Tsunade ended up spending the entire duration of her pregnancy in the small cottage her grandfather had built with his Mokuton jutsu for when he needed to get away from the bustle of a growing Konoha. Shizune stayed with her, and Minato made it a point to visit at least once a day to bring them supplies and check up on the baby. His trips became more frequent when Tsunade took to throwing one of his Hiraishin kunai (left with them for emergencies) every time she had a craving or just wanted to chew him out really good. The ingenious little seals inscribed on the three-pronged weapons let him know every time one was thrown, and he always showed up just in case *this time* it was important.
Tsunade seemed to be entirely ignoring the fact that it took two to Tango and was taking all of her frustrations and fear for the future out on Minato, but he couldn’t work up the nerve to point that out to her. Her mood swings made rabid hungry weasels seem predictable and rational and his manhood was already threatened more times than he was comfortable with as it was.
Despite his predecessor’s obvious hopes for them, Yondaime was pretty sure he and Tsunade would never get past a platonic sort of relationship. He frowned and idly tapped a pen against his desk as his shadow clones industriously read and signed off on paperwork throughout the room. There was the age gap to consider, but that was surmountable. It was Konoha, itself that he was sure would always be their hurdle even if they could find some sort of common ground for affection, and he couldn’t see any way around it.
Regardless, his life was kind of on hold until they could figure out how to deal with all of this. He was really looking forward to being a father, but the situation constantly weighed on his mind. He was a man of action – charging in and getting things done. He’d never been forced to really put something this important on the back-burner before, but he dreaded the confrontation that would resolve it, especially since he had no idea where he should really stand and what he should fight for out of the many issues surrounding this situation. He was a completely confused mess, and he knew it.
If that wasn’t enough, before all of this had happened, he’d been all set to finally go out with Whirlpool’s Uzumaki Kushina, but he didn’t really feel comfortable doing that when he couldn’t be completely honest with her. Impending fatherhood is not really something you should start out a relationship hiding from your girlfriend, so he’d put her off with excuses about being busy with Hokage duties. Understandably she was getting impatient and not a little bit pissed since he’d been chasing her pretty hard until he’d found out about the baby. She’d probably decided he was a complete ass and moved on.
He couldn’t really blame her, if she had, especially since he wasn’t willing to risk a relationship with his child over anything, let alone a romance that wasn’t even guaranteed to work. He had no delusions that Tsunade wouldn’t bring it up romantic entanglements when they finally couldn’t put this particular fight off any longer. She was a brilliant woman and he really felt like he needed to have all his ducks in a row if he wanted to get along congenially with the mother of his son or daughter and have any hope of convincing her he deserved access to the child just as much as she did. If he had to give up Kushina to be a parent, then so be it. It wouldn’t really be fair to her to drag her into this mess anyway.
That being said, he’d be damned if he let Tsunade run off with his son or daughter, but he was sure she’d never agree to stay. Despite the lack of death and destruction during her most recent stay in the village, she was still adamant that she would never raise a child that close to Konoha, and he was sure she’d never be happy staying in Shodai’s Retreat. The Hidden Village of the Leaf would forever be associated with taking from her everything she ever cared for, and she’d never feel comfortable with her kid so close to what she perceived as a cursed death trap. Especially if the kid was to frequently visit his father there. She was already going stir crazy in that small cabin. Minato sighed. He’d be lucky if she even managed to make it through the next few weeks until the birth.
If Tsunade were to frequently take the baby out of the village, as much as it hurt him to even think of it, he had to consider that it might be best for the kid if his or her paternity wasn’t even known to the general public. He had no illusions as to how safe a child of his would be without him there to protect it. He’d never forgive himself if some Stone ninja went after his child in some twisted plot to get revenge on the Yellow Flash for his part in the Third Great Ninja War. Tsunade’s reputation might serve to keep them off, but it might also make them even more determined not to let a child with that kind of pedigree reach an age where he could be dangerous.
He wished he could talk to Kakashi about it. His student had grown up under the shadow of the White Fang and on more than one occasion had to deal with grief-crazed shinobi bent on revenge for things his father had done. He wanted to know how he dealt with it and how often it happened, how easily the plots were thwarted – that sort of thing. He couldn’t confide in the boy though. He couldn’t tell anyone until he and Tsunade could talk it out, and at this rate, the kid would be Godaime by the time they both could even decide what it was they WANTED.
Yondaime’s pen snapped at that thought and ink went spattering over everything. He cursed loudly then waved away the ANBU that came to investigate the commotion. Morosely he cleaned up the mess as best he could before turning back to the window and sinking back into his thoughts.
