Parenthood

Painful Mysteries

Sasuke lurched forward, with his hand outstretched. Sosei barely had time to plan on reacting before Sasuke grabbed him by his collar. The young boy wriggled free and flipped away from the older Uchiha, who continued to press forward. Out of either craze or sheer stupidity, Sosei swung his kunai at Sasuke's throat. The veteran dropped his arm down, elbowing Sosei in his bicep and then kicked him in his thigh. Sosei turned away and Sasuke twisted his arm behind his back and threw him against the wall, holding him steady even as he struggled.

"What the hell were you doing?!" Sasuke shouted. When Sosei didn't answer, Sasuke snatched the kunai and held it to the boy's throat. Sasuke's Sharingan sank into his son's. Sosei's Sharingan eyes had only two tomoe between them which told Sasuke that they were freshly activated. Tears dripped from the boy's eyes as he stared into Sasuke's eyes.

No, he wasn't. The boy was staring past Sasuke. Behind him.

"S-Sasuke...don't." a voice wheezed. Sasuke turned and followed the direction of the sound. Looking down, Sasuke's eyes widened. Lying in a pool of her own blood was Karin. Blood dripped from her mouth and chest. Karin's breathing was labored and her eyes struggled to stay open. Slowly, Sasuke lowered Sosei to the floor and the boy ran to his mother's side, resting her head in his arms. Sosei wept and as his cries grew louder, Karin softly hushed him. Sasuke wanted to leave the room. He didn't want to see this. But he needed information.

"Sosei, Karin...what happened?" Sasuke asked. Karin coughed and Sosei stared blankly at her. Sasuke prayed that the boy hadn't gone into shock.

"Our guards...were killed at the door by the two jonin at the gate. They were Kiri hunter-nin disguised as Konoha shinobi." Karin said, her voice rising barely above a whisper. Sasuke frowned. How could the two jonin have been impostors and neither he or Naruto notice? Naruto even spoke their names. They must have killed them also and taken their form. Sasuke had been somewhat wary of them earlier but he attributed it to his normal distrust of people he didn't know. Now, he knew his intuition hadn't been off.

"They rushed in." Sosei said, still sobbing. "Before I could do anything, they grabbed Mother and stabbed her twice through her chest. They had some kind of tube in their hand that they tried to use to take her blood. After they did that, they turned on me. That's when..." Karin coughed up blood and Sosei cradled her upper body and stared into her glazed eyes. "Mother! No! Don't leave me! Don't leave me alone!" he cried.

Karin's eyes looked past Sosei and up to Sasuke. Sasuke froze under her gaze and the sight of Sosei crying over her body. Images flashed back in his head. He saw his own mother and father, slain in the middle of the floor. He saw Itachi emerging from the shadows with his Sharingan eyes glowing bright red and his sword dripping with the blood of his parents. Sasuke felt his heart well up into his throat. He felt something now that he'd thought he never feel.

Compassion.

"Ssh, my child. Don't worry. You won't be alone. You're where you need to be now. Never forget that...I love you." Karin said, smiling. Sosei's face was drowned in tears as Karin coughed again and took in a deep breath, her eyes looking directly into Sasuke's. "Your chakra, Sasuke." she said. "It's grown warmer..." When the words left her mouth, Karin's body went limp. Sosei stared down at his mother before he screamed. The sound was primordial and reminiscent of Sasuke's own. All the older Uchiha could do was stand back and watch.

Sasuke didn't want to connect to the boy. He didn't want his emotions to blind him to what the facts of his life were currently. He was married to Sakura Haruno. He had three children with her. He was being considered to lead a team with his son, Takuma on it. He was a Konoha jonin. Sosei's present would complicate his life. It'd be easier to just disconnect himself and let the boy cry. Take him to Naruto and let the Hokage solve the problem while he went back to living his normal, happy life before Karin and Sosei had arrived to the village. That was what Sasuke wanted.

But he couldn't bring himself to be that cold. He had gone through exactly what Sosei had. He knew that if left unchecked, Sosei's life would go down the path of darkness and for an Uchiha, that path was almost inescapable when love was lost. The awakening of his Sharingan was already an indication that he had stepped foot on the first brick of the road. Sasuke could deny it no longer. Sosei was his seed and now, his responsibility.

Sasuke kneeled down and took Sosei by the shoulder, pulling him towards his chest. Sosei fell back into Sasuke's arms and cried into his father's shirt. Sasuke looked down at Karin and reached to her, closing her eyes and settling her face. Sosei gripped Sasuke's shirt and continued to weep. Sasuke looked up at the ceiling and sighed. He had only course of action now. He needed to talk to Naruto.

