Disclaimer and A/N: Seriously, if I owned Naruto, why would I post this stuff here? Yeah, and if I was making money off of it, same goes. So please, don't sue me for this. I just had a moment of sleepy inspiration one night when playing Sims and wondering how many kids I could make a family have. Then I wondered about the Narutoverse. What would it take to appease Sasuke's ideas of what it means to revive a clan. Surely he'd need more than one child, right? So... um... many ended up being the answer. Nine to be exact. Yeah, big family, but he's rich, he can afford it.
So, I humbly give to you this rendition of a way Sasuke would return home if I could have my way about things:
Sakura wiped away a crusted streak of blood from her shin with a damp cloth. Still two days away from the rendezvous point and now she might not be able to even walk the rest of the way within four days. The black haired bitch had landed a senbon right into her thigh, followed by another into her shin. It certainly didn't take long for the poison within to work, disabling Sakura's muscles in only a few seconds.
Someone else attacked the black haired woman then, buying Sakura the time she needed to make it into the shallow cave she had sheltered in the night before and back to her pack. She could hear that it was a man, and this man knew the woman that hat attacked Sakura, as well as Sakura herself. The man and Karin, as the woman's name turned out to be, argued as much as they fought.
"You touch her one more time and I will kill you, Karin!" the more familiar voice of the man called out to the woman he kept away from Sakura's position. "I told you that from the start. You leave Kakashi and his team to me! They are my problem to deal with, not yours!"
"I won't let her have you!" Karin screeched back, making yet another attempt to bypass the warmly dressed and cloaked man between herself and Sakura.
"You obsessive little bitch!" the man stepped into her path and threw a punch right at her face. Experienced with the man's styles, Karin dodged and swept at his feet, but failed to take him down.
Sakura gripped a kunai in each hand after pulling out the two senbon. She believed she knew who the man was, though they hadn't come so close in the past four years. Not since Konoha was put back on the map after associates of the very same man wiped it off in an all out attack. She hated this man now, after loving and hoping so long, all she could do was hope she had the physical strength to match her emotional anger towards him. It didn't matter that he was here now, protecting her. For all she knew, he only wanted to kill her himself.
Karin left after several more minutes of fighting. Neither of them used any special jutsu on one another. For the woman's reason, it was because she knew hers were not strong enough. For the man, Sakura knew, it was because of the drought. He specialized in fire and electricity, both of which would burn down the forest around their ears. Without any water, only air and earth were left to the combatants. Air would knock down the brittle, dead wood in ways they could not anticipate. Water would sit on top of the frozen ground and possibly freeze Sakura along with it, not to mention the lack of water in the land to use. Earth... Well, she was in a cave, no matter how shallow, and being enclosed there was not the ideal situation. Unable to best the man in these conditions, Karin left for the time being.
Sakura watched the man as he turned to face her, features still mostly hidden in his warm cloak. He did not come any closer to her, or back away even one step. He sat down on the cold, dry grass only about three yards from Sakura, he remained quiet, just watching as she gripped her weapons tightly and watched him in return.
"She won't be back on your trail for at least another day," he said, trying hard to be gentle in tone even though his throat was hurting from a blow Karin had landed earlier. He resisted the urge to rub at the spot, knowing Sakura might take the chance to throw one of her weapons at him.
"And you, Sasuke?" she asked through a cringe as feeling started to return to her leg. "How long are you going to trail me?"
"Until I'm certain she won't be a problem for you anymore," he replied. "She is my target, and you are hers. As long as you both are alive, I believe you will be her target. So, I will wait with you until she is confident enough again to try another tactic."
"Why do you care if she kills me or not?" Sakura asked pointedly.
"I could show you, but you won't believe it's real. I could tell you, but you'll fear me even more than if I showed you," he said, sitting just as still as before. "It can wait."
"For you to trust me enough to let me in there with you. You do know it's actually colder out here in the wind than it is in there, right?"
"Then may I join you?"
"Even if I leave my things by the entrance?"
"I didn't think so."
"Then stop asking questions you already know the answers to," Sakura told him curtly, starting to loosen her grip on the kunai.
"I have food, if you're interested," Sasuke told her, making slow movements to bring his pack around and open it for her to see his stash of water and foods sitting below his weapons, using an extra set of clothing as a barrier between the items. "And I can make it hot without lighting a fire like you'd have to."
"Good for you, Sasuke," Sakura wrinkled her nose at him, jealous. "I think I'll survive with my own, though."
