A/N: Little oneshot I had finished some time ago. First parts deals with immediately after BMH 22. The rest is self-explanatory. And yeah, I have M-preg on the brain. -.- This is sort of a nod at the other sequel I'm doing. Inside joke type of thing.


Lesser Heroes

The morning after…


The persistent ringing of his phone woke Sasuke. He did so grudgingly, his body and mind protesting until the simple act of opening his eyes was torture. Naruto's heavy arm lay over his throat, one leg clamped around him. He didn't have the strength to lift his head, much less fight his way free of that embrace. By the time he literally crawled out of the hallway and into the living room where his phone sat shaking on the floor, he was quivering with the effort.

He knew who it was before he answered via the ringtone. "H'lo?"

"Fucking hell, Sasuke! Where the fuck have you been, I've been calling all morning!" Itachi sounded both relieved and pissed.

Sasuke dropped his forehead to the floor, dizzy. "Here."

"Where the fuck's here?"

"Mountain. With Naruto."

"So he brought his ass home."

"Uh huh."

"Better had. You good, man?"

"Uh huh."

"What, you sleeping?"

"Uh huh."

"Hmph. Sounds like you got your brains fucked out. All right, well. I'm off to work. Next time answer your fucking phone. Jackass."

The phone went dead in his ear. A large, warm, sticky mass suddenly settled against his back as he was stretching out on the floor, but it was only Naruto. "I'm late for work," he rumbled around a yawn.

Sasuke saw the time on his phone. It was nearly noon. "Yeah, you are."

"I'm not going in."

This statement was met with them both curling up right there and going back to sleep.


Six months later…


He'd learned that Sakura's frowns were merely a side effect of her professionalism, not an indication that something was wrong. Still, Itachi held his breath until she was done.

"Still in pain?" she asked as her hands went back to a spot she'd already checked.

"Yeah. Pretty much just stays with me."

"Bad?" Over to another spot she'd also checked twice before.

He liked that she was thorough. "Not usually, no. Low-grade ache when I wake up in the morning, or if I've worked overtime. Manageable. Sometimes it's not even there."

She was finally done, and allowed him to sit up on the examining table. "You'll probably experience some pain for the remainder of your life. Your intestines were the worst. Expect some flare ups there, but see me at once if you notice blood in your stool, or if there is pain or difficulty defecating."

He nodded. "Rest of my life, huh? Small price to pay for Akatsuki gone. So am I all right?"

"What do you mean?" She looked up from where she'd been marking this visit's results in his file.

"I mean how long do you see me living? I got a family to support, people counting on me."

He was serious, she saw. And worried. He hid it well, but it was in the tense way he supported his weight on the hands he had braced on the edge of the table. She closed his file and tilted her head, choosing her words carefully.

"I believe in being honest with my patients," she said. His face tightened, but he nodded again. "And I don't believe in sugar-coating the truth." Another tight nod. "It's my opinion that medics who lie only do their patients a disservice; if one doesn't know the full extent of their illness or disease, they won't take proper care of themselves."

"I got you. So…how long?" His eyes didn't blink.

"I'm getting to that. I want you to hear me and believe what I say, Itachi, because people who persist in thinking they know better than their physicians do themselves a disservice. Their health can actually worsen with negative thinking. That said, it is my professional opinion that you will live a long, active, and healthy life. You suffered a great trauma, yes. However, the ones who did it were careful to try and keep you alive, which helped me to save you. They did it only to prolong your pain, but it also worked in our favor. You're a strong man. No vices, no addictions. That also helped. Lastly, I am very good at what I do. You would not be living anywhere but in a hospital, under my constant supervision, unless I thought you were well. And you are. You have scars and some pain, but as you said it's a small price to pay. Had anyone else treated you, you'd be dead or crippled. Rest assured, you're fine, and will continue to be so, provided you don't walk out in front of a bus. All right?" She smiled. "You can stop scheduling these appointments unless something drastic goes wrong."

Itachi smiled too, finally believing it. "Yeah, all right. Can't be too careful though."

"Yes, well, it seems you've gotten your wife to think the same thing. She's made an appointment with me for tomorrow. Is she sick?"

"Not that I know of."

"Hm. Well, you're good to go."


"I'm home!" Itachi yelled when he unlocked his door twenty minutes later.

Ichi came thundering from the back of the apartment. Kayo followed at an equal pace in her walker, little legs pumping furiously. He bent and scooped them up as the toilet flushed.

