Title: A Delicate Condition

Author: Shawny Wong

Pairing: Naruto/Hinata

Theme: #28 Wada Calcium CD3

Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission, for fan purposes only. Do not reproduce without permission.

Summary: A mistake at the hospital's pharmacy causes trouble for many kunoichi in Konoha – and Hinata finds herself in a delicate condition. Written for Thirty Kisses on Live Journal. NaruHina. Minor pairings: SasuSaku, NejiTen, ShikaIno.


Chapter 1

Hinata hummed a cheerful tune as she put the finishing touches on dinner for her family. The soup was simmering over low heat, the rice was ready, and the salad was on the table. She added a little more seasoning to the beef stir-fry and tasted it. Perfect! She covered the dish to keep it warm. Naruto was going to love it when he came home. She blushed a little. Even after almost two years, she could hardly believe that she was married to the love of her life – and that they had created a beautiful little girl together.

From the kitchen she had a clear view of the family room, where little Haruki – who had been named after Hinata's mother – was playing with blocks. The toddler sat on the plush carpet with a look of extreme concentration on her adorable face. Hinata smiled at the sight. Haruki took after her mother in looks with her silky blue-black hair, fair skin, and the distinctive white eyes of the Byakugan. But she took after her father in personality. In that moment, with her face scrunched up with the determination to build the tallest block tower ever, she looked exactly like Naruto.

Hinata couldn't imagine a life without her precious daughter. Haruki's conception and subsequent birth had been an accident – albeit a happy one. At first, she'd worried about Naruto's reaction to the news of her unexpected pregnancy. Would he be angry? Upset? Would he leave her? Or… Would he be happy? Did Naruto even want children? Hinata thought he did, but she hadn't been sure; they had never discussed it before. In the end, her worries had been groundless. Naruto's reaction had been better than she could ever have hoped. He'd been ecstatic at the prospect of fatherhood. Then he'd proposed two weeks later. Even her clan hadn't been the obstacle that she'd feared. Her father had supported her marriage to Naruto and managed to convince the clan elders to allow her to marry outside the clan – as long as she stepped down as the heiress and as long as any of her children who bore the Byakugan took the surname Hyuuga and returned to the clan for training when they were of age.

The sound of the front door opening made Haruki drop all her blocks. The toddler scrambled to her feet and dashed towards the front door. Hinata followed more sedately. She rounded the corner just in time to see Haruki wrap her arms around one of Naruto's legs.

"Oof! Tadaima."

"Daddy!"

"Hi, baby girl. Did you have fun with Mommy today?" Naruto asked with a smile, as he picked her up.

"Uh-huh."

"Okaerinasai, Naruto-kun." Hinata leaned forward to give him a kiss… only to have Naruto turn his head at the last second. Her kiss landed on his jaw instead of his lips. Hinata pulled back confused and a little hurt. "N-Naruto-kun?"

"We need to talk."

"I… okay." Hinata bit her lip. This sounded important. She glanced at Haruki. "Now?"

"No," Naruto shook his head. "It can wait until after we get her to bed."

Normally, Hinata loved dinnertime with her little family. She and Naruto would exchange stories about their day as they ate and took turns feeding Haruki. Laughter and smiles were as much a part of dinner as the food itself – but not tonight. Dinner was a tense affair reminiscent of meals with her father in her childhood – when nothing she did was ever enough to please him. Naruto was silent throughout and rebuffed all of her efforts at casual conversation. After a little while, Hinata stopped trying and ate in unhappy silence. The delicious meal she had worked so hard on tasted like sawdust in her mouth. The only person to behave normally was Haruki who was thankfully oblivious to the tension between her parents.

Hinata gently shut her daughter's bedroom door behind her and made her way to the family room where her husband was waiting. She tried to squash the butterflies in her stomach. Why was she so worried? It was just Naruto.

Naruto – who loved her.

"Haruki's asleep," she said softly. She searched his eyes for answers and couldn't find them. His expression was neutral – and his eyes were shuttered.

