Everything is Exhausting
Gamakoto didn't know exactly where the hospital was as he was mainly summoned to appear in the Hokage's office, so that's where he showed up. Sarutobi had just finished lighting a newly packed pipe and was about to start on his afternoon round of never ending paperwork when the toad popped into existence in his usual spot on the corner of Sarutobi's desk.
"Oh, what a pleasant surprise. A message from Jiraiya?" He said, but the toad shook his head and said in an urgent tone, "Emergency, need medical attention." Before Sarutobi had a chance to say anything Gamakoto turned his body and regurgitated a now slimy and blood covered Kushina holding onto an equally slimy and blood covered Naruto. Sarutobi stood up and four of his personal ANBU appeared in his office seemingly out of thin air. One with a rabbit mask held out her hand and it lit up in a green chakra fuelled fire. She held it to Kushina's head before shaking her head and moved it to Naruto's. She barely held in a gasp.
"Hokage-sama he's going to die if he doesn't get immediate help. I can do what I can until we get to the hospital to keep him alive." Sarutobi nodded and two of the other ANBU carefully hoisted the boy off the ground while the rabbit masked ANBU kept her hands on Naruto's chest. If one could see her face, a look on intense concentration would have been found. The three ANBU disappeared with the blonde and Kushina made to follow before Sarutobi put his hand on her shoulder. Sarutobi nodded at the fourth ANBU and he disappeared back to where ever his surveillance point was.
"Hokage-sama, please! I promised to make sure he survived!" Kushina said frantically. Her eyes were tearing up but Sarutobi was made of sterner stuff than that. He pushed her down to his guest chair and circled around to his own chair. Sitting down he pulled out his pipe and put it in his mouth. The ember had gone out but he didn't light it again, it was more of a habit to have it in his mouth at this point.
"I haven't seen you in three years and this is how you greet me?" Sarutobi finally said. Kushina just stared. She couldn't tell if he was being serious or not, but when he finally gave a chuckle (presumably at the look on her face) she frowned. "Jiji-sama this is no joke. That kid... It's my fault he's like that and..." She choked a little on her words before continuing, "I need to go be with him... Please!" Sarutobi shook his head. "He is probably already at the hospital and by the amount of blood on you and what I saw of him, he's going to go straight into surgery. Unless you are a surgeon I doubt you could do anything but get in the way." Kushina put her face in her hands and started sobbing. Sarutobi didn't stop her; she needed to get it all out now rather than bottling it up. When she finished Sarutobi spoke in a low kind tone. "Kushina, go home take a shower and get some clean clothes on. Eat a meal and have a cup of tea or something. Maybe take a short nap if you can. When you are done that Naruto will probably be able to take visitors, or at least very close to it. And then we can have a chat." Kushina looked very much like she wanted to protest, but in the end she just nodded. She stood up and gave a short bow before turning to leave. The last ANBU appeared and draped a plain cloak around her shoulders before disappearing again without a word. Kushina couldn't even manage a thanks, so she just gripped the cloak and hoped it covered most of the blood on her.
Kushina's route home took her past the hospital. She paused out front of the doors and stared up at it. The impulse to go in was great, but Sarutobi's orders rang louder in her head. With difficulty she peeled her eyes off the big sign and took a few steps down the street before a shout caught her attention.
"Kushina? Is that you?" Kushina spun her head towards the entrance of the hospital and saw a dark haired woman accompanied by a shorter boy who shared similar features. "Mikoto?" She asked, almost uncertain of her identity. The woman's features lit up and she rushed over to envelop her friend in a hug.
"Ah-h... I would probably wait until I take a shower before hugging me. I just got off a mission." Kushina let her eyes roam downwards and she said, "You're pregnant!" Mikoto smiled brightly and said, "I'm married too! I'm not the same 16-year-old you last saw! What about you? Was your mission a success?" Kushina turned away and Mikoto frowned. "I'd like to take a shower first. Why don't you and... Obito was it? My how big you are! Why don't you two come over and we can have lunch or something. Then we can chit chat and catch up." Mikoto smiled and they made their way back to Kushina's small apartment.
