This was meant to be finished months ago but… my world went to shit. My depression came back quickly and badly, right before my Nana was given a terminal diagnosis and her health went south fast. She even caught covid. Thankfully she survived it and is holding on, even doing a little better all things considered. But it was hectic and obviously it's not going to get a lot better for a while. But I do have my youngest's first b'day in a few days so that's something to enjoy.

I wanted to thank everyone who had followed along with this story over the years and have enjoyed it. I've loved interacting with you all and I'm glad this story is coming to an end I think you'll all like.

Their wedding had been a large affair, something neither of them would have chosen for themselves but after making a guest list that was what they had. In the end, he was glad it was so big. They had so many people important to them that they wanted to share an event over fourteen years in the making. With leaders from other villages coming the Elders tried to turn the wedding into a political affair but surprisingly Naruto was the one who shut the subtle order down instantly.

"No one is using our wedding for politics. Our friends are coming to celebrate us and our lives together, not to make alliances." It had felt like Naruto towered over the two. Shikamaru had to pretend he was putting his fist in front of his mouth in anger or in thought but in truth he was trying to hide his grin.

The Elder had started the conversation in Lord Kakashi's office as though they expected Shikamaru and Naruto to go along with their plan, but by the end they were simply nodding along with the blonde.

He and Naruto had done a majority of the planning for their wedding, even though neither of them found particular enjoyment from organizing events. Their wedding however, was different. Shikamaru wanted to make something good enough for Naruto, and he had a feeling his fiancée had to do something similar. They did have his mother and Aunt Momoji's help, and Iruka-Sensei leant a hand though he had clearly been a bit overwhelmed by Naruto asking him to fill the fatherly role.

They had had a buffet like with Shikamaru's cousin's wedding; Naruto having liked the meaning behind Eiji's tradition. It had also given the other Ninja villages the opportunity to share some of their cultural dishes. In the end the Elders did get what they wanted in a way. Having the chance to simply spend time intermingling, seeing people outside of being ninjas or past enemies helped ease any remaining tension between the villages. Shikamaru had even seen Choji dancing with a woman from the Cloud.

Admittedly, the wedding itself felt like it was over in a flash. He had started grinning the moment he saw Naruto walking out on Iruka-Sensei's arm. His mother had tried to convince them to tone down the orange, but she had lost. Naruto wore a flowy, sparkly dress, the skirt burnt from the same white of the bodice to a rich, sunset orange, which to Shikamaru gave Naruto the illusion of walking on the horizon.

As for him he wore a black kimono with deep green trim. On the cuffs were embroidered the Uzumaki symbol and the Nara symbol, on the left and right respectfully. Although he knew that he would remember the moment Naruto stopped in front of him, smiling brightly, forever, the rest of the ceremony and reception went by in a blur. By the time the two of them fell into bed late in the night even Naruto was exhausted and both their faces hurt from smiling and laughing so much.

/ / / / /

In the two years since Sakura had told them about her tests, the two years that they had been married, Shikamaru and Naruto tried not to think about it. It wasn't a well-known medical trial so short of seeking out information it was easy for them to put it out of their minds. That was, until Sakura appeared on their door step.

Shikamaru had only just woken up. Instead of guessing why she was there he simply stared at her, lazily sipping his coffee. Moments after he had opened the door Sakura had blushed and looked away. It took him a second to look down and realise that he was shirtless and that was causing her discomfort.

"Do you need something?" he asked, not unkindly. "Is there a mission or something?"

"Um, I was hoping to talk to you and Naruto. Is she home?" Sakura shot a look over Shikamaru's shoulder.

He turned to the interior of the house, raising his voice, "Naruto, Sakura wants to talk to us." He waved the pink haired girl in, shooting over his shoulder that he was going to fetch a shirt.

As he disappeared into the bedroom, Naruto came out of the kitchen, greeting her old teammate. Once he was fully dressed, he joined Naruto on the couch facing Sakura, waiting to see why she was there.

"So, I need you to listen to all of what I have to say," she started, looking nervous. "I've worked out how to heal the damage done to women who were Children of Iron."

Shikamaru felt Naruto freeze next to him. Silently he put his hand on her knee. His heart was starting to race, the pounding filling his ears.

