Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and Co. and therefore I do not make money from playing with them like they are my own personal and rather naughty action figures.
Summary: Sasuke shouldn't have been surprised when Naruto came home with stars in his eyes, sappy grin on his face, and a plea on his lips. "Iruka says it's a way to give back!" (SasuNaru)
Author's Note: Once upon a time, I got distracted. Ridiculously easy to do, nowadays. One day, I stumbled across a picture. It was a created by a fabulous artist named Skully, as a commission for DarkAlbino (ie the ying to my yang, the peanut to my butter and well, you get the idea.) The picture was several panels of Sasuke and Naruto in baseball uniforms looking beat up, where Sasuke helps Naruto by setting his broken nose. It's bloody brilliant. So, I flippantly said to Dark, 'I could totally write this scene. It would be awesome!' She said DO IT. And I did. But here's the catch. This story is 35 pages long. The scene, from the brilliant picture? Yeah, it's responsible for ONE PAGE. I have issues and hopefully someone is living happily ever after. The end.
In the Meantime
It really is the 'every man' sport. Fine, women too, but the point is, to succeed all a player has to be able to do is run, throw, catch, and hit shit with a stick.
Yeah, maybe there's some skill needed. It's helpful if the pitcher can aim the ball to some degree. And the catchers should be able to, well, catch the ball. The batters in all their talent at hitting shit, should probably be able to hit a fast flying ball out of the air. As for running, one foot in front of the other, fast, and repeat. So, skill. Helpful thing.
Next up, the field. Kind of an obtuse term because baseball can be played in back alleys, on dirt lots, in a one bedroom apartment when mom's gone, and under a multimillion-dollar stadium with a lid in the event of inclement weather.
So, every Tom, Dick, and Harry could play baseball. It develops team work and long lasting friendships. It can be played by all ages and under the influence of any manner of 'recreational' enhancements. Baseball is the 'every man' sport.
Well, except for Sasuke Uchiha. Fuck that shit. Life is more than baseball.
Sasuke had met Naruto Uzumaki at age eight. In a way, the memory shouldn't be as precious as it was to Sasuke. He should look back on it with embarrassment. His family was touring an orphanage out of obligation because that's what wealthy families did before graciously writing a check and walking away. Nothing really noble about that.
The four Uchihas stood outside the welcoming red brick building, with its wrought iron fence and a kaleidoscope of wild flowers vying to take over the fence, building, and sidewalk. A gentleman with soft eyes and brown hair pulled up away from his face introduced himself as Iruka Umino and ushered them inside.
Sasuke was struck speechless. Everything about the inside of the building was in direct opposition of everything he'd ever known.
Yes, the orphanage had paintings, just like the Uchiha home, but not the insured paintings that hung heavy on the Uchiha walls. No, these were finger paintings and 3D abstracts made of breakfast cereal. The Uchiha house was painted in rich blues, browns, and greens. The orphanage in a montage of primary colors with every single wall a different color.
There were children in the Uchiha home, his brother and Sasuke were proof, but children obviously owned this home. Played, and ate, and ran, and lived in this home.
Laughter echoed from somewhere upstairs and Sasuke wanted to see what could be funny about not having a family when Itachi shoved him forward. "Pay attention, little brother, or we could leave you here."
For the briefest second, as Sasuke looked out the window and saw smiling boys and girls climbing over a jungle gym like hyper chimpanzees, he entertained the thought that, maybe, that wasn't a bad thing.
They saw the kitchen, playroom, classroom, dining room, and several of the bedrooms before Iruka asked them to his office. Sasuke was bringing up the rear (and in no way dragging his feet) when he looked curiously down a small hallway they hadn't visited.
Stopping, with his hands in his pockets, Sasuke watched a brown-haired boy crouch in front of a closed door.
"Is it horrible?" he whispered loudly and Sasuke smirked, looking up the hallway, sure that someone had to have heard him. But, his family and Iruka were gone. He took two steps toward the boy.
"Naruto? Are you a monster in there?"
"Who's Naruto?" Sasuke asked and the boy, just about his age, sprang away from the door.
"Who are you!" he yelled but before Sasuke could answer, the sound of coughing came muffled from the room.
"Who's in that room? Why is he locked up? It is illegal to abuse children and lock them up because they don't have parents." Sasuke couldn't help the anger that came to his words. "I knew that man was too nice," Sasuke spat. "We have to help him and then tell my parents!"
"Kiba…" the name sounded like it had been drug over glass and then set on fire. "You gotta go away."
Kiba, the now named boy, pressed his forehead against the door. "But, Naruto…"
"Iruka said I can't be around anyone. And 'm tired." Another round of coughs.
"What's wrong with him?" Sasuke demanded.
Kiba shrugged. "He is very sick and can't be around us 'cause he looks like a monster."
Those words brought a choked sob from within and Sasuke turned toward the door, wrapping his fingers around the knob.
"No, don't!" Kiba yelled and then ran when Sasuke's turned the handle and pushed open the door.
Weak light from the hallway illuminated the room and Sasuke crept inside. Obviously the room was some kind of infirmary with glass cases holding bandages, medicine, and several books. A single bed was pressed against the wall and a mound of blankets forming a cocoon wiggled slightly.
"Kiba, you can't…"
"I'm not Kiba. He's a baby. He ran away after he said you looked like a monster."
Another sob followed by an angry growl. "I am not a monster! That big meanie butt! I'm just sick and I'll get better!"
Sasuke stepped closer but the boy, Naruto was it, was totally hidden in the blankets. "What are you sick with?"
"Who are you?" came the mumbled reply. "No one should be in here. Get out."
"I am Sasuke Uchiha and I'm here visiting orphans. Are you an orphan?"
A rustle of blankets and Sasuke just caught a glimpse of golden hair, limp from sickness and plastered in funny directions because of the blankets.
"Oh, you're one of those guys. I hate those guys. Get out." Coughing, so long and harsh Sasuke felt his heart beat wildly in his chest and he nearly ran for help.
"Are you okay?" Two more steps and Sasuke was right next to the bed. "Do you need water, maybe?"
"Can't you hear, you jerk? No one can be in here. I'm 'tagious and gross."
Sasuke's fingers wrapped around the blankets and he tugged gently. "So you really look like a monster under there?"
"No!" The sound of a fist hitting the mattress. "I just itch and stuff."
"Let me see."
"No! Get out. My head hurts and you're a jerk. Jerks make me sicker."
"I could tell you if you look like a monster."
The blankets stilled. "I don't think I do…"
"But," Sasuke said with a smirk, "You don't know, do you?"
More silence and then Naruto sighed. "Okay, but I'm not a monster. I'm just sick and it will go away. Stupid Kiba."
"Fine then. Let me see and I'll get you some water."
The blankets pulled back slowly while Sasuke reached for the water bottle by the bed. As they dropped, a blond-haired boy with piercing blue eyes and pale skin came into view. He wore obviously loved orange flannel pajamas and his hair stuck up in every direction.
He shivered and fussed with the blankets before finally meeting Sasuke's eyes.
"Well?" he asked before biting down on his wobbling lower lip. Tears threatened to gather and Sasuke thrust the bottle into his chest.
Little red dots covered Naruto's skin. Some were so red and irritated that Sasuke nearly winced in sympathy. One side of his face was swollen, the red dots so puffy that his eye was nearly shut. A quick glance down Naruto's neck and hands showed that the dots were everywhere.
With a sigh, Sasuke met Naruto's look, one filled with fear and anxiety. "You look gorgeous," he said with what he thought was a reassuring nod and hoped no one brought Naruto a mirror.
When Naruto grinned, eyes shining, and bounced a little on the bed, Sasuke thought maybe he wasn't totally lying.
Not long after, Sasuke spent seven to ten days stuck in bed with his own case of the chicken pox. Between grumbling about stupid blond monsters, enjoying the fact that Itachi was his personal slave for the duration of his sickness, and re-reading a 'get well' card from Naruto…
'Hey, Jerk Sasuke, Iruka made me write this card to say I'm sorry for making you sick. I told him it's your own damn fault. I told you to get out. So, yeah. Feel better, jerk, and maybe we can play catch or something. Naruto.'
… Sasuke didn't think it was such a bad week.
They did play catch. Apparently, the orphanage had a baseball team and although Sasuke couldn't have cared less about the sport in general, Naruto seemed to have adopted him as his own personal trainer.
So, from the moment Sasuke's doctor cleared him to be outside through high school and Naruto's last season of baseball, Sasuke threw and caught and ran and trained beside his friend.
The transition from friend to something more was filled with punches and kisses and biting in bad and oh so, very good ways. Not that either of them had a clue along the way. Girls and boys watched Naruto and Sasuke from afar but it was obvious to anyone with eyes that neither boy was available.