Sasuke set a little of his food out and repacked his things, ignoring her as she continued to stare in his direction while he added the needed water and used chakra to create a small fire off of his fingers under the metal cup, boiling the noodles. Sakura could smell Naruto's favorite brand of pre-packaged ramen coming into the cave with a gust of wind. She didn't know if it was on purpose, or if Sasuke just didn't remember or care about the memories it might bring back.
Instead of showing her own reactions, she set the Kunai to her sides and pulled out a package of jerky her father had given her before she left to rejoin her team on its current mission. It was a pack her father had made himself of the kinds she loved most, a mix of rabbit and deer. Sasuke recognized the packaging used and smiled. She always saved that one for times when she needed parental comfort or advice but had no access to them other than through someone like Kakashi. Her father cut and cured the meats, and her mother always packed tea flavors that would compliment the tastes, having grown much of the ingredients herself in their flower boxes or front yard. Sakura couldn't fully appreciate the tea now, though, not without a safe heat source, so she settled for just the meat alone.
"Aren't you thirsty, Sakura?" Sasuke asked, teasing. "What happened to your usual tea?"
"As if you don't already know," Sakura grumbled in reply.
"I can help you with it, you know," he suggested again. "Give you hot water, that is."
Sakura looked back out at him again. He hadn't moved from the spot, but he had finished his food and was huddled in his cloak, starting to shiver with the cold. He hadn't made a move to harm her personally, not even in the past when he could have done so more easily both with and without others present.
"Can you make something that won't spread or suffocate us in here?" she asked, hopeful.
"No," he replied, honestly upset that he couldn't do that. "I never remember knowing of anyone who could. The nature of fire, I'm afraid."
"Body warmth will be better than nothing. Come inside, and bring your things. They'll help hold in the heat."
He moved slowly, wary that she might still be on edge. He was right to think so. Sakura didn't relax at all when he sat down near her, putting his bag beside hers at the entrance to block out more of the cooler air. She kept her eyes on him the whole time, even as he reached out and took the water out of her hands to pour it into his metal cup and heat it like he had his own. She accepted the water, then fished out the tea by touch only, her eyes staying on his hands. He nearly laughed at her. Was she afraid he was going to use dojutsu?
"What are you smiling about?" she snapped at him, dropping the tea into the water to steep.
"Have you got eyes in the back of your head now, too?" he asked, surprised.
"I'm around kids a lot lately," she answered. "Take care of them long enough, and you tend to get extra senses."
"So I've heard."
She waited, still, sipping at her still steeping tea. "Well?"
"It's a temporary truce, Sakura," he told her. "You don't have to keep from looking at my eyes. I'm not going to use them on you."
"You're awfully cold towards me lately," he said, bringing his legs in to his body to set his chin on his knees. "For the past eight times we've met, actually. What's that been, then... Three--four years?"
"I hear Naruto has a son. Is that the child you've been around that's given you extra eyes?"
"Yes. His boy gives me hell sometimes. Terrible twos going into terrible threes."
He'd lied about hearing Naruto was a father. The truth was, he'd heard Sakura had a son. Yet, he didn't hear any lie in her voice when she answered. So, Naruto was the father. That was a little confusing to him, though. She'd never given Naruto the time of day in the past. Now she was raising his son.
"I hope he has your eyes," Sasuke told her, letting her know that he knew the whole truth. "That way, when he gets older, there'll be something to tell him appart from his father. If he's got your hair, I pity the child, though."
"I never said it was my child," she glared at him, finally meeting his eyes. "And he's not."
"Not what I've been told."
"You weren't told everything then," Sakura shot back. "I did cary him until birth, but he's not my child. The real mother died two months pregnant thanks to that bitch from earlier. What does she want with me anyway?"
He wondered who the biological mother could have been. Not Hinata, certainly. She would have passed out the minute Naruto suggested sex, and Naruto wouldn't have taken her when she was like that. He didn't have time to think on it much more, though. Sakura was waiting for another answer. This was one he didn't want to give.
"She's jealous of you," he said lowly. "She wants me. She even tried to rape me once."
"Then why be after me? It's not like I ever got anything from you."
A smirk played at the corners of his lips. "She thinks you did."
"I don't see why," Sakura handed him his cup back, tea finished.
"I told her you and I were secretly lovers after I killed Orochimaru and you all caught up to me the first time," he shrugged. "I thought it would put her off of me, not send her after you. I'm sorry for that."
"Gee, thanks, I feel so much better you nearly got me killed by lying poorly," Sakura grouched, kicking him in the shin without the aid of chakra to make it break.