"Please listen. Naruto, I can heal the others, as long as the damage isn't too extensive, but you, it's a bit more difficult."

"Because of the extent? Kuruma can compensate for that!"

"Well, that's actually the problem. Because of Kuruma you can't be sedated. Your body works through any sedative too quickly. Lady Tsunade gave me all the information she had. By the looks of it Kuruma can't even stop it. Your body just does it. The only way to heal your injuries is if you remain conscious. We could probably give you something to numb some of the pain but you would be awake…"

Naruto gave a shuttered breath. "So, I'd feel it? The whole time?"

After a second of hesitation, Sakura nodded. "The meds I can give you to take away a lot of the pain won't last long enough to undo all the damage if I was to do it myself. However, Sasuke's chidori is actually more précised than any scalpel. And since you'll be awake so will Kuruma so he can help heal you. Your surgery will be different to the others."

"Wait, so Sasuke will be cutting Naruto open with one of the strongest attacks in existence?" Shikamaru asked, forcing himself to stay seated as Sakura nodded. He looked at Naruto, noticing how pale she was. There was a slight tremor to her hand as she covered Shikamaru's that was still on her knee. "Naruto, it's your choice, but… I don't think you should put yourself through that."

With a shaky exhale, Naruto started addressing the floor. "I can't. I can't go through that again. I wish I could, I really do. Being awake doesn't even bother me, but the pain. I sorry."

Shikamaru drew her to him. "You don't need to apologize." Still holding Naruto close, he looked over the blonde's head at Sakura. "Thank you for letting us know all this."

"No problem. I'm going to try to find a way to take away the pain. I won't make any promises but I will do what I can."

Naruto lifted her head, still leaning into Shikamaru as she sniffled. "If you found a way to do that, I'd owe you everything."

"Naruto, I owe you. This is probably the only thing I could ever do to make it up to you." Sakura gave them both a small smile. "I'll leave you to your day. I promise, I'm not giving up on it."

After Sakura saw herself out, the two continued to sit on the couch in silence, Shikamaru's arms wrapped around Naruto's shoulders, whilst her stronger arms squeezed at his waist. He tried to not let the tension enter his limbs and let Naruto feel it but he couldn't deny there was an aimless rage in his stomach. They shouldn't have been given such a horrible choice but at the end of the day nothing had changed for them from the day before.

/ / / / /

A few weeks later Shikamaru noticed that Naruto was much more low energy than she had ever typically been. He couldn't deny that he also needed an extra breath in the morning before finding the energy to pull himself out of bed since Sakura's visit. He wasn't sure how he was meant to address it. Naruto had seemed fine days after, appearing to have hope that Sakura might find a way around the pain issue.

An hour after a quiet dinner at home, since Naruto hadn't wanted to go into town for a meal, Shikamaru found the blonde sleeping fully dressed in their bed. She was sprawled on top of the covers and was snoring.

Shaking his head, Shikamaru retrieved a spare blanket and pulled it over Naruto. As he went to leave the room the blonde's snoring stopped.

"Hey," she muttered, blinking heavily. "I didn't mean to fall asleep."

"Did you over do the training today?" Shikamaru laughed softly as he sat beside her.

"No, I was doing paperwork all day. I've just been tired the last few days." Naruto sat up, rubbing at her eyes.

"Are you getting sick? Can you even get sick?"

Naruto's eyes unfocused for a moment before refocusing. "Kuruma said I'm fine and I can get sick if he and I are both low on energy."

"Maybe you're just overworked."

Naruto gave a laugh, stumbling to her feet and moving over to her dresser. "Might make Sasuke take on more of the paperwork, being hunched over the desk for so long is starting to hurt my stomach muscles."

"I'm stuck in strategy meetings for the next week to try to track down rogue ninja hiding in the neighboring forest but how about after that I come and get you for lunch and we can just take the afternoon to relax. Hopefully you won't still be overworked but either way the break would be nice."

The blonde, having finished changing into her pajamas, nodded tiredly before throwing the blankets back and collapsing onto the bed.

"Oh man," Shikamaru sighed, realizing Naruto was asleep before she even hit the mattress. Pulling the sheets over her form, he brushed her hair from her face and kissed her forehead before getting ready for bed himself.

