A/N: This one is inspired by artwork by Warrior-of-Ruin, so check my profile for links to her awesome work!
Summary: Five years after Itachi's demise, Sasuke encounters a skilful and talented ANBU. Deciding that she would be the one to bear his children, he willingly returns to Konoha, determined to unmask her. But there's one complication, what are Akai ANBU? Sasuhina.
Warnings: Rated M, not for explicit lemons, but maybe a bit of a lime later on.
Disclaimer (only will be said once): I don't own Naruto.
A solemn silence draped over the group of shinobi as they held various positions around the hospital waiting room. It was amazing how these individuals could lead such risky lives yet wake up each morning completely unexpected of what the day may bring. This particular morning started like any other. They'd get up, meet their teammates, train, train, and train some more, given that they had no missions. But the rest of the day proceeded unlike any other.
It had been a whole two years after Naruto's third attempt at returning his best friend, Uchiha Sasuke, to Konoha. His last attempt had been thwarted by an encounter with an Akatsuki member. After that attempt, all potential retrieval missions pertaining to the Uchiha were set aside. With news of that, Naruto was left deflated… but it didn't last long. The Hokage's decision to hold off on searching for the last Uchiha was done in favour of having the blonde loudmouth undergo training to inherit the title of Hokage. And so he was officially enlisted as Tsunade's apprentice.
Naruto's new role in Konoha was not taken well by the village elders and the majority of Konoha's older population, the population that was sworn to secrecy by the Sandaime. They knew the secret that had only recently been shed to those in the hospital's waiting room. Well, it was news to most of the ninja, aside from the handful that knew the blonde closely.
In the two years after Naruto seized the role as Hokage apprentice he had maintained a prominent position within the village and gained respect and admiration. As apprentice to the Hokage, he was given menial jobs at first, jobs that she preferred to shove off on someone else. The arrangement didn't work out. Both blondes were too lazy and unmotivated when it came to paperwork, which resulted in Shizune booting Naruto from Tsunade's office. Then a new arrangement was hatched. Naruto's first mission as Hokage apprentice was to fulfill a promise he had made years ago. That promise: change the Hyuuga clan.
Neji, who sat in the sparsely furnished waiting room with his peers, touched a hand to his forehead protector, the item that hid the Hyuuga seal imparted to him because of his branch family heritage. A sombre smile tugged at his lips as dull lavender eyes blinked away tears. He could still vividly remember Naruto's blatant disrespect towards the Hyuuga clan elders, how the blonde had spewed long and colourful strings of inappropriate insinuations, how he had convinced Hanabi to side with him as well as the Hyuuga head himself. It was because of Naruto's persistence that six-months, when a new Hyuuga child was born into a branch family, no seal had been performed. Uzumaki Naruto was a man of his word and he had indeed changed the Hyuuga clan. A feat that Neji and the rest of the branch family would be forever grateful for.
The Hyuuga prodigy just wished there was something he could do in return, something that could save the obnoxious future Hokage. But this was Naruto's battle and his alone.
The day that had started like any other had ended with the beloved blonde in a hospital bed. His will and love for the village that had shunned him was so great that he was willing to sacrifice his own life to save the many lives of others.
At sundown, Konoha was attacked. To an extent, this attack was expected and everyone knew it would come one day, but with the passing of legendary sannin, Jiraiya, the village had lost its main source of information. All that was known to them was that the Akatsuki were down to five members after Itachi's death and the only tailed beast left to be captured was the Kyuubi that resided inside Naruto. Of course that last tidbit wasn't made known to the various chuunin and jounin ranked ninja who had known the Kyuubi vessel since the chuunin exams and academy days.
On the evening of the attack, the Konoha twelve, minus Sasuke, plus Sai, had gathered for dinner. Their dinners were nearly completed when a rumble ripped through the restaurant. It had come as a surprise to most of them when they rushed out of the dining establishment to find a group of S-class missing nin. After a short time, most of Konoha's ninja population had congregated in and around the general vicinity.