"Good. She doesn't need to hear this."

His voice was as colder than ice. Something was very wrong. Hinata clasped her hands together tightly to keep them from trembling.

"What's wrong, Naruto-kun?"

"Tsunade-baachan called me into see her today. I thought it was for another mission debriefing," Naruto said almost conversationally. Only Hinata's familiarity with all of Naruto's moods let her catch the sharp edges in his voice. "But when I got there, the honorable geezers Homura and Koharu were there with Tsunade-baachan. Good old Baachan… She had some news for me that she thought I should hear in private before the rest of the village finds out. Want to take a guess at what it was?"

Hinata shook her head mutely.

"No? Well, the rest of the village will hear the big news tomorrow. You should be happy, Hinata-chan. You'll be the second person to know!"

She cringed at his mocking tone.

"Tsunade's finally going to step down next year. And she's picked a successor to be the Rokudaime. Want to take a guess at who it's not going to be?"

If Naruto was this upset about the announcement of the next Hokage, then that meant… Hinata gasped in dismay.

"That's right. It's not going to be me."

"I'm so sorry, Naruto-kun," she murmured. Hinata put her arms around him – not knowing how to comfort him, but knowing that she had to try no matter what. Her effort was in vain. Naruto unexpectedly jerked out of her gentle embrace and took several steps back. His wordless rejection stung.

"Apparently, the Konoha Council wants a Rokudaime who will make the welfare of this village his first and only priority. They want someone who will be 100 percent dedicated to Konoha. They don't want a family man tied down by a wife and kids. They don't want a leader with vulnerabilities. And a family is just that: a weakness to be used against the Hokage."

Hinata felt her heart sinking with every word. Was she the reason Naruto wasn't chosen as the next Hokage? She felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes and took a shuddering breath. "I'm so, so sorry, Naruto-kun."

"You should be," he hissed. "This is all your fault."

He didn't raise his hand to strike her, but Hinata shrank back as if he had. The venom in his voice was unmistakable. His brilliant blue eyes flashed with a terrible anger that she would never have thought him capable of on his own – without the Kyubi's influence. And… it was all directed at her.

"My f-f-fault?"

"If I wasn't married to you, Tsunade-baachan would have picked me as her successor. I should never have married you."

I should never have married you…

should never have married you…

Hinata felt her world tilt precariously. His words hurt a million times worse than the Jyuken strike to her heart that had almost killed her when she was twelve. She covered her mouth with her hands in a futile attempt to stifle a sob and shook her head in denial.

Naruto doesn't mean it. He doesn't! He's just angry right now.

But her husband wasn't finished.

"You're such a burden – always holding me back. You want to know a little secret?" Naruto leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "I never wanted to marry you in the first place."

"Then why?"

"I knew you were weak… Didn't think you were stupid, too." Naruto scoffed in disdain. "Why? You got yourself pregnant. That's why. It was the right thing to do. If I'd known that it was going to cost me my dream, I wouldn't have done it.

"This is all your fault. If you hadn't gotten pregnant, I would be the next Hokage. You hold me back. You ruined my greatest dream. And… Why the hell are you crying? You're not the one who just lost his dream!"

By the end, Naruto was nearly shouting and Hinata's face was wet with tears.

"I'm s-s-sorry! I never m-m-meant for this to h-h-happen!" she pleaded. "I love you, Naruto-kun! You h-have to believe me!"

"You know…" Naruto continued as if he didn't hear her. "I really got a lousy deal out of life. I had a demon sealed in me at birth. I had an entire village that hated my guts growing up. I had the Akatsuki hunting me down in order to kill me in my teens. And then when things were finally looking up for me, I got stuck with you – the most pathetic kunoichi in Konoha – and as if that wasn't bad enough, you went and destroyed any chance I had for my dream. The gods must hate me."

"Please… I'm sorry, Naruto-kun," she whispered brokenly. She reached for him again… to hold his hand or wrap her arms around him… anything to close the gaping distance between them. But…

"Don't touch me!"

