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Into the Fray

Chapter Text


 

Mum…”

Sasuke held the small body against him, wrapping his coat around short legs and arms. “Hm?”

The body started kicking, as all children do during tantrums. He was not hurt or hungry—just tired.

“We’re almost there, Ryuji.” Sasuke’s voice was deep and tired.

The child, Ryuji, softened against his mother’s chest, burying his face in warmth and the familiar sound of a beating heart. Too tired to keep fighting.

Sasuke didn’t like working late at night. He didn’t have many people to look after his house or son, especially on weekends. But this was exam season, and the library he worked at was raising their pay to those who stayed late at night. Libraries in Konoha stayed open 24-7 in exam season. Usually when he had no choice, he would bring Ryuji and let him watch T.V while he worked, but this time it had been more complicated: He had had to move around more and stay longer. The poor two year old had fallen asleep in front of the T.V.

It was hard to ignore the questioning or judgemental looks from his co-workers. But it was something the Uchiha had gotten used to.

“We’re getting off now, Ryuji.”

The bus stopped and the two year old’s tantrum was re-triggered. Sasuke took both bags and a writhing two year old in his arms, hobbling out of the bus while his son’s face slowly twisted and turned until a familiar cry came out.

“It’s okay.” He hushed. There wasn’t a soft coo in his voice that a lot of mother’s had on TV, but in his own Uchiha way there was the comfort of stability. Everything was okay.

Their apartment was only two streets from the bus stop. But still it unsettled the omega to be walking around in the cold night. The deep snow was not particularly making things easier—up to his knees. He already felt himself losing breathe, even with the little heating they had in their small apartment, Sasuke couldn’t wait to get home.

Ryuji’s head lay against his Sasuke’s shoulder, eyelids heavy. “Mum…” It sounded more like a whine than a word.

“Yes?”

“Wus da’?”

“What’s what?”

Ryuji kicked lazily against Sasuke’s hip. “Dat.”

Walk away.

There was a mass underneath the street light, next to the bench that sat in front of the park. It was dark and wrapped, snow covering it plenty but still little enough to see from a distance. A darkly wrapped object: An extreme juxtaposition the white, snow covered street.

Mum…?”

Fuck.

Sasuke paused. The fright and adrenaline was wearing down and sudden hesitance replacing it. He should call someone. Who? The police?

His first instinct had been to walk away. But it was not in his nature—maybe it was part of his maternal hormones to want to take care of things. Fuck. He turned around, staring at the person again. If it was someone suspicious looking, he would leave—or call the police. But what if it was someone young? A child? Abandoned?

He didn’t live in a rich part of Konoha, and at this time of year there were many young children who were lost or left.

“Mu—

“Shh.” Sasuke slowly and shakily put the child on the bench, holding his hand tightly. “Stay behind me. Don’t do anything.”

The boy watched his mother inspect the bundle of coat and hair, leaning over and eying it from all angles, and then with a shaking hand slowly grabbing it and turning.

Ryuji couldn’t see, but to Sasuke the man on the ground looked young. Had he been drinking? He had the face of someone loud and flashy. Said face was sick looking, weak and frost covered. How long had been here? Apart from his weak state and worrisome situation, Sasuke could only think about the person’s aroma. The omega could smell clearly that the person on the ground was an alpha.

Mu—

Shh!” Sasuke hushed.

He hesitantly opened the man’s coat, looking for a phone or a wallet. There were four pockets: Three were empty except one which held only a wallet. When opened, there were no contacts in it, money or information. The only thing inside it was a photo of a child.

The child was tan, brown eyes and brown hair, with a big grin. He looked eight years old, and it was only after feeling the small hand in his started to shake that the omega realised how long he’d been staring at it.

He was about to close the wallet when he noticed there was a corner peaking behind the photo of the boy. Clumsily Sasuke tugged at it, revealing another photo. This photo looked ripped at the edges; edited to fit in the wallet. It was a photo of the same boy, except this time he was with someone else. The boy stood grinning—laughing, and next to him stood a tall boy with blond hair and blue eyes, arm tightly around the younger one. They were smiling.

 “Mum…?” Ryuji’s voice cracked, readying a cry.


 

Sasuke took the bottle of milk and shook it, evening out the temperature.

“Ryuji, stay in your room.” He called.

His son’s room was directly across from his. The apartment complex was fundamentally small, apart from the bathroom there were only two closed rooms. Sasuke’s bedroom and Ryuji’s, both were small. The lounge room was a small space with a small TV and kotatsu. The small kitchen lay directly across from it.

Ryuji’s bedroom involved a small futon, multiple blankets and pillows, a few posters and a tub of books and another of toys.

However, on cold nights he slept in the same room as his mother.

“Here,” Sasuke gave the bottle to the child. “Did you poo your diaper?”

Ryuji drank the milk quietly, tiredly letting Sasuke strip and change him.

Sasuke pulled off the boys pants, taking a quick sniff of the diaper. He swiftly changed the diaper, putting thick pyjama pants on, and pulling shirt off. Ryuji was not always so calm during this process, but the long and cold night had gotten to the boy. He lifted each arm patiently while Sasuke slipped on the pyjama shirt and buttoned it up.

Sasuke’s room had a futon, drawers for clothes and drawers for files, a small book shelf and a window. “Are you done?”

The boy rubbed his eyes, holding out a half empty bottle of milk.

Sasuke took the bottle, watching the boy crawl under blankets. “Do you want your pacifier?” After no reply, he left.

Sasuke went to the lounge room, and to the stranger in his house. He took the persons shoes off. They were dirty, smelly and over used. He made a mental note to wash them. He also took the dirty and wet coat off, revealing a fairly toned body. Unsurprising, he thought. He covered the boy in three, thick blankets and turned on the portable heater next to him.

Sasuke rarely used the portable heater, except for Ryuji either to sleep next to on cold nights or on particularly cold days. However Ryuji was sleeping in Sasuke’s bed tonight.

Sasuke tried not to notice the marks of violence on the person. The scrapes and bruises on his arm, neck and most evidently his face. It was worst on his arms and neck, but the markings on the face unsettled him the most.

After making sure the comatose person was clean, covered and breathing. Sasuke turned the lights off and went back to his room.


 

Ryuji started crying at precisely 6am, as per usual.

Sasuke dragged his heavy body up, rubbing his face and eyes, particularly hard. “I’m up.”

Mornings were hardest in winter. Usually these times Sasuke would let the toddler watch TV and then sleep in the lounge room. But things were a bit different with a stranger in their house, so Sasuke decided to get up and eat.

There weren’t a lot of things on TV at this time, but usually Ryuji would be happy with whatever as long as there were bright colours or cartoons. Sasuke chewed on his toast, watching the broadcaster describe the morning news. It was the normal bad stock market, foreign policies, political scandal and an occasional weather update.

Ryuji leaned against the couch, warm under the blanket and drinking his hot milk. He was satisfied enough with the prettiness of the broadcaster to accept the dry program.

The boy from last night still hadn’t woken. There hadn’t been any signs of movement either— apart from slightly twitching in the fingers. His body temperature though had become normal and after some ointment treatment the scraping and bruises on his body were looking better.

The snow outside was still falling heavily and Sasuke tried not to think about leaving for work on the coming Monday.

“Mum’s going to take a shower, okay?”

Ryuji continued to drink his milk.

Sasuke tugged gently at the toddler’s ear for attention. “Mummy’s going to take a shower. If anything happens come straight to mum.”

Ryuji looked long enough to Sasuke to show that he understand, then went back to the TV.

Sasuke showered with the door open, quickly. It was hard to keep showers short when the boiling water felt all but heavenly on him. But after having a baby he’d grown prone to having to do things speedily and effectively.

The shower only took ten minutes. Every two minutes he would peek out the door to get a look at his son and the situation in the lounge room. It was all good.

After cleaning the bathroom and getting dressed, he worked his way back to the lounge room.

Ryuji!”

The boy shook when he heard his mother’s voice. With big eyes he turned to see his mother staring down at him, unhappy.

The toddler had been all but standing over their guest’s face, inspecting, pinching and poking like he would a new toy or animal.

“What are you doing?”

Ryuji stared up at him monotone.

Sasuke took his hand and lead him around. “Don’t do that.” He turned back to the person on the floor, holding his son’s hand he stared at the face Ryuji had been poking.

Strong jaw, olive skin and three lines on each cheek he hadn’t noticed before.

Scars?


 

“Do you want anything to drink?”

“Do you have any coffee?” Sasuke asked.

“I meant alcohol.” Suigetsu leaned on his couch.

Sasuke raised a brow. “You drink while you take care of your kids?”

“No.” Suigetsu said, lifting the cup to his mouth. “…Only a little. Like when mother’s drink wine or something.”

Sasuke had picked Ryuji up from day-care and stopped to visit Suigetsu on the way back. Suigetsu’s son was also two years old. They had met through day-care. Their personalities were not something Sasuke had imagined forming a friendship, but they had both been one of the few omegas’ there, and the only two without partners.

“I’ll just have coffee.”

Suigetsu shrugged, moving to the kitchen of his small apartment.

Akio was only one month older than Ryuji, yet smaller. He had light coloured hair and dark eyes. Similar enough to look like his mother to know he was Suigetsu’s, and yet there were dissimilarities. Their personalities were so different. It was a stretch to assume you could tell a child’s personality from such a young age, but even at that age Sasuke knew he would grow to be very different from his mother. Akio was slow and hesitant, curios and quiet. So unlike his mother. It always made Sasuke think about what sort of person his father had been.

The two children played with their toy cars together, gliding them across the ground and making noises. Sometimes throwing a car at each other, but never crying or fighting. Suigetsu didn’t have many toys, so more often than not Sasuke would find himself sharing his son’s toys with Akio. They were easy to get along. Both were alphas.

“Did you go to the meetings at the day-care?” Suigetsu asked.

“Which ones?”

“The one’s where they talk about how your kids doing.”

“Yes.” Sasuke said. “Did you?”

Suigetsu came back with coffee, placing it in front of Sasuke. “Yeah, what did they say for Ryuji?”

“They told me he was average for everything, although sometimes he got into fights with other kids and had trouble sharing.”

Suigetsu took a sip from his cup. “They told me Akio was almost below average in everything.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Like communication and all of that shit.” Suigetsu said. “Also he can’t make friends.”

“What did you say?”

“I said he didn’t have trouble with communication or anything else when he was at home. I think he’s just shy, that’s why he can’t make friends either.”

Sasuke glanced at the light haired child. He was rolling one of the cars into the kitchen counter repeatedly. “Are you worried?”

“No,” Suigetsu cooed with a shrug. “He’s just like his dad.”

“His dad was shy?”

“Extremely.” Suigetsu said. “Quiet is an understatement.”

Sasuke didn’t know anything about Akio’s father, and he didn’t ask. “Are you going to be going into heat soon?”

The question took Suigetsu aback. He raised a brow and said “no, are you?”

“I think in a few weeks.” Sasuke said, drinking his coffee.

“Are you worried?”

“Hn.”

“Do you need extra medicine?” Suigetsu asked. “I have some.”

“No, it’s okay.” Sasuke didn’t have much left, but felt guilty taking another’s. It wasn’t cheap.

“Did something happen?” Suigetsu asked after a moment. Sasuke seemed more quiet than usual—which was saying something.

“There’s an alpha in my house.” His voice was so quiet Suigetsu almost didn’t hear.

“What?!”

Both toddlers paused and turned to their respective mother’s.

“What?!” Suigetsu repeated.

Sasuke felt the heat rise in his neck. “It’s not what you think… I found him.”

“You found him?” Suigetsu asked. “Where? At a shelter?”

Both children turned back to each other and continued playing.

“No.” Sasuke said. “He was… passed out… Near my apartment while I was walking home.”

Suigetsu remained quiet, waiting.

Sasuke continued. “It was late at night, and you know how heavy the snow was. He looked about my age… And he didn’t seem… Dangerous.”

“So you took him to your apartment?” Suigetsu asked.

“… Yes.”

One of the best things about Suigetsu was that he wasn’t as judgement as others were. “What was a twenty year old doing passed out in the middle of winter?” He muttered. “Was he drunk?”

“I don’t think he was drunk.” Sasuke said. “I think something happened to him.”

Akio was now laughing, running the car up Ryuji’s leg while Ryuji rubbed his own toy car on Akio’s face.

“I rescued him a few days ago. He still hasn’t awoken.” Sasuke said.

Suigetsu drank from his cup slowly. “Was that why you were asking about the heat?”

Sasuke didn’t reply.

“You should probably be careful…” Suigetsu said. “On the bright side if he’s injured it doesn’t matter if he’s dangerous or not, he won’t be able to do anything to you. Kick him out as soon as he wakes up.”


 

“Yes, yes I know.” Sasuke watched the eggs boil in the pan.

The voice on the other line was all but white noise to him. It just kept repeating the same thing over and over. “We’re sorry about this delay. We’ve been looking into it, what’s your last name again?”

“Uchiha.”

“Right.”

The government gave extra pay to omegas with children but without partners. His pay hadn’t come through for the last two weeks and Sasuke had tried calling at least ten times before they had finally answered.

He could hear Ryuji’s faint car noises in the background. The two year old was waddling around the apartment with his toy car, running it on every and any surface he could while making brumming noises.

“How many weeks has your pay not arrived?”

“Two.” He’d already told them five times.

Right…” He heard the tapping of a keyboard. “There have been some communication problems with the head office so it might take a while to get to him. How long have you been without an alpha?”

“I’ve never been with.” Sasuke pulled the phone from his mouth. “Ryuji! Don’t run the car across the TV screen.” He turned the stove off, making sure the eggs were cooked fully.

The brumming noises stopped for a second then restarted with Ruji running the car on the table.

“How many jobs do you work?” The voice asked.

“Two.”

Right.”

Ryuji continued running the car across the table and onto the floor. It was his favourite one and the one he never let Akio borrow: A yellow Lamborghini. Ryuji didn’t think of his toy cars as vehicles or transportation, more so aliens or animals: Animals with metal bodies and brumming noises. He imagined them in packs or herds of all colours and sizes, going through the valleys and onto roads.

Across the floor, past the TV, back around the Kotatsu, past the stranger, onto the stranger, on his feet, across his legs, chest, neck, face. Ryuji made circles on the sleeping person’s face with the car. On the cheek, forehead, other cheek, chin, up the nose once, and continue the cycle brumming.

“Uchiha.” Sasuke repeated. “You’ve already asked multiple times.”

“Right, I’m sorry. Have you emailed our director?

“I don’t have a computer.”

“Right. Well, we have options for people in situations like yours. I’m not sure why your money has been delayed by two weeks—

Sasuke pulled the phone away from his ear. “Ryuji?” The brumming noises had stopped.

Ryuji stood above the face of the guest on the floor. Sasuke was about to scold him again when the toddler turned around with curios eyes, revealing behind him bright blue eyes.


