Naruto could hear talking and small giggles as the heaviness began to lessen. He listened and heard a little girl giggle before someone shushed her. He recognized the voices of the five people and the little girls giggle made his heart warm. She felt like he couldn't move and could only lay there listening as the little giggles were put to a stop as soon as the door creaked and the little footsteps followed by bigger ones became louder.
"It's alright." He heard a sixth voice that he recognized as Akemi. "I told you they need their rest, they had a really big boo-boo."
"Just tell the brat the truth." Came a male's voice
"Leave her be Suigetsu." A female demanded.
"Mama and daddy gonna be okay?" the little girl's voice shook with tears. Naruto could hear another person move closer to them.
"Your parents have gone through much worse. They just need a little sleep." He heard Tsunade say. "You were begging to see them so we let you see them. You need to let them sleep so they can get better." Everything went black and heavy again from that point on.
Azumi stood looking at her parents who were both bandaged and sleeping in the two hospital beds before turning and seeing Karin, Suigetsu, and Jugo bandaged while Minato and Kushina had very mild wounds to be bandaged. The adults watched the little girl as she looked around before looking back at Naruto and Sakura. Tsunade and Minato went on either side of the beds and pushed them together as Kakashi picked the girl up and placed her on the bed as he spoke to her softly.
"They'll be fine in a few days. Why don't you lay with them and help them feel better?" he said as he placed her feet on the two beds and watched her glance at him before climbing up to cuddle between them.
That night Naruto could feel his body ache as he started to come to. He felt something heavy laying against his left side as he slowly opened his eyes and turned his head to see Azumi sleeping up against him, that's when he noticed the two beds had been pushed together so she could sleep with both of them. He gave a smile as he moved his arm to rest around her letting her cuddle into his chest when he heard a soft voice.
"It's about time you woke up brat." He turned his head to see Tsunade sitting off to the side with Kakashi, Minato, Kushina and Akemi.
"Thought she was the brat." He mumbled groggily as they all started over to his bed side.
"Nah, she's the little angle, you're the brat. You're the one who plays dead every chance you get." Naruto smirked as he slowly sat up careful not to wake Azumi who rolled over and started to cuddle with Sakura. Tsunade saw him look at Sakura and she knew what he was thinking.
"She'll be fine. Just exhausted from using a lot of her chakra." Naruto gave a small nod as the others started talking to him.
"How do you feel?" Kushina asked.
"Fine. Guess kyuubi really did pull through. Where's Sasuke?"
"He's in the other room still sleeping." Kakashi smiled under his mask. "You did quite a number on him."
"He did the same to me." Naruto smirked "I guess all that's left is Madara and the other members."
"We were just talking about that. It seems Madara did something to Sasuke and made him follow him. The other three members are in the room with him."
"They seem to think Madara took Sasuke after his battle with Itachi and did something to him." Tsunade said making Naruto think.
"He did act different every time we saw him."
"That could have been the revenge taking over, at least that's what we thought." Kakashi added.
"Then he could wake up completely different."
"Minato did say he was asking Sakura questions before he passed out." Tsunade told him and watched him look at his father. "You don't remember?"
"I don't remember him talking to Sakura."
"You were also at the very farthest point without dying." Naruto shrugged. "He heard Sakura talking to you about Azumi and your promise and he was asking about Azumi." Sakura and Azumi began to stir and the group quieted. They were about to start talking again when Naruto climbed out of bed before anyone could stop him.
"I'm fine. You know how I bounce back." He chuckled softly. "I can walk. Let them sleep." the group slowly walked out the door to the waiting room down the hall where they sat to talk more. As they began talking about how to go about going after Madara they saw Karin walk into the room.
"Sasuke is up. We went to see you in the other room but you weren't there so I figured I'd look around." The group got up walked back to the room to find Sasuke sitting in a chair looking at the little girl who had rolled over to lie sideways where her father had been minutes before.