Ringing the last of the water out of her thigh length hair, she expertly twisted it up in a large towel and slipped a clean standard black uniform on. She stepped out of the bathroom into her living room area and was greeted with the scent of Mikoto's homemade ramen. Obito was fidgeting with the remote control to her TV and paid her no mind, but Mikoto smiled brightly when she saw Kushina's look of longing.
Sitting down her stomach gave a rumble and reminded her that she hadn't eaten since she was in Iwa. Thinking of Iwa made her think of the blonde boy fighting for his life in the hospital and her stomach twisted harshly, making her glad she hadn't eaten yet. Mikoto turned to serve the red-head a bowl just in time to see her wiping tears from her eyes.
"What's wrong? Is it something you can discuss?" Mikoto asked, quite aware of the secrecy that entailed being a ninja. Kushina stopped wiping her eyes and said, "I don't know if I can or not. I suppose I can tell you some things..." Mikoto poured Obito (who had shown up at the sight of ramen) and herself a bowl and sat down tenderly, holding her belly.
"Why is the runt with you anyway?" Kushina asked, ignoring the nine-year-old's tongue as he stuck it out at her. Mikoto gave a little laugh before smacking him upside the head. Obito scoffed and Mikoto said, "He's my valiant escort. I have to see so many doctors, I'm due in little over a month." "Who did you end up marrying? Please don't tell me it was that stick in the mud Fugaku..." Kushina nearly cried out loud when Mikoto smiled wider.
"Oh get over it. He's much nicer now. Besides, Yutan-kun... He didn't come back from his mission. Just shortly after you left actually. His teammates say he died protecting his clients after putting up a huge fight." Mikoto's face looked sullen, but Kushina could see that the years had taken the edge off of her grief. "What about you though? Anything exciting happen in the last three years? I heard you were doing rebuilding work as a fancy diplomat for Konoha. Did you manage to find anyone from your family left?" Kushina shrugged. Her mission hadn't gone all too well, and her supposed return had cost her three teammates and possibly a fourth and fifth that she would have to check in with later.
She spooned some ramen into her mouth and nearly dropped it in sheer delight. Mikoto had made salt ramen, Kushina's favourite. Slurping down a long noodle she said, "I only got one family to move to Konoha, and they weren't related to me. One of my cousins took her husband and their baby out west somewhere. I think the rest of the Uzumaki Clan perished in the disaster or has disappeared and is trying to start anew. Not that I blame them. I ran into some trouble on the way back here actually. I lost... Three of my teammates... and... I need to go to the hospital." She stood up but Mikoto grabbed her arm and pulled her back down. "Finish eating first. Whomever you need to see can wait ten more minutes. Tell me their names; do I know any of them?"
Kushina shovelled another spoonful down her throats and said, a bit somberly, "The three from the first mission were Uzu survivors so you wouldn't have known them, but the one whose blood I was covered in was Minato's little brother. You must have met him right? The one with the weird scars on his face. His name was Naruto. He got hurt pretty bad and... I don't know... I hope he makes it through the night. Minato would never forgive me." Mikoto opened her mouth to say that she had indeed heard of Minato's brother but Obito stood up and slammed his palms on the table.
"Naruto-nisan is hurt! I need to tell Himawari-sensei!" He turned and before Mikoto could stop him he was out the door. Kushina said, "I didn't know that Obito knew him..." "Neither did I, but Himawari is a name I do know. She's a Hyuuga branch member that Obito's been hanging out with lately. Can you stop him please? He's only nine. I'll stay here in case he comes back. I'm in no condition to be running around." Kushina nodded and was out the door in a flash.
Obito almost made it to the Hyuuga compound, despite only having a few second head start. Brats were getting faster and faster every year. Grabbing the boy by the collar of his shirt he grunted and turned. "Please ne-san! Naruto-nisan is like Himawari-sensei's best friend! They both teach me and play ninja with me!" Kushina wrinkled her nose. "How do you even play ninja?" She said, but Obito just whined. She let go of his shirt and sighed.
"Fine but we knock like civilized people. You are an Uchiha after all and I'm sure your father would lay it into me if I let his only child behave like a wild animal in front of, god forbid, a Hyuuga." Obito nodded and although he ran to the large gates, he was very polite in asking for Himawari's presence. The girl, a pretty little thing with choppy indigo hair, showed up after a few minutes and stepped out, closing the large gates. Bending down after giving Kushina a nod, she spoke.
