Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine, and my milkshake doesn't bring any boys to the yard. OH SAD DAY DDD:
This song was on repeat for hours as I wrote this chapter. Especially for the second part.
Imagine you could tear the world apart,
Lay it all out like a weather chart.
Take your time 'cause you're up against space,
Sweep up the tearsrunning down your face.
You burn bright when you're left alone,
Build up the speed to bring you home.
Turn off the lights and watch you glow
At light speed, can we last for long?
See it backslide in the burning sun.
By the way I ought to let you know,
the equator peeled off when I let you go.
Turn off the lights and watch you glow...
To the end of all time,
Just so I can see the lightning climb over you.
To the end of all time,
Just so I can see the lightning climb over me.
"Till the End of Time" by Stars of Track and Field
JD01 (Emerald Lies)
No One Ever Said It Would Be This Hard
Lifeless, Sai dragged his body back home the following morning. The house was now empty, save for the furniture, a remnant of the vivacity it contained only a mere hours ago. Funny how drastically things can change overnight. Funny, and yet Sai was in no mood to laugh.
He brewed his tea, like he did every morning and pulled a chair out of the dinette. He sat down mechanically and waited for the mug to cool. Empty, empty, everything was so empty.
"You definitely look like shit," called out a voice, as the man slipped through the window.
Sai didn't bother responding or even looking his way, he simply took a languid sip of his tea. Sai carefully placed the cup on a coaster. What's the point? It's not like anyone will ever care if there are rim marks on this table anymore. It's not like this table will ever be used again. It's not like...
"Why are you here?" Sai abruptly asked, willing to end his dangerous trail of thoughts.
"Seems like you didn't sleep a wink last night." He didn't, but Sai didn't see the point in pursuing this track of conversation.
Then, acquiescing that Sai won't budge, the intruder dropped the pleasantries.
"It seems that I'll be needing your help after all."
That got Sai's attention.
He looked up, his eyes as big as saucers, the dark circles underneath his eyes in stark contrast to his sickly pallor.
"N-now?" Sai choked out, firmly grasping his mug to keep from trembling.
"I'm close to completing the jutsu, but I can't do it alone," he explained. Then, he paused, surveying Sai's odd behaviour, "Why do you look hesitant?"
He licked his lips, "Sasuke found out about his child."
The intruder froze and then a strange, ghost of a smile tickled his lips. And then, the moment was gone. "Mhmm, interesting," he casually commented.
Sai narrowed his eyes. "He married Naruto."
"Ah, he sure works quick," he supplied nonchalantly.
"He blackmailed Naruto into marrying him," Sai corrected through clenched teeth, "And he's taking my daughter too."
"He always had trouble sharing," the man quipped, before ducking as Sai threw his mug at him full force.
The dish clattered against the wall, lightly cracking it.
"DO YOU FIND THIS FUNNY?" Sai hollered, losing it for the first time since the whole nightmare began. The broken shards of the cup fell on the floor, the scalding tea dribbled down the walls and Sai's world was empty. So, so empty.
The man didn't answer and Sai shook his head.
"I can't leave them. I can't abandon my family. My kids. Naruto. I-"
"Sai," the voice beckoned, much softer and kinder than he had ever heard it before, "If we're doing this, it's for everyone's sake. It's for the sake of the defenseless. It's for your kids' sake. It's for your daughter's sake. It's for Naruto's sake. When the time will come, they'll understand."
Sai numbly nodded.
"It's for the best."
A phrase Sai had abundantly repeated to himself over the past eight years. He repeated the mantra on those sticky, humid nights where Naruto slept naked beside him, wiped out from the afterglow. He said it when as he played with Shun in the yard and as he taught him how to ride a bike and as he read him to sleep. He said it the first time he held his beautiful daughter in his arms. He said it as he watched her grow more ravishing by the day. And today, much like all those other times, the words felt hollow and dry on the tip of his tongue. Was it really for the best?
"It's just a bit further. Come on, Shun. Don't be difficult," Naruto sighed, rubbing his forehead in frustration. Shun had stopped walking for the umpteenth time during their journey. This time, he thre his backpack to the ground.
"We just moved! Why are we moving again?" Shun demanded angrily. "Where is otousan? I hate this place. I want to go back to Suna! Now!" Shun cried out, stomping his feet petulantly as his face scrunched up in a nasty little sneer. He threw tantrums so often these days, Naruto was honestly fearing that the boy's face will get stuck that way.
Chinatsu pressed her face further into her chichiue's leg. She didn't like it when her aniki got mad like that. He became scary and Chi didn't like to think of her aniki as a scary person.
Naruto bent down and picked up the little girl in his arms, kissing the top of her forehead. Chinatsu was such a shy little thing, sometimes Naruto worried that life would erase her in the background. He didn't want his daughter to become wallpaper.
"Even Chi doesn't throw any tantrums," Naruto sternly remarked, staring down at his agonistic child.
"Hn," Shun sniffed, haughtily crossing his arms over his chest, "That's cause Chi is stupid."
"Shun!" Naruto growled and Chinatsu just pressed her head to his chest, mute. She didn't want her chichiue to get mad and she didn't want Shun to be mean.
Naruto heard his little girl start sniffing quietly and he sighed, soothingly rubbing the back of her head.
"Don't speak to your little sister that way. Apologize," he scolded, his brows furrowed.
"Whatever," the little boy huffed, looking away and petulantly raising his small nose in the air.
Naruto shook his head, at the very limits of his patience. Such a little boy, so much attitude already. He feared what a teenage Shun might become. Visibly annoyed, Naruto growled, picking up the backpack and roughly shoving it on the boy's chest. His dark eyes widened as Shun reflexively scrambled to grab the bag. Naruto tightly grabbed the child's arm and continued walking.
"Stop it! You're hurting me! Stop it!" Shun obnoxiously whined, blinking back the tears.
"Bear with it, since you're incapable of walking on your own," Naruto answered through gritted teeth, yanking the difficult boy forward.
"Stop it!" Shun snivelled, "I want otousan! Where's otousan? Why are we moving again? Why?" the boy squalled, pulling his hand from chichiue's iron grasp.
Chinatsu whined, tightly wrapping her arms around Naruto's neck. She always got anxious around confrontation. Naruto heaved a sigh and stopped dead in his tracks. What am I doing?
He loosened his grip on his son's arm and turned to face the frowning, sniffling child. Shun looked down at the ground as he numbly rubbed his aching wrist. Naruto crouched down beside Shun, whose face was reddened by exertion. His heart thudded in his chest. This wasn't how he should be dealing with this, the boy just found out his parents are splitting. Naruto exhaled.
"I told you before, Shun. Sometimes..." Naruto began gently, licking his lips. How the fuck do you explain this to a confused seven year old? "Sometimes parents stop living together because... they're not happy together anymore. But your otousan still loves Chi and you very much. He didn't go anywhere," Naruto supplied, choosing his words carefully as he surveyed the boy's confused black eyes to see if anything of what he was saying sunk in.
Shun, suddenly meek, looked at his chichiue like a lost puppy.
"Is it because of the fight you guys had?" he asked quietly, with all the innocence of a seven year old boy. Naruto felt the strings in his heart tug dully.
"What fight?" Naruto asked, frowning.
"The fight!" Shun exclaimed, as if it were so obvious, as if saying it any louder would help his chichiue understand. "Yesterday! Before otousan left the house! And y-you guys were using bad words! And you..."
Naruto's eyes widened slightly as his son trailed off. He had heard? How did Shun hear? Sai and he had always been extremely careful to not expose their children to their brawls, and still... Naruto closed his eyes shut, still Shun had heard.
"Shh, I remembed now," he gently said, wiping the jet black strands out of the boy's creamy white forehead with his free hand and soothingly kissing the spot. Shun whinged, pressing his head to Naruto's chest, next to Chinatsu. Naruto sighed, firmly holding both of his babies in his arms. When had he turned into such an adult?
"It's not because of that, Shun."
