So, I have a story, Tip Of The Spear, on FFN and while it's a very involved story with a lot of world building there are things mentioned in passing that play an important part in the character's psyche. I've decided to flesh these events and background via a one shot collection. I also decided to post them here first for feedback and suggestions on how each story can be made better.
The other reason for previewing here is that the feedback on FFN isn't the greatest with the most creative sometimes being the "Kill yourself you virgin loser" troll. That line still cracks me up since I'm married for the second time and have paid more child support than he has in pizzas delivered to his mother's basement.
Anyway, the first story is Hello, I must be going and it revolves around Naruto and Sakura as the deal with the birth and loss of their first child. Yeah, I know it's a great way to bum an audience out but it was something that's been demanding attention for a long time.
Hello, I must be going
Hello I must be going.....
Two teens rode slowly through the streets of suburban San Diego on an orange Honda motorcycle. They had left the family doctor's office as the girl, one Sakura Haruno, had been feeling the effects of what she and her boyfriend thought to be a stomach virus. The diagnosis wasn't what they had expected.
Instead of a stomach bug the tests came back as positive for pregnancy. At sixteen she and her just turned seventeen year old boyfriend, Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, were going to be parents. It was something they didn't expect as in their circumstances it shouldn't be possible to conceive. She and her boyfriend as well as the family that raised them were not from this city as well as nation.
In fact they weren't even from this planet, they had been taken here as a safety measure, Naruto and she had been severely mistreated on their home world and village. Naruto was seen as the daemon incarnate that had at one time laid the village of Konoha low, killing it's beloved leader and Naruto's father. The villagers in their ignorance spat on his father's wishes that he be seen as a hero for holding the beast sealed within him at bay. They didn't and when Sakura became friends with the boy her parents turned her out to the streets
Over the next few years the children lived on the streets and were assaulted almost daily. It was during one of these attacks that the daemon, Kurama the Kyubi No Kitsune, was released. After taking care of his host's attackers the fox informed the current village leader that he was taking the two children to a safe location and that they were to be informed of their true relationship as well as the boy's titles and destiny.
Kurama took the children to the realm of the Foxes and placed them into the care of a den of vixens, charging them with their upbringing and development. Once they children were judged strong enough they were taught how to make a blood clone. Not any type of blood clone but one that used a mixture of their blood and chakra and then infused with the chakra by Kurama himself.
These clones were not only more durable and exact copies of the original but could grow and age. It was an ancient technique that the foxes very first summoners used as an emergency measure to prolong their own existence. After the first few generations however any subsequent clones created were sterile. Hence the surprise of Sakura's current situation. This would be a very special baby and one that was going to be treated as the royalty it was.
In establishing a family history on this planet the foxes had somehow established the Namikaze clan in Feudal Japan as related to not only the current and any future Shoguns at the time, but the Imperial family as well. This future child would be returned to Japan upon the planned 'deaths' of it's parents and would established a separate line of succession to the Imperial Court.
The supposed deaths of the child's parents were necessary for Naruto and Sakura to return to their former home when the time was right. Time passed at a faster rate here on Earth than on their own home and the clones here would age into their twenties and be trained as warriors before their time was up.
The originals were trained in the shinobi arts in the fox realm and both they and the clones were taught the shadow clone technique. This was done so memories or orders could be passed between the two worlds. As for the fox, Kurama, because of the exact duplication of Naruto, was able to split his own self between the two boy. The majority of his chakra was passed to the clone and the remainder that was left settled down to a long slumber.
So as the two teens rode home the fox clan's hanyo, or half daemon half human members were known, had begun the celebrations. The clan on Earth was known as the Hagaromo's after the father of the tailed beasts, the Sage of Six Paths. Already a room in the estate's main house was being painted and decorated in expectation of their future family member.
Sakura entered the house and was greeted by people she'd know for the last nine years as family. The women clustered around her and whisked her to the kitchen and made her eat traditional foods that were believed to be good for the child. Naruto was taken to the study to the slaps on the back by the male clansmen. However conservative the clan appeared to outsiders Sakura's pregnancy was not viewed as a scandal but as a miracle and a happy one at that.
The next day Sakura was entertaining her oldest friend Maria Feliz, the girls and Naruto had met in first grade and had been fast friends ever since. In fact Naruto and Maria had dated in one point as Sakura dated other guys but the two decided that they were happiest together. It's not as if Maria wasn't left out of the relationship as Naruto, Sakura and her were more or less a package deal going on dates with Naruto in the middle of two very lovely girls.
