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sasuke and the baby: or, how to raise a child when you're only eight

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“Am I… the only one left?” Sasuke asks the Hokage, even though he thinks he already knows the answer. All those bodies, all that blood…

The Hokage smiles at that, which like, what? “Actually… no.”

Sasuke’s basically been dissociating since he woke up, which is probably why he didn’t notice one of the Anbu holding a bundle of blankets. The masked figure steps forward and presents the bundle to Sasuke. He stares for a second, and takes it.

It’s a baby.

What.

“Two days ago, we had Uchiha Himeko pass away after childbirth. She was a single mother, and didn’t particularly have anyone – she was cremated, as per her wishes, and we were about to contact your Father to see who would take custody of her child, or if it would go to the orphanage. Itachi must have not known it existed.”

Sasuke stares at the sleeping baby. Its eyes are closed, cheeks puffy but not the usual pallor of Uchiha – the father must have not been an Uchiha, given its slightly darker skin. There’s just the tiniest puff of black hair on the top of its head. Carefully, gently, Sasuke pokes its cheek with a finger, but it doesn’t stir.

“Does it have a name?” he asks, and the Hokage shakes his head.

“No – she passed on before she could give it one. It’s up to you, I suppose.”

Up to-

Oh, oh my god, Sasuke is in charge of this baby. This baby is the last of the Uchiha clan along with him (because That Man doesn’t count) and Sasuke is in charge of caring for it and making sure it eats and lives and-

...He has no idea how to take care of a baby.

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He doesn’t name the baby.

Sasuke has no idea what to name the baby, and it feels weird and wrong to do it, so he doesn’t. The baby is just ‘the baby’ – it’s not like it NEEDS a name yet, anyway.

He has the infant in a sling across his chest, and he’s not sure where the ANBU got it from but he also doesn’t want to ask, so he just. Carries the baby home.

“Are you sure you don’t want to live somewhere else, Sasuke?” the Hokage had asked, but Sasuke thinks the idea is so. Bizarre. Why would he want to live anywhere else other than the clan compound.

But then he walks inside and he feels like the whole place reeks of blood. The scent of copper hits his nose, hits his the back of his mouth, and he crumples, falls to his knees just within the wall of the compound.

They’re all dead, they’re all gone, and he can’t- he can’t-

There’s a quiet gurgle from his chest, a quiet whine, and he opens his eyes to look down at the infant hanging across his chest.

“Right,” he says. “Right. Sorry.”


But he doesn’t know how to take care of a baby. Doesn’t know how to feed it or clothe it or change it and it’s not like there’s books or classes on this, right?

Sasuke knows of one person who can help him, though.

He knocks sharply on the door, uncaring that it’s late, and he’s greeted by the bleary, just-woken-up face of the man he’s seeking. “Iruka-sensei,” he says. “How do you be a parent?”

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Iruka-sensei takes Sasuke shopping.

It's really late and honestly Sasuke didn't think there'd be any stores open this late, but ninja DO have weird hours so he guesses it makes sense. Sasuke pushes the cart and the baby burbles on his chest and Iruka puts a ton of stuff in the cart. Bottles, food, toys, diapers... "There's probably some of this in the clan compound," Sasuke says.

Iruka-sensei gives him a look that Sasuke can't quite read. "Do you want me to help you look through?" he asks cautiously.

Oh.

Yeah, maybe they have them there, but to have to look through-

Sasuke shakes his head and Iruka-sensei nods and keeps adding stuff.

The total is enough at the cashier that it makes his teacher wince, but Sasuke pulls out his little wallet and pays for it. Iruka-sensei tries to protest, but Sasuke doesn't meet his eyes. "Nobody else is gonna use it," he says, and that's enough to stop his teacher from saying more.

They bundle all the stuff into bags and drag it back to Iruka-sensei's little apartment and his teacher sighs. "Have you fed... him? her? yet?" he asks.

Sasuke doesn't respond to half the question and just shakes his head. "No."

Iruka-sensei squints at him. "Have... you eaten yet?"

Sasuke shakes his head again. "No." He sees where this is going, though. "But I'm not hungry."

"Well," Iruka-sensei says after a minute. "I'm hungry. I'm going to heat up some instant ramen - will you eat some if I do? I don't want to eat while you're sitting here without anything."

He carefully doesn't point out that it's a ridiculous hour in the morning and that he woke Iruka-sensei up from being asleep and he's really not that stupid, Iruka-sensei, he's the smartest student you have and nods instead. "Okay."

"Good." He's relieved there isn't more of a fight. "I'll go put some on, Sasuke, and then I'll show you how to feed the baby."

