Title: Ten Defining Moments
Author: Shawny Wong
Theme: #10 #10
Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission, for fan purposes only. Do not reproduce without permission.
It took 10 not-so-subtle signs for Naruto to realize that his wife was pregnant.
Granted, this wasn't entirely his fault. After all, considering how badly the villagers had hated him as a child, he'd never had any exposure to babies... or expecting mothers. He'd been the town leper. Parents would see him coming and quickly herd their children away from him. And pregnant women avoided him even more than the general populace – which was a lot to begin with – fearing that his very proximity might taint their unborn children. He'd never even seen a pregnant woman up close until Kurenai-sensei. Was it any wonder he'd thought that her rounded tummy was a product of eating too much barbeque?
Naruto was far from ignorant, of course. With Jiraya, the self-proclaimed "super pervert", as his sensei, he understood that sex led to babies. (Jiraya made sure that his apprentice was well educated in the fine art of procreation!) He also understood the basic process of pregnancy and how it worked – from conception to labor and delivery. However, Jiraya was always more enthusiastic about the before conception part of his sex education than the after conception part – and Naruto was always more enthusiastic about the ninja part of his education than Biology 101 – which meant that other than some rudimentary knowledge, Naruto had no clue what to expect from a pregnant woman.
So when Hinata started showing symptoms about 10 months into their marriage, Naruto managed to miss them all. It helped that he was naturally oblivious...
Signs 1 and 2: Mood swings and cravings
"You want a deep fried banana?"
Naruto rubbed his eyes and lifted his head just enough to glance over at the bedside clock: 2:37 A.M. He groaned and flopped back down on the bed. "It's the middle of the night. Can I get you a deep fried banana in the morning?"
Hinata burst into tears.
Signs 3 and 4: Fatigue and morning sickness
Naruto carefully held Hinata's hair away from her face and rubbed her back as she retched over the toilet. She continued to heave miserably for another minute, even after she'd thoroughly rejected that morning's breakfast. He watched helplessly as she gagged and struggled to breathe. When it was over, he carried her back to bed and quickly returned for a warm, wet washcloth. He barely noticed the sour smell of partially digested food that lingered in the bathroom.
This is all my fault...
In the last week, he'd gradually noticed Hinata never had enough energy to get through the day anymore. She tired easily... too easily, even though none of her daily activities had changed. When he'd expressed his concern, she'd told him not to worry and that she was sure it was nothing a good night's rest wouldn't cure. She started going to bed earlier each evening, but it wasn't helping. She was still exhausted by late afternoon. Finally, he'd suggested that she see Sakura for an informal checkup, but Hinata had insisted that she felt fine and that there was no need to waste Sakura's time over something so trivial. So he'd let it go.
That was a mistake.
… I should've made her go see Sakura! But I didn't... and now she's really sick!
He sat on the side of the bed and gently cleaned her face. Hinata had her eyes closed, but she was breathing easily and a hint of color was returning to her cheeks – both signs that she was recovering. He sighed with relief.
"I'm sorry, Naruto-kun."
"Why are you sorry?"
"For making you worry... I'm sorry."
"Don't be," he smiled reassuringly at her. "As soon as you're feeling a little better, I'm taking you to see Sakura."
"No, buts! You're going to see Sakura or another qualified medic-nin. Maybe a little fatigue isn't a big deal, but puking your guts out first thing in the morning is. This isn't normal, Hinata-chan!" His blue eyes flashed, daring her to challenge him on this.
Hinata smiled faintly, recognizing the stubborn expression on his face.
"I promise, Naruto-kun." She was incredibly touched by his obvious concern – and the way it made him drop everything, including his missions, to take care of her. She shook her head and eyed the full travel pack sitting by the door. "I'll go to the hospital today, but... you won't be able to take me. You'd better hurry or you'll be late meeting Lord Yuu and his entourage at the North Gate."
Naruto followed her line of sight and almost cursed. Hinata was right. He'd been about to leave for his next mission and was in the middle of kissing his wife goodbye, when she'd suddenly pulled away and rushed to the bathroom. If he didn't leave in the next ten minutes, he risked insulting an important client. He ran his hand through his blond hair in agitation. He didn't want to go – especially not while Hinata was sick!
Hinata seemed to read his mind.
"Go. I'm fine. This is a high-profile mission – and Lord Yuu requested you specifically to head his security detail."
"No. I'll get Tsuande-baachan to send someone else. She'll understand."
"You don't have to do that, Naruto-kun! See?" Hinata pushed herself up to a sitting position and smiled brightly at him. "I'm feeling better already. Go."