Deep into the night he woke to Naruto whimpering in her sleep, tears leaking out of her closed eyes. He pulled her to him, whispering comforts in between kissing her head as he stroked her back. Yet again he debated discussing the nightmares the blonde had been having for weeks with her. He wasn't sure if she remembered them the next morning but they were starting to become a nightly thing.

She petered out after twenty minutes, occasionally sniffling for the following two hours. Shikamaru made sure that, even when they moved away from each other during the night, he kept contact with Naruto, sometimes holding her hand, sometimes putting his hand on her back, just ensuring she knew he was there.

/ / / / / /

As promised, a week later Shikamaru went to the Foundation's headquarters to pick up his wife for their afternoon together. He had clearance thanks to being the village's head strategist, though he wouldn't have been surprised if people thought Naruto gave him access. He nodded in greeting to any member he recognized, even if it was only their masks he knew, as he made his way to Naruto's office.

As he came to the door he could hear Sasuke's muffled voice, saying something about being done for the day. Shikamaru figured that statement was as good as an invite to surprise Naruto and opened the door.

He stopped in the threshold. The scene within had paused at his arrival, allowing him time to process what he was seeing. He had expected Naruto and Sasuke in the room, however, he hadn't planned to find Sakura. That wasn't what caused him to freeze though. Naruto was laid out on her desk with Sasuke and Sakura standing either side of her, their hands hovering over her midsection, her shirt lifted to expose her stomach. Naruto was also displaying an odd stillness outside of the surprise of his appearance. She shouldn't have been surprised as it was. And Naruto, even though he could see was awake, hadn't turned her head to look at him.

"What's going on here?"

Sakura frowned in confusion before looking down at the blonde on the table. "Did Naruto not tell him? If not, we can't tell you, Shikamaru."

"Naruto?" he walked further into the room, noticing how Sasuke tensed. He ignored the other man to instead watch the blonde slowly sit up. Naruto didn't need to turn her head for him to know something was wrong. When red eyes met his brown, he frowned with suspicion. "Kuruma, why are you controlling Naruto's body?"

Kuruma shrugged. "Just wanted to stretch my legs."

Shikamaru frowned at the fox in his wife's skin. Naruto's body was standing tensely, leaning heavily on the desk whilst trying to look casual. "Put Naruto back in control!"

"Nah, not in the mood."

"Kuruma," Sakura piped up, "It's best Naruto explain. She gets to decide how much she tells anyone on the subject."

It was unmistakable, Kuruma and Sasuke shared a glance. It was quick, Shikamaru almost missed it, but it was there.

"She doesn't know what's happening here at all, Sakura," Shikamaru stated, watching for the flash of guilt from the fox and the Uchiha. "Kuruma, bring her out now."

With a heavy sigh, Kuruma closed his red eyes. Naruto's knees buckled, Shikamaru reached out with his shadows to steady her. He went to let her go as blue eyes opened only for Naruto to slump more heavily into his grip, her hand going to her abdomen.

"Wha- somethings wrong. Was I attacked?" Naruto looked around in a panic, confusion growing on her face.

"You're alright," Sakura assures. "We don't normally let you surface so early. Kuruma usually deals with the pain first so you only have some tiredness left."

"What?" Naruto snapped, looking at Shikamaru and Sasuke for answers. "What's going on?"

Sakura's face fell, "You really don't know?"

Next moment she turned and charged at Sasuke, punching him through a wall. "You knew, didn't you? That's why you did most of the talking, so I wouldn't realise Kuruma was in charge!"

"We had to!" Sasuke yelled as he shook the rubble off. "It's what she wants, but she's afraid of the pain. Kuruma is willing to go through the pain for her. We owe Naruto this!"

"It's not your choice to make!" Sakura screeched, a vein throbbing in her forehead.


The two stopped to turn to Shikamaru and Naruto, the former's grumbling voice cutting through their rage. "Answers, now!"

Sakura sighed, moving over to Naruto. "May I heal some of the pain whilst I explain? Kuruma will probably be healing you too but it'll help."

Naruto gave a hesitant nod, letting Shikamaru help her into a chair.

