The Uchiha clan descended on the beach in a thunder of running children, frazzled women, hidden weapons, and far too many canvas bags.
"Over here!" Iruka called from under a large beach umbrella set somewhat aside from most of the rest. "We saved you a spot!"
The charge wavered and then swirled around the umbrella in question. Two of the women set their bags down, pulled towels out, and automatically moved with Iruka to take up defensive positions around the knot of black-haired children (and one blond one).
"I suppose you want me to move, too," Shikamaru said from his seat against the umbrella.
"Considering I'm still nursing this one," Ino said, "YES. Move your lazy ass before we disqualify you as godfather."
"What, and leave yourselves with only seven other ones?" Shikamaru muttered. He did get up and amble over to the left watch, though, letting Ino fold herself onto the sand and unfold a beach chair for Naruto.
"Not that I mean to be rude or anything," Sakura said from the seaward corner, "but what are you doing here?"
"I was finishing up my mission," Shikamaru shrugged, "when I got a copy of a note from Naruto saying that he was going to be here with his women and children and big brother, why didn't Kiba and Sasuke and I see if we could wind things up and move in a beachwardsly direction?"
Sakura's, Ino's, and Shikamaru's gazes slowly moved to settle on Naruto. Shikamaru's eyes widened.
"I say, I didn't know if anyone was going to be here, so I thought it would be a nice surprise if they were," Naruto explained, quickly plopping into his beach chair. "Guh. Roiling. Bad."
The oldest of the children rolled his black eyes to heaven. "I cannot believe Dad is -- "
"I think it's sweet of him," the next-eldest snapped, glaring down at him with her hands on her hips. "Mother and Ino-mommy have enough as it is, and Dad's really -- "
"InoKO, nobody else in Konoha has -- "
"Nobody else in Konoha has four mommies, either," the blond kid pointed out.
His twin sister and big brother rounded on him. "You stay out of this, Kura!"
"Kids. Bothersome," Shikamaru said.
"So who wants to go swimming?" Iruka said quickly at the same moment.
All but the toddler quickly announced that they did, Uncle Iruka, please, in wildly different keys and decibel levels.
Ino fished another bottle of sunscreen out of one of the bags. "So when are you going to start on yours?" she asked, getting up and moving to help Sakura and Iruka anoint the hubbub.
"I'll have to talk it over with the Mrs.," Shikamaru shrugged. "Or she'll bring it up with me when she feels like it." His gaze crept back, as if magnetically drawn to a cart wreck, to Naruto.
Naruto took another sip from the water bottle Hinata had handed him and blinked. "What?... ohhh, I say, I *knew* I should have worn the yukata over the bikini. The Awesome Might of my Elite Jutsu is just too much for the tender sensibilities of a beach full of civilians and the occasional ninja, even if he is jounin, I say."
"Otoosan, I told you!" Sakura told him again, liberally rubbing sunscreen over Kura's back. "It's too hot out for you to wear a yukata until you get yourself good and wet. Sit there in the shade until you feel ready to go swimming; you're more delicate than you were, and if you keep slamming yourself around the way you normally do you'll risk losing it." She snapped the top of the sunscreen closed with audible indignation.
"If you go on sounding like Gai," Ino said, daubing the three-year-old girl's nose with zinc oxide, "I"LL slam you around, and that won't be good for it either."
"I was not sounding like Gai!" Naruto huffed, nearly sloshing water out of his bottle before deciding to take another drink of it instead.
The three mothers of his children favored him with a politely skeptical stare. (Given that Hinata was favoring the *back* of Naruto's head with said stare, Shikamaru wondered about the effectiveness of hers; but then, it was a Byakugan-stare, so maybe it was all right after all.)
"The ocean..." Kura said quietly.
Iruka nodded. "Come along, Uchiha Commune." He took point as the group moved out as naturally as Sakura dropped into the rearguard's place.
"I was going to ask 'What are YOU doing here?'," Shikamaru said as the cavalcade receded, "but honestly, what are you doing THUS?"
"He left right about the time we were all discussing it," Ino reminded him, waving an arm in the general direction of Naruto's torso before sitting back down.
"Oh, yeah, that. I'd been working on my stamina and control 'cause the old hag hasn't given me anything for like a year -- except all this paperwork she doesn't want to do herself -- so I figured she was saving me up for something really good, I say, y'know? Only it was nearly a year, and Saki-chan and Hinata-chan were saying it was getting to be about time for another kid, and just because I'm mostly stuck in Konoha doing paperwork it doesn't mean that Sakura-chan and Ino-chan should miss out on decent missions, and Hinata-chan's not going to have any more until Hanabi-chan can sit on grabby cousins and anyway that wouldn't help with this, so I said I would. And then the hag said she's finally going to pass it on to me, only she's going to wait till the baby's born, so I decided we should take the kids around to see the sights and natural wonders and the Great Naruto Bridge and the doorway where Saki-chan and I hooked up and everything while we can still do it as private denizens."
