Title: A Delicate Condition
Author: Shawny Wong
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.
"I'll make it easy for you, Hinata-chan," he said quietly. "I won't seek you out anymore, so you can stop hiding in the Hyuuga estate – and you don't have to worry about finding new excuses to avoid me."
"You don't understand, Naruto-kun!" she said desperately. But it was already too late.
Naruto vanished with a Shushin no Jutsu. A sudden gust of wind blew through the spot where he had been standing. He was gone. He had used so much chakra in that one jutsu that Hinata knew without looking that he was already far out of the range of her Byakugan.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!
Naruto ran through the treetops at full speed – going so fast that everything was a blur around him. Why did he do that? Why did he practically volunteer to leave Hinata alone? He should have begged her to take him back – promised her anything if only she would change her mind. Instead he'd yelled at her and stormed away. And now... He'd lost his last chance.
It's over now. It's really over.
Naruto finally stopped running because no matter how much fast he ran, he couldn't escape the facts. It was his fault. He'd gotten greedy. He should have left things well enough alone.
But... No. I had to want more. Of course, Hinata doesn't want to marry me. Why would she? I should have known better.
He took the small black box out of his pocket and opened the lid. It was a beautiful ring – a blue sapphire and diamond three stone ring. The blue sapphire in the center was illuminated by two half moon shaped diamonds on either side of it; the precious stones were set in a white gold band. It sparkled brilliantly in the sunlight. All of a sudden, he couldn't stand to look at it. In a fit of rage, he threw the ring – the symbol of all his hopes and dreams – as hard as he could into the forest. He didn't see where it landed – nor did he care. He smiled at the bitter irony. For months, he had worried about losing the ring accidentally. Except, as it turned out, that should have been the least of his worries. He'd worried for nothing because...
I won't be needing it after all.
Several hours later...
"Damn it! Why is Naruto-sensei so hard to find?" Koji burst out.
They had been searching for what felt like hours with no luck. Their sensei wasn't in any of his usual haunts. He wasn't at Ichiraku's or the Hokage tower or their usual training ground. They'd even checked his apartment and hiked up to the top of the Hokage monument – because Naruto-sensei once told them that the top of the Forth Hokage's stone head was his favorite spot to think. The view of the village was spectacular from that location. They could see why their sensei liked it so much, but he wasn't there, either. He wasn't anywhere in the village! So now they were searching the forest just outside the village for any signs of their missing sensei.
"Naruto-sensei is a jonin and ex-ANBU. If he doesn't want to be found, it would take another jonin or ANBU to find him," said Ken impatiently.
"That was a rhetorical question, you know."
Ken glared at Koji, but didn't say anything else.
"Still... the fact that we can't find him just proves that there's something wrong," Takeshi said with a hint of worry. "Let's keep looking a little longer."
Just then, Okimaru who had been happily trotting along side the three boys – sometimes running ahead to play but always running back a few minutes later – and let out a series of high pitched barks.
"Hey, guys! Okimaru says that Naruto-sensei came this way!" Ken sniffed the air around them experimentally – and sighed with disappointment. "I don't smell anything though. He must have passed by here hours ago if I can't pick up his scent anymore." As advanced as his olfactory sense was, it didn't compare to Okimaru's; the Inuzuka nin-dogs were bred for fighting and tracking.
"Hours ago or not, this is the first real lead we've had all day." Takeshi knelt and spoke directly to the little brown puppy. "Okimaru, can you follow Naruto-sensei's scent?"
Okimaru woofed and wagged his tail excitedly. The little puppy was thrilled to be entrusted with this task. It was almost like a real tracking mission! Just wait until he told his cousin Akamaru all about it! Okimaru dashed further into the forest following an elusive trail that only he could smell. Ken, Koji, and Takeshi hurried after him. They followed the puppy for another half mile – weaving in and out of the trees – until Okimaru stopped abruptly. The little puppy circled the clearing several times before barking and nudging his head against Ken's legs almost apologetically.
"Sorry, guys. Okimaru's lost the trail. He says Naruto-sensei was here, but he can't figure out where sensei went from here." Ken gently stroked the puppy's fur. "It's okay, Okimaru. You tried your best."
"Yeah. Don't worry about it, Okimaru," said Koji. "We'll see Naruto-sensei tomorrow anyways. We have team training and another sucky D-rank."
"This sucks," said Takeshi as he sat down on the ground. "Let's take a break before we head back."
Neither of his teammates objected. Ken swung himself up on a low hanging branch kicked his legs back and forth. Koji simply sprawled on his back and watched the clouds float by. Okimaru started to play again, so none of the boys thought it was odd when Okimaru ran in and out of the clearing. The puppy caught sight a gray hare and promptly gave chase. A few minutes later, Ken cocked his head to one side, listening intently.