It wasn't until their freshman year in college that Sasuke finally noticed what the world already knew. He and Naruto were driving home from a late class when another car ran a light and slammed into Naruto's side of the car. Several hours that Sasuke couldn't remember in the waking hours, but relived in his darkest dreams, followed but what he remembered was sitting next to Naruto's bed, holding his hand, when his eyes slowly opened. Bandages wrapped around his blond hair and covered his stitched cheeks and Sasuke nodded his head and whispered, 'You look gorgeous.' Naruto smiled and had been holding his hand ever since.
Now, fifteen years after Sasuke 'saved' a monster in an orphanage, Sasuke shouldn't have been surprised when Naruto came home with stars in his eyes, sappy grin on his face, and a plea on his lips.
"Iruka says it's a way to give back!"
Sasuke slipped his glasses from his face and gently closed the laptop screen before resting his elbows on the desk and regarding his boyfriend.
"You volunteer at the orphanage nearly every weekend and I do their books and taxes pro bono. Not to mention what the family gives them because they helped raise their 'precious son-in-law'."
Naruto grinned and yanked off his coat, tossing it into the closet, and slamming the door. Sasuke glared, but didn't say anything. At least it was in the closet. "I told you your dad liked me."
Sasuke leaned back into his chair, twirling it just enough that his legs were no longer under the desk. After Naruto toed off his shoes, he wasted no time in accepting the unspoken invitation and straddled Sasuke's legs, lacing his fingers into Sasuke's hair and pressing an opened mouthed kiss to his lips. "Put the glasses back on," he whispered with a nip.
Sasuke's eyes had fallen closed but snapped open when Naruto's fingers found the first button of his shirt, popping it open and moving downward. With a growl, he wrapped his fingers around Naruto's wrist.
"Oh, no you don't," he said, squeezing until Naruto was on his knees in front of him. "I see what you're doing here and it's not going to happen." Naruto pouted. Sasuke squeezed harder. Naruto yelped.
"What? What am I doing? Seducing my fine-ass boyfriend is suddenly a crime?"
"You know exactly what you are doing, dumbass. I will not be tricked into agreeing to something you know I would normally say no to if it weren't for your tight ass around my dick."
Naruto opened his mouth but snapped it shut when Sasuke's eyebrow arched dangerously.
"How is it that Iruka thinks we can give back?" Sasuke asked in a voice that could have easily been heard during a hostile interrogation.
With his free hand, Naruto rubbed at the back of his neck and tugged playfully at his captured wrist. "Remember when I was in little league?"
"No," Sasuke said releasing Naruto's wrist and standing. "Hell no. Fuck no," he repeated as he stepped around his groveling boyfriend and moved toward the bedroom. "Absolutely not ever going to happen!" He finished as he made it to the bedroom and slammed the door.
Naruto stood and yanked his t-shirt over his head. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again…" he mumbled and pulled open the door with one hand while he unsnapped his jeans and pulled them down just so…
"Sasuke," he said contritely, "You're right. I shouldn't try to seduce you like that. It cheapens us and I never want to…"
"Shut the fuck up," Sasuke growled from the darkness of the room. "And loose the pants."
Two weeks later, brand new coaches Naruto and Sasuke met the Konoha Leafs Little League players for the first time.
There were fifteen of them. A hodge-podge group of seven and eight year olds with wide eyes, excess bodily fluids that leaked continuously from their noses, and the annoying need to question everything in the world around them. In the beginning, Sasuke couldn't tell one from the other. They were all short, stupid, and wearing white and red uniforms. Naruto knew their names in the first five minutes and didn't even made a mistake when they were turned around and all Sasuke could see was gaggle of red and white munchkins with baseball caps.
From the first day, Naruto shone as the hero of the Konoha Leafs. They loved him and Naruto loved them all back. Sasuke had to work a little harder.
It was the nonstop questions that irritated Sasuke the most. They weren't even related to the damn sport. He'd love to answer questions about bases or outs or the correct way to hold a bat. Instead, he stood behind a short, and yet surprisingly round, eight-year old, trying hard to not touch him while he corrected his hold on the wooden bat.
Sasuke forcefully shoved one chubby little hand further up the bat. "Hn."
"Do you have a mommy and a daddy?" The question was followed by a long, wet sounding draw in of snot.
The eye twitch began. "Move your hand higher on the bat, Timmy… or Travis."
"I only ask 'cause normally I'd ask Coach Naruto…"
"That's always the best plan… higher…"
"'cause he's nicer and stuff, but he doesn't have a mommy, and sometimes when people talk about mommies I get sad."
"Don't be sad," Sasuke said flatly, ignoring the nicer comment, it was the truth, and then physically pried Timmy/Travis's fingers from the bat and readjusted them.
"But this jerk at school says that sometimes mommies scream and groan at night, 'cause daddies turn to monsters, but then they yell when little kids try to save 'em 'cause they don't need saving, but why don't they need saving?"
Sasuke stood up straight and closed his eyes. "I think you have a good hold on that bat. Go show Coach Naruto what you can do."
"But," Timmy/Travis stammered, even as Sasuke shoved…um… guided… him away, "Does your daddy make your mommy scream?"
Sasuke rubbed his hand over his face. Not an image he wanted to contemplate, thank you. "No, my mother is not afraid of monsters."
Timmy/Travis was now stumbling backwards, still talking as Sasuke pushed him. "But, your Daddy is still a monster?"
"Naruto!" Sasuke snapped and Timmy/Travis was suddenly whisked away.
Three weeks into the eight week season, Sasuke still didn't know most of the players' names, instead renaming them each practice or game.
"Kid-with-the-grass-stain-on-his-knee, get in line."
"Boy-who-ate-beans-at-lunch-but-who-will-NEVER-do-it-again, hustle out to left field. No, farther. A little bit more…"
"Brown-haired-kid-who-should-have-ducked, go get some ice."
"Blond-coach-who-will-be-sleeping-on-couch, another one is crying on the bench. No, I can't 'deal with it'. Boy-with-gurgling-snot, needs help with his grip… again."
Four weeks into the eight week season, Sasuke finally made a friend. That is to say, that one day he looked down and had gained a shadow. Later, after practice, Sasuke commented on it to Naruto.
"What's that kid's name?" he asked as he shut the door of their apartment.
Naruto turned and looked at him. He pulled off his red baseball cap, tossing it on the counter before rubbing his hair chaotically. When he was done, his hair still fell flat and plastered to his head. "Sasuke, there are a lot of kids."
"The little one."
Naruto grinned and pulled a chair out from the table, flipping it so that he could sit in it backwards, before resting his chin on his arms.
"Right, the little one. Again, there are a lot of little kids, Sasuke."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed and he silently untied his shoes before lining them against the wall. He'd just stepped back when Naruto's shoes flew from the side, landing haphazardly, taking Sasuke's shoes with them.
"The really little one," he growled in frustration and kicked the shoes back against the wall. "He can barely lift the bat but he's not a bad catcher."
Naruto rested his head to the side, his cheek pressed into his arm, and closed his eyes. "Okay, so our suspect is little, sucks at hitting, but catches okay. Anything else because you've just described the whole team. Well, expect maybe Travis. Not so little for a little guy."
Sasuke walked to Naruto's side and absently ran his fingers through Naruto's hair, gently tugging the spikes out of their forced 'hat hair' style. A sound suspiciously like a purr escaped Naruto.
Without opening his eyes, he continued. "Hmmm, I'm sleepy."
Sasuke chuckled and walked away, smirking at Naruto's pitiful whimper. "He's been following me around." He pulled a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and leaned against the counter.
After a beat of silence, longer than Sasuke would have normally expected from Naruto, Naruto answered. "His name is Adiran. He's been following you since pretty much the beginning but recently has gotten a little braver in his advances." The sound of the chair scraping along the floor and the gentle padding of socked feet followed Sasuke into the kitchen.
"He doesn't talk much to the other kids. Well, he didn't today."
Naruto nodded, watching Sasuke, and took the bottle that Sasuke handed him. He took a big drink and shook his head. "No, he's quiet. Smart, though."
"His parents?" Sasuke asked quietly. He wasn't stupid, and like Timmy/Travis, he knew that sometimes taking about family was hard.
Again Naruto shook his head and leaned against the counter, pressed into Sasuke's side. "I've actually talked about him before. He was left on the steps of the orphanage in a box. Like, literally a box. He was three and I found him when I got home from… an evening with you, actually." Naruto playfully nudged Sasuke who promptly nudged him back… harder. "It was raining like hell and he was tucked into the box in blankets and clothes, the lid closed to keep off the water. Iruka said they didn't even ring a bell. We wouldn't have found him until the morning if it wasn't for you."
Sasuke silently took the water back and finished it. He capped it and tossed it into the trash. Naruto made an irritated sound and retrieved it from the trash before dropping it into the recycling.
"You can separate trash but you can't put your shoes against the wall."
Naruto shrugged with a grin. "I'm complicated."
