"Naruto." said a soft, serious male voice. "You should be well enough now to get out of bed, right?"
"Captain Yamato!" said Naruto brightly. Yamato had not been to see him yet, and Naruto was beginning to wonder if he was out on some mission. "Hey! How are you doing? Better than me I suppose."
"I’m good Naruto." said Naruto’s ANBU captain. "I was lucky. We need to talk, but I thought it would be nice for you to get out of the room for a while."
That was Captain Yamato for you, Naruto thought. Always right to the point. Naruto could see that Yamato, though he wore a pleasant smile, had something weighing heavily on his mind. Something in his dark brown eyes gave it away. Naruto also thought it strange that
Yamato was also still dressed for action, complete with his special ANBU headpiece. Designed to hold his wildcat-like ANBU mask in place while also housing a handy communication system, the headgear covered his forehead and sideburns with dull grey armor, but let his brown hair escape wildly. Naruto tried to imagine himself wearing something like that one day, and decided he would look quite ridiculous.
What could be wrong? Naruto wondered. Was it something about the masked Akatsuki? Sasuke? Naruto could only guess. Whatever it was, Naruto was certainly going to hear him out.
"Sure." Naruto said with a cautious nod. Yamato’s seriousness was a bit contagious. "I still can’t walk properly in these bandages though, and they’ve been telling me I shouldn’t move around too much yet while my skin heals. "
"Its been taken care of," Yamato said as he motioned to someone from out of view behind the curtain to come forward. A nursing assistant Genin clad in a white smock came forward into the room pushing a wheelchair.
Once Naruto was securely in the chair, Yamato thanked the young medical ninja apprentice and assured her he would watch out for Naruto from here on out. Naruto’s apprehension grew as Yamato wheeled him in silence down the corridors to the elevator, and then out into the hospital’s beautiful garden courtyard on the first floor.
"What is it?" Naruto turned to look over his shoulder at Yamato and ask as they neared their destination. Therefore, he didn’t see the three ninja that were waiting patiently in the courtyard. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes," said a gruff female voice. "But we’ll get to that. We have lots to talk about first."
Naruto’s eyes went wide. The Hokage had done a large part of his initial treatment upon being admitted to the hospital after the battle, but he hadn’t expected to see her again until he was to be released. She stood proudly at the center of the courtyard, her arms relaxed at her sides, her favorite green Kimono with the Kanji for "Luck" on the back adorning her busty figure. If Yamato had looked troubled, Tsunade looked positively heartbroken, her eyes sad and lined with dark puffy rings, as if she had not slept in days. Her youth jutsu also seemed to be slipping a bit, as her hair was lined with grey and a few wrinkles highlighted the corners of her eyes.
"G-Grandma Tsunade?" Naruto breathed. "What is this?"
Naruto was glancing from the buxom-blond village leader to the two masked ANBU that stood behind her, flanking her on either side. The one on Tsunade’s left was definitely female, Naruto decided, and was casually leaning over one knee with a foot placed on top of one of the courtyard benches. The other stood unmoving with his arms folded, dark hair protruding in a decorative bun high above his bear-like mask.
A soft wind blew through the courtyard, carrying Tsunade’s twin ponytail’s to her left as it scattered leaves of all colors across the walkways and freshly cut green grass of the courtyard. The fall flowers of yellow and violet had already bloomed, and though they had started to fade, they still made the garden look lovely. But the cold wind blowing was ominous, a sign that winter was near.
Tsunade sat on the bench, looking tired, and gestured for Yamato to wheel Naruto next to her. Yamato positioned Naruto so that his chair was next to the village leader, and he was sitting next to her almost as if he sat on the same bench. Then he took up a position next to the only entrance to the courtyard.
"I think," said Tsunade after a moment, "Its time you learned about your parents."
"My . . . parents?" repeated Naruto. All this heavy seriousness couldn’t be just about that, could it? Naruto thought. What else was there to learn? The Third Hokage had told him as a small boy that his parents had come from the former Whirlpool country, and that he was found near there shortly after the Kyuubi had virtually wiped that nation off the map. This was all a day before the Kyuubi had continued its rampage south toward Konoha. As far as Naruto understood, nobody ever discovered who his parents were, and he was labeled an orphan. Naruto had always assumed that was why the Fourth Hokage had chosen him to seal the Kyuubi, because he had no ties to speak of, and no parents to trouble with such a curse to place upon their child.