Hinata flinched and wrapped both arms protectively around her waist. She sobbed in earnest. She wanted to apologize again – to ask for his forgiveness – but back of her throat burned making speech impossible.

"I will never forgive you for this."

Hinata's tilting world fell…

"I hate you!"

… and shattered.


Hinata gasped and bolted upright. Her heart was racing as if she were sprinting full speed through the treetops in the forest. The abrupt transition from deep sleep to sudden consciousness left her disoriented, so it took her a moment to realize that she was still in bed – and still crying. Hot tears splashed onto the backs of her hands.

It was just a dream. It's not real. It was just a dream. It's not real…

She repeated that mantra to herself as she willed herself to calm down. After a few moments, her heart rate returned to normal and Hinata dried her tears. The soft glow of the clock on the bedside table read 5:57 AM. Already the dim light of dawn was sneaking in through the window of Naruto's apartment. He and his team weren't back from Tea Country, yet. Their return had been delayed because the client had requested an extension of their services, so they had remained in Tea Country for an extra week. Normally when Naruto was away from the village, she slept in her own rooms at the Hyuuga estate in order to keep up appearances. But lately… she just missed him so much! Staying in his apartment even if he wasn't there made her feel closer to him. (Besides, she slept better in Naruto's bed than her own.)

Hinata swung her legs over the side of the bed and walked the short distance to the bathroom to start her day determined to forget about her nightmare. As the lights flickered on, the item sitting innocently on the counter immediately caught her attention – and her determination wavered. She had placed it there herself, last night before bed.

You're such a burden – always holding me back…

"I'm not," she told herself firmly. "I'm not holding him back."

Her eyes were still riveted on the thin white plastic tube on the counter; the small viewing window on the flat side of the tube was face down. Her heart pounded fearfully. She reached out to pick it up and hesitated.

Come on! Am I a kunoichi or not? It's just a small plastic tube. It's not going to bite!

In one swift motion, Hinata grabbed the tube and flipped it over. Her mouth went dry and her hands shook so badly that she dropped the tube. It landed on the tile floor – face up this time – and in the small viewing window… were two very visible pink lines that crossed to form a "+" sign.

The dream… No. The nightmare that she had been trying so hard to forget came rushing back. It haunted her even though she was wide-awake; it's words echoed angrily in her head again and again.

This is all your fault… You got yourself pregnant…

You ruined my greatest dream… I will never forgive you for this…

I hate you!

Hinata stumbled a little and put her hands on the counter for balance. She stared hard at herself in the wide mirror above the sink. Her long hair was a tangled mess from sleep and her skin was so pale it looked as if she had dunked herself in flour.

"I'm not a burden! I'm not keeping Naruto from his dreams! I'm not! I'm not! I'm not!" she told her pale reflection. Her voice shook with emotion. "Naruto loves me. I know he d-d-does. He doesn't h-h-hate me…"

The real Naruto didn't hate her. Not yet. Hinata felt a burst of fear so strong that it almost made her throw up then and there. Her stomach twisted into one giant painful knot. Naruto didn't hate her yet… but he would… because…

She was pregnant.


Thirty miles away…

Naruto watched the sun come up over the treetops from his position in a large tree where he was keeping watch. The golden rays warmed his face. He shifted a little to get more comfortable and leaned back against the trunk of the tree. He definitely preferred taking the early morning watch to the late night one because of the scenery. This daybreak was particularly picturesque. The stars quietly faded from view as the red gold colors of the sun touched them and the dark sky lightened to a cheerful blue. Soon he could hear the birds of the forest singing their morning song.

