Naruto yawned and opened his blue eyes, which opened even wider at the site that met them. There were no less than seven flower arrangements sitting in various spots on and around his nightstand. He pushed back the covers and looked at the cards. One from Hinata, one from Sakura and five from girls in his Academy class he'd never talked to. Girls...that had ignored him. "What the...?" he thought. He looked up as the door to his room opened. Hinata was carting in yet another bouquet.
Hinata peeked around the flowers she was carrying. "N..Naruto-kun," she said with a smile.
Naruto looked at Hinata in confusion. "What's going on here?" he said, glancing at the flowers behind him.
A flicker of irritation crossed Hinata's face. "Why does he have to be popular all of a sudden?" "I...I don't know." She held the flowers she had out to him. "H..here's another one."
Naruto took the flowers and looked at the card. It was from Tsunade. He smiled and put them on the window sill. He turned around and looked at the other flower bunches again. "Why are girls sending me flowers?"
"M...maybe if y...you read the cards?" Hinata offered.
Naruto frowned thoughtfully and pulled the card out of the nearest vase. As he read it his eyes went wide and small smile crept up to his lips. In happy disbelief he handed the card to Hinata and eagerly grabbed the next one.
Hinata opened the card and silently read the words to herself.
I just wanted to say I'm glad you're alright and that I've kinda, um, liked you since I saw you fight in the main Chuunin Exam. I was thinking, maybe we could go on a date after you're better? Um, that's all I wanted to say. Bye.
Get well soon, Hayama, Momiji
Hinata's heart sank. If all those cards were like this one then her chance to be with the boy she loved was now slim to none. She couldn't help it. Tears began to prick at her eyes.
Naruto was about to happily hand the next card to Hinata when the look on her downcast face stopped him cold. "Hinata-chan? Are you okay?"
Hinata shook her head slowly.
"What's wrong?" Naruto asked, now quite concerned.
Hinata swallowed. "It's nothing." She sucked in a hurt sounding breath. "I have to go home," she said as she turned to leave.
"Please tell me what's wrong. Did I do something?" Naruto asked quietly.
Hinata stopped and turned around. Tears were now streaming down her face. "No. It's n...nothing you did."
"What then?" Naruto asked, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
At Naruto's touch Hinata squeezed her eyes shut as if in pain. "Please, it's p...rivate."
Feeling torn between wanting to help his friend and respecting her wishes, Naruto relented. "Okay. But if you wanna talk..."
Hinata nodded and left the room. Naruto sat down on his bed. He had lost interest in his cards. His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a knock on his door. He looked up to see Kakashi and Tsunade come in.
"Yo, Naruto," Kakashi said offhandedly.
Naruto smiled a little. "Hey, Kakash-sensei. Hey, Granny Tsunade," he greeted them.
Tsunade twitched a bit when she heard Naruto's 'nickname' for her. "How're you feeling brat," she said jokingly as she placed an affectionate kiss on his forehead.
Naruto blushed a bit. "F...fine."
Tsunade made a low whistle. "You have quite the fan club going here," she said with a wink.
Naruto ducked his head a bit in embarrassment. "Yeah, well two of 'em are from friends," he said as he scratched the back of his head with a grin.
Tsunade's face became a bit more serious. "As much as I'd like it to be, this isn't only a social call," she said suddenly.
The smile disappeared from Naruto's face. "You...want me to tell you what happened, huh?"
"Yeah," Kakashi answered. "I'm sorry, Naruto, but we have to know," he said, even though he wasn't looking forward to hearing it.
"I don't want to talk about it," Naruto said as he turned away.
"Don't want to talk about what?" came Sakura's voice from the other side of the room. Sasuke and Sakura were walking towards Naruto.
"Orochimaru," Naruto answered miserably.
Sakura's bright smile evaporated. "Oh...do..do you mind if we stay?"
Naruto shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Sakura and Sasuke sat on the edge of Naruto's bed. Tsunade sat in the armchair and Kakashi leaned against the wall nearest to the group.
After what seemed like an eternity Naruto spoke. His voice sounded hollow. "He drugged me."