Sasuke took a deep breath and removed his own hat. "I remember you talking about him. That night was…" He looked sideways at Naruto, who instantly ducked his head.
"Yeah, that night was…"
Sasuke twisted away from counter and pressed himself into Naruto, until he was pinned. "I remember that night. You came to my dorm room, Shikamaru was visiting his family. We had decided…"
Naruto looked up and his arms slipped around Sasuke's waist, holding him by his hips. "Yeah, fuck, I was so fucking nervous." Naruto pressed his face into Sasuke's neck and gently pulled at Sasuke's earlobe with his teeth.
"I was, too," Sasuke admitted in a whisper, tilting his head and allowing Naruto to move down his neck leaving a trail of nips and kisses.
"I never would have guessed," Naruto said and his fingers moved down from Sasuke's hips and over the tight pants of his uniform. "These pants were made for your ass."
Sasuke chuckled darkly and pulled at the hem of Naruto's shirt. "Hn, they aren't bad on you either."
"Fuck you," Naruto said off a laugh, shoving Sasuke away. "I need to shower. So do you. We have dinner later tonight with Kiba."
"Why were you asking about Adiran?" The smallest catch in Naruto's voice made Sasuke snap his head around, but Naruto just regarded him with simple curiosity.
Sasuke shrugged and walked out of the kitchen, snagging a handful of Naruto's shirt before dragging him toward the bathroom. "Nothing. Just noticed him."
"Huh, okay." Naruto said, his eyes narrowed in thought. When Sasuke stopped to question Naruto's response, Naruto threw his arms around Sasuke's neck and let him carry but mostly drag him to the bathroom, ignoring the chorus of 'idiot' and 'get off's!'
The next week, Sasuke leaned against the dugout and watched Adiran swing wildly at the underhand pitches Naruto threw him. With each swing, he'd plant his feet, stare intensely at Naruto, a sliver of his small tongue caught between his teeth, and he'd nod. Naruto would return the nod, the epitome of silent support, and toss the pitch straight. And every time, Adiran would swing and the momentum of the bat would carry his small frame with it, planting the frustrated boy right on his bottom.
Sasuke didn't offer to help, and Naruto glared at him angrily, before telling Adiran it was okay, and they'd keep working at it. Adiran would stand up, brush himself off, yell in his ridiculous childish voice, 'Yeah, 'kay, for sure, Nar… Coach!' and get back in line.
Sasuke watched Adiran all day. If he missed a catch, he tried again. If he fell down, he picked himself back up. He tried and tried and tried and never quit. No matter how tired he was, or the remarks of the other children (quickly squashed by a warning jerk of Sasuke's head and a dark glare) or the mistakes and accidents and obstacles… Adiran kept going. And the whole time, he cheered on his teammates. He wasn't jealous that Kid-with-his-jersey-inside-out could hit the ball over everyone's head. Or that Boy-with-personal-space-issues could run faster. He just did his best.
At the end of practice, Naruto was bringing their time to a close and glanced at Sasuke, silently asking if he wanted to add anything. Sasuke, who hadn't done anything all day, shook his head. Naruto growled, his fists clenched tightly at his sides, and told the kids to run three laps of the diamond before heading back to the home.
Naruto joined them, he always did, but today he kept a brutal pace. Not his fault, Sasuke knew that. Knew it was his own fault, but the kids, having no idea, struggled to keep up, panting and worried. Unsure of a Naruto that wasn't, well, their Naruto. It wasn't long before Adiran, easily a half head shorter than the next shortest child on the team, fell a lap behind.
As the larger group finished, Naruto looked behind and instantly his face paled, mortified that he'd left the boy behind. Just as he moved to keep Adiran company the last lap, Sasuke put a hand on his shoulder.
"Bastard," he spat, but Sasuke squeezed.
"I got it."
Startled, Naruto froze. "Um, yeah, okay…"
Sasuke didn't look to see what Naruto did, assuming that he'd take the rest of the team back. He fell easily into step with Adiran who tripped, barely missing falling on his face by Sasuke's quick grab on his arm.
"Hey," Sasuke said, keeping his pace easy and slow.
"H-hi," the little guy stuttered and then worked to match his step with Sasuke's.
"You had a great practice today."
Adiran shook his head, but his breathing came a bit easier. "If by good, you mean, I really, really suck."
Sasuke stopped, pulling Adiran with him. "Listen carefully," he said seriously and knelt in front of the little boy.
Adiran's eyes widened comically and when he tried to look away, probably for help, Sasuke gently took his chin in hand. "You try, no matter what. You work and you work and you will get better, Adiran."
"You know my name," Adiran said mystified.
Sasuke smirked. "I remember the name of people who try their best. I remember Coach Naruto's name, don't I?"
Adiran bit his lower lip. "Yeah, but he's your family, right?"
Sasuke stood. "Hn, but we are friends first."
"So," Adiran thought aloud and started running the last length of the diamond, "You remember my name so I'm your friend too?"
They came to a stop at home base and Sasuke pulled off Adiran's hat, mussing his hair and putting it back on. "Hn, I guess so."
Adiran grinned. "Yeah, okay, okay, that's great!" he gushed before turning to run after the rest of the team.
Sasuke watched him run and nodded to himself, something like relief relaxing his face. It was the boy's personality that made him special. That made Sasuke notice him and want to help him. It was his attitude and growing personality, Sasuke told himself, because it certainly was not the fact that Adiran had blond hair and bright blue eyes.
Sasuke was just shutting the back hatch of Naruto's SUV after packing up the extra bats when something hit him hard in the shoulder. Turning, he only had a moment to block another baseball aimed at his face.
"What the fuck?" he shouted and then cursed when yet another baseball slammed into his stomach. He doubled over, sucking in a painful breath before launching himself forward, catching Naruto around the middle and tackling him to the ground.
"That's my question, bastard," Naruto growled, bucking Sasuke off and attempting to regain his feet.
Sasuke caught his ankle and yanked. Naruto landed hard on his knee and yelped. He twisted mid-fall and fisted folds of Sasuke's uniform in his hands, toppling them both until Naruto was straddling Sasuke's waist.
"You've been a prick all damn day! What the hell did I do? No, fuck that…" He yanked Sasuke up and slammed him back into the grass. "What did those kids do to deserve such a shit-" The last word dissolved into a wheezed rush of air when Sasuke kneed him in the kidney and used his feet to scuttle out from under Naruto's weight.
He didn't try to get away though and instead, plowed into Naruto again, Naruto's head bouncing off the ground and his wrists held in death grips next to his head while Sasuke sat heavily on his stomach. "Stay. Still," he panted. "Dumbass."
Naruto blinked dazedly up at him before turning his head to the side and spitting blood. "Get off me," the fight had left Naruto's words, but not his eyes. "I don't understand, Uchiha, I thought you were getting into this."
Sasuke closed his eyes and took two deep breaths. He released Naruto's hands and sat back on his thighs. When he opened his eyes, Naruto was still watching him, but the anger had fled completely.
"I don't understand," Naruto whispered again and brought his hands up to hold Sasuke's hips.
Sasuke nodded and reached forward, cupping Naruto's jaw. "I know," he said and with his thumb he traced Naruto's lower lip, wiping away a drop of blood. "I was trying to figure something out."
Naruto caught his thumb between his teeth and his fingers gripped painfully into his sides. "Well, Sasuke, I hope you figured it out because today was," Naruto looked away, teeth worrying his lower lip. "They don't understand how people can just turn off like that. Or, maybe they do. At some point someone turned off and that's why they are here. You do this shit and I think… I mean, they think…"
"Idiot," Sasuke sighed. "I was watching Adiran. There's something about him. Something special. I like him," Sasuke finished and even to his own ears his voice sounded incredulous. "But, Naruto, I'm never going to shut off." He shook his head before dropping forward until his lips were just breaths from Naruto's. "Do you still worry about that? You haven't been an orphan, you haven't been alone, since you were eight years old. You've belonged to me that whole time."
Naruto surged forward and captured Sasuke's lips with his own. Sasuke grinned into his mouth. "Mine."
Naruto's fingers danced up his back and threaded through his hair. "Next time you need to think," he said, pulling Sasuke away by his hair. "You find a better way, or at least fucking tell me you're shutting down for the day." In a rather poor English accent Naruto continued, "By the by, dumbass, I'm going to be a ginormous prick today. Ta-ta."
Sasuke smirked and in one fluid motion, stood, pulling Naruto up with him. "Come on."
"He really likes you, too, you know? He was beside himself when he caught up with me. Gave me a hug and said that we could all be friends." Naruto nudged Sasuke in the side with his whole body. "Is that what we are, Sasuke? Friends?"
Sasuke swayed to the side and groaned. He rubbed at his shoulder where he knew a baseball-sized bruise awaited him. "That's what Adiran and I are. You and I are statistics on the dangers of domestic violence."