"Okimaru's found something," he said jumping down. "He sounds pretty excited."
"What is it?" asked Koji. He strained his ears, but didn't hear anything. He sighed a little bit enviously. Sometimes, I wish I had cool hearing and smell like Ken.
"I don't know. Okimaru says he's bringing it back."
"It's probably just a new stick," said Takeshi dismissively. "You know how he gets about new things to chew on."
Less than a minute later, the puppy burst through the clearing and dropped a small item at their feet. He yipped and sat up straight wagging his tail proudly; he seemed extremely pleased with himself. The black box was dirty, scuffed up, and covered with puppy drool, but they all recognized it immediately.
"Hey... Isn't that...?"
Takeshi picked it up and slowly opened it – just to make sure.
"Yeah... It is."
Iruka reviewed his lesson plans for the next day and penciled in a few minor adjustments. After so many years of teaching, he didn't really need to review his lesson plans every night, but it had become a comfortable habit. Besides, he loved his job and was determined to to do his best for his students. When he finished, he stretched and got up to make a cup of tea. As he waited for the tea leaves to steep, he tidied up his desk – not that it was very messy. A few sheets of paper, a couple of spare pens, a plain table lamp, and a small framed photo were the only things on the desktop.
Iruka picked up the framed photo and smiled fondly. It was picture of himself and Naruto taken just before Naruto's sixteenth birthday. They had gone to Ichiraku's to celebrate Naruto's promotion to chunin. The picture showed the two of them grinning at the camera with two steaming bowls of ramen in front of them – and Naruto was proudly wearing his new chunin vest over his old orange and black jacket. As a teacher, Iruka knew that he wasn't supposed to have favorites; all his students were special to him. But Naruto... Naruto had an extra special place in Iruka's heart.
Naruto would always be his favorite.
A sudden knock at the door startled him and almost made him drop the picture.
It's so late. I wonder who that could be? Iruka thought with worry. Late night visitors usually meant an emergency of some kind.
The person on the other side of the door was the last person he was expecting.
"Naruto? What are you doing here so late?" Iruka asked in surprise. He quickly examined his young friend and frowned in concern. Naruto was covered in a layer of dirt – as if he'd been training all day and hadn't bothered to clean up. And his eyes were dull – almost lifeless.
"Hi, Iruka-sensei," Naruto smiled, but it never reached his eyes. "Can I crash on your couch tonight?"
"Of course," Iruka said immediately. "Come inside."
"I just made some tea. Would you like some?"
"Actually... Do you have anything stronger than tea? Sake, maybe?" Naruto laughed shakily. "I don't think tea is going to help."
Iruka didn't drink, but every year Takenaka-sensei, the director of the Academy, gave each of his colleagues a gift basket with seasonal fruit, gourmet snacks, and a bottle of sake for oseibo – the end of the year gift-giving season. The fruit and snacks were always nice. But Iruka was never quite sure what to do with the bottles of sake. The bottles were pretty to look at, so he simply displayed them on an open shelf in the kitchen.
An hour later, Iruka was beginning to regret taking out the sake because Naruto was doing his level best to get completely shit-faced drunk. He drank the sake greedily like a man dying of thirst in the desert. He had finished three bottles of sake and was already halfway through the fourth. And Iruka still didn't know what was wrong. Enough was enough.
Iruka gently, but firmly grabbed Naruto's wrist, preventing him from drinking any more of the sake.
"Naruto. Are you going to tell me what's wrong?"
Naruto refused to meet his eyes and remained stubbornly silent. Just when Iruka thought he wouldn't answer...
"It's over," he whispered.
"What's over, Naruto?" Iruka asked puzzled. "If you tell me, I promise I'll help you with it."
"You can't help me with this."
"Can you change someone's heart? Can you make them fall in love again? Can you?" Naruto demanded furiously. His blue eyes were overly bright in the dim light – and it took Iruka a moment to realize why – when a single glistening tear fell.
Naruto jerked his wrist out of Iruka's grip, tipped his head back, and downed another cup of sake in just one swig.
"Hinata doesn't... doesn't love me anymore," he said in a shaky voice. For some reason, saying that out loud made it hurt even worse – and his hands started to shake, too. Naruto quickly set the cup down before he dropped it.
Hinata doesn't love him anymore? That's impossible! Iruka rocked back on his heels in shock. He'd known the girl since she was seven. And in all that time – over two thirds of her life – she had been in love with the young man currently getting wasted in his living room. This has to be some kind of misunderstanding!
"I'm sure that's not true," Iruka said firmly. "Did Hinata say that she doesn't love you anymore?"
