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Suna no Hoshi

By Erica Pacumbaba

Humor / Romance

Sandy Safe Haven

Minato looked grimly over his son, keeping his gaze away from Kushina.

"No…no, Minato. Let me take the Kyuubi to the grave. You can't make Naruto a host!"

The Yondaime Hokage winced and finally looked at his wife, blue eyes apologetic.

"Kushina-chan, I'm sorry. The Kyuubi no Youko will just revive sooner or later, and then come after Konoha again. I will seal the yin half of its chakra into myself using Shiki Fujin, and seal the yang half into Naruto using the Hakke Fuuin no Shiki. Besides, you saw that man…that man I believe to be Uchiha Madara. I know he will continue to be a menace in the future, and our son will need the power of the Nine-tails to fight him."

"Please…Minato," she swallowed down her tears.

"Kushina…don't worry. I will seal the last of our chakra into him as well. If worse comes to worse, we can help prevent the Kyuubi from breaking out or help Naruto if he ever were to try to take full control of its chakra…And get to see him one last time," he added sorrowfully.

Kushina nodded slowly, just as Hiruzen and a few other shinobi came into view. Outside the barrier, they seemed to be screaming at them, but they could hardly hear them.

"Minato, is there nothing I can do to change your mind? To just stay alive and raise our boy by yourself?"

"Trust me on this. It is not only for Konoha's sake, but for our son's."

And Kushina only nodded reluctantly one last time, resigning to this.

"Hey, Motor-mouth?" Minato hesitantly began once more. Kushina faintly smiled at Minato's old nickname for her. "…I know I wouldn't deserve this last thing, but I need to ask you for one more favor…After this, I won't be able to hold on because of the Shinigami, but I know you can stand to live a little longer. Please hold on for a little bit…check on our son. If something were to go wrong after I die, flee to Suna. Just talk to Rasa, ask him for help."

Kushina looked at him tentatively, though she told him she would. Still, she wasn't too sure about his request. She liked Rasa, really. She liked him as much as Minato did, though she wasn't sure the Kazekage returned the sentiment as much or at all. She knew he was a good man, a bit reserved and maybe even callous and ruthless when called for…but he was a good man nevertheless. And no matter what anyone says or what's been done, she knew he was an honorable man.

But she wasn't so confident that Rasa would offer his help.

And then Minato was sealing half of the Kyuubi's chakra, Kushina still holding onto it with her chakra chains, and then the Yondaime Hokage summoned the throne needed to seal the other half of the dramatically down-sized Kyuubi's chakra into Naruto.

The claw that almost killed their son was thwarted by their own bodies, though Minato took the brunt of it so that Kushina would be able to at least live just those few precious moments longer that he'd hoped for.

As Kushina murmured to their son about how she wanted him to live, to never forget who he was, and how much she loved him, Minato handed the key to the seal to Gerotora.

"Listen to your Motor-mouth Mom, Naruto," Minato smiled grimly.

And then he finished the sealing.

It was the last sight Kushina saw before she passed out, having grabbed Naruto and started cradling him close to her. She missed the Sandaime and his two ANBU bodyguards, the only ones to have witnessed the sealing, rush towards them. When she next awoke, she could barely stay conscious, realizing more importantly that her beloved son was missing. Panicking, she checked around, head turning this way and that before she was interrupted.

"Naruto-kun is safe, Kushina," the Sandaime spoke with a weary voice.

She knew he meant well, but she didn't believe him. There was a gut feeling that said that Hiruzen didn't understand, that Naruto wouldn't be safe in that village no matter what the Sandaime did for him. And because of the attack, Naruto would be living the worse the life of a jinchuuriki could offer.

A bloodcurdling scream made her heart stop in her chest and she was out of that hospital bed and up running towards the source as if her life depended on it. And it did –Naruto was her life now, and she couldn't fail him. She didn't care that she was in a hospital gown or that she was running barefoot. Her baby was in danger.