Now however those two girls were deep in a talk, “So, you said you found out what was making you so sick?” Maria asked.
“Yeah,” Sakura began with a blush coloring her face, “Naruto's the cause of it.”
“Naruto? Our Naruto? Okay, how did he make you sick?”
“Well....you see, the last few times we did anything together we didn't take any precautions. I'm.....I'm pregnant.”
“Oh my God! Uncle Kurama is going to kill you two. No, he won't but those cousin's of your's Makoto and Asahina, those two are going to kill you,” Maria said with an air of finality.
Asahina and Mokoto were younger siblings of the great fox Kurama and were the personal summons and body guards of the two Konoha teens, something that those outside the clan knew nothing about. What everybody did know about was that Asahina had a huge crush on Naruto and didn't care for any girl that showed and interest in him. She tolerated Sakura because she was ordered to watch over them both but hated everyone else, Maria excluded as she knew Maria understood that other than dating she had no future with the young heir to the Namikaze and Uzumaki clans.
Makoto, Asahina's brother felt the same about Naruto and the other boys that paid attention to Sakura as his sister did with Naruto. Actually Makoto made it known to Naruto that he felt that Sakura could do better but when pressed as to who that person could be he would refuse to answer. Sakura adored Makoto in both his fox and human forms and it drove Naruto up the wall that the small fox could be found at nights curled up on Sakura's bed.
Upon hearing what Maria said Sakura grew quiet, she and Naruto would be having a hard time in the near future with the two guardian foxes but that was for later, now was for telling her best friend all about her plans for the baby.
I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going...
At four months Naruto and Sakura had their first visit for an ultrasound. It was the first time they also heard their baby's heartbeat. Both were grinning ear to ear as they saw and heard their child for the first time. As they left the office and walked to the carpark they ducked into a secluded spot and made two shadow clones and dispelled them. The memories going directly to their originals. In the fox realm the two now seven year olds were also grinning, they were going to be parents and even though that was there not actually them they were just as happy.
It was a week into the fifth month that Sakura began having problems. A sudden pain in her belly saw her being rushed to the ER for treatment. It was found that she was having trouble with the lining of her uterus detaching at places. Fortunately those spots were not close to the baby. The bright spot in this was that they found the baby was going to be a girl.
Naruto, being Naruto came up with her name, Haruhi, after the main character of an anime he and Sakura watched as kids. Sakura surprisingly was okay with the name, most likely because that the chances were high that the baby would be a mix of her intellect and Naruto's brashness. The next few days were spent imagining what their little girl would look like. Would she have her father's blue eyes and her pink hair, or would she have emerald green eyes and blond hair the color of the sun? Would she be a prankster or a model student or a cross of both? The next week was spent like that.
Makoto and Asahina suprisingly didn't freak out on hearing the news of the impending birth. In fact Asahina had began sleeping on Sakura's bed in her fox form as well. The baby was special, not only to it's parents but to the foxes as well. At the same time the Hagaromo clan had informed the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles of the impending birth to another heir to the Namikaze clan. Some in the Japanese government weren't happy that Naruto and Sakura had been sent to the US after the quake and tsunami in 2011. They were even less happy when they learned that Naruto and Sakura were in the process of becoming US citizens. Now, with a child on the way the thinking was that she could be a bridge between the two nations should her line ascend to the throne.
Over the next few weeks saw Sakura and Naruto entertaining visitors from the Japanese government and Imperial Court. These times were stressful as Sakura had to observe traditional decorum as much as possible. It angered Naruto but he held his emotions in check since he was expected to act as a member of a royal line. It was this stressful period that Naruto blamed what happened to Sakura next.
Three weeks after Sakura's visit to the ER saw her slightly bleeding from her lady bits. Another trip to the hospital and a check up where she was assured that this was natural. Two days later the bleeding was heavier and it was then she was told that she was to be on strict bed rest until she delivered. The uterine tearing was getting worse and she was in danger of losing the baby.
After coming home Sakura was taken to bed and was attended to around the clock. Naruto was by her side as much as possible but school and competitions took much of his time. When he offered to drop the competitions Sakura was livid, those meets were his ticket to university should he choose that route. Nothing was ever given to him or her, anything they wanted they had to work for it. This line of thinking went back to the first arrivals on this planet by the hanyo that were to set in motion Naruto's family background and history.