And he needed to talk to Sakura.

"Sasuke..." Naruto said as he opened the door. The Hokage then looked down next to the Uchiha and his eyes widened as he saw saw Sosei covered in blood. "What happened?" he asked. Sasuke gently pushed Sosei forward through the door and watched as the boy walked through, his head drooped as he did. Sasuke sighed and rubbed the back of his head as Naruto turned to him. "Where's Karin?" Naruto asked.

"Being examined by the coroner at the police station..." Sasuke said. Naruto stared back.

"Wait...what? She's..." Sasuke nodded.

"Dead. Two Kiri hunters posing as Konoha jonin infiltrated the village. They were the same two jonin that were guarding the gate with Lee. The hunter probably killed them and switched before we got there or maybe it happened afterwards, I don't know. But they slaughtered the guards placed in front of Karin's hotel room and then they killed her. Next, they went after Sosei..." Sasuke said. Naruto frowned.

"Did Sosei tell you this or did you watch this happen?" he asked. Sasuke scowled.

"Sosei told me. When I got there, he had already dispatched the two Kiri shinobi...and he awakened his Sharingan." Sasuke said. Naruto rubbed his forehead and sighed.

"How could I have let this happen? They were under my protection." Naruto said, shaking his head. Sasuke looked to the living room where Sosei stared down at the floor.

"They should've been under our protection. Like the rest of the village. It's my fault, Naruto." Sasuke said, barely believing those words had exited his mouth. Naruto was too and if the situation hadn't been so dire, Sasuke was sure he would've grinned and rubbed it in. Instead, he dipped his head in acknowledgement of Sasuke's point. Naruto scratched his head.

"So...what are you going to do, now?" Naruto asked. Sasuke shook his head.

"I can't hide this. Karin is dead and Sosei's alone now. I'm his only connection to anything now." Sasuke said.

"And what are you going to tell Sakura?" Naruto asked. What could he tell Sakura besides...

"The truth. Hopefully, she won't kill me and she'll listen to reason. From what I remember from Karin and I's interaction fourteen years ago...I may have been drugged or something before we had sex. Given Karin expressed interest in doing that before, I wouldn't put it past her. But for tonight, if you could just...keep Sosei for me." Sasuke said. Naruto nodded.

"Sure. If things don't go well with Sakura, you don't want Sosei to hear that." Naruto sighed and stretched. "Something's going on in Kirigakure. There has to be a reason that Karin and Sosei fled. I don't think he had any clue, but Karin did. I'm going to have to assemble a team to send the Mizukage a message." Naruto said.

"Let me go. Whoever ordered this..." Sasuke said. Naruto frowned.

"That's not the kind of message I was thinking of. Sending you is an act of war and if the Mizukage is at all involved in this, I want things to be discussed between us peacefully." Naruto said. Sasuke reluctantly nodded in agreement.

"Then who's the emissary you'll send?" Sasuke asked. Naruto shrugged.

"I don't know. If things are really bad over there, I don't want to put anyone else at risk." Naruto walked back and forth, thinking. "I could just send a clone..." Sasuke shook his head.

"The farther the clone gets from you, the more chakra it'll take to maintain it. For a trip that long..." Sasuke said. Naruto waved his hand.

"Yeah, I know the ins and outs of the jutsu. I'll only give it a small fraction of my chakra. It won't have to eat, sleep or do anything really but move forward until it gets to the Land of Water. After that, it can drop the handwritten message off to the Mizukage. Hopefully, we'll get a quick response so we can arrange a meet-up time." Naruto said. "I'll run it by Shikamaru in a few hours so we can get the specifics of the plan together. Plus, we'll need to hold a ceremony for Karin as well. Anyway, you need to go home and get it ready for Sosei's arrival...and prepare yourself." Naruto said. Sasuke raised an eyebrow.

"For what?" he asked. Naruto smirked.

"You meet your new team tomorrow." he said. Sasuke frowned. Naruto could not be fucking serious...but Sasuke was sure that he was. Silently dipping his head, Sasuke sighed and walked past Naruto and into his living room where Sosei sat, still dazed from earlier. Unbeknownst to the boy, Sasuke presumed anyway, his Sharingan was still activated as he stared down at the floor. Even when Sasuke made deliberate noise as he walked forward, Sosei didn't look up.

