The survey had been pushed under nearly every door in the Leaf-Hid Village, with the exception of the Umino apartment, the Haruno house, the Yamanaka house, and the Uchiha mansion (which last presumably knew all about it anyway).
What is your opinion of the Uchiha decision to adopt in Haruno Sakura-san and Yamanaka Ino-san, so that Uchiha Sasuke may get them with child to preserve the Uchiha House?
(a) Mwahahahaha! ...no, seriously, what are those boys
up to these days?/
(b) You're too young to be making life-altering decisions like that!
(c) I'm disgusted but not surprised; really, what else can you expect from those kinds of people?
(d) E, NANDA?!
Opinions among the Leaf-hidden were about evenly split between the four, with a few exceptions, e.g.:
Whatever. So, for movie night, should I bring Teenage Student Nuns From Hell, Mutant Vixens From Hell, or go for the ultimate, Teenage Mutant Student Vixen Nuns From Hell? -- Hatake, K.
Uh-huh. Make this work, you. Don't put me to the bother of having to maim someone on a friend's behalf. -- Nara, S.
O-o-omedetou gozaimasu, N-naruto-kun-tachi! Let me know i-if there's anything I could do to help with anything, please! -- Hyuuga, H.
Granted, very few of the jounin or chuunin reacted in way (c), being used to far more socially unacceptable behaviors from among their own.
This was not to say, however, that they did not have their own issues.
It had been much, much simpler, Umino Iruka reflected sourly, when someone else came up with these sorts of Astoundingly Insane Notions. It had been easy to scream at a jounin headcase for pushing Innocent Children into Risking Their Lives when they were just children, not that someone like that could understand the ephemerality of childhood when he'd never been let have one himself (although what Iruka's parents would have said to him for Looking Down On A Man Because He Lacks The Privileges You Were Born With just didn't bear thinking on).
Here, though, Ino-kun glared at him and knee-walked closer to Sakura-kun, who moved closer to where Naruto was sitting even as she fervently blinked back tears, and Naruto -- Naruto didn't tear up at all, but his shoulders slumped and his face took on the kicked-pup look it had had when Iruka had first sighed and invited the boy out for ramen (the perils of an overactive conscience. And, eventually, the rewards of same. Even if he was somewhat less than appreciative of them just at the moment). Really, he should have helped himself to analgesics from the teachers' supply room before he'd come over.
And they weren't children, not really, not any more, not for quite some time now. It was strange, how long you could keep a set of mental impressions before they came up against reality and shattered in its face.
"If you really want to do this, I will support you," Iruka said, viciously throttling his common sense with the help of his better judgment, "but don't you think you should wait until you're a little older to actually start having children? Children are a lot of responsibility, you know."
"Yeah, but we're ninja," Naruto said, immediately brightening. "I say, shit happens."
Sakura and Ino nodded, still tense.
"Hey, hey, I'm not saying it's gonna -- just, in case, we ought to get started on the kids sooner rather than later. And they might not all have the Sharingan anyway, so we should probably have lots -- "
"Actually, I think I've figured out how to manage that," Sakura-kun mercifully interrupted before Iruka swallowed his tongue trying not to give his opinion of 'lots.' "It's -- that's going to be determined by Sasuke-kun's seed and by mine, and picking out the right ones and squashing mine shouldn't be that much harder or different than some of the micro-healing jutsu, I think modifying them would just require fluctuating the -- "
At this point, she noticed that both sets of blue eyes were glazing over.
"Anyway, if I can get some of the lab mice turned over to me I can start trying it out as soon as they begin mating, so it should be ready to be tried in person in a few months," Sakura finished quickly.
"I say, I'll catch you all the mice you need," Naruto said helpfully.
"Ah... actually, I think it would be better if we went through channels on this one. I'll be happy to come around and endorse Sakura-kun's request," Iruka said quickly. Honestly, he was much too young to be developing nervous tics, not to mention that it would make keeping control in the classroom that much harder.
"What's wrong with Naruto catching mice?" Sakura blinked.
Ino made as if to thwap her upside the head. "I take it your family doesn't get together and tell kaidan on summer evenings."
"...I gather you've told them, then?" Iruka managed. He wondered, not for the first time, if he'd been something particularly evil in a former life, such as an embezzler or a whoremonger or an ambulance chaser or something.
"Well, I figured if they were going to do this, they deserved to KNOW, I say," Naruto pointed out. "And I still don't see what mice have to do with anything."
"Small predators, small prey, I think," Sakura offered, putting pieces together.
"Anyway," Naruto left that conversational elephant in the middle of the proverbial dining room, "the other reason we wanted to talk to you here now -- shit does happen now and then, and if it happens to all of us, someone would need to take care of the kids, I say. So would you?"
