A/N: Wow. I actually have nothing to say here...putting an author's note has become a habit...
Well, actually I would like to say that even though I said I wouldn't have NaruSasu in here, I found that I couldn't adhere to that. The whole story started with them and so I felt like I had to have them in here. Still, the story features a lot of the OC's, so don't let the category fool you. I had to put who the characters were when I uploaded it and who better than Naruto and Sasuke.
I'd also like to thank all the readers who've stuck by be from the beginning and given me positive encouragement. I love you guys. Onward!
P.S. I've updated my profile.
Ties That Bind
Ten years have passed since Pein attacked Konoha in an effort to lure the Jinchuuriki for the Kyuubi. Naruto had been captured and killed, but Sasuke sacrificed his own life to bring Naruto back from the dead. Raiden, Sasuke and Naruto's son, sought help from other worlds to bring back his papa.
When we left them, Danzo had been killed by nine-month-old Uzumaki Aimi. Danzo's regime was overthrown by the village as they rallied to save Naruto from his clutches. Kakashi was sworn in as The Seventh Hokage and Naruto was made his assistant. Itachi left the Uchiha clan in Sasuke's hands in order to go live with Gaara in Suna.
A lot's happened since then.
Gaara was the proud father of a little red-haired girl with jade green eyes like his. Willow had walked out of thin air and into Gaara's office one day nine and a half months after she'd left them. She'd been holding a wrapped bundle in her arms. Gaara had looked up and known immediately. He came around his desk swiftly.
"Is that…?" he breathed.
"Your daughter," Willow said with a small smile. "She's healthy, two weeks old today. I haven't named her."
Gaara reached her and took the white-wrapped bundle reverently. He looked down at the small pink face. The baby was asleep. "She's perfect," he said. Gaara looked up to ask Willow if she was all right, if she'd like to stay for awhile, but she was already disappearing through the air again, as if she'd never been there. Gaara looked back down at his daughter. He gave her a sad little smile.
"Ah, little one. I fear we will never see your mother again."
He named her Yanagi. She was the light of his life.
Itachi, after a bit of trouble involving Kaito, decided to have his daughters move to Sunagakure with him. He didn't want them also falling prey to some overzealous man and ending up pregnant. The girls whined and complained about being away from their brothers. In their entire life, Itachi's children had never been separated from each other. The harpies made Itachi's life such hell that he was forced to send them back. They went. Hiroko opted to remain near her father in order to train with Genjutsu. Sumiko said she wanted to train with Baki for a time. The two ended up staying in Suna. Itachi took frequent trips to Konoha to check up on his brother and sons.
Those sons were doing fine. All except Juro, Yukio and Shouta were Jounins. Hiroto taught at the academy. Kenji, the resident expert on explosives, had founded something of a bomb squad in Konoha. Other nations were quickly following his example. He had pioneered research and development of many new ways of using explosive powder and tags. Kenta was a brilliant geologist. The two worked together and were Konoha's demolition team.
Juro and Yukio were gifted architects and the chief engineers for the village. They were often contracted to draw building plans for other villages. They had their own construction crew and, though only sixteen, were quite wealthy.
Shouta and the triplets still lived with Sasuke. Shouta was Chuunin. The triplets were still in the academy.
Regarding Kaito…Itachi was nearly prostrate with delight at how the boy was diligently doing his part to rebuild the clan. He kept Hanabi pregnant. Kaito had produced a horde of girls that Itachi was savagely happy to note had no trace of Byakugan in them.
As for Itachi's girls, the harpies were all successful in their own right. Asami was a gifted medical nin right up there with Sakura and Ino. Akiko was in ANBU and Akane was a part of ANBU's Torture and Interrogation Force.
One evening in Suna, Hiroko stood in her room at the palace looking at a sheet of paper with an official seal at the bottom. She held the letter in a trembling hand, reading it for a second time. Itachi read it over her shoulder. "Daddy," she breathed. "Konoha wants to recruit me for ANBU."
"So I see. Hardly surprising," Itachi said with satisfaction. "There isn't a ninja in the known world who doesn't know your name and fear it. I've expected this letter long before now, frankly."
"It would require me moving back to Konoha."
"Oh, Daddy." Hiroko turned and threw her arms around Itachi's neck. "I'm going to miss you!"
"Go," he said as he hugged her back. "I'm proud of you."
When Sumiko heard the news, she decided to move back to Konoha with her sister. Gaara and Itachi said a tearful (on Gaara's part) goodbye to the two young women.
In Konoha, Kakashi thought he was ready to retire soon. Naruto was more than ready to take over, he could tell. Still, he held off. He wanted to be absolutely sure.
Meanwhile he and Kurenai were also proud parents. Kurenai had Asuma-chan, but she and Kakashi also had a son, age eight, named Sakumo. He was a curious mixture of Kakashi and Kurenai with his gray hair and red eyes. Unlike his parents, he was neither quiet nor reserved. He was a loud-mouthed terror who hung out with Uzumaki Raiden and the triplets a great deal.
Hinata and Shino had also had a child, a little girl now seven years old. She had her mother's black hair and her father's grey-green eyes. She was called Amaya and considered both exceptionally intelligent and beautiful.
Shikamaru had moved back to the village with Temari some years ago in order to see to his former sensei's wish of looking after his son. He saw to this duty with as much grace as he could manage though it was bothersome at times. Shikamaru's own children played with Asuma-chan and Sakumo-chan on a regular basis.
Neji and Ino had Naruto-chan and one other boy, Seiji, who'd just turned eight. Naruto-chan had Neji's brown hair with his mother's eyes, but Seiji was Hyuuga all the way. Neji and Ino loved them both to death.
Naruto and Sasuke were still together, still deeply in love, though they had their fair share of fights. Naruto was busy all day and most nights. Sasuke was beginning to question his purpose in life. They looked after their children, Shouta and the triplets as well as two men such as themselves were able to.
On this morning, Naruto was awake, dressed and ready to walk out the door before the sun was up. He was busy looking around the bedroom for his keys as Sasuke watched sleepily.
"Oi. Demon. Give me sex before you go."
"Sasuke, please, not now, I can't find my keys," Naruto said distractedly. He bent to look under the bed.
"Yes, now. You get home so late, I hardly ever see you anymore. We haven't fucked in over a week."
"Dammit! I know I left them in these pants!" Naruto held a pair of brown cargo pants, frantically feeling all the pockets.
"Fuck me or feel my wrath," Sasuke yawned. "I mean it."
"Fucking hell…where could they be?" Naruto cast a glance at Sasuke before turning to search the dresser again. "Sasuke, I can't, I'm already dressed."
Naruto paused, looked over his shoulder.
Naruto dodged, tripped over one of his own shoes that lay on the floor and came up swinging. Sasuke got him in a bear hug and manhandled him with difficulty toward the bed, where they both collapsed.
Sasuke silenced him with a fierce kiss. Naruto struggled briefly, then felt his body heat up. He gave in, took over.
"Stay home today," Sasuke hissed as Naruto entered him.
"Do I have to beg?"
"You know Kakashi's counting on me. The council, too."
"Fine, go. Harder."
Naruto obeyed Sasuke's commands. He allowed himself a ten-minute rest before he was up and looking for his keys again. Sasuke casually reached under his pillow and withdrew the keys with a faint jangle. Naruto turned at hearing the sound.
"You fucking bastard," Naruto snarled as he snatched the keys. "Why'd you take them?"
"So I could have some of that randy cock of yours. You always sneak off in the mornings before I wake up."
"No I don't."
"Yes, you do. Be home early tonight for the festivities. And when you get back I'll expect a proper fucking, not the quickie you just threw me. I want hours of your body, Naruto. Don't make me come to the office looking for you."
"Son of a bitch," Naruto hissed as he walked out the bedroom.
"I love you, too," Sasuke chuckled. His smile faded as Naruto left the room, though. I love you so much that I can't stand it, he thought. After awhile he turned over and went back to sleep.
Udon adjusted his vest on his shoulders, ran a hand over his hair to smooth it unnecessarily. He adjusted his round glasses, inspecting himself in the mirror. His stomach jumped with nerves.
A crash sounded behind him. Udon rolled his eyes. Konohamaru and his latest conquest had been at it since dawn, both of them falling into the house drunk. He went and pounded on his roommate's door. "Konohamaru, hurry up! We're supposed to be meeting the new ANBU recruit in less than thirty minutes!"