"What?" Sakura asked.
"That's how he got me. I was out walking around near the gates. I found a scroll on the ground. When I opened it gas came out. It worked so fast. I didn't even, get the chance to...yell for the guards."
"You idiot! How could you fall for something so obvious?" Sasuke yelled suddenly.
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura said angrily.
"We almost lost him because he was stupid!" Sasuke snapped back.
"That's enough!" Tsunade commanded. Both genin were instantly quiet.
"It's okay, Sakura-chan. He's right. I didn't think," Naruto said.
Everyone simply stared at Naruto, wide-eyed.
"This must really be hard for him," Sakura thought, "if he's being this serious."
"Orochimaru's body guards took me back to the building you found me in. He tried tons of weird jutsus on me, for hours. He wouldn't let me eat or sleep. Said the seal would be weaker...if I was tired. The day you found me..." he paused. His heart pounded in his chest like a hammer. "he took me into that room. He thought the seal might weaken if he...cut it," he said as he tightly gripped the bed sheets. "He put me on the table and..." Tears began to make soft sounds as they landed on the bed. "He...he didn't even knock me out..." he said as his voice cracked, sobs racking his shaking body.
Everyone's eyes went wide with shock. Kakashi punched the wall, making a fairly large hole. Sasuke just sat where he was, his eyes filled with disbelief. "No..."
"He...he was...awake!" Sakura thought in horror. Her right hand went to her mouth as tears filled her eyes. "Oh God...Oh Naruto..." she said as she pulled him into a hug. Naruto simply sank into her arms, his crying getting ever louder as he began to rock back and forth.
Sasuke wanted to comfort his brother, but he was at a loss as to how. He wasn't the hugging type. And since Sakura seemed to be handling it well he stayed where he was, wishing...he knew what to say.
Tsunade moved next to Naruto and Sakura and sat down. She moved her hand in small circular motions on Naruto's back. Tears rolled down her face as she spoke. "Shh, shhh, shhh. It's alright. You're safe now." Her voice hardened. "I swear, Orochimaru will pay for this."Later that day, Tsunade checked Naruto out of the hospital and escorted him home. She stayed with him the entire day. When he announced he wanted to go to bed she told him she would keep watch for the night. Once he was asleep she quietly shut the door to his bedroom. She and Kakashi moved to Naruto's couch and sat down. She nodded to herself. "I've decided, Hataki."
"Decided what, Hokage-Sama?"
"I'm going to ask Naruto to move in with Shizune and myself. I'm going to adopt him," she said with determination.
Kakashi cocked an eyebrow in surprise. "What brought this on?"
"I want him where I can make sure he's safe. And also," she said as she glanced around Naruto's apartment, "I can't stand to see him living alone. He deserves better," she said with a frown.
Kakashi smiled with his eyes. "I'm sure you'll make a wonderful mother for him. I had actually considered doing the same thing at one point. But I just know I'd make a terrible father," he said as he chuckled.
Tsunade laughed just as a wave of energy blasted through the room, knocking them both over. As soon as she could move she made a beeline for Naruto's room. "Come on, Hatake! This must be what Sakura was talking about!"
Kakashi ran after her and another energy wave hit them. He was knocked to the floor, but Tsunade managed to push against it. Shielding her eyes from the force of the energy with her arms she moved forward.All of Konoha was in chaos. People who had run outside to see what was going on, were now trying to get back inside to get away from the energy waves.
"Sakura!" Sasuke yelled as he fell into step next to her. They were running at top speed toward Naruto's apartment.
Sakura's face was hard with determination. "Hurry, Sasuke-kun! It's Naruto!"
"I know!" Sasuke replied, just as he noticed another wave headed for them. "Sakura! Hold on!" he said as locked wrists with her. From top speed they were reduced to barely jogging as they fought to stay on their feet.
"It's getting stronger as we get closer!" Sakura thought as the wave passed and they picked up speed again. She looked behind her and noticed several jounins and a few anbu following them.
