Now that I owned the building and actually knew stuff about fixing it, I sent a small team of clones to see what could be done. After I learned carpentry and how to make a bed, curtains, blankets, pillows and such, things would start looking up. Maybe some art too, painting or sculptures and things like that. I also set a team to working on the caged bird seal of the Hyuuga, since I'd much rather offer Hinata a certainty than a hope. It was shocking how little security the Hyuugas had on their library of advanced scrolls, and showed how truly arrogant they were. Admittedly, getting past the Byakugan's incredible visual ability was difficult, but once you managed it, it was easily repeatable. Buying your own reputation for invincibility was just asking for it.

This was also going to be the Sakura mission day, as tomorrow was our day off, so I decided to take the time to throw away the orange jumpsuit and wear something more discreet and professional looking. Eventually I planned to have special armored clothing with integrated sealwork, but that was probably a month or so away.

The clones I'd sent to procure clothes had been quite devious, and bought several outfits that made me seem like a virtual clone of Minato Namikaze, dear old dad, the Fourth Hokage. Ha, and with Kakashi being his student… yeah, it was just irresistible. Looking at the mirror, having experienced sexual penetration as a girl - and enjoyed it very much - I had to admit that I looked really good. Objectively, I was possibly on par with Sasuke. Kami, but he'd make a really hot girl, I smirked at the mirror for a moment. Was there a medical procedure or a seal that might accomplish that? Actually, I already had a technique for changing shape. I started laughing out loud at the idea of turning fangirl-magnet female.

As usual, I spent most of the morning on heavy physical training, showered, ate and showed up on training ground seven a few minutes before Kakashi got there. Just like yesterday, I made sure only the nastiest three missions remained, and wondered briefly which one the others had kindly left for us. I was betting we'd get to hunt down the giant rat nest in the sewers, but the others were also possible. Despite the prospect, I was whistling cheerfully. Sealwork and elemental training were going marvelously well, so much so that I might be able to start on elemental combination jutsus a full week before the timeline. There was also the little fact that I had scented nose-plugs and heavy-duty gloves sealed away among my ninja supplies, ha ha.

The clones had figured out a way to bypass some of security seals, or at least had several ideas on possibilities that showed real promise. Next week I was definitely getting into some of the good stuff, the secret archives and libraries of powerful techniques. I'd infiltrated just about all the clans, excepting only the Aburame, but learned surprisingly little. Oh, the Kurama had some genjutsu that sounded really frightening, what the Yamanaka could do to a person's mind was outright horrifying, and the Akimichi and Inuzuka were powerful combatants, but there was little there for me to copy that was useful, as all such arts relied on abilities I lacked, or a companion in the case of the Inuzuka. I avoided the Aburame for obvious reasons - my clones usually managed to gain entry in insect form, and that clan compound was full of chakra sensing insects. There were many small old clans, but the Sarutobi and Senju compounds had some serious defenses I was not ready to face, as befit the homes of current and former Hokages. Even the Nara has some nasty and really well concealed traps that I preferred not to test. For others, I was content to wait, there was already too much to study, easily enough for a couple of years.

Speaking of training, I really hoped that the secure archives held a few good taijutsu and kenjutsu styles, since I'd scheduled the start of intense training for those two fields somewhere towards the end of next week. Shadow clones, after all, also transferred muscle memory, as I'd already demonstrated by vastly improving my abilities with ninja tools, skill at dodging and general acrobatics. Flexibility, however, was something I still had to work on, and I'd never be as good as someone like Hinata, some of the things I'd seen her do were just incredible. And yes, of course I was spying on her, and my teammates, and Kakashi as well, and so on and so forth. People who interacted with me mattered, so they were under surveillance. Kakashi was particularly tricky to follow around, but I'd managed it so far, only losing him a few times - sowing clones in immobile forms around the village soon helped track down his whereabouts on such occasions, and his habits made him rather predictable.

"Naruto, you idiot, you're late! Naruto…?" that last word came out much more softly as Sakura's large green eyes widened comically.

"You like?" I twirled around and grinned foxily at the stunned girl, and the gaping Kakashi. "See, I always had trouble getting clothes, but Kakashi let me take some extra missions, so I actually have some money. I decided to celebrate by getting new duds. So, what do you guys think?" I beamed at them, or rather, their reaction.