Moegi emerged from the bathroom, her tired face wreathed in smiles. "You're late." She stood on tiptoe for his kiss, then squealed as he managed to lift her up with the kids to kiss her again.

"Check-up," he said when he set her down again.

"Problem?" She took Kayo and deposited her in her high chair.

"Nope. Sakura says I'm good." He washed his hands at the kitchen sink, before sitting down to the set table. "What's up with you? Said you got an appointment for tomorrow."

"Ugh, nothing. Just been feeling a bit blah. I really just want Sakura to give me some vitamins, something not sold at Nara Drugs. I think these kids are getting to me."

Itachi had to agree. Having two so close together was a headache, and he hadn't even been the one to shoot them out. "Need me to take a few days off?" He smacked Ichi's hand. Kid was throwing the food instead of eating it, and Kayo was copying him. "Can ask my boss…"

"No, we need the money. Let's just see what Sakura says."

Ichi roared at being smacked, threw noodles at Itachi, and was summarily picked up and dropped in his crib by his father, where he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs. Itachi shut his bedroom door. "Goddamn brat."

-oOo-

Later, once both kids were asleep, Itachi lay in bed reading while Moegi washed up before turning in. He tilted a corner of the newspaper down when he heard her come in the room, then folded and lowered it completely at seeing her lurking in the doorway.

"Hmm." He set the paper aside and sat up. "Someone's feeling friendly tonight."

Moegi ducked her head. She was wearing drawstring pants and a loose T-shirt, the better to hide all her unsexy bulges and flabby stomach. Itachi had never been one to prefer make-up and lingerie, not that he minded those things, but he loved her unconditionally, no matter what she looked like. It was one of the things she adored most about him. Even now, dressed in frumpy house clothes, his eyes kindled when he looked at her. And he always seemed to know when she was horny. Smiling, she peeked at him through her hair. "How can you tell?"

"Because I know you," he said as he reached her. He nuzzled at her neck, making her cringe and giggle. "You get that look on your face."

"What look?" Her head went back as her body weakened with rising desire. "I don't have a look."

"Yeah, you do. That look where your chin goes down." He nipped her chin. "And you look at me with those big eyes." He kissed her eyes. "And you bite your lip in that way you do." He pecked her lips, but she held his head down for more. He pulled back when she was breathless. "Damn, woman."

"Been waiting for you all day," she growled. She started pushing him toward the bed.

"All day? Really?"

"Yes. Get naked."

He ignored her for the moment, knowing it drove her wild. "Been having dirty thoughts about me?"

"I always have dirty thoughts about you." She gave a last shove and Itachi fell backward on the mattress. She landed on top of him, straddling him as she unzipped his denim shirt with impatient hands.

"What kind of thoughts? Thoughts about ravaging me? Rape? Oh, Mo!" he squealed in a high voice.

"Just thoughts. Stop it!"

He stopped trying to restrain her hands and let his shirt be yanked open. She bent immediately and bit him…right before he rolled them fast and had her pinned completely. He held her hands down. "What kind of thoughts?" His erection settled against the wild heat between her thighs, and she stilled at once. He pressed against that heat when she clenched her teeth in silence. "Tell me."

"It's dumb."

She turned her head aside, but he kept pressing rhythmically, not quite as hard as he knew she wanted him to, until her face reddened in frustrated desire. He bent his head to her exposed neck and licked a trail to her ear, where he whispered, "Might as well tell. I'm not going to stop. C'mon, pleeeaase? I'll let you rape me afterward."

She bucked and thrashed her head in a fury of sudden movement, but he kept hold of her. Her body went limp, already tired. "Fine," she hissed. "I think about…your face."

That had him leaning up to laugh at her. "My face? That does it for you? Why, you shallow broad!"

"Stop acting like you don't know you're beautiful. Conceited fuck."

Smile gone, he was honestly flattered. He'd never considered his looks as they might be perceived by women. "So I'm beautiful?" He bat his eyelashes at her, fluttering them wildly. "What else?"

"I think how smart you are is hot." She wiggled her hips, wanting more pressure. "Itachi…" her voice went soft and plaintive, tired of the questioning now.

"Didn't realize my brains turned you on, but that can't be all you think about?"

"Let go of me."

"Spill."