Naruto chuckled and skipped ahead several feet before turning around, jogging backwards and grinning. "You never complain about my balls flying at your face in the bedroom!"
And then he ran.
The next day Sasuke patted his driver on the shoulder. "I'll see you back here in an hour."
"Yes, sir," the man replied.
Sasuke nodded and opened the door himself. He stepped out onto the curb and instantly straightened his jacket. Cars sped by and he took a moment to look up, the buildings towering all around him. Absently, he rubbed at his shoulder and the bruise hidden under his suit jacket. A smile pulled at his lips.
Without another thought, he turned and nodded his greeting to the doorman before entering the small but exclusive bistro. Blinking, his eyes adjusted just as the head maître d' personally met him and directed him tohis normal table.
Another nod of acknowledgement and Sasuke worked his way to the back of the room and a table already inhabited by his lunch companion.
"Brother," he said, taking his seat, and placing his napkin on his lap. Itachi didn't answer, still reading the menu and Sasuke rolled his eyes… something he only physically did in front of two people. "You own this establishment. You know what is on the menu."
Itachi made a tutting noise from behind the gold-edged menu. "I try to blend."
Sasuke took a moment to look around them. The only table not sneaking glances their way was a couple who probably should have gone to an hourly hotel, instead of a high-end restaurant. "How is that working out for you?"
Itachi put the menu to the side of the table where it was immediately swept up.
"I took the liberty of ordering for you," he said and lifted his water glass to his lips. Sasuke nodded with a 'hn' and Itachi set his glass down. "How are the unfortunate waifs?"
Sasuke's lips pulled into a thin smile before he said conversationally, "Someday, I really wish you would refer to the children as that to Naruto."
Itachi waved his hand as if he were swatting Sasuke's comment aside. "Please, I've been addressing all his birthday cards to 'Sasuke's orphaned boy' for years."
Sasuke's smile developed a wicked edge. "I begin to understand why you never accept any of the food he offers you."
Itachi's grin was nearly shark-like. "No, what with self-preservation and all."
The waiter arrived and their meals were placed before them. Talk slowed to nothing but incidentals about work and family. After the plates were cleared, Sasuke took a deep breath.
"Have you ever thought of becoming a father?"
Itachi blinked once before politely wiping the corners of his mouth and placing his napkin on the table. He leaned back in his chair and regarded his little brother. "Yes, but Mother was extremely opposed to my adopting Catholicism."
Sasuke closed his eyes and cursed under his breath. "Thank you, you've been as helpful as always." He threw his own napkin on the table, pushing his chair back.
Not a request and Sasuke glared before turning on his heel.
Hardly louder than a baby's sigh, but Sasuke sat.
Itachi made a signal with his hand and their waters were immediately replaced by something much stiffer.
"I could make many assumptions, little brother, from that question."
Sasuke stifled the urge to rub his hand over his face and instead brought his glass to his mouth. Itachi watched him closely, hands folded on the table, like his little brother was an enigma just within reach of understanding.
"There is a boy." Four words and Sasuke was forced to put his glass on the table, unwilling to let Itachi see how the words affected him.
"You are twenty-four."
Sasuke smirked and traced an invisible pattern on the table cloth with his finger. "Guess I won't get on next season's 'Teen Daddies'."
"Your lover is twenty-three. Your male lover."
Sasuke's fingers curled into an angry fist. "I wasn't aware you still considered that to be an issue."
Itachi's face hardened. "And you are well aware of where I stand, little brother." Sasuke couldn't have looked away from Itachi's intense glare had he wanted to. "Behind you and the things that you want." Itachi threw back his drink and his fingers curled around the glass dangerously. "And between you and the things that could hurt you."
Sasuke closed his eyes. "It is crazy. I know it is."
"What does Naruto think of your ticking biological clock?"
Sasuke barely moved his head, but opened his eyes. His sharp, black glare was all he needed to express his feelings –die, die, die, asshole, die- towards Itachi's phrasing. "I haven't said anything."
Itachi made a soft humming sound. "I see."
Itachi glanced at his watch and Sasuke felt a weight settle in his stomach. He wasn't sure what he wanted. He didn't even know that he wanted to be a father, or for his child, his son, to be Adiran. But he needed to figure this out, before he took it to Naruto. He needed to know, he couldn't drag Naruto into his uncertainty.
Naruto who honestly didn't know how nervous Sasuke had been on their first night together. He hadn't realized that Sasuke had paced his room for hours, nervous to the point of being nauseous. When he'd opened the door to Naruto's knock, fully prepared to come up with some excuse, any excuse, to change the evening's plans, Naruto was running his fingers over the back of his neck, a shy smile pulling at his lips. He'd remember that look until he died, along with the knowledge that with Naruto at his side, he could do anything.
It was not that Naruto wasn't well aware of Sasuke's weaknesses and fears. In fact, Naruto was the only one privileged to that information, but Sasuke wanted to be more for Naruto. And in this, this crazy whatever-the-hell-this-was, Sasuke wanted to be strong. To prove that he could be a father, with Naruto by his side.
Itachi cleared his throat and Sasuke blinked, realizing that he had been staring out the window. A slow smirk appeared on Itachi's face. "It won't be long before your orphaned boy demands an answer."
"I know," Sasuke said with a certainty, remembering with a twinge Naruto's solution to him being a 'prick' just the day before.
Itachi nodded and his body relaxed as if he'd come to a decision. "Well, then, tell me about this 'boy'."
Sasuke's finger tapped the side of his glass and he met his brother's eyes. "He just turned seven."
Six weeks into the eight week season and the Konoha Leafs had only won once. Naruto didn't have the heart to tell his team that the opposing team they had been playing had all been admitted to the hospital immediately following the game. Apparently they had eaten bad hotdogs before the game. They were hardly at their best.
"Alright, guys, let's settle down."
Fifteen boys scurried around one another until they stumbled into what could be called a line, big smiles on each of their faces. Naruto grinned along with them and Sasuke, standing at Naruto's side, felt the smile inside. About as good as it gets.
"Saturday is our second to last game. So, this is our second to last practice." Naruto was interrupted by a series of sad whines and no's. "Hey, I'm still gonna see you guys."
Fifteen sets of eyes shifted immediately to Sasuke. "Hn, me too."
The grins returned.
"Today we are going to work on hitting and catching." Disgruntled 'again's' and 'ah, coach's'. "Hey, anyone can play baseball. We are going for skill!" Naruto pumped his fist in the air. The action was instantly copied by fourteen fists. Sasuke made eye contact with Adiran. The little boy smiled and rolled his eyes. Sasuke instantly copied him.
"Let's do this!"
Naruto pitched and assisted the outfielders in their catching. That was, of course, assuming that any of Sasuke's hitters actually hit something to catch. He adjusted holds, corrected stances, and when Naruto's glare became just this side of homicidal, even muttered a few 'good job's'.
When it was Adiran's turn, the little boy dragged his feet from line, the bat leaving a trail in the dirt behind him.
"Come on, Adiran!" Naruto encouraged. "Let's see what you got!"
Adiran stopped and looked at Naruto with a huge grin on his face. "Yeah, okay!" He lifted the bat off the ground and ran to the base. "You watch out!"
Naruto laughed, and Sasuke watched the entire team smile at the sound, sending cheers at Adiran along with their coach. Sasuke never doubted for a moment that Naruto was brilliant. He knew there was no one out there better, but there were times, like when a pack of wide-eyed children stared at him like the sun, that Sasuke was, simply put, in awe of his boyfriend.
Sasuke tore his eyes from Naruto who was bent down on one knee, talking to 'boy-with-gum-in-his-hair' and blinked down at Adiran.
Adiran's brows furrowed and he pointed at Sasuke's feet. "You're standing on the plate."
With a nod, Sasuke stepped back, allowing the little boy to step up. Adiran gave a thumbs-up to Naruto and then hefted the bat onto his shoulder. When he did, Sasuke could have sworn that his shoulders slumped under the weight.
His little hands tightened around the bat and Sasuke heard the softest whisper. "Don't fall, don't fall, please, don't fall…"
"Okay, Adiran, here it comes!" Naruto yelled from the mound.
The whispering became frantic. "Don't fall, don't fall, don't fall." And he closed his eyes.
Naruto pitched the ball but before Adiran even had a chance to swing, Sasuke stepped forward and picked the ball out of the air as if it were moving in slow motion.
Silence, finally broken by 'kid-with-something-unidentifiable-on-his-shirt'. "Whoa! Coach Sasuke that was so, totally, AWESOME!"
Naruto bit his lip and yanked off his cap, running his fingers through his hair, before slamming it back on backwards. He smiled at the kids but kept his attention on Sasuke while he walked off the mound and toward Home.
"Is everything okay?" he asked as he got within earshot of Sasuke and Adiran.