"No, but she didn't have to," Naruto said bitterly. "I can tell. She's avoiding me like I'm diseased. She's always too busy to spend time with me. And she keeps giving me these god-awful excuses – the kind of excuses Kakashi comes up with – just so she doesn't have to see me... and..."
"And... what, Naruto?"
"She doesn't come home anymore." Naruto covered his face with his hands. "Do you know what the worst part is? I was ready marry her. I still want to marry her... so much! It's not fair! She stopped loving me. So why can't I stop loving her, too?"
Iruka put a comforting arm around Naruto's shoulders.
"Naruto, you need to talk to Hinata. I've known you both since you were seven. This doesn't sound like her at all! I don't know what's going on, but I do know that Hinata loves you very much."
"How do you know that?" asked Naruto skeptically. He laughed sadly. "Maybe she finally woke up and realized she could do much better than someone like me."
"I highly doubt that," Iruka said confidently. "Hinata has always watched you. I think she might have seen the best in you even before I did. She loved you back when you were a failure. She's loved you for over fifteen years. Why would she stop now?"
Naruto was slightly buzzed, so it took him a moment to wrap his mind around Iruka's words. He blinked. Then he blinked again. He stared at Iruka in confusion.
"I must be really, really drunk," he said slowly. "Did you just say that Hinata's been in love with me for fifteen years?!"
"Yes." Iruka looked bemused. "Didn't Hinata ever tell you? She's had a crush on you since she was seven."
Naruto's mouth fell open in shock. His mind could not seem to process Iruka's last statement. Naruto would have had an easier time believing that up was really down, pigs really could fly, and the Kyubi was just a harmless, misunderstood bunny rabbit. He was so shocked that he momentarily forgot how miserable he was. And then...
His heart fluttered back to life.
"N-No," he stammered, still in disbelief. "She... When she first asked me for a date, she only said that she'd liked me for a while. I thought... I thought she only started to notice me after I made ANBU captain."
"Somethings just don't change, I guess. You're still clueless, aren't you?" Iruka teased with a smile. "Hinata's liked you from day one. She had such a horrible crush on you that she could never speak to you without blushing... or fainting!"
"That was because she liked me?! Even back then?! I thought she just got sick easily or something."
Naruto quickly examined his childhood memories from this new, amazing perspective and every single memory he had of Hinata as that weird girl in his class suddenly took on a whole new meaning. His heart skipped a beat and his breath caught in his throat. Was it possible? Could it be? He'd been so angry and upset earlier that he hadn't listened to Hinata. What had she said when he accused her of dumping him?
"I'm not dumping you!"
"I… I just… I've been trying to tell you…"
And then... He had been so sure that she was going to break up with him that he hadn't given her a chance to explain. What if he was wrong? He wanted to hope. Yet, at the same time, he didn't dare.
"Do you really think Hinata still loves me?" he asked desperately – craving that extra bit of reassurance.
"I know she does."
Iruka sounded so certain! His hope grew a little bit more. Naruto smiled brightly – his first true smile in weeks – and made himself a new promise.
The next time I see Hinata, I'll listen to what she has to say.
Hinata stumbled a little bit in exhaustion. She had searched the entire village for Naruto without success. She had looked everywhere she could think of for him, including all his favorite thinking spots. She desperately needed to find him because... Naruto believed she wanted to dump him.
"You've been avoiding me. You obviously can't stand me anymore."
It wasn't true! She couldn't let him continue to believe that! Ever since their confrontation, she had tried to view her actions from his point of view – and what she saw made her physically ill. How could she have been so blind? She hurt him every single time she told him she was too busy for lunch, too busy for dinner, or too busy for him. And every single time, Naruto simply smiled. He never pushed her or challenged her terrible excuses because he assumed it was what she wanted – assumed it was his fault.
"What did I do wrong?"
The pain in his eyes when he asked her that... If it wasn't so heartbreaking, she would have laughed. She wanted to cry.
It's not his fault at all! It's mine. I'm the one that h-hurt him.
She never meant to... but she did. She hurt him – the last person she ever wanted to hurt – and all because she was too much of a coward to tell him about the baby. She would never forgive herself for this. She was desperate to tell him the truth – that she would never ever voluntarily leave him; she'd rather die first. The only problem with that plan was finding him.
Hinata stood nervously in front of Naruto's apartment. She had already looked everywhere else – and it was already very late. Surely... Surely, Naruto would be home by now? She took a deep breath and knocked. She still had the keys to his apartment. But... after their confrontation this afternoon, Hinata didn't think she was welcome in his apartment – or in his life – anymore. So she knocked, instead.
No one answered the door.
Please... Please, be home.
She bit her lip and knocked again.
"Your young man isn't home, Hyuuga-san."
Hinata jumped and spun around.
"I'm sorry, child. I didn't mean to startle you," the old lady said kindly. "Uzumaki-san left a few hours ago with a full travel pack. I doubt he'll be back tonight."