Hard work was a way of life in Japan for as long as there was a Japan. The hanyo learned to apply this ethic to their advantage and over time it was their own reason for being. When Naruto and Sakura finally arrived they clan treated the two exiles as if they were their own children and after they had adjusted to life in this new world were assigned their own chores and duties in the household. As they grew older they took odd jobs to earn money for things they wanted above what was provided for them.
That's not to say they were treated as unwanted visitors, they were provided for very well. They had the very best clothes and growing up were indulged with toys and trinkets but when they wanted something beyond what was offered they had to work for it. Their uncle Tetsuo said they would value that item more. That said, the old retired Navy Captain was stocking up toys and clothes for Haruhi. He was looking forward to spoiling her to the annoyance of her parents.
Now he was sitting by Sakura's side holding her hand and reading from a book of traditional Japanese children's stories. Sakura noted that lots of the stories were the same as those told to her by her former parents in Konoha. The Elemental Nations shared with the nation of Japan many things including the language. The Japanese also had a belief that they didn't originate on Earth but from somewhere else. It always intrigued both her and Naruto that maybe the people of Japan had come from their own home world.
As it was the stories being read to her gave her comfort. She was also tended by a cadre of male and female healers that would use the mystic palm healing technique to control the damage to her uterus. They also performed chakra infusions as the baby was diverting her reserves more and more as she grew. It was at that time that Naruto moved into her room and began sleeping next to her. What surprised him was that their two fox summons didn't protest. Sakura was the center of the house's attention and nothing was to upset her.
Maria visited everyday and was Sakura's link to sanity. She hated the attention given to her and relished the quiet talks she and her best friend always had. Maria was her source of gossip and events going on at their school. Sometimes other girls tagged along and seeing familiar faces cheered the pink haired girl up. They made her sixth month pass by faster and were having the same effect on the seventh.
I'm glad I came but just the same I must be going.....
It was in her first week of the eighth month that the contractions started. She was watching the highlights of Naruto's win in his latest martial arts competition. As she got up to use the restroom a strong pain hit her and she felt a rush of warm liquid flow down her legs. She knew her water broke but when she looked down she and Naruto's eyes widened in shock and horror as they saw what should have been a puddle of clear liquid on the hard wood floor was an expanding pool of blood.
Only the emotional discipline that had been taught to both kept the panic at bay. Naruto made a familiar hand sign and mode two clones, one began calling 911 for an ambulance and medical aid. The other alerted the house and Sakura's healers flooded the room and began working to control her bleeding and fix her injuries. One of the healers, an older woman named Asuna shook her head, the damage to Sakura's uterus due to the early contractions was too great and they had to trust contemporary medical practices.
The healers were able to move Sakura to the entry hall by the time the ambulance and medical help had arrived. Kurama and Tetsuo were on hand with Sakura's information, signed parental consent forms and current medical history. Naruto walked up with Sakura's overnight bag and as she was placed on the gurney and bundled up asked where she was being taken. He was told and then upon finding out that he was the father was offered a ride to the hospital in the ambulance.
Naruto asked them to wait as he grabbed his jacket and wallet, as he was in his room he made two clones, one was dispelled to inform his original of the current situation and the other was told to wait for an hour before taking his motorcycle to the hospital so he had a way to get home later on. The clone had a second task, it was to call Maria and tell the girl that the baby was on it's way. Sakura he knew was going to need a lot of emotional support.
An hour later Naruto was holding the girl he loves hand as she bore down and began pushing. She was already dilated to to seven centimeters when she arrived at the hospital. As soon as she hit the labor and delivery unit she was taken to a delivery room. Her OB and several other doctors were waiting for her. The ones she didn't know were part of a team assembled by the Japanese Imperial Court. Naruto was maybe out of their grasp but Haruhi was still a future heir and was important to that nation.
Their Emperor was aging had for the last few years stated his intention to step down. The next in line had provided no male heir and unless provision was made for an empress a new blood line would be selected. That line was the Namikaze as it had not only provided warriors but financial backing to it's Shoguns and Emperors but actually marrying into the royal family. Unknown to the Imperial Court those new additions were hanyo but the deception was flawless.