Terrifyingly, there was a woman standing over her baby boy with a needle half full, a look of anger and also grief on her face as she poised to plunge the needle in again and finish the job. Kushina gave an animalistic snarl as she practically flew over and kicked the woman away, snatching her baby and pulling him close. She could already hear the pounding footsteps heading her way, and made the split decision quickly.

What chakra she had in reserve, she used to jump out the window and start to make her way towards Suna as her husband had asked. She didn't hold back at all on the leftover chakra she had. She knew she was on the brink of death and she was going to do this last suicide run for her son. She could feel the wounds that the medic-nins hadn't been able to fully heal reopen and bleed afresh, but it was far from her mind as she pumped chakra into her legs and sped out of Konoha and towards the sandy sanctuary her husband had promised for their child.

Her mind was single-mindedly on the task before her, getting her son to Suna as fast as possible. She didn't know how much time had passed, only that she finally saw the beginning stretches of endless sand. She didn't pause or slow down, but chose to actually put out more chakra to up her speed. Before she knew it, she was already seeing the high walls of the sandy village.

'What if Rasa didn't take them in?'

Doubts once again plagued her. Again, she believed in Rasa but not enough to entrust her son to him. She really did like the man…but Naruto was her son and her world and she couldn't not make sure of everything –

Biting down on her lip, she reached the outer walls. But before the guard shinobi could catch up to her, seeing her approach, she moved quickly and found a small little niche near the opening of the walls where she slipped in her son, just in case things didn't go well. She did an advanced Uzumaki fuuinjutsu that created an invisible barrier around her hidden baby, protecting him not only from the elements of nature but also invisible to everyone for a limited amount of time. Only the caster would know where the hidden being was, so Kushina was reasonably sure that Naruto was safe for now.

By the time she went to meet the guards who had been looking for her, her baby was invisible and protected from danger.

"Kushina-san, this is a surprise," Rasa greeted stoically from his seat at his desk.

Kushina only gave a weary smile at first.

"I apologize for giving no notice and for springing my presence on you like this," she started. "But I had to come here as soon as I could."

Rasa furrowed his eyebrows, looking slightly confused and curious –the first sign of any emotion from the man since she came in and saw him.

"May I ask why? I was also under the impression that Konoha had been recently attacked by the Kyuubi no Youko. I regret that Suna could not come to your aid, but not only are we also still recovering heavily from the war but by the time I could mobilize a suitable force, it would have been too late. But should you not be with your village, helping the recovery process?"

She was quiet for a moment before she began to talk again.

"You know that I was pregnant at the same time as Karura, right?"

By the stiffening of his body at the mention of his late wife, he did recall that now.

"I gave birth last night," and he winced, having put it together. He was a smart man; she knew he would've been able to easily piece it together with such little information. She didn't miss his gaze traveling to the crib she just noticed off to the side, hidden and out of sight except in direct line of sight for the Kazekage. The baby there was asleep, but it was quiet and lay there with shifting sand surrounding it, oddly enough. She knew who it was then.

"You and Minato had no other choice that would have been better," she murmured. "It's alright, Rasa. In time, both'll understand your choices. But I ask…can you, can you keep my son here in your village? I want Naruto to live a happy and full life, and Konoha will never let him have that. Just mere moments after I woke up and just only hours after Naruto was born, someone was already attempting to kill him. Please keep Naruto in Suna and away from Konoha. You understand, don't you?"

She was exhausted and could tell her voice was starting to nearly sound like begging. But this was important and she couldn't fail either Minato or Naruto.

"Yes, yes I do understand," he quietly said, eyes moving back to his own son. "Gaara is still valued in this village, and still a symbol of hope. But I fear the life of a jinchuuriki and that he won't be exempted from it, no matter how hard I try."

"Strange to see him in office with you," she noted casually, trying to keep him from being lost in dark thoughts.