 

Chapter Text


 


“Do you know how long you’ve been asleep?”

Naruto watched him cook in the kitchen— he didn’t even remember the last time he ate. The apartment he was in was small, and frankly a place Naruto hadn’t expected to wake up. Well, he hadn’t really expected to wake up at all, really.

Dark eyes turned to look at him; the blond shook his head softly as answer, and the omega went back to stirring the curry. Naruto watched the toddler quietly chew on an egg, open mouthed and wonky, as children do. This omega had a son.

The son had dark hair and pale skin. However his eyes were a weird brown that he knew belonged to someone not to his mother.

“Do you remember where you were before you woke?” The omega’s voice was soft and monotone, like a nurse.

The blond shook his head.

“Do you have anywhere to go?”

Another shake.

Sasuke turned back to the kitchen. The curry cooked readily on the stove, boiling and bubbling as the heat turned into steam above it. He reached into the cupboard, pulling out a juice box and opening the straw.

Naruto sat at the kotatsu, legs crossed, blanket wrapped around him and portable heater behind.

“Here,” The omega put the set juice box in front of the toddler. “Do you want something to drink?” He asked Naruto.

Nod.

“Do you want tea?”

Nod.

The toddler sat on the flat couch bed, staring at Naruto and drinking his juice box. Naruto wanted to say ‘what?’

“Here,” Sasuke set the tea in front of him.

Naruto watched him set the cup down, collar leaning forward revealing smooth pale skin and a visible collar bone. The omega was pale, slim and dark haired. He must’ve been popular in high school, Naruto thought, suddenly self-conscious of his smelly, dirty and weak physical state.

The girls must’ve hated him.

His eyes moved back to the tea, nodding a thank you.

The blond remembered waking up to the sound of toddler noises. The first thing he had seen when he opened his eyes were two big brown eyes staring down at him. He hadn’t been so confused waking up to someone staring at him since high school.

His throat felt on fire, it all felt inflamed, dry and tight. Every time he tried to speak his throat burned and would end up with a coughing fit. He quietly drank his tea. It felt burning and good.

“The curry is finished, but it’s still too hot to eat. It’ll be okay to eat in twenty minutes.”

The omega put the toddler’s empty juice box in the trash, and then moved over to the lounge room. He took the dirty coat Naruto had been wearing from the floor, spreading it and folding it. “Are you going to take a bath?” He checked the tag: Medium-Large.

Naruto nodded thankfully. A bath sounded great.

“Okay, everything you need is in the bathroom. Shampoo, soap, etc. I’m going to go buy you a change of clothes. I should be half an hour.”


 

Everything hurt. His pride still had trouble letting him show that side in front of his host. After the omega left, he stood up and felt an instant pain in his shoulders. Fuck.

He rolled his shoulders back and forth, hearing the cracks. And then another few when he stretched his neck, back and arms. Luckily, none of his bones were broken.

Naruto stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. He looked like hell.

There were bruises all over his arm, up his neck and markings around his face. He looked like he’d fallen off of a cliff. Slowly undressing himself, he started to realise how he had lost weight. It wasn’t exactly a lot of weight, but he was used to being strong and muscular. Now he looked only like the remnants of an athlete. The muscles were there, but he could feel them softening. Damn.

There was also scruff on his face he didn’t like. His hair was light, so it hadn’t been that noticeable before. But when he ran a hand over his mouth and cheek he could feel the prickles of growing hair. Great.


 

Sasuke let Ryuji waddle into the apartment as soon as he opened the door. He hated shopping for clothes, it was even more awkward when cashier’s and pretty much anyone who saw could tell the clothes weren’t for him. Sasuke flushed at the memory of having to choose the underwear.

Ryuji waddled into the lounge room, turning the TV on and shoving his lollipop into his mouth.

“Be careful, Ryuji.” Sasuke put the bags of shopping on the kitchen counter, pulling out the sweatpants, shirt, jumper and packet of underwear.

He knocked on the door of the bathroom. “I bought you a change of clothes. I also bought you a razor and shaving cream—in case you’d want it.” It took Sasuke a moment to remember that the person in the bathroom couldn’t speak. “I’m coming in now.”

Naruto watched dark eyes hesitantly peek through the door way. After assessing Naruto’s seemingly nonchalant face, Sasuke slowly entered, placing the clothes folded next to his towel.

He was about to leave when a violent cough stopped him. It was something similar to an ‘uh’ gone horribly wrong.

Dark eyes turned back to the bath. “Do you need something?”

Naruto looked at him with a tight mouth. He lay in the tub of water, arms folded and face turning colour.

“Do you need something?” Sasuke repeated.

Naruto glanced at the door, then slowly nodded.

Sasuke looked him up and down. “…Are you stuck?”

Naruto’s face turned bright red and he bit his lips. Nod.

Sasuke took off his coat, and grabbed a towel, ignoring his guest’s embarrassment.

Naruto had been all but fine, getting into the tub and washing his hair. But when he had tried to lift himself, his arms hadn’t been able to support his body. He hadn’t eaten in a long time. He was tired, and hungry.

Sasuke wrapped the blondes arm around his shoulder. Thick arms, he noticed.

“Can you walk?”

Naruto felt like a crippled mess, but nodded.

“The curry is ready. Can you get dressed by yourself?”

Another nod.

“Okay.” Sasuke nodded. He avoided eye contact and when Naruto was safely out of the bath he quietly left.


 

“I wish I married rich.” Suigetsu said. “Or had a baby by a rich alpha, lock him on child support.”

Sasuke leant back into the soft couch. He’d just finished his shift at work and would have to pick up Ryuji soon from day-care. “Hn.”

“Do you wanna watch a movie or something?” Suigetsu asked. “Akio is at day-care too. He had like three tantrums today before I took him.”

“No,” Sasuke said. “I just want some tea.”

Suigetsu boiled some tea for the Uchiha. “How’s everything in your life?”

“Hn.”

Hn?” Suigetsu mocked. “Nothing? What about that homeless person in your house?”

“He woke up.”

Suigetsu turned. “And?”

“And?”

“Did you kick him out?”

Sasuke was quiet for a moment. “He’s injured.”

Suigetsu rolled his eyes, too tired to be outraged. He’d just finished his own shift—unlike Sasuke he wasn’t privileged enough for a library job. He worked in a factory. After pouring the tea into a cup and giving it to Sasuke, he took rest on the couch again. “How injured? Can he walk?”

“Sort of.” Sasuke said. “I had to help him out of the bath.”

Suigetsu almost choked on his spit. “What?!”

Sasuke took a sip from his tea.

Wait—you saw him naked?!” Suigetsu whispered the last word.

“… Have you no shame?” Sasuke muttered, embarrassed.

“Shut up! Did you see him naked or not?!”

“…Yes.”

“…Well?” Suigetsu asked. “What was he like?”

Sasuke fidgeted with the handle of the cup. “I didn’t look.”

Suigetsu looked like he wanted to throw his drank at the Uchiha. He rolled his eyes and leant back into the couch. “I don’t get it. Why are you even keeping him in your house?”

“He doesn’t have anywhere to go.” Sasuke said.

So?!”

“It’s winter.”

“There’s probably a homeless shelter somewhere.”

“You’re so cruel.” Sasuke muttered.

Suigetsu crossed his arms, and with a sigh stared at the window. “What if he’s not even injured?”

“You always think the worst.” Sasuke said.

Suigetsu glanced at Sasuke with a patronizing stare, and then stood up, walking to the open window and pulling out the cigarette case and lighter he kept on there. “You’re so naïve sometimes.”

“You keep those in the open with Akio around?” Sasuke asked.

“He can’t reach.”

Sasuke had almost finished high school with flying colours when he had had Ryuji. The Uchiha had always been good at school, and if he had never gotten pregnant he would probably be in university right now. University was never something he was obsessed about, it was just something that had been rooted into his mind through his parents. This happens, then this comes. He held no resentment towards his son. University had been something he had been able to give up surprisingly easily. Almost like a relief.

Suigetsu on the other hand, had dropped out of school a while before he had had his son. Sasuke didn’t know much, and he didn’t like to pry. It was the manners that had also been rooted in him that made him hesitant to ask. But there were moments and times Suigetsu almost provoked questions from Sasuke, like he wanted to be asked.

All Sasuke knew was his friend had dropped out of high school, done some bad things, had some bad boyfriends, and eventually had gotten pregnant. Now he was clean… at least by his standards.

“What’s he like?” Suigetsu asked.

“Who?”

Suigetsu turned to him, blowing the smoke out. “Do you even know anything about him?”

“His name is Naruto.”

Through pen and paper, he had been able to find answers from the blond. He hadn’t wanted to ask the blond a lot, since he was visibly tired but he’d been able to have him write certain things down. His name: Uzumaki Naruto. Age: Twenty. Job: None.

“How long are you going to keep him in your house?” Suigetsu asked.

“I don’t know.”

His throat still hurt, but it was getting to the point where he was being able to say certain sentences and speak properly. He was improving.

“Are you using him for when your heat comes up?”

No.”

Suigetsu exhaled more smoke. “How long are you going to keep him, really?”

Sasuke was quiet, and then, “Maybe until the end of winter.”

Why?”

“He could die. When spring comes, he’ll be able to leave, and he’ll be safer… Besides…”

“Besides?”

“Nothing.”

The truth was he felt safer with an alpha in his house. There was some instinct inside the omega that gave him satisfaction to feed, care and be in the presence of an alpha. It was something Sasuke was not proud of, and definitely not willing to admit.

Omegas were under a lot of threat in society, especially around their heat. Often times they were seen as nothing but fetishes, or knock offs. History could detail stories about omegas being used to bear children for other couples then being left to die. Even in this age, he didn’t feel a hundred per cent safe. Deep down in his stomach, something felt relaxed with the alpha alongside him—near him.


 

Sasuke sat at the small kitchen table, sewing bells onto the ends of green socks. His day-care was having a themed get together for toddlers in a week, and he didn’t have the money to buy a good costume. He would sow the bells onto the socks, and then pull the socks over some flat shoes. The rest would be easy, and his son would be a cute elf. He was keen to take the pictures.

You like car?”

Naruto looked at brown eyes—why were they always looking at him so widely. “Eh?”

Carrr…” Ryuji repeated, lifting up his toy car.

“Oh.” Naruto said. “Yeah, I do.” By the end of the week Naruto was able to say full sentences without his throat giving in. Though his voice was still deeper and very raspy, he was audible, as long as he didn’t try to be too loud.

Ryuji’s face visibly lit. He quickly waddled away, flailing his arms like a chicken.

“He’s going to bring you one of his toys.” Sasuke said. The omega had become more lenient with how close the toddler was to the blond.

It was a bit intimidating and nervous for Naruto to have the omegas surveying eyes following every movement any time the toddler approached him—but that was mostly for the first few nights he had awoken. In general the Uchiha was still pretty suspecting, and was only really calm if they were in his presence, understandably.

Ryuji waddled back in with a toy car in each hand.

The phone rang in the background. Sasuke picked it up. “Hello?”

“Nice.” Naruto said.

Ryuji held them both out, excitedly. “Whi—ch one?”

Naruto looked between them. One was blue and the other red. “Red one.”

Ryuji gave him the blue one, putting the red one on the kotatsu. “Look.” He took out his own yellow car and ran it across the couch bed. “I like cars.” He mumbled.

“Yeah?” Naruto ran his own car across the couch bed, following the toddler’s movement.

“When?” He heard Sasuke ask. “Now?”

Ryuji started laughing. Naruto ran his car behind Ryuji’s following the yellow car like a police chase. The toddler waved his arm up and down in excitement, giggling and swinging the car away from Naruto’s as fast as he could.

“Okay.” Sasuke said. “Bye.—Ryuji!”

The toddler stopped mid movement and turned.

“Akio is going to come over for a bit, okay? Pack up the food wrappers.”

Suigetsu arrived precisely ten minutes after the call. He walked into the apartment as if it was his own, child in one arm and a bag in the other. “Hey, sorry about this.”

“It’s fine.” He put the toddler down. Akio looked around slowly, inspecting and searching for his friend. He met eyes with Ryuji who was sitting beside the portable heater. They both stared at each other for a moment, and then away. Akio didn’t move, keeping one hand on the pant leg of his mother. “I’m only going to be around an hour or two. That’s fine, yeah?”

“Yes. Is it work?”

“Something like that?” Suigetsu said. He gently pulled his son’s hand off of him, and then bent down. “Mummy’ll be back soon, kay?”

The toddler stared up at his mother, unmoving and quiet. Okay.

Suigetsu stood back up, running a hand through his son’s hair. “I’ll call you about ten minutes before I come back.” Suigetsu put the bag down in the kitchen. It had some of Akio’s things, certain needs and certain comforts. “Is that him?”

Naruto looked up to see three sets of eyes staring at him: Two omegas and one child.

Sasuke’s face flushed, he pulled on Suigetsu’s sleeve. “You’ll be late.”

The last thing Naruto heard before the door closed was “he’s cute”.


 

Chapter Text


 

Suigetsu walked into the apartment, greeted Sasuke, then with a  grin yelled out. “Where’s my baby?!”

“Su—

Where’s my baabbyy?!”

Akio waddled out of the hall with a pacifier in his mouth and a grin Sasuke hadn’t seen before. He had never seen the toddler so hyped, running to his mother like a penguin to water.

There he is!” Suigetsu swooped up his son. “Have you missed me?!” Suigetsu gently bit onto Akio’s ear and cheek. “Om nom nom. I’ve been hungry!”

Suigetsu was the type to either run around with the toddlers while the mother’s drank, or be the one pouring drinks.

“How was… work?” Sasuke asked.

Suigetsu pulled a still hype two year away from his face, growing tired. “I’ll tell ya later.” Suigetsu picked up the two bags he had brought. “Was he good?”

“He was good.” Sasuke said. “He was very calm and quiet… until you came.”


 

Sasuke pushed the trolley of books across the library floor, stopping into the non-fiction section, and looking through his selection of books. He pulled a book out, carefully assessing the numbering and placing it where it belonged.

The pay was not the best working in a library—which was why he had two jobs—but it was a quiet, peaceful job. He had had to work in retail before and it had been near damn psychotic, all they had been obsessed about was selling their products. And the customers—god.

Sasuke’s trolley was almost empty when he wheeled his way to the manga section. It was one of his favourites, only because the kids were always so young and cute there. He picked through the books, ignoring the group of ten year olds eyeing him.

After making his way back to the desk, he started going through the books that had been brought back from use.

“Excuse-me?”

Sasuke looked up.

“Do you work here?” The boy was tall and strong looking. Mature, in a young, immature way.

“Yes.” Behind him Sasuke caught a glance of a group of boys his age, sitting at a table and staring. When they caught eye of Sasuke’s glance their smiles fell and they went back to each other.

