|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-09-26 14:32:00
In order for this to make any kind of sense, you'll need to have read Self-Reliance by theninjakitty (over here). However, this isn't in her timeline since I don't know what her timeline's going to be -- it's a fanfic-fanfic, bearing about the same resemblance to Kitty's canon as most fanfic does to any canon. Same characters, same setting, but plot goes anywhere... ^^;;
So don't read this as spoilers 'cause it's not canon (unless by some miracle Kitty wants it to be, but I doubt it). I just wanted to play with the kitten and the family and oh yeah the genocidal maniacs...
Title: When the Rains Come, part 1 (of maybe three?)
Genre: NaruSasu, fanfic-fanfic
Warnings: Make sure you've read Self-Reliance first, or this will make NO sense whatsoever...
It was drizzling out, the kind of gray miserable day that made Sasuke furtively
glad of Neji's warm purring little gift, even if he'd never admit it aloud.
Mercifully, the kitten had outgrown its need to be dropper-fed at all hours,
but it was still far too adorable for Sasuke's dignity. So he only scooped
up the little warm ball of fluff and snuggled it when he was quite, quite
confident that he was alone. ...And that all the blinds were drawn, and Kakashi
wasn't among the ANBU on patrol to try to show up without warning, and Naruto
was buried under some paperwork-avalanche in the Hokage's Tower.
...It wasn't paranoia when psychotic snake-perverts and genocidal elder siblings
really were out to get a person, after all. The fact that he could
take advantage of that in order to hide his distressing addiction to kitten-snuggles
was just a beneficial coincidence.
The kitten had decided somewhere along the line that it liked high places.
The top of the refrigerator apparently put off enough warmth and vibration
to remind the kitten of its mother, and so Sasuke had put a fluffy scrap of
an old yellow blanket up there once, when he was equally sure nobody was looking,
and the kitten had enthusiastically decided that the refrigerator-blanket
There were some unforeseen consequenses of this, though. The blanket was
nearly the same vivid sunny gold as Naruto's hair. And the kitten liked stalking
and pouncing nearly as much as it liked high places. So every so often there
would be a tiny-but-enthusiastic 'mrowwr!' followed by a screech and several
clatters, bangs, and thuds, and then Naruto would stalk out of the kitchen
dripping whatever food he'd been trying to make and wearing a small and ferociously
tail-lashing hat on his way into the bathroom to clean up.
It was only fair to tease him mercilessly about this, since Naruto teased
Sasuke about his increasing girth all the time. Sasuke speculated at length
about Naruto's appreciation for having fluffy things with teeth attached to
the top of his head, whether kittens or ratty old sleeping caps, and whether
Kyuubi would agree with him that it showed a subconscious urge to have something
else of a generally fluffy-and-containing-teeth-shape around another head,
and by that time Naruto was generally tomato-colored and spluttering a mile
a minute and flailing around madly.
It usually bought him enough time to make a cup of tea, because Naruto knew
he couldn't simply pounce on him anymore, and verbal retorts never had been
the dobe's strong point, which left him in quite a wheel-spinning quandary,
much to Sasuke's satisfaction.
Naruto considered it profoundly unfair that the kitten never jumped on Sasuke's
head, just his shoulder, where the kitten proceeded to balance carefully and
look out at the world with bright curious little eyes. Sasuke never admitted
he'd trained the kitten out of jumping on his head by wearing another bit
of sunny-Naruto-fluff-mommy-blanket on his shoulder. There were some
advantages to being home on maternity leave with little to do beyond study
scrolls full of knowledge he wouldn't be able to apply for months, after all.