"Obito-kun, you know that it's rude to interrupt a meal, especially in this clan." Obito blushed and looked ashamed, but he switched back to determination and said, "Sensei, Naruto-nisan just got back! Kushina-neechan says he was hurt really badly and might die! We need to go see him!" Himawari's face paled of what little colour it had and she looked up to Kushina for confirmation. Kushina's face must have been the same colour because she straightened suddenly. "Well, what are we waiting for? Naruto-kun needs our support."
"What!" Shouted a certain nine-year-old Uchiha. "I said what I said, Uchiha-san. Namikaze-san is still in surgery and when he gets out he will still be in intensive care and only his guardian is allowed to visit until he is taken out of the ICU. It says here that until his brother signs some papers, Uzumaki-san here is his guardian." Obito huffed as the lady behind the desk put on a kind face.
"I understand that it is hard, but this is standard procedure." She said to the boy who just turned away and earned a reproachful look from Himawari. "Do you know about how long it will be until he is out of surgery?" The receptionist shrugged but said, "I can make a call for you but it usually takes about half an hour to get a proper estimate." Kushina waved her hand. "That's fine. I'll wait over here." The red-head moved to the sparsely filled lobby and sat down. Her face was one of someone with steel composure, despite the typhoon of emotions threatening to spill over.
Glancing at Himawari who look slightly ill and Obito who looked more than slightly angry, Kushina pursed her lips. "Himawari-san was it?" Himawari raised her head and made contact with Kushina's violet eyes. "Could you do me a favour and bring Obito to my apartment? He left his aunt who is in no condition to be by herself there after running away like an immature brat." Himawari gasped and Obito protested that he wasn't a brat. Kushina merely clicked her tongue. She proceeded to give Himawari her address and watched the two leave. She could already tell that Obito was in for a tongue lashing when he was out of hearing range. A small smile made its way to her face; she wasn't even surprised that Naruto managed to befriend the nicest Hyuuga and the silliest Uchiha she had ever met.
The half hour went by faster than she had thought it would and a man approached her wearing a lab coat with a clipboard in his hands. "Uzumaki-san?" He asked, taking a seat beside her when she nodded in confirmation. Positioning the clipboard on his lap he gave a small sigh.
"Namikaze-san was heavily injured, and the delay in proper medical attention certainly does not improve his chances of surviving, but I can tell you now that he is still holding on decently strong. I'm not supposed to tell you anything about the surgery yet other than whatever was applied to his chakra system around the wounds may have damaged him enough that it will prolong his recovery," Kushina lowered her head in shame, but the doctor continued, "it may have prolonged his recovery, but it has almost ensured that he will have a recovery." Kushina glanced up and nearly burst into tears again. "W-when will he be out of surgery?" The doctor looked at his clipboard and said, "They aren't completely sure as there is so much to repair, but the lead surgeon believes that it will still be more than 12 hours. Maybe as few as 10 so long as there are no more complications." Kushina withered.
"If you give me a way of contacting you when he is out, we can inform you right away if you wish to leave, or we can set up a cot in the room that should be booked for him now, and maybe you can get some rest." The doctor was looking at the large bags that had formed under her eyes and the haggard look of exhaustion she harboured. She gave a short nod and said, "I'd appreciate the cot, actually. What room number?" The doctor gave her a short smile and read off the room that the Hokage himself had secured for the blonde boy. Kushina thanked him and made her way to the room, opening the door just as a nurse was setting up the cot. The nurse even left her with a blanket and a pillow and Kushina didn't realize how exhausted she was until she laid down. The adrenaline she had been running on completely left her and she drifted off into a healing sleep before her head even hit the pillow.
A hand gently shook Kushina awake, and the red-head rubbed her eyes to clear the blurriness from them. A young medic nin was smiling at her and said, "Uzumaki-san, you must get up. Namikaze-san is out of surgery and will be here in a few minutes." Kushina immediately shot out of the cot, letting the blanket tumble back onto the bed in a mess. "How long has it been?" She asked. The medic looked at her clipboard. "Namikaze-san has been in surgery for almost 17 hours." Kushina looked worried. "17? I was told it was only supposed to be 12 or 10?" "There were some complications that will be explained after the patient is settled in. There is a washroom behind you if you feel like cleaning up a bit. Other than that he should be here in about 10 minutes." The medic bowed and left the room.