“Yeah,” He leant over the table, closing the distance between them. “Um—I, I’m looking for a biology book.”

“Biology book?”

“Yeah, biology text book.”

He was a university student. The Uchiha pushed aside the books he had been scanning, and logged into the computer in front of him. “Do you know the name of the text book?”

“Uh,” He said. “No…”

Sasuke stared at him. He was good looking—probably popular. He had light brown hair, so light it looked blond under sunlight. But his eyes were brown. An ugly brown that brought him bad memories.

“A second year university biology textbook.” He said.

Sasuke brought his eyes back to the computer. “Okay.”

He typed the words into the search bar, ignoring the eyes which were running themselves over him. “There are three.”

“Huh?”

Sasuke turned the computer screen so that the university boy could see. “Which one do you need?”

He bit his lips at the screen, and then after a moment pointed to the last one on the list. “That one.”

Sasuke turned the screen back and took out a pen from the drawer under the desk. He wrote the bar code of the book on a used receipt and walked around the desk.

The university boy hastily followed Sasuke across the library.

His pace slowed down as they entered the non-fiction section. Sasuke’s eyes scanned the codes on the books. Chemistry. Sciences. Psychology.

“Do you work here a lot?”

“Hn?”

The university boy was half a head taller than Sasuke. “I see you here sometimes. You work here a lot?”

Sasuke looked up at him, then back to the books. “Yes.”

“Oh.”

Sasuke fastened his pace.

“Are you doing anything this weekend?”

“Here.”

“Huh?”

Sasuke held out the biology text book. He repeated, “Here.”

“Oh.”

When they arrived back at the desk, brown eyes watched him scan the textbook and tap on keyboard.

Sasuke politely handed him the textbook, receipt inside. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” He looked like he was about to leave, then after hesitation, asked. “Are you doing anything this weekend?”

The Uchiha felt something twist in his stomach. Anxiety washed over him like a wave ready to drown him. He had never been good in these situations. Fuck.

“Yes.”

“Yeah?” The boy asked. “What about next weekend?”

“… Yes.”

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“…Taking care of my son.”


 

“I have something to tell you later.” Sasuke said.

“You slept with him?”

“What—who?”

“The homeless alpha.”

No!” Sasuke frowned, and with a tut turned his eyes back to the day care centre. Suigetsu and he were both waiting for nap time to end. Sasuke didn’t like to sneak in and take Ryuji while he was sleeping; the toddler always woke up confused and scared in the car or in their apartment.

Suigetsu on the other hand didn’t care. Then again, Akio was a lot more calm and would usually only start crying if he didn’t see his mother. However, in these situations Suigetsu would wait with Sasuke because, why not?

It was their luck they had arrived at similar times.

“Then what?” Suigetsu asked.

They sat outdoor of the centre, on the benches. Only ten more minutes until nap time ended.

“Later.”

“Tell me now!” Suigetsu whined.

“No.”

Suigetsu sighed. “Fine.” Then after a long pause, said “I had sex the other day.”

“What?”

Suigetsu turned to him. “You know, when I left Akio at your apartment cause I had to do something?”

Sasuke frowned. “That was for sex?”

“No!—well… No…” Suigetsu sighed. “Okay, basically there’s this guy at my work who bothers me a lot. He’s a beta—so obviously I’m not interested. But he won’t piss off. He’s been on me for about half a year asking to go out with me and I got so stressed I was like fine, fuck it!” Suigetsu scowled. “I said I’d go on a date with him if he’d leave me alone. I forgot it was scheduled that night though, that’s why I had to drop Akio at your place in a rush.”

“You had sex with him?”

“Yeah. I don’t know. It wasn’t that bad. The date was a drag, I thought he’d leave me alone so I told him let’s just go to the bathroom and get this over and done with.”

“… Did he leave you alone?”

Suigetsu shrugged. “I guess. I mean, he’s married so…”

“Suigetsu!” Sasuke slapped his arm disapprovingly.

“He was the one harassing me, Uchiha.” Suigetsu whispered back. “Anyway, tell me what you wanted to tell me.”

Sasuke looked at the time. Nap time was over. “I’ll tell you later.”


 

“What are you watching?”

It was more satisfying than Sasuke liked to admit to watch the blond splutter. He hadn’t heard Sasuke walk out of the hall and almost kicked the kotatsu his feet were under when turning to look at him.

“Uh—F—ah…– a movie.”

“Ah.”

“Did I wake you?”

“No.” It was past twelve am, and surprisingly hard for Sasuke to fall asleep. He had spent at least an hour rolling around in bed while Ryuji lay next to him, snoring into his pacifier.

Naruto watched the omega crawl under the large blanket and sit against the bed couch. “Is it good?”

Blue eyes ran over him, and then turned back to the TV. Naruto bit his lips, and quietly said. “Not really.”

The movie was a romantic comedy; a movie that had been released a year or two ago which Sasuke knew hadn’t made a lot of money. It wasn’t his type. “You like these movies?”

He seemed surprised, and hesitant, at Sasuke’s question. “Uh, they’re okay… You?”

“No.”

“Oh.” Naruto laughed, deep and throaty.

Sasuke glanced at him. “Is that surprising?”

“No…” Naruto scratched the back of his neck with a grin, muttering something incomprehensible.

The girl on the screen was talking to someone on her phone. She had light bright hair, long and light coloured eyes that looked like they had been edited to be that colour.

“What type of movies do you watch?”

Sasuke glanced at him, surprised by the question. “Thrillers.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“I love thrillers.” Naruto said, grinning.

Sasuke looked at him. Crystal blue eyes. “Really?”

“Yeah—well, more like horror movies… But, I like thrillers…”

Sasuke preferred actions or thrillers in terms of films. He wasn’t too fond of horrors, but preferred them over romances. Maybe it was his own loneliness—which was Suigetsu’s theory—but he just thought romantic films were always corny and overdone. Annoying. “Do you read?”

Naruto leant his head back, embarrassed. “…No…”

“Oh.”

“Do you?”

“Yes.”

“What books do you read?” Naruto asked, listening as the omega listed three names that he’d never heard of.

He liked to read mystery and thrillers, Sasuke explained, but also liked to dabble in supernatural books, as long as they were well paced and above young adult level. He didn’t have the money to buy books so usually he borrowed from libraries, which was how he had gotten his job in the library. He used to read in the dark a lot until he stopped. Reading in the dark can damage your eyes, and he already knew from his family history that he would need glasses in the future.

Blue eyes watched a pale hand run itself across Sasuke’s arm, then to his neck and finally tucking a strand of hair behind his ear.

“And you?”

“Huh?”

Sasuke looked at him, one brow raised. “Did you read a lot when you were young?”

“Uh… Nah.” Naruto grinned. “I was really bad at reading. I was more like playing in the mud and running around typa kid.”

“Your parents didn’t encourage you to read?”

Naruto laughed. “I don’t have parents.”

“Oh.”

“It’s fine. Yours did?”

Sasuke paused. “Hn. Barely.”

“Do your parents help you out?” Naruto asked, motioning around the apartment. “With money?”

“No. We don't speak.”

“Ah.” The mood was cut like a knife“… Sorry.” There was a surprising lack of pity in his words.

Since the air was already discomforted, Sasuke asked a question he should’ve asked over two weeks ago. “What happened to you?”

Naruto turned back to the omega, grin gone, mouth agape. “Huh?”

“What happened to you?” He repeated, quietly.

The apartment suddenly felt oddly quiet, almost cold.

"I was in the army.”

High school had been rough with him, his grades had never been average let alone above average. A lot of the times he was getting into fights, and by the time he was fifteen all the teachers had given up on him. His friends had been good, but they had all been dealing with their own problems and in the end weren’t too dependable.

He’d had a godfather who had only found out about Naruto’s existence when the blond had been ten. He had been living with him up to that point: A good, old man who liked alcohol and women. But this godparent, Jiraiya, had always been one place or another. He’d been a good man that had taken care of him, but hadn’t always been home.

The legal age for army training is eighteen in Konoha, but for alphas, it’s sixteen. Naruto hadn’t had many other options or paths, so he did what he did.

For a while he had been away from his godparent and away from most people in Konoha who only ever looked down on him. It had been good, and better yet, he had become stronger.

He’d always felt out of place and somehow victimised in his life, the training had helped him gain his security and strength, at the beginning. But as time passed he’d wanted out. The army signed contracts with its soldiers. He’d been sixteen and blindly scribbled his signature on a five year contract. Luckily the army let its soldiers go home every now and then, but it was barely. Every time he did go home, all he would do was drink and go to bars. By the age of eighteen he was already desperate to get out of the army and go home. For a short while he had been even considering university. (Though he didn’t know how they would let him in.)

When he was twenty years old, and the day he was set to be free from his contract. He had come home to find the only family in his life dead. His godfather had been killed in an accidental bar fight. He hadn’t even been one of the people fighting. Two men had fought, one pulled out a gun, the other redirected it, and it hit the old man.

There hadn’t been anyone close to either one of them that could’ve told him. It was one of the times in his life he had honestly wished for death.

The government gave him no compensation, and nowhere to stay. He was broke.

For a month he switched between his friend’s apartments, but it was never okay and Naruto could feel the impatience and discomfort there. His friends had their own lives. They let him stay until the blond could find a job. But where could he find a job? He was twenty with no work experience and a bad track record.

He had been dirty and sleeping on park benches for half a month when winter started rolling in. In a desperate attempt for warmth, he had entered a bar. With neither money nor patience, he had ended up angering a few people. In the end, he knew he’d been looking for a fight. Anything to hit, or be hit by.

They threw him out bloody and bruised—he blamed his hunger for the loss.

He’d walked four streets until he’d gone to his knees and collapsed in the snow, only to wake up to big brown eyes and the voice of a toddler making noises in his ear.


 

Chapter Text


 

“There’s been a lot of drama around the military lately. There’ve been a lot of protests, petitions and outrage in the public about it. It’s all over the news, ever since last year—do you remember? There was a big stir about a body being found in the river, there was nothing on the person and everyone thought it was just a homeless drunk— until it was found out it was someone who had served in the military and ended up homeless. The media reported it but they slandered the person— they made such a small deal out of it and were expecting people just to forget about it.
But the public went crazy with it, protests— and at one point there was almost a riot. Saying things like the country doesn’t take care of its people and the government doesn’t care. Demanding compensation. Do ya remember? It was last year.”

“Yeah.” Sasuke remembered the drama all over the news. There had been protests and outrage everywhere. Everyone had been talking about it. Everyone had had an opinion. But Sasuke had had a one year old son who had just been learning how to crawl. He hadn’t the time for that.

Either way, the hype had died down, and though there were still protests, people as usual, had gotten bored.

“So, what are ya gonna do?”

“Shit.” Sasuke moved the pot off of the stove. He’d been boiling porridge and been lost in thought when the milk had started over flowing.

Sasuke?”

He put the phone back to his ear. “Hello?” Suigetsu’s impatient voice said. “Yes?” He repeated.  “What are you gonna do?”

Sasuke took a sponge and wiped the remnants of the milk away. “I told him he could spend the winter here, and leave in spring when he finds a job.”

He was almost expecting Suigetsu to start swearing or lecturing him, but instead there was a slow silence and then a monotone voice asking, “what are ya gonna do about your heat?”

Sasuke sighed, throwing the sponge in the sink and staring at his overflowing porridge. “…I have medicine.”

Suigetsu was quiet on the other line, but Sasuke knew he was shaking his head.

“What if you end up pregnant again?”

“Don’t.”

Don’t? It’s a possibility.” Suigetsu’s tone was not uncaring. “What would you do?”

“He’s too weak.”

He could practically hear Suigetsu rolling his eyes. “Whatever.”

He expected Suigetsu to hang up, but instead there was another silence and a noise similar to a huff. It was the type of hesitance Sasuke imagined a high school girl sounding on the phone before she confessed to her long time crush.

“Suigetsu?”

“…He… was in the military…?”

“Yes…?” Sasuke said. “That’s what he told me.”

There was another moment of quiet, and then in an apprehensive voice he asked. “So, he was really in the military?”

“Yes.”

Another quiet moment, a huff, sigh and then Suigetsu’s loudness returned, “Never mind! Anyway what was that thing you wanted to tell me the other day?”

“What were you going to say?”

“It doesn’t matter!” Suigetsu said, sounding annoyed. “Just tell me. Akio is gonna wake up soon.”

Sasuke looked around. Ryuji was napping in his room, and he had let Naruto sleep in Ryuji’s room since he was making lunch in the kitchen and construction outside was already loud. “A university boy asked me on a date.”

“Wha—?”

“Hn.”

“Where?” Suigetsu asked.

“At work—the library.”

He was expecting Suigetsu’s over dramatic scream or yell, instead he received a “And?”

Sasuke’s face flushed. “Nothing. I said no.”

Suigetsu was quiet again, then asking “Why? He was ugly?”

Sasuke sighed. “No… I just…”

He left it hanging, and Suigetsu understood.

“How did you reject him? How did he react?”

“He asked if I was doing anything, I told him yes, he asked me, what? I told him I was looking after my son.” Sasuke explained.

And?”

“He became really flustered.” Sasuke said. “His face flushed and he then excused himself.”

Suigetsu let out a noise of disgust. “What an idiot! Why do babies intimidate alpha’s so much—wait, was he an alpha?”

“I think he was a beta.”

“Oh, pfft!”

Sasuke imagined Suigetsu waving his hand in the air and rolling his eyes.

“Forget about him!” Suigetsu said. “He’s replaceable! Ah—I think Akio’s waking up now. I gotta go.”

“Suigetsu?”

“Yeah?”

“What was that thing you were going to say? You were asking if Naruto was really in the military.”

Suigetsu scoffed. “Forget it. It’s nothing. I’ll talk to you later!”

Sasuke heard the line go dead. He put the phone down, and went back to the porridge.


 

He could see a few of the same university boys that had been studying with the one who had asked him on a date. There were two with dark hair and one with light—no sign of the boy who had asked him. It was apparent to Sasuke, even from a distance that they were gossiping. Shaking his head, he went back to his work, he hated university boys.

He stood behind the computer, scanning the books onto the system and putting them onto the cart. Today, the library wasn’t busy. It was both relaxing and frustrating. Relaxing, in the sense he didn’t need to do a lot of work. Frustrating, in the sense that he had nothing to do.

He glanced around, the other librarians were stacking shelves or in the back. The computer in front of him was a new model. Recently the library had been able to score an update with their system—unfortunately resulting in a few people being fired. Luckily Sasuke hadn’t been. This was the only place he had free access to a computer.

Sasuke opened up a new tab on the computer in front of him, slowly scrolling and opening into Google. He typed the words: Military.

As expected, came up multiple articles about the homeless problem. Sasuke clicked the one titled, ‘Konoha, one example of a city with a homeless problem’.