"Be right out," Konohamaru called. Udon heard the girl growl something in a husky voice that had Konohamaru chuckling low in his throat. The banging of the headboard resumed. Udon turned away in disgust to wait for his life-long friend in the hall.
Udon leaned against the wall outside his apartment door and reflected on the turns his life had taken. ANBU had been so decimated by Danzo that they recruited any and every available Jounin they felt was worthy in order to flesh out their ranks. Udon had been more than surprised to get a letter requesting that he join. He was a good ninja but fighting wasn't his main weapon. He was pleasantly shocked to find that the ANBU captain was aware of this; Udon had been recruited as a tactical and strategic genius. Much of the work he did was from right here in Konoha at ANBU HQ.
Konohamaru was another story. He was a strong fighter, frequently sent out on missions with his unit. He was social where Udon was reserved, temperamental where Udon was usually even-tempered. Most importantly, Konohamaru was considered quite a catch. He was broad and muscular, reminding many people of his late uncle Sarutobi Asuma. Women were always all over Konohamaru and he accepted the offerings willingly. The only people more popular with the opposite sex were those Uchihas. Konohamaru had a new woman on his arm every week, and it didn't seem like the man planned on slowing down anytime soon.
Udon smirked as he heard Konohamaru and the woman showering. If his roommate knew they were going to retrieve Uchiha Hiroko and Sumiko he'd pitch a fit that would have the entire building awake. The bespectacled Jounin shuddered to think what would happen when Konohamaru found out that Hiroko was joining ANBU. He'd managed to keep that information from him.
It wasn't something that he ever spoke about, but Udon knew Konohamaru had been glad when Hiroko had moved to Suna. He had not forgotten or forgiven the incident with that Genjutsu. Udon himself had been heartbroken that Sumiko had gone. He'd been in love with the quiet girl, much to his shame. He'd thought that she liked him, too. Apparently she hadn't if she'd decided to stay away from Konoha for so long. But now she was coming back. Under Konohamaru's urging, Udon had known a few women in the past eight years, but he'd never forgotten Uchiha Sumiko. He wondered what she looked like now.
Konohamaru came bustling out of the apartment, ushering the woman ahead of him. She pecked his lips as Udon watched before skipping off down the hall to go her own way. Konohamaru watched the sway of her ass as Udon slammed the door closed and locked it. He turned to Udon with a wince.
"Jesus, easy with the door! I have a raging headache."
"No, I'm hung over. Let's get this chore over with."
"We're late," Udon griped.
"So we'll hurry, big deal."
They got to the gate in record time. There was no sign of the recruit just yet. Konohamaru placed a toothpick in his mouth and leaned against the wall while Udon struck up a conversation with the Chuunins on duty. Last night's soccer match between the academy teachers was picked apart in detail.
Konohamaru spotted the faint dust cloud in the distance first. He squinted, shaded his eyes with a hand. "Is that him? I thought there was just one recruit?"
Udon turned from his conversation. He could see two people surrounded by an escort of Suna Chuunins and Jounins. He could make out a head of pale hair and one of dark hair on the two people being escorted. "Yeah, there is."
"And they need such an escort?" Konohamaru snorted. "What kind of recruit is this that they can't protect themselves? Come to think of it, why was a Leaf ninja hiding out in Suna anyway?"
Udon refrained from answering. The shit would hit the fan soon enough. No need to rush matters. Besides, he was trying not to sweat at seeing Sumiko again. Did she remember him?
"I can't wait to see everyone again," Hiroko gushed. "I know I saw him only three months ago, but I really miss Hiroto!"
"I wonder how Shouta's doing," Sumiko said quietly. "I haven't been back to the village in at least a year. I missed when uncle Sasuke and the kids visited three months ago. I was off in Waterfall Country, remember?"
"Shouta was doing all right, last I heard," Hiroko said. "I'm sure uncle Sasuke takes good care of him."
"I still can't believe you're going to be in ANBU. The harpies, I can understand, but you? You're so non-combative. I mean your Taijutsu barely cleared dad's approval. I can't believe ANBU wants you."
"Me either! Seems like all dad's girls are in it. Except you and Asami, I mean. I know you turned them down last year. What are you going to do now?"
"You mean with my life? I don't know. Dad mentioned teaching at the academy, but…"
"But?" Hiroko prompted.
"I…kind of want to start a family."
Hiroko, a diehard romantic, grinned roguishly. "Ahh. Plan on looking up Udon-sensei?"
Sumiko blushed scarlet. No one knew of her feelings for her old sensei except her older sister. "He's probably found someone else by now."
Hiroko shook one index finger with a superior air. "Nope! I know he loved you. He's probably waiting for you to come back to the village and worried you've forgotten him."
Sumiko rolled her dark brown eyes. "Even if he did have feelings for me, he didn't know how I felt. He wouldn't be worried about any such thing. And speaking of feelings, what about you and Konohamaru?"
Eternally cheerful, Hiroko nonetheless sobered a bit. "He made it clear that he won't forgive what I did to him. He hates the sight of me."
"But you still love him," Sumiko said. "You've never loved another despite how men chase you."
"No. I haven't. Daddy said Uchiha's love once and hard."
"Are you going to speak to him? He's in ANBU too you know."
"I'll probably stay away from him. If I'm lucky we won't run in to each other."
Sumiko's heart hurt for her sister's pain. Hiroko didn't deserve to live a loveless life. "Maybe you'll find someone else?"
"I've found many men," Hiroko laughed easily. "I just can't love any of them."
Their escort, secretly hanging on to every word the two young women were saying, interrupted the conversation. "Hiroko-san, Sumiko-san, we are approaching the village gates. It seems someone has been sent to meet you."
The two women looked ahead past the protective shelter of their escorts and saw two men. Sumiko paled, Hiroko blinked, but did not otherwise react. Of all the rotten luck! Hiroko thought as they came to a stop in front of Konoha's gates. To be met by the very men they'd been discussing was cruel of fate indeed. She steadfastly ignored the tall man whose toothpick dangled from his full lips in the exact way she remembered from her youth. She tried to pay attention to the conversation taking place between the leader of her ten-man escort and the man she belatedly recognized as Udon-sensei.
"There were no problems?" Udon was asking. His eyes never left Sumiko.
"None," the escort was saying. "I see that you are also ANBU. I will tell Itachi-dono that his girls were delivered directly into your care." The man bowed low to Udon.
"Excellent," Udon mumbled. Sumiko's eyes were locked on his. Udon was in the process of dying slowly.
Sumiko was expiring with more speed. Udon-sensei was looking directly at her, hadn't looked away since she'd strolled up. He was so beautiful! Had he been that beautiful before? She finally dropped her eyes in self-preservation; she was close to fainting. She struggled to bring her breathing under control, disturbed to feel her nipples tight and sensitive against her tunic. She held her bag in front of her chest in case that detail was visible.
Konohamaru blinked. He stared. He blinked again. The vision still stood there, right before his eyes.
He hadn't really seen Hiroko since that party at her house. She'd been a gawky pre-teen then. That girl was gone, though there were similarities to the beauty who stood ignoring him. He ran his bulging eyes down her body.
Hiroko wasn't thin like her sisters. She was voluptuous, almost indecently so. Her breasts rivaled the late Tsunade's. Her waist was narrow. Her hips were round, flaring out dramatically to taper into curved, extremely shapely thighs and calves. Her ass was plumply provocative. And that hair! Konohamaru remembered it being in a thick ponytail, with equally thick bangs covering her forehead. Now it cascaded in a brazen fall to the backs of her knees in such amounts that he wondered how her graceful neck could support the weight. It was in a loose tail held with a clip made of the Uchiha fan picked out in rhinestones. Waves of the pale blond stuff framed her oval face. Her black eyes were bordered by thick, dark gold lashes. Her small nose and delicate pink lips were nothing short of perfection. Her cheeks were dusky with a natural blush.
She had on some kind of white outfit that suited her coloring very well, Konohamaru noted absently. The top couldn't quite cover her stomach, lifted as it was by her huge breasts. Her navel was visible over the waistband of her knee-length pants. His eyes were drawn to her deep cleavage, also visible since the first few buttons on her top couldn't close.