"O-otousan was m-mad at me," the boy hiccoughed, "before leaving, he s-saw me and h-he w-was so mad, chichiue. I-it's b-because of m-me," the boy stuttered, fisting Naruto's shirt. Naruto felt his heart sink deep, the hair on the back of his neck rising. How could he think...? Chi began trembling too. Naruto rubbed her back. His precious little girl, she was so sensitive. She loved her aniki so much, she would instantly burst into tears at the sight of his unease.
"Shunny, your otousan loves you," Naruto whispered against the boy's ear with every ounce of sincerity he could muster. He whispered it with so much fierceness, with so much passion, it momentarily obliterated Shun's budding doubt. There was so much in the world he was unsure of, but Sai's love for Shun wasn't one of them. "I promise you, he loves you. I promise you, he didn't leave you. And I promise you that this isn't your fault. Shun, look me in the eyes," he gently manoeuvred his son's face away from his shirt, lifting his chin. "This isn't your fault. Sometimes, these things just... they just happen, but it's not anybody's fault. Otousans and chichiues, they get mad sometimes and sometimes they even yell, but never ever do they stop loving their kids. Has there ever been a day without sun?"
Shun slowly shook his head.
"Never! Right? Even on those cloudy days when you can't see it, the sun is always there. The same way parents can't stop loving their frustrating little midgety kids," Naruto exclaimed pinching his son's cheek playfully. "Even when it doesn't seem like it," he added softly.
"We may not be living with otousan, but you'll see him everyday, okay?"
"P-promise?" Shun hesitantly asked, his dark eyes now reddened and puffy and the sight absolutely broke Naruto's heart.
"Promise," he beamed down at his baby, extending his pinky. Shun swiftly wrapped his own pinky around chichiue's and they bumped thumbs. "Now, where's my brave, big boy? All I see is a crying little baby," Naruto asked in an eccentric deep voice, turning his head side to side, mockingly searching.
Shun roughly wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
"R-right here, chichiue!" Shun excitedly exclaimed, stuttering lightly.
"There he is!" Naruto simpered, embracing Shun with all his might. Chinatsu giggled, copying her brother and wiping her tears.
"Let's go to our new home, ne?" he cheerfully announced.
He got to his feet and extended his arm to Shun, who slowly grabbed it.
The Uchiha compound was in the further east part of Konoha, clearly demarcated by large pillars. It was dramatically different from the rest of Konoha― Shun silently gaped, awed. The houses were much bigger, grandiose even. They were clearly made with much better material than the average Konoha home. Some were even made with grey stone that practically shimmered, Shun noted excitedly. Even the roads were nicely paved, unlike the rest of the dirt-beaten streets in the village. Most buildings though had ivy crawling its way up; they were dusty, ancient and ill-maintained. Naruto noted the rundown old Uchiha police department as he walked by. Uchiha police― this was before his time, but it struck him how not too long ago this place was bustling with life and energy, brimming with child prodigies. Uchihas, the future of Konoha, one of the founding clans of Konoha. So many generations of proud Sharingan wielders that must have lived, that must have walked through these very streets. And now, they're all gone. And now, they're all erased. All that remains is dust and ash. How desolating, Naruto thought as he finally stopped, his insides anxiously twisting.
He squeezed Shun's hand. This is it.
Sasuke stood on the steps of the big Uchiha estate, his arms crossed over his chest, on leg poised over the other. Sasuke disinterestedly regarded him, before setting his gaze on Shun. He stared intently. Naruto licked his chapped lips. And so it begins, he solemnly thought, taking a step forward only to be held back by Shun.
"I don't want to go!" Shun pleaded, tugging at his chichiue's arm.
Naruto sighed, trying to muster the patience to deal with this ball of trouble. He didn't blame the kid, the rug had been pulled from under his feet and he was struggling to maintain some semblance of balance, desperately grasping at any shred of normalcy. Shun was lost and confused, he was frightened and hurt, and Naruto's heart ached to know his baby boy was hurting so much. He didn't blame the boy, but still... he wished Shun wouldn't make this transition so difficult. It was unreasonable. Illogical. Wishful thinking. Naruto knew it. He never thought it would be so hard, and it had barely even begun.
"Shunny, please. Just come inside," Naruto tried to reason, attempting to keep the frustration from leaking into his tone.
"I'm not going in that house with him! I'm not living with him," Shun whined, stomping his feet.
"That's enough!" Sasuke bellowed impatiently, the sound so aggressive it instantly made Chinatsu recoil into Naruto's chest. Shun started, eyes wide, abruptly shutting up. Naruto just clicked his tongue, glaring viciously at Sasuke. Such a brash son of a bitch. Yes, I'm sure if you terrorize the boy, he'll better accept you...
"Come inside already," Sasuke snapped, sneering over his shoulder as he strutted inside the house.
Chinatsu was shivering. Naruto patted her head.
"Hey, what's my big girl afraid of?" he whispered in her ear. Chi shook her head. "That's right, nothing. My baby girl is fearless." She tentatively smiled and Naruto wondered for the umpteenth time what the hell he was doing. Grab your kids and fucking run, shrieked every fiber of his being.
Instead, he pulled on a shocked silent Shun's arm.
"Come on," he urged gently, Shun mutely followed his step, albeit reluctantly.
The house was definitely much bigger than anything Naruto had ever lived in before. It was huge, but it was lifeless. Not a shred of decoration. Dark, clean. Too clean, clinically clean. Not a speck of dust to be seen. Naruto's eyes bulged. It definitely will not be kept this way with these two monsters running around. Hopefully, Sasuke wouldn't have any delusions about that.
Sasuke awkwardly stood in the hallway, mute. He didn't quite know what to say, Naruto cleared his throat. Might as well break the ice. He gently put Chinatsu down, putting his hand on her head.
"Sasuke, this is Chinatsu. Chinatsu, say hi."
The little girl timidly waved. Sasuke just stared impassively.
"Sasuke?" Naruto muttered through gritted teeth. Sasuke looked up at him dumbly. Naruto rolled his eyes, exasperated. How can a man be so successful in his career and be such an utter failure at basic human interaction? "She waved you hello."
Sasuke curtly raised his hand and awkwardly waved back. Chinatsu blushed, covering her face in Naruto's pants.
"And this is Shun," Naruto introduced, patting the little raven head.
"Hn," the boy glowered, his little arms puerilely crossed over his chest, sniffing.
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck, looking sheepish. He was at a loss for words. Shun was such a terribly sweet boy... when he didn't feel wronged by the world. Sasuke glared murderously at the midget. What was all this attitude being served to him by such a little shrimp of a boy? He could easily teach the little bugger something about respect with the back of his hand, but he decided against it. It wasn't the boy's fault he didn't know who his father was.
"This is your new home," Sasuke announced, "and from now on, you shall call me 'otousan'."
"YOU'RE NOT MY OTOUSAN!" Shun instantly boomed, tightly balling his fists until his knuckles blanched. Chinatsu quickly shrank in her chichiue, making herself smaller than she already was.
Sasuke quirked an eyebrow, unimpressed by the child's flair for dramatics.
"Oh?" he asked lowly. "The kekkai genkai in your eyes tell a different story," Sasuke replied, smirking in that irritatingly self-satisfied manner of his. He blinked, revealing his bloodied eyes. Chinatsu gasped, hiding her face.
Naruto furrowed his brows, hastily jerking the boy by the shoulders to face him. Indeed, a single tomoe slowly swirled in crimson eyes.
Shun, irritated, smacked his chichiue's arm off of his shoulders. He turned around, pinning Sasuke with a deathly glare.
"You're not my otousan! You're never going to be my otousan! Sai's my otousan! You're nothing but an impostor!" Shun bellowed with all his might, his face reddening from exertion.
Sasuke's scarlet eyes widened. He couldn't quite explain the sharp pang in his chest, but as the little boy― his little boy― glowered at him with so much venom, Sasuke felt like someone had fisted his heart and cruelly ripped it right out of the confines of his ribcage.
Sai's my otousan.
