Hey everyone,

Sorry for the long delay. Just starting to get my groove back. I hope it continues.

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Chapter 12

Shikamaru gazed at his sleeping beauty. He smiled softly thinking that she was the only scene he enjoyed looking at more than the clouds. With nimble fingers he traced down her spine. He had to wake her up in the most pleasant way possible to man kind. After all, he needed her relaxed for the dinner today. The last thing the situation needed was Temari exploding and trying to suffocate Sasuke with the appetizers.

"Temari," he whispered. "Wake up babe. Don't be troublesome."

She turned in her sleep, smacking him on the face with an unconscious move. He held his throbbing face, before sighing. She was still his sleeping beauty, he thought. He plastered a smile on his face before whispering, "Wakey Wakey-" He froze. When did he drop this low? He whined internally.

"Go away," she mumbled, waving a hand in the air.

"We'll be late if 'we' don't get up right now." He knew Temari was accepted direct criticism with open arms.

She got up sniffling. "Is that perfume?"

"I just showered."

"Is that a new shirt?"

"I've always had it."

"Are you cheating on me, Nara?"

He paused for a second, before he let out a deep breath. "Yes. The only possible explanation for showering and getting dressed up is me cheating on you."

"Shut it, wise ass." She smiled. "You look good."

"And the best thing is; you have me all to yourself," he teased. "Although I think Aki has a crush on me."

"I'll have to confront him about it today then," She smirked. "No four year old is going to steal my man away. Isn't Minori enough for him? Greedy Greedy child."

He smiled before mumbling, "Naruto always jokes about Minori being engaged to Aki..."

Temari shifted at the mention of the blond teacher. "What if today doesn't end well?"

"We'll always be his friends."

XXXXX Back at the Uchiha residence XXXXX

Haru pouted, his bottom lip poking out. He was on a strike, and no one was going to change his mind.

Naruto ogled at mini Naruto. The boy was really taking after him. "Haru, be nice."

"Never! Never! Absolutely-" he stuttered on the word, "not! I hate her. She's mean, and she spanked me. I hate her."

Naruto took a deep sighed. He always knew that in each family there is an aunt or some sort of a relative that kids hated being around. He never expected it to be Temari. Shika, may be. But Temari, no.

"You liked her when she bought you a bike on your birthday."


Naruto blinked not understanding what the boy just said, until Sasuke mumbled "He means momentary" in the back ground. The teacher turned around. "I told you not to teach him big words."

Did I say Haru was Naruto's mini version? At first, that would be the first impression as for the physical resemblance. Too hasty of an impression. However, after further examination, Haru was Sasuke's mini me, or more likely a hybrid of the two men.

"You should be happy I'm improving his vocabulary," Sasuke stated as he placed the plates over the dining table. "We don't want him taking after you, dobe," Sasuke teased.

Naruto scrowled at him before waving a finger in the air. "Need I remind you, Temari will be scrutinizing you. Watching every single word that comes out of your mouth like a hock-"

"You mean listening to-"

"No acting like a smug b- you know what," Naruto looked at the kid, "today."

"That's no fun."

"Do you prefer her hating you? You have seen her angry before, right?"

"I get it. I get it," Sasuke sighed. He was just teasing Naruto. He didn't need to be reprimanded. "But she's not here yet, dobe."

He felt something smack his leg. When he looked down, he saw Haru giving him a death glare. "Don't bully Naru-da!"

Such a fearsome little thing, knee tall. Sasuke smiled, "I was just teasing."

"Bullying is not funny," the child walked away.

Sasuke stared at the child as he walked up to his room. It stung. The fact that his kids took sides so easily stung. The fact that he was called a bully by a four year old stung. The fact that Naruto Aio nodded stung. Was he being too sensitive? He wondered, but it still stung. He wished that the swarm of bees inside of him would rest. Too much stings could render a grown man dead, he thought.

Right then, Aki walked in. Good, Sasuke smiled. Aki was always warm towards him and accepting. In fact, he had just slept the whole night yesterday on Sasuke's lap. Sasuke never loved a drool stain as much as the one he had tainting his pajamas after the boy's slumber.

Aki bit his lip before poking Naruto's thigh with a tiny finger. "Is Minori coming?"

"No sweetie."

"Why not?" He whined.

"He's at his mom's place tonight."

"Can't they bring him?"

"You'll see him after the weekend in school."

Aki sulked. Sasuke bent down to pat him on the back, but the boy shied away from his daddy's touch. The raven stood back up silently, face as still as stone. Then he felt Naruto rub his back softly.

"It's not you. He's just upset. Don't take it personally."

"Yeah," Sasuke whispered.

Naruto whined in sympathy for the other man. He kissed the tanned cheek before whispering, "I'm on your side, sourpuss."

Sasuke smiled softly as Naruto planted another kiss. "I'm not a sourpuss."

"You need to shave," Naruto kissed his again. Then once more. Then once again. "I like it when your cheeks are all fuzzy. It turns me on. So shave or I won't be able to keep my hands away from you at the dinner."

"I wouldn't mind."

"Bastard," Naruto mumbled before whispering in Sasuke's ears. "See I'm a bully too."

"Bullying is not funny," Sasuke smiled. "I think I'll abstain from teaching him anymore big words."

"Go shave."

Two hours later, the door bell was rung. Nara stood with a hand on his love's back, already readying himself for the massacre. He smiled politely as Sasuke let him in. Temari, on the other hand, wasn't as gracious with her smiles.

