Hey, I'm back! Sorry for the long wait. I just...wasn't sure about this chapter, so if you hate it, I understand.

Also, if you want to read the extended (LEMON!) version of the last chapter, it's on my profile as 'Wedding Night'.


Hinata paced across the expanse of her kitchen, glancing urgently out the window every few steps. She wrung her hands in her jacket. Her lips were sore and red from her nervous mouth pulling them in to chew. Her long hair hung, listless, over her back. Her eyes were sore and puffy from her recurrent sobbing. It had been two weeks. Itachi had been gone for two weeks. It was a mission, and as with all missions, there came the risk of death. But Hinata never imagined that Itachi actually may never come back.

The mission was to be completed in eight days, but Itachi's squad hadn't been heard from since day six. Eight days since Hinata began to panic. She was beginning to count every moment that passed. Each breath she inhaled seemed to tear at her heart a little more.

It was a paradox sort of situation, she supposed. Right now, when she needed Itachi more than ever, he wasn't there. If he were there, she wouldn't need him quite so badly. A set of fresh tears began pooling in her opal eyes and she shook her head, unwilling to think about the harsh irony.

There was a knock at the door, and her heart soared before she crashed back down. Don't be stupid, Hinata. Why would Itachi knock on his own door? Lost in her self-berating thoughts, she hardly noticed as Sasuke let himself in. He was covered in a powdery layer of snow.

"Oi, Hinata." She started and turned to face him.

"Ah, Sasuke-san. Kobanwa." He just stared at her, his eyes narrowing accusingly.

"You haven't been sleeping." His gaze lingered on her gaunt cheeks, "Or eating, for that matter." Hinata turned her face from him, as if she could hide the purple stains under her eyes. He sighed and put a finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him again. "He's okay."

Hinata searched his face for some kind of certainty, but found only emptiness. He looked broken, like something inside of him had cracked. If anyone could understand how she felt, it was Sasuke. Empathy could only comfort her to a point, and she was beyond trying to hold on to faulty hopes. In her current state, even focusing on Sasuke was hard. His face continuously morphed into Itachi's, and it only served to make her throat tighten. Sasuke withdrew his hand with another sigh.

"Anyway, 'Kāsan sent this for you. She's worried about you." A basket filled with onigiri was held in front of her face.

"Oh. Um, please thank her for me." The response was almost mindless. All Hinata wanted was to be alone. And Itachi. She really wanted Itachi. Sitting the basket on the floor, Sasuke walked toward the front door, but paused with his hand on the wood.

"Come over if you need anything."

"Of course, thank you." She nodded automatically. Sasuke's expression wavered between frustration and despair.

"We're family now, Hinata. You can come to me. I mean it." He stepped out into the snow, and Hinata crumpled to the floor.

Fifteen days. Itachi had been gone for fifteen days. Hinata considered taking Sasuke up on his offer and going to the manor, but couldn't motivate herself to move from her spot on the bed. She couldn't help it; the sheets smelled smoky and earthy; they smelled like Itachi.

Very little was going through her mind other than inhaling his scent and wondering if that scent would become just a memory, half-forgotten in time. She wondered if she would be laying flowers at the base of the MIA monument, or if she would be joining the countless other ninja widows that cry over tombstones when they think no one is around.

Widow. What an ugly word. It made Hinata taste vomit at the back of her throat. Itachi-kun. Come home. Come home, Itachi-kun! She felt the tears slip down her face and drop off of her chin. If she stopped breathing for a moment, she could hear her heart crying too. She lied there, holding her breath, listening to her own misery. She could almost feel Itachi's chakra, warm and blue and familiar. She was almost certain she felt it. It was almost tangible.


Hinata bolted upright and listened, sure she had imagined it. THUD. No, she hadn't imagined it. There was definitely a thump. THUD. It came from the hallway. THUD. Closer, now. Shinobi instinct finally jolted Hinata into motion. She jumped from the bed to stand. THUD. The smell hit her before anything else. The smell of blood and rot and war. She tried to activate her Byakugan, but failed- she was too malnourished and sleep deprived to summon that much chakra.


Then she saw him, and time stopped. He was slumped over, leaning on the wall to manage each leaden step. He raised his head with a noticeable effort. Blood was dried over his lips and down his chin. Most of his face was covered in what seemed to be ash, and his forehead was covered in sticky mats of blood and hair. The hand he used to brace himself was severely burned and bloodied. The clothes he wore were showing patches of bruised skin, his Jonin vest was gone. But it was him. It was Itachi. Hinata's heart skipped, she felt dizzy.

"Itachi-kun." She breathed out.

"I'm home, Love." And then he fell. She scrambled to catch him, only to be pinned beneath his much larger form. It should have hurt, but Hinata couldn't bring herself to care about the pain.

"Itachi-kun, please roll over. Let me heal you!" With a pained grunt the weight was lifted from her. Itachi laid on his back. His breathing was sporadic and shallow. Up close, Hinata could see the blood that ran from his eyes. She choked on a sob, lightly touching his eyelids.

"You used it." It was all he could do to nod. With a deep breath, Hinata forced what chakra she had into her hands. She had to help him. He had always helped her.

"Be brave now, Love." He soothed, like she was a child. When her hands were clean, he wrapped them in soft cloth bandages.

"Be brave, Love. This will sting, but it needs to come out." She screamed as he tore the kunai from her flesh.

"Be brave, Love." He flashed her a smile before looking to the man who had his sword to her neck. His sharingan spun.

Blood gurgled up from Itachi's mouth, the fresh pouring over the dry. Hinata set her jaw.

"Be brave, Love." She flooded her hands with chakra, pushing it forcibly into his heart. He screamed, blood spurting onto her face.

After a moment, everything stopped. Itachi quieted, and Hinata slumped over him, too drained to keep herself upright. Itachi's breathing was normal now, and his heart beat was calming under her cheek. She felt him place a shaky hand on her head. She moved her head just enough to be able to see him looking at her through dull, barely open eyes.

"Hi…nata." His voice was thick, as if his throat was sore.

"Itachi-kun." His lips twitched up in a tired smile. She placed her hand on his bloody face, resting her palm against his cheek. Two tears slid out of her translucent eyes.

"It's…okay now." Itachi covered her hand with his, "I'm home."

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think!