"What if it's something serious?" he argued. "I'm not leaving until I know that you'll be okay."
"It was probably something I ate. I feel fine," she stressed. "In fact, it's perfectly natural for some women to feel a little bit nauseous every now and then..."
… especially if they happen to be pregnant. Hinata thought ruefully.
She couldn't be certain, but she had a sneaking suspicion that... maybe she was... pregnant? All of her recent symptoms matched the classic symptoms of pregnancy. She wanted very badly to share her thoughts with Naruto, but decided to wait. I could be wrong. It could be something else entirely. I'll wait until I've seen a doctor.
"It is?" Naruto asked skeptically. He'd never heard of anything like that before! Then again, women were mysterious creatures. Even after almost one year of marriage, he still didn't understand them! (He was starting to think that he never would.)
"Yes. It's perfectly natural."
"Just trust me on this. Please, Naruto-kun?"
Naruto nodded reluctantly.
Sign 5: Congratulations from good friends
"... and that's when Lord Yuu dismissed us and asked that I deliver this scroll to you."
Naruto stepped forward and placed a small scroll on Tsunade's desk. She opened it with a flick of her wrist and quickly scanned the contents.
"Well done, Naruto," she said nodding with approval. "Lord Yuu was very pleased with your work and says that he plans to hire more teams from Konoha in the future. Was that all?"
Naruto did his best to stay focused during the debriefing, but despite himself, his eyes flickered to the door again. He hoped that Tsunade hadn't noticed his preoccupation, but judging by the knowing smirk on her face, she had noticed.
"Is there someplace you need to be?" she asked blandly. "Or maybe... someone you need to see?"
"Not really..." Naruto flushed and tried not to squirm. He hadn't seen Hinata in weeks – not since she'd persuaded him to go on his mission. He missed his wife – and he was still worried about her health.
"Okay. We're done here. Go home and take a few days off. You've earned it."
He took off like a shot, more than happy to follow orders for once. On his way out of the Hokage tower, he ran into Sakura, Sai, and Lee – who were just leaving the jonin lounge on the ground floor.
"Hi, Naruto! When did you get back?" Sakura asked.
"I got back less than an hour ago. I was just on my way home."
"Oh. So you haven't seen Hinata, yet?" Sakura sounded almost... disappointed? Naruto looked at her curiously.
"No. Not yet."
"Congratulations, my friend!" Lee burst out; he slapped Naruto on the back and shook his hand vigorously, making Naruto grunt in surprise and pain; sometimes Lee forgot his own strength. "I am so happy for you! This is such a joyous occasion! We must celebrate!"
"Uh... yeah... Thanks, Lee," he said while carefully extricating his hand from Lee's crushing grip. His friend was so happy that he had tears streaming from his eyes. Naruto furrowed his brow in confusion. "I'm sorry. Congratulations for what?"
"Why for your- Oomph!"
"Shut up, Lee!" hissed Sakura, elbowing him in the gut with her monstrous strength. Then she chuckled nervously at Naruto. "Don't mind him. You know how excitable Lee gets. I think he had one too many shots of espresso this morning."
Naruto shrugged and decided not to ask. Lee was always a little bit odd. This level of enthusiasm was practically normal for him. However, what happened next was downright bizarre. Sai circled Naruto slowly and eyed him up and down like a piece of meat – or like a horse on the market. Sai finally stopped in front of him and hmm'ed thoughtfully.
"Is something wrong, Sai?"
"No. I'm merely trying to come up with a new nickname for you. I'm not going to call you 'Dickless' anymore."
"You're not?!" Naruto's mouth fell open in absolute shock. He'd tried for years to get Sai to stop using that insulting nickname – and he'd finally given up when he realized that it was Sai's tactless way of showing that he cared. And now he was going to stop? Just like that? "Why?"
"It no longer fits," Sai said gravely, with the air of someone imparting a profound philosophical truth. "You obviously have a functioning penis. Congratulations."
"Okay!" Sakura interrupted hastily. She started pushing and shoving both Lee and Sai down the hall towards the Hokage's office at a breakneck pace. "We have to go now. We don't want to be late for our meeting with Tsunade-shisho! See you later, Naruto! Say hi to Hinata for me!"
And then they were gone.
Naruto shook his head, completely baffled.
Oo-kaay. That was... unusual. Why are my friends so weird?
