A/N: My first ever Naruto fic is finally completed! Thank you for the reviews, they've been very encouraging and made this writer very, very happy! ) I know that my characters are kinda OOC, but I'm extrapolating their original characteristics in the manga into the events that I put them in, so I figured that Sasuke would be less cold, Naruto less loud and Hinata kinder than ever. ) Ashort note to make it easier to read this chapter. The time and dates and pasts apply to the section of the story all the way until a new date is stated.
With that, I hope you guys enjoy the last chapter! Oh, and to MangaMonger31261...it hasn't been 4 days! Lol
Unconditional: The Day After
10th October, 0700hrs
Naruto cringed as his alarm clock went off. He had no idea why he even bothered to set it as he had no plans to leave the house today. Slamming it off, he placed a hand over his closed eyes and tried to block out the wayward rays of sunlight that had stolen their way through the blinds and into his bed, contributing to the headache he had woken up with.
Last night had been a sleepless one. It was difficult to make his decision and walk away from Sasuke, but he had done it in the end. Naruto knew that it was a selfish decision made for selfish reasons, but he really could not live with the idea of sharing Sasuke anymore, not even with someone as sweet and kind as Hinata. It wasn't that Naruto's optimism and cheerfulness was a façade. That was him, he was the extrovert that looked at life and saw the beautiful and happy. But Naruto was a person with emotions after all, in fact, he felt more deeply than most.
He felt so much that he could not bring himself to communicate his decision to Sasuke. He had simply not turned up, and that had been the reason for his insomnia the previous night. He couldn't sleep, for every time he closed his eyes, he saw Sasuke looking lost and worried, sitting in the middle of the clearing alone. He felt incredibly disgusted at his own act of cowardice, but he was sure that if he even set pen to paper to say something to Sasuke, he would simply give up the notion of a break up and go running back to his lover.
Well, what was done was done. 10th October would pass by quickly enough, and the first thing he would do on the 11th was to ask Tsunade-baachan for a long term mission out of the village, hopefully to somewhere like the Sand. That would make for a great place for relaxation and entertainment, because Gaara made the most amusingly obscene sand sculptures.
That would certainly take his mind off Sasuke.
Sasuke was slouched in the armchair which he had pulled from the vanity to the window. Behind him, Hinata had finally cried herself to sleep, tear tracks streaking her pale face. He had been rather worried, even while he dealt with the barrage of negativity that night, for he did not want anything to happen to either mother or child due to Hinata's emotional state. The Hyuuga heir was nearly 8 months along now, and the medic nins they had visited so far had warned her of a miscarriage in the event of extreme emotions as the body of the average kunoichi was unsuitable for carrying children. Their fat percentage was simply too low.
So when she had finally drifted off to sleep, her body still healthy and the baby safe, Sasuke felt that he could be thankful for these minor miracles.
Sasuke knew that to some extent, it was his bloody pride that put them into this mess, for if his dead clan's honor hadn't mattered so much to him, Naruto wouldn't be alone on his birthday and Hinata wouldn't be up in the duff and crying over the prospective loss of her baby. But he was sensible, and he knew that if there was someone else to be blamed for this entire fiasco, it would be Hyuuga Hiashi.
From what Sasuke had learnt thus far, Hiashi was the mastermind behind the conspiracy concerning their child. As the head of a clan as prestigious as the Hyuugas, he knew exactly which of Sasuke's buttons to push to goad him into the marriage. Also, he was the only one with sufficient power to make the decision on behalf of his clan to take away Hinata's child to be raised as a clan weapon.
Yes. Sasuke might have made his mistakes, but Hiashi was the one to be blamed for the state of affairs.
Still, Sasuke was but one Uchiha. He didn't think that he could get help from the other rookie 9, for many of them were from prestigious clans and well, two being tortured by their clans was better than everyone being dragged into the mud. So he was pretty much alone in this with Hinata. When his thoughts had reached this point, a sudden martial arts maxim that he was taught long ago in Iruka's class back in the Academy rose unbidden into his mind.
"The basis of martial arts, whether from the far western countries, or from the Chinese, or simply what we know best as ninjutsu, is not to meet strength with strength. The best fighters do not complain about their lack of strength, but turn their opponent's strength against them."
Turn their opponent's strength against them… That's it! Sasuke suddenly straightened up in his chair. There was a way out now, but there were sacrifices to make. But when the stakes were high enough…
It really didn't matter how large the sacrifice was.