"Sosei." Sasuke said. "You're going to stay here with the Hokage tonight. I'm going to go get things in order at home so that you can come with me." Sasuke said. Sosei's head barely moved but Sasuke's keen eyes made out a nod. Tears still dripped from Sosei's eyes and Sasuke gulped as he said his next words. "I'm sorry..." Sasuke started. For not keeping you and your mother here. For not being the father you needed in your youth. For wishing you both had been killed so I wouldn't have to face my family with this truth. "...for not getting there in time enough to stop it. But I promise you, there will be retribution in time. Just...sleep." Sasuke said.

With a light tap to a pressure point on Sosei's neck, the boy slumped onto the couch, unconscious. Sasuke turned to see if Naruto disapproved but the Hokage sighed and walked past them both to his bedroom.

"Lock the door on your way out." he said, closing his room door as the last word left his mouth. Sasuke grabbed a blanket that laid on the arm of the couch and placed it over Sosei. After he had bestowed that act of kindness, the Uchiha turned and left the Hokage's mansion and headed home.

If he wanted to, Sasuke could've been home in an instant. Not only had his Body Flicker jutsu improved, but he knew various shortcuts to the Uchiha Estate. But he needed to move slow now. He had to think. What was he going to tell Sakura? If he was going to tell her the truth, he needed to know the entire truth. He only knew bits and pieces. He knew that Karin had come to him and that she had initiated contact and she possibly drugged him in order to continue. For any normal person, this would sound like a lie to cover up infidelity. But Sakura knew as well as Sasuke that Karin had a crazed obsession over him. She had to believe him...

Sasuke entered his house quietly and snuck back to his bedroom. When he opened the door, Sakura was sitting up on the bed. The covers were drawn back like she had just sat down from doing something. Hikari was gone and Sasuke heard the sound of the toilet running as the chamber filled back up with water. Sakura looked up at him and cocked her head to the side.

"Looks like you needed a lot of air." she said sarcastically. Sasuke half-smiled and then sighed. Sakura blinked. "What's wrong?" Sasuke shook his head, his raven-colored locks drifting from right to left.

"I have something I need to tell you. Something I just found out yesterday." Sasuke said. Sakura nodded for him to continue.

"Ok..." she said.

"Fourteen years ago, Karin and Suigetsu left for Kirigakure. But, before she left, Karin came to me. She drugged me and we had sex. That's all I remember. Yesterday, Karin arrived to Konoha with...our son, Sosei. She was supposed to leave tomorrow because Naruto was suspicious of her reasons for being here, but two Kiri hunter-nin got to her and Sosei and killed her. I took Sosei to Naruto so he could stay the night." Sasuke said. Sakura looked forward and slowly nodded.

"Why didn't you just bring him here?" Sakura asked. Sasuke opened his mouth to reply but nothing came out. He thought again.

"I-I thought you'd be angry. I didn't want Sosei to think that we didn't want him here...he's alone. I understand how he feels better than anyone." Sasuke said. Sakura chuckled softly.

"Oh, I am angry." she said, her voice darkening. She stood up and walked towards Sasuke, fully nude, all of her curves retraced by Sasuke's eyes before he realized that Sakura was getting closer and her face wasn't pleased. "I'm angry that you didn't just tell me yesterday when you found out or earlier this morning when I asked you what was wrong. I know everything about you, Sasuke. There's nothing you can't tell me. I'm here for you. That's what a wife is supposed to do." Sakura said, pressing up against Sasuke. The Uchiha gulped.

"If I would have told you..." Sasuke started.

"I would've killed Karin." Sakura finished without a trace of humor or sarcasm in her voice. "You're absolutely right. She had all this time to bring him here. She could've stayed. But she chose to leave. To come back when she knows you've married and moved on...I would've killed her and it wouldn't have taken much." Sakura said, sighing afterwards after she calmed herself. "There's nothing we can do now to change it though. I'll get the guest room ready so Sosei can stay with us." Sakura said. Sasuke's eyes widened.

"Seriously? You'll let him stay?" Sasuke said. Sakura nodded.

"Like you said, he's alone now. I won't let him stay that way." Sakura said. Sasuke smiled and reached out to grab Sakura, kiss her, lay her on the bed and make love to her. Sakura held her hand up and pushed Sasuke away. Sasuke froze as his visions for what he wanted to do to his wife started to fade away. His pink haired kunoichi folded her arms and stared Sasuke down with her emerald green eyes.

"Sakura..." Sasuke said.

"Listen. If Sosei stays here, I want him to be close to our family. If you take Takuma and Kichiro out, take him too. Treat him like he's ours and not Karin's. Until I see progress on that front...no cherry blossom for you." Sakura said.