"We've been healing the damage to your uterus." Sasuke wisely stayed at a distance at that confession.

"I thought it couldn't be done unless I was conscious."

"Technically, it couldn't be done cause your body won't let sedative work," Sasuke muttered. "But you don't have to be the one conscious."

Shikamaru felt Naruto still in his arms.

"So, Sakura was preforming surgery on me whilst Kuruma was in control?" Naruto hissed.

"Not quite. To ensure that we targeting the areas in a clean, précised way that Kuruma and I could heal properly Sasuke had been using the chidori. I mentioned it to you when I visited. Kuruma informed us of how he was able to heal lung damage after Sasuke used the chidori on you." Sakura took a deep breath, stepping back from Naruto. "We've been doing these sessions for a few weeks. I'm really sorry, Naruto. I thought you had agreed to it all."

"So, Sasuke has been using an attack on her body, knowing that she had no idea, whilst Kuruma hid the evidence?" Shikamaru glared at the other man who silently hung his head.

"Shikamaru," Naruto said in a small voice. "Can we go home?"

"Of course."

He helped her up, holding her closer when she winced in pain. Naruto was silent during their walk home, her face flickering through anger, hurt, betrayal, and hope, but all was mixed with confusion. Shikamaru himself couldn't get past the knowledge that Kuruma, who had always protected Naruto, had taken control of her body so that Sasuke could use an attack on her that he had used before to try to kill her.

When they reached their house Naruto went around to the back. As she stood on the porch, staring at the lawn, chakra flowed out of her, manifesting into Kuruma in a smaller, more manageable form than he had in the war.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I knew you wouldn't let me suffer the pain in your place. And we knew it might not work and didn't want to get your hopes up."

Instead of replying, Naruto turned sharply, walking inside. With one last look at the fox, Shikamaru followed the blonde inside. He found her in their bedroom, sitting on the bed staring at a spot on the floor.

"Are you alright?"

"I don't know. I don't even know what I feel about all this." When Shikamaru sat next to her and pulled her close, Naruto sniffled, tears welling in her eyes. "I wanted to be healed and didn't want the pain, but… this! I don't… know how I should feel!" She turned her gaze onto him, her eyes wide. "How would you feel? If you were me?"

Shikamaru blinked at her question before trying to imagine having lived through everything Naruto had. He couldn't just think about what Sasuke and Kuruma had done to her, he had to think about why it needed to be done, which led him to think about why she was hated as a child and put in an orphanage. Naruto had been used as a cage, even if her father had been well intended, she had been mistreated, abused, and starved because of it. It had led to the pain that had made her infertile and was why she couldn't undergo the surgery that would possibly reverse it. "I…" He sighed heavily. "Violated."

Naruto gasped. "Yes! I don't care if they thought they were doing me a favour, it's my body! I get to decide." She jumped up, pacing with her arms wrapped around her abdomen. "And there! Of all areas! I get to decide what happens. Did they forget how I got the scar tissue or did they just not care?"

The way she spat the words made Shikamaru flinch. Standing slowly, he reached out for Naruto's hands, prying them from her stomach before pulling her into his embrace. The woman pressed her torso flush against his. In response, he wrapped his arms low around her back, feeling Naruto's relieved sigh. "They had no right. No matter their intensions, they had no right."

Naruto paused. "What about if it worked?"

"Doesn't change the fact that they screwed up." Shikamaru kissed her forehead. "I can't believe I'm about to say this about Sasuke, but I think after some time you should consider talking to him and Kuruma about what they did. I don't think they meant harm; they just didn't think through how you'd feel."

After some hesitation, Naruto nodded against his chest.

Eventually they moved to laying on the bed, Naruto curled into Shikamaru. The Nara kept his arm over his wife's hips, noticing the way she tensed whenever he moved his arm even slightly. He was more than fine with giving her the barrier she needed. They strayed like that for hours, Naruto managing to dose at one point. It was late afternoon when Shikamaru went rigid with a thought.

"Naruto, they've been healing you for a few weeks. Doesn't that mean there's a chance that you're… able to be pregnant now?"

"I guess. Your mum was able to have you with only a little healing."