Should it be impossible for Naruto to return home the originals would be brought to Earth via a reverse summon and would replace the blood clones, the events up to now nullified and a new time line started. The bodies of the blood clones would be returned to Konoha where Naruto's heritage would be revealed and Konoha left to pay the butcher's bill after the civil war that would result was ended. The originals would turn their backs on their old home just as it had done to them.
That was all a possibility as for now Sakura was was silently praying for the safety of her daughter. She held her boyfriends had and at several point crushed it and broke bones. Only Naruto's healing ability thanks to Kurama kept him from any lasting harm. At some point the lead doctor asked him if wanted to see his daughter make her appearance. Naruto nodded his head and moved to a point behind the attending OB.
Naruto, in his early years had seen lots of gruesome things, mostly done to him. He was no stranger to blood and bloodshed as he had killed at least twice in Konoha to protect Sakura-chan, but what he'd seen and done had not prepared him for what he now saw. Sakura's legs were in the stirrups with her legs held wide open. Although she'd been covered by a drape sheet her most intimate region was on display for all to see.
As Naruto watched her opening began to grow wider as the first sight of his daughter's head began to crown. As this was going on Maria burst into the room and took Sakura's hand. She was one of the few that were granted permission to be with her and Naruto as Sakura didn't really have a close female relative such as a sister or aunt to be with her. The ladies in the clan were too traditional and viewed Sakura as the Lady of the house, not someone to be close too. As Maria settled by her friend's side Naruto sighed in relief, Sakura was getting calmer by the second now that she was here.
About that time the pained grunts and groans from his girlfriend snapped the young man to the here and now. As he focused on Sakura he heard one of the doctors speak, “Okay Sakura, you're doing good. I just need you to push one more time....”
“No!” the girl panted out in pain, the pain blocking jutsu the healers had used on her was wearing off, it was supposed to last long enough to allow the epidural to take effect. They might be traditional but even they knew the value of modern medicines in some cases. Now though there had not been time to administer the anesthetic and have it take effect as Haruhi wanted out and wanted out now.
Sakura panted once more before speaking, “No, it's too much, I.....I just can't do it! I'm tired and I want to sleep. Just let me be....”
Naruto knew that she was giving up and if she did he'd not only lose her but his daughter as well, “Sakura-chan, please just one more push...”
“No Naruto, no more, I'm tired and I want to just sleep. Remember that I'll always love you my Koibito...”
At that Naruto lost his temper and yelled at her in Japanese where only the Imperial doctors could understand, “Dammit Haruno Sakura, if you give up then you don't deserve to be considered my wife by the clan. You give up and you'll only prove what Ino-chan told you about you being weak with the only strong thing on your body being your forehead!”
Hearing those words Sakura jolted up and glared at Naruto, “You take those words back you bastard!”
“No, Forehead Girl, I won't. Prove to me Ino was wrong or you can stop calling my your Koibito!”
At that Sakura reached deep down and gathered her strength for one.....last.....PUSH!
A second later a slap was heard as well as an answering cry, it wasn't loud but it could be heard, Uzumaki-Namikaze Haruhi was here. The doctor turned to Naruto and handed him a pair of scissors, “I believe this honor is your's Naruto.”
Nodding Naruto cut the cord linking his daughter to his girlfriend, the mother of his child. As soon as he was done a nurse whisked the baby away to measure her and take her vital signs. Naruto was speechless, his daughter was here but was so small. Standing up he walked to Sakura's side.
Kissing her forehead he looked into her tired but happy eyes, “She's here baby, she's here. Look, I'm sorry I said tho....”
“Don't, I understand, I was giving up and you were doing all you could as the Hokage and leader of our clan,” she whispered softly in his ear. Naruto had a way of bringing her hidden strength out of herself and allowing her to succeed much like she could get him to focus and display his strength and talents. Their strength lay in each other and this was a clear example of it.
As they smiled at each other and waited to hold their daughter a nurse's voice called the pediatrician over. Something was not right with the child. Naruto's attention was suddenly on the doctor and nurse as his hearing picked up their conversation. There was too many terms he didn't understand but he did know something was wrong. It was confirmed when the overhead PA system began calling out, “Attention please, Peds STAT room 4th floor B wing Labor and Delivery. Peds STAT room 4th floor B wing Labor and Delivery Peds STAT room 4th floor B wing Labor and Delivery.”
Sakura heard it too and knew it was for them as she was the only active labor going on at the time. As the words repeated her vision began to fade out into black. The stress of the delivery and now the announcement of her child in trouble was too much and the girl blacked out.