"I found them." Karin said as she walked in snapping Sasuke from his thoughts. "They were down the hall." The group sat in the seats off to the side.
"Bout time you got back." Suigetsu said making Azumi wake up and realize Naruto was gone. She sat straight up and looked around in a panic before Naruto walked over to her. He told her to stay quiet so that Sakura could sleep as she wrapped her arms around his neck and he carried her back to the group.
"Our first step is to find out information." Kushina said as Naruto took the seat between her and Akemi.
"We have information. We need to make our move."Suigetsu told her. "We need to kill the bastard for what he did." Kushina and Karin glared at him as Naruto adjusted in his seat so he leaned back and Azumi lay against his chest.
"We don't have enough information yet." Tsunade said. "Even with yours we have no idea what he's capable of."
"But why send an army of men and women out to a war that there is a very high risk that will end in disaster? It will only leave hundreds of children orphaned." Akemi said.
"You wouldn't know anything, you're a villager, so shut your mouth."
"Suigetsu." Sasuke said making the other man stop and look at him. "She is also a part of this. She the mother of a ninja and was the wife of one. Whether she is one or not she is still pulled in. she is a villager of Konoha."
"Is there anything you could help us with, Sasuke?" Kushina asked making him look at her but kept his mouth closed before his eyes flicked back to what was in front of him. Naruto sat listening to the conversation as he ran his fingers through his little girl's hair. The girl smiled and looked around at all the people talking. They heard a noise, making a few turn around to find Sakura walking up to them. Azumi hopped up in Naruto's lap to hug Sakura before settling back down to let Naruto continue to run his fingers through her hair."
"How you feeling?" Naruto asked her as she took a seat next to him.
"Not bad. Still a little tired." She looked at him and watched him smirk before he turned away as the conversation took back off. She knew he was still watching to make sure she was fine, it was something he did all the time ever since they started to go out on missions by themselves.
"Mama?" Azumi asked pulling Sakura even farther from the conversation. "Why do people hurt each other?" The conversation quieted as Sakura tried to come up with a reason.
"There are many reasons, sweetheart." Azumi looked between the two parents, letting them know they needed better answers.
"Because there are several reasons that someone hurts someone else."
"Why did you and daddy get hurt?" she asked curious, not knowing that the ones who had hurt them were sitting in the same room. Naruto looked at Sakura as she came up with a reason, just like every other time she asked questions.
"Because that person didn't know what was going on. Another person made him not realize what is right and wrong." The little girl looked at Naruto.
"Really, daddy?" Naruto nodded with a small smile as the conversation started up again and she lay back relaxing once again.
Two days later Naruto and Sakura were allowed to leave the hospital and head home. Tsunade had allowed Azumi to stay with them and smiled as the little girl ran excitedly down the hall as Naruto and Sakura followed, holding each other's hand. The two adults walked out of the hospital to find Azumi running back towards them.
"Daddy? Why's that man sad?" she asked and pointed over to where Sasuke was standing on a small bridge looking down at the fish in the water.
"Maybe you should go talk to him." Sakura offered to Naruto. "You two used to be best friends and I think he doesn't really know what to do now that he's free of Madara's mind control and back here with us." Naruto sighed as he let go of Sakura's hand and walked over as Sakura took Azumi off to the side to play. Naruto walked up and leaned on the side of the bridge like Sasuke was.
"What are you standing here for? Figured you'd be out trainin or something." Naruto started.
"Why would I do that? I have no right being a ninja of the leaf. Beside's I misses so much while I was gone. Most of the rookie nine are married and planning their life. Look at you and Sakura. You two are married and have a kid, what do I have?"
"Sasuke, it's not like you really had a choice. Besides you were a kid when everything happened, you didn't have anyone to tell you it was wrong."
"Everyone told me I was wrong."
"But no one was there to teach you how to get past it. Granny's letting you start over with a fresh slate. You still will be checked on closely but it's a lot better than those nut cases wanted. Why don't you try to find a girl and settle down?"