"Don't make me knock you unconscious again, little boy," Sasuke snarled through tightly clenched teeth. Even as he spoke to Shun, his eyes didn't leave Naruto. Angry, accusing eyes.
But even a blind man could distinguish the whirlpool of hurt and betrayal poorly enshrouded under all that anger. Naruto swallowed the lump down his throat.
"Enough," Naruto sternly intervened, protectively stepping in front of Shun. "Just," he cleared his throat, trying to dissipate the asphyxiating tension, "show us our rooms so we can unpack."
Sasuke brushed the onyx bangs out of his eye and clicked his tongue in annoyance.
Fuck. How could he lose his cool like that? It hadn't even been five minutes since he officially met his son and already he was threatening him. FUCK.
"They're upstairs. You'll find your stuff already there. Everyone has a separate room," Sasuke mumbled, the lingering irritation still staining his words.
"Go on," Naruto encouragingly pushed Chinatsu and Shun forward, infusing as much enthusiasm as he could muster in his words.
Chinatsu started slowly, but when she saw Shun stubbornly holding ground, she swiftly grabbed his arm and pulled him along.
"Come on, aniki," Chi happily nudged, dragging a very reluctant Shun up the stairs.
Naruto made way to follow suit but a firm shove to his chest kept him from climbing the stairs.
"Where do you think you're going?" Sasuke asked with a hint of malice as he quirked his brow.
"To my room," Naruto bit out, glowering, visibly annoyed at the harsh treatment. After all the effort he expended on trying to patch things up between this beast and Shun, this was his reward?
"That's not where your room is," Sasuke answered. Naruto looked at him dumbly, the knowing feeling of dread washing over him at the sight of Sasuke's denigrating smirk.
Sasuke pushed himself off the banister and turned about.
Naruto, suspicious, followed him cautiously, leaving a decent safe distance between them. They made their way through the corridor, all hardwood and immaculate. They bypassed the kitchen (it was rather big, Naruto remarked with starry eyes― and sparkling) and the family room (a comfortable space with a simple table and a few elegant cushions on the floor). At the very end of the corridor there was an open door. Sasuke leaned against the doorframe as Naruto sidestepped the captain, poking his head through the door.
"Is this a storage room or a closet?" he asked, confused.
"This is your new room," Sasuke announced, a cruel smile on his thin lips as he walked away.
"What?" Naruto's eyes bulged out of their sockets as he turned on the light and noticed his luggage occupying a good portion of the ridiculously small room. There wasn't even a window. "You've got to be kidding me!" Naruto scoffed, outraged. "This is smaller than my room in my old apartment back in my Academy days!"
The captain turned around, quite unfazed by Naruto's outcries.
"You're also expected to pay rent," he casually informed him, and Naruto could swear there was an evil glint in his eyes.
"You're ballistic," Naruto whispered hollowly, shaking his head, "You're fucking mental!"
"And you'll cook," Sasuke continued, unbothered, counting off his fingers, "and do the laundry and― "
"I'm not your fucking maid, Uchiha!" Naruto yelled indignantly. He was going to be Rokudaime, for goodness sake, and here was this... this beast treating him like a slave. Naruto knew that he could take him on, and it took every last ounce of self restraint to keep from Rasengan-ing right in his lily-white ass into oblivion.
"I'm sorry, did I lead you to believe that this was going to be a fucking vacation for you? Did you think you were going to get hotel treatment if you were living here? I meant every word I said, Uzumaki. I'm going to make your life a living Hell," Sasuke hissed, and his dark eyes were so cold and so angry, Naruto felt the chill rise up his spine.
He gaped. He opened his mouth to put that bastard back in his rightful place, but the saner part of him reminded him that his children were upstairs and starting a verbal lashing now wasn't the wisest decision. Sai and he had always been careful not to subject their children to their fights, and yet still, Shun had managed to hear. He didn't want a repeat of that incident, especially when he was trying so hard to convince his children that everything was just peachy.
And then, a quiet, almost imperceptible voice buried deep, deep inside whispered, "You deserve it."
Naruto gawked in disbelief, watching the beast retreat. It was going to be a very, painstakingly long rest of his life, he mused.
The announcement was a big, hoop-la of an affair, but Naruto just wanted to get it over with. Shun and Chinatsu were left at home under Sasuke's supervision. He used the term 'supervision' lightly― the kids were busy unpacking, and even if they weren't, Naruto knew they wouldn't come out of their rooms. Shun stayed locked in his room, pouting. Chi played quietly with her dolls in a corner. Besides, he wasn't sure if he wanted them to witness this moment. Not under these circumstances at least. Naruto sighed as the elders presented him as the Rokudaime to the gathered villagers from atop Hokage tower.
The whole thing lacked its usual festive air; most villagers were solemnly ruminating over Godaime's sudden ailment.
Naruto took his oath to protect and serve the village and its villagers with their best interest at heart, delivering it with every bone in his body, but he had been gone for eight whole years and few villagers, outside of those that knew and cared for him, actually believed in his words. That's okay, that didn't bother Naruto much. He would make them believe in his words. He would show them, Naruto had no doubt about it. He knew he could be the best Hokage there ever was and he was going to make damn sure of it.
As Naruto was scurried back into the tower by the elders, most of whom were all speaking simultaneously, one over the other about which issues should take precedence, he was swiftly pulled back by a firm grip.
Naruto furrowed his brows, turning about and the vice around his wrist tightened. Sakura was not pleased.
"Hokage-sama?" one of his guard asked, unsure.
Naruto flashed a sheepish grin and rubbed the back of his neck in that habitual way of his.
"Umm... you guys go ahead. I'll be with your shortly," he excused himself, smiling dumbly.
He saw some of the elders shake their heads and murmur in disapproval, and the really childish part of Naruto just wanted to blow them a raspberry. Lighten up, geez... He knew he had his work cut out for him for the naysayers to soften up to him.
Sakura had the courtesy to wait until the last billowing robe turned around the corner before she roughly smacked Naruto on the back of his very blonde head.
"Argh! What gives?" he angrily growled, shoving her hand off of his wrist.
"Married?" she hissed in a disturbing, mind-numbing high-pitched shriek, her green eyes set ablaze. "Is there something you'd like to tell me, Mrs. Uchiha?" she taunted humourlessly.
Naruto was about to retort, when it occurred to him that something was missing.
Quickly, and with all the urgency of a newly made Hokage, he grabbed her shoulders, and looked at her earnestly.
"Have you seen Sai?" he asked, squeezing her shoulders.
Sakura pushed his hands off of her and glared.
"I asked you a question, Na-ru-to."
"Have you seen him?" he bit out, practically gnashing his teeth in frustration.
She gave him a blank look, unsettled by the sudden franticness in his mannerisms.
"I see," Naruto nodded, concluding that she had in fact not.
Was he avoiding him? It hadn't been a day, the wound was still fresh and Naruto wouldn't blame him. He felt like the biggest douchebag on the planet and yet, he felt like he had no other choice. And he knew Sai must want his space. He must feel used and betrayed and hurt beyond measure― and he had every right to be. But was it unreasonable to wish that Sai could set those feelings aside and meet with him? Talk to him? So that they can figure out where to go from here, so that he could go visit Shun and Chi and assure them that everything will be alright? So that this transition could be made, maybe, even just a little bit, easier for Shun? Naruto sighed, exhausted already and the day had barely begun.
"You could've told me, you know," Sakura whispered, hurt flashing in those emerald eyes.
Naruto looked away. This was an old pattern of theirs, wasn't it? Naruto fucks-up, Sakura finds out somehow and she's upsetangrypissedhurt, so, so hurt because Naruto doesn't tell her. And no matter how many times he tells her it isn't a question of trust, Sakura can't help but look at him with those wounded eyes. Why don't you ever tell me anything? Hurting people. It seemed like he was doing a lot of that lately.
"Can we not do this right now?" he blew out, exasperated.
Sakura just rolled her eyes and nodded, biting her lower lip. Of course.
Naruto started walking away, but then turned around, his big, blue eyes apologetic.
Those stupid eyes. Sakura clenched her fists, frustrated. She knew she was a goner when he looked at her with those stupid, blue eyes.