Sasuke pulled his cloak back around his legs again. Even in the sheltered area, body warmth wasn't exactly enough to raise the temperature enough to be comfortable.
"Let me see your throat," Sakura said after a moment. "I know she got you good there at least once."
"What are you going to do?" he asked, lifting his head anyway.
"What needs to be done to keep it from bruising," she replied, taking off her gloves. "It's obvious nothing more is wrong, or you wouldn't be talking."
Tenzou was starting to get on Kakashi's nerves. Bored from lack of anything to do since the mission itself fell through two days before, Tenzou had taken to randomly prodding the rest of them with thorns to fill the time they waited for Sakura to return before moving on to the next location. It was amusing to watch Naruto's reactions the first five or six times. Even more so to watch Sai try to ignore the sharp little pains for the first eight. When a sharp prick caught him in the butt, however, Kakashi drew the line. It was one thing to prick an arm, foot, back, or side. It was another to go for semi private parts. There was no way in hell he was going to let it get any farther.
"Knock it off already, kohai," Kakashi told him in a bored tone. To be angry outwardly would only egg Tenzou on.
"But you were having so much fun earlier, senpai," Tenzou pretended to pout.
"It's getting old now," Kakashi replied, relaxing onto his sleeping bag.
Tenzou gave him a cursory prick in the shoulder before getting up and stretching out.
"I wonder what's taking Sakura so long," Naruto spoke up, stirring his food listlessly. "She said she'd be back today."
"She has a week left, Naruto," Kakashi reminded. "Besides, she did send word she'd be a day or two late anyway."
"She was supposed to be here three days ago originally," Sai reminded. "She should be here by now."
"Unlike you, senpai, Sakura has a thing for staying on time," Tenzou teased.
"Forgetting so soon who taught you to get up at the crack of dawn?" Kakashi turned an eye on him, pointedly. "If she isn't here by morning, we'll track her down. It's too nasty out there right now to even think about trying to find her."
Indeed, looking out the door, the other three noticed that the whipping winds had brought in clouds. Those clouds were beginning to release their load of wet snow, breaking the drought and the worry of setting everything in the area on fire. Finally, they could have some heat.
Sakura felt herself beginning to doze off as the sun set. Her leg was still immobile, but topical feeling was beginning to return. Satisfied that the poison would not last for more than the one night, she allowed herself to relax a bit, momentarily forgetting her company. Jerking herself awake again, she realised Sasuke was gone. More still, a blanket of white was thickening on the ground outside as the white shower piled wet snow on wet snow. By morning, it would all be hardened into a king of honey comb of ice and air. She would need her leg in perfect working order before traveling again, or every movement would be noisy with crunching without the use of chakra to walk on the fragile icy top of the falling snow.
"Damn it," she cursed into the air, checking her leg again. Her toe twitched a little, a good sign.
Wood--sticks and a couple good sized logs -- dropped from over the mouth of the small cave to the ground of the entrance, startling her. She grabbed the first thing that came to her hand and held it close to her chest, ready to lash out. The intruder leaned over the entrance and looked at her with a light smirk.
"Sakura-san, you don't have to attack me with my own sword today," Sasuke told her. "I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the change in weather and make a fire. Interested?"
"Definitely," she sighed, dropping the weapon back to her side where he had left it lying.
Sasuke flipped down to the other side of the pile and started separating the wood into sizes before setting up the beginnings of a pit, lining it with rocks a shadow clone brought, and filling it with kindling a second clone brought. The two clones went out for more wood while he got the first bit started up and then came back into the relative safety of the cave, fire starting to take even though the wood was damp. One lone drop of blood dripped from an eye.
"What happened?" Sakura asked, reaching out to wipe away the blood out of habit more than anything else.
"Itachi," was Sasuke's blank faced reply. "He pushed me very hard the day he died. He gave me a gift, but it's been a bit of a curse, too."
"You gained mangekyou," she realised.
"Yes," he nodded.
Sakura thought for a moment. Her instinct was to examine his eyes and do what she could to help him with the wounds. Yet, even though she had done so with Kakashi a few times, his injuries were different. The situation was different, too. Technically, Sasuke was an enemy of Konoha. Healing him would be an act of treason. There was also the fact that he might not allow her to even look at it. He had every right to mistrust her intentions. For every good she could do him, she could also hurt him. Most would use the chance to do so if they could. Many would tell her she should.
She dismissed even offering. It wasn't worth the risk.
"Don't worry about it," Sasuke told her, shaking her out of her thoughts.
"Hmm?" Sakura asked, turning her head sharply to him. "What?"