It was never wise to restrain a former ANBU for too long. Moegi freed one hand and slapped at him, grabbing his ponytail, but he had the hand down again. He pressed hard against her groin a moment. She shivered at once, groaning in surrender. "I think about when you do me hard and slow," she gasped. "And I just keep coming and coming, and c-"

Itachi took both her hands in one of his and used his other to slip down the front of her pants. He found her drenched and swollen and ready.

Her body arched on the two fingers he slid into her slick depths, even as her legs spread to lift around his waist. She writhed beneath him, panting, moaning, keening as he worked his hand the way he'd learned-

His cell rang.

"Leave it," she screamed.

That was the ringtone for Sasuke. His head dropped to her heaving chest. "I can't." He rolled off her. "He might need me."

"You always think that. Kid's taller than you are, and he's got Naruto."

"He's my brother."

Moegi refrained from commenting further. Sasuke was the one thing she couldn't change about Itachi, and she never tried. She might complain now and then, but that was as far as she took it. If she ever tried to come between her husband and his brother, she'd lose him. She knew it instinctively. Itachi could be bleeding to death, or about to fuck, or otherwise legitimately occupied, and he would answer the phone when Sasuke called. She loved him anyway, even if she wasn't first priority for him, because she understood that they were so much a part of each other that they might as well be the same being.

She finally let go of him and rolled on her side. "By all means."

Itachi snatched the phone off the nightstand, got up, and stormed to the window, where he finally flicked it open. "What," he snapped.

"'Sup! Whatcha doing?"

"What do you mean, what am I doing?" Itachi brushed the curtain aside to lean his forearm on the window. He stared up at the shadowy outline of the Hokage Mountain, where it loomed over the city. "The fuck are you doing?"

"Nothing. As usual. Just called to see how you were. So what's up?"

Itachi glanced behind him. Moegi was watching him, face drowsy now. "Me and Mo were kind of having some personal time."

"Shit! I'll talk to you later then-"

"No." He turned back to stare at the mountain, where Sasuke was likely calling from. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I swear-"

"Sasuke. Talk to me."

There was some fidgeting from the other end of the line. "Nothing. I promise. Just wanted to see what you were doing."

Lifting the window, Itachi leaned out and craned his head as far as he could, looking west. He could just barely make out the Hokage building where, fourth floor up, third window over, the light was on in the Hokage's office. "In other words you're home alone, and bored to shit." He shut the window.

"Uh…yeah. Kinda."

Itachi grit his teeth, but made the offer. "Want to come over?"

"Nah. Naruto should be home in another hour or so."

"Want me to come over?"

"You never come over here. Anyways, no. I'm good, I promise."

Itachi twisted his mouth, staring up at the mountain and thinking. "Tell you what. Next time he's working late, gimme a call. We'll hang."

"Serious?" Sasuke's voice perked up immediately. "'Cause he's working late all this week. Gaara's in town, some big deal Konoha's doing with Suna. How about tomorrow or the next night?"

He'd taken off work early to make his appointment with Sakura this evening, so he was working late tomorrow to compensate. "No can do tomorrow. Hang on." He looked over at Mo. "We doing anything night after next?"

Half asleep now, she slowly shook her head. "Why?"

"Meeting my bro." He put the phone back to his ear. "Night after next it is."

"Sweet! I hardly see you anymore."

Itachi listened dutifully as Sasuke yakked on for the next fifteen minutes, before saying he had to go. "Hey. You sure you good?"

Up in Naruto's bungalow, Sasuke smiled. His brother still worried about him. He suddenly felt a lot better, knowing that some things never changed. "Yeah, I'm good. Love you, man. See you soon."


The next evening when he got home, it was to find Ichi running wild in the living room, hind parts bare, and Kayo dragging the pots and pans out of the lowest cabinet in the kitchen and banging them noisily. This wasn't what had him freezing in the doorway. It was Mo. She was sitting at the kitchen table, head in her hands. When she heard him come in, she looked up. Her face was tense. She tried to smile, but her mouth only trembled through the attempt.

He shut the door and went to the hallway, where he stood still, senses wide open. Nothing. Then he looked at his kids, checking for anything wrong, but they seemed fine. He finally went to the kitchen and leaned against the bar counter across from her. "What is it."

"Itachi-"

"Something's wrong," he said, in case she tried to reassure him otherwise. He suddenly remembered that she'd had a doctor's appointment. "Shit, what'd Sakura say?"

"Um…"

He waited, body stiff with dread.

"I'm um. I'm pregnant."

"What?"