All in all, the sight of Hiroko dispelled the lingering effects of Konohamaru's hang over so emphatically that he was left slightly dizzy; he'd never seen such an extravagant hourglass figure outside of porn mags. His toothpick dropped from his slack lips as he stared, stupefied.
Udon addressed Hiroko. "Uchiha Hiroko, welcome back to Konoha. I hate to be so formal, but do you have your letter from ANBU?"
Hiroko was relieved to have something to take her mind off Konohamaru's roaming eyes. He was making her feel distinctly uncomfortable. "Yes, right here." She reached into her bag, withdrew the letter and handed it to Udon.
"Perfect," Udon said. "I was told you have a place to stay in the Uchiha compound. You need to check in with the ANBU captain, but after that you're free to rest from your journey if you wish." Udon finally noticed the look on Konohamaru's face. A beauty of an idea came to him. "Why don't I let Konohamaru take you to HQ? I'll escort Sumiko-san to the Uchiha compound."
Hiroko started to protest, but Udon had already handed the letter to his roommate and was turning away with a hand placed gently on the small of Sumiko's back. Her own escort from Suna had already disappeared into the village. Hiroko was left standing there with the man who hated her with such a passion. She did not look at him.
Konohamaru finally closed his mouth. It was dry from leaving it open so long. All right, Sarutobi, Konohamaru thought as he began walking with Hiroko at his side. She's hot. Beyond hot, she's a fucking goddess. That doesn't mean you can forget she's considered one of the most dangerous people alive or the fact that she forced you into nearly having sex with her. And as for Udon, Konohamaru thought wrathfully. You'll be dealing with his skinny ass later. His strides became long and angry as he stalked toward HQ.
Hiroko had a hard time keeping up. She was left looking at his stiff back as she hurried to follow him. Now, while he wasn't looking at her, Hiroko took the time to examine Konohamaru's appearance. It hadn't changed much since the last time she'd seen him. His hair was a little longer, hanging just past his shoulders in a thick club. His torso was a little broader. She placed him at an even six-foot-two. He towered over her five-foot-six inch frame. She could tell his body was just as strong and powerful as it had been ten years ago.
And she was still horribly in love with him. Hiroko sighed and jogged to keep up.
Sumiko kept her back stiff. That hand touching her was heating her skin to the melting point. She maintained control of her face and breathing with her trademark self-possession as Udon walked with her to the Uchiha compound. It was strange being touched like this. Touching of any kind outside of battle was something she was unaccustomed to. It left her body tight and breathless. And it was Udon, whom she was carrying a torch for, that was doing the touching. That didn't help at all. She concentrated on placing one foot in front of the other.
It was early yet, only just nine in the morning. She figured those of her siblings not at work would likely still be sleeping. She and Hiroko had not told anyone they were coming. They wanted it to be a surprise. Sumiko led the way in the compound to the pretty two-story house that was hers. She noted that one of the harpies had planted flowers in the front garden and tended to them regularly. She must remember to thank them.
She fished her key from the cord around her neck and inserted it into the lock. Her door opened easily. She stepped into the shadowy interior of the main room and paused to turn back to her former teacher.
"Please, call me Udon," he said. He was standing on her shaded porch. The sun was at his back, making it difficult to see his face. Oddly, this helped Sumiko face him.
"Udon," she said after a moment. "Thank you for escorting me." She offered a small smile.
Udon bowed to her while trying to think up something to say that would keep him with her a while longer. Nothing came to him. He was forced to leave her standing there in her doorway. He glanced back once when he was some yards away and found her still looking at him. He halted, staring back, wondering if she-
Sumiko slowly closed her door. He heard the faint click of the lock from where he stood and wilted in disappointment. He turned and slowly headed home.
"Daddy! Daddy, Mari thpilled all the Lucky Charmth!"
"Miki won't let me watch Nihongo de Asobo!"
"Mommy? Can I have ice-cream for breakfast?"
"I have to pee…"
Kaito blocked out the voices and the pounding on his door, thrusting into Hanabi's body strongly. He was braced on his palms to avoid crushing her huge stomach. "I swear," he panted. "No more kids after this one."
"Ahhh, harder Kaito!" Hanabi moaned. "That's what you said two kids ago."
"Yeah…but this time I mean it."
"You close?" Kaito thrust a little harder, feeling his own orgasm approaching.
"Yess…oh God, don't stop…"
Kaito didn't. Neither did his kids outside the door. The banging and yelling increased. A fight broke out amongst the three eldest as the youngest kept chanting that she had to pee. Just as Kaito spilled his seed and Hanabi cried out sharply, both young parents heard, "I hate you! Katon: Gokakyu no Jutthu!"
"Dammit!" Kaito gasped. "I'll kill her!" But it would have to wait until he finished climaxing.
By the time Kaito opened his door and surveyed his four children, there were scorch marks on the hallway walls. His three eldest were in the middle of a brawl while his youngest looked on, jumping up and down with her hands between her legs. Kaito and Hanabi were in the process of toilet training her.
"Enough!" he bellowed.
The children separated themselves and stood regarding their daddy silently. Miki spoke in a sullen voice as she pointed at her sister. "Thee thtarted it," she lisped.
Kaito stared at her. Miki was his firstborn. Hanabi had almost lost her when Hiashi, now dead, had attacked her. Kaito remembered the frantic run to Suna, the days and weeks when Hanabi had hovered on the brink of a miscarriage. Sakura-san had been brought to Suna and the woman had worked day and night to save the baby. Kaito hadn't left Hanabi's side. She'd needed to remain on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy, but she delivered a healthy baby girl and here she stood, meeting her father's look with defiance in her grey eyes. She was almost seven.
The rest had come like clock work, all girls. Mari was five, Momo was three and Mai, the baby, was eighteen months. Hanabi was six months gone with their fifth and Kaito really felt that this one would be the last. His kids drove him bugshit on a regular basis. Hanabi often said he was just another one of the kids since he could usually be found playing with them, but he was a good dad and a good husband. Kaito addressed his eldest after he took Mai to the bathroom.
"Miki, how many times have I told you not to use katon jutsus in the house? And against your sister, no less, what were you thinking?!"
"But Mari thpilled the thereal on purpothe-"
Kaito held up a hand. "No excuses. You're grounded for a week. No TV, no playstation, no going to your cousins or your friends, you hear me?"
Miki was a lot like her dad, rebellious and hardheaded. She stamped her foot as she frowned furiously. "But daddy-"
"No. The decision is final."
"Go to your room!"
Miki whirled and stormed away. Kaito heard her slam the door to her room. He then went down to the kitchen to inspect the cereal mess and see about feeding his children.
"Jesus, look at this mess," he groaned. "I swear you kids are eating it anyway. I don't have money for you to be wasting food like this. Get me a broom," he told Mari.
The broom was brought and Momo held the dustpan. Mari held the Lucky Charms box open as the cereal was poured back in. Kaito got bowls, searched in the frdge for the milk. "What happened to all the milk?" he asked over his shoulder. The girls were already digging into the box of cereal, crunching it up dry.
"Mommy finished it," Momo supplied.
"Damn," Kaito muttered. Keeping the woman fed when she was pregnant was almost impossible. Hanabi ate like a dray horse. He straightened and closed the fridge. He added milk to the grocery list held to the freezer door with an Uchiha fan magnet.
"Daddy, can we make snickerdoodles today?" Mai asked in her baby voice. She was exceptionally verbal for a child her age.
"Didn't we make snickerdoodles yesterday?" he asked, examining the list.
"I want more. Miki hogged most of them."
"Tough. We got things to do today while mommy rests. Go get dressed."
His girls toddled off upstairs as Kaito quickly straightened up the downstairs. He stopped off in Miki's room to tell her to get dressed before heading back to his own room. Hanabi was snoring softly, curled on her side. He made sure he was quiet as he selected his customary outfit and put it on over his boxers. This outfit consisted of black cargo pants, black tank top with the Uchiha fan on the front and a navy blue bandana with little Uchiha fans all over it. He tied the bandana onto his head, leaving his hair loose as he inspected himself in the mirror.
He was six-foot-four, rangy build, lean muscles. He wasn't beefy like Hiroto, or very muscular like Kenta, Juro and Yukio were. Satisfied with his appearance, Kaito pecked Hanabi's cheek lightly before meeting his kids in the hall outside his room. She murmured a sleepy goodbye.