Naruto and his cute little genin were on their way back to Konoha after successfully completing their third C-ranked mission: another escort/bodyguard mission. Their client was a gentleman named Meshin Bukai who was a rather pompous merchant with a business based in Tea Country. Naruto sighed a little in exasperation. In his personal opinion, Meshin had more money than common sense – and he was overly superstitious to boot! Case in point: Meshin had hired ninja bodyguards because a traveling fortuneteller had told him that he would "soon encounter trouble on his journey through life." (Naruto rolled his eyes at the memory of their first meeting with the client.) Meshin's fears were groundless, of course. They had safely escorted him back to his home without even a hint of trouble. However, the morning before they were due to return, Meshin had discovered an "ill omen" in his morning cup of tea, panicked, and immediately requested that they stay another week for his "protection." There was no real reason not to continue their mission (other than wanting to go home because he missed his girlfriend), so Naruto had agreed. His cute little genin earned a little extra pocket money from Meshin. So it hadn't been a total waste of time!

Naruto was eager to get back to Konoha. Three weeks without his girlfriend was just too long! They traveled for several days through the treetops only stopping (very briefly) for meals and to make camp each night. He felt a bit guilty for pushing his kids so hard just because he wanted to get back as quickly as possible. (Naruto thought of his genin as his kids; in the year that he'd had them, his genin had become his unofficial little brothers.) His kids were fast… for genin – and had great stamina… for their age. They probably could have made it home last night. But… after Ken almost ran head first into a tree, Naruto decided to have them set up camp early for once. They could all use the rest – besides, Konoha was less than half a day away from their current location.

A shaggy brown head popped out of the shared tent, followed by a small brown puppy. One of his kids was up. Naruto grinned and jumped down from his tree. He landed lightly in front of the boy – who didn't even look up; the kid was too busy rummaging in his pack looking for breakfast.

"Found it!" he exclaimed. The boy ripped open the package of beef jerky and gave some to his puppy. "Here you go, Okimaru. Morning, Naruto-sensei. Want some?"

"No thanks, Ken. Are the other two awake yet?"

Ken Inuzuka, one of Kiba's cousins, nodded. Like the rest of his clan, he was highly loyal to anyone he considered a part of his "pack" and specialized in fighting alongside his canine companion. Of the three kids, Ken was the most well rounded genin. He had good ninjutsu skills, strong taijutsu skills, and because of his close relationship with his cousin – who had been the student of Konoha's resident genjutsu master – Ken could detect and break out of all but the most advanced genjutsu within minutes. He was a bit brash and hot headed – like his cousin had been at that age – but would grow out of it eventually.

"Yeah," he said around a mouthful of beef jerky. "Koji and Takeshi are just packing up their bedrolls."

Just then two more tousled heads popped out of the tent.

"Morning, Naruto-sensei!" Koji chirped cheerfully; he was definitely a morning person.

"Damn it, Koji! How can you be so fucking cheerful every morning?" Takeshi growled at his teammate; he was definitely not a morning person.

"Awww…. Did Takeshi-chan get up on the wrong side of the sleeping bag this morning?" Koji had to move quickly to duck an elbow to his gut.

"Shut up. Just… shut up," Takeshi mumbled. It was too early for him to think of a sufficiently scathing comeback. (He needed some caffeine first!) He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stifled a yawn. "This is why I can't stand blondes… except for you, of course, Naruto-sensei."

"Of course," Naruto nodded sagely. He grinned as he watched the interplay between his kids.

Koji Nakano was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed orphan from one of the smaller fishing villages on the southern end of the Land of Fire. His father had been a fisherman and his mother had been a seamstress who sometimes served as a midwife for the women of her village. They had died in a bandit attack when Koji was five. So Koji had been sent to live with a distant relative – his "Uncle" Daichi – who ran a small bookstore in Konoha. He was the first ninja in his family. Most ninja skills didn't come easily to him. Though he worked hard, Koji ranked near the bottom of his class. However, he did have a natural talent for setting elaborate traps with chakra strings. He also had a sunny disposition – much to Takeshi's displeasure.