Moegi winced. "I'm-"

"How the fuck did that happen?" It wasn't fatal news, but it was still a punch in the gut. Itachi inhaled forcefully, trying to calm down. "I thought we were practicing birth control?"

"We were," she said. She tracked her ovulation. Whenever those few days in the middle of her cycle rolled around, and she had a bunch of clear, gooey discharge, she and Itachi stuck to foreplay. "I guess we miscalculated."

Itachi lowered his head, shaking it slowly from side to side. He had a headache developing, and rubbed the back of his neck. "When?"

"Wait…there's more." She almost flinched when he looked at her with narrowed eyes. "Looks like I'm having twins."

"Jesus! Fuck, Mo, what the fuck!"

She did flinch then, and lost her fight not to cry. The tears formed slowly, swelling in her eyes until they rolled down her cheeks. As if sensing this, Ichi stopped his yelling in the living room to come and investigate. He stood at Itachi's knee, staring at his mother. "Mama? Wha-happen? Fall down?"

Mo covered her face with her hands.

Itachi watched her, ignoring the way Ichi kept tugging on his hand and asking what had happened. He finally shook him off and went to her. Tugged her up from the chair and let her bury her face in his chest as her sobs got worse. She shook with them, wetting his shirt. "It's not your fault," he managed to croak eventually. "Didn't get pregnant by yourself."

"I'm sorry," she wailed. "I know how adamant you were about us only having two. I know, and I was fine with it. I swear I didn't do this behind your back-"

"Christ, stop, will you? That's not what I was thinking." He rubbed her back soothingly, until her tremors slowly began to subside. "It's just… two at once. We just had the first two, for God's sake."

"I know." She sniffed.

"Kayo's barely eight months, and we just got The Terror out of diapers. Fuck, you know how much those things cost?"

She nodded against his chest, then picked her head up. Her face was red. She met his eyes and took a deep breath. "I know. And I know everything you said, about not needing more than two, and how two was as much as you could support and keep safe and look out for. So…if we can't, you know…if we can't keep them-"

He put a hand to her mouth. "Hey. Hey. Shut up. Of course we're keeping them. What, you thought I'd tell you to get rid of them?"

Her face said it all.

"Well, I'm not. This wasn't planned, but they're still ours. We're keeping them. Okay?"

She wilted in a saggy heap against him, relief making her laugh weakly. "Okay."

"Maybe when this is all done we can do some more permanent form of birth control, but we're not giving these back. Deal?"

"Deal."

"Okay. And I'm not mad. Come on, hug me. I'm sorry, all right? I reacted badly." When she was squeezing him back, and he knew for sure that he'd done no lasting damage with his thoughtless outburst, he dropped his chin to her hair. "How many weeks are you?" She'd known right away with Ichi and Kayo.

"About that." She pulled back again to give him a sheepish, apprehensive look. "Sakura says I'm three months gone. I didn't know, since I was still getting my periods…although they were really light, now that I think about it."

"Jesus Christ. Six months from now-"

"She also said twins tend to come sooner…"

Itachi covered his mouth with a hand now, and just walked away from her. He stood staring into the distance, his other hand on his hip. When he turned around to look at her again, he dropped the hand from his mouth. "I can't support you guys, not on what I make now. We have enough for us, but there's no extra. I need another job."

"Well…I could go back to ANBU," Moegi suggested. "I'm a bit out of shape, though. The kids can go to daycare, or we can get a sitter-"

Itachi held up a hand. "No. No daycare, no damn sitter."

"But-"

"Babe, you're preggers." He went over to her and gently held her shoulders. "You can't be working, 'specially not in ANBU. You'll end up dropping the twins before the month is out. And I can't have my kids around strangers, period."

"I know, but-"

"Mo, listen to me. I'm not trying to be chauvinistic or anything, but you need to be here with them. Next to me or Sasuke, you're the only one I trust with our kids. The one I know for sure will protect them and see they're safe. I didn't have that when I was raising Sasuke. I had to hope he'd just stay wherever I'd left him, and be there when I got back. You know how many times I worried myself sick that he'd be discovered or eaten by a stray dog? Thank fuck he was an angel, and did as I told him. If he'd been anything like Ichi, he wouldn't have seen his second birthday. The peace of mind I have knowing my kids are with their mother is invaluable.

"Besides, it's my job to take care of you. My right, my privilege. Lord knows you take care of me. You trust me?"

She nodded. "With my life. All our lives."