Miki's hair was in its trademark black snarl but otherwise they were presentable enough. Miki and Mari settled themselves on Kaito's feet, wrapping their arms and legs around his calves tightly. He settled Mai on his shouldrs and picked Momo up to sit her in the crook of his left arm. This was his usual way of going around the village when he had to take all of his kids with him; they were never able to keep up with his long strides and he didn't have the patience to wait on them.
Kaito leapt and cleared all the stairs in a single bound, landing with a thud that shook the house. His girls shrieked in delight and hung on tight. Kaito ran out the house with his human burdens. He was supposed to be contacting the caterer for the festivities this evening.
The other residents of the Uchiha compound were still asleep. Those in Sasuke's large house were about to be woken, though.
On the second floor of the house was a certain room. The room was a junky mess, clothes and books strewn everywhere. No one was ever allowed in this room and whenever the occupant of the room was out, he locked his door with a sealing jutsu. The occupant was currently asleep, sprawled face down on his bed.
The boy, formerly husky, was now tall, lean and graceful. His sandy hair spiked up in the back exactly the way his papa's had done at the same age. It fell over his cheeks in the same way. He was fair like his papa, but his eyes and eyebrows were like his daddy's. This boy, now twelve, was none other than Uzumaki Raiden.
He was having a nightmare.
It had been years since he'd had a nightmare like this one. Not since the Danzo incident, in fact. He moaned in a faint voice as his eyes moved restlessly behind his lids.
Faces. Some he knew, some he didn't. There was that bad person, Madara. The notperson, a guy with glasses, a guy with snakes. The faces shifted, became a battlefield beneath a blood red sky that boiled with black clouds. The evil goddess cackled, striding among the bodies…the bodies, oh, God! Everyone he'd ever known lay dead. His friends, his family…Pop, Dad, all dead, dead, dead. Then it was all gone, all darkness and somehow that was worse than all the death-
Raiden was screaming his head off. He screamed until his voice was gone, screamed until Sasuke came crashing into the room, Sharingan on. He screamed and screamed and screamed until his father hauled off and punched him. That silenced Raiden. He hadn't been completely awake when he'd been screaming, but the punch knocked him out again and Raiden tumbled right back into that nightmare.
Sasuke immediately grabbed his son to him. He cradled the big kid awkwardly in his lap as he thumbed his fluttering lids apart. Raiden's grey-blue eyes rolled madly. The boy was muttering under his breath. Sasuke only made out a few words. "Dead, all dead. Oh, God, the darkness!" There was such dread, such agony in Raiden's voice that Sasuke was badly scared. He shook Raiden repeatedly, called his name right in the boy's ear, but Raiden didn't respond.
"Aimi!" Sasuke roared. "Get in here!"
His quiet daughter walked calmly into the room a minute later, her face still red from sleep. Sasuke could sympathize. He'd been sleeping himself when Raiden's bloodcurdling screams ripped him awake.
"Get your dad," Sasuke barked at her urgently. Raiden was starting to thrash in his arms, having some sort of seizure. "Fold, sweetie, hurry."
Aimi looked frightened at seeing her normally strong brother so incapacitated, but she nodded and disappeared where she stood. By now Shouta and the triplets had come to see what all the commotion was about. They arrived in time to see Sasuke kicked across the room as whatever Raiden was seeing caused adrenaline to pour through him. His already considerable strength was given a boost; Sasuke crashed through the wall and landed in the hall beyond. The four boys yelled in fright.
Sasuke picked himself up and charged back into the room toward where Raiden lay convulsing on the floor. The boy was screaming again in a voice gone hoarse. "Help me hold him down," Sasuke shouted at the cowering boys.
They tried. Sasuke held Raiden's shoulders. The triplets and Shouta held down his arms and legs. Even exerting all their strength, Raiden nearly bucked free. His head whipped from side to side and Sasuke saw with a sick jolt that Raiden's eyes were open and staring. "Raiden!" Sasuke yelled down into his face. "Raiden, snap out of it! Baby, please!"
Raiden couldn't see or hear anything but what was taking place in his mind.
"Uh, uncle Sasuke?" Kei said nervously. "I think his chakra is leaking out…"
Sasuke glanced up and saw that Raiden's black chakra was indeed starting to swirl out of him. Jesus, what was happening to his son?
Aimi returned with Naruto then. The blond took one look at the five people holding down his son and rushed to lend aid. "What happened," Naruto said as he knelt next to Raiden. Shouta and the triplets backed away, giving him room. Naruto took over holding Raiden down. "What happened to him?" His eyes went to Sasuke.
"I don't know. I think he's dreaming or something. He's having a fit of some kind. I can't get through to him. Can you get in his head?" Sasuke asked desperately. "Reach him that way?"
Naruto gazed down at Raiden with a frown on his face. The boy's chakra was coming out fast and strong now. Raiden? Raiden, son, can you hear-
Naruto's mind was sucked into Raiden's nightmare.
He was surrounded. Naruto knew these people, had killed some of them…Madara, Deidara, Zetsu, Konan…Akatsuki. All alive and all throbbing with a power that had Kyuubi howling in recognition. "The bijuus!" the fox howled inside him. "My brethren! They mean to take the kitling, Boy, kill them!"
Naruto was astounded to see that Kyuubi was right. Akatsuki was now alive and all Jinchuuriki. They transformed before his eyes and for the first time since Sasuke died, he lost control of Kyuubi. The Demon Fox exploded from his seal, transforming Naruto to six tails, seven, eight-
But he was one and they were many. Kisame came at him and the power of him was too much. Naruto turned, wanting Sasuke's face to be the last thing he saw-
Naruto growled, screamed as his eyes turned red. Sasuke saw this, started to say Naruto's name, but he was blown back by the explosion of chakra that blasted out of the blond. Their house was almost completely obliterated. When the wood and plaster settled, Sasuke saw that Naruto had three tails going, was crouched on all fours and Raiden had a Death Sphere spinning around his entire body. Shouta and the triplets were down, the bright morning sky open all around them. Black and orange chakra fountained into the atmosphere.
Sasuke struggled up, tried to crawl toward Naruto. "Naruto," he choked out. He looked down at himself. His entire right side was soaked with blood. He was numb, he realized. Sasuke swallowed, tried to focus. "Naruto, get to Raiden. Help him…I don't think he-"
Naruto wasn't listening, caught in the nightmare as he was. Kyuubi was, though. He realized the kitling was having one of his prophetic dreams, realized that he had been sucked into it and his host's mind was still prisoner to the kitling's vision. He tempered his chakra, reeled it back in. Yes. First wake the kitling then deal with this plague that was coming for them. Gods, all his brethren joined to the most dangerous hosts in creation!
Using his own host's body, Kyuubi made his way toward where the kitling still lay thrashing and yelling. He had to get past that chakra some how. Perhaps if he entered his mind again-
Aimi hadn't been able to shield herself in time. She'd been thrown, briefly knocked unconscious. She woke now, picked her head up from the rubble of their once-handsome house and blinked blood from her eyes. She was in time to see Raiden's Death Sphere contract slowly before blasting outward. She reacted immediately. Still, she wasn't quite fast enough. She saw her daddy vaporized, saw her papa suffer the same fate. Shouta was gone and one of the triplets halfway gone as she flung out her hand, her chakra jumping out of her crazily. "NO!" she screamed.
Aimi's chakra was a unique lavender and fatal to anyone who touched it unless she consciously willed otherwise. Everything hovered now in that lavender light as she struggled to her feet. She didn't know what had caused Raiden to do what he did, but she had to reverse it. Grief at seeing her parents killed so heartlessly threatened to overwhelm her, but Aimi forced herself to push what she'd seen from her mind.
Freezing time wasn't so hard for her. Turning time back was. It wasn't a quick process and it was very draining. The problem with the jutsu was that time encompassed all; she couldn't reverse events for only the few in the room with her. She needed to do it for everyone and everything in this dimension. It wasn't something she'd done often. None of her family knew she could do it. Aimi closed her eyes and concentrated on taking hold of the large, immovable, implacable weight of time and rolling it backward.
She heard the changes taking place around her, heard Raiden yelling, the house repairing itself. She focused, bearing down with the force of her mind, pushing against the resistant forward momentum of time until she stood alone in Raiden's room. She judged it was just before Raiden began having his nightmare. She opened her eyes and released time with a gasp of relief. She felt it begin sweeping forward immediately.
