BlueStereo - and voila, here is the last chapter and I can say that I am so glad that I'm done. It was extremely difficult to edit this when so much of it just screams amateur Oh well we all have to start somewhere right. Thanks for all the support guys and those who read both this and the original version. I hope this one is better. The sequel won't be coming back sadly, this one truly needs to be put to bed I think. Thanks for everything guys and I don't own Naruto.

Chapter Twenty Two: Sacrifices

Itachi sighed and tapped on the window while his eyes watched the passing surroundings, the day had finally arrived; their summer break had finished and it was time for him to leave. Although his chest hurt in a way it hadn't before because as much as he knew that he should go back, now that he had Hinata and friends that cared. It was just, this was and always had been his home and his friends and siblings here, needed him more than anyone else.

His memories and his family legacy were here. He was done running away from it all, that life wasn't for him Sasuke may thrive off the chance to start again but he had been young and in a way he just didn't understand what their ruined childhood had been like and how screwed up it was.

Hinata . . . she had saved him and he was grateful but he wasn't so sure he was grateful enough to follow her when he knew that although the heartbreak may be stifling to begin with she would be okay with the support that their friends and her family would provide her with.

Hinata herself wasn't stupid either, she understood that Itachi was beating himself up about it but she also knew what his final choice would be. He wasn't going to pick her; it wasn't even like there were two choices. He was simply doing what he had to. She knew it didn't mean that he liked her any less; just sometimes things just weren't meant to be. It didn't mean that they wouldn't have their chance some other time and she was willing to wait for him.

She rested her head on his shoulder, not surprised when he didn't look at her. They were already in transit and while her friends smiled and laughed around her somewhat happy to be going back home she just couldn't conjure up more than a little sad smile.

It didn't matter though, she was going to be strong and she was going to support him even if it felt that her heart was being crushed. Sometimes it seemed that if you loved someone enough you had to do what was right for them and let them go.

'Now calling ...'

Itachi paused and turned around when the group jeered and began walking towards their called gate, Hinata watched him carefully and slowly drew her own walk to a stop. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, so hard she could almost swear the pulses would be seen. She knew what he had to do and if he wouldn't do it by himself, she was going to have to insist.

Neji frowned when he didn't see his cousin and Itachi following and soon the other's too stopped by the gate looking confused at why no one was going and why Itachi was surveying the crowds as if waiting for something or someone to join them.

"Hurry the hell up! At the rate we're going they would have already left and then we'll be hearing about this forever form the rest of you" the familiar red head grumbled as the groups multicoloured presence showed up through the crowds of people trying to catch their flights.

"Goddamit Sasori! If you don't stop saying that word I swear you'll be hearing about it forever from me!" Itachi couldn't hide the smile at Kisame's smile while Hinata giggled to herself, that group just couldn't stop their antics even when in public.

Neji figured out who they were while the others looked somewhat confused. It took Sasuke a while to peg due to how young he was when he met them and how the traumatising times were buried deep in his psyche but when he did he scowled.

When Mei's eyes met that of her beloved Itachi she let out an almighty shriek and ran at him like a child who had just seen Mickey Mouse in Disneyland. "You waited, YOU WAITED!" she yelled much to the chagrin of passing people, her arms punching the air as she was lifted up into pale but strong arms.

Hinata ruffled the girl's silken locks,

"Of course we w-weren't going to leave w-without saying g-goodbye!" she told the girl, although somewhere deep, deep within she almost hoped that they had, she could see that Itachi had been waiting for them and if they hadn't, she might have been able to keep him by her side just that much longer.

The groups merged together all speaking but not mingling until Mei and Tiara both rolled their eyes. Boys would always just be boys, never wanting to just take that extra step further, always sizing each other up in macho-ness. Well they were going to change that.

"I'm Mei, the meanie face is Sasori, the giant fishman is Kisame, the girly boy is Deidara and the guy that looks like 'Tachi is Jet; who are you guys?" Sakura and Ino coo-ed over the girl's cuteness while the guys continued to size each other up but nodded in respect.