"Er... citizens, Naruto-san," Hinata said.
"Yeah, that. Would you believe the doorway wasn't even there anymore? They'd torn the whole building down and were busy putting something else up. I say, I was so disappointed. That was a Historic Stoop. I have fond memories of that stoop."
"Actually," Hinata confided to Shikamaru, "Hokage-sama decided to move up her retirement when she heard of Naruto-san's decision; she said that if that doesn't prove to the village what kind of man they'd be getting... "
"...then even letters engraved in lightning from heaven and signed by the Lord Buddha, Lord Inari, and the Seven Lucky Gods wouldn't," Ino finished. "Anyone who was going to be scandalized turned their minds off when the first kids were born or when we, ah, liberated our Clan Head -- "
" -- that is, if they hadn't already been shocked silly by Saki-chan. Besides, now we get women coming up to us in the market to congratulate us, and-or wish that their husbands had been willing to do as much for them."
"I'm not sure how the O-iroke no Jutsu would work on a girl," Naruto said thoughtfully. "Maybe she'd just get sexier, instead of turning into a guy or anything."
"You could teach it to me sometime, Naruto-san," Hinata offered. "Please oil my back."
While Naruto was obliging her, the toddler (who had been pushing sand around during the earlier discussion) looked up at Ino with big black eyes, flapped his arms at her, and made a noise.
"Yes, Taka, I know," Ino told him, unhooking the front of her two-piece, gathering Taka into her arms, and offering him a breast. As he sucked noisily, she ran a hand over his now-thick black hair.
When Hinata padded down to join the rest of the splashing throng and Ino caught Shikamaru up on the village gossip while her son dozed, Naruto slid into something of a doze himself. The sun was bright, the beach was warm, the breeze off the ocean was cool and salt-laden, the life in his womb was doing that fishy-wriggle thing again that none of the girls had been able to explain properly to him when they were feeling it, Ino-chan was watching Taka and half the beach, and Shikamaru was watching the other half.
Naruto was still the first one to jerk up and turn his head, though.
The other two ninjas under the umbrella tensed for a moment, looked, and then relaxed. Down at the waterside, Hinata cocked her head for a moment, looking through the crowds of people, and then began excusing herself to the children.
"Hey, baby," Naruto murmured with lazy male satisfaction as a fourth person strolled up to their umbrella.
"I heard you'd be here," the black-haired person said quietly, tilting her frilly parasol out of the way of the beach umbrella, "and so, you see."
"Saki-chan, I *wish* you'd finish your sentences," Ino grumbled.
"How do you balance in those?" Shikamaru wondered at the same time, eyeing Saki-chan's six-inch-high clog sandals and their ridiculously thin crisscrossing straps.
"Practice, Shikamaru-san," Saki-chan said. As well as the sandals, she was wearing what appeared to be a very modest woman's one-piece swimsuit under a thin sprig muslin dress that buttoned down the front, a hair ribbon with what looked like a white puffball attached to the left side of her head, a lace shawl, pale lip gloss, and some kind of eye makeup that made her already large black eyes look larger and rounder.
Naruto started to get up and offer her the chair.
"No, no," Saki-chan fluttered. "You're in a delicate condition, you shouldn't -- "
"Aw, c'mon, baby, you look all worn out, who's the big strong guy here, huh -- "
Shikamaru looked at Ino.
Ino looked at Shikamaru. "Not gonna say it, NOT gonna say it..."
"Oh, here, let me get that for you," Hinata said, water dripping from her hair and beading down her legs as she fished a beach towel and some cushions out from the ubiquitous canvas bags, setting a few down next to Naruto's beach chair and putting another one behind the small of his back.
"Thanks," Naruto sighed, leaning back with a bit of an arch that thrust his already prominent breasts out yet more. He reached around to the bag behind his chair as Saki-chan settled in next to him, curling her feet up and resting her head on his left shoulder. "Either of you two want a lemonade? I think the triple-bag thing is keeping them fairly cool, wonder where Iruka-sensei's dad learned that from..."
"Yes, please," Saki-chan said.
Hinata politely declined. "I'm going to lie out in the sun and read my book," she went on. "If any of you would like to go in."
"No, thank you," Saki-chan said.
"Watch Taka-chan for me then, will you?" Ino asked, bounding to her feet and then quickly checking to see if she'd woken him.