"Most of my friends have moved on and all of my fan girls from when we were kids have found better guys. Everyone moved on and forgot about me."
"No one forgot about you. They have only continued to live their lives." Sakura said from behind them making the two turn around and look at her holding Azumi's hand before she ran at her father who picked her up and swung her around to sit on the bridge.
"Look what mama and me gots." She smiled and held out a fist full of small flowers as Sakura walked up to the other side of Naruto.
"We were going to head home to put them in a vase but it seems we can't go home without daddy." She smiled as Naruto smirked and watched Azumi look at Sasuke as he looked at her.
"here." She said holding out the flowers to Sasuke. "They make you smile. You need 'em more." She smiled brightly as she handed the little bundle to Sasuke as Naruto and Sakura smiled at her and her face light up when he took them.
"Why don't you go pick some more for the house?" Sakura said making her smile as Naruto picked her up and twirled her to the ground and let her run off to the flowers again.
"I think she likes you." Naruto teased.
"She's a child and does not know anything." Sasuke told him.
"She knows a lot more than you think." Sakura said as she turned and walked away to help Azumi leaving Sasuke confused. He looked over at Naruto who seemed deep in thought.
"What was that about?"
"Azumi can only go certain places and only with certain people. She's made fun and teased because she's my daughter. Some of the older kids even beat her up one day when she was out in front of our place. They really hurt her and there was nothing anyone could do." Sasuke looked over to see the girl run a flower back to her mother happily.
"But its kids, it's not like the adults would be with me."
"Not quite as bad but they have gone after her and believe it or not, Sakura." He glanced at the two playing before looking back at Sasuke who was still watching the little girl run around. "When I went away on missions while Sakura was pregnant we had to have someone keeping an eye on her at all times."
"Why, Sakura can take care of herself."
"Because when she was eight months pregnant she went to the store to get food and they refused to let her in, the second the guy started yelling that she was the demon's slave the others in the streets started beating on her. We almost lost Azumi."
"Sakura could have taken care of all of them."
"The pregnancy was draining her. She was as good as a common villager with no chakra." Naruto watched as Azumi started running over to him with a smile and something in her hands. He smiled and picked her up and placed her on the bridge again when he saw her holding a small toad tight in her hand.
"Look daddy." She smiled as she held it out and it tried to get away making her hold tighter. "No froggy."
"Azumi let me see him for a minute." Naruto chuckled as she hand the toad over. He set it on the railing and watched as it sat still. "You don't need to squeeze it. That will make it want to run away more."
"How'd you do that?" she was so amazed he glanced at Sakura as she walked up. He bit his thumb, hit the ground and in a puff of smoke the stood a large red toad. "Mama! Look!" she cheered as Naruto smirked.
"yo, Naruto." The toad greeted making Azumi speechless.
"Hey, how you been, Gamakichi?
"Good, haven't had you call in a while. What's up?"
"Azumi here found a friend of yours." He said and pointed to the little toad on the railing that still hadn't moved.
"Hiki! I told you not to go where little kid's would find you." He told the toad before it croaked and jumped into the water. "He'll never learn."
"We'll see, I think Azumi maneuvered all his organs when she brought him over to me." Naruto chuckled as Azumi looked into the water at the fish trying to see where the toad went. Sasuke saw the girl start to lean too far forward and she lost her balance. Naruto and Sasuke both grabbed for her while Naruto was only a hair too far away Sasuke grabbed hold and pulled her back.
"You should be more aware of your balance." Sasuke told her as he set her gently on her feet on the bridge.
"Okay uncle Sasuke." She smiled before she ran off to take a closer look at the water while Sasuke stood shocked while Sakura and Naruto smiled.
"Told ya she like ya."Naruto laughed.
"Why you have a kid with ya?" Gamakichi asked Naruto who smirked.
