It had been nearly two weeks since Sakura had fallen unconscious and Naruto had been there nearly all day, every day. Sasuke stopped in for an hour or so daily, as did Hinata. Lee had wanted to be on constant vigil, but his current mission had kept him away. Tsunade came in at the end of visitor's hours to make Naruto go home.
Naruto snored loudly as Tsunade carried him home on her back. She glared backward at the latest bellow of noise to assault her ears. "This kid could give Jiraiya a run for his money," she said to no one.
Naruto blinked his eyes rapidly as he awoke and wasn't all that surprised to find himself being carried home. "Hey, Baa-chan," he greeted with a yawn.
"Hey, Brat," Tsunade replied, and then was quiet for a few moments. "I've been doing some thinking...After Sakura wakes up, I want to announce your adoption."
Naruto was instantly more alert. "Do you think that's a good idea?"
"I also plan to tell them about the death of Kyuubi. Why the hell Sarutobi let the villagers think you were anything more than human is beyond me. I intend to set the record straight. I know I won't be able to change the minds of everyone...but if I can at least get them to think a little about the way they've treated you, then that will be enough for now," Tsunade announced, stopping and letting Naruto down from her back as she finished.
"But..." Naruto began as his feet touched the ground.
Tsunade turned around and put a hand on Naruto's shoulder. "You are my son. I will have you treated with respect," she said with a warm smile.
Naruto smiled back and nodded. "Thanks." The two began walking again. "Baa-chan?"
"I'm sorry," Naruto said as he stepped over a branch that had fallen on the path.
"I lied to you...about why I didn't want you to adopt me at first."
Tsunade stopped walking. "What do you mean?"
"I wasn't afraid of you messing up being Hokage to keep me safe."
"What was it then?"
"I thought you'd treat me like a kid. I didn't want a bunch of new rules."
Tsunade sighed. "Naruto—and I'm sure you know this by now—I will never try to change the way you live your life," she replied, smiling as she finished. "I think you've done a pretty good job of raising yourself. You're kind, happy, thoughtful and, when it's important at least," she said with a laugh, "very responsible. I doubt I could've done a better job with you."
Naruto beamed with pride. "Thanks."
Tsunade ruffled Naruto's hair. "You're welcome. Now, let's go home."
Naruto nodded in affirmation and mother and son walked on to their home together.
Sakura's head hurt. She moaned and forced her tired eyes open. "Where?" Her vision went in and out of focus. She saw a life monitor. "The hospital?" With some effort, she turned her head to face the opposite direction. She saw a few fuzzy figures standing around, talking to each other. One of them was obviously Lee. No one else wore that much green who was their age. She saw one of the figures turn to face her direction.
"Nani?!" Naruto's eyes widened. "Baa-chan! She's awake!" he squeaked, pointing at Sakura excitedly.
Sasuke did a double take at hearing his brother's voice go up a few octaves. "When the hell did his voice start cracking?" he wondered. He pushed it aside for the moment, due to the situation.
"Naruto," Sakura thought with a small amount of fear.
Naruto and Lee rushed over to Sakura's side. "Sakura...can you hear me?" Naruto asked in desperation.
Sakura swallowed. Her throat was extremely dry. "W...water..." she croaked.
Naruto's eyes filled with tears of joy. "You got it," he said happily. He grabbed a cup from the water cooler and began to fill it.
Lee helped Sakura to a sitting position. She took the water Naruto held out for her and drank it in one gulp. "Arigato," she said to Naruto, her voice sounding a little better.
Sasuke moved into where he could see Sakura's face. "Sakura...how are you feeling?"
Sakura's eyes went as wide as dinner plates. "G...Get away from me!" she screeched, using all her available strength to scuttle backward to the wall at the head of the bed.
Sasuke's face took on an expression of confusion. He looked at Naruto and was surprised to see a look of understanding in his eyes. "Sakura...what...?"
"NO!" Sakura screeched again, covering her face with her arms. "NO...noooo...ooo," she begged, breaking down into sobs.
Naruto sat down on the bed and wrapped his arms around Sakura in an attempt to calm her down. "Sakura-chan, he's not gonna hurt you."
Sakura rocked a bit as she cried. "N...Naruto...I...I'm so sorry. I...I wanted to know what...what really..."
"Shhhhh. I know...I know. I don't care about that now. I'm just glad you're back," Naruto said in a soothing voice.
"H...how could he? You...you're his best friend. How could he a...aim for your heart?" Sakura cried.
Sasuke's throat tightened painfully. "Tsunade-sama told me something scared her...but she never said..."