It had gotten so that the kitten didn't even need the encouragement of the
blanket anymore, though; when Sasuke opened the kitchen door and bent a bit
to peer in, that provided more of a landing-pad than usual, and so he wasn't
really surprised to feel a soft thump between his shoulderblades, followed
by some scrambling as the kitten found its balance again. Sasuke felt a smile
tugging at the corner of his lips, and fought it back ferociously, because
he was walking around with far too many expressions on his face already and
he wanted fewer bad habits to have to train himself out of when he could begin
And the fact that he had a kitten toddling on his shoulder had nothing whatsoever
to do with the fact that he picked out a container of blueberry yogurt. Or
that, once done stirring with a spoon, he somehow managed to get a bit of
yogurt on his finger, or that his finger somehow found its way toward his
Unlike some people in the house, the kitten had no reservations at all about
loudly and enthusiastically expressing how much it loved yogurt. Its
little pink tongue tried to rasp his skin right off along with the yogurt
drips, and so Sasuke had to put more yogurt on his
finger from simple self-defense really.
...From the sheer volume of the purr rumbling away by his ear, Sasuke sometimes
wondered if Neji had gotten this one's motor out of a full-sized panther instead,
and conveniently forgotten to mention that detail.
The kitten's little sandpaper-and-tickles tongue made quick work of the second
dose of yogurt as well, and then it began nuzzling at his palm and licking
at the rest of his fingers to try to capture any stray molecules of kitty-bliss-inducing
substances. Stifling a laugh with a supreme effort, because the tongue and
the whiskers and the fluffy little face were all conspiring against
his willpower with a triple-teaming tickle assault, Sasuke bit his lower lip
to keep himself silent and spooned some more yogurt into the lid of the container.
The kitten wasn't about to wait for it to be served; it scrambled down the
slope of his ribcage and tumbled onto his belly and sat up on its hind paws,
reaching both forepaws for the yogurt lid in his hand and mewling eagerly.
Despite himself, Sasuke glanced around one more time for any potential witnesses
to this horrendous onslaught of cute before setting the lid on the
curve of his stomach for the kitten to bury its nose in. That left both hands
free for his own yogurt, which he really needed to eat before the kitten ate
its share and went looking for more. Its little gray-striped tail was happily
curled around the crook of Sasuke's elbow, so it was a bit awkward to get
a spoon into his mouth without disturbing the kitten, but he managed.
Thankfully, he finished his own yogurt-cup long before the kitten got done
polishing every last yogurt-molecule off the lid, so that when the kitten
blinked big blue eyes up at him and mewed, Sasuke could say with a straight
face, "That's all. Any more and your stomach won't thank you later, you
The kitten put a paw on Sasuke's elbow and mewed again, looking utterly forlorn.
With a sigh that nearly unbalanced the kitten from its perch on the curve
of his belly, Sasuke ran a fingertip around the inside of the yogurt container
and offered his finger for polishing.
...Those little paws were so unfairly soft, particularly when the kitten
was being careful not to use its tiny, prickly needle-claws; the little mooch
had learned early on that a mew and a velvet-pawed bat received much more
indulgence from its people than claws and squalling did.
Sasuke took another fingertip-swipe at the inside of the yogurt container
just in case, because in a few minutes the kitten was going to try to shove
its head into the empty container as usual, and he wanted the results to be
as close to tidy as possible. The little beast was an insatiable glutton,
an attention-hog, more capricious than a barrel of monkeys, always getting
into everything, always underfoot, playing with anything that dangled -- from
sleeves to hair to shoelaces to the ends of unguarded chopsticks -- constantly
rotating through bouts of manic wide-eyed scampering interspersed with collapses
into naps wherever its feet stopped running (often tumbling into sudden kitten-sized
snores on one's ankle, belly, chest, forearm, or sometimes one's face, depending
on what would be maximally inconvenient at that particular moment)...
...all in all, he wondered why he'd never included a kitten in The Plan to
It was certainly good practice for dealing with Naruto, who also dealt out
calamity, manic scrambling around, adorable stupidity, and sudden snuggle-naps
with equally mindless abandon; and Sasuke had often thought that dealing with
Naruto was good practice for dealing with small squirming wild things that
shrieked nonsense and thrashed a lot and occasionally smelled bad and needed
bathing with or against their will. So, from a certain perspective, kitten-raising
did seem like an effective course of study in pre-parenthood...