"Cause she's mine." He chuckled as the toads jaw dropped.
"Who would have a kid with a snot nosed brat like you?" he scoffed not believing.
"That would be me." Sakura smirked when the toad looked between the three before there was a sudden splash and a cry.
"Daddy!" she cried as he started walking towards the bank when he helped her out of the water and laughed at how soaked she was. "froggy got away." She whimpered. He smiled and picked her up wrapping her in his jacket.
"When you get a little older I'll teach you how to call them, how's that?" she smiled and nodded her head quickly. "Alright but in the mean time you have to leave them alone." She smiled brightly as they reached the others. "Azumi, say hello to Gamakichi." The girl looked up at her father then at the toad and smiled.
"Hi!" she cheered making the toad smile before Naruto told him he could go back. Sakura had to run to the store and decided to let the two guys talk, and she left Azumi wrapped in Naruto's jacket in his arms as they spoke.
"So how old is she?" Sasuke asked as Azumi sat looking at the fish in the pond.
"Azumi, tell him how old you are."
"I am 3 years old and one month." She smiled when she saw the corners of Sasuke's mouth curve into a smirk. "Daddy, can uncle Sasuke come over for dinner and then play?" Naruto smiled and looked at his friend.
"So how 'bout it?"
"I don't know. Shouldn't you ask Sakura?"
"Why do you think she left early to stop at the store? Come on. It's not every day she meets and uncle." He smirked as Sasuke rolled his eyes before he spotted Azumi putting on the puppy dog eyes with her big bright green eyes. He sighed, knowing he wouldn't be able to say no to her making Naruto laugh.
"What are you laughing at dobe?"
"I'm not the only one that falls for it." He chuckled. "Come on, it doesn't take long for Sakura to make dinner. We could go train later on tonight or tomorrow too." Sasuke began to smile feeling like he really belonged for the first time in a very long time. He looked at Naruto as he grabbed his daughter and swung lightly in his arms making her giggle and he felt himself smile even brighter. The dinner went the same way talking about the way old days and telling Azumi stories as they ate. The more they talked and messed around the happier he became and the more he found himself laughing.
"Naruto will you put Azumi to bed while I clean up?" Sakura asked as she started piling plates to take to the sink. Azumi began to whine that she wanted to stay up and play with Sasuke and Naruto but he laughed and started tickling her as he picked her up and started carrying her to her room. Sakura shook her head as she heard them laughing and giggling all the way into the other room.
"She's a cute kid." Sasuke said as he walked up to her. "Need help?"
"Thanks. You could dry." She told him and handed him a towel with a smile. "I don't ever remember you smiling and laughing like you were."
"It's different times now. So who was it that taught her to call me her uncle?"
"No one. I guess she saw the other kids with the uncles and aunts and wanted to call you hers. You know she doesn't get that happy and playful with just anyone. She has specific people she picks and that's it. You should feel special." She smiled as she saw him smirk.
"Mama! Mama!" Azumi yelled as she ran from her room. She ran up to her mother and smiled as Sakura saw Naruto lean against the door way. "Daddy said you turn to tell me a story."
"Oh really? Alright, you get in bed I'll be right in." the little girl cheered as she ran off into her room as Naruto saw Sakura dry her hands before following after her only to stop beside Naruto. "Since mama has to tell a story, daddy has to finish cleaning up." She told him and watched him smile as she continued to walk into the room to tuck the little girl in. Naruto sighed as he watched her walk into the other room.
"Is it like this every night here?" Sasuke asked making Naruto's attention snap back to his friend.
"Mostly." Naruto chuckled as he walked to the kitchen and began working on the dishes. "Depending on the story, she'll be running around the house asking questions about everything."
"Where are your parents staying? I'm sure they would have a few stories for her."
"They're staying where they did before everything happened. They've been telling her stories the whole time they were watching her while we were in the hospital. She was all over after those." He chuckled as he started putting the dishes away
"You guys really have it made." Sasuke smiled slightly as he looked away from Naruto towards the doorway Sakura and their little girl had gone.