"I only use it when absolutely needed," he replied, raising a finger to point at his eyes. "I don't want to end up like him--blind as a bat."
"It won't take much more pushing if you aren't careful," she told him, unable to stop herself before the warning was out.
"How would you know?"
"Kakashi. I treat him now and then when he goes too far. If I didn't... He would have lost the eye three years ago at least."
"I see," he nodded then returned to stoking the fire. "We'll share bedding tonight if you don't mind. I don't think this will be enough for the night, and I'm not sure it's a good idea even to send clones out for more with the way the wind has picked up."
"I promise not to poison you in your sleep," she tried for a joke, but it sounded bad even to her ears. "Well, I promise not to kick anyway."
Unconsciously, she rubbed at fading bruises on her shins where Naruto's son had kicked her in his own sleep several days before.
"What is his name?" Sasuke asked, turning back to her.
She knew who he meant. "Tsuyomi."
"I doubt Naruto is at home with him and letting you come out here on your own. Who is watching him?"
"His step-mother," Sakura smiled at the thought. Tsuyomi may have lost his biological mother, but he had two others to look after him in return. She--Sakura--and Yashu. "She's having trouble getting one of her own, so it's good he already has Tsuyomi to carry on the family name."
"What does Hinata think of all this?"
"Hinata is dead, Sasuke. She's Tsuyomi's biological mother."
Sasuke shut his mouth at that. He didn't know the Hyuuga heiress very well as a child, but he did remember how she had pined for Naruto, and how she became even slightly stronger because of him. He had liked her quiet determination, even if her unwillingness to act boldly on her own wants was her major draw back. To think she had finally gotten Naruto, was going to have his child too, and died so young... He pitied her memory.
"Yashu is good to him, though he still calls me his Kaa-san half the time," Sakura sighed. "He confuses everybody with that, but we all love him just the same."
"He sounds blessed to have an extra parent that cares so much for him," Sasuke told her instead. "And you sound like you truly care for him. He must be very special."
"He is... I carried him, and gave birth to him, and fed him from my own breast. He might as well be my biological son. I love him like he is... After all, I might not have any others. Everybody else I'd consider having a child by is either taken or incapable due to injury. Poor Shino... He really wanted to have more kids after Mikoto. His wife was devastated, too. She had just lost a little boy when Shino returned."
More heartache in Konoha. Not what he wanted to hear, but what he needed to know anyway. These little side tracks Sakura got off onto gave him the news he would have to ask for otherwise.
"What is he doing?" Tenzou asked Kakashi, pointing a finger at Naruto.
Kakashi looked over at the oddly quiet blond and recognised the poise and relaxed posture automatically. "Meditating. Drawing on nature. Jiraiya-sama did that often when trying to figure things out. Maybe he's trying to get an idea of what's going on with Sakura."
"He's barely even breathing, Senpai. Is that safe?"
"He'll be fine. The less he moves even his lungs and heart, the easier it is to pick up on nature's chakra or something like that. I don't know. Ask him, he's the Sage."
"Just don't ask him now," Sai stepped into their conversation. "If he is getting anything like he did that one time, you're in danger if you disturbe him."
"Hai... he did nearly kill you that one time, didn't he, Sai?" Kakashi asked.
Sai nodded, and retrained his eyes on the blond of their group. He liked Naruto better this way. Quiet and still were things the blond needed to master if he wanted to grow as a person as well as a shinobi.
Naruto, however, was completely blocking out the conversation and movements around him as he sat on the floor, legs crossed, and wrists resting lightly on his knees. He did not feel the warmth of the fire, or the coolness of the air to his back. He did not care for them at the moment. Every time that he had been still for the past few hours, something seemed to be nagging at the back of his mind, like it wanted for him to remember something he'd never experienced to start with.
Giving in, he had sat up and took the position he currently held and relaxed each muscle methodically, slowing and deepening his breaths until even he couldn't tell when one ended and the next began, forcing his heart to slow in its beating as well before allowing the outside forces to flow straight through him. Only when he started searching the tendrils of information around him did he pick up on the stronger thread that had been touching at the back of his mind. Sakura.
Sakura had crow's feet starting to show up at the corners of her eyes, and laugh lines at the corners of her mouth. Stress marked her forehead with even more, and strands of silver started to shine brighter than the pink of her hair.
As the sight of her pulled back and allowed him to see the rest of the room, Naruto saw that she was braiding long, dark brown hair. The hair belonged to a black eyed girl sitting sideways in a chair who was doing the same to an older girl with medium length red hair. On the other end of the table, two boys--one red haired and one black haired--played with their pencils like they were kunai.