Across Konoha, the faces of those who have known homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts, tell a sad story. The government’s affairs when it comes to looking after young veterans remain badly out of order. Defence cannot shake a culture that sees those with mental injury sidelined and drummed out of service.

 

Sasuke scrolled through the article. It wasn’t very long and the recommendations in the side bar all had to do with pop culture.

 

Konoha Governor, SenjuTsunade, calls for compensation act and programs towards young veterans.

 

A photo of a blonde woman, old and sturdy looking.

 

Shimura Danzō says, ‘the issue with the military and homelessness is an over exaggeration. The government does what it needs to for the people and has been doing so for years.’


A photo of an old man with dark hair and the face of someone who hadn’t smiled a lot in life.

 

The Uchiha clicked on another article titled; ‘Veterans: The double standard’. He skimmed through it, picking up the general same tone and information as the other articles. The suicide rate for homeless veterans was twenty an hour—apparently.

He clicked out of the article when he saw the photo of the dead man.

He pressed back space, deleting his entry. He was about to exit the window when a though occurred to him. He re-clicked on the google entry bar, typing; Uzumaki Na

“What are you doing?”

Sasuke’s hands flew off the keyboard. He turned around, more than flustered.

Tayuya stood staring at him, with a hand on her hip and a coffee in the other. She was a tall girl with red hair and worked at the library part time, with a very obvious prejudice against omegas.

“Nothing.”

She raised a brow, glancing at the computer in disbelief. The google tab was still open.

UzumakiNa…?” She read.

Sasuke flushed. “It’s research.”

“For what?” She asked.

Sasuke did not answer.

She kept her eyes on him for a second, until her curiosity wore off. “Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “Get back to work. Do research in your own time. Your break is going to be in half an hour, there’s no point in even having a break if you’re not even doing work.”

He watched her walk away.

When she was gone, he sighed, turning back to the computer. He glanced around once more before finishing his entry: Uzumaki Naruto.

Enter.

He wasn’t sure what he had been expecting to find, but no articles appeared. There were only websites or pages about certain ‘Uzumaki’s, or persons called ‘Naruto’. People, Sasuke was sure, were not related to him in any way. Same first or last name. Different people.

His mouse wondered across the screen, and he clicked.

Images.

As expected, they were just photos of random people or objects. Sasuke stared at a particular photo of a tree which he really wanted to know how was related to Uzumaki Naruto.

He was about to exit the window when he scrolled past a certain photo with a wave of yellow. Pausing for a second, he scrolled up again and located the picture.

There was a kid—fourteen? Fifteen? He had wild blond hair and a wide smile with big, bright blue eyes, staring straight into the camera. He was posing on grass, wearing a sport high school uniform. His legs were crossed and hip popping—like a girl. He had two fingers up next to his eyes in a peace sign. Classic rite of passage into boyhood: post a photo mocking a girl’s pose.

It was obvious by the scars on his face and the familiar eyes that it was the person in his apartment. He looked so much younger, or maybe just innocent.

Sasuke clicked on the website which hosted the photo, and was led to a deleted page. Deleted social media account.

He opened the photo again.

After scrolling through the results once more, and then looking back at that photo for another few seconds. Sasuke exited out of the window and went back to scanning books.


 

After dinner it took Sasuke almost an hour to put Ryuji to bed. The toddler refused to let his mother leave the room, demanding he read him more books. Sasuke had read the boy about nearly four story books before he had dozed off in his mother’s arms.

“I feel stupid.”

“Why?”

Soft hands rubbed against Naruto’s back, washing him. “Cause you’re basically bathing me.”

“You’re injured.”  Sasuke said. “And, it’s not uncommon to wash another person’s back.”

The first time Naruto had gotten stuck in the bath—it had been embarrassing. The second time, it had just been sad. It had come to the point to put bashfulness away for the sake of health. His body would not allow him to move further than the door or over the bath railing. It was annoying and frustrating. Sickness or injuries were something Naruto had never enjoyed.

After the initial discomfort and stiffness though, Naruto had been able to relax into the soft hands rubbing soap on his back. It was a sort of comfort and care he had never experienced.

Naruto had his eyes closed and head titled, when he asked “You wash Ryuji like this?”

Sasuke hummed a ‘yes’.

“Lucky.” Naruto muttered.

“Your mother never washed you?”

“My mum’s dead.” Naruto replied, unbothered.

“Oh.” Sasuke mentally slapped himself. He’d forgotten. “Sorry.”

“Did your mum wash you like this?”

“Yes.”

“Did your mum die too?” Naruto asked kindly.

“No.” Sasuke said, amused by the question.

“Oh.” Naruto left it hanging.

For a while he only felt Sasuke’s slow motions against his back, but eventually he heard the omega’s stable voice answer the unasked question. “My parents disowned me.”

“Oh.”

“Why?” Naruto asked.

It was hard to imagine this person being disowned by anyone.

“I became pregnant.”

“Oooh, right.”

After Sasuke was done washing Naruto’s back, he moved to his hair. He ran his fingers through thick, coarse, blond hair. Sasuke had only ever been around dark hair, and it was almost weird to be washing someone else’s hair rather than that of a two years olds. Ryuji’s hair was actually very thick, although short, an interesting juxtaposition to Akio’s long but thin hair. (Then again, Akio inherited that from his mother).

“How old were you when you got pregnant?”

“Eighteen.” Sasuke said.

“You were in high school?” Naruto asked, surprised.

“Yes.”

He had come to realise that Sasuke was pretty much okay with answering any question, or at least no question had come up that Sasuke couldn’t answer. There was no shame in his voice, or pain, or sadness, just the cool and composed voice of a person answering a question. Like a teacher.

“You must’ve been popular in high school.”

“Why do you say that?” Sasuke asked, sounding surprised.

“I don’t know.” Naruto said quietly, and then muttered something incomprehensible, only making out a word that sounded suspiciously close to ‘pretty’.

“Bend your head back.” The Uchiha instructed.

Naruto bent his head backwards, feeling the rush of warm water against his scalp. “They didn’t give you any money beforehand?”

“Who?”

“Your family.”

Sasuke hummed a ‘no’.

“I always lived in an apartment.” Naruto explained. “I couldn’t imagine going from a house to a small apartment like this.”

Sasuke hummed, feeling the thick hair run through his fingers. “More like estate.”

“Huh?”

“Estate.” Sasuke said, rubbing conditioner in Naruto’s hair. “I lived in an estate.” Then after Naruto’s confused silence, explained. “I’m an Uchiha.”

It took Naruto a moment to process his words, but when he did, he almost broke his neck turning to look at him. “WAIT! You’re an UCHIH—Shit!” His and flung to his neck, instantly leaning it against his shoulder and turning back forward.

Sasuke put a hand against his back, steadying him. “I told you when we met, my name is Uchiha Sasuke.”

“I thought you were like… a distant relative… like a second cousin or something!” Naruto explained, rubbing his neck and repositioning himself. “I didn’t know you were…” He searched for a word. “…Royalty.”

“Royalty?” Sasuke sounded amused.

“Aren’t the Uchiha family worth millions?”

Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows. “Who told you that?”

“I don’t know.” He heard it when he was younger, before the military, when he’d just been a normal teenager at a normal public school with not so much money and a group of friends that liked to gossip.

“They’re not.” Sasuke said.

The Uchiha family was one of those families that had a long lineage in the city. They had made a lot of money business wise hundreds of years ago, and were one of the few families that had kept their status through the times.

“How does it feel to be around commoners now?” Naruto teased.

“I’m the one washing you.” Sasuke said.

Naruto laughed.

With an amused voice, Sasuke said, “I’m done now.”

Naruto watched him rise, drying his hands on a towel and rolling down his sleeves.

“How long will you need in the bath?”

“Uh, like five minutes.” Naruto answered.

“Okay.” Sasuke said. “I’ll be back in five minutes to help you out of the bath.”

“Okay.” Naruto watched him go, seemingly unaffected by their conversation. When he was gone, Naruto relaxed his shoulders and put his head back on the top of the bath railing. “Thanks.”


 

Chapter Text



They were watching a reality TV show that centred on the lives of a group of young aspiring women seeking stardom in the popular pop culture and fashion districts of Konoha. There were four girls, two of which Sasuke knew would have bullied him in high school and two of which he knew wouldn’t have graduated.

A girl with brown hair, big eyes, and a very high pitched voice was talking to another girl with short black hair and excessive make up. They were all but yelling in the middle of a café because one had been speaking to the other’s music manager.

“How’s your arm?” Sasuke asked calmly.

“Huh…? Oh, it’s alright.”

“Does it still hurt?”

“A little.” Naruto admitted. “But it’s really minor. I’m mostly okay now.”

“I was thinking,” Sasuke said, “If it was possible for you to walk to the bus station with me.”

The two girls on TV were now yelling at each other and a waitress was trying to calm them down.

Sasuke continued. “If your injuries were still hurting, I thought it might be good to take you to a doctor.”

“I don’t think I need to see a doctor.” Naruto said, scratching the back of his head. “I think… I mean… I don’t know… I don’t think I can walk that far to be honest. How far is the bus stop?”

“It’s two streets away. It goes directly to town and the doctor’s office is only a few blocks from there.” It was too much to ask, Sasuke realised.

“Ah…” Naruto said. “I don’t think I can do it yet. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, you’re right. Once you’re better I think we should take you to the doctor.” Sasuke said. It was tempting to call a doctor to his house, but—that was expensive, and at the moment he did not appear in that much need of a professional’s opinion.

Sasuke stood up as the TV cut to commercial, feeling his stomach hurt.  “Do you have any ideas of what you can do after this?” Sasuke asked turning the tap in the kitchen on.

“I was thinking of police academy.” Naruto suggested.

“Oh?”

“What do you think?”

“I think it’s a good idea.” Sasuke washed the dishes in the sink, stacking them in the rack beside it. The police academy was very open to recruiting alphas.

“What do you think?” Naruto asked.

Sasuke heard Ryuji’s high pitched ‘yeah!’

“You think I’ll be a good police officer?”

“Yeah!” Ryuji repeated.

“Why don’t you go put that in the trash?”

Sasuke heard the small footsteps of a toddler and turned to see his son awkwardly putting an empty juice box in the trash next to him. He then took to Sasuke’s pant leg, tugging “Mum!”

“Yes?”

“I’m hungry.”

“Go sit down I’ll make you a sandwich in a second.”

Mum!” He whined, bouncing on the balls of his feet and tugging.

“Go sit down.” Sasuke repeated, “In a second.”

Ryuji whined, but eventually walked his way back to the bed couch.

“You okay?”

“Hm?”

“You okay?” Naruto repeated to Sasuke.

“I’m fine.”

“You look a little flushed.”

“I’m fine.” Sasuke repeated.



Sasuke’s first heat had been when he was fifteen. The school he’d gone to had been a rich private school, and no one had really talked about things like that openly. Everyone that had gone to that school had been raised in a way to be conservative, which had obviously made someone in Sasuke’s situation very distraught and panicked.

He’d had the first sparks of heat at school, and of course there were some boys, alphas, that had started looking at him a little more aggressively. Someone like him, who was used to stares, had cast those glances aside. He had also ignored the temperature rise and loss of concentration as a mood swing or a growing flu.

Having a heat—particularly your first, was like lightly stumbling down a footpath and then tripping at the end: Small, awkward, and then all at once, hard and painful.

He remembered crying, sobbing, while an old and gentle maid had put her hand on his back and soothed him, like a sick child.

“Are you going to be available for the rest of the week?” Tayuya asked.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“My son is sick.” He lied.

Tayuya stared him up and down, and then with a roll of her eyes said “fine. I’ll try and re-arrange some shifts, but I’m not covering for you.”

He watched her walk away, leaving his “thanks” unanswered.

Only alphas could smell his pheromones, and sometimes when they were in their prime, betas.

Ryuji was still too young to be able to detect those types of things. Usually he would put the boy in the other room, but this time they had another person in their house. Ryuji, after all, was only two years old. Sasuke was still getting used to balancing motherhood and his own heat.


 

Suigetsu opened his bathroom mirror cabinet, ignoring the iron pills, Vaseline, deodorant, flu and cough tablets… Finally he caught eye of the familiar pill packet. He grabbed it and slammed the cabinet door shut.

“Here!” He threw it across the lounge room and into the hands of his guest.

“Thanks.” Sasuke said, turning the packet over and assessing it.

Suigetsu still wore his work uniform and smelled of cigarettes. “Stay in the lounge room!”

Akio stumbled into a halt, and then turned away from the hall and back into the lounge room where Ryuji followed. They were chasing each other.

“Sorry.” Sasuke said.

“Don’t be.” Suigetsu replied. “Mine won’t be coming for a while. I’m good.” He sat down.

Sasuke put the packet in his bag.

“Did you tell blondie you’re going into heat?”

Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows, motioning to the two year olds.

Suigetsu shrugged. “They don’t know!”

Ryuji ran across the lounge room, Akio chasing him. He chased him with a slowing pace, and then started huffing, going to his knees and falling to the floor while Ryuji continued running.

The dark haired boy ran around the kotatsu and into his mother’s lap. He grabbed at Sasuke’s sleeves, grinning and huffing: Laughing in excitement at the boy on the ground.

“Ryuji, be careful.” Sasuke looked back at Akio, breathing heavily. “Is he okay?”

“Just wait a second.”

Akio crawled to a stand, as if nothing had happened. Ryuji shook his mother’s sleeves in a fit of anticipation, and then bolted as Akio followed.

“We should take them somewhere.” Suigetsu said. “Maybe the zoo.”

“In the middle of the snow?” Sasuke asked.

“I don’t know.” Suigetsu said. “They’ll get cramped indoors.”


 

Naruto had spent the entire day in their apartment—not that he had a choice. Like a child with a broken leg that just wanted to go outside and play, he had been sulking.

Walking was the main issue. The idea of leaving the apartment sounded refreshing—the cold breeze and air sounded seductive. After so long on the streets he had been grateful to crawl and hide in a bed next to a heater for a while. But eventually his vagabond side had come out and he found himself wanting to move and walk again.

It was a whiny complaint that Naruto would have never voiced to his generous host.

Sleeping was hard too for him. At first he had been able to fall asleep like a rock, but after constant rest he found it harder and harder to put himself to sleep when all he did all day was watch TV and eat. It sounded like the perfect dream to a teenager, but in its own irony, he was tired.

So when he did wake in the middle of the night to the soft wailing of a two year old, he felt like dying. It was not the type of loud screaming that woke neighbours, but it was the type of hesitant crying of a child that would slowly put someone out of their slumber.

His first thought was annoyance. He closed his eyes and furrowed his eyebrows, concluding that whatever was happening would be solved by the mother. But it continued. He heard weak hushing and a sick voice, the noise of objects being moved, and at last, the continued cry.