He’d probably be getting along better with Tsunade if she hadn’t taken to abusing the Hiraishin kunai. He’d fallen off the ceiling once, been neck deep in one of Jiraiya’s swamps TWICE (despite his occasional lack of self-preservation instincts, the Sage knew when to just shut up and do it without asking questions). He’d been summoned under Giant Slugs, in piles of garbage, and on one memorable occasion, halfway in the oven. Which was on.
For the most part, he was a good sport about it – she was carrying his baby, and he’d known better than to let her manipulate him into drinking that night, but it was getting really old and he’d had to come up with a lot of excuses for why he kept needing to procure new hokage robes. Additionally, it was hard to have a rational conversation with someone when you were dealing with second-degree burns over the lower half of your body, even if they were letting their apprentice heal you right away.
If that wasn’t enough, he’d also been dealing with his Hokage duties, and someone had been setting the tailed beasts loose on various villages over the past few years. He’d had a side project going for a while now on something to counter it if it ever happened to Konoha, but he hadn’t had a chance to work on it in months. It would probably work, but it would definitely kill whoever tried to use it, AND it still required a sacrifice to seal the demon in which was absolutely unacceptable in Yondaime’s mind.
He was unceremoniously jerked out of his thoughts when the tower began to shake a little and off in the distance, in the exact direction of the Shodaime’s retreat, the sky burned red.
Oh please no.
Fucking Kyuubi had the nerve to go rampaging through her grandfather’s cottage -- a small house that had stood testament to her ancestor’s amazing skill with Mokuton jutsu since the founding of Konoha. She’d had a lot of fond childhood memories of that place. What’s more, the damn Nine Tails had the utter gall to do it when she was just over 8 months pregnant and miles away from any defenses aside from Shizune whose poisons wouldn’t do squat against a several stories tall monster made entirely of the chakra embodiment of pure malice.
Tsunade growled through the shooting pains in her back. She really did have the Worst Luck Ever™ and this sealed it, Konoha was definitely out to get her.
“We’ve got to keep going Tsunade-sama.” Shizune urged her, doing her best to support her staggering mentor as they fled the destruction Kyuubi was causing behind them.
They’d gotten away from the house and started heading for the dubious safety of the village’s walls in what had seemed like plenty of time. The giant oppressive cloud of hatred that preceded the demon along with his huge ass body, made it kind of hard to miss when he headed towards you. Unfortunately, the stress of his presence and the panicked flight from their refuge towards the last place in the world she’d ever feel safe had kicked the Slug Sannin into premature labor. This, understandably, slowed them down quite a bit.
“Fucking Minato – bastard couldn’t make his jutsu work two ways could he? How much harder could that have been, huh?” She gasped. They’d been outside when they’d felt the first waves of the Bijuu’s killing intent and had been more focused on escaping than going back to the house for the Hiraishin kunai, so even if the Yondaime HAD the foresight to make them work so they could summon other people to him, it wouldn’t have done them much good.
That bit was lost on Tsunade though, as she had very little room for rationalizing through a haze of pain and fear. Especially when her legs gave out from under her during a particularly strong contraction only moments after her last one had stopped. “DAMNIT, we’re not going to make it to the village, let alone the hospital.” She gasped, “You’re going to have to deliver this brat here. It’s got to be a son. No girl would be this rude and pushy. He’s going to take after that bastard of a father, I can tell!”
“Try to stay calm, Tsunade-sama. If the baby’s ready to come now, then there’s nothing for it. Remember to breath!” Shizune said. She’d been afraid something like this would happen.
“#@$#@ of course I’m going to remember to breath!” Tsunade gritted out through clenched teeth. “Why do people always tell women in labor to do that?! If I ever say that to someone, I want you to kick me!”
Her apprentice ignored her with practiced ease, as she did her best to clear a spot on the forest floor, and laid out her outer robe to try and make her mentor more comfortable. Together they managed to get Tsunade arranged as best as possible, but the situation was definitely less than ideal. The baby was early enough that he’d be small, so despite the fact that this was her first child, the birth was likely to be fast.
They were fortunate that Tsunade was as far along as she was; the baby had a good chance of being healthy even if he was a bit early. There were medical jutsu which would have it set to rights in no time as long as he or she was developed to a certain point.
The baby was crowning by the time Minato managed to find them. He’d ditched his ANBU guard, sending them to the front, while he went to find out what had happened to his unborn child. He assuaged the waves of guilt he’d been feeling for letting his personal concerns trump his duty to the village, by telling himself that his baby might be the solution to all of their problems. The idea of what he would do if they could manage to force the child to be born before it was too late made him slightly ill, and the horror of what would happen to his precious village and everyone inside it if they couldn’t warred for supremacy in his mind. He refused to think about how he’d convince Tsunade it was necessary if they had to induce labor, just as he refused to believe the high probability that he might not find her alive.