Takeshi Mori was from a minor ninja clan. Unlike Koji, he ranked near the top of his class. The Mori's were distantly related to the Nara's – and as a consequence, they shared some similar traits. The Mori's tended to produce very intelligent military strategists – not quite on the level of genius that the Nara clan was so famous for – but they were all very shrewd individuals, highly prized by the Intelligence department. While men of the Nara clan were infamously lazy, men of the Mori clan were only selectively lazy. In other words, the Mori's only liked to work hard at things that interested them. (Getting them to work hard at things that didn't interest them was an exercise in frustration.) In Takeshi's case, he was fascinated by ninjutsu – and could be found practicing jutsu and chakra control in his free time – but he found the art of taijutsu boring. Consequently, the only times Takeshi practiced taijutsu was under duress – and his taijutsu was the weakest on the team.

Despite their differences, all three boys were very good friends. Their teamwork was excellent – much better than that of Naruto's old genin team. There was a level of trust and camaraderie between Ken, Koji, and Takeshi that had been absent from the old Team 7. Naruto suspected that it probably had something to do with the fact that his kids didn't have anywhere near as much psychological baggage as he and his ex-teammates had. (There was himself, the attention-starved orphan hated by nearly everyone in the village. There was Sakura, with low self-esteem, no confidence, and an unhealthy crush on his other teammate. And finally, there was Sasuke, the avenger.) Oh sure. He, Sakura, and Sasuke had good teamwork now, but ten years ago, their teamwork sucked.

"Okay, my cute little genin!" Naruto smirked at the glares (and protests) being thrown in his direction. ("Who are you calling cute?" and "Hey! I'm not little!" and "Stop calling us that, Naruto-sensei!") "It's time to break camp. The sooner we pack up, the sooner we'll get home. If we get back to Konoha by noon, I'll treat you guys to lunch at Ichiraku."

"Awesome! Free lunch!" Koji stuffed the rest of his breakfast – a granola bar – into his mouth and rushed to take down the tent.

"Does it have to be ramen every single time?" Ken asked in exasperation. "Why can't you take us out for steak, instead? I want meat – lots of it! Right, Okimaru?"

The little puppy barked in agreement.

"Be glad I'm treating you at all, you ungrateful brat! My sensei never treated us to lunch."

"Whatever," Ken muttered, but he obediently moved to help Koji take down the tent and remove traces of their campfire. Takeshi was already busy refilling their canteens with water from a nearby stream.

Seeing his kids hard at work, Naruto went to double check his own pack. He had to make sure he still had it. The small black box was right where he'd left it – just inside the pack and on top of all his travel gear. He knew he shouldn't carry it around with him on missions or he might end up losing it accidentally. But… at the same time, he couldn't leave it back in Konoha, either. What if Hinata found it? How would she react? No, he decided. It was better to keep it with him.

"Take it back, loser!"

"Make me, dog-breath!"

Naruto huffed in annoyance. His kids were good friends, had seamless teamwork, and were excellent shinobi… but not everything was sunshine and roses. Koji and Ken seemed to fight each other as often as they worked together! Sometimes, he couldn't tell if they were best friends or worst enemies. (He didn't think Ken or Koji could tell, either.) He didn't have to turn around to know that fists (and fur) were already flying.

"Koji! Ken! Break it up!" he said sharply.

The boys were still glaring at each other, but at least they weren't fighting anymore.

"What did I say about fighting while on a mission?" They both wilted a bit under Naruto's angry stare. "If you want to get into pointless fights do it in your own time – not during training – and definitely not during missions!"

"Sorry, Naruto-sensei."

"Sorry, Naruto-sensei."

"Two hours training with Lee-sensei tomorrow morning. Report to him at 6 AM."

"What?!"

"Do we have to?"

"Would you like me to make that three hours?"

"No!"

"Ack! Two hours is fine!"

Naruto treasured all his friendships. However, ever since he figured out how much his cute little genin hated training with Rock Lee, (not that Naruto could blame them; Lee's regular training regimen was insane even by his standards!) Lee officially became Naruo's absolute-best-friend-in-the-entire-world whenever his genin misbehaved. It was the perfect punishment. Naruto smirked. He didn't even have to lift a finger. All it took was a few hours with Lee-sensei… and his kids would be perfect little angels for weeks.