Sasuke sighed again when the kitten wedged its head into the empty yogurt
cup and shoved until the plastic bumped up against Sasuke's chin; the vigorous
licking sounds coming from inside informed him that clearly he'd been remiss
in his efforts to extract every last hint of yogurt-essence from the vessel.
It was usually only a minute or two before...
...right, there was his cue: the kitten began backpedalling and almost tumbled
off its perch atop the baby-bulge in its efforts to extract its head long
enough to breathe again. Sasuke caught the kitten gently in one hand and the
yogurt cup with the other, and separated the two, and put the lid on the yogurt
cup to set aside while the kitten shook its head and batted at its ears and
tried to groom both its whiskers and the back of its head with a great deal
of pawing and licking and the inevitable yogurt-bliss-purring.
Adorable little idiot.
...Sasuke had to admit he'd developed quite a weakness for adorable blue-eyed
This particular little idiot was padding in a little circle at the place
where the arch of his chest met the curve of his belly, kneading his shirt
a bit to shape whatever constituted a proper kitten bed at the moment.
Sasuke reminded himself again not to get too used to smiling, as the
warm little fluffball snuggled down atop his belly (because that spot was
softer and rounder than poky ribs or shoulders) and settled in with a drowsily
The fur on the back of its head was still a bit yogurt-spiky and sticking-out,
and Sasuke stifled a chuckle at the thought of how his Baby was even learning
hairstyling techniques from him as he smoothed the fur down with a light fingertip.
The kitten yawned and stretched and curled its tail about his forearm affectionately,
capturing his wrist with a paw and licking at his fingertips again with sleep-hazy
"I was going to use that hand to turn pages, you know,"
Sasuke informed the kitten, whose purrs were drifting more and more toward
snores with every breath. "...Hmph. Little nuisance."
It wasn't like he hadn't learned to flip pages one-handed, between a snuggle-prone
kitten and a snuggle-prone Naruto. But flipping pages and taking notes
one-handed was still a little out of range, and for one brief disturbing moment
Sasuke wondered how useful a prehensile tongue might be after all. He couldn't
tuck his knees up enough to brace the book against them, in order to hold
the book balanced between hand-pressure and knee while noting, and an extra
limb could prove more than handy when trying to deal with three at once...
five, if he counted the kitten and Naruto...
Sasuke sighed, and left the book on the table, and brushed his fingertips
lightly over the soft fur at the kitten's forehead; he shifted the free hand
to press against his side, where one of his own young ones was kicking a staccato.
"No, kits," he said to his stomach, feeling very silly, but talking
to them often seemed to work for Naruto. "I haven't forgotten you either.
Trust me. The next time you spend this many months carrying around
this much extra weight and getting kicked in implausible places at the least
convenient times possible, you'll know it's not possible to forget you lot."
The baby kicked again, and one of its neighbors pushed back, and Sasuke bit
down on a sigh. "No pleasing all of you, is
there?" he asked, rubbing carefully. "The kitten wants me sitting
still, you want me moving about to rock you... I should've
picked the rocking chair, shouldn't I."
With impeccable timing, someone knocked on the front door, and Sasuke groaned.
"Just come in!" he called, because their friends knew how long
it could take him to find another perch for the kitten and to coax his clumsy
bulk out of their comfortable but awkwardly deep furniture.
More than one pair of feet shuffled their way out of sandals in the entryway,
and Iruka-sensei's voice was strangely muted in the entryway: "Put those
in the kitchen -- yes, quietly, little ones; we don't want to disturb the
Hokage's young family..."
"But I wanna see!"
"Later," Iruka said, planting himself like a barricade in front
of the sliding shoji screen that divided the hall from the living room where
Sasuke was resting. "When the Hokage's here for you
to pester, so that his betrothed can rest. Understand? Off to the kitchen
with you, now."