Naruto was just in shock and didn't know what to do, his child was in distress and Sakura-chan had passed out. Now the team from the hospital's NICU was hovering over Haruhi before placing her into an incubator. Before he could ask what was happening they were gone and attention was back on Sakura. Naruto didn't react or notice when Maria took his hand and escorted him the the cafeteria as Sakura was cleaned up and looked after, it was just too surreal for the teen.
The doctors found Naruto and Maria sitting at a corner table softly talking about nothing. She was doing her best to take her friends attention away from the recent events. Looking around Sakura's primary saw that there was no one near and decided that this was as good a place as any, “Naruto, I and the others would like to talk to you about not only Haruhi but Sakura as well. Before I start do you have any specific to ask us?”
“Yeah, when her water broke she was bleeding a lot, well, there was a lot of blood. Is she going to be okay? I mean losing that much blood, why was she not given a transfusion?”
“In that regard Sakura's fine, what you took to be all blood was a mixture of her water breaking and the uterus bleeding as the placenta begins detach. Normally that wouldn't happen but as you know Sakura has a history of bleeding with this pregnancy. She was in no danger of bleeding to death okay?”
Naruto nodded his head as he waited for the doctors to give him more info on his girlfriend's and daughter's condition. Once more the doctor softly spoke to him,
“Okay, we'll start with Haruhi. As you know she's a month early and with being a preemie comes a few problems. While not as early as lots she did come early and we've detected some lung problems. Also her immune system is weak for some reason so she's prone to infections that a normal baby would shake off. Right now she's in our neonatal ICU in an incubator and every precaution is being taken.”
“Also,” another doctor spoke up, this one being a member of the team from Japan, “Lady Haruhi is a good candidate for a new treatment to strengthen her lungs and improve her immune system, with your and Lady Sakura's permission of course.”
“New treatments?” Naruto asked, “What would that entail?”
“A series of homeopathic distillates are placed in a nebulizer and and the resulting aerosol is inhaled. It's widely used in Japan, China and other Asian countries. You could say it's a fusion of traditional folk healing and modern medicine. As you may know, many practices long disregarded as primitive are making a return as the body reacts to some modern drugs as if they were poisons.
The ingredients used are as pure as possible and have undergone many studies both in controlled settings and then uncontrolled settings such as urgent care centers and rural clinics. All medicines have a high success rate of at least eighty three percent. As a side benefit no manufactured chemicals are used so the child will not become dependent on the medicines.”
“So, a mixture of tradition and the new? How long will she have to have the treatments?” Naruto asked.
“Most likely three to four weeks. She will be monitored closely and the treatments are done once every four hours. Although the treatments are new in America they're routine in your homeland,” the doctor from Japan stated. Naruto resisted rolling his eyes, in his real homeland should a treatment like this exist it would be combined with medicinal chakra jutsus.
Thinking for a few minutes Naruto had his answer for the medical team, “I and Sakura are familiar with traditional healing treatments. The Hagaromo clan are firm believers in the practice and tend to use one of our healers first only sending the ill member to the doctor's office when their techniques fail to work. I have no problem with this treatment plan and I doubt Sakura will as well since she's studying in the traditional healing arts.”
Hearing that the doctors all smiled, normally the younger the parent the more against the treatment they are. Some ignorant of the existence of such old fashioned practices and the rest unwilling to believe that the old ways still have a place in the modern world. To hear that a young couple not only readily agreed with the plan but actually were used to this style of healing was welcome information.
Naruto and the medical team soon entered Sakura's room. She'd been cleaned up and was now lightly dozing in the bed wearing a soft light grey flannel night shirt. 'She looks like an angel,' was the first thought in Naruto's mind as his gaze found the girl he loved.
Sakura woke up and smiled at her first and only love. Sure, there was a period that the two had dated others but the boys she went out with seldom lasted beyond the second date and Sakura always found them lacking. Naruto on the other hand, he was the only complete package that she'd ever found. She let out a happy sigh as he lightly kissed her lips.
Her attention shifted when her OB cleared his throat be he spoke up, “You're looking better, before you ask Haruhi is in our NICU and is being looked after. Now, I've talked to Naruto about her care plan and he's agreed with it. I just need to talk to you about it.”