Kushina made her way to the washroom and saw that her hair was a giant mess. She had no comb so she made use of her fingers to comb it out the best she could before braiding it loosely and securing it with an elastic band she had found in her pocket. Looking in the mirror she was surprised at how well rested she looked. She certainly felt like she could sleep for another week. The bag under her eyes hadn't completely disappeared, but she merely looked tired now, as compared to near death like before. Stepping out of the washroom she closed the door behind her at the exact same time as the door to the room opened, admitting a nurse guiding a hospital bed into the room. Kushina's chest swelled when she saw the blonde, but he was hooked up to so many machines it paralyzed her with fear.
Not able to take her eyes of Naruto, she only came to when a woman who looked fairly ragged and tired, dressed in the standard medic nin uniform shook her arm. "Uzumaki-san?" She said, and Kushina turned her head.
"Ah, sorry...It's just I didn't..." The medic nodded in understanding. "I am glad to tell you that Naruto-san will survive. The extent of his injuries was astounding, and the fact that he lived for as long as he did is a testament to his will, but his recovery will be long and hard. I was told you are the temporary guardian appointed by Hokage-sama?" Kushina nodded. "Uh yes, I am close friends with his older brother and we were all on a mission when he was injured. I was sent back with him before the other members could come." The medic nodded and said, "I need to go over his injuries, how we healed them, and the complications that arose. Would you like to go to the cafeteria so we can get some food and tea perhaps? It's quite a large list." Kushina felt her face pale, but nodded. The medic led her down to the modest cafeteria and Kushina found herself to be quite famished. She purchased a sandwich and sat down as the medic sipped her tea.
Glancing down at the clipboard, the black haired medic took a breath and said, "I am aware of the shinobi secrecy act, so I will not be asking anything that could compromise it. I am assuming by the shards and splinters left that the patient was impaled by a stick, possibly a bamboo tree?" Kushina shrugged.
"It was a bamboo spear. It pierced him through all the way and to remove it I sliced the end off and pulled it the rest of the way through." The medic nodded and wrote a note on the paper. "One of the complications arose with a foreign chakra that was lingering in his system. It prevented some of the precision techniques' effectiveness." Kushina lowered her head.
"I didn't know what to do, he was bleeding so badly so I channeled chakra into his wounds and tried to visualize it healing, you know like real medic-chakra. My chakra however is poisonous to others. Naruto didn't seem as affected by it as others were though." Kushina trailed off looking uncertain. The medic tented her fingers under her chin and let out a small breath.
"I want to thank you for your quick thinking on Namikaze-san's behalf. He would have just bled out and died if you had not been able to force the clotting of the entrance and exit wounds. The chakra didn't touch the mess that used to be his lung, and it made our jobs easier. Unfortunately, it really ate away at his chakra circulatory system around the lung and in the rib cage. Those cannot start to heal properly until the foreign chakra has dissipated. That will make his healing longer in the long run." Kushina rubbed her arm and finished her sandwich. She was starting to feel the burning behind her eyes again.
The medic sensed that she was close to tears so she continued on with the list to give Kushina time to get herself under control. True to her word, however, the list was very extensive and by the time the medic finished Kushina was starting to nod off again. The large clock behind the food counter read 6:30 in the morning. Kushina signed several documents before finally being allowed to go to back to Naruto's room. By now he had been tucked in properly with the machines keeping him alive all beeping and humming quietly. They had washed all the blood off of him, but from the neck down he looked like a mummy.
She reached out and brushed blonde strands from forehead noting that he didn't have a fever anymore, and tried to ignore the tiny flecks of blood that the medic had warned her would gather at the corner of his mouth until his lung was fully clotted. Tucking the corners of his already tucked in blanket, she smoothed them down before deciding that she couldn't do anything more. The medic told her that he was going to be kept in an induced coma to prevent him from coughing and dislodging any healing for the next week or two, so she shouldn't feel anxiety about him not waking up. It didn't help much though, as she slowly let her eyes fall shut in the mildly uncomfortable cot, she shivered and wished that Minato was there to keep her warm.
End Chapter 14
Words words words! Everything exciting happens next chapter, I promise!