Naruto opened his eyes. To his surprise, there was a faint light in the darkness: The bathroom light was on.

He sat up, confused and wary. Then a crying toddler waddled out of the bathroom, tears on his face, around the hall with a lost and panicked expression.

“Ryuji.” Naruto’s voice was husky from sleep.

The toddler continued waddling in a circle.

Ryuji.”

The noise stopped, and he turned to the alpha.

“Come here.” Naruto waved him over.

Ryuji waddled over to the blond with a distracted expression.

“What’s going on?”

He sniffled a while, saying some incomprehensible words. All Naruto recognised was ‘mum’ and ‘sick’. After a wheeze of air, Ryuji walked back into the hall.

“Wai—Shit.” Naruto stood up, ignoring the slight pain in his body.

He was about to follow the toddler into the bedroom, but heard a pained voice coming from the bathroom. Slowly but surely, he made his way to the bathroom to find a sick omega sitting on the floor, leaning against the toilet with a sick expression and watery eyes. His face was red, eyes moist, and breathing heavy and slow. Even Naruto could smell the familiar pheromones he had been taught about when he was young.

“Shit.” Naruto said.

Sasuke turned away from the door way, hiding his face and the urge to vomit.

“Are you okay?” Naruto leant towards him.

Sasuke pulled away from him, visibly distraught by his presence.

“Fuck.” Naruto muttered, feeling his own stomach coil in reaction.

“I need the pills.” Sasuke whispered.

“What?” Naruto said. “Where?”

“My room. The top drawer.”

Naruto had never been in Sasuke’s bedroom before. When he entered, it was smaller than he imagined it. He saw a messy futon and a few pieces of furniture, beside said furniture was a toddler looking like he was having an anxiety attack while sniffling and holding a tube in one hand and a packet in the other.

“What are you doing?” Naruto took the boy by his arms.

In one hand was a tube of moisturizer and in the other was a packet of cough drops.

“You were looking for mummy’s medicine?”

Ryuji sniffed, mumbling something incomprehensible and then starting to cry again.

Naruto opened the top drawer, skimming through some pain killers, creams and other necessities until he found a white and orange packet of pills labelled ‘Omega Pheromone Settler: Prescription Only.’

“This is what mum needs.” Naruto said, showing the toddler the packet. “Put those down. Let’s go.”

Ryuji waddled back to the bathroom, cries momentarily quieting. After getting a cup of water from the kitchen, he re-entered, finding Sasuke mid vomit.

Naruto popped a pill out, feeling his body protest as he knelt down.

Ryuji stood next to the toilet, unsure what to do with himself. Sasuke raised his head, looking as sick as ever.

“Here.” Naruto said.


 

“…You’re not affected by the pheromones?”

Naruto felt Sasuke’s head on his shoulder, and arm against his. Too uncomfortable to go back to sleep with the omega in this state, he replied “sort of.”

“Sort of?” Sasuke’s voice was weak.

“I mean, I can feel it…” Naruto said kindly. “But, I can control myself.”

“How…?” Sasuke murmured.

“It’s not that strong.” Naruto said. “Besides, they train you in the military to have self-control.”

It was true: He could feel the warm pheromones coming from Sasuke. He could smell the allure too, but in truth he had smelt that since he had woken up. The smell was hard to explain to someone who didn’t know it. It was something seductive and sweet, like a freshly used pillow that still had the scent of your lover on it.

But nonetheless, Naruto had too much respect to attack the person who had given him a roof and a bed.

“Is it always this bad?” Naruto asked, finally.

They both leant across the bathroom wall, in between the toilet and the bathtub. Ryuji shifted in Sasuke’s arms, burying his face in the nook of his arm and sleeping.

“No. It hasn’t fully started yet.” Sasuke said.

“What?” Naruto said loudly.

“This is before the heat begins…”

That explained why the pheromones weren’t so strong. “Why are you getting sick before it starts?”

“My body is still re-adjusting to the cycle.” Sasuke explained. “I only had a child two years ago. This is my second heat since then.”

“Oh.”

“Usually you’re supposed to start having sex before this starts.” Sasuke muttered.

“…Does that stop the sickness…?”

“Yes.” Sasuke mumbled.

Sasuke’s thick, dark hair leant comfortably against him. He had never seen it up close, but had always thought it looked pretty. Maybe because Naruto had always had blond hair, he thought there was something very alluring about dark, black hair.

Upon feeling something, Naruto watched Sasuke’s head swiftly move up until he was face to face with big dark eyes and an open mouth.

Maybe it was the pheromones, but there was something incredibly cute about Sasuke’s red and wet face. The sweat had mostly dried, but the hair on his forehead still stuck to him and the hair on his head lowered from humidity. Dark eyes looked up at him, with soft, plump looking lips that Naruto realised he was lingering on.

Blue eyes darted back. Sasuke looked not really as afraid as Naruto had imagined he would, and for a moment he felt something stir in his stomach telling him to touch the omega.

Mum.”

Both adults turned to the bundle in Sasuke’s arms, which was now kicking its legs in discomfort.

Ryuji’s face started to twist. “Mum…!”

Sasuke was hit with a bolt of realisation. “Damn it. Hold on.” He struggled to raise himself and keep hold of the toddler at the same time.

Naruto stood up, arms out. “I’ll take him to bed.”

To his surprise, Sasuke let the blond take the boy.

“Just put him to bed.” Sasuke whispered. “I’ll clean myself up.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.” He said, hand on stomach.

Naruto put the toddler to bed, watching him easily collapse into sleep. When he made his way back through the hall, he caught sight of Sasuke slowly brushing his teeth. Still sick looking, but slowly improving, Naruto left him and went back to his couch bed.


 

 

Chapter Text



Naruto was watching TV around twelve am. He’d tried going to sleep the same time Sasuke and Ryuji had—ten pm—but after two hours of failed rest, he’d turned the TV on and put it on mute. There was a game show on; it was one of the dirty ones which couldn’t air during the day anymore. It reminded him of the sorts of shows he would watch with his friends when they were thirteen.

The host was talking to a pretty girl in the crowd when Naruto heard a door slide open and feet echo against hardwood.

He watched Sasuke’s figure appear then disappear into the bathroom. And then he heard the vomiting.

After ten minutes of off and on vomiting, there was a long silence and then the noise of Sasuke brushing his teeth before the door slid open. He looked surprised to see Naruto, as though he had been so fast to not notice the blond sitting there and watching TV.

“I woke you?”

“No.” Naruto said. “I was already awake. You okay?”

“…Yeah.” Sasuke said, and then “Can I sit here a bit?”

“Yeah!” Naruto pulled the blanket back, giving him space.

Sasuke’s face was flushed, similar to how it had been the other night, however less intense. He looked very tired, though. And Naruto was just starting to notice the shivering, even under his thick pyjamas and the thick blanket, pale hands were shaking.

“I used to watch this when I was younger.” Naruto said, and then after a small silence continued. “My friends used to invite their house—his parents were always away cause they were working, but then they found out his dad was having an affair and they got divorced and now he lives with his mum. I don’t know where he is now, actually. Anyway, we used to go to his house cause he had a really big TV, and watch this show all the time. There was one episode where they got eels— Are you okay?”

Sasuke had a hand on his forehead and eyes closed.

“You okay?” Naruto repeated.

He put out a hand, but Sasuke flinched.

Naruto pulled his arm back.

“I’m sorry.” Sasuke muttered. “I’m fine.”

Naruto watched Sasuke put a hand to the wall for steadiness, slowly standing up and attempting to move. Eventually he gave in, lowering himself to a crouch, arms around his stomach.

Naruto stood up, putting an arm on Sasuke’s shoulder. “Hey, do you need something?”

He noticed Sasuke reddening and in the moment as he smelled the pheromones coming from the omega, sultry and sweet, he considered maybe he was making the situation worse. But then why did Sasuke even ask to sit here? Surely, it was to rest and have easy access to the bathroom, he thought.

Sasuke looked up, revealing a pink face with soft eyes and a troubled expression.

“Sasuke?” Naruto said, well aware that the Uchiha’s eyes were on his lips. Only after dark eyes found themselves back to Naruto’s eyes, did he continue with a low and gentle voice, “I’m going to kiss you now.” 

He lowered his head, pressing his forehead against the omegas, asking for permission. In his acceptance, Naruto made contact with soft and plump lips. The type of lips you saw on models.

His initial anxiety simmered away and he found himself being drowned in the omega’s heightened pheromones.

Sasuke was so soft and beautiful to him, someone he imagined admiring from a distance in high school. Someone he would’ve fallen for easily. Sasuke would’ve stayed after school to study and Naruto would’ve been locked in detention. He never would’ve been able to confess. He never would’ve been able to be in the same world as him.

Naruto’s thoughts halted when he felt Sasuke under him, shaky hands gripping his shoulders.

He was on top of the omega, pausing and asking “are you okay?”

Sasuke’s face was flushed, but somehow healthier looking. He did a small nod.

Naruto started kissing him everywhere, relishing the taste of sweet skin. He sucked on his neck, moving onto his chest, leaving a trial of kisses along his smooth and small frame.

When he rubbed Sasuke’s entrance, he heard the most seductive and nervous whimper in his life, and felt Sasuke’s grip tightened around his arm. He was not even a full finger inside of Sasuke when the omega whispered painfully “put it in.”

Naruto spread soft thighs apart, lining himself up and burying Sasuke’s neck with more kisses.

“I’ve never done this before.” Sasuke murmured, eyes closed.

“What do you mean?” Naruto kissed. “You have a kid?”

“I was raped.” He murmured.

The kisses stopped. Sasuke didn’t have enough time to process what had been said or the situation itself when he felt Naruto spreading him and then entering. It was slow, and gentle, and it felt so completing and so damn good that Sasuke could’ve cry. He was so big, yet somehow it felt good to be stretched like that.

Naruto watched the omega under him become undone with pleasure, whimpering and begging, face flushed and watery eyes. Feeling his soft insides tightening around his cock, reaching deep inside Sasuke. So deep. It was only at last minute did he remember he had to pull out.

Sasuke could barely comprehend what was happening in the outside world; in his last moments all he could hear was Naruto’s voice saying ‘fuck, you’re gorgeous.’

. . .

“Are you okay?”

“You’ve been asking me that a lot lately.”

Naruto felt the body next to his curl up under the blanket. “Are you?”

Sasuke turned around, feeling his insides protest and his own body collapse back into a tired heap when he was done, wrapped like a burrito. “I’m okay.”

Naruto’s hand was under the pillow Sasuke rested on. But he didn’t move it. “…Did you really get raped in high school?”

There was no rudeness in his words, and Sasuke took no offence. “Yes.”

“…There were a few who get raped when I was in school.” Naruto’s voice was soft and probably the most gentle he had ever heard an alpha speak to him. He sounded like he was talking to himself.

“Really?” Sasuke said.

“I went to a public school.” Naruto explained.

“I think I was the only one who got raped at my school…” Sasuke said. “That I know of.”

“… Was it a teacher?”

“A student.”

“A student?”

“He was an alpha, from my math class.” Sasuke explained.

“Were you in … heat…?” Naruto asked.

“No.”

“Oh.” Naruto said, and then muttered, “What a piece of shit.”

“He wouldn’t be a piece of shit if I was in heat?”

“W—No. I mean—

“It’s okay.” Sasuke’s amused voice returned.

Naruto relaxed, shifting until his arm was around the omega. He could not feel Sasuke stiffen or distraught by this, so he relaxed against Sasuke. Usually after sex he fell asleep right away, and he could definitely feel himself tire, yet for some reason he continued awake for at least another hour listening to the rise and fall of Sasuke’s breathing under his arm. 


 

Naruto woke up to the screaming of a toddler. He shifted in the blankets, spreading his arms around but finding himself alone. He opened his eyes, rubbing them only to find the picture of Ryuji face down and butt up on the kitchen floor while Sasuke cooked in the kitchen, towel around his shoulders. He’d just showered?

“What’s going on?” His words came out croaky and quiet.

Sasuke stopped stirring, glancing behind him. “You’re awake?”

 “What’s going on?” He repeated, after coughing.

Sasuke turned back to the stove. “He’s just having a tantrum because he had to wake up early today.”

Ryuji sniffled a bit, and then went silent. He stared at fake agony around himself, regaining energy to continue screaming.

Naruto lay back in into the pillows. “What time is it?”

“Six am.”


 

“Mum…”

“Just one more. Look here.” Sasuke held up the camera, aiming it at the boy.

Ryuji was covered in green, dressed in Sasuke’s make-shift elf costume. He stood on the path to the day-care, wrapped in a warm, green coat and surrounded by snow. The bells on his shoes jingled every time he tried to pose.

Sasuke took another picture, assessing the quality, when he heard a familiar voice.

“How cute!”

The air was filled with the sound of bells as Ryuji ran across the pathway towards the voice.

“Hi Ryuji!” Akio’s voice greeted.

“Hi!” Ryuji said.

Sasuke stood up, meeting eyes with a smiling Suigetsu.

“Cute costume.” Suigetsu commented.

“Thanks. Yours too.”

Akio wore a reindeer eyes and a brown onesie. Suigetsu had also drawn on him a red nose to match Rudolf.

“I tried to get the easiest costume I could think of.” Suigetsu explained as they walked into the day-care. “It was either a reindeer or Santa, but I didn’t know how the hell to do a Santa costume. I feel like every other kid is gonna be dressed like a reindeer.”

Sasuke took Ryuji’s coat. “Go find your friends.”

Both mothers’ watched their kids run into the crowd of toddlers in costumes.

“I think Akio’s costume is cute.” Sasuke replied. “It makes me wish I dressed Ryuji like that.”

“At least yours is original.” Suigetsu said.

They found a place to sit down and have coffee. All the other mothers were either taking pictures or forming groups. It was an ugly feeling to be left out, Sasuke thought. It reminded him of high school. Then again, he wouldn’t exactly want to be a part of their groups anyway. All the mothers were either middle aged and bitter or just not nice.

“I thought you were in heat.”

“Hn?”

“Your heat…” Suigetsu repeated. “I was expecting you to call me to drive Ryuji here or something, but here you are. Looking good as new… In fact, you look better…” Suigetsu raised a brow. “Are you blushing?”

“No.” Sasuke said.

“You had sex with him, didn’t you?” Suigetsu said, dead panned.

“…Yes.” Sasuke admitted quietly.

Suigetsu took a sip from his coffee, sighing. “Did you wear a condom?”

“No. But I’m not pregnant… He pulled out.” Sasuke muttered.

“Did it hurt?” Suigetsu asked.

“…Not as much as I thought it would.” Sasuke admitted. Then again, it made sense being raped would be more painful than sex.

Suigetsu took another sip of his coffee. He liked it with sugar and milk for flavour. Straight coffee had always tasted too bitter of him. “Are you going to keep having sex with him?”