"Much better," Sasuke replied laconically, with his usual affected disinterest.

"Ah, yes, Sasuke-kun's right," Sakura nodded emphatically, "Much better! You actually look good, like a really ninja or someone who matters."

Well, that certainly clarified her opinion of me, I had to bite my tongue to keep down an acidic response that begged to be uttered. In her silly dress, no one would see her as anything other than a little girl in pink.

Kakashi was no longer gaping like a fish, and was slowly regaining control of his emotions. A bit hoarsely, he just said, "Come on, let's pick up a mission."

I made sure to walk at the front of our little group, and the silence and the way people were staring at me, for once without hatred in their eyes, was truly gratifying. Old man Hokage had something coming to him, depriving me of my heritage the way he had. There was a reason I avoided him nowadays, and I'd never ever tell him the solution to handling his paperwork. Still, he was probably the only reason some bad things had never happened to me, the council protocols were clear, so he had something of a clean slate with me. I just… honestly didn't care that much about him, one way or the other, other than to be wary of the God of Shinobi. Old didn't mean dead, and even with clones, it would be many years before I could boast to be his equal in knowledge, let alone skill. He might well have forgotten more tricks than any ten jounin knew.

Iruka was all healed up and handling the mission desk, and handed Kakashi a mission scroll in absolute silence, staring wide-eyed at me. We walked out of the Hokage tower with barely a whisper of sound all around us, and it was clear that Sakura for one, was getting spooked. Even Sasuke was engaged, looking around at people and then back at me and Kakashi. All in all, it was hilarious.

"So what's the mission, Kakashi? Oooo, let me guess. Hunting rabid giant rats in the sewers!" I tried.

"Ahem," he actually had to look at the scroll again. "Not quite. That would probably be easier. What we have to do is…"

"Hey, would this be a bad time to just hand in my forehead protector? I mean, worse than hunting rabid giant rats in the sewers?"

"Babies, it's babies. You have to take care of a dozen babies until nightfall. You know, Naruto, this might just be a good time to make use of your shadow clones. There's teamwork and then there's real insanity," Kakashi recommended with some heat in his voice.

"Babies are worse than giant rats in the sewers?" Sasuke raised a brow, at his most expressive for once. "And what's this about you?" I had to ask. "Shouldn't that be we? Aren't you part of the team?"

"Oh, you'll see, I promise you'll see," he replied to Sasuke, completely ignoring my words. Not that he'd ever actually contributed anything to any of our 'missions'.

With that ominous warning from Kakashi, we went off to see.

Only three of the mothers were waiting for us at the rather nice house. Ordinarily, I could expect a serious protest at leaving their darling little ones at the mercy of the demon, referring to me of course. It's amazing what a big different new clothes make. They eyed me carefully and were very polite, before leaving us to the mercy of the real demons. I actually caught two of the women looking back, just about undressing me with their eyes.

Sakura's squealing about how cute the little babies were ended on a rather different note when one of them pissed on her face, the stream of urine striking with shinobi-like precision. I just about died laughing. Then had to run ahead of her before I actually died. Kami, even Sasuke cracked a smile.

Of course, then the two of us had to deal with the lot of them while Sakura washed herself. Choosing the better part of valor, I obeyed my dis-respected jounin-sensei and used shadow clones. I was sure the horror of those memories coming back to me would be painful, but I didn't have enough hands and Sasuke was almost useless.

It went on for hours, and rather than reading a book, I used the time to practice my calisthenics, gravity and resistance seals on - with a few food breaks. My teammates were surprised when I unsealed a hot meal from a scroll, and I was generous enough to offer them one. Just one of my meals was more than enough for both of them - I had three over the seven hours we babysat. An hour and a half of eating in a relaxed fashion and five and half of ceaseless physical activity. Sakura actually looked impressed at my stamina, while Sasuke was predictably jealous. The pink haired girl also spent a suspicious amount of time looking at my bare upper body rather than pining away after Sasuke, turning away with a blush the couple of times I caught her at it. It was a good sign, and good planning. So much better than hunting rats, at least until the memories caught me. If only I'd managed to figure out how not to have the clones always deliver all their memories, if only they could edit…

On the other hand, considering that I wanted a large family and and had every intention of reviving an entire clan, getting used to taking care of babies was another one of those skills I needed to perfect. It was certainly better than regarding it as a trial. Which got me to wondering if highly developed sensory abilities and experience would allow me to predict what the eating and defecating machines needed before the wailing started. Together, the miserable lot was whinier and louder than Sakura in a snit.