"I... I have a lot of work to do right now. We'll talk later?" he asked, but what he really meant was 'Please don't stay mad at me?'. His face was hopeful, almost childlike and Sakura took a deep breath.
She shooed him away. Naruto threw her a grateful smile, one that melted hearts and Sakura wondered why she kept forgiving this infuriatingly charming man.
Shun slowly opened the sliding doors to his room, careful not to make a peep. He poked his head out, the lights were out, nobody in sight. Good, everyone was sleeping then. He tiptoed his way across the hall, looking from side to side, feeling very much like a ninja. He absolutely must not be seen! He slid the doors open and slinked his way inside.
"Chi," he whispered from the doorway, but the slumbering blob did not budge.
"Chinatsu!" he hissed a bit louder, making his way to the single bed.
Irritated, Shun clicked his tongue and roughly shook the blanket-covered figure. Chi welped and Shun quickly shoved a hand over her mouth, alarmed.
"Shh!" he anxiously hushed.
The little girl shifted, kicking the blanket off of her and rubbed her sleep laden eyes.
"A-awiki?" she squeeked, her voice muffled by Shun's hand.
He removed his hand and clambered on the bed, excited.
"Chi, we're going on a mission!" he happily whispered.
"What time ish it, aniki?" she yawned, confused.
"That's not important," Shun dismissed, puffing out his chest to make himself look bigger. "We're on a mission, Chinatsu. Like ninjas!"
"Mission!" Chinatsu exclaimed, clapping her hands excitedly.
"Be quiet," Shun scolded, frowning. "If you're not going to be quiet then I'm not taking you," he muttered slyly.
"No, aniki!" she pleaded, scampering to grab him, but instantly clapped her hand over her mouth after Shun threw her a murderous glare. "I want to go with aniki," she quietly mumbled, desperately clinging onto Shun's night shirt.
"Okay, but you have to be real quiet," Shun demanded, holding her little wrists in his hands and prying them off of his shirt.
Chinatsu eagerly nodded, her innocent eyes shimmering in the moonlight. "Thank you, aniki! You're the best!"
Shun smiled, self-satisfied, feeling like a benevolent king who just spared a dirt poor, rotting villager.
"We are going to go bring back otousan," he announced, a conspiratory grin spreading on his thin pink lips.
"Otousan?" the little girl asked hesitantly.
Shun nodded reassuringly.
Through the moonlit night, Chinatsu saw the mirthful glint in Shun's dark eyes and she smiled real big.
"You, me, chichiue and otousan are going to be a family again! And we're going to find otousan. How does that sound?"
They were going to bring otousan back and everything will go back to normal and they would be a big, happy family again. That sounded lovely.
Naruto first realized something was wrong when he didn't hear Shun's snoring reverberating through the house.
Naruto couldn't sleep a wink in his painfully uncomfortable futon in his claustrophobic extravagant-for-a-closet-but-a-closet-nonetheless room. He found it odd that he couldn't hear Shun's sporadic snoring. The boy was a log. When he was out, he was dead to the world for a solid ten hours. It would take a severe earthquake to wake the boy in the middle of his deep sleep. And his snoring! The first time, Naruto thought their house was being raided, it was so loud. Naruto found it to be a complete mystery how Shun was the complete diametrical opposite of Chinatsu, who even in her sleep was so meek and quiet.
But perhaps the Uchiha complex had better soundproofing than the previous homes they had lived in, Naruto mused, so he let the matter rest.
After relieving himself, Naruto judged that it would be utterly impossible to fall asleep in that glorified closet. He carefully climbed the stairs, weary of Sasuke. If the bastard caught him trying to bunk with Shun, he'd probably fine him. Naruto rolled his eyes. He had the pay rent. Rent! When he was coerced into living here. Stingy bastard.
There were quite a few bedrooms on the upper level. Naruto counted five. The one at the complete end of the hallway was most likely Jailor Sasuke's. He assumed that the only one to the right of it was probably Shun's... he was surely trying to keep the boy at arm's length. Naruto's step faltered. Despite all the antagonistic feelings he held for Sasuke, it would be an outright lie if he said he were unaffected by Shun's complete disregard for the man. Although the bastard was too proud to say it, Naruto knew that it must scald to have your own flesh and blood hate your guts.
And then, a sardonic whisper beckoned from the back of his mind, "It's your fault."
Naruto shook his head, drawing out the unpleasant thoughts from his mind and slowly padded to the boy's room. The floorboards didn't creak much, thank Heavens. The doors slid open and Naruto peered inside. The fading moonlight seeped into the spacious room; Naruto's eyes widened― Shun's room was even bigger than the master bedroom in their old crummy apartment! Naruto stepped inside, spotting boxes full of Shun's clothes and toys in the side. Naruto sighed; the boy hadn't unpacked a single thing and Naruto's chest clenched painfully. His baby boy was miserable and Naruto had no idea how to stop the hurt, and it was killing him.
And then, his heart stilled. There were ruffled sheets on the big queen size bed, bunched up blankets, but no Shun. The freezing feeling of dread sank in his bosom. He couldn't quite explain the hammering panic chipping away inside him, but somehow Naruto knew, he just knew something was off.
He opened the light and quickly slammed the closet open, scanning inside. No Shun to be found. He rushed to the three other room on the left side of the hallway.
The first two bedrooms were a bit smaller than Shun's, each practically bare. The third bedroom though, furthest from the master bedroom was considerably smaller. Not as small as Naruto's glorified closet, but still much smaller than Shun's. It also happened to be the only other bedroom furnished with a bed set. It was Chinatsu's, Naruto realized with much irritation. But he didn't have much time to dwell on the subject, instantly noting that Chi's bed was quite empty. His heart skipped a beat. Where were they? Shun gone amiss was one thing, but Chinatsu...? She was the shyest, meekest, sweetest little girl. She didn't have a shred of rebellion in her. Naruto was seized with trepidation. Where the hell were his kids? Anxiously, he rummaged through the room, roughly yanking the closet open and throwing the bed aside.
"Chinatsu! Shun!" he called after them, his heart hammering.
"Why are you shrieking like a banshee?" irritatedly asked a voice from the hallway.
But Naruto's heart was pounding in his ears and the fear crawling up his throat left a bitter sting in its wake and his babies were missing and ohmygosh, ohmygosh.
"Where are they?" Naruto frantically demanded. He whipped his face towards Sasuke, despair etched all over his chiseled features. The sardonic words died on Sasuke's lips.
"What's wrong?" Sasuke carefully inquired, with an uncharacteristic lack of sarcasm, stepping into the room. Dawn was breaking in― Sasuke usually rose early to complete his morning training routine. Today, however, he was awakened by some annoyingly inconsiderate door banging. He had abruptly grabbed the kunai under his pillow, before he remembered that, for the first time in twenty-one years, his house had other inhabitants. This was going to take some getting used to. A lot of getting used to, actually.
"Where are my kids, Sasuke?" Naruto asked, though he tried to remain composed, the trembling in his hands and the barely perceptible quiver in his voice spoke volumes of his state of distress.
"Our," Sasuke instinctively growled, before― in a flash, movement Sasuke couldn't even make out― Naruto was gripping him by the collar, the same demonic chakra leaking out of him the day Sasuke came to claim his son.
"Where. Are. They?" Naruto gritted in a clipped tone, punctuating each word like a vicious stab to the spleen.
Sasuke slapped his hands away, displeased with being caught off guard. When did Naruto get so damn fast? It was starting to irritate him.
"I don't know," Sasuke finally said, his Mangekyou whirring to life as he examined the room, his face taut.
Sheer worry was splashed all over Naruto's panicked face and Sasuke couldn't deny the ball of anxiety forming in the pit of his stomach.
Naruto's blue eyes shimmered with fear. Such sincere vulnerability. Sasuke found himself swallowing a lump down his throat.
Then, awkwardly, he cleared his throat, "We'll find them."