Sasuke looked down at his own cup, he had barely drunk. “…I don’t know.”

The conversation came to still and Sasuke was suddenly very aware of the loud screaming from the children. He had expected Suigetsu to ask for every detail. To either scold or congratulate him. Looking now at the omega across from him, it seemed very clear something was not being said.

“Are you okay?” Sasuke asked.

Suigetsu was quiet for a moment, then, “yeah.”

“Are you going into heat soon?”

Suigetsu rolled his eyes. “No.”

Sasuke stared at him patiently, watching the omega slowly unravel into nervous state. He reached into his pocket, one hand firmly around his coffee cup, and pulled out a photo.

“You said he was in the military, right?” Suigetsu asked.

“… Yes.”

Suigetsu offered him the photo. When Sasuke took it, he saw a picture of a boy in his late teens with orange hair and masculine features. He was outside somewhere, by himself, turning towards the camera with what looked like surprise. What a naïve expression for someone so masculine looking, Sasuke thought. He looked well-built and thick in body. Thicker than Naruto. A real alpha.

“Is this…?”

“Yes.” Suigetsu said. “Akio’s dad.”

Sasuke looked at him, a bit speechless.

“He was in the military too, it’s a long story.” Suigetsu rushed. “Maybe for another day.”

“You loved him?” Sasuke said.

Suigetsu looked back at his coffee, expressionless, then back to Sasuke. “His name is Jugo. Can you ask your boyfriend about him?”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” He muttered but put the photo in his coat pocket.

In Suigetsu’s own out of character shyness and hesitance, Sasuke knew he loved him.


 

Naruto, who had been taking a nap, awoke to the sound of footsteps and bells.

“Make sure you take your shoes off.” Sasuke’s voice advised.

Naruto stretched out in the couch bed, watching Ryuji fiddle with his shoes and then fling them at the door.

“Don’t throw shoes.” Sasuke scolded as the two year old ran to the TV.

Naruto stretched again, and then followed the omega into the kitchen. “You bought food?”

Naruto peered behind him, placing a hand on Sasuke hip and assessing the bags on the counter.

“I hope you like sushi.” Sasuke said, and then “Can you put my coat on the coach?” He took his coat off, letting Naruto take it with him back to the coach.

When he brought the plates of Sushi to the kotatsu Ryuji was already wrapped in blankets and half asleep. The TV was turned down, and on it was playing a TV show that was supposed to be comedic, but only really funny because it wasn’t.

“He had a long day?” Naruto asked.

“Yeah,” Sasuke said. “He almost fell asleep on the bus.”

The TV cut to a commercial and suddenly there was a man on screen trying to sell an overly expensive vacuum.

“By the way, you told me you were in the military?”

Naruto raised a brow, dipping his already bitten sushi in soy sauce. “Yeah? What’s up?”

He watched Sasuke reach for his coat, pulling out the familiar photo. “There’s someone I know, that I haven’t seen in a while… He’s in the military too, apparently. Or was. I was wondering if you know anything about him. His name is Jugo.”

“Jugo?” Naruto furrowed his eyebrows. It sounded familiar.

He took the photo and in less than a second his eyes widened and he yelled, “SHIT! This guy! Yeah!”

Ryuji kicked under his blanket, furrowing his eyebrows and then turning away from the noise.

“How do you know him?!” Naruto asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Is he your friend?” Naruto asked.

“It doesn’t matter.” Sasuke repeated.

Naruto went quiet, looking back to the photo. “I wasn’t too close with him. But I knew him. He was really strong. A real tough guy. He was nice though, some of the other guys used to make fun of him cause he was always really quiet and shy and he never really fought anyone. But when it came to training and stuff he was a monster.” Naruto put some sushi in his mouth, covering his mouth as he spoke. “I never imagined him in the military to be honest. I only ever talked to him once, and it was mostly me talking at him. He liked animals though. Cool guy.”

“Liked…?” Sasuke asked.

“Likes. I don’t know.” Naruto said. “Last time I was there, he was alive. He probably is now.”

He gave the picture back to Sasuke and watched the omega inspect it closely and quietly before putting it back in his coat pocket.

Naruto watched the sushi dip in the soy sauce again, and after a moment of quiet asked, “are you close with him?”

“Hm? Oh…” Sasuke said, shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter.”

Naruto stared at him. When Sasuke glanced at him, he looked back down at his food, cheeks red.


 

Chapter Text



Sasuke woke up in a cold sweat at around two am. He felt the hair clinging to his face and his own breathing shallow and loud. Using his arms to raise himself, he looked around the room, assessing the darkness and silence of a snowy night.

His son slept peacefully next to him, pacifier in mouth and hand on his face.

Sasuke sat up, putting a hand to his stomach. He had been expecting Naruto to initiate more sex, but he hadn’t. He had been calm and collected after their first time, but now in the lack of action, his symptoms were returning.

He left his room, covering his son and quietly closing the door. He entered the kitchen, pulling open the top cabinet and taking the condoms he had bought yesterday. Entering the lounge room, he quietly and gently put a hand on Naruto’s shoulder and shook him awake.

Naruto’s face twisted and he grumbled Sasuke’s name in a slur. “Sasuke?”

“Naruto?”

“Huh?” Naruto croaked.

The Uchiha was suddenly very close to the blond, bringing their faces to the point where Naruto could see him clearly glancing between Naruto’s lips and eyes. “I’m in heat.”

Naruto looked at him with wide eyes, and then in an innocent voice replied, “Again?”

“The symptoms are back.”

Naruto stared at him, a bit flabbergasted at the situation.

Sasuke could feel the heat rising in his neck, thankful for the dimness. “Naruto…”

“You want sex?” Naruto whispered.

Sasuke felt a pain in his stomach, triggering his impatient reply. “What do you think?”

It wasn’t long before Naruto’s hand found Sasuke’s neck, pulling him close until he was on top of Naruto and under the covers. Naruto felt the sweat on Sasuke’s body, but was unbothered.

Their bodies shifted under thick covers until Sasuke was on the floor. Naruto’s hand was under his shirt, pulling his clothes off. It was something Sasuke would be ashamed for wanting, but he was in heat, and Naruto was so gentle. He touched him so thoughtfully, kissing and licking the inside of his mouth like an art. He ran his hands over every, sweaty part of Sasuke. From his thighs, to his hips, to the healing, pink bump of a scar Sasuke had from giving birth.

Naruto buried his face in the crook of Sasuke’s neck, licking the sweat off him while Sasuke tightened his hand in blond hair.

“Put the condom on.”



Sasuke was the first to wake. He didn’t know how long he lay there, but it was a long time before Naruto or Ryuji woke. The blond’s arm was wrapped around Sasuke waist, and mouth rested in the crook of Sasuke’s neck and shoulder. He felt the up and down of Naruto’s chest against his back, and squirm of his arm every now and then as he repositioned. Sasuke had never experienced this intimacy before. Then again, this was just normal for people after sex, he assumed.

After an unmeasured time of peaceful quiet, he felt Naruto’s head start to squirm, rubbing his face against the Uchiha’s skin as if he was drying it on a towel. His arms and body tightened, shifting against the omega, pulling him already closer.

Eventually Naruto raised his head and with squinted eyes was met with Sasuke’s curios expression.

 “You’re awake.” Sasuke said in an almost motherly tone.

His body relaxed, loosening around the omega, and face nuzzling itself back to Sasuke’s shoulder. “You feel better?”

“Yes.”

He felt Naruto’s soft and lazy kiss against his shoulder.

“You’re very affectionate.” Sasuke murmured.

“I am?” Naruto mumbled.

“You must’ve been popular with girls.”

Naruto’s laugh came out croaky and tired. “Cause I’m affectionate?”

“And you’re an alpha.” Sasuke’s voice was quiet.

Naruto shook his head slowly, and then pressing the side of his face against Sasuke’s soft skin, he said “I wasn’t popular at all. Girls hated me. Even omegas.”

“Why?”

He exhaled deeply. “I didn’t get good grades. I was loud. Annoying. My only talent was sports and I spent it fighting with the teacher.” There was a quiet pause, and Sasuke felt Naruto’s head relax on him. “What kind of student were you?”

“A good one.”

Naruto hummed, unsurprised.

“I did my homework. I had good report cards. I never got into trouble.” Sasuke continued.

“Did your friends ask why you dropped out?”

“I didn’t have friends.”

“You didn’t have friends?” Naruto asked, surprised.

“Is that surprising?” Sasuke said.

“Yeah.” Naruto answered honestly.

Before Sasuke could reply, their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a door slowly sliding open. Naruto felt Sasuke stiffen in his arms.

“Mum…?”

“Ryuji?”

“Mum?” Ryuji’s voice was tired and distressed.

Sasuke sat up hastily, pushing Naruto’s arm off him. “Go back to the room! I’ll be there in a second.”

Mum…”

Sasuke grabbed his shirt, hastily putting it on and grabbing the rest of his clothes in a very ‘un-Sasuke’ fashion. “Go back!” He turned to Naruto, asking quietly, “Where’s the condom?”

Naruto looked around the sheets. He had tied it and tossed it as soon as they’d finished, too tired to put it anywhere else.

“Find the condom and put it in the trash.”

“Okay.”

Sasuke rushed out of the couch bed and into the hall. Dressed, he made it back to his room, finding Ryuji standing on the bed with a pacifier in his mouth and a clueless expression.

Sasuke sighed, picking the boy up. “Are you okay? Are you hungry?”

The toddler buried his head on Sasuke’s shoulder. “Where you go?”

“I was napping on the couch.” Sasuke rubbed his back. “Did I scare you?”

He felt the toddler’s finger poke onto his neck.

“What’s that?”

“Huh—” Sasuke twisted his head far enough to catch sight of the dark mark of a hickey. Blushing, he stammered. “Nothing—it’s nothing! A mosquito bite.”  


 

After dropping Ryuji off at day-care, Sasuke waited for a half hour for Suigetsu. He didn’t even know if he would be arriving, but it was worth the wait. Eventually, the omega arrived looking more than surprised to see Sasuke there. After dropping his own son at day-care, they walked back to the bus station together.

“I asked him about Jugo.”

“And?”

Sasuke pulled out the photo, offering it to the other and feeling Suigetsu’s eyes permanently on him. “He said he knew him, but they weren’t close. He’d only talked to him once. He’s a good person, apparently.”

“Apparently…” He trailed off, wearing a troubled but not surprised expression. He stared at the photo one last time before putting it in his coat pocket. “Is he dead?”

“He doesn’t know.” Sasuke answered. “But most likely he isn’t.”

Suigetsu’s eyebrows furrowed, turning back to the street. It was one of the most serious expressions Sasuke had seen him wear.

Sasuke waited for a moment, eventually asking, “How did you meet?”

“Huh?”

“He’s Akio’s father… Isn’t he?”

Suigetsu made a face, rolling his eyes. “Ugh. It’s not important. Why do you care?”

“I’m just curious…”

Suigetsu sighed, and after another moment, said “It’s not important… We met when he was in the military. He was on a break for a while. My boyfriend hit me and Jugo beat him up.”

“What?”

“I was with my shitty boyfriend and we were having an argument after a night out at a bar. Anyway, he started getting really aggressive and hit me and then Jugo came into things and threw him around.”

Suigetsu paused, glancing at Sasuke’s absorbed expression and then continuing.

“I sorta clung onto him that night. I thought he was really hot.” Suigetsu said. “I mean, he’s a strong guy, you know. A real alpha… I ended up clinging to him a lot, and we started having sex. We started seeing each other, but it wasn’t really a relationship. He was still getting over his ex.”

“His ex?”

“Some omega who died.” Suigetsu said. “It doesn’t matter. Basically, he confessed to me before he left. He told me he’d be back in a few months and then he wanted to be together officially. A week after he left, I found out I was pregnant. I thought it might be a nice surprise, or something. Long story short, he never came back. I tried to get in contact with him but I couldn’t even call him and none of my letters were able to send. After a few months I tried to visit his apartment but there was someone else living there.”

“Suigetsu…”

“So yeah, I was knocked up by some army guy and then he disappeared.”

Sasuke had always thought Suigetsu had been in a similar situation as him, you know, rape. It was odd to find out the truth was actually far more romantic. There was a bubble of jealousy in Sasuke’s stomach he tried to digest. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. He sounds like a nice person.”

“Yeah,” Suigetsu agreed. “So, he’s either dead or not a nice person.”


 

Naruto never initiated sex. In fact, since the beginning he had seemed to become more wary and gentle towards the Uchiha. He had also become more intimate, not that Sasuke minded. His presence and touches were all calm and considerate, something Sasuke was learning to welcome.

After their second time having sex, it became normal. Sasuke had grown more comfortable initiating it. At the beginning, because of his shy nature, the only times he would were during violent symptoms of heat. And though it was unspoken, there were nights now at least once week that Sasuke would find himself in Naruto’s arms. Heat or no heat.

“Be careful, Ryuji!”

The toddler ignored his mother, waddling through the snow and squealing a laugh.

“If he trips the snow will protect him.” Naruto said.

It was his first outing since he had arrived in the Uchiha household. He had grown capable enough to walk them to the same park where they had found him. Ryuji had woken them both this weekend with cries and tantrums of boredom. In the end Sasuke had agreed to take him to the snowy park. After asking Naruto of his health, the blond had been more than happy to tag along.

“I don’t know about that.” Sasuke said.

“He’s light.” Naruto reassured.

“Ryuji, don’t go into the trees!”

The park was a haven of trees and hills, something Sasuke was very wary of in this season. He had kept them both on the flat levelled pathway through the park. In the distance he could see a variation of trees growing together. The toddler ignored his mother, moving through the snow and towards the tall trees.

“Ryuji!” Sasuke repeated, louder.

“HEY!”

Naruto’s voice was like a trumpet. The toddler stopped mid movement, turning his head like a caught squirrel.

“Your mother said don’t go there!”

Ryuji processed his words, looking to the two adults and then to the trees in front of him. Slowly but surely, he turned around and waddled back to the two.

“Thanks.” Sasuke murmured.

“It’s fine.”

Ryuji came back to the two, grabbing to his mother’s pant leg.

“What is it?”

Food.” He cooed.

Sasuke reached into the backpack on his son’s shoulders, shifting through the necessities to find a wrapped rice ball he had prepared earlier.

“Here.” Sasuke said. “Sit here while you eat.”

The omega cleared the snow off a bench and they sat. There weren’t a lot of other people in the park, if any. The three had left their apartment around seven am, too early for others on a weekend. The sky was still a dawning shade of blue and purple, and their surroundings were silent. If it had not been for the many weeks Naruto had spent stuck inside, he imagined the blond wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed for this.

“Are you hungry?” Sasuke asked.

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“Uh, a little.” Naruto admitted.

The cold air felt amazing to him. There was nothing better for him than to be outside in the foggy morning while his warm coat and thick pants protected him.

