Hi! I know plenty of you can't wait until Sasuke goes back to Konoha, which is going to happen but, like I said earlier, when he's 10 years old. Please be patient.
Also, to cam171313: I felt honored that you decided to review this fanfic, but I couldn't find your page no matter how hard I looked. Can you please tell me where it is?
Back to the chapter. As always, enjoy!
When Sai found his way back to the kitchen, he looked directly at Sasuke or, at least, the little kid that had once been Uchiha Sasuke. The raven child couldn't help but grim at his bloody and swollen face, his onyx eyes shining with childish glee that something so funny had happened to a guy he didn't like.
While Sai could only feel surprised and confused about Sasuke's sudden regression, Kakashi looked far too shocked for words. One of his students, the student he had failed to teach, the student he had grieved and mourned, who he thought was lost forever, was right in front of him with his tiny fists grabbing Naruto's shirt.
His gaze had changed drastically. Sasuke's eyes didn't reflect his continuous brooding nature or his deep anger and hatred for the many losses in his life, he looked… innocent and a little fearful. This boy had a completely different aura than the Sasuke he had known.
Feeling his former sensei stare, Sasuke curled up against Naruto's chest and whispered something to his ear. The blond smiled comfortingly at the young child and stroked his hair.
"No. I've told you" Naruto said to the boy. "No one is going anywhere."
The two seemed completely at ease. Kakashi had never seen Naruto or Sasuke behave like that with anyone, let alone with each other. The Naruto he knew and remembered was still the boy who would do anything to save his friend from his vengeance, which was why he hadn't really felt surprised when he learned that both Naruto and Sasuke were alive. He had imagined that Naruto had finally been able to convince the international criminal of his poisonous path and taken him to somewhere safe where he could regain his senses.
Kakashi had never imagined that he would find him like this. It had to be some mistake, a jutsu or something like that. Because there was no way Uchiha Sasuke could be a child! Sasuke would never look remotely like an innocent kid after what he had been through and he would never, never call Naruto "Tou-chan".
"What is the meaning of this?" the white-haired Jōnin asked slowly, his black eye fixed on his students. "Why do you look like that, Sasuke?"
The raven looked at Kakashi with a scared expression in his face. Naruto, however, seemed torn between explaining the situation and not wanting Sasuke to find out anymore of his past crimes.
"Kakashi-sensei…" the blond muttered.
"I don't understand why you've taken that form, Sasuke" Kakashi went on. "Please, turn back into your real age."
Sasuke gulped. He tried to look away from the masked shinobi, but his eyes seemed stuck on the man's gaze. He remembered that he had fought against them and that he had pretended to be the Sasuke he thought they knew and wanted. No wonder Kakashi thought he was using a transformation technique.
"This… this is my real age" Sasuke mumbled timidly. "This is how I really look like. I was lying before."
The older Jōnin blinked and frowned, obviously confused and annoyed by the raven's words. "What are you talking about?"
"Sasuke…" Naruto muttered, but the boy shook his head.
"It's okay, Tou-chan. I lied to them. They think I remember" Sasuke explained, feeling the palms of his hands sweaty. "I didn't tell them what happened to me, that's why they think I'm the Sasuke they remember. I told them… your son was gone."
Naruto nodded and patted the child's back. He knew his boy. He knew how the present events had troubled him and how the knowledge of his past was haunting him.
"He's feeling guilty" the blond thought sadly. "Even though we already talked, he feels guilty for what he did. Ashamed and disappointed too. I wish I could take that all away. I wish could protect him from this and the other painful truths… I can't change your past, son. But I can help you face it. I can protect you from those who still cling to it."
The boy faced the three wide-eyed ninja in front of him, feeling their gazes piercing through his face. However, Sasuke knew he had to do the right thing instead of hiding behind his father like a coward. He had done a bad thing, maybe many bad things, and, even if he didn't remember them, it had still been him.
"I don't remember you. I don't remember any of you" the child said, fighting the growing lump in his throat. "I don't remember being in Team 7 or… leaving Konoha. I lost my memory when I was turned into a baby seven years ago, I just remember being a kid!" despite all his efforts, Sasuke felt his eyes burn and, eventually, tears rolled down his face.
Kakashi didn't know what surprised him most, Sasuke's words or his genuine tears. He had never seen the Uchiha cry before, he always controlled his emotions. Displaying his sadness and fear in front of them was something the Sasuke he knew would never do.
However, this boy was sounding less and less like the Sasuke he knew. Turned into a baby seven years ago? Memory loss? What was going on?