Hyuuga Hiashi had an infuriating smirk on his face, a smugness that Sasuke wanted to use a metal brush to scratch right off his face. He knew that something was wrong. The past few times the man came to their house in the mansion was with a frown on his face and a black cloud over his head, demanding in loud boisterous tones why the hell wasn't his grandchild on the way yet. At the same time, he'd make insinuations on Sasuke being impotent, and also that he ill-treated his wife. And when the verbal assault reached its peak, Hiashi would start breaking things in the house.
Sasuke had lost many a family heirloom to the asinine behavior of the older man.
But as Hiashi stood before him, almost childishly waving a scroll in front of his face and giggling like a schoolgirl with a crush on her classmate, Sasuke knew that the Hyuuga head was up to no good. True enough, his next words confirmed Sasuke's suspicions.
"You see this, Uchiha? This is the copy of the scroll I just submitted to the village elders for authentication and safe-keeping. And you know what it says? It says that if you and Hinata don't conceive a child by the end of this year, she will be disowned instantly. Or if you ever, ever think of divorcing her, she'll be disowned too!"
It didn't make sense to Sasuke at first. Shouldn't he punish him instead of his own daughter? But Hiashi was shrewder than he gave him credit for.
"I know you, Uchiha, like I know myself. We're shinobi, and it isn't hard to sacrifice ourselves. But can you sacrifice a friend, a family member? You can't, boy. You will consummate your marriage with my daughter, and you will have a child soon. Because that's how you think, because that how you live…"
"Because that's how we're brought up to be like."
With that, Hiashi tossed the scroll at Sasuke and left the house, leaving the Uchiha heir enraged behind him. Opening the scroll, he saw that the contents were exactly what Hiashi described them to be. And as the scroll had already being approved by the village elders, it held true. He couldn't, and wouldn't, leave Hinata to such a fate. He had grown to know her as a friend during their few years of marriage, and this was not something you did to a friend.
Hiashi had found the one weakness of all shinobi.
10th October, 0730hrs
Sasuke had a plan all laid out in his mind, and he was going to use Hiashi's strength against him. The one advantage that the Hyuuga head had over Hinata and Sasuke was the scroll lodged with the elders, and instead of going against the disownment, Sasuke intended to use the very scroll that Hiashi lodged against him.
Sasuke could not believe that a genius that like him had not seen the loophole of Hiashi's acts before. For the head of a clan that had as many elite ninjas as the Uchihas, Hyuuga Hiashi was as mad as his own plans. But now that he had seen a way out, Sasuke wasn't going to let the matter go quietly.
In fact, he planned to take a leaf out of his blond lover's book and go with a resounding bang.
They were cuddling on the couch in Naruto's apartment, with Naruto sprawled on Sasuke's chest. The couch had been a first year anniversary present from Sasuke to his blond lover, and it was extremely wide with soft cream colored covering. Sasuke had looked at Naruto suggestively as they watched the deliverymen struggle to move it through the apartment's narrow doorway, and it wasn't long before they christened it spectacularly.
There was none of that sort of activity going on at the moment, and the young couple was simply enjoying the company of each other, talking about random things when Naruto raised the question.
" 'suke, how do you want to go out?"
Sasuke raised his eyebrow.
"Well dobe, I first get dressed, then I put on my shoes, then I…"
Naruto let out a whine of mock annoyance and cut Sasuke off.
"Not that! I mean, how do you want to die?"
"I am a ninja, if you recall in that pretty, empty head of yours. I will probably die in battle, bloody and chopped to pieces before Konoha nin find and dispose of my body and…"
"Teme! I said how you wanted to die, not how you will die!"
At this, Sasuke went into a pensive silence. Brought up in a shinobi family, the only kind of death that he had known was of violence. But now Naruto's questions raised doubts in his mind on his concept of death.
"How about you, Na-chan? How do you want to go?"
"I want to die peacefully in my sleep so the Kyuubi wouldn't escape," Naruto said softly in a serious tone. Then, brightening up a little, he proper himself up on Sasuke's chest and continued.
"But that would be after I have been Hokage for many, many years! I want to be burnt on a funeral pyre half built of fireworks, so that I can illuminate the light of the city with my awesomeness! " he finished off, chuckling at his own rather childish choice of words.