Adiran dropped the end of his bat to the ground and nodded his head. "Yeah, yes, Naru… Coach!"
Naruto smiled softly and knelt next to him. "Hey, you can call me Naruto. You've been calling me that since you were three. No need to change now."
He nodded at Naruto and then, together, they looked up at Sasuke, identical looks of 'what the heck' on their faces.
Sasuke shrugged, refusing to acknowledge the tightening in his chest as they looked up at him, and forced himself to look at the rest of the team fidgeting in their positions unable to hear what was happening.
"You didn't give me a chance to coach, idiot."
Adiran sucked in his breath as if Sasuke had uttered the worse curse in creation. Naruto just chuckled and stood. "Well, excuse me, bas… um, baseball man." He bowed mockingly while shooting Adiran a conspiratorial wink. "By all means, carry on."
Naruto sent one last look at Sasuke, cool but concerned, and turned back to the mound.
Sasuke watched him leave, as always paying particular notice to the tight pants of his uniform, and was startled when his shirt was tugged impatiently.
"Coach? Are you okay? Why's Naruto mad at you?"
Sasuke knelt and took the bat from Adiran's hand. "I'm fine." He jerked his head and Adiran immediately turned around. "Put your left foot here, to brace yourself. Why would Naruto be mad at me?"
Adiran shrugged and made a sound suspiciously like a 'hn'. "He watches you like he's scared."
Sasuke had just settled the bat in the boy's grip when he stilled. "Hold the bat a little higher." And then softly, "What would he be scared of, Adiran?"
Adiran bit his lower lip, worrying it with his teeth. "Leave," he whispered, "that you'll leave."
Closing his eyes, Sasuke took two deep breaths. He cleared his throat and stood. With one hand on Adiran's shoulder, he turned him slightly. "I'm not going to leave him, not ever. He knows that."
Holding the bat tightly, Adiran craned his neck to look up at Sasuke, his eyes wide.
"And you are not going to fall. I won't let you."
"Hey, guys?" Naruto interrupted. "How's it going?"
Sasuke held Adiran's gaze and nodded his head. "You'll see."
"I…" and then louder, "I'm ready, Naruto!"
"Okay!" Naruto said with a clap and twisted his cap back around. "Let's do this!"
This time when fourteen other players cheered, so did Adiran.
Iruka Umino closed the door to his office with a tired, but content sigh. Sadly, the sigh turned into a miserable moan when the phone rang. Walking to his desk, he checked the caller id and his eyes crinkled in confusion.
"Konoha Children's Home. This is Iruka Umino. May I help you?"
"Iruka, this is Sasuke Uchiha."
Iruka nodded silently, yes, he knew that, and leaned his hip against his desk. "Sasuke," he said slowly, the many possibilities as to why Sasuke, and not Naruto, would be calling him, escalating in his mind. "Is everything alright? Is Naruto…"
"He's fine. Saving the world one pot hole at a time," Sasuke's voice assured quickly. And then he cleared his throat out of… nervousness?
Iruka stood, holding the phone close to his ear. "Are you alright, Sasuke?"
He heard Sasuke clear his throat… again. Every muscle in Iruka's body tensed. "Sasuke Uchiha," he began using his teacher/father/it's-always-the-quiet-ones-voice.
Sasuke interrupted. "I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Yes?" Iruka snapped and then took a deep breath. "You can talk to me about anything but if you hurt one hair on his head…"
"What?" Sasuke's voice sounded angry, frustrated. "Why does everyone think I'd ever do anything to…" Two deep breaths. "I just want to ask about Adiran."
Iruka leaned against his desk again, this time due to his own confusion. "Adiran? Why? Did something happen during practice?"
"No," Sasuke growled and Iruka had known him too long not to know that he was rubbing his hand over his face. "I want to know about him… as a child, I guess. I mean, I want to… know him."
Iruka's knees suddenly felt weak and he leaned back into the desk. A hesitant smile came to his face. "I see."
Sasuke pushed the door open while loosening his tie. He was tired and although he'd never admit it aloud, cranky. It wasn't that the day hadn't been productive. It had, but now he just wanted to take off his suit, and fall into Naruto… bed, he meant bed.
He toed off his shoes, aligning them against the wall and paused. He looked left and right and then craned his head about but didn't find Naruto's shoes haphazardly flung anywhere. How… odd.
He stood, pulling his tie free before shoving it in his pocket, and walked down the hallway. His suit jacket was nearly off when he stopped dead in his tracks in the kitchen doorway. Naruto sat, silent, oh so unnaturally silent, on the counter. He hadn't taken off his work boots, brown and dusty, scuffed with paint and tar, which solved that mystery.
Naruto watched him, his hand wrapped loosely around a bottle of water. He was still dressed in his work jeans, dirt covered, and sweaty black shirt, covered by his reflective orange vest. On the table, Naruto's bright orange hard-hat lay forgotten.
"Naruto," he began slowly, raising his eyebrow in question. "Is everything…"
Naruto laughed, but his natural good humor was sorely missing, turning the sound into something harsh and bark-like.
"Since the beginning, you've taken on the 'strong and silent' role, you bastard, it's probably best you keep that up."
Naruto's sharp blue stare didn't waiver as he brought his water to his lips and Sasuke began to realize that something was very, very wrong.
Quiet, composed Naruto was an unusual occurrence. Naruto didn't stew on things. When he was upset, the world knew it. But this was the same with all of his emotions. He was loud and proud about happiness, sadness, anger. He didn't think, he expressed and god help anyone who stood in his way.
However, when Naruto was given time to think, forced to organize his feelings, to really reflect on his perceived wrongs, that was when he was really dangerous. And, apparently, he'd had some time.
Sasuke shrugged his jacket off and tossed it uncaringly next to Naruto's hat.
"What is this about, idiot?"
"I, however, have always adopted the more 'strong, sexy, and ass-kicking' role." Naruto fingers curled into fists, his lips pulling back into a snarl. "I repeat, Shut. The. Fuck. Up."
Sasuke's fist slammed onto the kitchen table, Naruto's hat lifting into the air, before falling with an echoing clatter. "What is the matter with you?"
"Your brother called me today."
Sasuke's held his face stiff, his emotions shoved far, far into the corners of his mind, something he so rarely had to do in his own home.
Naruto brought his hands to his head, his fingers scrubbing at his blond hair frantically. "The last time I spoke to him on the phone, when it wasn't because he was calling for you, was when he called me to tell me all the creative ways he would wipe my very existence from the face of the planet if I hurt you." For one moment, at the end of Naruto's sentence, he looked lost, like even saying the words defied reality while confusing and hurting him.
Sasuke shook his head, one tiny jerk that most people would have missed, and it earned him the briefest softening in Naruto's gaze. It was never Sasuke that was at risk of being hurt, not by Naruto, not ever.
"What did he say?"
Naruto shrugged, fingers still curled into his hair. "And I hadn't so much as hung up the phone and headed back to the job when I was called back again. This time by Iruka."
Sasuke swallowed. Naruto's eyes narrowed at the action, his whole body seeming to tighten impossibly like a stretched rubber band, only to shag in on itself a moment later.
Sasuke felt anger warring inside him. He felt trapped and unsure and how dare Naruto make him feel this way. "Naruto," he growled as a warning, but Naruto just shook his head and slid off the counter.
"Stop looking like that," Naruto snapped. "I know you. Iknow you. I can decipher your hn's and translate your blank looks of disgust. I know you and I also know that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, or fifty years from now, I'm never letting you go. So stop looking at me like I might leave. No one leaves this. That will never be an option."
Sasuke let out a breath he didn't realized he'd been holding. He still didn't sit, but he did lean against the table, arms crossed over his chest. "What did they say?"
Naruto chuckled, ducking his head slightly, before turning his back to Sasuke, peeling off his vest. He pulled out the chair Sasuke had ignored and flopped into it. As he bent over, pulling up the leg of his jeans to unlace his boot, he began to speak.
"Iruka didn't ask us to coach."
Sasuke stared down at Naruto's blond head but didn't respond. Naruto continued regardless. "I volunteered. I've known you since I was eight years old and sporting the highest fever of my life." After both boots when unlaced, he stood and walked them to the hallway, placing them with care next to Sasuke's. "For sixteen years I've known you, and today Itachi and Iruka call me to tell me, as if I didn't already… Fuck, what the hell do they know?"
Naruto had worked his way back into the kitchen. He stood over the sink and turned on the water, letting it run. He washed his hands in silence before Sasuke took the seat Naruto had vacated and with his elbows on his knees and his black eyes boring into Naruto's back, said, "What did they say?"
Naruto snagged the towel hanging off the oven and dried his hands. He turned around and leaned against the counter. "I volunteered us because I know you enough to know that you have to figure out shit on your own. It's never enough that someone tells you something would or wouldn't be good for you. You have to discover it all, the pain and the rewards, on your own, or you won't believe it."