"Yeah, but my thought was more on the fact that we don't use protection. Before we do anything, we should probably find out if you're pregnant first."

Naruto sat up sharply, "I would know… right? And I'm not sure I want to know how much they've healed me. What about all of this was for nothing? They did this to me, and we got nothing in return?"

Shikamaru rubbed Naruto's back comfortingly as he thought. "How about we go talk to Sakura. She wasn't in on the lie and we'll tell her we don't want to know our chances yet, just if you're pregnant. You can work out what you want to do later. If you want to find out if there's a chance or not down the road that's your choice."

Slowly, Naruto nodded before standing up. "Let's go now. I'm not having this on my mind."

He followed his wife out the back door where she walked past Kuruma without looking at him.

"I'm still not talking to you," she declared before the fox disappeared into her form. Just as they were rounding the house, Naruto paused. "Should I go to Eiji instead? His my main healer now."

"No matter how much he keeps it to himself, letting anyone else know risks it getting out. I don't want the clan to find out and misunderstand what's going on. Do you feel comfortable seeing Sakura?"

"Yeah, besides, she already knows what happened. I don't feel like explaining it."

They found Sakura in her office at the hospital, looking over some paperwork. When they came in, she instantly jumped to her feet.

"Naruto, hi, are you okay? I'm so sorry for everything. I was stupid for not checking you wanted it."

Shikamaru held up a hand, stopping her rambling. Naruto's tan face had taken on an ashy appearance with the reminder. "Sakura, we get you were tricked. Right now, you need to listen. Is there a chance that Naruto could have conceived during the weeks you've been doing the treatments?"

"Well, Kuruma and Sasuke were the ones mostly focusing on-" she looked at Naruto who flinched, knowing the words her old teammate had been about to say, "…seeing the damage. I monitored vitals, helped Kuruma heal what they had worked on that day, and I was to check for more finer damage when were done, things that Kuruma missed or was unable to heal. That was when I was to see if Naruto's fertility had been mended."

"At least this all explains why I've been tired and it's felt like my stomach muscles have been tight, and aching."

"It's probably why you've also been having nightmares." The way his words made Naruto look down let him know that she remembered them more than he thought she had.

"I don't want to know how much you've… changed me," Naruto declared. "I'm not ready to know the odds. After everything, hearing we went from 0% to 4% would be too much to handle right now. It wouldn't be worth it. I just want you to find out if I'm pregnant or not."

"Alright… though if I don't find out your chances, I advise you use contraception of some sort until you're ready. Although, I'm sure you already have that covered."

"We don't," Naruto corrected.

Shikamaru coughed to hide his chuckle. The uncomfortable squirm Sakura gave had been exactly what Naruto was after.

"Come into my examination room. I promise to not check how much scar tissue is left or if it still effects your fertility, but I will have to check that you're healing well. The process was cut short today, understandably so."

As Naruto laid on the examination table, Shikamaru held her hand. He said nothing about her death grip, choosing to ignore how his bones ground together under her strength. Truthfully, if Naruto wasn't so overwhelmingly more powerful than him, she would have felt how tight his grip was in return.

Sakura's hands hovered over the space between Naruto's hips. Shikamaru studied the pinkette's face for any minuet change. He reminded himself, and out loud reminded Naruto, to breath as minutes felt like they stretched to the ends of time. And for every agonizing second, Sakura gave nothing away.

Finally, she sighed, the glowing disappearing from her hands as she dropped her arms to her sides. "You're not pregnant. I made a furrow search."

Shikamaru bit his tongue, dropping his head for only a moment before he schooled his features. His attention was drawn to Naruto as she let out a breath.

"So technically everything's the same as yesterday," she muttered, sitting up. With her eyes barely slits, she smiled widely. "No harm done."

Sakura looked between Naruto and Shikamaru, scanning both their faced. Not able to meet her eye and risking her seeing how he felt, he turned his gaze onto his wife, smiling at her softly.

"How about we go get dinner? I'm guessing you want ramen?"

"Wait!" Sakura yelped, before blushing at her outburst. "I checked the damage."

"Yeah, we know." Naruto frowned.