"I want to die peacefully, but I want to go out with a BANG!"
It was not till later when they had both nearly drifted off to sleep when Sasuke heard Naruto's drowsy voice.
"Ne, 'suke… you never answered my question. How do you want to go out?"
Without opening his eyes or thinking, Sasuke answered.
"At the exact same moment as you, Na-chan, right next to you."
10th October, 0740hrs
As he sat pondering over his plan and the sacrifice that Hinata had to make in carrying it out, Sasuke realized something, and that was that he didn't believe that children had to be born out of like, much less love.
Since he was a young boy, he knew that he had to revive his clan even though he never found a girl that he loved, or even one that remotely interested him. He simply presumed that he would grow up and then picked someone that he could tolerate to settle down with, and then start Operation: Re-populate Uchiha Clan. Of course, things never worked out as planned in life, but when he fell in love with a boy instead of a finding a girl who didn't irritate him, his notions of childbirth were reinforced. He never thought that he would have to sleep with a girl, but assumed that they would use in vitro fertilization for a surrogate mother or simply adopt a child.
Additionally, the conception of a child with Hinata was perfect proof of his beliefs.
But what Sasuke did believe in, was that children were born to be loved. Unconditionally, in fact. It didn't matter what they looked like, what families they came from, or what kind of union resulted in them. The bottom line was children were to be treasured and protected. He hadn't even met his unborn child yet, but he had already spent many a night fretting over his inabilities to provide the best for his child. Certainly, his time with Naruto had made him a more emotionally human person, but he had still gone to Orochimaru before. But regardless of all that, he knew that he would try his best for his child, even if the best was far from perfect.
And part of trying his best was not to let his child be taken away from him because of some asinine plan of his wife's father.
There were two people that Sasuke had to consult to carry out his plan, the first of which was Hinata and the second, the Hokage. He watched as Hinata made the swift transition from sleep to alertness, repeating his "speech" to her over in his mind for the last time. It was rather heart-wrenching to hear the first thing to come out of her mouth was a soft sob as she remembered the words of her father from the previous day.
"Good morning, Hinata-chan."
Hinata merely stared at him. How the hell could he be so uncaring after what he heard? Sasuke could see disgust slowly appearing on her face, but he ploughed on anyway.
"I found a way out. But first of all, what do you think of becoming one of the Uchiha family, not as my wife, but as and adopted sibling?"
White eyes stared at him with a gaze more blank than usual. If not for his training under the many stares of his big brother, Sasuke would have flinched.
"It'll let us keep the baby…"
Determination crossed the Hyuuga's face.
"And it might," he added hesitantly, "help me get back with Naruto."
Hinata didn't even stop to think.
"I agree Sasuke. I'll agree to anything."
Getting to the Hokage tower was no easy task. In her heavily pregnant state, Hinata could not use any teleportation jutsus, and her emotional breakdown from the previous night had left her rather tired and weak, even with several hours of sleep. So a short journey that should have taken a genin less than 3 minutes to complete took nearly an hour for the jounin and his chuunin wife.
But once there, nothing could stop the couple. They strode forcefully down the hallway leading to Tsunade's office, completely disregarding the Anbu who tried to stop them in the way. Still, the Uchiha death glare and the Hyuuga blank stare was more than sufficient to turn them into stuttering dolls. After entering the office and closing the door behind him, Sasuke wasted no time in getting to the point.
"Hokage-sama, I wish to lodge a scroll with the village elders to adopt Hinata into the Uchiha family as my sibling as soon as my child is born."
Tsunade was not the Hokage for nothing. She saw right through the Uchiha's plan, and she was rather pleased with what was on the other side. But she had to find out what prompted the decision.
"Explain yourself, Sasuke. Explain why you two are doing this."
Sasuke related to Tsunade what Hinata had heard over at the Hyuuga main house, and after some thought, decided to come clean and told her about his relationship with Naruto. If she was shocked, she did not show it, but nodded her head gravely and thought through the situation properly. The plan was good, fail-proof in fact, and she knew how much Naruto loved the Uchiha. The outcome would be a positive one, protecting Hinata's child and Naruto's heart as well. Still, the changing of clans was a big issue, and as the Hokage, she had to ask for formality's sake.
"Hinata," she said, turning to the young woman, "are you sure of this? Once the scroll is lodged and approved, there will be no turning back. There will be no way for you to be a Hyuuga again, and there will be physical changes to deal with."