"Your loss," Ino told him, running down to the water and straight into it, precipitating a splash war between the two oldest children and the three middle girls.
By the time Kiba showed up, everyone except Shikamaru and Saki-chan had been in the water once, Naruto had taken up a new position curled around his developing child with his head in Saki-chan's lap, Saki-chan had set her parasol down for an extra sunshade for him and was humming a little tune while cleaning his ears, Iruka and the other women had organized a game of blind-man's-whack-a-melon for the children some ways down the beach, and Shikamaru had come to the conclusion that while civilians of course could not be expected to have a ninja's instinctive need to erase their traces, tourist civilians seemed to be devoid of any thought of cleaning up after themselves; it was as if it were inconceivable that, once they had decamped from their place on the popular beach, some other persons might possibly wish to sit/lie/play volleyball or whack-a-melon on that portion of it.
"Yo," Kiba said.
"Kiba! All RIGHT! That makes everyone!" Naruto said.
"Good afternoon, Kiba-san," Saki-chan said.
"I will NEVER get used to that," Kiba told the spokes of the beach umbrella.
"Get used to what?" Naruto and Saki-chan asked with varying levels of politeness and matching levels of cluelessness.
"...never mind. Why are you a g -- never mind that, either. Damn, you smell weird pregnant."
"Kiba-san! There are children on this beach," Saki-chan remonstrated, voice breathless behind one shocked hand.
"Not in earshot," Kiba grunted, dropping to the sand beside them. "Akechi would have come, but he broke his leg. I set it and everything, but I left him to sleep it off in the room; maybe Sakura-san could look at him later. Hey, you've got a scroll thing lying on the ground here."
Naruto picked the scroll up from behind him and opened it. "Oh, it's from Sasuke. He got everything done, nobody died who was supposed to stay alive, not too many people died who didn't have to, that kind of thing. And I'm supposed to ask the hag for some time off for him in a couple months, either that or guard duty for ME." He snorted.
Kiba looked at Naruto.
Kiba looked at Saki-chan, who was motioning Naruto to turn over so she could do his other ear.
Kiba looked at Naruto.
"Really!" Naruto rolled over. "Since when am I going to need a bodyguard in the next few months?"
"Sakura-chan and Ino-chan..." Saki-chan said tentatively.
"If they get mad at me whining, they'll smack me upside the head, is all. I say, I'm preggers, not dying."
"...in their travails, they made death threats." Saki-chan completely ignored her man. "Anata, you are so impulsive, you might well try and act upon your promises of murder."
"So you can tell the Hokage that, if the urge should come over you to reach up and strangle Uchiha Sasuke for putting you through this, he'll be handy?" Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "And Neji thinks his clan acts obliquely."
"Maybe. I don't know. I haven't a clue what goes on in that jerk Sasuke's head. Any of you have any ideas?"
So, rather more elegantly, did Saki-chan.
Kiba looked at Naruto.
Kiba looked at Saki-chan.
Kiba looked at Naruto.
"All you Uchihas are stark raving mad," Kiba said. "It must come with the house or something."
Saki-chan snorted -- an elegant girly little sound, like a cat sneezing -- and turned her head away haughtily.
"Yeah, but we're happily mad," Naruto said. "The kids are fine, the girls are fine, I'm gonna be Hokage as soon as this one pops out -- "
"I didn't mean it was a bad thing," Kiba said quickly. "Your pack raises the kids, the kids are healthy and happy and loved and probably more stable than any kids have been in the whole history of the Uchiha family -- adopting you in and turning all two of you over to you was probably the smartest thing that jerk ever did."
"I'd have thought it was snatching up Hinata-chan after the Hyuuga decided she wouldn't make a good heir after all and before they sealed her."
"Yeah, right. Get real. Do you honestly think he'd have lifted one finger against Hinata-chan's own family unless you were dragging him along? Anyway, the point is, your people-pack WORKS."
"Thank you," Saki-chan said, favoring him with a butterfly of a smile. "I think the last watermelon is just about dead; I'll go help organize the clean-up." She extended a white square hand, short neatly filed nails painted in swirls of purple and pale pink.
Kiba gave her a hand up without really thinking about it, and then made a disgusted noise at himself. Saki-chan's hand was heavily callused but not rough, and smelled strongly of one of those lotions or creams or whatever they were that girls rubbed on their skin to keep it from getting chapped or something.
