Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author's Note: Watching FMP: TSR always does this to me… X3

Warnings: Fluff. Vague mentions of sex. An unnamed OC—intentional unnamed, I should say, so as to make it easier on readers who, I'm sure, have their own ideas for Kaname and Sosuke's future kids. (If you ask me, though, her name is Mayura.) Also, a very cheerful Sosuke. (Personally, I can see Sosuke—once having settled down with Kaname—loosening up a bit. Or, at least, laughing more…)

Dedication: To Nina (and Zena!), to whom I still owe a Naruto doujin and my soul. (I still don't know why you guys put up with me. You must really love me, deep down inside. XD)

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How Much Do You Love Me?

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She paused.

It was hard to tell initially, because the slow scratching of her pencil was quiet to begin with— each measured, deliberate movement carefully planned and executed with militaristic precision. (She was, after all, her father's daughter.) However, the silence of the pencil was quickly followed by an absence of all other sound: no swinging of feet, no rustling of papers, no frantic scrubbing of an eraser.

Concerned, Kaname turned away from the pot on the stove, eyebrow cocked and free hand on her hip. "Is something wrong, sweetie?"

And indeed, the little girl was frowning: hard brown eyes staring holes into the paper before her on the table. The paper, brightly colored and full of cheerful decorations, seemed less than intimidated.

"…Mama?" she asked suddenly, tiny fingers clenched around the pink-stripped pencil. "What's your job?"

Blinking her confusion, Kaname turned down the stove and wandered to the table, untying the back of her apron as she did so. "What's this about?" she inquired gently, pulling a chair up to her daughter's booster seat. A second pair of brown eyes skimmed the piece of paper, reading the instructions printed on it. "Is this a worksheet for school?"

"Yeah!" the child chirped, curling her toes in her panda-print socks. "It says I gotta write down what my mama and daddy's jobs are and then explain them and then be ready to tell the class what they do—" she took a deep breath—" 'cause it's important to know!"

Kaname smiled, propping her head up in her hands. "I see. Well, you can put down, then, that your mama's job is to take care of you."

The little girl considered this, lips pursed in thought. "You don't gotta go to work?" she rephrased, puzzled. "But Rika's mama does. And Tomoyo's."

"Well," Kaname chuckled, leaning over to push a strand of the child's long, chocolate-colored hair behind her ear, "I just love you too much to be away from you. So I stay here."

"Really?" she gasped in wide-eyed wonder.

"That's right."

"Does that mean Daddy doesn't love me as much?"

oops. Kaname's smile faltered half an inch. "N- no, sweetie, that's not it," she amended quickly, "your daddy loves you just as much as I do—"

"Then why doesn't he stay home with me?" the little girl pressed, scowling now. She dropped her pencil in favor of crossing her arms over her chest and looking suitably bitter. (There was no doubt who's personality she'd inherited…) "Daddy always goes away for lots of days, too…"

"That's because Daddy is a soldier," Kaname explained patiently, pointing to a blank space on the worksheet. "You need to write that down, too, right? Your Daddy travels around the world to fight bad guys and keep you safe. He loves you sooooooo much, he hunts down everyone who might hurt you and gets them in trouble!"

"Oh…" The child mulled over this information too, her annoyance melting into awe. Distractedly, she played with the ends of her pigtails… It was a habit she'd picked up from her god-mother. "So…" she then summarized, clearly determined to get all of this information straightened out in her head, "Mama loves me so much that she stays here to be with me, and Daddy loves me so much that he goes away to fight bad guys for me?"

Kaname breathed a soundless sigh of relief. "Uh huh," she then said cheerfully, kissing the child on the cheek as she stood and returned to the stove. "That's just how much we love you."

Feeling satisfied with the way the conversation had ended, Kaname dipped a stray ladle into the simmering pot, blew softly on the extracted spoonful, and opened her mouth to taste the stew—

"How much do you and Daddy love each other?"