Signs 6 and 7: Nesting syndrome and sensitive breasts
Naruto shut the door quietly behind him, removed his shoes, and dropped his travel pack by the front door. Then he went looking for his wife. He found her in the apartment's second bedroom, which they used as a combination guest room and storage room. The room was sparse; it had a single futon next to a large window and about a dozen storage boxes stacked haphazardly in a corner. Or at least, that was the way the room normally appeared. Hinata had pushed the futon and the boxes to the center of the room and covered them with several old bedsheets – leaving clear access to all four walls. She was staring at one wall with a look of deep contemplation on her face and a collection of small sample-sized cans of paint at her feet. Several sections of the previously off-white wall had been painted various shades of yellow and orange. The open window let in plenty of ventilation – and a cool breeze wafted through her hair, making it sway gently from side to side.
Suddenly, all he wanted to do was run his fingers through her hair and feel the smooth strands under his skin.
"I'm home, Hinata-chan."
Hinata spun around at the sound of his voice. Her eyes lit up at the sight of her husband standing in the doorway – safe and sound.
"Naruto-kun! You're back early!"
She was at his side and in his arms in less than a heartbeat. She raised her face in a wordless plea for a kiss – one that Naruto was more than happy to grant. He seized the opportunity to tangle his fingers in her hair – and his awareness of the world shrank down to him, her, and the kiss they shared.
"How was your mission?" asked Hinata breathlessly a minute later.
"It was good. There were a few bandits and a missing nin from Suna, but nothing I couldn't handle," replied Naruto with a shrug. "But more importantly, how are you? How do you feel? Did you see a doctor? Have you been sick?"
"I'm fine – perfectly healthy! You worry too much, Naruto-kun," she chided gently. "I saw Sakura. She gave me some tips to help settle my nausea and told me to take it easy."
"Good," Naruto nodded. Then he glanced pointedly at the half-painted wall. "I see you've been busy re-decorating."
"I hope you don't mind," she said anxiously. "Since you've been gone, I've had this... this overwhelming urge to clean and fix things up. I should have waited until you got back, but I couldn't. I just... I just have to re-paint this room!"
"I don't mind at all, Hinata-chan." Naruto carefully examined the swatches of color on the wall. There were four large blocks of yellow – from a vibrant lemon yellow to a pale pastel yellow – each with a stroke of accent orange – from a bright tangerine to a light coral – below it. It looked as if Hinata had decided on the color scheme, but was having trouble deciding on the exact hues for the room. He pointed at a butter yellow and soft peach combination that reminded him of sunshine and flowers. "I like that one."
"Me, too," she agreed. "Those colors are perfect."
"Tsunade-baachan gave me a few days off. If you like, I can paint this room for you tomorrow."
He chuckled when Hinata visibly perked up at his offer.
"No problem, Hinata-chan. Tomorrow, okay? Right now, I'm tired and hungry."
"Oh! I'm sorry, Naruto-kun. I didn't realize! Would you like some soba? We have some left in the refrigerator. Let me prepare it for you. We also have some..."
"... tofu and wakame and..."
"Hinata-chan," he interrupted firmly. "I wasn't talking about food."
"Oh... Oh!" She blushed at the innuendo – and at the way he was looking at her, as if she was good enough to eat.
"Oh, yes. I'm tired and hungry," he said with a wicked grin. Naruto leaned forward and licked her lips teasingly... "Let's go to bed." … nibbled at her ear... "Right." … and sucked the side of her neck directly above her pulse, smirking slightly when he felt her pulse quickening under his mouth... "Now."
Several hours later...
Naruto lay back in bed, more content than he could ever remember being. He held his wife close and buried his face in her silky hair. Kissing her, touching her, and ultimately making love to her had been utter bliss and wonderful beyond words – as always. However, this time, there had been something different about Hinata.
He knew Hinata inside and out. He knew everything about her – from her favorite blend of tea to her secret insecurities. He knew how to make her blush, how to make her laugh, and how to make her want him as badly as he always wanted her. He knew everything about her body, too – from her head to her toes. He knew the exact number and location of each scar that she earned in the line of duty. He knew about the tiny mole behind her right ear. And he knew all about her breasts.
Or at least, he thought he did, but...
Her breasts had been extra sensitive to his touch – and not in a good way. It almost seemed like it hurt her if he so much as touched them. So as much as he'd wanted to, he'd immediately stopped and switched his attention to other parts of her beautiful body. And... It almost seemed like her breasts were bigger.
Was that even possible?!
He wondered briefly if he should ask Hinata about it in the morning, but soon discarded that idea. Women as a general rule were very sensitive about the size of their breasts – and Hinata was no exception. (She never believed him when he claimed that her breasts were perfect just they way they were.)