"Okay," Sasuke says again. He knew going to Iruka-sensei was a good idea.

Iruka-sensei has to deal with kids every day for the rest of his life - there's no WAY he wouldn't have known what to do.

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Iruka-sensei shows Sasuke how to feed the baby. How to warm up the formula and test to make sure it’s not too hot and how to gently tuck the top of the bottle into the baby’s mouth and then burp it afterwards.

Sasuke’s pretty sure the baby can’t see. He’s never been around a baby before but he has been around baby kittens and he sort of thinks it’s like the same thing?

Babies are supposed to eat a lot, though, and he doesn’t think he’s gonna get to sleep a lot. And he’s not looking forward to changing diapers, which his teacher kindly showed him how to do.

Iruka-sensei hesitates. “Do you… want to spend the night here, Sasuke?” he asks quietly as he washes the dishes, and Sasuke’s ramen sits heavy in his stomach at the question. “It’s late, you don’t have to walk home by yourself if you don’t-“

“No,” Sasuke says, pushing himself up out of his chair and grabbing his bags. “Thank you for the meal, Iruka-sensei, but I can do this myself.”

He leaves and doesn’t let his teacher’s quiet protests sway him.


Sasuke has a bed in his bedroom, but he has a futon in his closet and he unrolls it carefully because he and the baby are going to sleep on the floor together.

They lay together, the baby right up close by his chest. “I’ll take good care of you,” Sasuke says, because he will. “You’ll be strong so he can’t-“ He can’t even finish his words, can’t even think of- of- of this baby going the way every other Uchiha went, and the boy reaches out to place a hand on the baby’s chest, feeling the beating of his heart.

The baby opens its mouth just a little bit, one arm wiggling and it latches onto one of Sasuke’s fingers. Its grip is strong, tight, and it won’t let Sasuke pull away.

He smiles.

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Taking care of a baby is really hard.

Sasuke’s glad he went to Iruka-sensei – he does carefully change the diapers and feed the baby and barely ends up getting enough sleep. It’s a good thing he’s not going to school for a bit because the Hokage said he didn’t have to “until he was ready”. Sasuke’s pretty sure the Hokage means when he’s feeling better about- That Stuff, but Sasuke’s just going to pretend it’s not that.

It’s like maternity leave. Paternity leave? Fraternity leave, he doesn’t know, something like that.

(He has no idea what kind of relationship he’s gonna have with the baby and he’s really glad he’s got time to figure all that out. Maybe he can just be Sasuke.)

He wakes up every few hours and feeds it and sometimes changes it and sometimes walks around the house with it and pats its back gently until it lets out a little quiet baby burp. It spits up and he cleans it up patiently and he thinks wow, babies are really hard.

This baby is gonna be his only baby, Sasuke decides. He doesn’t know why his parents wanted two and why some parents want even more. Just one is really hard and that’s even though the baby is really good and quiet and he has nothing else to do aside from sleep right next to the baby.

Sasuke makes sure he eats. He eats when the baby does, except not a lot of food because the baby eats a lot, and he’s kinda glad that Iruka-sensei gave him a lot of food. It had been so many bags, too many bags to carry them all by himself but ANBU helped him carry the rest and then disappeared the moment they were all in the house.

Well, one of them had looked to Sasuke, almost as if asking if he needed help, but Sasuke Did Not Want Help And Does Not Want Help and told them to go. (Asking Iruka-sensei’s different. He’s his teacher, he’s supposed to teach Sasuke things.)

Sasuke doesn’t really keep track of days and doesn’t really know how long it’s been just because his sleep schedule is really really funny, so the knock on the door, around the middle of the day, surprises him. The baby burbles in its sling on his chest, one of Sasuke’s fingers in its little fists, and Sasuke eyes the door with distrust.

When there’s another knock, more impatient this time, he gets up and answers the door. It’s… two of his classmates?

Yamanaka stands on the doorstep, blinking wide eyes at him, while one of the other girls… whose name he doesn’t actually remember but has really bright pink hair he definitely remembers stands, halfway tucked behind her. “Sasuke!” she announces, loud and bright. “We brought your homework!” There’s a bunch of papers in her hands, but her eyes are glued on his chest.

“Is… is that a baby?” the pink-haired girl asks quietly, and just like that, his solitude is over.

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Both of the girls end up inside. Sasuke doesn’t exactly invite them in but he doesn’t shove them away, either – mostly cause he’s tired and Yamanaka is a force of nature – and they end up all sitting on the floor in his kitchen, homework discarded on the table.

