wanted it this way, Ino wouldn't have wanted me to let him go!"
"I understand your duress, Miss Haruno, but…"
"You understand? My best friend…my…my sister…she's dead. You're telling me she's dead, and so's Shikamaru and he's one of my best friends, too…you're telling me some asshole ran them off the road and and and that you're making other arrangements for their baby? For their poor little boy, he's…he's six fucking months old and now he's got no parents. Don't you tell me you understand!"
"A poor choice of words on my part, it seems. I'm sorry, Miss Haruno, truly sorry for your loss. As godmother, and without any other next of kin, you are, naturally, a candidate for the raising of Asuma Nara. There will be a custody hearing as soon as we can schedule one. In the meantime…"
"In the meantime he'll stay with me."
"With all due respect, Miss Haruno, you are only 21 years old. A college student, if that sweatshirt you're wearing is any indication…is your residence truly child-appropriate? A six-month-old baby is no small responsibility, and without adequate preparation…"
"I'll stay at Ino's until all this is sorted out. Until I get my place in order and we…we figure out what to do. She's got everything Asuma needs there. I'll…I'll go there. I'll pick up Asuma from Chouji's and I'll take him back to his home and I'll figure out what to do but I need to see that baby."
"…if it's any comfort, initial reports suggest that…that neither of your friends suffered. It…it was quick."
"If it's your desire to keep Asuma, and raise him yourself, then preparations must be made. Baby-proofing, naturally. Lifestyle changes. Daycare. Employment. Location. All of these are factors that must be taken into account for a new mother, if you wish to raise the little one on your own. We have counselors here who can assist you if you need it. You seem like a very loyal young lady and I would hate to have this baby separated from his remaining family."
"As for the funerals…"
"I'll…I'll handle that tomorrow. I have to go. I'm sorry, I know you're just doing your job. I have to go. I have to see the baby. I'm sorry."
note.. never really tackled a parenting story before, since i don't know all that much about being a parent lolz. thought i'd try my hand at it in a roundabout kind of way. i realize not all that much is explained in the intro but there's a reason (trust me plzzzz) and like everything else i do, it'll be sasuke/sakura eventually. so if you like it, go ahead and let me know. and if you didn't, write your own story to your exact specifications and don't try and impose them on me lololol. hope you guys are having a good holiday weekend :)
xoxo daisy :)