"Yes, Hokage-same, I'm sure," her voice soft but resolute. "Nothing is worth losing my child to the madness of my father. I watched Neji-niisan almost succumb to the politics of my clan, and there is no way I will subject my child to a life like that."
"Very well then, I will speak to the elders who are currently preparing the agenda for tonight's dinner in the next room as we speak. Stay here, and I will return with their decision whether they approve of your lodgment or not."
It was a nerve-wrecking wait for three quarters of an hour, but when Tsunade returned with a victorious smile on her face, Sasuke and Hinata let out a sigh of relief.
All that was left now was exiting the circumstances with a bang.
10th October, 1730h
The dinner was exactly the same as the previous 2 that Sasuke had attended. Pompous, pretentious and phony. The head of every clan of the village was present, and some of the more promising youngsters were attending the dinner as well. Shikamaru was there with Ino on holding his arm, while Sakura was there with Lee. The familiar sight of Kakashi with Iruka was present as well. The sight of the last couple left a bitter taste in Sasuke's mouth. He promised himself silently that when things were sorted out, he would stop hiding his relationship with Naruto. Villagers' opinions be damned! As he walked towards the entrance of the banquet hall, Sasuke could feel Hinata trembling from nervousness. He squeezed her arm gently in a manner that he hoped was comforting, trying to help her relax.
He could understand her feelings. After all, Hinata was the one losing her family name tonight, not him.
Disownment was a rare occurrence amongst ninja clans, for the general mentality was that they lost enough family members to dangerous missions, and did not need to lose the living ones as well. Sasuke suspected that Hyuuga Hiashi was willing to disown Hinata over an unborn child as he found her weak compared to her younger sister, Hanabi, and felt that there was little to lose gambling his elder daughter's happiness for a Uchiha-Hyuuga offspring.
Losing a family name meant many things to a ninja. It meant that your former clan members would cease to treat you like one of them, and this was most evident on the battlefield. They would not protect you like family, but look upon you as a comrade, to be sacrificed and plotted against for survival. It also meant that you were nameless, and stripped of all privileges of the clan and tossed out into the streets with nothing but the threads on your back.
But that was not the worst.
When a member of a family was disowned in Konoha, it was the law that the person would be subject to a jutsu performed by the Hokage. It was a painful process, but a necessity in any disownment. Ninjas have the practice of destroying the corpse of their dead to prevent jutsus and techniques from their village from being leaked to their enemies, and the mentality towards disowned members was the same. No clan wanted a person outside of the family to have the family bloodlines, with the incident between Kakashi and Obito being a one off event that earned the former many a glare from the Uchiha family. What the jutsu did was to switch off the genetic information coding for the bloodline, resulting in the ninja losing his or her bloodline abilities. It was an extremely painful process, and ninjas of weaker dispositions sometimes did not survive the procedure.
This was often accompanied with a demotion, usually 2 ranks down. For some ninjas who are overly dependent on their bloodline limits, it pretty much spelt the end of their careers. The bloodline jutsu was more than a livelihood for ninjas. It was the ability that saved them, and many a teammate, from the jaws of death.
Sasuke respected Hinata for being able to chose and make such a sacrifice for their child, which was why he intended to adopt her as his sister.
Just as it was possible to remove one's bloodline limit with a jutsu, it was possible to gift one's bloodline limit to an adopted member of the family through a jutsu. A blood exchange would take place, followed by a jutsu being performed, again, by the Hokage. It was simple enough a ritual, but there was great danger in doing so. The Sharingan had driven the last adopted member of the Uchiha family mad after the exchange, for his brain simply was not wired to handle the overload of information that came with the limit. But Sasuke was confident that Hinata would survive the adoption, for the Byakugan was genetically related to the Sharingan. In addition, the Byakugan's abilities surpassed the Sharingan, so Hinata should be well able to handle the Sharingan.
10th October, 1750hrs
When the guests had settled down at their respective dinner tables, Tsunade stepped up to the podium, tapped the mike and cleared her throat to get the attention of those present.
"Good evening one and all, welcome to the annual defeat commemoration dinner. Before we begin this year, we have a request from the head of the Uchiha clan to allow him a few words. Uchiha-san, please."