Ken and Koji were a bit scuffed up from their impromptu fight. Each boy had a few bruises and Ken had a black eye. There was nothing serious except for...

"Koji, come here. Let me see that." Naruto frowned. Somehow, Koji must have fallen against a jagged tree branch or a sharp rock because there was a nasty gash on his forearm that was bleeding sluggishly. "Takeshi, could you pass me the first aid kit?"

"Sure thing, Sensei."

"I don't know how you managed it, Koji – not a single scratch in three weeks while protecting the client and you get injured on the way home?" Naruto shook his head amused.

Ken looked over Koji's injury and winced.

"Sorry, man. I didn't mean for that to happen," he said guiltily.

"It's okay. I'm sorry I called Okimaru a runt. Okimaru's a great nin-dog. Aren't you, Okimaru?"

The puppy wagged his tail happily. And just like that, they were best friends again.

What's taking Takeshi so long with that first aid kit? Naruto wondered. It's just in my pack with the… Oh no!

Too late.

Takeshi was standing beside Naruto's open pack with an odd expression on his face. He had the first aid kit in one hand and… a small black box in the other.

"Naruto-sensei? Is this what I think it is?"

"Wait!" Naruto was at his side in a flash, but Takeshi had already flipped the box open and seen the contents. He snatched the box from Takeshi and quickly shoved it in his pocket before taking the first aid kit from him. "That is none of your business, Brat."

"What is it? What is it? Can I see it, too?" Koji was nearly bursting with curiosity – even Ken looked interested.

"No," Naruto said shortly. He busied himself with cleaning a dressing Koji's wound.

"It's an engagement ring," drawled Takeshi.

Naruto flushed – and mentally swore to give Takeshi some one-on-one training time with Lee soon. The little brat!

"Oooh! Is it for Hinata-san? Are you going to ask her to marry you?" asked Koji.

"Of course, it's for Hinata-san. Who else would sensei give an engagement ring to?" Ken rolled his eyes. Koji ignored him.

"When are you going to ask her? When are you getting married?"

"Which part of 'none of your business' do you not understand?" asked Naruto crossly. At times like this, he was grateful for being an orphan – especially if it meant not having to deal with annoying little brothers! "And we're not getting married. I haven't even asked her yet!"

"Why not?" asked Takeshi. (He was already analyzing the situation and calculating the probable outcomes.) "From the looks of it, that's a custom-made ring. You didn't get it from Tea Country. So you must have gotten it before we left Konoha – which means you've had it for over a month, probably longer. What are you waiting for?"

"Nothing!" he said almost defensively. "I just haven't found the right moment yet."

Takeshi's dark eyes took in the subtle tension in his sensei's stance and frowned thoughtfully. Funny. Naruto-sensei usually loves talking about Hinata-san, but these questions are inducing a fight-or-flight response. Could he be…

"Naruto-sensei," he said carefully. "Are you afraid she'll say no?!"

"No! Of course, not!" But Naruto had never been a good liar. None of his kids looked like they believed him. He deflated a bit and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Well… Maybe just a little bit."

That was a lie, too.

Naruto was more than just a little bit afraid; he was downright petrified. They had never discussed their future together – and Hinata had never indicated that she wanted anything more permanent with him. What if she didn't? What if he was moving too fast? What if he scared her away? Things were going so well in his life right now. The Akatsuki threat was gone. Sasuke was back where he belonged. A few months ago, Tsunade-baachan had told him – in private ("And that means you keep it to yourself, Brat! Don't go shouting it from the top of the Hokage Monument, either!") – that she intended to make him her successor. And… best of all, he had an amazing girlfriend who loved him. He shouldn't be greedy – wishing for more; he should be satisfied with whatever affection Hinata was willing to give him.

"Naruto-sensei… You're a really great teacher," said Takeshi seriously.

"You know hundreds of awesome jutsu – and you can kick ass like no one else," added Koji.