Sakura nodded her head as the care plan was explained asking questions here and there. Her knowledge of traditional practices impressed the Japanese doctors greatly. At the end of the discussion she agreed to allow the plan to be carried out. The doctors all felt a great weight lift off of their shoulders. They knew how unreasonable first time mothers can be regarding their children thinking that they knew better. Sometimes, the doctors admitted, the mothers were right but not all that often.
The other thing that needed to be discussed was Sakura herself. Maria sensed that this was something that Naruto didn't need to here, at least not right now and took her friend out for a walk to let his mind relax. As soon as he had left Sakura's smile left her face and looked at her OB in the face,
“So, how bad was the damage? My lining has been tearing and bleeding the whole time so I can figure that it's not good.”
Sighing the doctor took the girls hand, “You're right, it was bad but we don't know the true extent until you've had a chance to heal. At the moment however it looks like the chances of conceiving again is little better than 40%.”
“Forty per cent,” Sakura whispered, “well....better than no chance at all. How...how long will I be kept here? Most mothers are able to go home the next day.”
“I talked to you primary care physician and we agree that you'll need to stay at least three days. It's a precaution only and on the plus side if all goes well with Haruhi we can move her into here with you.”
“That's fine, Naruto won't be happy but he'll understand. How about after I get discharged? I don't want to be away from our daughter anymore that I have to. Naruto, I'm sure, feels the same way.”
One of the Japanese team spoke to answer the girl, “I've talked to the elder of the house, Hakaromo Tetsuo I believe, and he has ordered that one of the guest houses be made ready for you and your fiance as well as the child.
“The imperial court had provided him with a list of live in care givers and their pay will come from the Emperor's funds. Before you say anything you should know, Lord Namikaze is a distant cousin and family should always help family don't you think?”
For my sake you must stay, for if you go away, you'll spoil this party I am throwing......
Mother and daughter arrived as they left, in the back of an ambulance with a nervous father ridding in the back of Tetsuo's vintage '63 Lincoln Continental, or as Naruto called it, the Bluesmobile. Sakura was ushered into her and Naruto's new bedroom as Haruhi was placed in her incubator by Sakura's side of the bed.
Sakura was surprised at the look of the small cottage, it had two bedrooms one for her and her small family and one for the live in nurse and Physician Assistant. The common areas were painted and decorated in a fusion of modern and traditional Japanese. Sakura's bedroom however was done in a light pink that even Naruto had to admit was very soothing.
The one other thing about the cottage, Kurama and Tetsuo had asked for some of the clan to help Sakura with her first home. All of the women gathered had volunteered to not only help clean but cook as well. Sakura's former nanny offered, more like decided, that she would oversee the ones that were to help the young mother. She, like all of the other hanyo thought it ironic that these two children that were very important to Konoha had to be taken to another world to be spoiled, loved and accepted. It was also sad that those that did love them weren't even human for the most part.
By the second day home the young family had settled in and were learning that babies, even as small and quiet as theirs, was a lot of work. As Sakura removed Haruhi from her breast after her nightly feeding she smiled as her child fussed. Placing her back into the incubator she waited for the PA to slip the nebulizer mask over the infant's face and begin her next treatment. So far the treatments had been successful as Haruhi's lungs developed and grew stronger. All in all, things were looking up for the little family and young clan princess.
I'll stay a week or two, I'll stay the summer through, But I am telling you.......
Haruhi was taken out of the incubator at three weeks and placed in a normal bassinet next to her mother's bed. She had been born in June so her mother and father had the summer off from school allowing them to spend all their time with her. At four weeks she was healthy enough to leave the cottage and Naruto would carry her through the estates gardens. The gardens were a source of pride for the teen, growing up Kurama and Tetsuo had assigned him chores helping the groundskeepers maintain the two acres of greenery the clan owned.
It was one of his favorite spots as it reminded him of Konoha in some places and the hanyo that were tasked with his and Sakura's shinobi training used the more wooded areas as training grounds. It was also here that Naruto liked to relax and watch clouds like a certain lazy friend of his back in Konoha, so it was here that he would bring Haruhi to enjoy that cool shade and breeze that came off of the ocean.
Sakura would show up later on with a pair of small bentos for lunch. Naruto would place his daughter on a blanket as he and Sakura ate and just watched as the little girl tried to move around. Due to her early birth she was still small for her age and not as physically strong. That was changing however as she was improving daily. Her nurse and PA were still on the grounds and giving her her breathing treatments but those were tapering off as she grew.