Aimi sank to her knees, her limbs shaky. She'd temporarily forgotten that she'd been injured. That was another thing about moving time backward. Everything around her was affected except herself. She struggled not to throw up. Her head was pounding fiercely in time to her heartbeat. She immediately tried to heal herself, but the effort required caused the pain in her head to escalate to an unbearable pitch. She actually did throw up a little then. She swallowed it as she tried to wait for her head to stop spinning. Healing wasn't as easy for her as it was for Raiden.
When her head cleared somewhat, she got up and walked unsteadily to Raiden's bed. Her vision was blurry, she noticed. Raiden was snoring softly. She glanced out his window and saw that the sun was just coming up. She shook his shoulder. "Raiden, wake up."
It took several tries, but her brother grunted, farted then turned over to regard her with sleepy eyes. "Aimi?" His eyes widened. His expression sharpened at seeing her torn and bloody clothing, at seeing the gash on her head. "Aimi, what happened?!" Raiden scrambled off his bed and reached her just as she collapsed.
"Stay home today," Sasuke hissed as Naruto entered him.
"Do I have to beg?"
The door banged open and Naruto swore as he pulled out of Sasuke quickly. They both turned to see Raiden running toward the bed. "Aimi's been attacked!" the frightened boy shouted in a cracking voice.
They raced back down to Raiden's room. Aimi was laid out on Raiden's rumpled bed. Sasuke reached her first, bending and brushing her bangs off her forehead. Naruto rounded the other side of the bed and knelt so his face was close to Aimi's. Raiden stood at the foot of the bed, looking on fearfully. Sasuke turned Sharingan-enhanced eyes on his son.
"You checked the house?"
Raiden nodded jerkily. "There's no one. The other boys are sleeping."
"What about outside," Naruto said without taking his eyes from the blood on Aimi's temple.
"No one," Raiden said. "I checked."
"Tell us what happened," Sasuke said tensely.
"I don't know what happened," Raiden said. "I was sleeping. Aimi woke me up and then she fainted. She was like that when I woke up."
Sasuke and Naruto exchanged a glance.
Aimi was taken to the hospital, where Ino healed her injuries. She studied Aimi's pupils with a penlight, but Aimi did not regain consciousness. Ino said that Aimi's chakra was slightly depleted, which confirmed the theory that the girl had been in a fight, but the reduction was so small compared to the chakra still present in the girl that Ino said she didn't think it was the cause for the child's unconscious state.
"The only thing I can think of," Ino said thoughtfully, "is the gash on her head. She has a concussion. If any jutsu she performed in that state required excessive concentration or mental manipulation…she may be more than unconscious. She may slip into a coma."
Naruto covered his eyes with a palm. Sasuke spoke to Ino while looking at Aimi's serene face. "Aimi can't do ninjutsus. If she fought it would have been with her mind. How likely is she to slip into a coma?"
Ino frowned in thought. "Depends on the strength of the jutsu she performed. If it was anything major, I'd say it's only a matter of time. If not, then she may wake in a while. I've done all I can for her right now. We can only wait and see."
Sasuke, Naruto and Raiden sat down in chairs around Aimi's bed to begin waiting.
Hiroko met the captain with Konohamaru glowering at her side. The captain took one look at her cleavage and there his eyes remained as he informed her that she'd been given elite status based on her reputation. There would be an introduction ceremony later that week where the rest of ANBU would be able to meet her, he said. Then, the captain told Hiroko's cleavage, she would be able to choose men and women for her own unit, a specialist unit.
"My own unit?" Hiroko asked in puzzlement. "What do you mean? And why am I given elite status? I thought all new recruits began at the bottom with domestic patrol duty?"
The captain licked his lips as his eyes remained glued to Hiroko's ample breasts. "Talent such as yours can't be wasted on grunt work, begging your pardon Hiroko-san. You're known as the Angel of Death. I don't think any one person has been so feared since Akatsuki. You may even have surpassed your father in that respect. You will be given a unit comprised of members of your choosing."
"Oh," Hiroko said quietly. She hated that nickname. "And what will be the purpose of my unit?"
"Your unit will specialize in infiltration and data gathering. Might I suggest you choose other shinobi skilled in Genjutsu such as yourself? No one will be able to come close to your talent, of course, but I will leave the decision up to you."
Hiroko nodded. Despite having his eyes firmly down the front of her top, the captain saw her nod. He handed her a dossier of the current ANBU members. Hiroko took it and waited to see if there were any further instructions. The captain's mouth was open a bit. Drool was pooling at the corner of his lips. Hiroko cleared her throat nervously. "Captain? Will that be all?"
At last, the captain dragged his eyes upward and met Hiroko's eyes. "No. You can choose to hold interviews with names you select from that dossier. Let me know when you wish to begin. Konohamaru will take you to where you can be outfitted for ANBU gear and a mask. Before you go, there is the matter of your contract. I have it here, ready for you to sign. You may take it home and look it over along with the dossier."
Hiroko bowed over the dossier she held to her chest as she took the contract. Then she turned to follow Konohamaru's ground-eating strides.
Konohamaru had been thoroughly disgusted at the behavior of his captain. He'd watched in stark disbelief as the man he looked up to had been reduced to the actions of a green school boy. It was a wonder the man had been able to speak at all, the way his attention had been focused on Hiroko's breasts. Some of the respect Konohamaru had for the man evaporated. If he hadn't been watching closely, he would have thought the woman had used Genjutsu again. She hadn't. If anything, she'd been a little embarrassed at the captain's behavior. Way to make a first impression, Konohamaru thought venomously. He'd wanted nothing more than to punch his captain's face in. Why, he didn't know. He especially hated the fact that Hiroko had been made a squad leader right off the bat. He'd had to work for years before obtaining squad leadership.
They arrived in the supply room a few minutes later. A small, wizened man sat at an old wooden table. He had a pair of glasses on that made his eyes look huge. There were several unfinished masks on the table. He was currently painting one with graceful strokes of his brush when Konohamaru and Hiroko entered. He blinked up at them owlishly. "Ah! Our newest recruit! And such a recruit she is! Itachi must be very proud."
Hiroko smiled. She liked this little old man already. Konohamaru snorted.
The old man asked if she had a preference in mask design. Hiroko, who had a passion for fantastical creatures, asked if she could have a dragon mask. The man said he would have it done in two days. Hiroko thanked him and was led by Konohamaru into an adjoining room that had ANBU uniforms hanging in neat rows. Dozens and dozens of outfits. Hiroko moved to find one that would fit.
She was very aware of Konohamaru lounging in the doorway. He watched her movements with hooded eyes. She steadfastly ignored him until she'd examined every outfit in the room. Then she was forced to face him and speak to him for the first time.
"There isn't anything here that will fit me."
Konohamaru ran lazy eyes down her lush body. He could see why. She was definitely heavier than any Kunoichi he'd ever seen. Yet she wasn't fat. Not quite. Her figure just missed being fat narrowly. She was simply extremely feminine, extremely curvy, extremely well-endowed both in the chest and in the rear. There was also some muscle involved. Her arms were toned, as were her legs. Her stomach, visible in the two-inch gap between her shirt and pants, was taut. She may rely on Genjutsu as her fighting style, but she was probably no slouch when it came to Taijutsu, Konohamaru surmised. He hated that he had to speak to her, but the sooner this chore was done, the sooner he could go kick Udon's ass for not telling him this bitch was coming. "And what would you like me to do about that?" he drawled.
Hiroko ignored his rude tone. "Does ANBU employ a seamstress? I normally have my clothes custom made."
Konohamaru straightened and sauntered toward her slowly. "Sorry, but we don't get a lot of pampered princesses in ANBU. The women here make do with what they're given. There have never been any complaints." He stopped when he was a foot away from her, looking down into her large eyes. "You'll just have to accept what we have." He reached past her shoulder, grabbed an outfit sized for a man like him and shoved it at her. "There you go. Anything else?"
Hiroko caught the outfit before it could slip from her grasp as she juggled the dossier and contract. She shook her head.
"Good. Then I'll schedule you for your tattoo first thing in the morning. You'll be given your ninjato afterwards." Konohamaru spun without another word and left her there to find her own way home.