He pulled her in for another hug and kept her there. "Okay then. I got this. I don't want you worrying or thinking about anything but the fact that I'll handle things, same as I always have. Okay?"

"I love you so much."

They spent a few minutes kissing and snuggling, before Itachi finally pulled away. "Listen, let me get the kids fed and in bed tonight, okay?"

"They ate already. They just need to bathe, but Ichi kept squirming away, and I just sort of…felt overwhelmed all of a sudden. I can barely handle him, he gets worse everyday. How are we going to handle four?"

He didn't know, and just then didn't even want to think about it. "I'll bathe them. You go ahead and turn in."

"You sure?"

In answer, he guided her to the hall and nudged her toward the bedroom. When the door closed behind her, he turned toward his kids. "Ichi, bath time." He threw the pots back into the cabinet and scooped up Kayo, his docile daughter. She was like Sasuke, unless riled to action by Ichi, which wasn't often.

Ichiro resumed his former yelling and running in the living room. At two, he was a sturdy, stocky kid, taking after his mother. "No bath, NO BATH!" he shrieked.

"Get your ass in that tub, boy!"

Ichi ran for the bathroom with a whimper.

-oOo-

Sasuke finished his paragraph and saved his document before answering his phone. "Yeah?"

"It's me, bro."

"Dude, I have caller ID."

"Need you down here tomorrow, before we hook up when I get off work."

"For what?"

"Stay with Mo. Watch the kids for her, help her around the house."

"Uh, yeah, okay. She sick?" He heard splashing and Ichi screaming, before the unmistakable sound of the kid's head being dunked under water silenced him.

"Just be here before I leave in the morning." Itachi hung up.


Sasuke had the place clean and the kids fed, bathed, and tucked in bed by the time Itachi showed up late the following evening. Mo was perched on the couch, her feet up, and a cup of tea in her hand. There was a worshipful expression on her face as she gazed at where Sasuke stood talking to her. "My hero," Itachi grinned when he walked in. "Holding down the fort in my absence. Ready to hang?"

He didn't bother to close the door, only went over and kissed Mo goodnight. He told her not to wait up for him. Sasuke was already jogging down the stairs by the time he left her.

-oOo-

"So," Sasuke said when they started walking. "Where to?"

"Anywhere you want to go?"

"Not really." He did a sideways leap and jumped his brother. "Being around you is enough for me."

"Fag."

Sasuke calmed down. "Mo told me."

"Yeah."

"Twins. You ready for that?"

"Guess I'll have to be. But I didn't come out tonight to talk about me. Let's deal with you."

"What about me?"

"What's up with you? Your news? Gimme deets, man, ain't seen you in weeks."

"That's because I'm free all day, and you work all day. Naruto likes me home when he gets in."

"What a dutiful little wife you are."

"Fuck off."

"Bet you cook and clean for him too, and clip his toenails."

Sasuke grit his teeth. He did cook most nights. He walked in prim silence while his brother doubled over in hysterics.

"Tell me something, you guys ever switch it up?" Itachi asked once he'd stopped laughing.

"Meaning?"

"Meaning does my perfect bottom of a brother ever get to top."

"Hell no," Sasuke snorted. "I doubt I ever will. Naruto's not the bottoming kind."

"Figured as much. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've never fucked anyone else, right?"

"So?"

"And Mr. Big, Bad, and Butch was too crazy over you to touch another ass, right?"

"Is this going somewhere?"

"Well, that means you've never sunk your dick into anything, male or female."

Sasuke stopped walking and turned to him. "What's your point?"

"Just saying, maybe you'd like to know what topping feels like."

"Maybe. But Naruto-"

"Listen. You're in a relationship now. That means your needs get to be taken into consideration. Bring it up to the lug, he might let you. Assuming you're man enough." Itachi's eyes moved up and down Sasuke as if that quality was in question.

Sasuke swatted at him, but smiled. They resumed walking, crossing the street. "Why the sudden fascination with my sex life?"

"Just looking out for my bro. Want tips on giving head?"

"Ugh, fuck no!" He shuddered.

Itachi cackled again. "What, I'm good at it."

Sasuke eyed him. His brother never spoke about his time tricking to support them, not since the night he'd divulged it. "Actually there is something I want to ask. What are your thoughts on…um."

"What?"

"Nevermind." What the hell, he couldn't ask Itachi that.

"Come on, don't be a pussy. What?"

"Rimming." Sasuke kept his eyes straight ahead.

Itachi wasn't laughing now. He was a long time answering. "I've had it done to me. Never did it myself."