There was some grumbling, followed by the patter of little feet down the
hall; in a few minutes they were back, and scuffling into sandals again, and
then the flock of them scampered out the door and scattered to whatever winds
carried academy children given an unexpected respite from classes. Sasuke
had let himself relax when he'd realized that Iruka was going to shield him
from the onslaught of noisy and curious ninja children, and so he startled
back to wakefulness at a quiet tap on the shoji screen.
"All the vermin are gone, aren't they, Iruka-sensei?" Sasuke replied
a bit warily, looking around for a blanket or something he could use as concealment
just in case. "You can come in if you'd like."
"'Vermin,'" Iruka echoed, amused, as he slid the door open and
leaned a shoulder against the frame. "Are you entirely certain you want
to have children of your own, Sasuke?"
"Mostly," Sasuke grunted. "When they don't
kick so much."
There was something unreadable in his former teacher's eyes, something that
rippled half-hidden, like a glimpse of some swift creature slipping through
the waters of a still and shady pond. Sasuke felt Iruka's gaze as though it
were nearly a physical touch -- standing there seeing the former top rookie
of the year all but incapacitated by the awkwardness of his physical condition,
seeing the brittle and sharp-edged young avenger sprawled on a sofa with a
sleeping kitten atop his child-swollen belly, his hand held captive by nothing
but a wish not to disturb the kitten's rest -- and Sasuke tensed despite himself.
It's Iruka-sensei, Sasuke tried to tell his instincts. Iruka-sensei,
the one who still gives our new Hokage noogies and feeds him ramen and sniffles
over the prospect of his students growing up and having families -- that's
all it is; that's the emotion I'm seeing, he's not judging me for my weakness--
I'm judging myself--
Sasuke forced the ridiculous panic back, because the man was Naruto's only
family in all but blood, and of course he would feel an uncle's indulgent
pride in the sight of his students' unborn children, and in their 'mother's'
evident condition. Still, it was hard to fight back the reflex to hide, to
distract his teacher's gaze from his weakness, his helpless vulnerability.
He couldn't help moving the kitten aside to a pillow, despite its plaintive
little half-sleeping mew, so that the picture he made in his teacher's eyes
wouldn't be quite so defenseless.
"I'm disturbing your rest, aren't I," Iruka murmured, unusually
quiet for a man more accustomed to barking orders over the noise of a crowded
classroom. "I hadn't realized -- how heavy you've grown, how swiftly
these days and weeks pass for you... Forgive my intrusion; I should leave
you to rest, to gather what there is of your strength now. I never meant to
"Don't go," Sasuke said, with an effort. "I'm sorry, Iruka-sensei.
I'm just... still not used to this. To being looked at as though I'm..."
He stopped, and shook his head, and regretfully freed his hand from the kitten's
drowsy grasp. "Stay a little. If you have time.
I mean... you're... You're speaking so formally, but I'm still --I'm just
your old student, Naruto's still Naruto, it's not like... like he's changed,
or like I've changed him because I... --anyway, I'll make us some tea if that'd
help... I mean..."
"You'd like to talk? With me?"
The undercurrent of surprise was muted, but still clear; Sasuke bit back a
near hysterical laugh.
"Am I that antisocial, Iruka-sensei?"
He'd expected the man to blush and laugh and scratch behind an ear; instead,
with a small, rueful half-smile, his teacher replied, "Have you ever
"Uh..." Sasuke stopped, and blinked, and hoped his face wasn't
burning as much as it felt like, because he hadn't expected to need an answer
for a question like that.
"Stay there, and rest," Iruka told him. "I'll prepare the
tea; I remember where it's stored." And he turned down the hall toward
the kitchen, clearly not willing to accept no for an answer.
Sasuke fought with himself -- and with gravity --
for a moment, then sighed and called, "Six months from now I'm making
the tea, Iruka-sensei. Just... not today."
Then, a bit stiffly, he added, "Thank you." It was getting easier
to say things like 'please' and 'thank you' now that it was getting harder
to deny his needs. Not easy, not yet; just easier by comparison.