"You've taught us so much about life and about being a ninja. But sometimes…" said Ken.

"You're an idiot!" they chorused together.

"Hey! Show some respect, brats!"

"Don't worry so much, Naruto-sensei," said Takeshi grinning. "I've analyzed all the data. Hinata-san is very much in love with you. She won't say no."


Twenty.

It was too much to be a coincidence.

Tsunade frowned as she tallied the number of pregnant kunoichi that she knew about. In all likelihood, there were probably more. Symptoms for pregnancy didn't always show up right away, so there could be more kunoichi who were pregnant and didn't even know it! Enough was enough. Either, all her kunoichi decided to have babies at the same time – very unlikely – or somehow, the contraceptives were failing – but how? As a medic, Tsunade set very strict standards on the production of all drugs within her village.

"Shizune!"

"Yes, Tsunade-sama?"

"I want you to start an investigation for me – discretely." Tsunade handed Shizune the folder of facts that she'd compiled. Shizune quickly flipped it open and skimmed the first page. Her eyes widened in surprise.

"Start by interviewing a few of those kunoichi. Then pick up a few samples of all the different contraceptives we have at the Konoha Hospital pharmacy and send them to my personal lab for testing."

"Right away, Tsunade-sama!"


I'm a terrible person.

Her first impulse upon discovering that she was pregnant was to hide it and never let Naruto find out. Then common sense reasserted itself. How in the world was she going to hide her pregnancy once she started to show? (She toyed briefly with the idea of applying a genjutsu on herself – but that would only work so long as no one accidentally touched her tummy.) And even if she could hide it from Naruto, she had no right to do so. It was his baby, too. She was a terrible person for even thinking it.

Hinata knew Naruto well enough to know that he always did the right thing; he was honorable to a fault and put the well being of others before his own. It was one of the traits she loved most about him. If he knew she was pregnant, he would offer to marry her – even if he didn't want to.

I never wanted to marry you in the first place… You got yourself pregnant… It was the right thing to do…

She shuddered and reminded herself that it was just a dream. Not real – just a dream. But the dream had been so vivid! Could it be prophetic, too?

If… When… (she corrected herself) … he proposes, I'll just say 'no'. We can be together and have this baby without being married. That way, the baby and I won't hold him back from his dreams. Naruto doesn't have to be tied down to us – and… he can l-l-leave us at any time.

Hinata placed a protective hand over her flat abdomen. It would break her heart, if Naruto left. But that was much better than the alternative. It would kill her, if Naruto hated her.

All I have to do is say 'no'.

She bit her lip – suddenly worried. She had dreamed of marrying Naruto ever since she was a little girl. Could she say 'no' when the love of her life proposed? She firmed her resolve. She had to. She would put Naruto's dreams before her own. Always.

To be continued…


Author's Notes:

(1) (sniffles) I'm so terrible to poor Hinata! Poor girl! What a horrible nightmare! It was distressing to write.

(2) Okay... You know how I said that I was only going to write one NaruHina chapter for A Delicate Condition? I lied. It's probably going to be two or three parts. I guess... I'm just really bad at predicting how much I'm going to write. AND. I'm really bad at writing short fics. (bangs head on desk) I want to write short fics. Really. Long fics are just so troublesome. But... but... I just can't!

(3) At first I was only going to bring in Naruto's genins as cameos and have existing Naruto characters fill the supporting roles in this fic. But none of the characters from the Konoha 12 or the Konohamaru Corps fit the role I had in mind. So I decided to have Naruto's genin fill the gap and fleshed out my OC genin a bit more. It's my first real attempt at creating original characters – which I usually detest in fanfics. (I really hate SI and god-mode OC's!) So I hope Ken, Koji, and Takeshi aren't like that.

(4) I'm kind of in a rush this morning. So I only proofed this once – which means I probably missed some typos. Sorry! I'll proof it again and fix typos when I get back this afternoon. EDIT 10/6/2008: Fixed typos. Many thanks to Pyrinsomniac for pointing out several that I'd missed!