"Did you…I mean was it…?"

"I never enjoyed my job, Sasuke."

"Oh. Right. Of course not."

"'Sides, I was really young. My body was too immature to respond sexually to what was happening to it. It was just…stuff. Even later, when I'd gotten older and I'd enjoyed it against my will, I never liked any of it. I tell you, I could never be with a guy romantically. Never. I couldn't get it up for a guy now to save my life."

"Oh."

Itachi's eyes brightened as he grinned at Sasuke. "Rimming, huh? Butch Daddy giving it to ya like that?"

"Stop calling him that."

"Telling it like it is, man. Butchest fag I ever saw, and I've seen plenty. Well?"

"Yeah, he does it. And I just…go all to pieces. I mean it's…you know, intense. But I haven't done it. Yet."

Itachi nodded. "So he's good, huh?"

"I guess? I don't have anyone to compare with. Actually, I think he's phenomenal. The way I feel when he-"

"All right, all right. We're about to eat, don't ruin my appetite."

-oOo-

They walked through town, talked, laughed, and generally enjoyed the evening. By the time they finally selected a restaurant they could both agree on, Itachi had brought the conversation back around to Naruto. "So how is the jerk?"

Buttering his bread, Sasuke smiled broadly. "Much better. He goes to Iruka three times a week now, and once a week we go together."

"You guys need counseling?"

"Well, yeah. Naruto needs help navigating the ins and outs of relationship territory, as Iruka puts it. And I need help understanding the meaning behind certain behavior Naruto exhibits, also Iruka's words. For half of our joint session Iruka just counsels Naruto and me. The other half Kakashi sits in and we have couple on couple therapy."

"Sounds kinky."

"Fuck you."

Their food came and they dug in. "Hey, so long as he's treating you right, I don't care what kind of orgies you two have."

"Well he does. You wouldn't even recognize him now, always happy and smiling. Know what he did the other week?"

"Enlighten me."

"He left for work, same as every morning…"


And came back home three hours later. Sasuke had been in the process of hugging the bed, prepared to sleep for half the day, since they made love most of every night. He'd heard his name called softly, rolled over, and had been met with Naruto's beaming face hovering a foot above his own. "'S'matter?" he yawned. "Forgot something?"

"No. I've recently come into possession of some glorious information." Naruto held a file full of papers up for Sasuke to see, clutching it in both broad hands as if the documents were precious.

Sasuke sat up. Yawned again. Scrubbed his face hard to wake himself up. "M'kay. What?"

Naruto sat across from him, bending one leg on the bed and leaning forward. Sasuke noticed that he looked hyper…or hyped on something. He felt himself become more alert. "Sakura found some old files belonging to Tsunade the other day. It seems she, Tsunade I mean, not Sakura, was in the process of some controversial research."

"Okay?" When he saw that Naruto was waiting for him to say something else, he added, "What kind of research?"

"Apparently, Tsunade developed a method for men to successfully have children!" Naruto cried triumphantly.

Sasuke stared. He'd never seen Naruto so animated, so excited. He didn't even really hear what was said, focusing on the winning smile and shining eyes.

"Do you know what that means?"

"Hm?"

"It means you can bear my child! We can be a family, Sasuke." And here Naruto's eyes grew moist.

The small smile Sasuke had on his face slowly faded until it was transformed into a frown. "What?"


Itachi was making a scene. Laughing, if you could call it that. His head was thrown back, fist pounding the table, and screaming bloody murder. Sasuke calmly sipped his water and ignored the stares.

"No!" Itachi gasped. "Oh sweet fuck, no he didn't!"

"Wait," Sasuke said. He reached for more bread. "It gets better."


Naruto rattled the file in his hand. "Yes! It's all here. Sakura said she can perform the procedure, and Ino will stay up here on the mountain with you while I'm at work-"

"What…the…fuck…"

"Just think, Sasuke. You can give me a child every year and we can fill the mountaintop with love and joy. Well? How soon do you think you'll be ready to gestate? I told Sakura you're free every day, so we could go down to the hospital now and have our first child by September or October. What do you say?"

He remembered his mouth being open and his mind being so shocked that it had been literally blank. What finally brought him around was the way Naruto was leaning forward, face positively maniacal with glee. Naruto had all but vibrated with the force of his excitement and this served to drive home to Sasuke that his lover was serious. He meant for Sasuke to breed. To have kids. "No," Sasuke whispered hoarsely. "Fuck no, are you cr-"

He'd had to check himself. Iruka said that that word was never to be mentioned to Naruto or in relation to anything Naruto did.