"I didn't know Daddy… I mean, Naruto used to be my teammate. I didn't know I had hurt him, I swear…" the raven said, barely controlling his sobs and cursing himself for crying. "I'm sorry for what I did."
Unable to keep staring the adults' faces, Sasuke lowered his head and fell silent.
"You're sorry for what you did?" Kakashi asked slowly, his calm voice veiling his palpable anger. "Do you really believe it's that simple, Sasuke?" the boy cringed with each of Kakashi's words, tears still falling down his face. "Have you any idea how many lives you have…?"
"Enough!" Naruto yelled, shutting Kakashi up. His blue eyes were fixed on his sensei, shinning with fury as he pulled the scared child against his chest. "That's enough! Not another word, sensei. If you want answers, you'll get them from me."
The blond picked up his son and left the kitchen, leaving all three ninja shocked by his austerity. When he got to Sasuke's room, he dressed him in a blue hooded shirt, cleaned his tears with a reassuring smile and whispered that everything was going to be okay. When they came down the stairs, Naruto created a single clone.
"My clone will explain you everything I know" Naruto said to the men sitting in his kitchen baffled by his unusual coldness. "We'll be out for a few hours. Do what you want when you're done."
The moment Naruto closed the door; Kakashi felt a painful pang in his chest. He was trained not to let sentiments get in the way, but he couldn't pretend that he didn't feel hurt by Naruto's reaction. He was angry at Sasuke; he had been angry and disappointed with him for years. It hadn't helped seeing the trail of corpses his former student had left in his path of destruction or hear the desperate cries of the survivors who had lost everything because of him.
Yes, Kakashi had every right to be angry with Sasuke. However, he did feel that he had talked to a totally different person.
There was also Naruto strange behavior. He looked too serious and completely protective of Sasuke, caring for him like true child. He really looked like…
"A father" Kakashi thought, his eye widening. "He looks like a father."
"I want you to meet my son."
What did he mean by that? Was Naruto serious? Did he really think of Sasuke as his child now?
"Naruto, what in the world happened seven years ago?" Kakashi asked the clone.
The blond Bunshin sighed and sat at the table, though his blue eyes were still cold and stern.
"During our last battle, Itachi's chakra manifested. He had placed a bit of his power inside me if I couldn't convince Sasuke to stop" the shadow clone explained. "It was Itachi's last resort and the most drastic one. If Sasuke didn't stop, if his memories and his power were pulling him down into a path of death and destruction, then he would have to lose them."
"Lose them?" Yamato asked carefully. "What do mean?"
"Itachi turned his brother into a newborn. He lost everything. No memories, no power, no hatred… just like a normal baby." the clone revealed. "That was the day my son was born."
Naruto held his son's small hand as they walked down the Merchant District.
Sasuke was still amazed about the noise. For two weeks, the Islands had been practically silent except for the cries of the adult-children. Every time the raven came to the city to buy food, he had seen the growing desperation in the other children's eyes, but now he could hear laughter and cheering. Like him, the other kids had turned back to their original ages and their families had awakened from the Sleeping Curse. Fortunately, the only crying he heard now was from relief.
"Everybody seems pretty happy" Naruto said, looking at the crying and smiling people who rushed to the streets to meet their family and friends. It was particularly moving to watch the reunion of the first kidnapped children with their parents.
"Yeah" the boy answered, closing his fingers tighter around his father's. For a moment, Sasuke allowed himself to forget about Kakashi and the other ninja and smiled as he saw the kids with their families again.
Sasuke didn't have time to react when a brown-haired girl ran toward him and gave him a bear-like hug, lifting the boy several centimeters in the air. It took him a few seconds to recognize Erina, the daughter of the owners of the grocery shop.
"Hi, Erina" the raven said embarrassed and trying to ignore his father's wide grin.
The girl let go of Sasuke and looked down to meet his eyes, which was kind of awkward because he used to be taller than her. Erina had turned back into an eleven year old and she even had combed her hair into pigtails like she used to.
"Mama and Papa woke up!" Erina squealed. "Hatsumi-chan and I turned back to normal too! People say that you broke the curse, just like when you killed Nobunaga. Thank you, Sasuke-chan! Thank you!"
"I… it was nothing" Sasuke mumbled. "I didn't do it alone."
"You're still a hero" she said, right before kissing his forehead. "Wait here!"
Erina ran towards her parents shop and returned with a bag. "It's candy! Lots of it! I know you like these, so I put them in this bag. Oh! They're for you too, Naruto-san! I'm glad you woke up."
Naruto smiled. "Thanks, Erina."