"No," Sasuke said, "if you told me…"
Naruto smiled, something indulgent that would have gotten anyone else eviscerated on the spot.
"I know you believe that, bastard, but the truth is, I wanted this to come from you."
Now Sasuke gave up all pretence of patience and leaned back into the chair. "You aren't making any sense and I'm starting to get…"
"Pissed off?" Naruto suggested with a dark chuckle. "Welcome to the goddamn party."
"What did you want to come from me?"
Naruto shook his head and changed the subject yet again. "They both told me to be patient with you. That's Iruka's words, Itachi was less… straightforward." Naruto chuckled again but this time Sasuke heard the underlying emotion, the pain. "As if I need to be told how to handle you."
Sasuke growled at the notion of anyone handling him but before he could interrupt, Naruto continued. "Caring for you, loving you, it might be the only thing I'm really good at."
"That's not true," Sasuke said and stood, hands immediately shoved into his pockets because like so many times in the past, he wasn't sure if he could keep them off Naruto. And like so many times before, he wasn't sure that once they were on Naruto what he would do. "You are," he hesitated for a moment, "Amazing with those kids. I can understand why you wanted to volunteer. I don't know why you didn't just tell me."
He looked up to see Naruto watching him closely. Naruto unconsciously licked his lips, pulling the bottom one between his teeth. Sasuke got the distinct impression that Naruto was avoiding meeting his eyes. Three steps later, Naruto was shoved against the counter.
"Tell me what this about. Itachi and Iruka called. What did they say? You said you wanted me to come to you with something. What was it?"
Naruto tilted his head up, his breath ghosting over Sasuke's face. "You have to think about shit. I get that. You analyze and play every angle, but you have never been very good about taking anyone else's word. It never occurs to you that someone else could help. It's your power, you choices. Fuck, I don't need anyone to tell me to be patient while waiting for you. I KNOW."
Naruto's forehead pressed into his shoulder but Sasuke stepped back, still holding Naruto against the counter. When he finally spoke his words were cool. "So you have been handling me? All you had to do was ask. All you ever have to do…"
Naruto's fingers bit into his hips. "Yeah, of course, like the little league thing. I asked and you did it, but not because you wanted to, but because I asked. And I gave you one hell of a blow job."
Sasuke twisted out of Naruto's hold and moved across the kitchen. "You make me sound like I don't care… I fucking care! I care about you."
Naruto nodded and rubbed at his neck. "This isn't… Look, Sasuke, I know that if I ask you, you'd do what you could to make me happy, but there are some things that I want you to want as much as I do."
"How can I know when you won't say?" Sasuke snapped. "Just tell me!"
Naruto was across the kitchen, slamming him into the refrigerator before Sasuke could react. "I want it. I just want you to want it, not because I asked, or presented it to you… but because you wanted it too."
"What do you want, Naruto?" Sasuke growled while bucking against Naruto's body, pressed hard against his own.
"You asked what Itachi and Iruka said," Naruto hissed, wrestling with Sasuke until he had his wrists pinned beside his head. "They didn't say anything. Just that I needed to give you time. Your time is up. I wanted to coach little league with you Sasuke because I needed you to see that I want…"
As Naruto's words faltered, his grip did and Sasuke grabbed his shoulders and reversed their positions. One hand pressed into Naruto's chest and the other yanked his chin up until blue eyes met black. "I want… I want him," Sasuke whispered. "I want him to be ours."
Naruto smile was slow and shaky but his fingers found their way into Sasuke's hair, pulling and twisting, and Sasuke fought to hold the contented sigh down. "Say something."
Naruto grinned, moving his face closer to Sasuke's. "It was worth the wait."
Sasuke pressed his lips against Naruto's and was instantly welcomed, Naruto's tongue sliding along his own. He pulled back, biting on Naruto's lower lip with a growl. "In the future, I do not need to be 'handled'."
Naruto froze and then suddenly he was laughing, his whole face alight with joy and his fingers slid from Sasuke's hair until they were clutching almost desperately at the fabric of Sasuke's shirt. Sasuke's arms wrapped around him and he rested his face in Naruto's blond hair. "Idiot."
Naruto finally looked up at him with eyes watery from amusement. "Of course, you don't, bastard," Naruto agreed, the chuckle ruining any sincerity the words may have held. "You might not need to be handled, but I think I could convince you to want to be handled."
Sasuke smirked, and a single eyebrow rose in condescending question, while Naruto's hands slid lower and lower, but there was real concern in his voice when he said, "Really? Don't you want to talk about what just happened here?"
"Hmmm… yes," Naruto said seriously before leaning forward and kissing the skin at his neck. "But, let me handle you first. Please."
Sasuke's eyes closed and his head tilted back when Naruto's hand found his cock through his pants. "Hn, just this once…"
Naruto laughed aloud. "Yeah, whatever you say."
Honestly, it was Naruto's favorite room in the Uchiha residence. Not that he had counted, but there had to be at least fifty different rooms in the mansion and out of all of them, this was the only room that Naruto felt comfortable in… well, not counting Sasuke's room. Which he felt most welcome in.
It was the morning sitting room, not to be confused with the afternoon or evening sitting rooms, or the business sitting room. The room boosted three walls that were ceiling to floor glass. Bright blossoms appeared periodically amidst the twisting vines that grew both inside and outside the room. The furniture was bright and deceptively comfortable. Two old-fashioned loveseats sat facing each other over a white, glass-topped coffee table. Two single, high-back chairs finished off the square.
Currently, Fugaku and Mikoto Uchiha sat together on one loveseat, Mikoto's eyes wide and a fist held to her mouth while her free hand grasped her husband's. Fugaku's mouth was stern, his eyes steady on Naruto and Sasuke who sat opposite.
Itachi Uchiha sat in a single chair, with one ankle crossed over his knee and his elbows on the arms of the chair. His fingers steepled in front of his expressionless face, but his eyes nearly danced with nothing short of manic glee.
Naruto cleared his throat and leaned forward to return his cup to the table. He straightened in his seat and tugged at the hair on the back of his head.
"I know it's a shock and I know that he won't be blood, or whatever, but we never…" His eyes darted to Sasuke who was simply sitting beside him, drinking his coffee and holding his father's gaze as if nothing atypical had occurred this morning. "I mean, you had to know that we couldn't…" A series of rather pathetic hand gestures between himself and Sasuke. "I guess there are ways, but we hadn't really discussed and…"
Itachi snorted and Naruto sent him a nasty glare before turning back to Mikoto. "We both think he's great and I know, I know if you give him a chance that…"
Whatever he was going to say was cut off when Mikoto made a sound that could only be considered a squeal. "A grandson! Fu, finally, a grandbaby!" Tears made her eyes sparkle in the morning sun and she hit her husband playfully on the shoulder. "You owe me a trip to Italy. I told you it would be Sasuke. OH! We could make it a family vacation. Our first with a grandchild!"
Fugaku sat very still for just a moment before a smile slid over his face. "I think that sounds like a fine plan." He held out his hand to Sasuke who shook it, mumbling his congratulations, and then presented it to Naruto. Naruto stared, his mouth open, before Itachi spoke.
"I think we broke the orphan. I can only hope my nephew will be made of stiffer stuff."
Naruto blinked and jerked his head angrily before turning on Itachi. "Fuck… I mean, damn… dang you, just, just…" Sasuke slipped his hand over the back of Naruto's neck and pulled him close, pressing his face into Naruto's ear. After a second, Naruto smiled. He leaned forward and shook Fugaku's hand before relaxing into Sasuke's side. "Your nephew is going to be brilliant."
"I'd expect nothing less with the two of you as his parents. Now, if you'll excuse us, I'd like to discuss plans for a college fund, among other things, Sasuke."
Fugaku and Sasuke stood, Sasuke after caressing the back of Naruto's neck, his thumb rubbing over his pulse, and Fugaku after kissing Mikoto on the cheek.
"Have you contacted the appropriate lawyers?" Fugaku asked Sasuke as they walk toward the door. "I know a few people who we can contact to push things along. And Adiran is going to need a passport since my eldest son failed me in the race to grandchildren." He sent a weak glare at Itachi.
Itachi faked an exaggerated look of contriteness, bowing. "Please forgive me, Father, but I would have bet on Sasuke myself."
All three men chuckled and Naruto was left alone with Mikoto.
She looked at him. He looked at her. She raised her cup into the air and Naruto retrieved his own, returning the gesture.
"Well played, Naruto." She tapped her cup to Naruto's. "To handling Uchihas," she said with a laugh.
Naruto could only grin.
It was the last game of the season. The weather was beautiful, if you enjoyed ninety degree temperatures, the team excited, if their yapping and dancing around was any indication, and Sasuke was just ready for it to be over.