And maybe it was the worry rotting his brain or maybe it was the sleep deprivation or maybe it was Sasuke's awkward effort at reassurance, but in that moment, all Naruto could do was give him a small, sad smile. And Sasuke had to look away.
"Aniki, I'm tired!" Chinatsu whined softly, as her brother gruffly pulled her down the darkened forest.
"Come on!" Shun snapped irritatedly, tugging her forward.
"Aniki, let's just go home! Chichiue will bring otousan back," she reasoned softly, whimpering. Her stubby little feet were hurting from walking so much and her flower-patterned velcro shoes were slipping off and her arm where Shun was pulling ached and she was sleepy and tired and it was still dark outside and she was scared. Chinatsu didn't like this. Being a ninja wasn't as fun as she thought it would be.
"No!" Shun boomed angrily making Chinatsu cower and he instantly regretted it. Shun softened his expression. "We're finding otousan and we'll make him come back and he'll kick that Sausage guy and take chichiue back and we'll be happy again, okay?" he explained, though it sounded more like an order than a question.
Chinatsu meekly nodded not wanting to fuel her aniki's ire any further.
"Okay," she softly acquieced. Then, looking around at wonderment at all the trees, she asked, "Where are we?" The trees were so big and green and pretty here! There weren't many trees in her old house.
"I... I'm not sure," he hesitated, tilting his head to the side and narrowing his eyes in concentration. Where were they? He seemed to think this was the way they came from yesterday morning, but their house was nowhere to be seen.
"We're lost?" Chinatsu asked in a squeaky voice, her lower-lip quivering.
"We're not lost. Stop crying," he barked, but that only made matters worse. Chinatsu's dark, dark eyes got real big and welled with tears. "Chinatsu!" he snapped, exasperated. His sister was such a crybaby! Though Shun wasn't about to admit that he too was really scared. "We'll find otousan."
But Chinatsu wasn't listening to him as she rubbed her eyes to hide the tears streaming down her face. Shun was upset and terrified because he had no idea where they were and he had no idea how to get to his otousan. This whole plan was a mess and Shun really, really wanted to be back with his chichiue. He let Chi's hand go.
"If you're going to cry, I'm just going to leave you here!" he growled, trying to mask his fear with anger, but failing miserably as the butterflies rumbled in his tummy and an urgent need to pee throttled him.
"Aniki, no!" Chi desperately cried out, her eyes widened as she full-blown sobbed. She didn't want to be left here alone! It was so big and scary!
Shun glared and was about to walk away, just a few steps, not to be mean or anything. He just wanted to make Chinatsu believe his threat and quiet down so that he can figure out what to do and how to get to otousan. He began walking, looking back at the wailing Chi, when he ran smack into a figure. Shun fell on his bum.
"Well hello there, little strangers. Are you lost?"
The sight was not an uncommon one for the villagers of Konohagakure. As the leaves ruffled above them, most villagers didn't even bother looking up. Uchiha Sasuke leaped like a spring from tree to tree, seething. Another day, another occasion for the captain of ANBU to rage.
Today, however, the captain wasn't his regular 'someone-puked-on-my-boots' pissed. No, he was positively livid and as the anger coursed through his veins, he was trembling.
Someone better have kidnapped that spoiled, insolent brat of his, because he was going to tear the kid to shreds if it turned out the little monster dared to run away from him. But of course, Sasuke knew that there was no way an intruder could ever enter his estate. His security was practically flawless. And even if by some chance an extraordinary ninja did manage to get through, there was no way he could escape without leaving any signs.
He tried to convince himself that this was all part of Naruto's master plan.
Poison the children's minds with ideas of escape and then while Sasuke was out looking for them like a buffoon, Sai and Naruto would scoop the kids up and reset their lives some place far, far away. Cackling, as they raised his son.
Sasuke clenched his fist as he hopped from one tree to the next, his bloody eyes scanning, searching, distraught.
Naruto must have plotted it all... But Naruto's eyes― so blue, so sincere, scintillating with worry and at the edge of panic― those eyes told a different story. And, after all, it had been Sasuke's own idea for them to split up. They both had agreed that it was wiser for one person to stand guard at home. So he told Naruto to remain at the complex in case the kids decided to come back while Sasuke would go out looking for them. He huffed in annoyance. Damn kids.
They were so troublesome and needy and beyond stupid. If only there was a way to fastforward through the stupid years. He sighed, jumping off the tree when he felt a string of familiar quaint chakra. A hint of a potent, savage-like chakra stirred with a different, powerful, yet more refined one. Although Sasuke hadn't been exposed much to it yet, he had committed Shun's intriguing dual chakra to memory. Thankfully, the boy had yet to learn how to dissimulate it. His was a strange chakra that offered much promise as a great ninja. If only the brat would cease the theatrics and start formal training with him, Sasuke knew he could mould him into an excellent warrior, the best of his generation, a ninja worthy of the Uchiha name.
He frowned. So far, the kid had proven to be impossibly belligerent and much of a headache. He was the boy's father, but he didn't even get an ounce of respect. Yeah, whose fault was that? Whose fault was it that you missed seven years of Shun's life? He gnashed his teeth, banishing the venemous thoughts from his mind. He had to focus. First thing's first: find the brats.
The chakra intensified as Sasuke crouched out of the forest. He was right by the Academy. Of course, that's where they must be hiding, it was probably one of the only places in Konoha with which the brat got acquainted.
"Yo," the lazy drawl came from behind and faster than the speed of sound, Sasuke whipped back, kunai at the intruder's throat. He did not appreciate being caught off guard.
"Touchy are we, Sauchy-chan?" Kakashi asked pleasantly, his arms up in the air and though his mask hid his face, Sasuke could imagine the infuriating grin on his face.
"Where. Are. They?" Sasuke bit out, tightening his grasp on his green jacket, almost to a choking hold.
"You're not even going to greet your old sensei?" Kakashi asked in mock astonishment. "Manners were lost in your generation," he tsked, shaking his head in fake dismay.
Sasuke clicked his tongue, annoyed. This sadistic old geezer wasn't going to let up anything. He gruffly pushed him away. He didn't have time to play. He could feel their chakra coming from the Academy and without sparing his ex-sensei a glance, he quickly dashed for the building.
"I didn't say you could leave, Saucy-chan," singsonged his playful sensei, before suddenly appearing in front of Sasuke, the latter running smack into the former.
"If you're going to waste my valuable time with your mindfuckery, I rather just find my kid on my own and take him home," Sasuke glowered, the killing intent oozing from him.
"They're with Iruka. Don't worry," Kakashi said placatingly, his face suddenly turned serious.
Sasuke sidestepped the man, uninterested in his words of comfort.
"I found them wandering around Konoha before dawn," Kakashi called out after Sasuke, "I brought them to the Academy. The boy's chakra leaks so much, I knew you'd easily find him."
"What?" Sasuke whipped around, incensed. "Do you never use your sad excuse of a brain to think? You couldn't have just brought them home? Do you how fucking worried out of our wits Naruto and I were?"
" 'Naruto and I'. Cute. Just like a married couple," Kakashi began, sarcasm dripping in his every word, "Oh wait."
"Is this funny to you?" Sasuke sneered, the vein on his forehead plumpy and throbbing, ready to burst. "Is this a joke to you? You sick, sadistic motherf― "
"Know your place, Sasuke," Kakashi quickly snapped, his face thunderous. He would not be spoken to so disrespectfully, captain or no captain. "The boy was hysterical and started throwing a fit at the mere prospect of returning home. I brought them to Iruka so that he could calm them down. They're your kids, Sasuke. At least, the boy is. You should keep a better watch on them. They're your responsi― "
"Don't," Sasuke vociferated, his eyes blazing, "Do not lecture me. Ever."
"You didn't tell me about your marriage," Kakashi whispered, his eye accusing. Hurt. Upset. A slew of other unidentifiable emotions that Sasuke was too angry to dwell on.
"Did you want an invitation, Kakashi-sensei?" he mocked caustically, the words lurching out of his mouth, barbed to prick, "Were you expecting a card? Did you want to be my best man? Do you think we were friends?"