"I gotta go now! Bye, Sasuke-chan!" and she disappeared as fast as she had appeared.
Naruto's grin grew even wider while checked the bag of candy on his son's hands. "Well… that was very nice of Erina. I didn't know you two got along."
"It's not like that, usuratonkashi! She's a friend. She's a girl and she's a friend, not a girlfriend" Sasuke hissed, his brow frowned in a very Uchiha-like indignation.
Naruto tried not to laugh. "I never said she was. I was just surprised. You barely talked to her when we went shopping."
Sasuke shrugged. "She looked after the store when her parents were cursed. We talked more because she wanted to know what Riku said in the meetings" the raven started walking down the street with a smiling Naruto in tow and holding the candy bag. "She's nice and she doesn't try to make me her boyfriend, that would be gross 'cause she's four years older than me. I like her because she's nice, not like as in marry-her-like."
"Alright" the blond said. "I'm glad you made a friend."
Apparently, Erina wasn't the only person Sasuke had befriended during the past two weeks. Naruto was pleased to see his son waving and greeting several kids along the way, some a lot older than he was. Sasuke was still shy and awkward around them, but he greeted his new friends with a smile on his face. It was a great improvement from the brooding boy who ignored everyone in Konoha, too focused on his hatred and grief.
Sure, Sasuke would never be a high-spirited, outgoing person but that was okay. Sasuke was himself, he didn't need to be anyone else.
Since all the shops were closed, father and son walked to the isolated beaches on the other side of the island. Naruto wanted to ease Sasuke's mind and cheer him up so, when the little boy yelled with joy as he tossed his sandals to the sand and ran to the ocean like the child he was, Naruto could only smile peacefully.
A few minutes later, the boy ran back to Naruto and they sat in the sand, enjoying the warm sunlight and eating candy. From time to time, Sasuke frowned and rubbed his eyes.
"You okay?" Naruto asked.
"My eyes hurt" the raven answered, still rubbing them.
"Maybe you got sand in your eyes" the young man said. "Don't rub them. You can scratch them."
"It's not sand" Sasuke explained, though he stopped rubbing. "My eyes have hurt since we fought with Nobunaga. Do you think it's because of my Sharingan?"
Naruto remembered that Sasuke's Sharingan had matured during their fight, but he didn't think they would hurt after that unless Sasuke had overused them. There was also the fact that Sasuke's eyes were technically Itachi's eyes. Naruto hadn't thought about it until now, but how did the rebirth jutsu affect them aside from regressing them along with Sasuke's body?
"Let me see" Naruto said, pushing his son's face upwards. "Open your eyes, Sasuke."
When the boy did as he was told, Naruto's jaw dropped. Sasuke's eyes were blue!
"What?" the child asked nervously. "What, Tou-chan?"
The moment Naruto opened his mouth to talk, he noticed that the blue eyes were gone. Sasuke's eyes were both onyx again.
"What happened? Tell me, Daddy!"
The blond let go of Sasuke's face, still staring at his eyes. Had he imagined it?
"Hey! It doesn't hurt anymore" the boy said happily. "This always happens, you know. They hurt for a little but them it stops… it's weird."
"When we get back home, I'm calling Baa-chan" Naruto said. "She should take a look at you."
Sasuke cringed at the words. It wasn't that he didn't want Tsunade Baa-chan to visit, but every time she "took a look" at him, it usually meant needles.
"I'm fine now. Really!" the boy said, but his father's frown meant that he had made up his mind. "Alright then… but is she going to take me back to the village?"
Naruto's eyes widened. "What makes you think that?"
"Kakashi and the others want you to come back" Sasuke whispered, kicking the sand.
"I've told you, son. I'm not going anywhere… not without you."
Sasuke stopped kicking the sand, but his eyes were still fixed on his bare feet.
"I don't want you to get into trouble because of me" the child said sadly, making Naruto's heart ache.
His son was such a sweet kid. He could be selfish and inconsiderate sometimes, but there wasn't a mean bone in him. How long would it take until the rest of the planet saw that too?
"You're not getting anyone into trouble" Naruto said. "Baa-chan is the Hokage and she knows about you since you were a baby. Gaara is the Kazekage and he always knew about your past too. Not to mention Shizune Nee-chan, Iruka-sensei, Shikamaru, Ino and Chouji! They all know about you and they're okay with it. They know you're not the same person who left Konoha all those years ago."
Sasuke looked up and stared at his father's piercing, blue eyes. "That's different, Tou-chan. They're… they're like my aunts and uncles. They like me because we're family. The others hate me… they'll never forgive me, just like Kakashi."