He lifted his red hat with one hand while the other brushed sticky black strands of hair off his forehead and then pulled it back on snuggly. To his left, the boys squirmed on the bench, some sliding off and then getting back on, only to slide off again, only to…
Sasuke had to look away. He couldn't handle it. There was a diagnoses and medication for that type of behavior and he saw no problem with double dosing. With the slightest shake of his head, Sasuke looked out onto the pitcher's mound where Naruto and two coaches from the other team were talking. The other team was playing like little barbarians, shoving and tripping. After a particularly aggressive slide into Home and consequently one of the Leaf players, that resulted in a twisted ankle, Naruto had had enough, calling a time out.
Sasuke's eyes narrowed a little when he saw Naruto's fingers fisted at his sides.
He might have stepped forward, but there was a gentle tug on his uniform and he looked down.
"Sasuke?" Adiran said but his attention was completely focused on the stands directly behind Sasuke.
"Hn," Sasuke said and glanced at Naruto again. His face was getting redder and Sasuke doubted it could be blamed on the sun. "I have to," he began but Adiran tugged harder.
"I… it's just that… I think someone wants to kidnap me!"
Sasuke watched an opposing coach step into Naruto's space and a growl caught low in his throat, but then the little boy's words pierced his mind.
"Wait, what?" he said jerking his eyes from Naruto to the smaller blond. "What do you mean? Who?"
For a split second, Sasuke was overwhelmed with a feeling of 'mine' and something primal surged forward at the unidentified threat. Unfortunately, that feeling was pulling him into two separate directions.
Adiran positioned himself behind Sasuke's legs, still holding on to his shirt with one little hand while his free arm attempted to wrap around his thigh, and peered around him.
"They keep staring and whispering and pointing like they know me, but they do not know me. I know who I know and I don't know them!" One small finger jutted past Sasuke's hip to point to the stands.
Sasuke followed the finger and, perhaps for the first time in his life, groaned aloud for all to hear.
They were impossible to miss. There, in the smoldering heat and amid the sea of summer dresses and t-shirts, sat his family, clad in black. Itachi and his father sat like ominous bookends with a smiling Mikoto in the middle. They all wore dark sunglasses and spoke to one another without taking their eyes off of their victim… or potential grandson.
Seeing they had Sasuke's attention, his mother waved and her smile turned radiant. His father nodded solemnly and one of Itachi's dark eyebrows arched over the edge of his glasses, the only sign he was still alive.
Sasuke's hand fell on Adiran's head and moved the boy gently in front of him. Adiran still clung to his shirt tail and when Itachi lowered his glasses just enough that his black eyes could be seen, he 'eeped'.
"They aren't here to kidnap you, Adiran," Sasuke assured, running his hand up and down Adiran's back, but glaring angrily at Itachi. The look earned him a wickedly amused smirk before Itachi pushed his glasses back up. His attention seemed to change from Sasuke to something beyond him and Sasuke remembered Naruto. He turned back toward the pitcher's mound and saw Naruto shake his head angrily before pointing at the other coach.
"Then why," Adiran began slowly.
Sasuke kneeled beside him. "That is my family. They are here because…"
Adrian's bright blue eyes blinked up at him and Sasuke took a deep breath. "Did Iruka tell you that tonight Naruto and I are taking you to dinner?"
"Yeah, but isn't the whole team…" Adiran's words died off and his eyes widened. His small head tilted to the side and he bit nervously at his lower lip. "It's not the whole team."
Sasuke smiled and squeezed Adiran's shoulder before leaning in and whispering, "You are a smart boy." Standing, he turned Adiran around until they were facing his parents. "They are looking forward to meeting you."
"I… um, me too?" Adiran stammered and gave a shy wave. Although his family's collective reaction was nothing more aggressive than two sharp nods and bright smile, Sasuke knew their responses were akin to jumping up and down, while hugging and squealing, to any normal person.
"We'll talk soon, okay?" Sasuke said, but his attention was once again focused across the diamond. "I know you have questions and we meant for…"
"It's okay," Adiran said and Sasuke couldn't help the smile that came to his face in response to Adiran's grin. "I just…" He looked down and then to the side and toed the dirt. "I… can I?"
Finally, the little boy threw himself at Sasuke and hugged his waist. Sasuke didn't know what to do with his arms and stood awkwardly for a moment before returning the hug.
Had it not been impossible without the very fabric of space and time tearing to shreds, Sasuke would have thought he heard his mother squeal.
After gently pushing Adiran toward the dugout, Sasuke made his way toward the mound. Within ten feet of the three men, Sasuke started to pick up snippets of the heated conversation.
"… they are seven!" Naruto hissed between his teeth.
"And obviously weak," a white-haired man with black glasses spoke softly.
During the season, the team only played each rival team once. At the beginning of each game the coaches would meet, shake hands, and wish each other luck. Sasuke had attended this brief meeting once, at their first game. Since that day, and the resulting 'misunderstanding', Naruto had attended alone.
It was because of this, Sasuke hadn't shook hands with the coaches before the game. Now, during a timeout between the fourth and fifth inning, Sasuke was noticing them for the first time, and, unfortunately, he knew this particular coach.
"Kabuto," he said flatly but no one could miss the sneer attached to the word. Naruto didn't acknowledge his arrival in action, but Sasuke could see some of the tension in Naruto's stance melt away.
"Sasuke," the white-haired man greeted, "I never would have imagined finding you here."
Stopping next to Naruto, Sasuke tilted his head up into the sun, squinting at the brightness before meeting Kabuto's eyes again. "Is there a problem?"
Before Kabuto could respond, Naruto bumped playfully into Sasuke's side and chuckled. "Kabuto? You can't mean the same Kabuto who was your TA?"
Sasuke merely shrugged, his shoulder rubbing against Naruto.
"Oh, I'm always happy to know I've made a lasting impression," Kabuto's smile curled his lips but failed to meet his cold eyes.
"Lasting impression," Naruto all but choked out. "I can't believe they allow you around children!"
Kabuto smile disappeared immediately and his fingers curled into tight fists at his side. "What did you say?"
Sasuke was barely aware of the movement, but he shifted so that his body was half in front of Naruto and glared warningly at the man before him.
"Naruto, there is nothing to worry about," Sasuke began and Kabuto seemed to relax, his face shifted to something amused and his gaze shifted to Naruto, like he was flaunting Sasuke's defense of him. "No, Kabuto wasn't touching the little boys. He was the little boy begging teacher to touch him."
The color drained from Kabuto's face only for a moment before anger turned his childish face into something ugly. "Fuck you, Uchiha," he spat and pulled back his fist before swinging it at full strength at Sasuke's smirking face.
It all happened in a second. Kabuto's punch, Sasuke's effortless dodge, and Naruto's pained yelp when Kabuto's fist made contact with his nose after Sasuke had cleared the way.
Sasuke cursed and grabbed Kabuto's shoulder, twisting him around and punching him between the eyes. Sasuke felt, more than saw, Kubuto's glasses snap in half, and then all of his attention was focused on the pain in his hand. "Jesus," he hissed and suddenly his legs were kicked out from beneath him.
Kabuto was on his knees, blood trickling from the gash on the bridge of his nose. Sasuke, flat on his back, struggled to push himself up with his arms, only to meet Kabuto's fist. Pain bloomed along the side of his face and for a moment he considered that his eye might have exploded under the pressure.
Arms wrapped around him from behind, and despite the pain, Sasuke opened his eyes long enough to see Kabuto smile and then his face twisted in surprise. Whoever held Sasuke was ripped away and he sprung forward to tackle Kabuto to the ground.
Kabuto, pinned to the ground by Sasuke's body, attempted to hit and buck, but Sasuke kept the upper hand, punching Kabuto in the face and ribs.
Behind him, Sasuke heard Naruto's grunts and taunts. Obviously, he had taken up the fight with the second coach. Whatever worry Sasuke might have had for him was erased when he heard Naruto chuckle wickedly before he said, "Is that all you got?"
Sasuke turned his attention back to Kabuto and fisted his fingers into his dark blue uniform, heaving him up before slamming him back into the ground. Kabuto's face was covered in blood and dirt and his head finally lolled to the side.
Blinking away blood and sweat from his good eye, Sasuke looked around, realizing that he was not alone. The bleachers were filled with yelling parents and friends and the rival team was banging angrily on the wall of their dugout. His team stood on and around the benches, screaming and cheering. His eyes immediately searched for Adiran and a feeling of panic washed over him when he wasn't with the other boys.
Jerking his head back to the stands, his breath came out in a rush when he saw Adiran standing in front of Mikoto and Iruka. His mother's hands rested on the boy's shoulders while she shook her head, her mouth pulling up into a reluctant smile.
His heart had just calmed down when it struck him that he didn't know where his father and brother were.
Unfortunately, that question was answer in the next second when he heard Naruto sputter, "Wait, lemme go, what the hell! Oh… it's you…"
Sasuke would have turned his head but a strong hand gripped his arm and pulled him roughly to standing.