"Sasuke..." Kakashi voice trailed off as he looked away.
"You knew," Sasuke breathed heavily, the accusation laden in his tone, his face contorted in pain. "You knew. All this time, all these years. When we were standing outside their home in Suna and you told me about Naruto's children and the justu, you knew that Shun was mine. All this time."
"Sasuke," Kakashi muttered longingly, his tone apologetic as his insides twisted. There were no words. For what Sasuke was going through, for what he did to Sasuke, there were no words.
"You're not denying it," Sasuke whispered brokenly and in that moment he looked so much like a child, so much like the damaged child Kakashi had first picked up all those many moons ago. The child that acted like an adult, but was really just broken inside. Kakashi wished like he had so many times before that he could just go back in time and erase all of this boy's wounds.
"It wasn't my place to tell you. It―"
"Mark my words, Hatake Kakashi, I will never forgive you for what you've robbed from me," Sasuke hissed solemnly, his scarlet eyes quivering in his wrath.
"Sasuke!" his sensei snapped, "If it were up to me, I would've told you. I would've told you the instant I found out," he urgently supplied.
"Yeah? But you didn't." Sasuke's voice was hollow. "The Hokage, Sai, Sakura, Naruto and you. You've all been playing me for a fool," Sasuke laughed derisively. "I was the biggest fool for trusting you."
Sasuke stormed into the Academy before Kakashi could get another word in. In this world there was nobody you could trust. Not family, not friends and certainly not some perverted sensei. He clenched his jaw as he rounded the corner. He was weak, so weak. He had let himself get attached, let himself get blindsided. He was a fool.
The door was left wide open; they weren't difficult to spot. They were sitting in the old classroom he had taught in, munching on some cookies, still clad in their pyjamas softly as Iruka chatted softly.
"Sasuke!" Iruka cried out, surprised, as the dangerous aura wafted out of the enraged captain in waves.
"We're going. Now!" he thundered, his face taut, glaring viciously at the little boy who refused to meet his gaze. The little girl dropped her cookie and squeaked.
"Sasuke, please calm down," Iruka pleaded, making a motion to stand but Sasuke pushed past him, blatantly ignoring his request.
Chinatsu whimpered, terrified of the man who looked ready to kill. Shun, panicked, defiantly leaped in front of her, effectively blocking her from Sasuke.
"Go away!" he barked with all the bravado he could muster, as Chinatsu hugged herself. She hated fights. She hated it. She just wanted to be back with her chichiue.
Sasuke, blinded by his rage, roughly grabbed the annoyingly stubborn boy and threw him over his shoulder. He extended his hand to Chinatsu and impatiently glared down at her, the blue vein on his forehead violently pulsating.
Chinatsu hesitantly stared up at the hand, shuffling in her seat.
"Go on, Chi," Iruka nudged, soothingly. "Your chichiue must be worried sick. You want to go back to your chichiue, right? Sasuke will take you to him," he smiled reassuringly.
Chi nodded and grabbed Sasuke's hand. In an instant, he angrily whisked them away, dust flying in his wake.
"When will that boy ever learn?" Iruka muttered to himself, exhausted with the captain's antics.
"Sometimes I feel like there's no hope for him," Kakashi agreed, popping beside the chuunin.
"Don't say that," Iruka chided, a small, hopeful smile on hiss lips, "Don't you know things have to get worse before they get better?"
The trek back home had been uneventful. After Shun's initial tantrum, Sasuke frightened the boy into silence. Although it did not please Sasuke in the least bit having to terrify his own son with a Chidori, he was honestly at wit's end. It hadn't even been a day since the birth of their reconstituted family and Sasuke was already emotionally drained. His patience, stunted as it already was, was sucked dry and he had absolute no idea how to get through to the boy. Being a father wasn't supposed to be this hard, was it? Chinatsu, on the other hand, was thankfully obedient. She didn't make a meep and she diligently followed him. They made their way by foot, Sasuke fearing leaping through the foliage with two flight-risk children. He awkwardly held onto Chinatsu's hand, hers moist in his, while Shun contrarily walked in front, categorically refusing to hold his hand. Sasuke heaved a sigh. The damn brat decided to fight over every little thing and Sasuke, exhausted, decided to give this one to him.
The instant Naruto came to view, worriedly pacing in front of the compound, Chinatsu eagerly disengaged her hand and excitedly pitter-pattered her way into Naruto's welcoming arms.
Shun coldly stalked past his chichiue without uttering a word. The frigidness was not lost of Naruto.
"Shun! Shun!" Naruto called out after a stomping Shun. "Answer me, damn it," but the boy marched on, unfazed. "Come back here. Do you know how irresponsible, how idiotic what you did was? And taking Chinatsu with you? Do you know what could've happened to you? Shun!" Naruto let his daughter go, abruptly standing up. "Uzumaki Shun, I am talking to you," he thundered after the boy, his face harbouring a reddish hue after all that yelling, his eyes cold and hard.
Hearing his full name spoken in such a threatening manner, Shun stopped mid-track and turned about. He threw his chichiue a withering glare, his cheekbones made prominent from his vice-like clenched jaw. He stalked away nonplussed without uttering another word.
Naruto shook his head in disbelief. He was ready to just about rip his hair from the roots, that kid was unbelievably infuriating. He had no control over the kid, he couldn't discipline the boy and with each passing minute, he was starting to feel more and more like a failure of a parent.
Sasuke would've been damn proud of his son's beautiful display of Uchihaness, if he wasn't so enraged over his blatant disregard and disrespect for parental authority.
"Don't be mad. Please," Chinatsu quietly snivelled, pulling down on Naruto's pants and all he could do was bend down and kiss her on the top of her head reassuringly. Every night, he prayed he could build a world where Chinatsu would never have to whimper again. And every day, he failed.
Sasuke furrowed his brows and started after the boy, when he felt a tug on his sleeve. He threw a questioning glance over his shoulder.
"I―" Naruto began, licking his lips. Sasuke looked down at the alien hand clutching his sleeve and back up at Naruto's nervous fave, raising an elegant brow. Naruto quickly let go of him as if it burnt, laughing awkwardly as he massaged the back of his neck. "Um... thanks for bringing them back."
"Next time try disciplining them better," Sasuke caustically shot back, negating all effort at placation on Naruto's part and hurried after his son.
Naruto stood there, quaking in ire from Sasuke's gall, an insult hot on his tongue. He then, for the second time that day, quickly reminded himself that he was in the presence of a child. This was neither the time nor place for him to be waging a verbal war and losing his cool. He mutely stared off into space, astonished, the burn of Sasuke's words still fresh on his skin.
He exhaled deeply, biting his tongue to keep from screaming in sheer frustration until his throat scorched raw.
"Come on, baby girl, you've had a long day," he finally said, breathing loudly though his nose, "How about a nap, mhmm?" he offered, gently taking a very pliant Chi into his arms.
Shun laid face down on his bed.
Discouraged. Disheartened. Dispirited.
Fluctuating between upset and despondent, he hid his face in his pillow.
This sucked. This house sucked. This whole village sucked. His life sucked. Shun snivelled, balling his little hands into fists. He just wanted things to go back to normal. His life in Suna now felt like a distant dream, a bittersweet, tantalizing taste of better days that were never real. He just wanted his family back. Why was that so difficult? Why did things have to change? This wasn't fair!
Shun hated it here. He hated it. He hated it more than he had ever hated anything. He hated that stupid Sausage who brainwashed his chichiue and made his otousan leave. He hates Chi for not making a fuss. He hated his otousan for leaving in the first place. And right about now, he even hated his chichiue for falling under the Sausage's spell. He hated it all.
Shun was fuming on his bed, sporadically banging his head against the pillow in frustration, when the door to his room suddenly slid open, revealing a volatile aura, electrifying the air.
The harsh scolding was right at the tip of Sasuke's tongue, when he caught a glimpse of the boy's misty eyes glinting in the dim lighting of the room. The boy had been crying, Sasuke considered uncomfortably, unsure what to do in such a situation.