"Is something wrong? Did it not heal well?" Shikamaru asked, standing straighter as one of his hands went to Naruto's back, slipping under the hem of her shirt to sit against her skin.

Sakura's eyes started to water as she bit her lip. "There is none."


At Naruto's confusion, Sakura's face broke out in a wobbly, happy smile. "There is none. There's no scar tissue. It's like nothing happened. I know you don't want to know your chances but… there's no scar tissue effecting your fertility."

Sakura gave a bark of surprise when she found herself in a tight embrace. Shikamaru felt her look around his shoulder at Naruto who gave a shaky laugh.

"Thank you," Shikamaru whispered before he let her go and returned to his wife's side, whose legs had started to buckle, making her sit on the edge of the bed again.

"This doesn't feel real," Naruto admitted, meeting Shikamaru's ecstatic grin with a blinding one of her own.

He cupped her face with his hands as she stood, leaning on him for support. He kissed her repeatedly as they both gave small, delirious laughs, tears dripping down their chins and noses.

Eventually a sniffle drew them out of their shock, Naruto turning to the noise first.

"Sakura, thank you, thank you, thank you!" The blonde hugged her ex-teammate tight enough she may have broken a rib on someone else.

"I owed you. I'm just glad I was able to give you this." She shot Shikamaru a smile. "You both deserve this. I was very, very stupid to never notice how perfect you two are together."

Naruto pulled back. "Still, ramens on me!"

The other woman waved her off. "Another day. I think you two should go and celebrate as a couple."

Neither of them argued. Shikamaru grabbed Naruto's hand, telling Sakura how grateful he was yet again, before the two practically ran from the hospital. He wasn't sure why they were rushing but his body didn't want to slow. His face hurt from smiling so wide, and his limbs hummed with energy. Nothing seemed to be enough to release it. He wanted to shout, or jump.

Naruto had taken to the latter, bouncing along like a bunny, giggling madly and breathlessly. Seeing her allowed the logical part of his brain come sluggishly to life again. He pulled her into the first alley he found, grabbing her shoulders to try to keep her still. Instead, she started shimmying her hips in an almost childish delight, making him laugh gleefully.



He kissed her hard and sloppily, with too much teeth since he couldn't stop the smiling. "We need to think if we want to keep this to ourselves for now or not. Cause if we continue like this people are going to know somethings up."

"Not me. People will just shrug off my weirdness. You grinning like that though will give it away."

Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "What do you want to do? Keep it a secret or tell people?"

Naruto actually appeared to be thinking it over. "I say we don't announce it but if someone asks why we're so happy I don't think I can stop myself from telling them."

He sighed. "Oh, good. Cause I don't think I can keep this quiet either!"

"We're going to have so much trouble keeping it to ourselves when I get pregnant!" Naruto laughed.

"When! There's a when!" He gathered the blonde up in his arms, spinning them around as she shouted in joy.

Eventually they composed themselves enough to not scare anyone as they made their way to Ichiraku's. Needless-to-say Teuchi was the first to hear their good news.

/ / / / / /

It was funny how the years soothed pained moments. Shikamaru had almost forgotten how much he had doubted whether or not he and Naruto would end up together, the years of feeling like the only thing he wanted was always tantalizingly out of reach. Even the pain of nearly losing Naruto twice dulled. Although he would never forget that Naruto had gone through horrible things, the fact that he had almost not had a children felt like a far-off dream of someone else's life. Some days it felt like his current life was the dream, one he would happily sink into forever.

He handed his dad a drink as he sat down on the porch edge. Looking out at the lawn, he gave a chuckle as Shikadia tried to sneak up on his sister. Even at five years of age Himari was showing her mother's skill of sensing chakra. This resulted in the inevitable of her flipping her older brother over her shoulder, narrowly missing her younger brother. Kuragari cheered, declaring 'again, again', making Shikadia grumble.

Looking at the three both their personalities and looks were like a gradient of their parents looks. Shikadia, six, was to Shikamaru what Shikamaru was to Shikaku. All bar his eyes were a mirror of his father. Himari favoured the Nara looks as well, but her skin was lightly darker than Shikadia's and in the right light one could see three whisker marks on each cheek. Kuragari, at three, was the first of their children to have not only their mother's eyes but her hair, though in a darker hue of blonde. He also had obvious whisker marks. His face was longer than his mother's and he was tall for his age but he definitely favoured the Uzumaki side.