"You're a great dad," Kiba told Naruto quickly to get his mind off Disturbing Things like Saki-chan's conflicting smells. "Being a dad's good for you, too. And being a mother's good for Sakura-san. And being Clan Head's good for Hinata-chan." His eyes drifted for a moment to the group of women and watermelon-spattered children. Hinata and Sakura were each holding one of Taka's hands as the little boy walked up to where a wave was going to be and then dodged back from the incoming water. Iruka was carrying the three-year-old girl and the bag of watermelon pieces and talking to Kura, while Ino was explaining something to Inoko. The oldest boy was attempting to vaporize small bits of watermelon with extraordinarily inadequate levels of chakra control, and the other boy was combing through the sand for seeds; the three middle girls were taking time out from dropping watermelon bits in the bag in order to show off those seashells they found in the process to Saki-chan, who exclaimed admiringly over each one. "And being a part-time mommy's good for, um, Uchiha. You're raising really, really -- "
"Sane?" Shikamaru offered.
"Yeah," Kiba agreed as Naruto stretched and rolled into a sitting position. "Really sane kids. It's just that you're all NUTS."
"Hey, we're jounin or working on it," Naruto shrugged. "It's expected."
"What do you mean, expected?" Kiba said.
"You had Kurenai for a mentor," Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "You missed out on most of what the rest of us had to go through. Look at some of the other jounin. Anko-sensei. Kakashi-sensei. *Gai-sensei*."
"You," Naruto offered.
"Me," Shikamaru agreed. "Although I don't think thinking your family is pretty normal is nuts; Iruka-sensei thinks so, and so does Kiba, mostly."
"Mostly?" Naruto focused on Kiba for a moment -- Kiba had seemed to take most of the increasing additions to the Uchiha clan in stride, but his attitude towards its refounder left a lot to be desired. Well, so did Naruto's own, but only when the refounder in question was Sasuke, who was Naruto's in a complicated and twisted and mostly implied way and who still deserved to have his head ripped off and kicked all round the village -- but that was Sasuke, who'd been broken when he was very young and never healed straight from it.
"It's a pack," Kiba shrugged. "Dogs live in packs all the time. Humans don't live in packs with other humans much, but there's no reason they shouldn't."
"I just think it's unfair the way you hogged all the pretty girls in our year."
"I did not!" Naruto sat up straight in indignation, and then leaned back a little when his stomach complained. "What about Tenten?"
"One, she actually wasn't in our year in school, and two, Neji would kill me. Did you know he and Lee interrogate anyone who asks her out? Neji keeps flipping kunai over and over, and Lee cracks his knuckles and goes all Gai-ish."
"There were plenty of girls our age and younger who didn't go on to be ninjas."
"Have you ever tried to explain to a civilian why you were sleeping in a pile full of dogs, or how you got some scar or other? I've tried going out with civilian girls, and they just don't get it -- and if they have to ask, they'll never know."
"Well, if you just want to go out with someone, you could ask one of ours out."
"No, see, back when this started, we agreed that *I* wasn't going to date outside the house, but there was no reason for the girls to have to do that. I say, it would be pretty unfair if they couldn't, wouldn't it? You could totally ask one of them out. Except not Saki-chan, 'cause she's MY girl."
"I don't think Saki-chan's his type, anyway," Shikamaru commented, immensely amused.
"But you could ask Sakura-chan out, or you could ask Ino-chan out, or -- well, actually, I think after the Temari thing they decide they were only going to outside-date as a unit, so you could ask both of them out -- or you could ask Hinata-chan out." Naruto brightened. "I say, didn't Sakura-chan say you used to have a crush on her or something? You could absolutely ask Hinata-chan out. It'd be good for her."
Kiba made a gorbling sort of noise in his throat.
"Oi, are you all right?" Naruto leaned forward, worried (and then promptly spread his legs wider in order to accomodate his burgeoning abdomen).
"You -- you -- don't you MIND?" Kiba finally spluttered.
Naruto shrugged. His breasts went on quivering for a little longer than his shoulders did, which distracted Kiba from the beginning of his reply. " -- like you said, she's pack. She's family. Who changes the diapers, who buys the groceries, who sits up with a kunai in case the monsters Mei-chan knew were in her closet try to come out while she's sleeping -- those things are a lot more important than who sleeps where when." Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Oh, except that it was important it was me who knocked Hinata-chan up, 'cause it would have royally sucked if Hikari-chan had been blind or only able to see radio waves or stark staring mad or something." He looked fondly at the little girl with white eyes, who at that moment with malice aforethought was sneaking a starfish down the back of her oldest brother's mesh shirt.
The boy jumped about two feet in the air, did an extremely odd hopping dance until he managed to shake the echinoderm out of his shirt without accidentally shaking it down his swimming trunks, and then whirled on his younger siblings.