"You'd think that but you've only seen the great things." Naruto told Sasuke as he sat in a seat with a small cup filled with sake. "We have our bad days. We don't have it so great when we have to leave Azumi here while we go out on those missions where we never know if we'll come home." Sasuke looked at his friend not knowing what to say. He knew that it must have been hard to leave the little girl behind, he also knew that one such mission was all because of him and he almost case that cute little girl to grow up without a father. Naruto looked at his old friend and heaved a sigh. "Don't think too much about it Sas-gay." Naruto chuckled making Sasuke glare at him as Sakura walked out in time to here the comment.
"Dobe." Sasuke mumbled as he looked down at the empty cup in front of him.
"Naruto," she shook her head as he began to laugh. "Don't worry about it Sasuke, really. Everything turned out fine and we're all back safe and sound." She gave her old crush a small smile.
"But if it wasn't for you and the kyuubi, it wouldn't have been. I shouldn't have left in the first place."
"You left to get revenge, we understand you needed to get closure and revenge for your family."
"But I should have come back after I had my revenge. It's because of me that so many things happened to my friends back here. This last time I almost killed Naruto, it would have nearly killed you and I don't want to think what that would have done to your daughter." He looked between his two friends as they looked at him sadly.
"Sasuke, we all knew what we were getting into the moment we became ninja." Sakura gave a soft smile to him as she reached across the table and slightly squeezed.
"Sakura-Chan and I know exactly what we were getting into when we vowed to bring you back and were trained by two of the sanin. We knew exactly what we would have to go through when we got together and when Azumi was born. Nothing could ever change the fact that we are ninja of the Leaf."
"Daddy?" they heard a tiny voice making all three turn to see the little girl with cotton candy pink hair running her bright green eyes as small tears slid down her cheeks.
"What's the matter?" he asked as he turned to her.
"I had a bad dream." She sniffed before she ran over to him as he opened his arms and waited for her. "There was a really mean man and you were fighting and he really hurt mama and he kill you!" she cried. Naruto tightened his arms around her and shushed her as he used one hand to dry her tears.
"It was only a dream, we're right here honey. Nothing's gonna happen to either one of us, I promise." Naruto held her close as he comforted her. Sakura smiled as she went to the kitchen to make something to help Azumi sleep and Sasuke watched as Naruto talked softly and rocked the frightened little girl. He had been in the village for a few weeks and had seen Naruto interact with his daughter but it was playfully and acting like he did when he was a child, he had never seen his old friend act so tender and loving to anyone before.
"Here, dink some of this sweetie." Sakura said as she came back out with a small sippy cup filled with warm milk and some herbs. She smiled as the girl took the cup thanking her mother before cuddling back into her father's chest. "Feel better now?" Sakura smiled as she ran her fingers through Azumi's hair.
"yeah." She yawned as her eyes began to close. Naruto stood careful not to wake her as he took her back to bed.
"Is he always like that with her?" Sasuke asked as Naruto disappeared through the doorway.
"Yeah. Since the day she was born he's been like that. She's daddy's little girl." She smiled as she looked up at Sasuke who was still looking at the doorway. "You gonna settle down and have kids, now that you're back in the village and everything's done?" His eyes snapped to her as he stumbled over words. He didn't even know what to say to her.
"I…I… there…. Well… you…" Sakura began to giggle as Naruto came back out and sat next to her looking between them confused.
"Looks like Sasuke-kun still shy about women." Naruto smirked and shook his head as he kissed her cheek and took his glass out to the kitchen.
"Don't worry about Sakura-chan. You better get used to all of it before the other's get to you. Besides the guys will be telling you to run as far away as you can." He chuckled. "And sometimes I would have to agree." Sakura punched his shoulder as he laughed making Sasuke chuckle softly as the three began talking as if they were the old team mates again.