Sasuke walked up to the podium with a rather cold expression on his face. This was it, he thought to himself. There's no turning back after this. He gripped the mike tightly, adjusted it to his height, and looked over to Hinata to see if there was any hesitation in her face. What he saw was a soft smile on her lips and slight nervousness in her poise. Her blank eyes somehow contained an emotion that could only be read as Hinata trying to convey strength to him.
"Good evening, I apologize for delaying tonight's meal, but Hinata and I have an announcement to make to the village, in particular, my wife's father, Hyuuga Hiashi."
"I married Hyuuga Hinata out of obligation, for she was pledged to me, and I to she since we were children. We didn't find out about it until a week before our marriage, but things worked in the marriage. We lived quietly and had little to deal with. In all aspects, we were friends living together instead of a couple."
"Then we were threatened by Hyuuga Hiashi, who threatened to disown Hinata if we did not conceive a child by the end of this year, or if I ever left Hinata. The threat was put down on scroll."
A collective gasp rose from the audience. "Disownment?" they murmured, "For such a small issue?"
"So we did. We consummated our marriage to protect Hinata, but now things have changed again. Hinata found out that Hyuuga Hiashi is leading a conspiracy within the Hyuuga clan take our child away from us to train him or her up to be a super soldier."
The crowd tittered with displeasure. Yes, some ninjas were trained to be unfeeling and uncaring, but they were never conceived for the purpose of doing so. In fact, some members of the audience were so outraged that they stood up to protest.
"Hiashi! How could you?" Aburame Shibi yelled from across the hall. "That is an absolutely disgraceful thing to even think of!"
Shikamaru's father got to his feet and joined the Aburame head in berating Hiashi.
"Hiashi, Shibi's right. She's your daughter. You shouldn't…"
Hiashi wasn't going to just sit and take the abuse, he jumped to his feet, knocking over the table in front of him ready to defend himself.
"You honorable idiots on your wooden high horses! You're all hypocrites! Tell me honestly, which of you wouldn't give up a weakling to have a weapon with both Sharingan and Byakugan?"
Two Anbu at the door way were instantly by Hiashi's sides when he started to shake his fists at the other two clan heads, and were soon physically restraining him from actually having a go at them. Disgust towards Hiashi's words was obvious to many faces in the crowd, and on stage, Sasuke tapped the mike roughly to get the attention of his audience again.
"So Hinata and I have made a decision. We have signed our divorce papers as of this afternoon, and she is no longer my wife. According to Hyuuga Hiashi's scroll, this means that Hinata has been disowned, and she is no longer part of the Hyuuga family. The child in her, who in Konoha law is not considered a separate person yet, is without a family name just like her."
"Hokage-sama has very graciously allowed the disownment jutsu to be performed after the birth of our child; for fear that the child will be affected by the chakra movement in its mother's body. After that, I will be performing the adoption blood ritual with her, whereupon she will take on the family name of Uchiha and the position of my sister."
"That's all I have to say. Hinata and I will be taking our leave now."
The crowd was silent, as though it was contemplating and processing the information that they had just been provided with. It had never been done before, for no clan was willing to incur the wrath of another by adopting someone that had been disowned. Especially if was a clan as large and as powerful as the Hyuuga clan. Adopting someone in such a situation was akin to condoning the act for which his clan had disowned him for.
But Sasuke was pretty much a one-man show when it came to the Uchiha clan, and he really didn't care. The Hyuugas could come down on him as hard as they wanted to. He would simply fight back twice as hard to protect the ones that he loved. In addition, Hinata had not done anything wrong. It was her father's madness that drove them to make such a choice.
Sasuke offered his arm to Hinata, and the two walked out of the banquet hall slowly with their heads held high. Somewhere in the background, they could hear Hinata's father yelling and shouting at them, but they didn't care. They had done what needed to be done, and they were damn well going to be proud and live with their choices. But it still felt good, when hesitant claps started in the room. Hyuuga Neji was the first to stand and applaud his cousin for her bravery, for he himself had escaped from the fate that was dictated to him by his clan and did not wish such a life upon his niece or nephew. He was soon joined by the other ninjas in the room who were familiar with the young couple. Sasuke in turn, was applauded for his daring to stand up as alone against the tide.
And so it was to a resounding round of applause and cheers that Sasuke and Hinata walked out of the banquet hall.
It took a long quiet walk for Hinata and Sasuke to reach their home, but as soon as they were at their destination, Hinata walked through the doorway and turned around to push Sasuke away.