Aimi hovered at the edge of a coma without slipping. Around noon, Kakashi himself came by to see if there was anything he could do for his assistant. Naruto said there wasn't. Sasuke's face was haggard. Neither Raiden nor Aimi had been seriously injured in years. He'd forgotten that they even could be hurt.
"I wonder why Aimi didn't heal herself," Raiden said thoughtfully.
Sasuke looked up from where he had his head in his hands. "Good question. Probably her head injury interfered."
"Should I…take her to Wyatt?" Raiden asked his fathers.
Naruto considered it. "No. Her life isn't in any danger. Wyatt should only be called on when it's a dire emergency. When's the last time you saw him?" Naruto asked casually.
Raiden didn't believe the casual tone for a minute. Still, he saw no reason to lie. "Few years ago."
"That long?" Naruto looked at his son in surprise.
Raiden ducked his head. "Been busy."
The kid certainly had been. He'd been Jounin by the time he was eight. He'd done a brief stint in ANBU before deciding he wanted to be a hunter-nin instead. Raiden had a knack for finding people who didn't want to be found. He was leader of his own squad, his success rate unblemished by a single failure. Only Sasuke, Naruto and Aimi knew the kid could sense whoever he was seeking by their chakra. Everyone else thought the boy just gifted at finding people.
Ino came by later in the afternoon and placed her palm on Aimi's forehead. She gave a single nod. "I think she's coming out of the woods. She's no longer in danger of slipping into a coma. I think it's safe for me to try bringing her back to consciousness." She looked to the two men for permission.
Sasuke and Naruto nodded. Ino coated her palm with chakra and worked carefully. When Aimi slowly opened her eyes, Sasuke let out his breath in a relieved gust and sank to his knees by the hospital bed. Raiden grinned at his sister. Naruto bent and rested his lips against his daughter's wan cheek for long seconds. Sasuke got up and bent over her other side.
"You really scared us, princess," the Uchiha said. "I thought we were losing you for a moment there."
"How are you feeling?" Naruto asked her gently.
"Forget that," Raiden said loudly. He shouldered his way passed his dad and leaned into Aimi's face. His own face blazed with anger. "Who attacked you?"
Aimi looked at all of them. Her head ached. "Attacked? I don't know what you mean. Why am I here?"
"What do you remember?" Sasuke asked quietly.
Aimi thought. "Going to sleep last night. Nothing else. Am I hurt, Papa?"
Sasuke frowned as he nodded slowly. What in God's name had happened to his girl?
Aimi sat up and took stock of her condition herself. She didn't sense anything broken. Her head hurt badly, as if her brain had been injured.
Ino came and sat on the edge of the bed. She spoke in a calm voice that Aimi liked. She lived with a houseful of men and boys. All she ever heard was shouting, cursing and coarse boy language. "Aimi-chan, I know you have certain abilities. If you are able to, I think it would be safe for you to try healing yourself. Can you? You have a concussion. The swelling is going down, but if healing hurts your head, let me know and you can stop."
Aimi nodded slowly, careful of her head. She called up her chakra. It did hurt to heal herself, but just as the pain built to a point where she almost quit, the healing took over and wiped her concussion away. She sighed in relief. Ino checked her again and pronounced Aimi fit as a fiddle and able to be discharged.
Now Sasuke and Naruto both grinned as the tension drained from their bodies. Raiden scooped his hefty sister up and swung her round and round in dizzying circles. Aimi's shrieking laughter dispelled the last of the cloud of worry that had hung over the room. Ino looked on, smiling.
"What about her memory?" Naruto asked. "Why can't she remember anything that happened this morning?"
Ino shrugged. "Head injuries are tricky at best. She may regain her memory of the missing hours, she may not. The important thing is she's fine now."
Sasuke and Naruto had to content themselves with that. Raiden told Aimi that he'd stick around home for a few days in case her attacker came back. Aimi gave him a steady look.
"If someone plans on attacking me, I'll deal with them myself," she said quietly. Raiden didn't miss the way her eyes turned yellow. He hoped the bastard tried again if only so they could feel Aimi's anger. He loved when his sister kicked ass.
Kenta walked home with his arms full of supplies in two large paper bags. If he was aware of the women turning to stare at him, he didn't show it. It was such a common occurrence that one could believe he was used to it. The fact that he didn't notice would have been closer to the truth.
Kenta and his twin had grown to be tall, though not as tall as Kaito. Still, six feet even was nothing to be ashamed about. Kenta, who'd always been thicker in the body than Kenji, had developed a nicely muscled physique. He wore his curly brown hair in a long ponytail, further distinguishing himself from Kenji, who wore his hair to his shoulders in a wild mane. He was still a very quiet, introverted individual. Every woman wanted to be the one to draw him out of his shell and help him rebuild his clan.
It was nothing short of sad how Konoha lusted after its Uchiha residents.
Kenta made it home and had to step aside as Kenji came flying toward him out of nowhere. Technically, they each had their own homes in the compound, but until such time as they were married, the two young men preferred to live with each other in Kenta's house.
"Did you get everything?" Kenji asked excitedly. "We have to have everything on the list or Akane will skin me alive."
"Didn't forget a single thing," Kenta said calmly. "Juro and Yukio are bringing the rest."
Kenji snatched one of the bags and rummaged in it. "Where's the disco ball?" he wailed at Kenta.
"Being delivered later. I gave them uncle Sasuke's address."
Kenji let out a relieved breath. He, Kenta and the rest of his siblings were in the process of planning a surprise welcome home party for Hiroko and Sumiko.
Uncle Gaara and their dad had slipped them the information that their sisters were returning home at long last. Hiroko and Sumiko were under the impression that they would be the ones doing the surprising, but they were in for a shock.
The party was going to be held at uncle Sasuke's. A lot of village people had been invited, as well former classmates. Akiko had managed to invite some ANBU friends, Asami co-workers from the hospital. Akane had rounded up every eligible bachelor Konoha had to offer. The party was scheduled for eight that night.
Sumiko walked over to Hiroko's house late in the afternoon after she'd taken a nap. She found Hiroko angrily altering her ANBU uniform with a needle and thread. Sumiko sat next to her sister and watched the needle jabbing in and out of the white material. "Let me guess," she said after a few minutes. "He said something to you."
"I swear, there is something wrong with a man who can't forget the mistake a girl made ten years ago. Stuck up, self-righteous asshole!" Hiroko continued sewing savagely.
Sumiko giggled. Hiroko's temper was very rare, but almost on par with the harpies' when it was riled. "What happened?"
Hiroko relayed her day. Sumiko listened attentively. She sympathized. Hiroko suddenly threw her ANBU vest aside to look shrewdly at her quiet sister. "What happened with Udon-sensei? He seemed possessive of you when he led you away."
Sumiko returned Hiroko's beady look with a calm sigh. "Well, he doesn't want me calling him sensei anymore, for starters. And nothing happened. But…"
"Yes?" Hiroko asked, bouncing in her chair.
"Maybe there is something between us like you said. He did behave in a…familiar way. And the way he looks at me…" Sumiko looked away, blushing.
"Ha! I knew it!" Hiroko shrieked. Then she calmed down. "But seeing as you're both painfully shy types, I don't see how things will progress between you."
"Please," Sumiko said in a strained voice. "None of your matchmaking attempts."
Hiroko conceded reluctantly. For now. She changed the subject as she picked up the garment she'd been altering. "Seen our sibs yet?"
"No. I was thinking we could head over to uncle Sasuke's tonight then catch up with everyone."
They spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening discussing how lacking their homes were and how they needed to decorate and stock the kitchens with food as soon as possible. Curtains, furniture and other female interests were spoken of in great detail until a knock sounded at Hiroko's door. She put down her sewing with a curious frown towards Sumiko. Sumiko shrugged; she didn't know who it could be.
Hiroko opened the door and found a beefy red-haired kid standing on the threshold. His hair was in a high ponytail with thin locks hanging from his temples. His eyes were a crystalline blue a shade or two lighter than navy. He looked at her with a serious expression.
"Um," Hiroko said in consternation. "Ryota?"
"Disgraceful," the boy said. "I'm Masaru. Honestly, don't you know your own brother?" Then he came in and gave his sister an awkward hug as he'd been instructed. Masaru was not a hugging kind of boy.