Sasuke noticed Sakura looking backward and did the same. "They probably know where we're headed!" he said as they continued toward their destination.Tsunade opened Naruto's door and her face was instantly etched in amazement. Shockwave after shockwave of energy made it so she had to grip the door frame so tightly that she was making indents in the wood. Naruto's body was surrounded by a yellow light. "Is that...chakra?" she thought.
Suddenly Naruto's eyes snapped open as he let out a blood curdling scream.
"Naruto!" she yelled as she watched his body writhe in agony.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Naruto screamed again. "This pain. It's just like when Kyuubi put his claw through me!"
Suddenly, everything stopped as suddenly as it had begun. Naruto went limp. He was covered with sweat and breathing hard.
Tsunade cautiously approached the bed. "Naruto?" she said as she sat down next to him. She reached down and grabbed his hand.
"G...Granny Tsunade..." Naruto began as he squeezed her hand.
"Shhhh. Sleep now," Tsunade said as she ran her hand over his forehead and damp hair. "Something must be wrong with Kyuubi. I'll talk to the village elders after I leave here."
"It's not...Kyuubi," Naruto said weakly.
"What? How do you know?" Tsunade asked, confused.
"He..used up too much energy when he healed me. He's gone."
"Then, what in the seven hells...?" Tsunade remarked.
"He...he said he...gave me a going away present," Naruto answered in between breaths.
"Going away present?" Tsunade's eyes went wide. "Could that damn fox have...?" She looked backwards at the door as an extremely disheveled Kakashi wandered in. "Hatake, go get Hyuuga, Hinata. I need her eyes," she said as a crashing sound came from the front door.
Tsunade and Kakashi bolted towards the door to find Sasuke, Sakura and several of the higher ranked ninjas standing there, looking ready for battle. Tsunade stepped forward. "It's alright now. You may go back to your posts."
"What was that, Tsunade-Sama," asked Nabiki as Kakashi disappeared to get Hinata.
"It was Naruto. I will explain everything in the morning. For now, please just go tell everyone that things are under control," Tsunade said in a no nonsense tone of voice.
Everyone except Sasuke and Sakura made an affirmative noise, bowed and disappeared. Tsunade waved the genin through. "Come on you two. He's resting," she said as she lead the way.
Sakura and Sasuke stood in front of Naruto's bed. He had fallen asleep. "What happened, Tsunade-Sama?" Sasuke asked.
"Truthfully? I have a theory, but I need Hinata before I can confirm it. The one thing I do know for sure, is that Kyuubi is dead."
"Dead!" Sakura repeated in surprise.
"Nm. Naruto told me himself. Kyuubi used too much power trying to heal him," Tsunade explained.
Kakashi and Hinata came through the door just then. "We're here," Kakashi said.
"That was fast," Tsunade remarked.
"She was already on her way here," Kakashi answered.
"Good. Hinata-chan. I want you to use your Byakugan to look inside Naruto," Tsunade said.
Hinata's eyes went wide and she blushed. "C...couldn't you ask Neji nii-san?"
"No," Tsunade answered steadily. "You. Neji and his team are on a mission right now."
"B...but..." Hinata began.
"I need this taken care of now, Hinata," Tsunade said gently.
Hinata nodded and gulped. "I won't be seeing anything. I won't be seeing anything. It's just his chakra." she thought to calm herself. "Byakugan!" Veins became more defined around her eyes as she began her 'examination'. After a moment she pulled back, confusion spread across her face.
"Well?" Tsunade prodded.
"I don't understand Hokage-Sama. H..his chakra...it's yellow," Hinata replied.
"I thought so," Tsunade said as she stood up. She quickly recapped to Kakashi about Kyuubi's fate. After that she said, "Naruto said Kyuubi gave him a 'gift'. I had my suspicions, but I needed the eyes of a Hyuuga. The only thing, other than having a demon sealed inside him, that could have changed his chakra color like this is an infusion of chakra from another person...a dying person."
Kakashi's face instantly showed an expression of shock and understanding. "So you're saying..."
Tsunade nodded. "Yes. Kyuubi gave Naruto...his chakra."
...TO BE CONTINUED
Tee hee. Aren't I just Eeeeeevil leaving you there?