"Yashamaru is still grieving and Gaara won't let anyone other than me near him anyway," Rasa answered hollowly. "You'll be safe here, Kushina-san. I'll make sure both you and your son are well protected and taken cared of here."

"Thank you, Rasa," she barely was able to breathe, finally feeling the pain as the adrenaline wore off and her mission had been fulfilled. She didn't bother directly correcting him that he would only need to worry about Naruto. "Please take care of him for me. I know you'll take good care of him…and Gaara…"

Rasa's head snapped around to face her in alarm, and the panic on his face was a novel experience for her. He had always been cool and calm, even when Minato was able to prod some amusement out of him…

"Kushina…Kushina!" he sped to her side, the blood on her finally showing. She had used the original seal of invisibility that was a major facet of the barrier seal earlier to hide the pooling of her blood on her. Warm arms held her close, cradling her as she started to slump lifelessly off the chair. Her neck was comfortably supported, and she was moved so she could look up easily into Rasa's face.

"You're bleeding. Kushina, what happened?" he asked in panic.

She gave him a painful smile. "After the extraction of the Fox, it ended up impaling me and Minato with a claw. Not a fun way to go, I'll tell you. I wasn't able to be healed all the way before I fled the village and gave all I had to reach you."

"I'll get you help. Suna may not be the best in healing, but there must be something we can do," Rasa said determinedly.

She shook her head slightly. "Please. Please just look for Naruto. I left him near the walls because I wasn't sure if you'd take us in, even though Minato was sure you would and told me to come. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I should have had more faith in you, but it's my son. But please find him!"

"Shh. Where is he? What does he look like?" Rasa soothed.

'This must be the Rasa only Karura was allowed to see,' Kushina thought with an inward sad smile.

"He's a small thing. Blond, blue-eyed. Minato's features, though he might have more of my nose. But he has whisker-like markings on his face. He's near the front of your walls, near the entrance. There should be a small niche there that I was able to fit him in. Please, Rasa…"

"Shhh," he soothed again. "I promise, Kushina. I promise you and Minato I'll find him and I'll take care of him myself."

Kushina couldn't stop the tears that had finally escaped, relief and yet also sorrow filling her.

"We always believed in you, Rasa. We never thought badly of you and we understood. You're a good man and Karura loved you, even in her last moments. I know she did. And Minato and I, we always cared about you."

He gently wiped away her tears, feeling that once again he was failing to save another woman he cared for.

"I cared about you and Minato too," he revealed. "The two of you had always been my two closest friends," he confessed.

Kushina gave one last sad smile as she finally faded away.

It was quiet in the office and he stayed there a moment, cradling the woman in his arms. He glanced at his son, murmuring reassurances and that he'd be back before he got up and headed out of his office, still holding Kushina. He had faith in his son's sand and Gaara was revered for the moment anyway. He had time to bury an old friend and plan a small funeral. But he also had to immediately order some of his shinobi to go on a thorough search of the area for a blond, blue-eyed baby boy that he swore he'd take care of for the last of his two friends.

The seal barrier, unfortunately, had a time limit that wouldn't be exhausted even after the caster died. Even as multiple shinobi passed by the little niche that held little Naruto, they could neither see nor sense the baby that slept on peacefully –unaware of the search for him or the fact that his last parent had finally passed away.

When the barrier finally did fade, hours later, it was unfortunately a civilian family coming back to the village that found the baby. And unaware of the search for the very baby they had, they took it and found the village orphanage, handing it over. And because the Kazekage chose not to reveal the markings on Naruto's face, in fear of someone figuring out the true nature of the child and spreading the information (with no idea on what the reaction would be and with the hope of being able to give the child a normal life), no one reported the new baby as the one for the search.

There was also that, with Kushina being too out of it during the attack and swept up in getting Naruto away from Konoha, Minato also preoccupied with the Kyuubi attack, as well as the medics who were busy with the many incoming patients and rushing away after the delivery…

…no one found out that Uzumaki Naruto was actually a female.

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