Naruto's face fell, but his blazing blue eyes continued to stare at Sasuke. "You don't want my children?"

"It's not that, I-"

"Or you don't love me enough to do this for us?"

"Of course I love y-"

"I can't be expected to have children, obviously. I have a city to run, Fire Country to protect. My Kage duties are very pressing. You're the perfect choice, you're so mother-ful already-"

"Mother-ful?"

"And since you've never yet failed to give me what I want, I just know you'll see the wisdom of being the one to carry our children in your body-"

"Jesus-"

"So as soon as you say the word-"

"No."

Naruto's face underwent another noticeable change, this one towards sadness. His blond brows puckered upward as his mouth turned down. His eyes grew wetter. "No?"

"Naruto…no, I can't. I mean do you hear what you're saying?"

"This really means a lot to me, Sasuke."

"I know…but you're asking too much." He reached out and tried to pat Naruto's knee, but Naruto got off the bed. He walked to the bay window and stood looking out with his back to Sasuke.

"I…I understand, I guess. It is a big job, growing a baby, or so I'm told. It's just…I love you so much, and I thought you'd be happy to have my child. I guess I'll have to use a woman instead, and I-

"Wait, what?"

Naruto turned, eyes large and soulful. "Well, yes…if you won't do it, I'll have to use a woman. Several women, if we're to have a large family. Gaara says it used to be an ancient custom for a Kage to have his own private harem. I believe Sakura said she'd look into selecting fertile candidates should you do the unthinkable and refuse. She said they would have to be young, and attractive, and-"

Sasuke got off the bed and went to stand by Naruto. Iruka said that they were to express dissatisfaction in a calm and non-accusatory manner, but fuck it. "You'd cheat on me? You'd fucking cheat on me to have a bunch of kids? After everything we've been through?"

"Of course not! It would only be for breeding purposes, I wouldn't be lingering with any of them!"

"Does it occur to you how much that would hurt me?"

"The way your aversion to having my children hurts me? You have your brother, Sasuke. I have no family. Would you deny me this opportunity?"

He'd spun away from Naruto then, not quite able to look at him. "Everyone deserves a family. But this…"

Naruto crept up on him from behind and held him close in a tight hug. "I just wanted to do what other couples do and have children together. It should be you, not some woman. I know that. You know that. If it makes you feel better, Iruka is already undergoing hormone treatments. He's going to give Kakashi a son by the end of the year, he says. You two can be pregnant together."

Sasuke shuddered hard, thoroughly and completely offended by the image Naruto illustrated. "I don't know…I mean, what happens to me? Is this procedure even safe?"

"Completely safe. Tsunade was unmatched in her field. And Sakura was her best student."

"You sure?"

"Positive." Naruto rested his chin on Sasuke's shoulder.

"I don't know. I mean, Christ, men don't have kids. No, I can't, it's wrong. I just can't, Naruto. I'm sorry." Then, when Naruto remained silent, "What about side effects?"

"No more or less than for any woman who gets pregnant I'm told."

He'd stood there for a long, long time. The idea was abhorrent, but the chance to do something like this for Naruto, for them, having a child of their own bodies, with each other… "All right."

Naruto gasped by his ear. "You mean that? You'll do it?"

Closing his eyes and swallowing hard, Sasuke had nodded. "For you. But only one or two, not a whole horde of kids. And I still need to think about it."

"Oh, Sasuke!" Naruto planted a hard, juicy kiss on his cheek. "You won't regret this. You have no idea how happy you've made me. There's just one little thing."

"What's that?"

"I'm completely fucking with you."

It had taken him a moment to process that. He'd turned slowly in Naruto's arms to gaze at him in disbelief. "What?"

"It was a joke. A prank. I wanted to see if I could make you-"


"-And then I attacked his ass," Sasuke said as his second serving arrived. "Burned down half the bungalow before Naruto could stop me, and did a pretty decent number on him too. Damned near ripped his throat out. Fucking asshole. Iruka said that the fact that Naruto left in the middle of an important meeting to drive home and play that prank showed significant progress on his part. Said it meant Naruto was slowly but surely returning to the way he'd been before Danzo, that he was starting to come out of himself. I told Iruka to go fuck himself."