Three other boys--two of them about the red haired girl's age and one younger than the boys playing with pencils--came running through the room after a garden snake that had made it's way into the house and was now trying to avoid being stomped on by the fast feet behind it. Sakura, one of the girls, and the other two boys started at the sight. The red-haired girl, however, took off after her brothers and scooped up the youngest, chiding him for chasing after something that could hurt him.
"But it's not poisonous!" the boy cried, kicking and squirming in her grip.
"It doesn't matter, Suisei!" the girl replied. "What happens if it actually is? You don't have the same resistance the rest of us do."
"But it's not, Akaiko-nee-chan! I'm the one who summoned it!"
"You what?!?" Sakura demanded, eyes widened. "When? How? Why?"
"Usagi-nii showed me how to do it. I wanted to show you, but it got away..."
"NEVER summon another snake in this house again, Suisei!" Sakura shook her finger at the boy. "And you, Usagi, should know better than to go teaching your brother things you picked up from your father on the fly just because you like to flaunt how soon you got your Sharingan. Do you hear me?"
"Hai, Kaa-san," said boy hung his head, managing to get hit on it by the other boy's pencil.
"Good. Now get back to your homework and stop trying to give each-other lead-poisoning. I won't be able to take much more of you two trying to kill one another while I'm pregnant with these two and worrying about the terms of your father's release riding on Neji's shoulders."
Naruto saw now, that Sakura rubbed a hand over her swollen belly. He knew for sure there was more than one child involved with this pregnancy. It seemed that at least two other times had been multiples judging by the apparent ages of the other children. Sakura had definitely gotten the big brood she'd mentioned wanting a few months after Tsuyomi's birth.
A knock came at the door, and the dark haired girl jumped away from her mother's unfinished braiding to pull it open. In came a blond haired-opal eyed young man with a letter addressed to Sakura.
"Hi, Nami-nee-chan. Is Kaa-san around? Tou-san sent this for her."
"In the diningroom, Tsuyomi-nii-chan," Nami waved him in with a smile. "Is it about my Tou-san?"
"Sorry, I don't know yet."
"What's the occasion, Tsuyomi-kun?" Sakura greeted her very first born with a hug and a kind smile before accepting the letter. "What's this?"
"From Tou-san," the young man replied, his smile falling a little. "It might be best if the kids don't hear yet though."
"It's not about Sasuke, is it?" she asked, hand trembling a little.
"No," he shook his head in the negative.
Sakura carefully opened the letter, then gained a huge grin a second after her nerves calmed down. "You little liar! This is wonderful! I can't believe it finally happened! Who else knows?"
"You're the first person we told," Tsuyomi grinned at her. "After all, if it wasn't for you, she wouldn't be pregnant, would she?"
"Still, it was such a long shot at best--Oh my Kami I'm so happy for your Tou-san and Yashu! They're sure it's twins?"
"Almost positive," Tsuyomi replied. "I'm going to be a big brother by blood now, too!"
The group was interrupted briefly as two dark haired boys came back through the room with a snake in hand and marched right up to Suisei.
"What happened?" Tsuyomi asked, but Sakura's answer was cut off by one of the boys.
"Dismiss it, Suisei. Right now." The boy holding the snake demanded.
"But—I don't know how!" Suisei cringed, trying to hide into the wall.
"We can't let it live if he doesn't get rid of it..." the other boy muttered to his nearly identical brother.
"Oh, give it here, I'll do it... bakas," the red haired girl snatched the snake out of her brother's hands and made a couple half seals with the other, dismissing the creature.
Naruto opened his eyes as the images started to fade away. So, Sakura was going to end up having a bunch of children by Sasuke, if what he saw was correct. And Yashu... There really was hope. Naruto let his nearly forgotten smile return in full force as the thoughts started to come together. Sasuke was coming home at some point. Tsuyomi would be a big brother to both his own flesh and blood as well as Sakura's children. Some things were looking up after all.
"What's with you?" Kakashi's voice broke his trail of thought.
"If you think Sakura's got it bad with Tsuyomi...just wait," Naruto winked at him.
"Hmm? You figure out a way to get her pregnant without your wife killing you?" Sai asked.
"What?" Naruto's eyes widened. "That's not what I meant at all! It's Sasuke! He's the one that's gonna have freaking ten children with her, not me!"
"I'm sure you only just had some weird day-dream or something..." Tenzou commented.
"No," Naruto shook his head. "Definitely not a day-dream."