Hikari and the other girls her age were busily scraping up sand-encrusted watermelon innards with pieces of the rind. The boy turned to Saki-chan, who twirled her parasol and raised her eyebrows innocently.
"So... that's all you have to say about that?" Kiba said, drawing Naruto's attention back from the next generation of pranksters.
"Well, if you break her heart we'll all break your legs, of course, but we know you. You're good people. You don't play silly buggers with your teammates and you don't hurt your dogs -- Kakashi-sensei says that's all you need to know about a person to know if you'd trust them with your women and children. Not that he's one to talk..."
"Oh, I don't know," Kiba said, settling into one of the weirdest conversations of his life. "HE doesn't hurt his dogs."
"How do you know?" Naruto asked, in the sort of tone that suggested that he didn't really suspect Kakashi-sensei did but was perfectly willing to pursue the subject until all other participants were well and truly wound up.
"Akechi talks to them," Kiba shrugged. "Dogs like Kakashi-sensei better than most people, anyway."
"Kakashi-sensei's very simple in a very complex way," Shikamaru put in.
"...I'm scared to admit I understood that."
"That's because you are, too, Uchiha."
"Absolutely nuts. The lot of you," Kiba shrugged. "Hinata-chan looks tired. I'll go carry that kid for her."
And he loped off toward Hinata and Taka, detouring around where Sakura and Ino were breaking up the flying-watermelon-shreds fight.
"You could help the others, too," Shikamaru pointed out.
"So could you." Naruto pushed off with his hands and rose to his feet, somewhat less gracefully than he had been able to do three months ago.
"Too much of a bother," the other ninja shrugged.
"You'll never change."
"I started out good and could only get better. You, on the other hand, are definitely a work-in-progress."
Naruto laughed and trotted off to where Saki-chan was dejectedly examining her parasol (she had used it as a shield during the flying watermelon attack, and it now had an irregular stain on one side).
"Hey," he murmured into the spot between her neck and shoulderblades, sliding arms around her from behind. "You haven't been swimming yet. What say we leave this to Okaasan and Ino-chan and get in the water, hmm?"
Saki-chan made a thoughtful noise and set down her parasol.
"The water's not very clear, but it bounces light like anything," Naruto murmured enticingly.
Saki-chan twisted out of his arms. Before he could try another, more direct, argument, she bent to unfasten the straps of her lift sandals.
"Ohh yeah," the golden-haired ninja murmured appreciatively as she finished with the second set and toed the monstrosities off.
Saki-chan passed the sandals to an unconcerned Kura, who took them by the straps; divested herself of her shawl and flung it around Iruka's shoulders, who nodded graciously at her; and handed the parasol to Naruto, who obligingly held it over the two of them as they walked down to the water's edge.
When they were about knee-deep and the water was lifting and dropping the hem of Saki-chan's muslin dress, Naruto tossed the parasol up, letting the breeze carry it back to his family, and kissed her.
(Sakura caught the parasol in midair, furled it, and used it as a pointer to emphasize just how Disappointed she was in all of her children over the age of TWO, except for Kura, who Obviously took after the Umino side of the family. Iruka coughed in a you-didn't-know-me-when-I-was-your-kids'-age manner.)
Saki-chan stilled under his hands, not returning the kiss, nor pulling away. Naruto went on kissing, a long lazy here-we-are-again kiss, finally stepping back and looking her up and down in a satisfied possessive sort of way.
Saki-chan smiled, a remote little twist of the lips, and stepped backward into deeper water, letting the sea raise her dress to float around her chest.
Naruto grinned, made a happy noise that sounded far more like "kohn!" than anything non-vulpine had a right to, and sprang after her.
"Dad and Saki-mommy are hugging again," their oldest son grumped from the beach, exaggeratedly turning his back on them and the water. "And *snoodling*. When Dad's... *pregnant*. How CAN they?"
"These things seem different to you as you get older, Kou-kun," Iruka told him, politely averting his eyes.
"*I* think it's sweet," Inoko declared, a martial light in her eyes.
"I think you're full of it."
"Oh yeah, forehead-brother? Bring it!"
"Here we go again..." one of their younger sisters sighed.
The Uchiha clan straggled back to their claimed umbrella in a Confused Mess
of yelling children, long-suffering mothers and godfathers, hidden weapons,
gathered-up debris, and two people who probably shouldn't have just done that
sort of thing in public, even if nobody could have seen anything under the water.
http://www.livejournal.com/users/luriko_ysabeth/7864.html go here for lots of explanation about who is who to whom in the family and tons of other little details about how it actually works. Ysabeth thought about it so much, it's amazing. *o__o*