Hiroko squealed in delight, hugging the solid boy hard. "Look at you! I haven't seen you in at least two years! Why didn't you visit with uncle Sasuke three months ago? And how did you know we were here?"
"Was having my tonsils out. And I saw your light on," Masaru lied.
He stood patiently as Sumiko and Hiroko gushed over how he'd grown and how strong he looked. When their kissing and petting died down he got on with his little mission. "Since you guys are home, do you want to come over for dinner?"
"That sounds wonderful," Hiroko enthused. "Su and I were thinking of heading over to uncle Sasuke's anyway. How is everyone?"
Masaru gave updates on all his siblings, his cousins and his uncles as he walked between them to Sasuke's house. He was thoroughly interrogated about goings on in the village, who had married who, who was wearing what until Masaru was nearly running to get back to the house and ditch them. He knew nothing about people's relationships or clothes and didn't care to know. He burst into the house ahead of them and ducked out of sight.
"Why's it so dark in here?" Sumiko said. She heard Hiroko closing the door behind her. "Masaru?" she called.
Hiroko went Sharingan reflexively at the multi-throated scream. Sumiko's curved knives appeared in her hands as if by magic as she dropped into a battle stance. The lights came on at the same moment the scream was issued and Hiroko saw that all her brothers and sisters and a good many friends were present. The living room and hall were packed.
The two startled young women were grabbed and dragged enthusiastically into the crowd and bombarded with greetings and warm welcomes. Sumiko and Hiroko soon relaxed and were laughing at how well they'd been surprised.
Sasuke came over and hugged his nieces. "No more Suna?" he asked with a smile.
"Nope. Konoha and that's it," Hiroko laughed.
"Glad to hear it. How's my punk of a brother? He coming back any time soon?"
"I hadn't heard he was. Didn't he just visit six months ago?"
"Yeah," Sasuke admitted. Itachi did find time to visit regularly. Sometimes he even stuck around for a month or two. It didn't stop Sasuke from missing him, though.
Naruto arrived an hour later, apologizing for being late. He'd had to go into the office to take care of some things since he'd missed an entire day of work. He came in carrying a huge cake balanced on each palm. Asami and Akane rushed to relieve him of them.
Music blared and the party got under way a short time later. Guests arrived in a steady stream until Sasuke and Naruto were forced to allow them the run of the second floor. They locked the bedrooms.
Sumiko and Hiroko's brothers surrounded them, taking turns lifting the two young women off their feet. Even Shouta, now taller than both girls, managed this feat. Masaru, Ryota and Kei, or the triplets as they were commonly called, were hugged to withing an inch of their lives. There were some tears and much laughter as all of Itachi's children were reunited at last.
Then the harpies cornered their older sisters on a couch and proceeded to grill them on men. Asami went first.
"Tell me neither of you are still virgins? Not with that body, 'Ko, and not with that shy smile of yours, Su. Men love shy women."
Hiroko and Sumiko exchanged embarrassed glances.
"Unbelievable," Akane chided. "If I had tits like yours I'd be getting laid every day, 'Ko. Every hour."
"Oh, stop," Hiroko blushed. "Besides, the ANBU captain already seems very interested in my tits."
"And you already get laid every day, you slut," Asami shot at her sister.
"Anyway, Sumiko is the one with a man interested in her," Hiroko deflected. She gave Sumiko an apologetic glance.
"Really?" the harpies breathed. "Details," they squealed in unison.
Sumiko gave Hiroko a narrow-eyed glance before turning her attention to the three young women. "Well, I'm not entirely sure he's interested, but I've had feelings for him since we moved to Konoha all those years ago."
The harpies were thoroughly entranced with this news and more than annoyed that Su had kept it to herself for so long. They knew who Udon was, of course. They knew who every unmarried man in Konoha was, and all their vital statistics.
"Not a bad choice, Su," Akiko said thoughtfully. "I think he's hung, too. A girlfriend of mine dated him for a few weeks and she had no complaints about his package."
"Ugh," Sumiko shuddered. "I'm not interested in that."
Akiko narrowed her black eyes. "You should be. What good is being with the love of your life if he can't fuck you into the next century like a proper man?"
Sumiko had a hard time remembering her sister was only seventeen. She wondered how many men she'd had. To get all three harpies to stop staring at her, and also to pay Hiroko back, she said, "Well, I don't need your help landing a man. I'll find one when I'm good and ready. Hiroko's the one who needs your help. She's still in love with Konohamaru and she saw him today. He was rude to her."
All three heads on the harpies swung to Hiroko. She looked back at them and tried to stare them down. She lost. The events of that morning were told a second time.
"Stay away from him, sis," Asami said when Hiroko was done. "He's worse than we are. He gets more pussy than a toilet seat. He's had every woman in the village except us three and he's not looking to slow down any time soon. All he'll do is break your heart."
Hiroko was shocked. "He's a womanizer?"
Akane was forced to admit that he wasn't. "He doesn't actually chase women…they come to him. He just takes what's offered. He's good to them, too. Least I always heard that he treats his women well. But he's not relationship material, 'Ko. He's strictly wham bam, thank you ma'am. Though I heard he's got an impressive dick. I heard it was almost ten inches."
Hiroko blinked. She wasn't ignorant about sex, but the finer aspects of the act escaped her. "I assume that's…good?"
The harpies exchanged smug looks. "Very good," Asami purred. "If you were going to go after him, that length would almost be worth the pain of him eventually dumping you."
Hiroko seemed thoughtful. "Well, I'm not. He hates me."
Akiko wisely switched the topic from Konohamaru at seeing how her sister's eyes grew glassy. "I heard plenty of other men don't. Is it true you've had fifty marriage proposals?"
"Fifty-seven," Hiroko corrected absently.
"And not one of them met with your approval?"
Hiroko was silent. The harpies studied their sister for a time. Hiroko had to be seriously in love with Konohamaru if not one man in fifty-seven had appealed to her. How could she love a man she hadn't seen in years? it boggled the mind. Then Akane asked, "Exactly how inexperienced are you two? You guys have at least made out, right?"
"No...unless you're counting what happened with Konohamaru," Hiroko said.
"Afraid not," Sumiko said.
"Are you two gay?" Akiko asked.
"No!" the two older sisters chorused.
"What, there's nothing wrong with being gay," Akiko huffed. "I'm bi, after all."
Asami took charge of the discussion. "Kissing?"
Again, Hiroko and Sumiko spoke in unison. "No."
The harpies stared in profound distress. "How isolated did dad keep you guys?" Akane asked in outraged tones.
Hiroko snorted. "Guys like me for some reason, but they're too afraid I'll put them in a Genjutsu to try and take liberties with me. Dad didn't have to do anything."
"And no man wants to risk offending someone known as the strongest kunoichi in Taijutsu," Sumiko added. "Besides, I didn't want to kiss anyone."
The harpies promptly began a dire lecture on the shame of being so gorgeous and still untouched. Hiroko and Sumiko listened until a familiar voice caught Sumiko's attention.
"Oh, my God," Sumiko said in dismay. "Who invited them?"
Hiroko looked where Sumiko was pointing. She saw who Raiden was letting in the door and groaned.
Konohamaru had gotten home and found Udon sitting on the couch, staring dreamily off into space. He slammed the door forcefully behind himself and went to stand, legs braced apart, in front of his roommate.
"What," Udon said innocently.
"What? How come you didn't tell me the new recruit was that mind-raping bitch, that's what!" Konohamaru yelled.
Udon stared up into the red face. "Maybe because I knew you'd react like this? She didn't mean to do what she-"
Konohamaru spun away, making a slicing gesture with one hand. "If I have to hear one more time that she didn't mean what she did, I'll kill you. Fine. She did it by accident, so what? She's still capable of mind control! Don't you think that's dangerous?"
Udon got up, speaking slowly as if to an idiot. "Yes. It is. It's why she's so renowned. Her Genjutsus are the deadliest anyone's ever seen, even without the mind control. But you know what? Her little cousin is much more powerful. So if you're going to fear someone, fear Uzumaki Aimi. What happened with Hiroko was a long time ago. Bitching about it ten years after the fact only makes you look weak and foolish."
Udon hadn't quite been able to duck the fist that crashed into his face, but he gave as good as he got. Or he tried to. Once the brief fight was over and he had an icepack to his eye, Udon ventured a question. "You going to their welcome home party tonight?"