—before promptly spitting out the small bite she'd taken.

"Wha—what…?" she spluttered, whirling around to face the child as her cheeks turned scarlet.

The little girl stared calmly back. "How much do you and Daddy love each other?" she repeated. Her homework had long since been forgotten—now playing coaster for her purple sippy-cup. "How much do you love Daddy? Do you love him as much as you love me?"

"I… um…" Still a vivid shade of red, Kaname turned the burners down again and went to rejoin her child, hands clasped behind her. "Well honey, mommies and daddies love each other… differently… than the way they love their kids."

The child merely stared; this visibly meant nothing to her.

Her mother tried a second time. "That is… well, mommies and daddies… there are different types of love, you see, and mommies and daddies love each other in a…" She struggled for a moment to find an appropriate word… and found nothing.

The little girl, however, continued to watch Kaname expectantly. "In a…?" she prompted, all innocence and curiosity.

And Kaname, to her own horror, found she could think of absolutely no way to get out of this conversation. At least, not while maintaining a PG rating—and her daughter was no where near old enough for the "birds and bees" talk.

"In a… different way," the young woman finished lamely, flashing the child a smile that was both sweet and forced. "I love your Daddy very much, and I love you very much."

Please God, let that be the end of it...

"But who do you love more?" the little girl demanded mercilessly, pawing at her sippy-cup. "'Cause you stay at home with me, does that mean you love me more? Or are you lettin' Daddy protect you from bad guys, too?"

There is no God.

"Um… well…yes…?" Kaname laughed nervously, then shook her head in a dismissive sort of way. "Look, sweetie, this isn't fair. I love both you and your Daddy; I love you equally. Okay?"

Not okay. The child refused to be pacified. "But you don't act like that. You kiss Daddy like this—" She screwed up her face and stuck out her tongue, wriggling it around as she made a gasping sound. Kaname's eyes widened in horror, her face changing from gray to burgundy in .9 seconds. Where the hell did she—? "—and you don't do that ta me. And you hit Daddy with your fan. You don't do that ta me, either. Does that mean you love him more?"

Kaname was too stunned to speak properly. "I… um… where did you see…?"

"Is that whatcha mean by 'different,' Mama?" she continued, taking a swift swig of her juice. "Or is it 'different' like that boy in my class who eats chalk? That's what my teacher calls him…"

"Baby, I…"

At the weariness in her mother's voice, tears began welling in the child's eyes. "…do you really love Daddy more than me…?" she whimpered, chin wobbling pathetically as she gazed up into Kaname's horrified face.

She had no other choice.

"…um… okay, honey," Kaname sighed, hiding her head in her hands, "see, mommies and daddies—that is, they are attracted to each other in a very deep and sexual… er, I mean…"

A moment of hesitation; she grit her teeth and took a deep breath. Then— with a burst of frustrated energy—

"When a man and a woman love each other very much—!"

"Daddy!" the child squealed, completely oblivious to her mother's embarrassment as she hopped out of her booster seat and ran to the opening door, skidding across the hard-wood floors. "Daddy! Daddy's home from his work-field trip!"

Closing the door behind him with a tired smile, Sosuke exchanged his duffle bag for his daughter—hoisting her into the air and leaving the luggage at his feet. She giggled happily, pinwheeling her arms in excitement.

"Daddy, Daddy! I ate a bug at school yesterday! 'Cause the boys dared me!"

Sosuke's eyes narrowed with worry. "Bugs are full of dangerous germs and toxins," he scolded, sounding worried. "Don't ever do that again. You could get sick."

She pouted. "But it made the boys cry…"

"I see…" He had a bit of trouble hiding his grin of pride. "Still. It's important to be careful of your health."

"Okay! Guess what? Guess what? I got a gold sticker on my alphabet page!"

"Excellent work."

"And Mama says she loves you in a deep and sexual way!"

"I—" A pause; a double-take. "—what?"