When he arrived in their little clearing to be met by the cries of his first born son and lack of resistance from his already very protective mother, well, that was it then. It had to be fate. There were no other women in the village due to naturally give birth soon enough, and all the current infants were older than a few hours into the world and so were unlikely to survive the process. His face was a mixture of sadness and the reflexive joy of all new fathers when he accepted the bundle of squirming infant from Shizune while the girl continued to work on her now unconscious master. It was easy to slip away and join Jiraiya and Gamabunta at the front lines. In the end, he supposed it didn’t matter that they’d not made any concrete plans for their son’s future before he actually arrived. There’d be very few choices now.
He’d have to be satisfied with getting to hold and name and see the tiny wonderful face of his legacy before he gave his life for a village he knew very well might grow to hate their tiny savior, but what choice did he have? “Forgive me, Naruto.” He murmured.
As he lay dying after performing the massive sealing, he carefully kissed the top of his sleeping son’s head and passed the baby to his sensei. He thought there might have been tears in Jiraiya’s eyes, but his own vision was getting too hazy and he was too far gone for his usual panic response. “You’re a godfather, Sensei.” He gasped. “Make sure they know your godson’s a hero.” And with those final words, the Yondaime died.
By the time Tsunade got her first look at her baby, he’d already been given the unfortunate name of a hero from Jiraiya’s new book, lost his overly noble father who didn’t even have the decency to build up a respectable alcohol tolerance, and been saddled with the most perverted, free-loading, horrible godfather in the history of perverted, free-loading, horrible godfathers. She hoped this wasn’t a sign that her son had inherited her luck.
Shock from seeing blood of which she was phobic and giving birth less than a mile from where the most powerful of the tailed beasts had been tearing through the village’s defenses hadn’t been very good for her health, and she’d passed out rather quickly near the end of the ordeal. On the upside, she thought she’d somewhat come to grips with the blood thing, as this experience with it had brought her the most perfect, precious, bundle of blond joy she’d ever seen.
She’d managed to sleep through the trip back to Konoha, which had probably been pretty uncomfortable both for herself and Shizune, who’d had to carry her, and she’d also managed to miss the anxiety of knowing what that crazy bastard was doing with her poor Naru-chan before she knew he’d come safely out of it. There was no way in hell she’d have agreed to it if she’d known, but she was happy to be spared the worry during the whole ordeal.
This and the lingering discomfort of having just given birth no matter how good your healer happens to be probably saved quite a few lives in the aftermath of Tsunade learning just what she’d missed while she was out. An enraged Tsunade was something the shinobi of Konoha had learned to deal with, but an enraged Tsunade protecting her son was on an entirely different level, and something they wouldn’t witness for many years to come. As it was, she was grumpy, but holding her small, but perfectly healthy-but-for-the-demon-sealed-in-his-belly son kept her from completely flying off the handle. In fact a strange sense of contentment and peace had settled on her despite what Minato’s actions might mean for their kid’s future.
The baby in her arms opened and closed his tiny fists and moved his head a little. It was the most adorable thing she’d ever seen. Tsunade quietly cooed at her son from their place on a rather uncomfortable cot in a little forgotten room in Hokage Tower. After the stunt his dad had pulled, there was no way she’d let herself be seen with an infant anywhere near Konoha for a rather long time. People might put two and two together and get Kyuubi-vessel, and she wasn’t having any of that, so her only option was hiding out for the duration of their stay here.
Come to think of it, she was really glad they hadn’t told anyone about the baby for a variety of reasons. A) no one was supposed to know Kyuubi had been sealed into a kid, and therefore everyone knew and wanted to kill it, and B) letting the world know the greatest medic-nin in history and granddaughter of the Shodaime had procreated, however accidentally, with Konoha’s infamous Yellow Flash, directly relating the boy to all but one of the Leaf’s, (known for its strong ninja) strongest ninja and one of its Sannin was probably ranked pretty high up there on the Bad Idea Scale™. Really Strong Ninja tended to collect Really Strong Enemies like old men collected stamps.
Tsunade inwardly cursed Minato, despite the fact that it wasn’t good to think or speak ill of the dead. He might as well have painted a giant bull’s-eye on poor Naru-chan along with the fancy-ass seal.
Hopefully, if she played her cards right and managed to get out of Konoha without anyone the wiser, everyone would just think she had became another one of the many kunoichi who decided to have a kid of her own without unnecessarily tying herself down to someone else. That kind of thing wasn’t exactly an oddity in a world full of highly independent women who were trained to have illicit affairs for information and infiltration purposes or hold on to clan positions which needed heirs without the complications of marriage and possible loss of political power to a spouse not of their blood. It wasn’t uncommon at all for high ranking and politically powerful women to have children and give them the maternal family name, so if they played their card right Senju Naruto shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
For the second point, ideally most people would just assume that the Kyuubi kid was just some random brat pulled off the street rather than the son of two of their most prestigious heroes. When he failed to make his presence known, they’d no doubt think that he disappeared, probably killed by someone who didn’t want to take credit for it and get himself executed for breaking the soon to be announced Fourth’s Law of secrecy.