"I'm Tiara, the pinkette is Sakura, You guys know Hinata, the guy with similar eyes is Neji and next to him his girlfriend Tenten, Ino is the blonde, Shikamaru is the lazy sod by the window. Fuzzy eyebrows is Lee, whiskersboy is Naruto and the girl he is talking to is Chihiro," once more the groups nodded but this time as they chatted there was a somewhat tense truce as they attempted to mingle together..

As they stood there, time seemed to stop for Itachi. He looked at the faces of all of those around him, Sasori's bored and yet somewhat bothered face, Kisame's just plain worried face, Deidara and Mei play fighting and yet there being something sad about it. Jet and his face was somewhat knowing as he looked at his brother, as though he knew what he was thinking and what he was eventually going to do.

Then there was Hinata, wonderful, caring Hinata. Her shy smile and yet the tight corners of her lips as though she was trying to hide back the melancholy that she was feeling within and that's when it pegged him. She knew, she knew what he was feeling and she thought that she already going to lose him.

When that beautiful pale face turned determined he finally understood, it wasn't that she thought she was losing him, it was that she was trying to be strong in order for him to do the right thing. The thing that he had known all along that he should do but didn't want to.

... he still remembered what he had promised them ...

"Alright then, goodnight Mei," as he turned to leave the little girl grabbed his hand to stop him and when he turned back in question he was almost barrelled over by the emotion and seriousness in her eyes. One so young shouldn't have such a look in their eyes.

"You have to promise," she began and he took a seat at the edge of her bed, it wasn't worth her ending up with a bad neck, goodness knew she'd milk it for all it was worth when morning came by.

"You have to promise to stay with us so we can be a proper big family and live together forever and ever! You're like the Kisame is like the head of our family and you're like the mummy but you control everything!" he blinked and smiled at her as her eyes grew heavy and began to drop.

However even with imminent sleep she refused to let go of his hand,

"You have to promise!" and the moment he did as she wished she let go. He felt both tied to that promise and freed by it. That no matter what he would always have a family with these people but at the same time, he was never going to move on from them. They were his responsibility and he was going to make sure that they were cared for.

"You know un, she may not understand what she is really asking but we do and she is telling the truth. Without you un, we are weak and aimless,"

Itachi barely paused as he walked past the blonde leaning against the door,

"I know . . ."

He gently grasped her hands, pulling her away from the conversation she was engaged in with Mei and Tiara. When her eyes met his, he understood that she knew what he was going to say but she was going to let him say it. Whether it was because she still had hanging hopes it wasn't as she suspected or because she wanted him to admit it to himself, he wasn't so sure.

"You said you love me? And you're willing to support me?" he hesitated, stumbling over the word and when she nodded, he drew her into him, in a soft embrace. He wasn't one for public affections but there wasn't much time and he felt that she had least deserved this if she was going to let him leave.

"Then you understand why I can't go with you? No matter how I feel about you, there are things bigger than us that I have to work out and deal with before I can give you what you deserve and that might take a long time" he whispered and it was like there was no one there but the two of them. Hinata felt her eyes cloud with tears but blinked rapidly to hold them back.

"Of course, and I'll wait," she smiled shakily, "No matter how long it takes, I'll be waiting for you to come back to me."

He backed away from her and nodded at both his brother and Neji. Neji moved to stand by his cousin, understanding the situation fully. He had come to admire Itachi as something close to a friend. Sasuke didn't pretend to know what his brother was up to and neither did he care but he understood that he was no longer running.

Whatever that entailed.

Itachi lightly boffed Mei's head to make her look up at him; and smiled,

"Let's go home,"

The same sentiment was hushed between the group travelling back home and they all smiled at the strange new group they had met before they began rushing towards the ramp all wanting to get the best seats.

Hinata turned back just before she was to enter the ramped area and despite the pain in her chest she couldn't hold back the smile as she watched the guy she loved surrounded by his family, it may not have been her happy ending but it was a happy ending.

Besides this was only her teenaged life right . . .?

And like she said,

She'd wait,

No matter how long it took.