"Sasuke." No inflection in the word but the grip on his arm tightened slightly before letting go.
Sasuke resisted the urge to flinch. "Father."
"Let go! Let go!" Naruto grumbled and he was pushed into Sasuke. Itachi stood beside him, his face hard like marble, but his eyes… his fucking laughing eyes…
Tearing his attention away from his brother, he looked at Naruto. This time, Sasuke did flinch. A deep purple bruise spread angrily over Naruto's cheek and there were scratches over the skin of his neck and arms. His lower lip was split and Naruto's tongue moved along it gently before he hissed. But the worst was his nose, broken and smashed painfully to the side.
"Shit," Sasuke sighed and watched as Naruto attempted to smile.
"'M fine, S'kay," he tried to say but it ended in a pained winced.
"Gentleman." Fugaku rubbed his hands together as though he were washing off something disgusting he might have touched. "I assume there is a remarkable reason why the two of you were…" He didn't finish the sentence. Maybe he couldn't bring himself to put into words his youngest son fighting in the dirt at a little league game. Most likely it was because he knew he didn't have to.
"A misunderstanding," Sasuke began but was interrupted when Kabuto struggled to his feet behind Naruto and Itachi.
"Misunderstanding?" he chuckled, wiping at his mouth before spitting blood into the sand.
Sasuke didn't even have to look at his father to feel his disgust at the white-haired man.
Kabuto's co-coach had appeared at his side and Sasuke couldn't keep the smirk off his face. The man was a head taller than his idiot but looked like he'd been shoved headfirst through a grinder. "This isn't over, Uchiha. I'm going to…"
Itachi moved forward, obviously sidestepping Kabuto's spit, and shook his head. "You will do nothing."
"Fuck that," Kabuto spat and his pulverized goon gave a supportive grunt.
Itachi chuckled, holding Naruto's arm in a tight grip. Naruto fought only for a moment before resigning himself to glaring. "You threw the first punch, and I would imagine that someone in the audience got the whole thing on video."
Kabuto spattered angrily but his goon yanked him away when he saw Iruka and several concerned fans head toward the mound.
"What the hell was that?" Iruka hissed angrily but his brown eyes, bright with concern, scanned Sasuke and Naruto.
Naruto stepped forward, rubbing at the back of his neck. His shoulders were slumped and his eyes darted from Sasuke's father, to his brother and then back to Iruka. "So, yeah, all my fault, I…"
Sasuke growled and kicked at the back of Naruto's shoe, satisfied when his guilt-ridden babbling snapped off. He ignored the glare.
"We were tired of the other team beating the shit out of our boys. That's all there is to it."
Sasuke watched Naruto's mouth twitch dangerously upwards and had to control his own all the more for it.
"Words, Naruto," Iruka nearly moaned, looking at the sky. "How many times did I tell you to use your words!"
Naruto nodded. "I tried, Iruka! Didn't you see? I mean, fuck, what else…" Naruto had always been the sort to use his hands when expressing himself so it wasn't unusual that he would run his hand over his face in frustration. Unfortunately…
"Jesus fuck!" he cried when he touched his nose. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, ow…"
Naruto's eyes widened and he looked at Fugaku Uchiha who looked right back at him.
"Language." Maybe it was a gentle reminder, but the word was more of a clipped command. "There are children present, after all."
Sasuke looked around and saw that Kabuto and his team had cleared out. A few of the remaining watchers glared at the mound, their disapproval clear, but most of them had been watching the game and seemed to come to the conclusion that the fight, albeit inappropriate, wasn't completely uncalled for.
Naruto grumbled and Sasuke turned to see Iruka had grasped his chin and was turning his head this way and that. "Honestly," the older man chided. "I thought you had outgrown this…"
Sasuke left them to it and turned to his father and brother. The side of his face stung and he was pretty sure if he didn't get ice for his hand soon he might start screaming. "It was nice of you to come."
Two identical looks of… well, nothing… met him. Well, as they say, three can play at that game.
It might have gone on like this forever -Iruka fussing over Naruto, who squawked indignantly, his voice steadily weaker as exhaustion caught up with him, Fugaku and his two sons watching each other for any signs of life- as the sun sunk into the horizon.
But, no standoff in the history of the world could withstand the enthusiastic rush of fifteen screaming little leaguers.
"That was so awesome!"
"Coach Sasuke broke his glasses. SNAP! Just like that!"
"Naruto! Naruto! You're the man!"
Sasuke's glaring contest was interrupted when he was nearly knocked off his feet by Timmy/Travis.
"I wanna be just like you!"
Sasuke patted him awkwardly on the head. "That is… good."
He looked around and spotted Adiran who waved with the hand not pulling Mikoto behind him. Sasuke thought he was headed his way but could only watch speechlessly as Adrian walked right past him and stopped in front of Fugaku.
"This is him?" he said seriously. Fugaku looked around, meeting Sasuke's eyes before looking at the little boy. Sasuke felt Naruto press against his side, watching with interest.
"Yes, Adiran," Mikoto answered. "This is my husband, Sasuke's father."
Adiran's eyes narrowed and he looked Fugaku up and down like he was mentally tallying the man's worth. To Sasuke's surprise, Fugaku held still under the little boy's scrutiny as though he was afraid he might be found wanting. "And the grandfather?"
Naruto made a noise next to him, something like surprise that melted into pain. "How does he? Who told him?" Naruto stammered while trying not to move his face.
"He's a smart boy, he figured it out."
Fugaku knelt on one knee, careless of the dirt and the still rambunctious group of children around him, and held out a hand. "Hello, Adiran. My name is Fugaku and yes, if you'll have me, I'd like to be your grandfather."
Adiran seemed to press into Mikoto for a moment and then looked up at Sasuke and Naruto. His look was so searching that Naruto fidgeted beside him.
With a put upon sigh, Adiran looked back at Fugaku. "Yeah, I gotta make them my daddies first, but I don't think that will be a problem."
Mikoto politely covered her startled chuckle with her hand. Fugaku's mouth tipped up into a pleased smiled and Iruka grinned like a lunatic.
Itachi, the crazy bastard, laughed out loud.
Sasuke would have to shake Naruto awake from his nightmares for weeks.
"I really think it's fine," Naruto insisted and in no way did he resemble a pouting child.
Sasuke glared in a way that would make anyone feel like a fucking idiot, which was, of course, the point.
"I mean, how bad could it be?" Naruto continued with a grin that immediately resulted in a grimace and a mumbled curse.
The field had cleared out but the lights still shone brightly in the night, illuminating Sasuke and Naruto as they sat facing each other on the home team's bench. Adiran had gone off with the rest of Sasuke's family, his small hand clasped in the larger hand of his grandfather with the promise that Sasuke and Naruto were right behind him.
"Bad," Sasuke assured him but kept his voice low and non-threatening. With a resigned sigh, he reached up and brushed hair off of Naruto's forehead before letting his fingers glide down the side of his face. Naruto, on some instinct that still made Sasuke's heart beat a little faster every time it happened, leaned into the touch.
"I'm so fucking tired." He closed his eyes and Sasuke cupped the side of his face. "I'm kinda glad someone let the cat out of the bag with Adiran. One less thing we have to…"
With Naruto's attention elsewhere and his head still resting against Sasuke's hand, Sasuke reached up with his free hand and grabbed onto Naruto's bloodied nose. In one swift movement, he twisted it with a snap of his wrist and the crunching of cartilage until it was once again where it belonged.
"JESUS, FUCK, AND SHIT!"
Sasuke leaned back with a smirk and watched Naruto's sputtering and flailing arms. After several minutes of name calling that Naruto was really going to have to watch from now on, the blond crossed his arms and glared at him.
"You…" Naruto spat viscously as he touched his nose. "…are a bastard."
Sasuke chuckled and stood. Staring down at Naruto, amusement still causing his mouth to twitch, he offered his hand. Naruto slapped it away and Sasuke hissed at the abuse to his already stinging knuckles.
Naruto's expression went from furious to concern in only a second. "Shit, sorry, let me…"
Sasuke yanked him forward but the collar of his uniform and slammed their mouths together. It wasn't the most coordinated kiss they'd ever shared, or the least painful, and the tiny noises that filled the night were probably more about discomfort and frustration than anything else, but when it finally broke, Naruto sighed and touched his forehead to Sasuke's.
"Well," he said before licking his freshly reopened split lip and wrapping his fingers around Sasuke's hips. "How does it look?"
Sasuke chuckled and cupped the side of Naruto's face in his hand, running his thumb over the small cut.
"You look gorgeous."
Naruto laughed, his head falling to Sasuke's shoulder as his whole body shook with it. "You have always been a lying bastard." This time the kiss was soft and playful and Sasuke smiled into it. Naruto pulled away and turned, pushing Sasuke toward the car and slapping his ass. "Let's go find our kid."