The tea was an awkwardly silent affair; unlike his easy chatting and teasing
with Naruto, Iruka seemed to be unbalanced by both Sasuke's reserved personality
and the evidence of Sasuke's condition, and he watched the younger man in
quiet astonishment. At one point, he set his teacup down and ventured, "You
wished to talk?"
Sasuke felt his face burning. "I'm... not good at it. --Sorry, sensei,
I... just..." He shrugged a little, clumsily.
His teacher's voice was a bit rueful. "You don't seem to have these
difficulties with arguing. Especially with your Hokage."
"You don't make a habit of pissing me off until my choices are
screaming or killing things," Sasuke muttered, glaring at his teacup.
"I can practice, if you'd like."
"Don't bother," Sasuke said with a sigh, shifting his weight awkwardly
to reach for the teapot. "Naruto takes up more than his fair share of
the available frustration-space in both our lives."
Iruka took the teapot and refilled Sasuke's cup to spare him the struggle
with the sofa, then refilled his own cup as well, and sat back with both hands
cupped around it for warmth. "I'm not here to make you uncomfortable
in any way," he said. "Quite the opposite.
If you wish to talk, then let us talk; if you wish
for quiet, I'll leave you in peace to rest."
"You're being so formal," Sasuke murmured, unhappy. He didn't know
how to say I want you to scruffle my hair and laugh the way you do with
Naruto and Kakashi-sensei, not when he'd spent so long building up defenses
to keep people from daring anything of the sort.
Iruka looked down into his teacup to avoid his student's eyes. "I don't
want to upset you, to push your boundaries -- I'm sure you've had more than
enough of that since you returned to this village full of gossips..."
"I trust you, Iruka-sensei," Sasuke said impatiently. But
for some reason, that widened the schoolteacher's eyes.
"Why?" he asked. "What is it about a weak chuunin academy
teacher that's earned your trust? You've always been so focused on power,
and I can't offer it to you anymore; but so many of you trust me with power
regardless-- the ANBU outside didn't even stop us when the children and I
"Should they have?" Sasuke replied, dryly. "What damage are
you going to do with a bottle of orange juice and a fort of instant ramen?"
"You should be better guarded than this," Iruka said, still studying
his tea. "Both of you should. Especially now that he is Hokage and you
are-- as you are. It's ludicrous that they let me walk through without
so much as a question."
"Everyone trusts you, Iruka-sensei," Sasuke said. "You're
one of the kindest, most decent people in the village. That's a strength of its own, one that has nothing to do with blood
and war, and -- we need that, all of us, even though I'm terrible at admitting
it most of the time." He looked down at the little gray handful of drowsing
kitten, and ruffled its fur gently. "I'm learning, though. I'm finally
starting to learn the kinds of strength that you taught Naruto so many years
ago... I'm just slow sometimes. I'm sorry."
Iruka closed his eyes. "What I regret is that I never taught you to
find your own strength."
It stung, a little. "Sensei...?"
"You are not Naruto," his teacher said. "You are not
jinchuuriki, and you are not your brother, and not your father, and not your
teacher the Copy-Nin of Konoha, and not the snake that tried to make you his
own, since you had no sense of your own strength to resist him. You are simply
yourself, and always have been -- and you've never understood what that means.
You've never wanted to understand what that means. You've spent too much of
your life chasing other people's shadows, rather than learning about who you
are, and what your unique strength is. All of your teachers, we've
all failed you in that lesson: the only one you've never learned, despite
our hopes for you. Forgive us for failing you in that most vital lesson of
It felt like being unexpectedly doused in ice water, to learn that he'd disappointed
the gentle, laughing man who'd given Naruto such solid and loving support
for so many years. I told myself I wanted him to stop sugar-coating everything
in formality, Sasuke thought fiercely. I wanted this, now it's time
to deal with having it--
"I'm sorry," Iruka said. "You didn't want to hear that; you
never have. And I've upset you again."