"Naruto will be right there. He's in the kitchen getting everything ready."

"I see you're still letting him do everything alone. It's almost nostalgic," she spat out, earning a look from Shikamaru.

Sasuke swallowed the insult in silence, trying to keep his face frozen and his smile plastered. "The kids prepared something for you."

He then watched as Aki hugged Shika's leg. The brunette lifted him up, kissing him on the cheek and then letting the boy kiss Temari. "How have you been, big boy?"

"Is Minori coming?" The boy asked again.

"Not acting hard to get, I see," the blond woman teased.

Aki blushed before Shika spoke, "Am I not enough? I'm heart broken."

"You're enough," the boy smiled as a hue of rose covered his cheeks. He reached his hand up to show Shika and Temari a drawing.

"This is a gift from the kids," Sasuke added.

"Not from me!" Haru shouted, hiding behind something.

Temari gave Shika a look, before looking back at the drawing. "You even wrote our names. You have a talent Aki."

"It's going up instead of our wedding photo," Shikamaru stated, joking.

Sasuke walked them to the living room before excusing himself to check on Naruto in the kitchen. As soon as he out of ear shot, she leaned against Nara and whispered. "Did you hear what Haru said earlier? He's turning the kids against us."

Shikamaru whispered "troublesome" under his breath, before whispering "Are you sure it's not you trying to beat Haru up?"

"You're supposed to be on my side."

"If you don't give him a chance, then being here is counter productive. Don't shoot everything his does down." Then he finished with "Baby" to soften the tone of his words.

"Fine," she gritted her teeth.

Suddenly, they heard the bell ring. "Naruto, the bell is ringing. Did you invite anyone else?"

Naruto walked out of the kitchen as he started to untie his apron. "Not really. Did you?"

"No," Shikamaru answered.

The blond opened the door to see Iruka sensei standing beside of Kiba.

"Nice apron," Kiba smirked.

"Sorry Naruto. Kakashi is on a mission so I thought I'd invite myself over instead of mopping around the house."

"And I'm just here for the food," Kiba added. "And the kids. Where are the kids? Aio, Haru, Aki!" Kiba called out.

The kids came running out, and so did Sasuke. In fact he came out just in time to hear Shika comment on how Kiba was popular with the Kids. Great, Sasuke thought mockingly. It was obvious the two crashers were there to observe and test him as well. One, Temari, on one was fair. Two on one was okay. Three on one was plain cruel, he thought.

"How are you, Uchiha?" Kiba eyed the man. He smirked, "Surprised to see me?"

Sasuke swallowed his anger and frustration. "The more the merrier. Plus it's always great when Naruto's 'friends' come over."

"Come in," Naruto smiled, hugging Iruka. "You like Tempura, right?"

Iruka smiled in reply, as his eyes scanned everyone's reactions and body language. He then leaned in and whispered in Naruto's ear, "I'm here for emotional support. Thought you could use it."

Naruto leaned towards the other's ear and whispered, "Or is it that you don't want to stay home alone with Kakashi's book collection? Getting too tempting?"

Iruka backed away blushing, "I am your sensei. Behave."

"We're both adults here, Iruka." Naruto teased feeling the first name weird on his tongue.

He smiled at Temari who then forced herself to say anything, just as to have said something. "It smells good."

"I'm Naruto Uzumaki. The king of all kitchens. Watch a learn, Temari. Watch and learn!" He chuckled. "Miso soup extra salty for you." He then paused before adding, "Sasuke insisted he would be the one making it."

She smiled politely before whispering to Shika that the soup might just be poisoned, and that they should wait for Kiba to sip it first. He could smell poison after all.

"We wanted to bring you something, but we were too late already," Shikamaru commented as they sat down around the table.

"You don't owe me anything, you guys," Naruto answered.

The raven shifted before deciding to put his ego on the limp, and address the elephant in the room. He took in a deep breath before opening his mouth. "Hmm... I'd like to say something before we eat if it's not a bother." Be as polite as you can, he told himself, and sincere.

They all rested their eating utensils back on the table.

"Well first," he glanced at Naruto who smiled encouraging him. "I'd like to thank you for being here..."

"You're the host," Kiba smiled, not sure of what Sasuke was about to say. "We should thank you."

Sasuke nodded, "I would also like to thank you for being there for Naruto when I couldn't. Thank you for helping him even if it was to leave me. I might have felt a little spiteful back then, but I wasn't really in my right mind to judge. So, you did what's best for your friend, and I love him, so I'm in your dept. I'm also sorry, and I hope," he took a deep breath as he stared at nothing n particular. "I hope that my past mistakes will not come between you and Naruto. I've hurt him enough already."

The blond rubbed Sasuke's back smiling as he mimed, "Thank you."

The words felt heavy, but as soon as first lines were out of his mouth, the rest flowed out. Sasuke looked at the kids, "I know I have no right asking you to trust me when I say I will change or asking you to forgive me, but I hope you'll give me a chance. I want my family back," he whispered the last sentence thinking of how dumb he sounded. How embarrassing, he thought. They must be mocking him internally right now.

Awkward silence lasted for a few seconds until Iruka spoke, "Shall we start eating?"

And as the clicking of cups, glasses, and dishes started, Iruka whispered but loud enough for everyone to hear, "Everyone deserves a second chance."

- To be continued -

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