"You see anyone else here?" a baritone grunted from the doorway.
The girls squeaked.
"Gah. Don't DO that in here, asshole," Naruto grumbled, half-turning to look up at him.
"You need the practice, dumbass," Sasuke told him, leaning against the shoji frame.
"But what makes you think I'd have any skill at raising children?" Iruka said hastily before the Uchihas took it into their heads to have a knock-down-drag-out fight in the parlor.
"You haven't done too badly with Naruto," Ino said, unobtrusively adjusting one of her socks behind her. "And you didn't have much to build from with him, either."
"My parents would, of course," Sakura added, "it's not that we're asking you to do everything -- but they're not shinobi. Because of who and what these children will be, we think that they ought to be raised by shinobi even if they decide not to go there."
He noticed the flicker of pain that shot across Ino-kun's face, but pretended he hadn't -- Sasuke had managed to compress both incredulity and irritation into a grunt, and that probably ought to be dealt with first.
"Hey, hey, they're going to be kids, they can grow up to be whatever they want," Naruto told his -- not-brother, not-father, not-exactly-lover-even-if-Iruka-had-seen-Naruto-escorting-'her'-several-times, maybe there wasn't a word for it. "Even if none of them want to, we could have shinobi grandkids, I say. I could tell them all about all the awesome things I -- okay, we -- did when we were their age, and there wouldn't be too many people around to try and contradict me."
"In your dreams, nitwit," Sakura said, rather affectionately, and then reached out and ruffled Naruto's hair.
"Whatever. Will you? Please, Iruka-sensei?"
All three of them turned eager, expectant faces on him. He looked up at Sasuke-kun; the dark-haired boy kept his face expressionless, but Iruka had been a teacher too long not to recognize the tension in his shoulders.
"I would be honored," he said, and he rather thought he was.
"All right!" Naruto cheered. "Now, who else should we ask?"
"Else?" Iruka said.
"Shit happens," the three young adults sitting in front of him chorused as though it were holy scriptures.
"Besides," Sakura added, "if we do have many many lots, it would be completely unfair to expect you and my parents to be responsible for them all by yourselves."
"Shikamaru," Ino said promptly.
"He seems well-grounded and everything," Sakura pondered, "but wouldn't he think children were an awful bother?"
"He's MY teammate, he'll think they're a necessary bother. Besides, he was like the only person to think their, I mean our household arrangements -- my, that still sounds weird -- were none of his business."
"So in return, you're going to make it his business," Sakura snorted.
"Virtue should always be rewarded," the blonde told her sanctimoniously.
"The old hag's probably got enough on her plate," Naruto thought out loud in the meantime, "... maybe Jiraiya-sensei?"
"No," both girls told him at once.
"Didn't you say you kept him paying attention to your lessons by repeatedly turning into a naked woman?" Iruka said. He really should have helped himself to the teachers' analgesics.
"Well, yeah, maybe not," Naruto agreed with his prospective (wives? sisters?); " -- I say, I'm an idiot!"
"We knew that," Sasuke grunted, taking some time out from pondering Uchiha non-shinobi-offspring.
"Shuddup and listen; Hinata-chan! She said to let her know if there was anything she could do to help us. We could so totally ask Hinata-chan!"
"That's a good idea," Sakura agreed, at the same time as Ino said "I'm sure she would."
Sasuke grunted affirmatively, and then said "Kakashi-sensei."
"NO," said everyone else in the room.
Sasuke shot a look at Iruka.
"I am speaking on behalf of my potential godchildren here," Iruka said indignantly. "You will NOT inflict Hatake Kakashi-sensei on them."
"'Inflict' is right," Sakura muttered before her brain caught up with her mouth.
"The Sharingan," Sasuke explained. "If I cannot teach them how to use it, someone should..."
"He can be an uncle," Ino said decisively. "You can have all sorts of weird uncles who show up out of the blue and teach you useful things and would never be put in charge of you by anyone whatsoever."
"That works," Naruto and Sakura said in ragged unison.
Sasuke thought for a moment, nodded, and glided out of the room.
Iruka hoped he had kept his pleasant smile.
"You can be an uncle, too," Naruto said quickly.
"I bet you'd be an awesome uncle, Iruka-sensei."
"Well, he's your big brother," Sakura-kun said in the tone of one stating 'well, the sky is blue,' "wouldn't he be an uncle by default anyway?"
Although, granted, some of the higher-level ninja took less time to get used to the idea than others.
(The movie titles are gacked from Robert Frezza's McLendon's Syndrome, one of the funniest science-fiction books I've ever read [and containing a gorgeous tribute to the late great P. G. Wodehouse].)