"Say, Naruto," Kakashi was nice enough to assist my pushups by coming over and standing on my back, "Is training all you do?"

Which question made me wonder whether he was spying on me. Like the Hyuuga, I was getting careless, and resolved to add my own custom security seals and a cordon of defensive clones to the trap arrays.

"Well, what else is there to do, huh? Old man Hokage made me promise to stop the pranks when I got this," I did a couple of one-handed pushups while raising my fingers to touch the leaf-marked forehead protector.

"There's always reading," he held up his orange book.

"I read," I answered tersely. "In fact, it won't be long before I've read every book and magazine in the village. Shadow clones are very useful," I added to fill in the silence.

He seemed not to have an answer for that, and another two hundred pushups and the mothers started filing in. Their burning stares got Kakashi off my back, literally, and had me snatching up the shirt and coat and dressing at full-ninja-speed.

The remainder of the mission prep for operation Sakura went off perfectly. Once they checked the house and babies and signed the mission scroll, Kakashi vanished and I had Sakura distracted, having her clean up some baby-vomit traces from her sleeve. That was more than enough time for Sasuke to disappear, as he'd taken to quickly departing our company to avoid Sakura. The clone replacing him did its job with admirable perfection.

"Sasuke-kun, you waited for me! Want to go out and have dinner?" she asked, intruding into my clone's personal space.

"Imbecile," damn but my imitation was superb, just the right cutting tone. "Don't you realize that you have no chance of gaining my attention? I will rebuild my clan with a powerful kunoichi suitable to the needs of the mighty Uchiha. You? Calling you useless would be a compliment. It would mean that while you contributed nothing to the team, you can at least take care of yourself. Instead you're so weak that you're a burden. At least that idiot Naruto can carry his own weight. You're pathetic," he spat out and walked away proudly.

On cue, tears started leaking from her eyes as she trembled. I heard her whispering, "No, no, Sasuke-kun," and sob unintelligibly.

"Hey, hey, what's wrong Sakura?" I approached her and grabbed her in a hug, flickering back home as she sobbed into my chest. "Come on," I bent down and picked her up bridal-style, sitting down on my comfy couch and having her sit in my lap, legs spread around me and face still sticking to my chest with tears flowing.

"Come on, please don't cry," I whispered in her ear as I ran a hand through her hair and brought a warm washcloth up to clean her face. "Here, drink this," I gave her a cup of hot beverage with something extra in it. Not a drug, though I had considered that - I just wasn't good enough to make my own as of yet, and couldn't trust others enough to use what I'd picked up here and there. Just alcohol with plenty of kick added to sweet juice with a twist of lime. Hiccuping, she drained the cup, and then another, finally relaxing a bit.

"Feeling better? Now why don't you tell Naruto all your problems, huh teammate?" I rubbed her neck gently, letting some of my chakra leak before setting my other hand to trace circles on her back. It was so very different than one of my clones. Sakura was smaller and there was barely any feeling of soft breasts against me, and she also smelled different, a floral scent from her shampoo. "Sakura? Come on, talk to me."

"I don't know what to do," she said in a low voice. "He hates me!"

"Well, obviously. Think about how you and the other fangirls act. His family is all dead, murdered before him, and you simply do not let him be, stalking and jumping in his face with things that he doesn't think are relevant. I mean, if we were sixteen, I'd be more understanding, but we're not quite thirteen, even if we are counted as adults since we're genin now, real shinobi. Always in his face, an endless annoyance. Wouldn't you hate it too?" I asked. "All those fangirls are pretty creepy. Think about it, if you had a lot of young boys who simply wouldn't let you have any peace, always going on about you like you're not even there, and getting in your face constantly to ask for this and that and a date. How would you feel?" I caught her chin and raised her face, using the opportunity to whisk away my coat and shirt so fast that she didn't even catch the movement, the chakra wafting off my body in ever-increasing waves as I spoke, fingers touching just the right places with a gentle application of invasive chakra.

"Ahem, I…, I think..." she stuttered adorably, blushing beet-red and lowering her eyes. That's when I kissed her.