No one knew his name or what the infant had looked like, bundled up as he’d been on the battle field. So as long as they didn’t have to see him and be reminded of the terrifying force of nature held at bay in such a tiny, fragile body, human nature dictated that they’d probably be quick to forget about him. Out of sight, out of mind. Celebrate Naruto-kun’s birthday on his original due date, and presto – no one the wiser. After all, everyone knew Tsunade had a huge aversion to returning to her home village so it would seem unlikely that she and her newborn son would have been there during the attack.
If her kid happened to look a great deal like Konoha’s favorite martyred hokage, well, his mother was blonde too, and she’d been through lots of places with predominately blue-eyed people in her travels. Maybe his father was from Lightning Country. The coloring wasn’t that uncommon over there.
Her fierce grin slipped a bit as she took in all the ways her baby obviously took after his father. Though still a bit red, it was evident that his complexion would be darker than hers, and that bright shade of yellow hair was all Minato. She’d be willing to bet his eyes were going to brighten up rather than darken when they settled into his adult color. If you ignored the whisker-like birthmarks on his cheeks, he’d probably end up being a tiny Yondaime clone. She sighed, ‘well, at least those aren’t likely to give him away either. Lots of ninja families have weird markings. Just look at an Inuzuka.’
Looking at Naruto, it was hard to believe the Yondaime was gone and her sweet little baby was the jailor for a massive, malevolent demon. The cheeky blond punk had been a constant annoyance and source of anxiety for her for the last several months, but she had faith in Minato’s ability with seals, and even more faith in his love for his son. After all, she’d had to deal with his constant cooing at her stomach, babbling of possible baby names (including the one he’d stuck the kid with – damn that Jiraiya, it was somehow his fault, she was sure!), and for the sake of little Naruto, now sleeping so peacefully in her arms, he’d even put up with her messing with him by summoning him in as many different, uncomfortable, and embarrassing situations as she could think of with that trick kunai of his.
She’d never given him a chance, she realized, too worried about him demanding to keep their baby and with his village behind him, having the power to take yet another bit of her family away from her. It was extremely ironic that now, he was the one who’d never get to see his little boy grow up.
Looking out the window at the city Minato had sacrificed himself to save, the same city all her loved ones gave their lives for, as it struggled to deal with its devastating losses and revive itself from the wreckage, she couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about her decision to totally alienate herself and her son from Konoha. She’d never seen before what was so great about it that they all had felt it was worth their lives to govern and protect. But both she and Minato had been born here, grown up here, been ninja here, and though many of her loved ones had died here too, this village had given her Naruto and in a way, her loses had been a part of that. If she hadn’t been feeling so sorry for herself that night, she’d never have fallen into bed with Jiraiya’s prize pupil.
Maybe someday, if he wanted it really badly, she’d let Naruto come back long enough to become a ninja of the Leaf. Knowing her luck, odds were the kid would be genetically predisposed for obsession with hokage-hood anyway. What was the point of fighting against inevitability?
…But definitely not until he could properly defend himself – at least chuunin level…maybe jounin, or ANBU. No, he’d definitely have to be Sannin level first. She nodded to herself, yeah, that was reasonable; no one could fault her for that logic. “What do you think Naru-chan?” she whispered to her sleeping son, “should we go wake up Shizune and get out of this hell-hole?”
Naruto slept soundly in reply, after all, he was a newborn – they really only had three modes at that stage of development. She took this for tactic agreement.
Tsunade levered herself up off of the cot, careful not to jostle the tiny bundle in her arms, and padded silently towards the door. Jiraiya, when he’d had a chance to stick his head in earlier, had informed her that her apprentice had fallen asleep almost as soon as she’d drug them into the tower. She’d been exhausted from stress, the birth, and healing Tsunade in its aftermath – not to mention the amount of effort it had taken to be stealthy while trying to get them to hiding without being seen by anyone in the general confusion. She’d been given the room next to Tsunade’s so she wasn’t too hard to find.
Once informed of the situation, Shizune was extremely apologetic about the whole, ‘handed your baby to a man who sealed a demon in him’ thing, but in her frantic efforts to save her master she hadn’t really thought twice about giving the baby to his father to hold. Who could blame her? Well, Tsunade could, and it would have been ages before Shizune lived it down enough to be trusted to babysit her precious Naru-chan if infants had been allowed in bars and/or casinos. As it was, in the years to come she got plenty of one on one time with her beloved adopted nephew.