Itachi was now laughing so hard he was crying. He blew his nose noisily in his napkin, all but choking to death. People were staring worse than ever. When he finally managed to speak at all, it was to say, "Dude, that was epic! I remember you mentioning the house being remodeled, but you never said it was because of some prank! Ah, man…" he wiped his eyes with his soggy napkin. "That was genius. Pure genius. I think I'm going to have to invite Naruto over for dinner. Anyone who can get you to agree to something like that is worth knowing."

"Sometimes I really hate you. Do you realize I'll be scarred for life from that shit?"

"Yeah, yeah, I love you too."


When they left the restaurant a couple of hours later, Itachi looked at Sasuke and clapped his hands briskly, rubbing them in the January cold. "Alrighty! So I hid something somewhere in the city," he began.

Sasuke was already grinning, knowing what was coming. "No way!"

"And something I said tonight is the clue you need to find that thing. Think you can handle it?"

"Oh, I'll find it," Sasuke said, playing his part. "Trust me." He could feel the old excitement he'd always felt as a kid when they played this game settling into his guts.

"I am trusting you bro. Go do your thing." Itachi shoved his hands into his pockets.

They ambled away from the restaurant, not speaking as Sasuke thought. The minutes stretched out. When half an hour had passed, Sasuke bent a beady glare on his brother. "The hell are you playing at? I can't find a clue in anything you said."

"That's a first."

"You tricked me?"

"Nope. Clue's there."

They came to a bench and sat. Another forty-five minutes crawled by as Sasuke frowned at the sidewalk. At last he picked his head up. "Pretty clever. Using a clue to find the clue to find the real clue. Layers. You've never done that before."

"Meh, figured you ain't a kid anymore. And I probably won't be playing this game with you again. Or anyone. Ichi doesn't have your brains. Well?"

They went to the park, Sasuke leading, where he found a sheet of paper folded and buried beneath a tree root. He unfolded it. "What's this?"

"Read it, dummy."

Sasuke did. "Itachi…it says here that you and I have been accepted to the ANBU Tech Division." He looked up at his brother in shock. "Do you have any idea how many times I petitioned the Captain for a position in TD? He wouldn't have given me this job if his life depended on it."

Itachi shrugged. "Let's just say that when I asked him his life did depend on it. Miserable fuck is guilty of sexual harassment."

Sasuke remembered the way he'd been kicked out of ANBU for not submitting to the Captain's advances. "But this…I mean-"

"I need the work, and you need something to do. That job pays three times what I make at the steel plant. Regular hours. Health benefits for me and my family. This is it, it's ideal for both of us."

"I don't know what to say."

Itachi walked over and stood close to him. After a minute he grabbed the back of Sasuke's neck and just held on. "Say yes. It's ANBU, which I know you loved working in, but not dangerous, which is good. I wouldn't be able to take the thought of you going on missions. Personally, I hated you being in ANBU, just never said anything. Lived in fear of being woken one night by a knock on the door or a call on my phone to tell me you'd bought it. I'd go crazy if I lost you. I mean that. I can take losing anyone but you. You're my brother, my blood, my last link with mom and dad, and everything before Madara. You're irreplaceable. Let some other idiot sign up for missions. Academy is full of dreamers waiting to do just that. This…this is ours, our ticket to easy street. Tech niche is small, and no one, no one, has our skills. We'll rule that joint, and probably end up running it inside two years. We'd be paid, Sasuke. Besides, working all day with your bro…going home to the ones we love at night…there are worse ways to live. Hell, we've lived them. Just say yes."

It was perfect, just like Itachi said. And getting to spend all day everyday with his brother would be heaven, because he and Itachi had to face facts: they needed each other. Always had, always would. Needed to be in each other's presence just as much as they each needed Naruto and Mo. Maybe even more so on some levels. "Yes."

Itachi grinned. "You sure? Don't need to run it by your hubby first?"

"I will, but regardless to what he says, I'm doing this. Ugh, I love you!" he yelled, tackling Itachi to the ground. He kissed him hard on the nose.

"Ow."

They horsed around a bit more, had a brief game of tag, which Itachi won, but eventually, as it was going on 2 am, they made their way out of the park. It started snowing, and Sasuke looked over at his brother with a fond expression. "I used to think Naruto was my hero, but it's really you, you know."

Itachi snorted, but he was touched. Seemed he hadn't lost his brother after all, the way he sometimes thought. "Me? Nah. Or if I am, I'm one of those lesser heroes, the ones no one ever talks about."