"Get up," Sasuke barked after clearing his throat, glaring at the little brat, wallowing on the bed. He'd opt for another route then.
Shun didn't deign the intruder with an answer and just 'hmped', turning his head away.
"Get up, now," the captain bit out loudly, clenching his fists to his sides. Even when he tried to play nice ,the boy was still testing his patience.
"What's going on here?" Naruto frowned, sizing up Sasuke. He'd just placed Chinatsu in bed when he heard Sasuke's unmistakable deep rumble. He peeked inside, the boy was pouting in bed. He stared questioningly at Sasuke, who in turn ignored him.
"Shun, get. Up," Sasuke exaggeratedly enunciated through clenched teeth.
But Shun didn't budge and Naruto kept staring at him, unyielding, with those big, questioning eyes. He was being made to look like a fool and that was one (of the many) thing(s) Sasuke could not stand for.
"We're going training," he reluctantly supplied, clicking his tongue in aggravation. He couldn't even get his own kid to get out of bed without Naruto's involvement. Some great parent he was making. Sasuke huffed, irate.
"He just got back, Sasuke," Naruto tried to reason when Sasuke threw him a scourging glare; it dawned on him in that moment how the captain's pride must be withering from Shun's inattention. He sighed, turning back to the lump in bed. "Shun." A moment passed. "Shun,"he tried again. "Shunny, adults are speaking to you right now," he called out softly, but was not acknowledged by the boy. "Shunny is a good boy, isn't he? Come on, big boy. You want to be a great ninja? That starts with training. Shunny, baby―"
"I'm not a baby!" Shun finally mumbled into his pillow, eliciting a grin from Naruto.
"If you're not a baby then you won't need me to help you get up, right?" he coaxed and surely enough, Shun reluctantly pushed himself up in a sitting position. Naruto smiled, waggling his index finger in a 'come hither' motion and Shun sighed, defeated.
He begrudgingly got off the bed and wadded towards his beloved chichiue, a frown marring his baby face. Naruto ruffled the already messy jet black tuft of hair adoringly.
"Woah, Shunny is such a good boy," Naruto praised with starry eyes and Sasuke scoffed at the whole exchange. Here he was rewarding the belligerent boy who was nothing but disrespectful and difficult. The boy had ran away with his kid sister and here Naruto was treating him like a prince? No wonder the boy was spoiled, Sasuke rolled his eyes. He wouldn't admit though that while he found Naruto's methods to be too soft and illogical, in the end that's what got the boy to budge.
"Where are you going?" Sasuke frowned, watching the duo walk away.
"To watch Shun train," Naruto answered matter-of-factly, not sparing the captain a glance.
"That won't be necessary," Sasuke dismissed.
"Sorry, but you're not going to win this one," Naruto playfully grinned over his shoulder, his blue eyes glinting with determination, and in that moment Sasuke knew he had lost the argument.
"Are you checking up on me?" Sasuke demanded, and while he tried to be incensed, it ended up sounding too flat. Damn, he was losing all sorts of fights today. One day with kids in his house and he was already softening up?
"He's a kid. Don't push him too hard," Naruto warned as Shun ran down the stairs.
"I know how to train children. I was a goddamn Academy teacher's assistant before my captain days," Sasuke clicked his tongue and Naruto looked back, a teasing simper on his lips.
"Unfortunately, I remember, which is precisely why I have to make sure you won't do something stupid."
The boy was undoubtedly an Uchiha, Sasuke marvelled watching the boy suavely fling the kunais and hit all the targets on his very first attempt. He almost allowed himself a small, prideful smile, before he caught himself. The kid already had too much of an ego and he knew that Fugaku, were he still alive, would never approve of lulling a child into a false sense of greatness.
They were in the training grounds right behind the complex, Chinatsu's window visible, were she to unduly awaken.
Naruto whopped, pumping his fist in the air. He was sitting on a tree stump, watching Shun go with wonderment in his eyes.
"Shunny is so amazing!"
Sasuke nodded approvingly, "As expected of my son."
Shun abruptly dropped the kunai, glaring at Sasuke threw his damp bangs.
"I am not you son," he said thickly, causing Sasuke's eye to twitch.
Goodness, the boy was dense.
"Yes. You. Are," Sasuke bit out in a clipped tone, slowly punctuating each word. "I am your otousan, you are an Uchiha, and The Sharingan," Sasuke explained carefully, as though speaking to a challenged baby, his Mangekyou swirling in his eyes, "is the most powerful kekkai genkai."
"You are not my otousan," Shun retorted disinterestedly, not paying attention to a word that came out of the captain's mouth. Sasuke narrowed his eyes, his scant supply of patience reaching its breaking point.
"You little br―"
"How about we try some friendly sparring, mhmm?" Naruto quickly intervened, injecting as much enthusiasm as possible into his words as he stood between the two raging Uchihas.
Neither said a word, but the look of steel determination mirrored on both Uchihas' face as they glared at each other indicated that they had accepted the challenge. Naruto's body tensed in spasm, before his muscles released, relief coursing through him as though he has just diffused a bomb. Naruto passed a hand through his mop of blonde. These stubborn Uchihas, they were going to be the death of him... He shook his head.
'I will make you understand,' was the mantra in Sasuke's head as he circled around the training ground, his eyes never leaving the little boy.
'I will not bow to you,' Shun clenched his fists, ready to break the Sausage.
Shun lunged first, without even following proper sparring etiquette. Sasuke frowned as he effortlessly sidestepped the clumsy attack. Did the kid not even know how to spar? He formed the seals in a deliberate, slow motion to match the boy's pace and allow him to counter-attack. But as Shun was barely able to dodge the Katon that singed the ends of his hair, it became quickly obvious that Shun's movements were sub-par for a boy his age. Sure, the boy was fast and he had great aim, but his movements were clumsy, all over the place. He was running for the sake of running, there was no purpose in his actions, aside from blind rage. He kept firing katon after katon and the boy kept barely escaping, Shun's own attacks being way off mark. Kids who first entered the Academy weren't particularly strong in taijutsu or basic ninjutsu, but even they had honed some basic skills at home.
"Sasuke! You have to go easy on him!" Naruto cried out worriedly as he watched the man repeatedly attack Shun. He watched Shun's poor performance with dismay. He had to intervene, the bastard was going to seriously injure their son at this rate. "Shun has never sparred before!"
"What?" Sasuke exploded, dropping out of his fighting stance, his eyes wide, "You didn't even teach him the basics of sparring? What have you and that dimwit Sai been doing with my kid all this time?"
"MY OTOUSAN IS NOT A DIMWIT!" Shun suddenly shrieked, his voice tight with pain, the high pitch almost eardrum-bursting, surprising both Naruto and Sasuke, who had forgotten that Shun was only a mere steps away.
The chakra began leaking in buckets, a red, stifling hot glow surrounding the boy. It bubbled out of Shun in a suffocating amount, the scorching aura engulfing the field.
Sasuke's eyes widened in recognition. He had felt a similar overbearing chakra before. Scalding. Hot. It burns.
Naruto gaped, slapping a hand to his mouth, "No, no."
Shun opened his eyes, the Sharingan slowly spinning in them, bloodied and cruel. The boy balled his fists, fangs protruding out of his mouth. He didn't even look like a little boy anymore. He was an animal. Shun growled, it rumbled out of his throat, a low, grotesque grunt.
"What the fuck is happening?" Sasuke managed to bite out, bewildered. "This is Kyuubi's...?"
Naruto swallowed, his face stricken with fear. He nodded slowly, "I... It... It feels like it. This has never happened before."
"YOU ARE NOT MY OTOUSAN!" the creature howled at the top of his lungs, the sound inhumane, his dark purple eyes piercing through Sasuke like a vortex of agony. "I want my otousan back! I want my family back! Give him back! Give my otousan back! Give him back right now! Give me my family back!" he wheezed out and Sasuke stood frozen still, his throat closing up as he stared. The hate oozed out of the boy in sizzling waves and it was all aimed at him. Sasuke couldn't breathe.