Sasuke's mouth almost dropped off it's hinges and he felt his entire body go limp. The longest he and Sakura had ever gone without sex since they had been married was a week and a half and that was because of a mission Sasuke had taken. When he returned, the two of them almost destroyed kitchen and created Kichiro in the process. He didn't know how long it would take to truly integrate Sosei into the family but Sasuke foresaw months.

He didn't know how he or Sakura would make it.

Nevertheless, Sasuke didn't have a choice in the matter. Fighting against Sakura's wishes would only make things far worse than they were already. Silently, Sasuke sighed and nodded in agreement. When Sasuke had complied with her wishes, Sakura turned and walked away. Sasuke watched as her hips swayed as she walk, his erection growing as she laid down in bed, exposing her sweet cherry blossom as she did. Her emerald eyes stared teasingly into his black ones and then traced down to his pants. Sasuke almost smirked at her expression. This agreement they had wouldn't last long.

Sasuke woke the next morning, his mind focused on his task for the day. His genin team- which still sounded weird to think about - was gathering together for the first time. His son, the Hokage's daughter and the loser child of a civilian were all going to be in one place and he'd have to get to know them and their aspirations. Hearing Takuma's should be interesting, providing he was actually honest and didn't give the answer that he thought Sasuke would want to hear.

Sasuke rose from the bed, showered, freshened up and dressed in his jonin garb. Sasuke grabbed his sword that laid at his bedside and hooked it to his waist. He'd need it if he was going to go through with the test at the end of the introductions. Since Naruto had become Hokage, the bell test had become a popular way of assessing students on both their individual shinobi skills and their ability to function as a team. Sasuke would do the test but he planned on making it much harder for his potential students. After he had dealt with his genin team, he would have to go pick up Sosei and bring him home.

Sakura was already up and brushing her teeth when Sasuke was ready to leave. Sasuke came behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and softly breathed on her neck. He felt her shiver under his grasp and temporarily weaken. If they had been in battle, Sasuke would've capitalized on the opportunity and attacked. Instead, Sasuke relented. He'd make it as torturous for her as it was for him.

"I'll see you later." Sasuke whispered, kissing Sakura on her forehead. Sakura turned and smiled at him.

"Ok. Don't go too hard on your new team." Sakura said. Sasuke smirked.

"No promises." Sasuke said. As he left his room and walked down the hallway, he peered into Takuma and Kichiro's room. Takuma was already gone and Kichiro was just barely blinking himself awake. Sasuke realized that for once, he was actually running late. He'd still get to the Academy in a few seconds. Flickering through the city, Sasuke arrived at the entrance of the Academy, a gust of wind heralding his arrival. As he looked up, Sasuke saw a tall male jonin with spiky brown hair exiting the Academy with three students in tow. When the man saw him, he smiled and waved.

"Sasuke!" the man said. Sasuke smirked and dipped his head.

"Konohamaru." he said. The Sarutobi clansman walked towards Sasuke and his genin team followed close behind him. Sasuke recognized one of them as the Hyūga clan member, Hajime. The boy looked Sasuke up and down with his pale eyes, almost examining him. Sasuke looked back briefly before casting his eyes onto Konohamaru.

"Surprised Naruto appointed you as a genin squad leader. This your first one?" the man asked. Sasuke nodded.

"Yeah. We'll see how this goes." Sasuke said. Konohamaru laughed.

"It'll be fine. Just go easy on them. They might not be a prodigious lot like you, Naruto and Sakura were." the man said, turning to walk away. "See you later, Sasuke!" The Uchiha watched as the young jonin and his team went out of sight and then sighed softly as he stared up at the Academy entrance.

Here we go.

Sasuke found his way to the classroom that held the graduating class. As he entered, he looked up to the higher rows. Takuma, Honami and Shōgo all sat together, talking amongst themselves. Sasuke heard Shōgo ask Takuma and Honami what it was like to have famous parents and he saw Takuma shrug and Honami laugh. Sasuke cleared his throat and stood in the doorway. All of the genin snapped their heads towards him. Shōgo stared, awestruck, Honami smiled widely and Takuma's eyes widened.

"Awesome." Honami grinned.

"Whoa..." Shōgo breathed.

"Father?" Takuma said in astonishment.

"Sensei." Sasuke corrected him. "If you lot are ready to go, let's head out. We're going to the roof." Sasuke said. The genin leapt from their seats and followed Sasuke as they went up the stairwell to the top floor of the Academy building. Sasuke opened the door the roof and held the door open as his students went through. The three genin gazed out over the rooftop and took in the view of the village, smiling. After they had, the three of them sat on a few old chairs that had been left on the roof. Sasuke sat in front of them and quickly observed them before he proceeded.