Konohamaru stared in shock. "Dude, why the hell would I be going to their party? Bad enough I have to work with the bitch!"
Udon risked his life with the statement, "I saw how you looked at her this morning. I've never seen you look at any woman like that. She's a bit thick for my tastes, but I know you like them heavy up top and-"
"Shut. The hell. Up." The expression in Konohamaru's slitted eyes implied strongly that more violence would be forthcoming soon.
Udon was quiet, adjusting the ice on his face.
Konohamaru was moody for the rest of the day. But when he saw Udon getting dressed for the party, he mumbled that he had to tell Naruto something and might as well come with him. He even shaved. Udon hid his smirk. Konohamaru must really be attracted to Hiroko if he was lying to himself like this. Konohamaru never lied where women were concerned. He never needed to. Come to think of it, Udon realized, the man never got worked up over women at all. They were just always there for Konohamaru, something he didn't even have to think about. Like oxygen.
Once Raiden had let them in, Udon had observed Konohamaru keenly. His roommate's eyes skipped over faces until they landed on a pair of black eyes in a corner. Udon saw Hiroko's face look crestfallen. She got up and excused herself as Asami, Akane and Akiko got up and came towards Udon and Konohamaru.
"Glad you two boys could make it," Akiko purred. Udon thanked her for the invitation. Konohamaru was staring off to where Hiroko was suddenly engaged in conversation with one of her brothers.
Udon was led off into the crowd by two of the sisters. One of them, Asami, stayed to speak to Konohamaru. "Hey. Big boy," she tapped his muscled bicep to get his attention. He turned to look at her slowly.
"Big boy?" he said.
"Consider it a compliment," Asami said off-handedly. "I want you to stay away from my sister. I see how you're looking at her, so her proclamation of you hating her seems a might misinformed, if you ask me. Just keep your dick in your pants where she's concerned and no one needs to get hurt." Asami's eyes flashed into Sharingan before returning to green as she sipped from her glass of Pepsi. She smiled and walked away.
Konohamaru felt impotent rage at being threatened by the girl. Then he wondered why Hiroko would be telling anyone he hated her. His eyes went to her again.
He was helpless not to notice and catalogue her body all over again. She'd changed her clothes since that morning. She had on some kind of short white dress that came to mid-thigh. It was sleeveless, V-necked. It showed way too much skin. Her stunning legs, arms and chest were exposed. Konohamaru saw two out of every three men staring hard at Hiroko. Several were now crowded around her, talking and grinning like gawky adolescents as her brother made introductions.
Hiroko struggled to keep track of all the names Yukio was saying, but her attention was on the tall man steadily approaching their huddle. She wanted to get out of there. "Yukio, I'm sorry, would you excuse me? Nice to meet you guys," she said to the group as she turned to make her escape.
Dammit! Hiroko stumbled at hearing her name in his voice, but caught herself and turned around gracefully. She looked at him calmly, though her heart was racing. What is it about him that turns my emotions upside down? she thought.
Up close, she smelled fresh, like a spring garden. Konohamaru salivated, swallowed, got himself under some semblance of control. "Look, I…" He stopped, not knowing what he wanted to say to her. Her hair was in a twisted rope that hung over one shoulder to past her hip. Konohamaru found that he wanted to see her clothed in nothing but her hair. The thought had heat pooling in his loins heavily. He tried not to think about that. "I may have been a bit sharp with you this morning," he said finally. "I wanted to apologize."
Hiroko only nodded. She turned to walk away.
"Wait," Konohamaru said, nonplussed. "That's it? You're not going to accept my apology?"
"You haven't accepted mine," Hiroko said quietly.
Konohamaru cursed inwardly. She just had to bring it up. "So? That doesn't mean I hate you."
"What makes you think I think that?"
"Your sister told me."
"I see. Well, I don't believe that. I think you're still angry about what happened. It doesn't matter if you hate me or not, anyway. And for what it's worth, I am sincerely sorry." She turned to walk away again.
Konohamaru startled them both by reaching out and grabbing her arm. Hiroko turned, looked down at his hand, then back up at his face. He was very close to her, close enough for her to smell his aftershave. She inhaled deeply.
His eyes were drawn to her breasts by the action. Her arm was silky and warm in his grasp. This close, he could feel her trembling. Despite what she'd done and his feelings on the subject he wanted her. It was a mindless imperative that his body issued. His body heated at the faint feel of her breath on his neck. "I don't hate you," he said. "And I know you don't hate me."
"Oh?" Hiroko said coolly. "You seem sure of that."
"I am," Konohamaru said confidently. His easy way with women was asserting itself, reaching past the angry awkwardness he'd been feeling around her. He managed a lazy smile. "I remember what you said to me at that other party."
So did Hiroko. It warmed her cheeks with shame and anger to see that he thought she had nothing better to do than wait for his conceited ass. Did the man think every woman created lusted for him? The formidable Uchiha pride rose up in her, choking her. She would set him straight, by God! "I was a child when I said those words, Konohamaru. People change."
Konohamaru thought the way her eyes glittered with anger absolutely captivating. God, he wanted to fuck her. "Is that right? So you haven't waited for me?"
Yes, I've waited. I've waited and dreamed of you and even now I want you, God help me. "Hardly."
Konohamaru studied her, trying to decide if she was lying. He was annoyed to discover that he couldn't tell. And honestly, with a body like hers, men had probably been all over her for years. He let go of her arm, strangely disappointed and not understanding why. "I see. My mistake. I'll leave you to enjoy your party."
He turned away from her and Hiroko sagged against a wall, struggling not to cry. Suddenly the harpies were there, supporting her and guiding her to an unoccupied loveseat. Hiroko couldn't speak, only took the drink one of them handed to her and drank numbly.
Konohamaru left the party. He took the first woman to approach him in the bar he went to and fucked her against the wall in the bathroom, assuaging his injured pride.
He changed his mind. He did hate miss ice bitch, Uchiha Hiroko.
Sumiko's evening went differently. Udon had approached her on the couch where she sat. He lowered himself until he was sitting next to her. They were both quiet for a time. She asked what had happened to his face. He replied that he had an unhealthy habit of deliberately pissing his roommate off. Then Udon asked if she'd been surprised at the party. Sumiko said that she was. After that, conversation flowed tentatively between them. He asked about her years in Suna, probing casually until he could ask the most important question:
"And what about your boyfriend? Will he be joining you in Konoha?" Udon asked.
Sumiko lowered her lashes. "I don't have a boyfriend."
Udon bit his tongue to keep from screaming in joy. "Oh? Well, whoever let you go was a fool."
"I've never had a boyfriend," Sumiko said softly. She hid behind her glass as she sipped her drink.
"Why not? You're very beautiful." Udon's voice had lowered on the last word until Sumiko felt her privates swell alarmingly. She pressed her legs together.
She couldn't answer, even if she'd been capable of speech then. She only raised her eyes to Udon's where they were promptly ensnared by his direct gaze. Neither of them looked away.
Udon took his faltering courage in his hands and asked, "Would you like to dance?"
Sumiko nodded shyly that she would.
A slow song was playing. Udon drew her to the crowded space in the living room and placed one hand against her lower back. He held one of her hands in his other one. There was very little room to do more than sway to and fro. Sumiko held herself stiffly, realizing too late that she'd never slow danced in her life. And being in Udon's arms was destroying her composure.
Sumiko shuddered as chills ran up and down her back, spawned by that warm hand. She shuddered again as she was bumped from behind and pressed against the length of Udon's hard body. She closed her eyes in humiliation as Udon's arms came around her and held her close. She couldn't. She just couldn't endure such intimacy, not out here where there were surely eyes watching. She began pulling away, but Udon held her close, tipped her head up so that he could look into her panicky eyes.
"What's wrong," he asked.
"Nothing," she croaked. "I just…I'm not used to dancing."
Udon's brow cleared. "Are you uncomfortable?"
She nodded. "A little."
Udon said not another word. He led her by the hand, wending his way through the gyrating crowd until he found a closed door. He opened it and they were in Uncle Naruto's den. Sumiko leaned against the closed door as Udon turned to face her. She fanned herself with a hand. "Thank you, Udon-sen…Udon. It was crowded in there and I-"
Udon grabbed her face and kissed her.