"Go on. Go celebrate Naruto's birthday with him."
Sasuke, now tired after the rush of adrenaline he felt when he addressed the guests at the banquet, let the sadness that he had buried in preparing for the night wash over him.
"I can't, Hinata. Thing is, I'm not sure what I even did wrongly. He just…he just didn't show up. We've celebrated every occasion a day early for the past two years. Nothing would have cropped out, because he would have kept yesterday free just out of habit. I know Naruto. I…"
"Obviously don't know him as well as you thought you did," Hinata finished Sasuke's sentence for him. "Think about it. Why would any person want to celebrate Valentine's Day on the 13th, so that his lover could be out with his wife on the 14th? Or be all alone on Christmas was it's a day to be spent with family and loved ones? Sasuke, Naruto didn't turn up because he was tired of being a day early. Now don't be silly and go to him."
Sasuke froze as Hinata's words reached him. He was a fool, wasn't he? To have missed something as obvious as that. Naruto deserved much better than that, than simply being with Sasuke on Sasuke's schedule.
And now, he was going to make things right.
"Do we have anymore of those cupcakes you made two days ago?"
Hinata smiled as she stepped aside to let Sasuke into the house to prepare for his celebration with Naruto. Things were going to be fine after all.
10th October, 2317hrs
Sasuke stood outside Naruto's apartment door, pounding hard on the cheap plywood and wincing as the neighbors yelled at "the fucking idiot who's making too much noise and deserved to be castrated". It was late now, nearly midnight, for it had taken quite sometime for him to prepare. The cupcakes that Hinata had made were no longer fresh, and the couple spent a good part of the evening creating a fresh batch. Sasuke kept making silly errors, even with the memory of his Sharingan guiding him due to his nervousness of seeing Naruto again and his anxiousness to finish baking the cakes. The entire baking procedure had been littered with conversations initiated by the Uchiha who was being exceedingly out of character.
10th October, 1930hrs
"Hinata-chan, what if Naruto doesn't like vanilla icing?"
"Hinata-chan, what if Naruto stomps on the cupcakes tonight?"
"Hinata-chan, what if Naruto stomps on ME tonight?"
Hinata was amused at first, but when Sasuke tried to put MSG into the batter for the 4th time, the amusement rapidly turned into frustration and annoyance. She had shooed the Uchiha out from the kitchen with a sharp crack to his head with her wooden spoon.
"Stop getting in my way, you pansy! Just…go change or something!"
10th October, 2322hrs
Naruto had been studiously ignoring the knocking on his door for five minutes, but as the knocker got more persistent (and his neighbors more vulgar), he forced himself to get out of the bed he had been lazing in to open the door.
" 'suke?" his blue eyes widened in shock. "What…why…"
"No time to talk!"
With that, Sasuke pulled the surprised blonde into his arms and formed the teleportation jutsu signs behind Naruto's back.
They arrived at the training grounds with Sasuke's arms still tightly wrapped around Naruto. It was only then that Sasuke realized that Naruto was wearing nothing but a pair of black, low slung lounge pants, and he relished the warmth of Naruto's bare chest seeping through his shirt. Then Naruto started to squirm out of the Uchiha's tight grasp once he got over his initial shock, noting the Uchiha's disappointment as he let him go.
Naruto took a deep breath, ready to yell at Sasuke when his breath was completely stolen from him by the sight of the clearing.
A delicate chakra web adorned the starry ceiling of the clearing, lighting up the ground beneath it in a dreamy, fairy light glow when the moonlight passed through the silvery strings and were refracted at different angles. The dew drops at intervals on the web gleamed, while the four simple candles in the cradle of the web just added to the elegance of the entire setting.
Sasuke looked at the amazement in Naruto's face and felt his disappointment drain away from him. Maybe tonight wouldn't be so bad after all. After he had been kicked out of the kitchen by Hinata, he went down to the training grounds to re-create the chakra web from the night of the 8th. Naruto never got to see it, and Sasuke really wanted to do something special for him. He had then gone home to pick up the cupcakes and a bottle of wine and glasses and transported them to the training grounds before heading over to Naruto's apartment to pick him up.
He quietly stepped up to the blond's side, and softly spoke.
"Do you like it?"