"No," Sasuke said, through gritted teeth, because damn it, he was
not going to cry. Not again. Damn hormones, damn exhaustion, damn weakness,
damn all of it-- "no, I'm fine."
"I'm fine." He hauled himself out of the sofa by sheer force,
picked up the teapot, and stumbled half-blind toward the kitchen for more hot water,
just for something to do. His hands shook as he poured water from the pan
into the teapot, and he set the pan down hastily before he could spill it
on himself; then he leaned both hands on the countertop and fought with every
bit of strength remaining to him not to let himself cry.
Iruka's footsteps had been silent, following him, but he tapped softly on
the kitchen doorframe as a courtesy before he entered. He hesitated for a
long, silent moment, then placed a gentle hand on the hollow of Sasuke's back
and rubbed a little.
It broke the last of his control; he turned into Iruka's arms and buried
his face in the man's shoulder so that at least his teacher couldn't see his
face while he sobbed like a child. Like a weak, pathetic, needy child...
After a moment's stunned, frozen shock, Iruka put both arms around him and
held him quietly.
"If you can forgive me for failing you in my teaching, and trust me
despite it," he murmured, "surely you can forgive yourself for being
yourself, rather than everyone else you've wanted to be."
"...it's not... not the same...!" He broke
off with a gasp, hissing between his teeth as one of the children kicked straight
up into his lungs, catching his breath short. "Damn it--!"
"Pain?" Iruka asked, concerned. "Do
you need to sit, or to lie down?"
If he could have taken a deep enough breath to reply,
he would have tried, but all he could manage was panting through clenched
teeth and a gesture toward the teapot and then the living room. He'd meant
it for 'let's drink the tea, I'll be fine in a minute,' but his teacher gathered
a different meaning from his white-faced, white-knuckled gasping.
Much to Sasuke's shock, Iruka lifted him into his arms with barely an effort,
and carried him to the sofa, and shooed the kitten off the pillow in order
to gently lay him on his side. Iruka gathered up the discarded blanket and
settled it carefully over him, then reached a cautious hand toward his abdomen,
and then hesitated.
"It's all right," Sasuke gasped, still struggling to catch his
breath around a flurry of kicks inside. He took his teacher's hand and pressed
it into his distended belly, hoping the movement within would explain what
he lacked the breath for: no contractions this time, just over-vigorous kicks
at the lungs from too many little feet. "See? Fine... just-- ow..."
Iruka was still as a stone, not even breathing, staring at Sasuke's hand
and his own intertwined upon the taut, child-swollen curve of his student's
abdomen. One of the children kicked at their hands, and he drew a sharp breath.
"Iruka-sensei?" Sasuke asked, fighting
back the impulse to laugh, because it would take too much air. "Sensei,
don't... don't pass out on me here...! I'm in no shape to run for the med-nins...!"
"No," his teacher agreed softly, smoothing Sasuke's hair back from
his face with a careful, tender hand, as though he were much younger than
he was; but for once, somehow, Sasuke couldn’t quite mind. "No condition to run, or to fight, and so those of us who can
must protect you from any harm. Even from yourself."
Sasuke blinked. "Sensei...?"
Iruka's hand was warm and solid against his cheek, gently turning his head
so that their eyes met.
In their teacher's kind, friendly, scarred face, the eyes were bloody crimson,
three black wedges spinning.
"Mangekyou Sharingan," his teacher murmured, still so soft-voiced
and tender, and Sasuke didn't even have time to scream.
How soon did people pick up on what was going on? I like to think I'm good enough with dialogue and with character voices that it should have been obvious within a sentence or two of Iruka's entrance, but I also wanted to have it plausible that Sasuke wasn't suspecting IRUKA of all people, that he wouldn't expect his brother to hide behind a comparatively weak chuunin's face and voice...
evil cackle here. Off to try to get a chunk of part 2 written before I conk out from cold meds (home on sick day, more loopy than usual, don't know if that goes any way toward explaining the insanity or not...)