He watched Sasuke reach into Ryuji’s backpack again, taking another rice ball and giving it to him.

“How many did you make?” Naruto asked.

“Enough.”

“Thanks.” He held the rice ball in his hands, assessing the snack closely before eating. His hands were pink and burning from how he had been grabbing the snow and touching frozen items. He knew it would hurt later, but every time he put his hands in warm pockets they felt overheated and unnatural.

Mum,” Ryuji said, holding the empty wrapper. “Can I go play?”

Sasuke wiped the boy’s mouth with a napkin. “Stay close to us, okay?”

Okay!”

Both adults watched the toddler make his way into the snow, using his hands to start sweeping the snow into a pile. Tripping twice and falling once, almost crying once and then getting distracted by an oddly shaped leaf he found.

“Sasuke?”

“Hm?”

“Can I ask you a question?”

Sasuke gave him a hard glance. “Yes?”

“Why did you ask about Jugo?”

“Jugo?” Sasuke said.

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Naruto’s mouth made a similar shape to a pout, and Sasuke noticed a blush on his cheeks he hadn’t seen earlier. “Just asking.”

He took a moment before answering, collecting his words. “… He’s a friend of a friend.”

“A friend?” Naruto asked.

“Yes.”

“Is it Suigetsu?”

Sasuke turned back to the blond. “… How did you know?”

Naruto grinned, and with a laugh said, “I just guessed.”

“Because he’s my only friend?” Sasuke said.

Naruto grinned, shaking his head but knowing fully well that was how he had guessed.

“Can I ask you a question?” Sasuke retorted.

“Yeah?”

“Who’s the boy in the picture in your wallet?”

Naruto’s smile fell like a branch from a tree. He turned to the omega with a shocked and almost attacked stare.

“You went through my wallet?” Naruto finally said.

“When I found you.” Sasuke replied, softly. “Before I let you into my apartment.” He had been too shy to ask before, and only remembered the question now. It had been the main reason Sasuke had let him into their apartment.

Naruto looked down at his hands, staring at the unfinished rice ball. His voice was dry. “… When I lived with my godfather, I met his nephew. We used to play a lot together. He was a lot younger than me but he called me brother. I haven't seen him in a long time.”

“I’m sorry.” Sasuke didn’t know why he apologised.

Naruto took another bite of the rice ball. “It’s fine. It makes sense, I guess, to look into my wallet before you let me in. I’m surprised you didn’t ask earlier.”

Sasuke looked at him for a moment too long before putting his eyes back to his son.

“Mum!” Ryuji called. “Look!”

The toddler stood next to a clump of piled snow that was in two vague shapes on top of each other.

“C’mon!” Naruto stood up, passing Sasuke the empty wrapper. “I’ll show you how to make a snowman!”

Ryuji jumped up and down with a grin.

Sasuke spent the whole time watching the two play with each other, every now and then Naruto having to crouch down and regain his composure, reminding Sasuke of Akio, before standing up as though nothing had happened. He was good with children, Sasuke thought, in a brotherly way, in a way that made sense, since he himself was so full of vibrant energy.


 

Chapter Text



“You opened the window?”

“When you left for work.” Naruto said. “I wanted some air.”

Sasuke closed the kitchen window, catching glimpse of lessening slow. Every day was nearing further to March, he thought. He had spent New Year’s Eve with Naruto and Ryuji. Sasuke, as poor as he had been, had managed a cheap bottle of alcohol and shared it with the alpha while the child slept. They’d ended up having sex, and by the time the clock struck mid night he had been in deep sleep in strong arms.

Sasuke wrapped his robe tighter around his body, savouring the heat until he remade his way to the bed couch, crawling under the covers.

“I wondered why it felt colder. Turn the heater on higher.”

“I forgot I left it open.” Naruto said, adjusting the heater.

Their bodies were barely touching, but close enough for Naruto to be able to reach out if he wanted.

It was late at night, and after putting Ryuji to bed Sasuke was watching a film with Naruto. The film was a romantic comedy about a woman who forced her co-worker to pretend to be her boyfriend for a family camping trip. Obviously it wasn’t trying to win an award, but Sasuke wasn’t exactly impressed by the originality or comedy of it.

“What do you think?” Naruto asked, referring to the film.

“It’s stupid.”

Naruto turned to him. “In a bad or good way?”

Sasuke paused, “In an, I can keep watching, way.”

After half an hour of silence, Sasuke heard the door slide open an inch and then followed by the sound of tiny feet and sniffling. Ryuji entered the lounge room with a distraught expression and eyes on the verge of tears.

“What is it?” Sasuke extended his arm, ushering the child to him.

“Mum…” The boy whined.

“What happened?”

Ryuji sniffled dramatically, face distressed. He was ushered under the covers and pulled close by his mother. Sasuke cupped the child, covering him to the neck with the blanket and resting his head against his chest. He shushed the boy, rhythmically rubbing his back and feeling his chest rise and fall with deep intakes of breathe.

“Did you have a bad dream?”

Ryuji made a whiney noise before burying his face against Sasuke.

He patted the boys back gently. “He’s spoiled.”

“Mm.” Naruto agreed.

“Governor Senju has requested a cheque of compensation—an allowance by the government towards those who have served in the military.”

The film had cut to a commercial break and a woman appearing in her mid-thirties spoke.

“It’s unclear what the process will be or what the officials will do about this request. But there is a chance for compensation that many people are joyed about. We cut now to…”

“You might be getting money.” Sasuke said.

“Yeah.” Naruto replied. “I doubt it.”


 

“Which would you rather, pork or beef?”

“Beef.” Naruto answered.

Sasuke put the packet of beef loins in their cart, pulling it away from Ryuji as he tried to grab it from his seat. The toddler made a face of anguish, starting to break into a cry, quickly silenced by a chocolate packet his mum gave him.

“I don’t have that much money.” Sasuke said. “But I have enough to make a stew.”

“It’s fine.” Naruto said, and then, “is that how you stay skinny?”

“Why?” Sasuke said, amused. “Because I’m poor?

Naruto laughed. “Cause you don’t eat a lot.”

They pulled out of the meat section in the grocery store and into the dry foods. Naruto followed the omega loyally, watching the toddler kick and grab at the shelves, shaking his packet of chocolate.

“I’ve always been skinny.” Sasuke said. “I don’t eat a lot?”

“No.”

“I eat how I’ve always eaten.”

“You’ve always eaten so little?”

Sasuke paused, turning to him. “What do you mean? I eat normally.”

Naruto laughed. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just comparing myself to you.”

Sasuke looked at him suspiciously, turning back into a walk. “You don’t eat that much.”

“I used to.” Naruto said. “I’ve lost a lot of weight.”

“You used to be fat?”

Naruto sniggered. “No. Just thicker.” He took Sasuke’s hand. “See?” He put it to his stomach.

Sasuke looked at his hand on the other’s stomach. He felt the same flesh he had felt many times before. “It’s the same.”

“Maybe cause you didn’t know me before.” Naruto let his hand go.

Sasuke proceeded back into a walk. “Maybe you can become thicker again when you get money.”

“What makes you think I’ll get money?” Naruto asked.

“The compensation.”

 Naruto shook his head. “I don’t think they’ll do it.”

“No?”

“Maybe in a year or two.”


 

Two weeks later, Sasuke was having a play date with Suigetsu for their children before day-care. He had been in his uniform for his second job and Suigetsu had been in his. He had been watching Ryuji playfully trying to take a toy from Akio, who was not seeing the fun in this, when Suigetsu had brought his attention to the screen.

A news reporter with a low voice and tied back hair appeared on screen.

“After many protests and conflict between the people and the government, there has been a report from the governor Senju that she has been able to accomplish a compensation cheque. There has been a stricken deal with the people, from the government. A cheque of compensation has been ordered for an undisclosed amount of money—most likely depending on the situation of the person—for veterans without homes, families or any other type of support depending on their situation.

Anyone who might be eligible is encouraged to go to the ministry with identifications to see if they are eligible for a compensation cheque. Further information will be provided on our website.”


 

“Mum, can I have this?”

“That’s not for you.” Sasuke said.

Ryuji put the water bottle down.

“You didn’t have to do this.” Naruto said. “You’ve done more than enough.”

“It’s fine.” He replied quietly.

Naruto watched him pack a water bottle, food and a change of clothes calmly and firmly into the only cheap bag he had. His eyes must’ve lingered too long because Sasuke eventually looked up at him questioningly.

Naruto’s mouth tightened and he looked away.

“Do you know where to go?” Sasuke asked.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea.” Naruto said.

“Are you sure?”

He smiled. “Yeah.”

Sasuke paused. “Do you need money?”

Naruto made a face. “It’s fine.”

Sasuke paused, staring into the packed bag. He quietly zipped it, and then calmly handed it to him. “I packed everything… It should be enough.”

“Thanks.” Naruto murmured, looking at the bag.

He stood in the hall, fully clothed, warm, fed and above all healthy. He’d never felt more taken care of in these months than he had in his whole life, and it was not until Ryuji started tugging at his mother’s pant leg and asking for food did he realise they had been standing in the hall for too long.

“In a moment.” Sasuke said picking the boy up. “Are you going to say bye to Naruto?”

Ryuji put a few fingers in his mouth and stared at the blond.

“Say bye.” Sasuke repeated.

“Bye.” It came out in a gurgle.

The blond smiled. “Bye.” He put a hand on the toddler’s head, rubbing affectionately and laughing when the boy pulled back with a frown and buried his face in his mother’s shoulder.

Sasuke’s mouth lifted into a small smile Naruto had only seen a few times.

“When I come back,” Naruto said, pausing.  

“You can visit.” Sasuke said.

Naruto blushed. “Thank you.” He stayed there with heaviness in his stomach and a clog in his throat. He tried to rile up the confidence to say what he wanted to, what he felt. Sasuke stared at him with dark eyes, patiently, and when the heaviness in his stomach burst like a bubble, all he could say was “Thanks for everything.”



 

Suigetsu’s second job was as a bartender. It was not a place that Sasuke liked to visit, the air always felt thick and smelt of alcohol and cigarettes. But he went there one day, before the afternoon had turned to evening, only to give him the money he owed for medicine.

 “You didn’t need to come here.” Suigetsu said.

“It’s fine.” Sasuke replied. “I wanted to be equal.”

Suigetsu paused, staring at the money. “Alright. Thanks. My shift ends in half an hour but you can leave now.”

“I can wait.” Sasuke sat at the bar by himself, much to Suigetsu’s displeasure.

Naruto had been gone for three days—and would probably be longer. He imagined the blond had gone to the court, given his name, and then been handed a stack of money enough for him to live off of for two life times. But he knew, in reality, that the procedure would be longer and more strenuous than that. There were processes to those types of things, Sasuke knew. It would be at least two weeks before he might have the money, and even then, what would he do? Would he really want to come back?

Sasuke imagined all those times boys would get jealous of their friends relationships, and thought maybe this was what it was like to have a best friend.

“What are you doing here alone?”

When he turned to the voice, he was met with dark eyes and cropped hair.



 

He was cold and tired when he arrived to court. It took him two hours to find his way—he had gotten lost. When he’d arrived, no one had greeted him. The place reeked of depression and tiredness. It was cold and uncomfortable. The court he went to had a long line of veterans—none of which he recognised. It took him over four hours for his turn, in which he spent eating the food from his bag while the others ate free sandwiches that were being served, which Naruto knew tasted bad.

When it was finally his turn, he ended up in a fight with the receptionist. He had no identification on him, but he was sure she would find him in the files or database if she looked. However, she didn’t. For the first time in a long time Naruto felt himself become triggered. In his own panic he had started yelling, and in her own annoyance, the receptionist had ignored him.

It took two security guards to arrive on the scene and start grabbing him when he heard a familiar voice ask, “Naruto?”

The security guards paused, and the receptionist asked, “You two know each other?”

“He was a soldier under my training.” Kakashi said. “What’s the problem?”


 

Hatake Kakashi had been a sergeant and well acquainted with Uzumaki Naruto. It had taken a while for Naruto to learn discipline, and he had more than enough stories of the blond’s antics. By the time the blond had calmed down with his behaviour, they had come to know each other on a friendship level. The man had always had a casual personality, cool and welcoming to people’s personalities. There had always been something alluring to him which was probably why so many of the recruits had had feelings for him.

But as it turned out not only was Hatake Kakashi married, but he had a son. He’d always imagined the man as a bachelor with his casual personality and aura only for it turn out he was a real family man.

“You can stay here for a few nights.” Kakashi said. “Or until you get your money.”

“Thanks.” If it wasn’t for him, he would be sleeping on the streets.

Naruto walked into the apartment expecting a spinster pad and instead receiving the familiar feel of a family. Everything in the apartment looked like a wife had decorated it, like everything was fit perfectly to complement something else. It was warm, and rich. He looked like he had provided his family with a good amount of income. A family man, Naruto thought.

He was introduced to his wife—Iruka—an omega with brown hair and eyes. His son was five years old and already talking like him. He had the same dreary tone in his words which were somehow endearing in the mouth of a toddler.

He told Iruka stories about Kakashi, how all the recruits gushed over him and how the superiors found him annoying but effective.  Iruka laughed through all of it, unsurprised by everything while their son listened to everything intensely.

When the light faded and it was time for sleep Iruka prepared sheets, pillows and blankets for him on the couch. The couch was soft, clean and most of all comfortable. When he was lying under the blankets and ready for sleep, he kept closing his eyes and being brought back to a familiar and smaller apartment with a much prettier omega.

“How have you been?”

Naruto opened his eyes to see Kakashi standing in the hallway, pyjamas on.

“…Fine.” Naruto said.

Kakashi walked into the lounge room, taking a seat in his chair.

“Can’t sleep?” Naruto asked.

“Something like that.” Kakashi said. “… I wanted to talk to you.”

Fuck, Naruto thought.

“Where have you been?” Kakashi asked.

“I was staying with a friend.”

“A friend?” Kakashi asked.

“Yeah.”

“I thought you were dead.”

“You heard I died?” Naruto asked.

“I heard your godfather died… I tried to get in contact with you when I found out, but I got nowhere. I thought you disappeared or were dead.”

Naruto was quiet for a long time before speaking. “I stayed with a friend.”

“Who?”

“A friend.” His experience with Sasuke seemed too personal to tell to others somehow.

Kakashi looked at him for a long time and Naruto felt the same feeling in his stomach he had felt the first time his godfather had tried to have a serious conversation with him. It had been about school and his grades, and although flattered, Naruto had been uncomfortable to the bone. Growing in a life where he was brushed aside and ignored had not prepared him for conversations like these. For care like this.

“What are you going to do when you get the money?” His voice was quiet and patient.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you know what you want to do in the future?”

Naruto was quiet for a moment, until “I’ve been thinking of joining the police.”