The young family was visited everyday by friends and extended family. The only day they demanded for themselves was Sunday. It gave them a reprieve from the many visits and appointments they had as their daughter grew. Maria was there everyday, helping her friends as best she could. It was here that noticed that Haruhi was fussing more and more and at times seemed a little sluggish. The medical staff looked her over and couldn't find anything wrong but watched her more closely, the incubator taken out of storage and readied just in case.
Sakura took the opportunity one afternoon to use the gentle hands technique to scan her child's chakra network. What she saw frightened her and seemed to solve the mystery of why her child wasn't improving as fast as she could. Turning to Naruto she began to tell him what she had found,
“Her chakra network is damaged, almost burned out,” she explained.
“How would that be possible? You didn't do anything related to chakra use other than everyday exercises. Didn't they tell us that it was safe to do and would help the baby as she grew in your belly?”
“They did but something went wrong. You know, your mother carried you while Kurama was sealed in her, can you let him out? I need to ask him something.”
Kurama made his presence known and held the child in his hands and looked her over. Haruhi cooed at the attention as Naruto tried not to laugh. Here the almighty Kyubi No Kitsune, the being that nations kitten themselves in fear over, was being cooed at by a child barely a month old. For the blond teen it was too much.
Kurama just looked at his host and then Haruhi. As he did he sighed, “I'm afraid that the combination of you two being blood clones and exposure to my chakra via Naruto's seed did the damage. Had this happened at home it would've been an easy fix with nature chakra, here? This place is a chakra desert, we're lucky your child's medical caretakers even believe let alone use traditional healing means.
“If she's to grow up they'll be the key,” the fox told the young couple handing the baby back to her mother before receding into the seal.
In the clearing Naruto held his daughter as Sakura hugged him from behind. As long as he lived she would be kept safe. He'd have to talk to the healers about this latest development. As the sun slid lower toward the sea the small family gathered their things and returned to their cottage. As they entered they passed Haruhi to her medical staff and they began their treatments.
The nurse it turned out was from a clan of healers not unlike the ones that belonged to the clan. The healers found they had much in common with her and they began to work much closer and effectively. Haruhi may have a chance to thrive and grow after all. Taking a calculated risk the lead healer asked the nurse what she thought of chakra and it's healing properties. The nurse replied that she knew of it and had seen her grandmother use a sort of spiritual energy to heal the sick.
Things got better as the nurse mentioned that her boss, the Physicians Assistant, also came from a family of traditional healers and believed that modern and traditional methods could work together. Once that was known the medical team began to use more chakra based healing on the child while teaching the outsiders the secrets to their methods.
June turned to July and Haruhi saw her first fireworks as the country of her birth celebrated it's own birthday.
The girl was beginning to show signs of an improving chakra system and was growing by the day. She slept with her parents and her favorite place was on her father's chest.
There was something comforting about Naruto's heartbeat and the warmth of his body. He loved the slight pressure he felt as she lay perfectly still and balanced on his sternum and enjoyed the heat that come off of her tiny body. Like her father, Haruhi's body was always on the warm side, a side effect of the fox's chakra.
It was this way when she fell asleep on that last night in August. Pushing this way and that until she found her perch on her father's chest as her mother's arm draped over her legs, holding her steady and safe. As the light dimmed through a timer the small family fell asleep.....
I must be going.....
The funeral was on a warm September morning a week after the child had passed. Naruto's smile had vanished the second he lifted his daughter's cold body from his chest after he realized that she had left them during the night. He sat in the temple as the Shinto priest conducted the ritual with a stoic face holding back his tears.
Sakura's face was tear stained and it seemed that she'd never run out of tears. Not only had she lost her daughter but during her check up the day before the doctor had given her devastating news. The damage to her uterus while carrying Haruhi was too great, it would be unlikely that she could ever bear her husband a child again. Clutching Naruto's hand she cried even harder for the children they could never have.
Outside the foxes and coyotes in the countryside the clan estate continued their howling as if they too were in mourning. Hagaromo Tetsuo thought it appropriate that the minions of his family give tribute to their lost child as her ashes and urn were brought home.
'If there was a bright spot in this ordeal', thought Sakura as she placed the urn upon the family shrine, 'is that our originals hopefully won't have to suffer like this. Naruto will have his children and I'll be the one to give them to him.' Telling herself that she kissed her daughter's picture and began to comfort her mate.