Midnight had come.

And the final moments of pregnancy have taken their toll on Uchiha Sasuke's beloved.

Thunderous roars followed by the constant, heavy spatters of rain reverberated throughout Konohagakure, mirroring the Uchiha's turbulent emotions as he stood nearby his tsuma. His striking features displayed no other sentiment but despair – brows knitted in intensity, eyes narrowed with anguish – upon the sight of his koishii's agony. Hinata, whose pained cries filled the dimly-lit room, was restrained by the pain of labor – fingers clutching to the sheets with whatever little strength she now possessed.

In a silent motion, the Uchiha gently fixed his hand upon her forehead to brush the errant blue strands from her soft lavender pools, and he was graced with a strained smile. The traces of calmness and his collected demeanor began to dwindle at this point, especially as he continued to witness and hear Hinata's torment. A shout elicited from the agony pierced the atmosphere, and his beloved collapsed onto her back in her strife for breath.

If labor causes you this much pain... His orbs darkened as he let his thought go unfinished. He was torn, truly torn between his love for her and his fervid devotion to his clan's restoration. Sasuke was always aware of the suffering women must endure through birth-giving; however, he'd never thought it to be as much as this – as much as what the agonized kunoichi on his futon was going through. He beheld the sight of her with much difficulty, his heart clenching with undiminished fear when Hinata's chest arched as she strove to draw in air, fighting to remain in existence. Speckles of cold sweat adorned her now pale skin, cascading down her forehead – he wiped it all away in futility.

"Sa- Sasuke-k- kun!" His hime rasped, her voice cracking due to her ceaseless cries for mercy. With her eyes shut tight, hoping that in doing so – some pain would be alleviated, she groped blindly for his hands – his strong, comforting hands.

As if reading her intention, the Uchiha placed her velvety hand in his, and answered her in a voice that was barely above a whisper, "Yes, Hinata. I know it hurts." His jaw clenched as he uttered his false understanding – she was in much more pain than he could ever imagine, and he knew it. "Hold on. She'll be here soon."

Strenuously she opened her eyes, and gazing upon her significant other, Hinata produced the same weak smile he'd seen moments ago. This time, Sasuke attempted a requital: a smile of his own, but it only resulted in his lips becoming gauchely twisted. His efforts went un-wasted, however, for he knew how much his beloved appreciated his ever so rare smiling gestures. Trying to further convey his affection, he placed one hand on her protruding abdomen and stroked the protuberance with reluctant gentleness. Sasuke desired so deeply to soothe her, to bring a comforting end to his koishii's cries – but regardless of his ardent efforts, her pain remained overwhelming.

The rapid approach of rushed footsteps caught his attention, and the Uchiha immediately rose to see his long-time friends at the doorway, breathing heavily from sprinting. One, who has been serving as Hinata's midwife since her pregnancy, allowed herself into the familiar room. Following behind her was another of his wife's good friends, attendant and keeper of the flower shop around the corner – giving Hinata her weekly medicinal herbs on their weekend rituals. The last, a male this time, drenched in rain just like the first two went hesitated before entering the room. He could easily be detected as the Rokudaime, especially with his features strikingly similar to those of the late Yondaime.

"Sasuke, we came as fast as we could." The pink haired kunoichi – prominently known for her superb medical knowledge – murmured in a hushed voice. "How is she holding up?" She was removing her raincoat in the process, only uttering the question to fill the ephemeral silence. Gesturing to the flowershop keeper, Sakura scrutinized the woman lying helpless on the futon with jade-green eyes before rushing to her side.

The Uchiha was more than grateful to have Konoha's top medic nin to minister to his wife, assured that Hinata's life would be safe in Sakura's hands. Throwing a glance in his beloved's direction, he answered promptly, "She's in a lot of pain, Sakura." He'd stated the obvious, even the Rokudaime – one who has absolutely no knowledge in child-bearing nor delivering – could see.

Realizing the ministrations had already begun, he eyed the two women who would care for his koishii before sharply turning, prepared to leave when he felt something preventing him from departing. Sasuke cast his gaze below, and detected a pair of soft lavender oculars looking up at him, and with ease he recognized fright in his beloved's depths. Her trembling hand held tightly to the hem of his shirt, she implored him to remain with her with a mute gaze. His heart nearly stopped at the plaintive sight of the former Hyuuga.

"You'll be all right, Hinata." Imprisoning her dainty hand in his, he gave one last awkward smile before bending to plant a firm kiss on her forehead. "I promise." He whispered into her ear prior to erecting himself. Sasuke waited until her eyes closed and caressed her tenderly before he turned to the two women who would be caring for Hinata and his soon-to-be-born child. "Sakura, Ino – I'll never forgive you if something should ever happen to her."

The women he addressed shifted with unease.

"Hey, now, Sasuke. Hinata-chan will be fine." The kyuubi-vessel piped, placing a reassuring hand on the Uchiha's shoulder. "Sakura and Ino'll do a great job."

Sasuke removed his hand with a shrugging motion and proceeded toward the exit of the room, allowing himself one last glance towards Hinata in the process before standing outside the tension filled bedroom. In fear of seeing large amounts of blood, the Uzumaki followed suit, trudging out the doorway to accompany his friend.

"Just believe in them, and Hinata." He said in an uncommonly soft voice, perhaps to relax the Uchiha. "She's going to be okay. And your baby, too."

a/n: Prologue to a one-shot.