Naruto sighed. "Kakashi-sensei was your teacher. He loves you very much, that's why, when you left, he felt so sad and angry. Besides, up until now he thought you were dead. When he saw that you were alive, he was a bit crossed because he thought we tricked him."
"Oh…" the raven said, leaning against Naruto's chest. "What about the other two?"
"Yamato-taichō and Sai?" the blond asked. "Well… they became part of the team a few years after you left. Yamato-taichō is an ANBU and he became our captain when Kakashi-sensei was in the hospital. And Sai… well…" Naruto hesitated, feeling Sasuke's eyes fixed on him.
"What about him?" the raven asked with a frown.
"He… ah… he was kind of your replacement."
"What?" Sasuke cried out, visibly angry. "You replaced me? For him?"
"It wasn't like that" Naruto said. "Baa-chan said we needed another member and Sai was chosen. You really shouldn't be mad at him. He didn't mean to replace you; he just did as he was told."
Sasuke pouted and crossed his arms around his chest. "But he's a total dick!"
"Sasuke!" Naruto exclaimed. "Don't say that! Sai is a bit weird, but he's a good person and he's a friend. I don't want you to be rude to him!"
The boy's frown grew bigger. "Look who's talking… You punched him out of the window."
Naruto blushed and pouted as well. "That… that was a friendly spar. It didn't mean anything."
The boy seemed to ponder on his words for a minute, before facing Naruto again. "Dad?"
"What's a pedophile?"
By the time the clone told them everything and answered all of their questions, Kakashi felt his head spinning. He supposed Yamato and Sai felt confused as well, but he knew their emotions weren't exactly the same as his.
He wasn't surprised about Itachi's decision. Itachi loved Sasuke and killing him would never be an option, even if his little brother went insane. It was a bold plan to regress Sasuke into an infant and hope that he would grow up well this time around with Uzumaki Naruto as his parent.
Kakashi could imagine how difficult it had been for Naruto to look after Sasuke in secret, search for a way to reverse the Kinjutsu and deal with the fact that his best friend not only would have to grow up all over again without his memories, but also that he thought of Naruto as his new father. Obviously, Naruto had accepted his new role on Sasuke's life. The blond was a parent to the core and Sasuke was completely his son, in heart, soul and body.
His two students, the boys he had to break apart from fighting, had become a family.
Sasuke didn't know about most of his past deeds and Naruto had forbidden them from telling him anything. The child (Kakashi still felt strange to think of him as such) was very disappointed about his past already and Naruto knew that he didn't have the maturity to know the entire truth yet. The white-haired Jōnin sort of agreed with that but they all knew that Sasuke was going to suffer with the truth sooner or later.
The Naruto clone made the hand seal and disappeared in a cloud of smoke, shortly after Kakashi heard the front door open.
"We're back" the real Naruto said, walking to the kitchen with Sasuke holding his hand. "Go upstairs and take a shower, son. I'm gonna call Baa-chan so she can see you."
The boy sulked but nodded. Avoiding looking at the three shinobi in their kitchen, Sasuke ran up the stairs mumbling something about "stupid needles".
Naruto walked by Kakashi and sat at the table, rubbing his temples in a very adult way. "I guess you guys know the entire story by now."
"Yes" Yamato answered, though they all knew that was an unnecessary question since everything the clone said had gone back into Naruto.
"I'm not going back to the village" the blond said. "Not until Sasuke is ready."
"Do you think he'll ever be ready?" Sai asked.
Naruto looked at his comrade, serious but fearful. "I don't know… I can just hope he'll be ready. Just like I hope everyone else will be ready for him."
Kakashi walked towards Naruto and sat in front of him, his gaze had softened a lot after hearing the entire story. "It's not going to be easy, Naruto."
"I know" the blond said.
"People will notice his resemblance with Uchiha Sasuke even if you tell them he's your son" Kakashi went on. "Why didn't you take him to the village when he was a baby? If had grown up in Konoha, people could have gotten used to the idea yet."
Naruto shook his head sadly. "I thought about that, but I was too scared. I kept thinking that knowing about his past and being treated like a pariah since he was little would destroy Sasuke or make him hate the village again. And…" the blond looked at his sensei, tears behind his eyes. "I was scared someone decided to take him from me. When we were travelling, he was such a happy baby. He smiled all the time. I love him too much, sensei. If someone took him from me, I don't know what I would do."