The girls gather beside him and coo as if they’ve never seen a baby before in their life. “Who is he? She?” Yamanaka asks, reaching out and letting the baby snag her finger. The other girl – who Yamanaka had called ‘Sakura’ – giggles.

Sasuke Doesn’t Want To Talk About It but. “An Uchiha mother died in the hospital giving birth, right before-“

He doesn’t quite finish but both of the girls know what he’s talking about and their smiles slip away for a moment. Sakura speaks up, now. “Is… is the baby a boy or a girl?”

Sasuke stares at her, bone tired and weary. “What?”

She shrinks back as if scolded, bright red, and Yamanaka frowns at him. “Don’t be mean, Sasuke! Is the baby a boy or a girl?”

Sasuke turns his gaze onto her. “Dunno,” he says. “Does it matter?”

Yamanaka glances at Sakura in confusion, but something in Sakura brightens up a little bit and she smiles at Sasuke, full-force beaming. It’s like the sun. He feels like he needs to squint. “No,” she says quietly. “It doesn’t matter. What’s their name?”

He stares again. “…Baby?”

“Babies need names!” Yamanaka yells, scowling, and smacks him on the head and that’s how she rapidly shifts from Yamanaka to Ino and a massive pain in his butt.

Great, he’s doomed.

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They refuse to leave until Sasuke promises to think about what he's gonna name them, so he promises and thinks about it for five seconds and decides the baby doesn't need a name right now. It doesn't understand anything anyway. It's a BABY.

When he feels better and not like he's hollow and his insides have been scooped out with a spoon, he'll look through the Clan registry and pick out a name from there, but right now even thinking about that makes him feel like he's gonna hurl so he Stops That Thought Right There.

Instead, he feeds the baby and he works on his homework when it falls asleep.

He needs... Sasuke abandons his current question, tapping his pencil on his lip. He needs to keep practicing. Not fall behind. It's easier said than done when he's got the baby. He... guesses he could ask someone to watch them for just a little. Ino or Sakura or Iruka-sensei or maybe even an ANBU, but that's a temporary thing. That won't work forever. He needs to practice with the baby.

Sasuke glances down at his chest and frowns. The sling won't do - he needs something different. Better. Which means he does need help, since he doesn't know what he's looking for...

---

"Sasuke, I could just watch-" Iruka-sensei says.

"No."

---

He looks down at the baby. The baby looks up at him. (Well - maybe. He's not sure how much the baby actually sees.) "Ready?" he asks, and the baby kind of makes a burbling noise, one of the only noises it makes aside from when it's screaming, and Sasuke will take that as a yes.

Sasuke runs.

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Sasuke runs until the baby starts crying. He’s not sure how long that is – it seemed both really short and really long at the same time, but that’s how every day is now, everything one massive blur and just crystal clear – but it means that he stops and pulls the baby from the little carrier on his chest and jiggles and soothes it until it stops crying and then it goes back on his chest.

He doesn’t run again, though, that’d be stupid. The baby’s diaper is kind of squishy so he should go back and change it anyway.

There’s voices by his house when he walks back.

“Are you SURE this is his house?” one loud, all-too-familiar voice asks.

“Yeah, it smells like him! I’ve gotta good nose, I’m SURE!” says another, equally familiar voice, and Sasuke rounds the corner to see Naruto, Kiba, Nara, and Akimichi standing in front of his house.

He stops for a second. Stares. And then the baby makes a little whining noise on his chest and Kiba whips around and points. “There he is!” he yells, and they’re all crowding around him so quick it’s like they flickered over.

They’re all talking at once, babbling and speaking over each other, and Sasuke wants to slam his hands over his ears but then the baby starts crying again and he glares at them. “Shut up,” he growls, and they all do. He pulls the baby from the carrier and starts to try to soothe it, still glaring. “Did you come here to see the baby?”

“Yeah,” says Nara, at a reasonable volume, squinting at it. “Sakura and Ino said you had one.”

“You saw it,” Sasuke snaps, and at least the baby has stopped loudly crying, but it still seems uncomfortable because too many people and also dirty diaper. “Go now.”

“Aww, come ON!” Naruto yells, because that’s the only volume he has, and the others take up the chorus and Sasuke is literally going to pull a That Man and crazy-murder all of them because the baby starts crying again.

“Fine!” he snaps, having to be loud to be heard over them and then immediately feeling bad because the baby’s right by his mouth. “Just. Go inside. Someone make tea and you can see the baby after I change its diaper.”

Fortunately, none of them really want to stick around to see him do that.