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Sasuke listened numbly to the officer talking to him, collapsed on the edge of the stone wall lining the drive to the manor. There were sirens flashing around him, the wail of alarms deafening, people on the streets gawking, and emergency personnel all around, and he heard only loose words from what the man was saying.

“… arson… we are working on it… don’t know who… no survivors… children… social services.”

Sasuke looked up at the last words, brain compartmentalizing and shutting down on the parts he could not process at the moment, but this was important.

“No,” he said and the officer stumbled over his next words and stared at him, repeating hesitantly,


“I’m their closest living relative, I have a reliable source of income, and I’m fully capable. The kids are staying with me,” Sasuke concluded as he got to his feet and the officer gave him a concerned look.

“You should-”

“Do not presume to know me,” Sasuke interrupted coldly and the officer took a step back in pure reaction then squared his shoulders and calmly replied,

“That’s fine, sir. You will have to come down and make a clear statement regardless. I’ll have social services send a representative down as well to discuss the situation.”

“Hn, good.” Sasuke nodded sharply and turned his back on the buildings that were little more than smouldering ashes and had taken his clan from him, mere days after he had lost his brother and his sister-in-law.

Sasuke stared down at the sleeping babies in the crib, collapsed on the chair beside it in the nursery of his brand-new apartment.

“I guess we are family now, Kazuki, Yasu,” he whispered, reaching down to gently stroke their soft cheeks, still reeling with shock.

“You’ll be a great father, Sasuke,” Sakura murmured quietly from where she was unpacking baby equipment and Sasuke glanced up at his old friend and nodded mutely.

She had taken charge of the newborn’s care the moment he reached her and could string enough words together to tell her what had happened. The hospital had reached out to him as Itachi had listed him as his emergency contact when they were found. The car crash had instantly killed him and his wife, only Itachi’s demand for the very best saving their sons. Sasuke plummeted into grief and immediately canceled all work and flew home from Europe, only taking the time to call Sakura for help. He had meant to just pass by the clan settlement to inform his parents of his decision to raise the boys before he went to the hospital.

It had been ablaze, the fire hardly under control by the fire brigade on site, exhausted smoke-divers returning to report they had found no one alive within the compound.

Sakura pulled him back to the moment by murmuring, not even flinching when harrowed eyes snapped to hers,

“What now?”

Sasuke looked back at his neph- his sons and watched Kazuki put a tiny hand up by his ear, fingers curled tightly, deeply asleep next to his brother. For the moment, it was peaceful.

“I need to hide. I doubt it’s coincidence the whole bloody fucking clan dies within days of each other,” he replied, barely audible, and Sakura nodded and set her hands on her hips, looking around critically.

“Is this a safe place?”

“It’s good enough for a day. I’ll have Shikamaru set up a proper safe-house and then we’ll go underground. Sakura, are you sure? You’ll have to stop your studies,” Sasuke cautioned and the young woman gave him a look.

“I know. Don’t be silly, of course I’ll help out. Medical school will still be around when we’re safe again,” she replied, sinking down on the chair on the other side of the crib, stretching her arms high above her head with a groan.

“And your parents?” Sasuke inquired and Sakura hummed softly, sighing as she relaxed again.

“They’re military too, they’ll understand.”

“Hn,” Sasuke grunted, letting the matter go, sure Sakura knew what she needed to do.

“Should I dye my hair?” Sakura murmured, twirling a lock of pink around her finger, and Sasuke grimaced.

“I really wish we didn’t have to, but it would be preferable. I need to change my wardrobe but I think you’ll be fine,” he reasoned and Sakura nodded.

“I think I’ll go with blues and greens, it’ll be different, that’s for sure. How about you go blond? Or would you prefer brown? And maybe a change in hairstyle would help too,” she mused and Sasuke wanted to groan.


It would be a long time before anything was normal again.