If I say anything, she'll either be horribly embarrassed – not good – or incredibly insulted – also not good. I'd better not ask.
Decision made. Naruto let his mind relax and drifted off to sleep.
Signs 8 and 9: Prenatal vitamins and baby booties
The next morning after breakfast, as Naruto was putting the dishes away, he absently noticed Hinata taking a white bottle from the cupboard by the door where they kept the first aid kit and medical supplies. At first glance, he couldn't make out the small text on the side of the bottle, but he could see the logo of the Konoha Pharmacy on the label. He didn't think anything of it, until Hinata poured herself a glass of water and shook two large tablets into the palm of her hand – obviously intending to take the pills with water.
"What are those?" he asked warily.
"These? These are the vitamins that Sakura gave me," she answered. She popped the vitamins in her mouth and swallowed. Then she took another sip of water. "Sakura says that it's very important for me to get enough folic acid in my condition. These vitamins will help, in case I don't get enough folic acid from the food that I eat – and they contain extra iron and calcium, which are important, too."
"Condition?!" The word came out sharper than he intended. Naruto took a deep breath and forced himself to speak normally. "What condition? You said that you were okay."
"I meant to tell you about it last night, but you... distracted me," she said with a blush. "Wait here. I have something for you."
Before Naruto could protest, Hinata disappeared only to reappear a moment later with a gift wrapped box in her hands.
"Here. This is for you."
Whatever it was, it was light.... Naruto gave it an experimental shake... and didn't make any noise. He looked at Hinata curiously.
"A present? But it's not my birthday."
"I know," she said with a touch of exasperation. "Can't I get you present just because? Are you going to open it?"
When Sakura had confirmed her pregnancy, Hinata made Sakura promise not to tell any of their friends – at least not until after she talked to Naruto first. She wanted to tell Naruto herself and didn't want him finding out from someone else accidentally. She had been trying to decide on the best way to break the news to him when she passed by "The Budding Leaf" – Konoha's specialty baby store – on the way home. Several pairs of the cutest baby booties she had ever seen were on display in the window. As soon as she saw them, she knew exactly how she wanted to tell Naruto.
Hinata watched anxiously as Naruto tore open the gift wrap and lifted the lid. For a long moment, he did nothing but stare blankly at his gift – and then he frowned. Her heart sank – and she could feel the sting of tears forming in her eyes. Did he... did he not want a baby?
"You don't like them?" she asked in a tiny voice.
"Oh, no. They're very nice, Hinata-chan," he said with a smile. "I like them."
She smiled back, relieved, yet disappointed by his reaction. Naruto didn't look particularly happy, but at least he wasn't unhappy about it, either.
"Only..." He looked at the baby booties in the box again and scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Why did you get me such tiny socks? They're not going to fit."
Sign 10: A direct announcement
Socks? Hinata blinked once, twice, and then dissolved into giggles. When she managed to pull herself together, she kissed her adorably clueless husband on the cheek and grinned cheekily at him.
"They're not socks, Naruto-kun."
"If they're not socks, then what are they?"
Hinata shook her head and tried not to laugh – again. If he didn't figure it out from the baby booties, then he wasn't going to figure it out. I guess I just have to be more blunt.
"Naruto-kun, I'm expecting," she said firmly, clearly enunciating each word.
"Okay," he said after a long moment of silence.
"Okay?" Hinata frowned – and bit her lip uncertainly. That wasn't the reaction she'd been hoping for. She'd been hoping to surprise him – in a good way – and hoping that he'd be happy once he got over the shock. At least, he's not upset about it, she thought optimistically. That has to be a good sign. Right? "You're okay with it?"
"Of course!" He paused and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Um... what are you expecting?"
… and thus, Naruto managed to miss all 10 not-so-subtle signs that his wife was pregnant.
"I'm expecting a baby, Naruto-kun."
Hinata finally got the reaction she was hoping for.
(1) In the Naruto manga, chapter 406, page 13, Shikamaru takes Naruto to see Kurenai-sensei. Naruto says to Kurenai: "You ate too much barbeque and now you're in the hospital?!" Kishimoto drew that scene for comedic relief – and it always made me laugh. But if you stop and think about it... It's so sad, too.
(2) Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat flour. It's served cold with a dipping sauce or served hot in a broth as a noodle soup. Wakame is a sea vegetable aka edible seaweed.
(3) Haha. Oblivious!Naruto is so much fun to write! :)
EDIT 9/2/09: Fixed a typo. Many thanks to Wandering Wonderer for pointing it out!
EDIT 9/3/09: Fixed another typo. Many thanks to Lynns for pointing it out!