Naruto nodded numbly. Chakra outside the body was hard to control, which explained the difficulty of mastering the Chidori and Rasengan. But the two had no specific forms; rather, they took on the form of what the jutsu directed them to be. Drawing a chakra web didn't have a jutsu, and the creator would have required great control, concentration and determination to mould and force the chakra into shape, while maintaining for long periods of time was something that only very exceptional ninjas could do. It was an extremely strenuous task, and Sasuke must have really put a lot of effort into making tonight special for him.
"Naruto…Hinata and I are no longer married."
"But what about her family name?"
Sasuke shook his head.
"Gone. But it doesn't matter. What I need you to do now is to listen to me."
Naruto nodded again. He owed Sasuke that much after not turning up on the 8th.
"Naruto, I'm sorry for the past 2 years and more. I've been a real idiot. To start off with, I should never have chose my family pride over you. It wasn't worth it, nothing is. I'm sorry for putting you in the backseat, and I'm sorry for the loneliness I've caused for you every birthday, Valentine's Day, and every day that I wasn't with you when I should have been."
"You've been unconditional in your love for me, continuing our relationship and sharing me with Hinata, but all I've done is to cause you sadness."
"Naruto, I promise you, there will be no more of this. No more celebrating a day early, no more hiding from the public. No more notes under the door, no more sneaking around in the shadows. It'll be walking down the street hand in hand in broad daylight from now on. But all I need to know now is…"
"Can I still call you my Na-chan?" Sasuke finished off softly.
Naruto spun around and flung himself at Sasuke, hugging him close as his tears started to fall. His 'suke was with him on his birthday, and would be for every birthday to come. Nothing else mattered now.
"Yes 'suke…oh yes…"
When the boys had brought their emotions under control sufficiently, Sasuke lead Naruto over to the picnic mat which he laid down on the floor. They ate the cupcakes that Hinata had prepared, while Sasuke slowly explained to Naruto the situation of his marriage with Hinata. The rather one-sided conversation ended off with a soft kiss that Naruto planted on Sasuke's lips.
"I'm proud of you 'suke. But you and Hinata aren't alone in this. From what you've told me, most of the village will be behind you against Hyuuga Hiashi…"
"And at the very least, the two of you have me on your side."
Sasuke hugged his Na-chan tightly. His Na-chan. That sounded so damn good. He lowered his head to capture Naruto's lips in a kiss, a kiss that was filled with promises of love, happiness, and a future together. Things wouldn't go smoothly from now on, Sasuke knew, for relationships never did. Naruto and he would have their little squabbles, maybe even big fights, while Hyuuga Hiashi would make life as difficult for them as he could, but with his Na-chan next to him, he could take on the world.
Naruto lets out a soft moan as Sasuke's tongue caressed his upper palate, savoring the love that he felt emanating from his lover. And in the background, the bell in the village clock tower started to chime, signaling the arrival of midnight and a new day.
11th October, 0001hrs
Sasuke pulled away softly from Naruto as the last chime's echoes faded into a distance. He smiled at the blissful look on Naruto's face, and before he leaned in to kiss those soft, pink lips again, he whispered.
"I promise you, Na-chan that we'll never celebrate anything the day before again. We will spend every day that we can together, and celebrate every occasion on the day itself."
Naruto smiled, his eyes shining with happiness in the dim light of the chakra web.
Dropping his voice to a more seductive tone and brushing his lips lightly against Naruto's ear, Sasuke continued…
"And after every celebration, I'll be fucking so hard that you can't walk the next day…"
Naruto blushed at his lover's words and raised his hand to smack Sasuke lightly on his shoulder.
" 'suke! Don't be a hentai like Kakashi-sensei!"
Sasuke laugh, allowing Naruto a little time to pout at his words before he finished off what he wanted to say.
"Shhh. I'm not finished yet."
A questioning gaze was directed at him from the flushed face under blond locks.
"Then I'll be there with you right through the night, and in the morning, I'll greet you with a 'good morning', then a soft kiss," at this point, Sasuke kissed Naruto's cheek lightly as if the illustrate his point, "and pamper and take care of you in everyway possible."
"Na-chan, I promise you that it's not going to be the day before for us anymore. It'll always be the day itself and every day after from now on."
With that, Sasuke bent over to press his lips against Naruto's again.
As Naruto happily responded to his lover's sweet kisses, an unbidden thought sprang into his mind.
Well, it looks like the day after my birthday will be a rather busy one. Gaara and his sand sculptures would just have to wait…