All three kids shrieked as Ryota rushed at them, scooping the two youngest up and chasing the third. A small sound beside him drew Shikamaru's attention away. Looking down he found his youngest had crawled out of the play room behind him and was now clapping, staring at his siblings.

"Have you taught yourself to clap?" he asked, smiling down at the seven-month-old.

The round little face lit up, realizing his dad was paying him attention. He clapped faster, almost smacking himself in the face in the process.

Shikamaru and his father laughed as Shikamaru picked up his son. "Good job, Takibi."

"You're a smart little one," Shikaku cooed, clapping along with his grandson, making the baby giggle and squeal with delight before he lunged for his granddad, grabby hands seeking purchase for a cuddle.

Takibi was almost identical to Naruto, the hair, face, whiskers, skin colour, even his eyes. When he had been born Shikamaru had joked that Naruto had simply cloned herself.

"How many people have asked if you are going to have another baby when Takibi is a bit older?" Shikaku asked, holding the baby close and savoring the hugs.

"Is this your way of asking? If you're starved for babies to dote on you just need to wait another month. I doubt Hinata is going to go over with the twins."

His father waved that off. "Your mother and I thought we'd never get grandkids. We didn't know if you two wanted to adopt and didn't want to ask. So, if you two want to give us a dozen we won't complain."

Shikamaru laughed. "I think we'd prefer to sleep. Takibi wakes multiple times a night to feed. And he doesn't like napping nearly as much as I do."

"So no more?"

"Haven't discussed it, honestly. I know Naruto doesn't want to become Hokage until the kids are a bit older, but she still really wants it, and with every delivery we have to take protective precautions, which are stressful, and I think Naruto would like her body back. Between pregnancy, labour, and breastfeeding, I know she sometimes feels like her body isn't her own any more. But I will admit even with all of those reasons, they're definitely worth the trouble."

Shikaku chuckled. "I know the feeling. And I know Ryota is more than happy to organize Naruto's protection during delivery. He took all of them very seriously."

Shikamaru hummed his agreement. Even though the chances of an attack were very small after years of peace, they hadn't taken the chances. When they had began to discuss what was needed with Shikadia's delivery, Ryota had been surprised when Naruto had asked him to take charge. He should have expected it though. After all, as Naruto had put it, who else would protect the Nara heir better?

He had selected everyone involved in both the birth and the protection aspects, except the healer to actually deliver. That had been the only person who Naruto had insisted on. Sakura had been the only one the blonde would accept, something that had made the pink haired woman sob with gratitude. She then went on to help deliver the other three Nara babies.

Even with Ryota praising her work, Hinata had opted out of having a woman she once slapped deliver their twins. Besides, the Hyuga's had their own birthing process to do with a gentle fist technique to take away some of the pain. Naruto had complained that that wasn't fair when she found out.

Takibi suddenly pushed off his granddad, smiling widely at the doorway. All three kids on the lawn stopped trying to cage Ryota to look over, smiling brightly. They all started chirping the same thing, Tabiki babbling nonsensical.




"I flipped Shikadia."

"You got lucky."

"Ryota picked me up!"

Looking over his shoulder, he saw Naruto grin at their children as she came to sit beside him.

"Wow, sounds like you've all been having fun."

Shikaku wheeled his chair closer to hand over the squirming baby who instantly put his drooling, open mouth against Naruto's cheek.

"Oh, thank you, Takibi, I love you too."

Shikamaru put his arm around her waist, kissing her other cheek, feeling her lean into him.

Both of their attention was pulled back to the lawn as Himari declared she had learnt to summersault and wanted to show them. Kuragira moved to stand next to her, putting his arms up in a mimic of her stance. Shikadia gave his siblings room to show off.

As he pulled his wife close, he took a deep breath, remembering sitting in detention when something tickled his nose. Looking back, it was an unusual thing to latch onto, something that had no logical connection. Perhaps he had just been looking for an excuse to start himself on the path that brought him to the life he now led. One that was loud, bright, unpredictable, and everything he never knew he wanted.

The End.