Kakashi seemed both surprised and impressed. “The police?”

“Yeah.”

“And then?” Kakashi asked.

“…I don’t know.”

“Do you have somewhere to go back to?”

“I’ll rent an apartment.” Naruto said.

“Do you have someone to go back to?”

 Naruto was quiet for a long time, and before he could answer, Kakashi continued.

“You’re a young man, Naruto. I’m really relieved you’re alive. I know you’ve been through a lot, and for a long time in the army you were a mess. You fought, swore and did a whole lot of things that you shouldn’t have. But you survived. I’m proud of you for that…”

Naruto kept his eyes on a certain peeling fabric strand on the couch.

“You’re not a child anymore.” Kakashi continued, pausing. “I need you to think long and hard for what you want in the future.”

He waited for a reply and received none.

“I want you to make a family. I want you to find someone.” Kakashi continued. “I don’t want to worry about you dying again.”

“I know.”

“You know?” Kakashi asked.

“It’s fine.” Naruto said. “I have a plan.”

Kakashi was quiet for a long time, and took a stand to leave.

“Kakashi?” Naruto interrupted.

“Yes?”

“Do you know someone named Jugo?”




“Why aren’t you eating?”

Ryuji frowned, “no!”

Sasuke took the plate of curry. “I thought you liked curry. Aren’t you hungry?”

“No!”

He watched the toddler get up and run to the lounge room towards the TV and toys.

“You should be stricter with him.”

Sasuke ignored the gruff voice, taking the small plate towards the kitchen and putting it in the sink before going back to the lounge room to start cleaning the toys.

The sound of the phone rang through the apartment, which he assumed was Suigetsu. He ignored it, letting the alpha picking it up.

“Hello? … Okay.” He turned around, voice aloud. “It’s for you!”

Sasuke put the toys on the kotatsu and took the phone. “Hello?”

Sasuke?”

“Naruto?”

Who was that on the phone?”

Sasuke glanced to the lounge room, finding his son peacefully playing with the toy cars. He made his way to the bathroom, sliding the door shut. “Naruto?”

I got my money.” Naruto said.

“Your money?” Sasuke asked.

Yeah.”

“How much?”

A lot.” He could hear the grin in his voice. “I’ll show you when I see you.”

“Naruto…”

Who was that on the phone?”

“My mate.”


 

 

Chapter Text



The snow crunched under his boots. Everything Naruto wore was clean and new. He’d had a poor man’s mind set for a long time and had been flustered to choose clothes for style purposes. His coat was new, thicker and warmer, more fashionable. He had shaved his face with a new razor, now smooth cheeks that had once been covered in a manicured scruff— thanks to cheap razors.

He hadn’t had time to choose an apartment yet.

Sasuke’s apartment building was small, white and dirty. The parking lot outside was almost always empty and the stairs built into the building creaked under their weight. He took a moment to soak the picture in before climbing the stairs and knocking on the door.

The door opened and a very cute and sleepy Sasuke stood before him. His robe was wrapped around him tightly, over sweatpants and a shirt only mothers wore.

His face shifted from surprise and confusion to discomforted shyness.

“Naruto…”

“Hi.” His voice sounded dry.

Sasuke took a step outside, closing the door and tugging at the corners of his robe. He crossed his arms and tightened his wear for warmth. “What are you doing here?” His voice was soft.

“Am I interrupting something?”

Sasuke looked ready for a reply, but slowly turned his eyes to the ground. When he looked up, he repeated, “Why are you here?”

Naruto paused, and with a softer voice said, “Here.” He took a hand from his pocket, holding a piece of paper to Sasuke and watching slim pale hands take it back.

He was shaking. Sasuke looked at the paper. It was an address.

“Na—

“It’s Jugo’s.” And then to Sasuke’s confused face, he said, “I met someone I knew from the military. He knew a lot of people. I was able to find it out… I know cause you asked about him…”

“Oh…” Sasuke looked at the paper closely, folding it and then tucking his hands back under his arms, face flushed.

Despite the changing seasons, the air felt as cold as ever. Sasuke focused on the railing behind Naruto for a long time, only shifting in shyness when he noticed Naruto’s eyes wondering on the soft collarbone under the robe.

“I forgot to give it to you on the phone.” Naruto finally said.

Sasuke looked at him, shortly nodding.

“Who is he?” Naruto asked.

“Huh?”

“Your mate.”

It was the elephant in the room they had been ignoring. He paused. “I met him after you left…”

“And you mated him?”

“I’m an omega. He took me.”

“What do you mean? He forced you?”

“…Yes.”

Naruto’s eyebrows furrowed. “He raped you?”

“No.” Sasuke hesitated. “He… forcefully mated me… He bit me.”

“Where?”

“In a bar.”

“In a bar?”

“He forced me in the bathroom.”

“Why were you in a bar?”

“I was visiting Suigetsu. He’s a bartender.”

Naruto paused, processing the information and increasingly becoming more agitated. “So you just let him walk you into a bathroom?”

“No.” Sasuke said. “It’s more complicated.”

“How?!”

Sasuke sighed, arms crossing and head rose to the sky. He felt sick and there was a shakiness crawling in his throat he hadn’t felt in a long time. “Naruto…”

“That’s all someone has to do?” Naruto hoped his voice didn’t sound as hurt as he felt. “Just force you? You’re not gonna fight him?”

Sasuke took a deep breath and said “I don’t have a choice.”


 

The heat of August gripped Naruto like a fist. The changing rooms of the police academy were loud and small. His own muscles had reformed, though he was not what he had been in the military, he was still in shape—at least compared to some others.

It had been more than easy for him to pass the examinations. Compared to his training in the military, this had been nothing. There were candidates younger than him that hadn’t been able to pull through.

After getting dressed, he threw his bag around his shoulder and walked out of the building, exiting the crowd only to hear a voice call his name.

“Naruto?!”

He stopped, turning around to see a short redhead.

Gaara had red hair and peach skin. He was an omega with big brown eyes and a odd aesthetic. It was hard enough to enter the police academy as a non-alpha, but there were only a few omegas he knew that had made it this far. Naruto had always had a soft spot for Gaara. Though the others found his quiet and awkward personality provocative, Naruto had never been bothered.

“Hey.” Naruto greeted.

“Are you going to the bus station?” He asked quietly.

“Yeah.”

“I’m going in that direction.” He said. “Can I join you?”

“Sure.” Naruto smiled.

Gaara was half a head shorter than Naruto, but he didn’t mind. It was in the mid afternoon and the sun was only started to lower itself, though still strong and harsh enough to make them sweat. The streets were starting to flock as people finished their work or started their fun.

“We’re going to graduate soon.” Gaara said.

“Hm?”

“The police academy.” Gaara continued. “We’re nearing graduation.”

“Oh, yeah.” Naruto said. “Pretty exciting.”

“Were you very athletic in high school?” Gaara asked.

“A bit…” Naruto said. “Why? What makes you ask that?”

“You seem very easy-going with our tests and exercises.”

“Oh!” Naruto laughed. “I was in the military for a bit!”

Gaara’s eyes widened. “Really?”

“Yeah! Is that impressive?”

“Yes.” Gaara admitted.

Naruto blushed, running a hand through his hair. “Nah… I know a lot of people my age who’d been in the military.”

Gaara paused, feeling the question in his throat he wanted to force out. “Naruto…”

“Naruto?”

“Huh?” Blue eyes found their way back to a confused redhead.

Gaara turned around. They were near the market place. On the road they walked were shops and stores for nothing but food or leisure. Across the street from them, under a tall bus stop was a little boy with school bag with an expressionless face.

He turned back to the blond, even more confused. “Naruto?”

“I’m sorry… I just found someone I know. Sorry. I have to go.”

There were kids everywhere at this time of the day, and the chances seemed so odd to him. He couldn’t imagine Sasuke ever letting his son take the bus home alone, particularly at that age. But then again, he hadn’t seen either of them in so long.

It felt simultaneously like a year and a day since he had seen Sasuke. He had grown too comfortable in the arms of the Uchiha, and Naruto who had been so long without that type of warmth and affection had let himself borrow a home against the soft body.

He crossed the road. Nearing the boy and watching the features of Ryuji grow clearer and clearer. The same black hair and pale skin of his mother. The same brown eyes of an unknown father. He had grown.

Ryuji noticed his presence in a slow and dramatic process—as was every process with children.

“Ryuji?” Naruto said, kneeling. “… Do you remember me?”

 “Na—to…” The boy said the name in a slur.

Naruto smiled. “Yeah. Naruto.”

“Yeah!” Ryuji repeated with a grin. He yelled, “Naruto!”

“Where’s your mum?” Naruto smiled. “What are you doing here?”

“Work.”

“Work?” Naruto said. “Mum’s at work?”

“Yeah!”

“How are you meant to get home?”

“Jin.” Ryuji said.

“Who’s Jin?”

Ryuji kicked the dirt in front of him, not so much excited anymore. “Mummy’s alpha.”

“Oh.”

Naruto had imagined himself a future with a wife and children. Maybe it was because he had so little to call family, but he had always dreamed of a big family. Four children—no, five. Maybe six. When he was sixteen this spirit had hidden, it had been replaced by other urgers and needs. The need for money, the urge to fight, to live. He had lost a part of himself somewhere, and it was with this toddler in his arms that he felt that desire for family all over again.

The boy was slung in one arm while the other kept hold of his bag and the boys. His body was tired, but somehow he felt the adrenaline waver back as he followed the route back to the Uchiha home.

“You know that bus stop you were waiting at doesn’t go to your house.”

Ryuji put a cheek against Naruto’s shoulder. “Yeah.”

“Yeah? Yeah, what?”

“It goes home.” Ryuji murmured.

“No…”

“Bus goes home.” He said.

“Not all buses go home. Do you know where Jin is?”

The boy shook his head.

“How is he?” Naruto asked. “You like Jin?”

Another shake.

Naruto coughed out a laugh. “What? You don’t like him?”

Ryuji shook his head again, this time with a smile.

“Why not?”

Ryuji hummed, and then shrugged.

“He’s not nice?” Naruto guessed.

The boy swung his legs in the air, humming and then shrugging.

They reached the apartment building after two hours. Naruto had had to take rest multiple times. For a short period he had held the toddlers hand while he had tried to keep up, but the sun was strong and both were tired. In the end, only one pair of legs had been able to support both.

The apartment complex looked a lot less cheap when not covered in snow, he thought, climbing the stairs.

Naruto was not done climbing the stairs when he heard the yelling. It was an unfamiliar voice from a man coming from Sasuke’s apartment. An argument. It was muffled through the barrier but as soon as he finished climbing the stairs, the door to the apartment burst open and the yelling became clear.

 “Look—I told you I forgot—Forget it! I’ll take care of it! You’re being annoying—Sasuke!”

Sasuke looked paler than he remembered—if that was possible. His face was flushed, one hand holding a wallet and the other shaking. Big, dark eyes which Naruto had once found so alluring now looked panicked like an animals. He stood in the middle of the pathway, staring at Naruto as if he was seeing a ghost.

Voice barely a whisper, Sasuke said, “Naruto?”

“Mum!”

The spell was broken. Ryuji stared writhing in Naruto’s arm, thrashing his way out of the blond’s arms and to the ground to his mother. He ran as though he was being chased, into the arms of his distressed parent. Sasuke embraced the boy on his knees and buried his face in the toddler’s hair. Thank god.

“Who are you?” The man who had been yelling stood rooted behind Sasuke. He had cropped hair and dark features, a round but sharp face that looked too old to be on someone mated to a twenty year old.

“My name is Naruto.”

“Who are you?” He repeated, not angry.

“A friend.”

He raised a brow at him, but remained unbothered.

Sasuke stood up slowly, keeping hold of Ryuji’s hand.

Naruto approached him, presenting the toddler backpack which Sasuke looked almost befuddled to accept.

“Thank you.” He murmured, and then pausing, said, “Can I talk to you alone…?”

“Yeah.”

“Wait—Ryuji!” The boy had squeezed out of Sasuke’s grip, and ran into the apartment. Hungry—probably, Sasuke thought. Damn it.

He was reluctant to leave him alone with the alpha, Naruto realised. And as if reading his mind, Jin said, “Just invite him inside!”

Naruto didn’t know if it was because of the seasons, but the apartment seemed so damn different to him than he remembered. In his memory the Uchiha household had been a small, warm space to crawl into, but now it seemed like a contained, hot, cardboard box poked with holes for air.

Sasuke followed the toddler into his room, only coming back to go to the kitchen and collect a juice box for the boy. When he returned, Naruto and Jin sat across each other at the kotatsu, and Sasuke took his place in the kitchen to get the food.

“I’m not hungry.” Naruto said.

“Get him a drink.” Jin instructed.

Sasuke delivered three bottles of beer—two of which were for Jin.

“Where’s the boy?” Jin asked.

“He’s taking a nap.”

“A nap?”

“Walking made him tired. He’s only three.” Sasuke said. “Where did you find him?” His tone changed so subtly that Naruto didn’t realise he was talking to him.

“Oh!” Naruto said. “Uh…! He was waiting at a bus stop.”

“A bus stop?” Sasuke asked.

“The one… Near the market place.” Naruto explained. “It doesn’t go to your building. But I think he thought all buses stop near your place.”

There was something disapproving in Sasuke’s silence. It made Naruto wondered what exactly Jin would be faced with when the blond left.


 

He stayed for an hour. Jin and he talked about work, money and ended up discussing sports. He wasn’t that fond of sports, but there was something about Jin’s way of speech that made him want to argue. There was something incredibly unlikable about him. The man was thirty-two years old and didn’t seem like much of a husband.

Sasuke was quiet—only really talking to ask a question or answer. He seemed almost uncomfortable at the presence of both men, but Naruto couldn’t tell anymore.

Their talk had made both men tired, and Jin had moved to the bathroom. Naruto took this opportunity to make his way to the kitchen, leaning very closely to Sasuke who was cleaning the dishes.

“Are you gonna stay with him?”

“Naruto…” He whispered.

“You don’t think I can see bruises on your arm?” Naruto whispered erratically.

Sasuke’s skin was so pale and delicate. The markings looked unnatural and almost like make up. But they were there. And Naruto had noticed them as soon as he had seen the Uchiha hold his son in front of their apartment. Two healing bruises and one growing one, all peeking out from his rolled up sleeve that he had had to lift from the heat.

“Why are you still with him?”

“Naruto…” His voice was distraught, but not because of Jin. “Leave it.”


 

Maybe it was his agitation towards Sasuke that made him leave, or Jin re-entering the room and asking what was happening. Maybe it was his own cowardice or the feeling of rejection not only from Sasuke but from the situation. He had walked into the apartment as an outsider, looking into a family—however unhappy or incomplete—and did not fit. Where was his place to take a wife from their husband? Who was he to this person, to this family?