Sosuke blinked, and there was silence. Apart from the strangled choking sound coming from the direction of the table, anyway.

The little girl grinned toothily.

It took a bit of effort, but after a full minute of wordless gawking, the soldier cleared his throat and managed a polite: "…pardon?"

In the adjacent kitchen, Kaname's forehead acquainted itself with the wooden table.

"Mama says she loves you in a deep and sexual way," the child repeated happily, beaming at her father. "She says that she loves us the same, only she doesn't really 'cause mommies and daddies love each other different, and not different like the kid in my class who eats chalk, but different 'cause they kiss each other like this—" she screwed up her face and stuck out her tongue— "and they don't stay home alla the time to take care of each other."

Sosuke said nothing. Rather, he stared at his daughter for a long moment, blinked again, and then shot a bemused glance at his wife.

…who was silently bashing her head against the table.

With a sigh of resignation, he set his daughter lightly on the ground and lowered himself to his knees, placing his hands on her shoulders.

"Mommies and daddies love each other differently," he calmly explained, "because we are grown-ups, and grown-ups do things differently. That is all."

The little girl stuck her forefinger in her mouth and nibbled it pensively. "Oh… does that mean you love Mama more than me?"

"No."

"Oh. Really?"

"That's an affirmative."

"'Kay!" With a giggle and a spin, she scampered back to the table to grab her sippie-cup and worksheet. "Mama, I'm gonna finish this in my bedroom and bring out my gold star to show Daddy! …why are you hitting yourself?"

"Mama's just being a grown-up," Sosuke said coolly, lowering himself onto the seat beside Kaname. "Go finish your homework like a good girl."

"'Kay!" she sang again, skipping off to her bedroom and closing the door behind her.

A second hush fell, broken only by the occasion thud of Kaname's head against the wood grain... but even those sounds faded away, eventually.

Sosuke waited, patient as ever, until his wife had calmed down enough to stop inflicting bodily damage. "…'deep and sexual way'?" he then asked, voice monotonous.

From beneath her red-tinged forehead, an angry brown eye shot daggers at the soldier. "I couldn't think of anything else to say," she grumbled, scrubbing dejectedly at the back of her neck. Sosuke noticed, smiled sympathetically, and began rubbing reassuring circles upon her back. "Really, you should have heard her! I mean, how was I supposed to answer 'do you love me more than' questions?"

"She's a child. Any answer would have been appropriate." He considered. "…except yours, I think."

Kaname groaned. Sosuke chuckled. "Don't worry," he assured, kissing the top of her head. "You haven't ruined her mind yet."

"I suppose…" Straightening with a stretch, the young woman blew out her cheeks and leaned back in her chair. "And I guess… even if I did…" she continued nonchalantly. "We could always try again."

She waited, watching her husband from the corner of her eye. Though Sosuke didn't verbally respond, he did turn a rather fetching shade of magenta.

"You don't want any more kids?" Kaname teased, speaking softly as she leaned closer, curling into his side. An idle finger danced upwards, popping the top button of his green uniform.

"It's not that," he murmured, his voice a hint huskier than before. His lips curled into a teasing smirk, gray eyes bright. "It's just… would there be enough love to go around?"

With a playful shove and a whispered laugh, Kaname wrapped her arms around her husband's neck—

Then hesitated, frowning broodingly.

"…is something the matter?" He sounded sincerely concerned— even bothered to drop the strand of her hair he'd been playing with.

"Yeah…" she admitted, visibly moping. Throwing one leg over Sosuke's lap and settling down, Kaname asked solemnly: "I don't really kiss like that, do I?"

He titled his head, bewildered. "Like what?"

"You know… this."

She mirrored her daughter's scrunched, tongue-lolling, this-is-my-parents-when-they-kiss face.

Sosuke's burst of laughter echoed through the tiny apartment, fading only when the fire alarm went off—signaling that dinner was more than ready.

XXX