Honami sat straight, tall and proud, her striking red hair falling on her shoulders. Shōgo tried desperately not to stare too long at Sasuke, instead looking around and pretending to be interested in other things. Takuma sat as straight as Honami, fiddling with his thumbs as he waited for his father and now sensei to speak. Sasuke closed his eyes and tried to remember how Kakashi had greeted him and his team all those years ago.

"Alright...how about you all introduce yourselves to me." Sasuke said coolly. "Tell me your name, things you like, things you hate, dreams for the future and why you want to be a shinobi." The words came out easily and Sasuke let out a sigh of relief as Honami raised her hand. He dipped his head towards her and the young girl began.

"Hello everyone! My name is Honami Uzumaki, daughter of Naruto Uzumaki and Hinata Hyūga. I like cinnamon rolls, sparring and going out with my father. I don't exactly hate much. My dreams for the future and my reasons for wanting to be a shinobi go hand in hand. I want to be the very best at everything I do and be an amazing kunoichi like my mother and grandmother." Honami said, smiling. Sasuke smirked. He had half expected to hear a 'I want to be Hokage' line from her. Sasuke looked over to Takuma and his son dipped his head.

"My name is Takuma Uchiha, son of Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. I like training with my little brother and being with my family. I dream of helping continue the Uchiha clan name and rebuilding it. I want to be a shinobi so that I can become as strong and feared as my Uchiha ancestors before me." Takuma said. Sasuke wanted to smile proudly at his son's proclamation but he knew that the boy didn't know how grandiose his dream was. Sasuke briefly pictured an older Takuma in his head, standing above Konoha, the red glow of the Sharingan in his eyes. The thought brought fear and excitement to Sasuke.

When his head had cleared, Sasuke's eyes then shifted to Shōgo, who flinched under the Uchiha's gaze.

"Oh..uh, my name is Shōgo Kazuma. I like music and reading. I hate being underestimated because I'm not a member of a famous clan...no offense. One of my dreams is to become an elite warrior protecting the Fire Daimyō as a member of the Twelve Guardian Ninja. I want to become a shinobi because I want to be able to protect my family." Shōgo said. Sasuke nodded.

A loser with a dream. Just like Naruto had been.

"What about you, sensei?" Honami asked. Shōgo nodded.

"Yeah! Tell us about you. I wanna hear it all!" Shōgo said excitedly. No, you don't. Sasuke thought. Takuma sat in silence, watching his father. Sasuke closed his eyes.

"Right now, the only thing you need to know about me is that I have high expectations for all of you. I can guarantee you that no favoritism will be showed to any student. If you work hard and don't slack off, you might just make it as shinobi. Otherwise, don't waste my time or yours." the Uchiha said. Honami nodded while Shōgo looked pitifully crestfallen. Takuma sat still and quiet. Sasuke had given the same talk to him and Kichiro when they started training.

After the brief silence, Sasuke spoke again. "Now...for your first mission." he said. His young students' eyes widened as stared at him.

"M-mission?" Shōgo asked. Sasuke stood to his feet, forming a single hand seal. Takuma stepped forward and touched Sasuke's flak jacket, turning to his teammates after he had made contact.

"Come on. If you touch him during the Body Flicker, you'll go with him." he told them. Quickly, Honami and Shōgo hopped to their feet and rushed to Sasuke's side, grabbing onto him. With the increased number of bodies, Sasuke released more chakra and instantly the four sped through the air. Sasuke stopped above a clearing. As his students recovered from the trip, Sasuke looked around and smirked.

This was the exact same area Kakashi had tested Team 7. Sasuke pulled the two bells from his pocket and let them jingle in his hands. When his students had recovered from the Body Flicker trip, Sasuke cleared his throat. He had been assembling what kind of situation to put his students in all night. He hoped he had created a good one.

"As shinobi, some of your missions may involve you having to retrieve classified information from an enemy, often in the form of scrolls." Sasuke raised his hand up, letting the bells collide and jingle. "These two bells are two scrolls that must be retrieved from me. You have ten minutes to get them from me. If you can't retrieve them in the allotted time, I will then drop the bells in random places in the forest and you will have until noon to get them and bring them to this clearing. Just be warned...I will be watching you." Sasuke said, folding his arms. "Is the mission clear?" he asked.

"Yes sir!" his students replied. Sasuke smirked. Only Takuma had any idea what kind of hell the genin were in for. With that, the Uchiha dipped his head.

"Good. The time starts...now."

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