It had been a fierce battle and they had fought valiantly, but even so, they were losing many lives and damage to some parts of the village was beyond repair. It was at that moment that the Akatsuki's motives became apparent to the Konoha twelve. Naruto had fled and the criminal organization had followed him. The aggravating future Rokudaime had fled his village, risking his own life to protect everyone else. He had left with the intention of taking the fighting away from the village.
The Konoha twelve, Naruto's friends, followed him against orders from higher ranking ninja and then they had witnessed the true power that lay dormant inside his body. They were forced to watch idly as he fended off the S-class missing nins. There was absolutely nothing they could do to assist him. The wrath unleashed by the tailed beast was far too overwhelming for any of them to get close.
Eventually the Akatsuki were forced to retreat. But that didn't change much, just whom the damage was inflicted on. The Kyuubi's rage was turned against the Konoha shinobi and they were pressured into a game of dodge and outmanoeuvre, some of them suffering damage from the demon's potent chakra. It wasn't until Yamato arrived that Naruto was finally subdued. The result sent Naruto to the hospital, while the many others were treated in the waiting room, awaiting word of his condition.
Soft footsteps sounded from the room holding Naruto, followed by a click as the double doors swung open. The many heads snapped up and a few were launched from their seats as a result of anxious anticipation. Their eyes locked onto the blonde Hokage and then to her pink-haired former student.
"How is he?" Sai asked first.
"He's taken a lot of damage but the serious injuries have been dealt with and he's already healing, a trait of the tailed beast in him as you now know," Tsunade stated, "he's still unconscious though."
"But h-he'll be a-alright?" Hinata stammered, unrestrained tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Yes, he'll be recovered in a week or two," she replied.
"Can we see him?" Neji asked the question on everyone's minds.
"Yea, but only two at a time and keep it brief."
Everyone looked amongst themselves, trying to discern who would receive the privilege of visiting the blonde first. Eyes first floated to Sai and Sakura who were currently embraced in a hug, and then to the quivering Hyuuga heiress and her Hyuuga prodigy cousin.
"You can go first Hinata-chan," Sakura encouraged with a soft smile, "I've already been in there the whole time."
"Are y-you sure?" Hinata asked through shallow sniffles.
"Hai, go ahead."
"A-arigatou, Sakura-chan." The female Hyuuga bowed to the pink haired medic before directing her cousin, "come on, Neji."
Neji followed behind his cousin, sending a grateful nod to Sakura as they passed.
When they entered the room, Neji heard a sharp intake of breath from his cousin. He walked out from behind her to set his eyes on the bandaged Kyuubi vessel. Nearly his entire body was wrapped in bandages while the skin that wasn't, was a darker tint as result of the burns he had suffered from the demon's chakra. His face looked worn, like he had aged many years in just one night.
A muffled sob tore him out of his thoughts and he padded over to his cousin, pulling her into a smothering hug. "He's alright, Hinata."
"I know," she mumbled, her tears soaking his robes, "it's j-just, w-we almost lost h-him."
"But we didn't," he assured with a firm hand gliding up and down her back.
"Wh-what if th-they come back f-for him?"
Neji's body stiffened, it was a valid question and one he hadn't thought of, "I don't know, but he has us, we're his friends and we'll fight alongside him."
"Mmhm." She tried to restrain her tears. "You're r-right." She pulled out of his embrace and wiped her tears away before walking over to the blonde and taking his hand in hers. Softly, she spoke to her friend, "next time, d-don't flee like th-that Naruto-kun. Don't s-sacrifice yourself… w-we'll fight with you next time."
Neji stood over the other side of Naruto's unconscious form, a hand on the blonde's shoulder. "That's a promise I pledge to you, my friend. Regardless of what beast resides inside you, I will fight alongside you just as you had done for me and the Hyuuga clan."
"I think that's a promise we can all make," Shikamaru's voice drifted through the small hospital room, followed by murmurs of agreement from the rest of the Konoha twelve.
It appeared patience was not one of their strong suits, but loyalty was, as the many heads peered in between the double doors. "Is it our turn yet?"