Naruto lunged at Shun, immobilizing the boy's clawed hands in his fists. Shun fought back, scratching Naruto's face. The cut stung, but Naruto's face was stone cold as he closed his eyes tapping in Kyuubi's chakra and letting it seep into his arms. The boy was no match for him, his wrists bound in Naruto's grasp. He tilted the boy's chin with his other hand so that they were eye to eye. Shun's Sharingan had mutated into a vermilion, bestial colour.
"Shh, Shun, baby, that's enough," Naruto spoke softly, but audibly.
"IT'S NOT FAIR!" Shun cried out, his throat burning raw from abuse. "Why are you doing this me? Why? W-WHY?" his breath hitched, his vocal cords sore as he tried to push his chichiue off. Tears began tumbling down his face, his face contorted in agony.
Sasuke clenched his jaw, looking away as his heart sank to his knees. What can you possibly do when your child is crying for someone else?
Naruto poured chakra into his fingers and soothingly rubbed circles in the hysterical boy's back. He ached to the very bone because his son, his darling baby was in so much pain. And it was all because of him. "You said we'd see him everyday! You p-promised!"
The boy snivelled, his eyes swollen and squinted shut as he sobbed. He wailed and wailed and wailed, his body wracking with violent sobs. As much as he tried to stop it or to get a hold of himself, he just couldn't. Shun didn't want to be some weakling. Boys don't cry. Shinobis don't cry. But when his chichiue was looking at him with those eyes― so sad and heartbroken― Shun couldn't stop himself. He could feel a surge of burning aura emanating from him, being drained out of him, but he didn't heed it. It hurt, it hurt, everything hurt so much. The pain in his chest was unbearable, a volcano on the verge of erupting, of leaving a carnage in its wake. He bawled, the tears tunnelling out like a broken dam. It hurt so much, like a million razorblades were lodged in his heart and each pulled and twisted and cut him up to the point where he didn't even know where the pain began. It just hurt everywhere. His otousan was gone. His otousan abandoned them. He left him all alone. His family was broken to shreds and it would never ever be the same. And that hurt. That scorched.
Naruto felt his vision go blurry as his eyes misted because his son, his son was sobbing his broken little heart out. And Naruto's hands trembled as he roughly engulfed his son― sobbing, sobbing, heartbroken son― into his chest in a cumbersome hug. He poured all of his chakra into the boy, a bubble surrounding them, an unbreakable shield against the world. The chakra swiftly suppressed the Nine Tails' chakra. Shun's knees bucked as he balled his chichiue's shirt in his fist and he cried until he felt his heart would explode. Naruto bit his lip and picked the wailing boy into his arms.
Sasuke mutely watched as Naruto took Shun back home with a dull ache in his chest. He clenched and unclenched his fist, feeling like he had been drained of the very last ounce of life within his body. A zombie. He was a zombie. This all felt so surreal, like Sasuke was watching a movie in which the protagonist is a failure of a father and his son just had his heart ripped out of his ribcage by said father. It felt like Sasuke was watching a movie in which he sneered at the pitiful character, a movie about someone else. But as Sasuke slowly, mechanically placed his hand over the ache on the left side of his chest, he knew that the pain was real. The movie was about him.
Shun's sobs had mitigated quite a bit when Naruto gently placed him atop his bed. Shun's head was aching and he couldn't stop hiccoughing. Naruto got into bed and wrapped his arms around the small body in foetal position. He brushed the black strands of hair out of the boy's face as Shun sniffed, too exhausted to wipe away his tears or his snot that had trekked down his face. Shun just blinked, staring at a nondescript spot on the wall, mentally and physically drained. Naruto kissed the boy atop of his dishevelled hair and whispered sweet promises in his ear. Promises him that everything will be alright, that tomorrow would be better, that the pain will pass. Everything will be alright, your chichiue promises. Trust me.
But as Naruto laid in bed embracing his son, faced with all the broken pieces of the boy, he wondered if he could eve mend him back together without leaving scars. Naruto shook his head at the irony of it all. The baby boy he swore to protect from all the heartache, from all the evil in this world, from all the pain― in the end, it was Naruto who dealt him the resounding blow. In the end, it was Naruto who broke his precious boy's heart. In the end, it wasn't the world that caused Shun's agony. It was Naruto. And that is something he could never forgive himself. Silent tears streamed down as he gazed at his beautiful, porcelain-like son, who now slumbered in his arms. The long lashes fanned his creamy pale cheeks, his mouth hung slightly open, the dried tracks of tear visible and Naruto balled his fists. His beautiful slumbering boy who looked so misleadingly peaceful.
Naruto wept quietly, vowing to Shun that he'll make everything alright again, vowing to himself to never break his children's hearts again.
When Naruto came down to the kitchen for a glass of water, Sasuke didn't even bother looking up.
Naruto's step faltered. Sasuke was crouched over, his head in his hands, elbows on the table, completely motionless. It was the first time Naruto had seen the man so undone.
Naruto felt guilty at the waft of relief that washed over him with the knowledge that the great All-Mighty Uchiha Sasuke wasn't completely immune to hurt.
Sasuke knew that Naruto was watching him, but he didn't care. This wasn't the way things were supposed to pan out. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Shun wasn't supposed to look at him with such angry eyes. He wasn't supposed to look at him like he was some villain, some intruder who broke his picture-perfect family to pieces. Shun was supposed to love him. Shun was supposed to see, to realize that he was his real father, that he was his flesh and blood. And that was supposed to be enough. He was supposed to instinctively know this and love him. They would train together and he'd raise him to be a first-class ninja― a ninja Fugaku would've been proud to call his grandson. And he would love Shun and he'd finally, finally have a family again.
Then, "Give it time," was what broke Sasuke out of his stupor.
He lifted his head and looked up at Naruto. For a second, there was such a maelstrom of emotions, so much raw hurt in those dark, dark eyes, Naruto had to clear his throat, afraid he might lose composure again. The sound was all it took for Sasuke to regain his mask of indifference.
"I said give it time, Sasuke. You don't become a parent in a day," Naruto kindly offered, allowing himself a small smile.
Sasuke couldn't explain it, but suddenly he was seeing red. Angry, he was so angry. Here stood the dead last in his class, the boy he would discard without a second thought who now had blossomed into the Hokage, into the man who was able to soothe their son's aching heart, who calmed Shun down from his meltdown and brought him out of his hysteria, while he, Sasuke could do nothing but dumbly watch from the sidelines. Like a fucking dunce. A spectator to his own life.
"If it weren't for you," Sasuke began, hissing, "I would've already―"
"Sasuke," Naruto abruptly cut him, and suddenly it seemed like Naruto had aged considerably in the past twenty-four hours. The lines of fatigue marring his face deepened. "I've just had one of the longest days of my life, I don't want to fight with you," he sighed, and Sasuke fixated the healing, angry slash on the right side of Naruto's eye where Shun had scratched him.
He filled his glass with water and hesitated by the sink.
"Give it time, okay? You... You're going to make a great dad, trust me." Naruto smiled at him with so much sincerity, Sasuke's heart stilled. It was strange, but in that moment Sasuke seemed to understand why people called him beautiful.
For the second time that day, Sasuke watched Naruto leave, awestruck, ignoring the strange tugging at his heart. He folded his hands on the table.
No one ever said it would ever be so hard.
See the world with the faintest glow
Break apart and you're dealt the final blow
Your answer's no
And all you hear is, "it's the end of all time"
To the end of all time
Just so I can see the lightning climb over you
To the end of all time
Just so I can see the lightning climb over me
in the movie in my head, this is the song Shun breaks apart to.
Happy back-to-school, Ramadan Kareem (belatedly) & (early) Eid Mubarak, congratulations Djokovic, you are a bamf and you duckies are all wonderful.
Because people asked, Age references:
Sasuke- 30 (was 22 in the first six chapters)
Naruto- 24 (was 16 in the first six chapters)
Shun- 7 (was an embryo in chapter 1, 5 and 6)
Chinatsu- 4 (did not exist in first six chapters)