Kakashi remained silent. He didn't say it out loud, but he felt like he was hearing Minato-sensei worrying about Kushina-san and their baby all over again. Naruto was just like his father and Kakashi had no doubt that if Sasuke was taken this time, Naruto wouldn't survive.
"I wanted Sasuke to have a good childhood" the young man went on. "Maybe it wasn't as happy as I hoped, but I did the best I could and I think Sasuke was happier growing up outside the village than he would have been in it. He'll have to deal with his past and the people he wronged, but I'll make sure he'll be ready for it. He's not gonna be alone."
Kakashi nodded. "I see…"
Naruto waited a few seconds, but Kakashi didn't say anything else. He wanted his teacher to say that he understood his reasons and, above all, that he forgave Sasuke. However, Naruto knew he couldn't ask that. Kakashi's feelings were his own.
"I'm going to summon Baa-chan now" the blond said, standing up and picking up a scroll and a pen. After writing a short message, asking Tsunade to come to the Islands, Naruto summoned a small frog and told him to deliver his message as quickly as possible.
After the frog left, Naruto walked towards his teammates again. The Hokage was probably busy at the time and would only be free to read the scroll at night. Meanwhile, Naruto could only wait.
"How is Sakura-chan doing?" he asked nervously.
"Sakura is fine, I guess" Sai answered. "She still has the same anger issues which, I might say, are not attractive at all. Oh! She bought a new apartment and she's helping in the Hospital."
"I see. That's good" Naruto said with a smile. "I heard that she became a Jōnin. Is she a sensei?"
"Not yet" Sai went on. "Tsunade-sama asked her if she was interested, but she declined."
Naruto sat in his chair and stared at his knuckles. "Does she know about Sasuke too?"
Sai's smile faded. "No. We didn't tell her. We didn't want to upset her unnecessarily if he was really dead. She was very sad when the Hokage told us that he died."
Naruto nodded, feeling guilty for making Sakura sad. He hated that. He knew how she felt about Sasuke and, honestly, of all his team members, he feared her meeting with Sasuke more than with anyone else.
"Naruto… you have to tell her the truth" Kakashi said softly, as if he had heard his thoughts. "It's not fair to keep this from her. She's a member of Team 7 as well. We can't keep leaving her out."
Naruto's shoulders slumped. "I'm not…"
An explosion of white smoke interrupted the blond and all men stood in a battle stance until they saw the blond hair of their Hokage waving in the center of the blast, her brown eyes glowing with fury and a huge vein throbbing in her forehead.
"What. Is. The. Meaning. Of. This?" she hissed. "Why the hell haven't you contacted me, Naruto? I was worried sick! I was about to send an ANBU squad to look for you!"
"I… I'm sorry, Baa-chan" Naruto trembled. He had never seen her so pissed before. "I wanted to write but I was… out of action."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Tsunade cried out. "Where's Sasuke?"
"He's in the shower" Naruto mumbled, envying his son's luck.
The Hokage was about to yell at Naruto a bit more when she finally noticed the three ninja in his kitchen. Three ninja that she believed were on vacation.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" she cried out. "I ordered you not to look after Naruto! Why are you three here?"
"Huh…" Yamato mumbled, sweat rolling down his forehead.
"You guys have a lot of explaining to do" Naruto said, walking backwards to the door. "I'm gonna check on Sasuke. I don't want him to drown."
As he ran up the stairs, leaving his teammates to their fate, Naruto heard a huge crashing sound.
"There goes the kitchen table…" the blond muttered.
When he entered the bathroom, Sasuke was about to get out of the tub and immediately sat in the water, hiding his groin with his hands.
"Dad! Can't you knock?" the boy cried, blushing.
"Oh, please! I gave you a bath last night and you had… a lot more in your joy department" the blond said.
"Joy department?" the boy asked, confused. A second later, they heard raised voices coming from downstairs followed by the sound of broken glass. "Baa-chan is here already?"
"Why is she destroying our kitchen?"
"To punish me" Naruto said. "And she's scolding Kakashi-sensei and the others."
"Because they tracked us down behind her back, she's really crossed. She's going to yell for a while, so… take a long, long bath, son."
"But I'm finished! I was about to get dressed!"
"Then take another bath!" Naruto cried out. "When you're done, I'll take a one as well. Then we could remodel the bathroom, these tiles look a bit worn-out."
Sighing, Sasuke opened the hot water again. By the sound of the Hokage's voice, he knew they were going to be stuck there for a while.
Naruto, you wuss! I can't blame you though.
Not very long, I know. But if I made it longer, I couldn't update in about a month or two.
I hope you liked it. See ya!