"Oh." Hinata's face fell – and she hung her head. "I... I s-see. Th-Thank you f-f-for letting m-m-me know. I'm s-s-sorry for d-d-disturbing you, Kaede-obaasan."
Hinata covered her mouth in horror almost as soon as she started to speak. Over the years, she managed to conquer that "shameful manner of speech" (according to the Hyuuga elders). But now, it was back full force because she was tired and frustrated and upset and... and all she wanted was Naruto – but Naruto wasn't home (and even if he were, he probably wouldn't want her anymore because she'd screwed up so badly and hurt him). And... and she was pregnant and stuttering. It was too much.
Hinata burst into tears. Horrified, she immediately tried to stop crying and couldn't.
"I... I'm s-s-sorry. I'm s-s-so s-s-sorry," she sobbed, apologizing to the little old lady – and apologizing to Naruto who wasn't there.
"There, there," Kaede said comfortingly, grandmotherly instincts taking over. "Hush, child. Everything will be all right. Come. Let's get you a nice hot cup of tea – some chamomile with honey and lemon should do the trick, I think – and you can tell me all about it."
Kaede led the unresisting young woman to her own apartment, gently rubbing her back and making soothing humming sounds all the while. Hinata continued to weep inconsolably.
Poor girl. I wonder what got her so upset? I hope Uzumaki-san returns soon, for her sake.
Tsunade was in a foul mood. The next person to even look at her funny was going to find himself pulling weeds and babysitting snot-nosed brats for the next two months - and that was only if she didn't put him in the hospital first. For the first time ever, she was caught up on all her paperwork! Her desk was clear and her inbox was empty! It was a miracle! It was a momentous occasion that called for a celebratory bottle of sake and maybe a day off at Megumi's Beauty Boutique – the best spa in all of Konoha. Unfortunately, her plans to leave the Hokage tower early (for once) were ruined when her loyal assistant Shizune handed her the roster of active duty ninja, followed by the master mission schedule that recorded all ongoing and pending missions.
Tsunade cursed. Then she cursed again for good measure.
She immediately saw why Shizune had been so concerned. With the sudden disappearance of so many skilled and competent kunoichi from the roster of active duty ninja, Konoha was going to find itself short on manpower (or womanpower) very, very soon. If she didn't work fast to juggle teams and re-work the schedule for maximum efficency, then Konoha would be forced to turn away mission requests in the near future. She simply couldn't allow that to happen. The village couldn't afford to decline mission requests. Not only would it hurt their economy, but it would also be seen as a sign of weakness to their enemies – which was just asking to be attacked.
For several hours, Tsunade slaved over the mission schedule. She poured over dozens of personnel files so that she could select the ninja who were most qualified to go out on solo missions – and come back alive. (She wasn't going to risk the lives of her ninja if she could help it!) She assigned those ninja to the easiest A-rank and B-rank missions they had based on their skills. Solo missions weren't that uncommon, but Tsunade hated sending her ninja out alone and without any form of backup. Then she had the headache of re-organizing some of the remaining ninja into three-man teams with complementary abilities (instead of the ideal four-man teams) to cover the deficit of kunoichi. Finally, the new schedule and new team assignments were finished. She would have Shizune make copies and hand out the new assignments tomorrow. Konoha could handle the mission load... for now. But if she lost too many more kunoichi to pregnancy...
Tsunade frowned grimly.
We might have to ask our allies for help. Under their current alliance with Suna, Konoha could "borrow" a few ninja teams from Suna under the pretense of furthering good will and relations between the two villages. I know that the Kazekage would be more than happy to help, but I know a good percentage of the village council will object. Damn politicians!
Tsunade stood and stretched. Several joints popped and cracked in the silence of her office.
I'm getting too old for this shit. God! I could use a stiff drink right now!
"Tsunade-sama?" Shizune stood at the door with a thick folder in her hands.
"What is it, Shizune? That had better not be any more paperwork," she said grumpily, eyeing the folder suspiciously. "I'm taking tomorrow off – no matter what. Unless Konoha is under imminent attack and an army is at our front gate, I don't want to hear it."
"Don't worry, Tsunade-sama," Shizune smiled. "This isn't more paperwork. I finished my investigation. Here's the final report. I thought you might be interested in seeing the results right away."
"Oh? I'll review it in depth later. Please just give me an oral report for now. Did you find out why our contraceptives were failing?"
"That's just it. They're not failing. I went through our entire manufacturing process with a fine tooth comb. Our pharmacists in drug production are very careful; they follow every single formula to the letter and keep detailed records of each batch of drugs that come out of our labs. Everything checked out."
"Well, something went wrong." Tsunade drawled. "If the drugs are perfect coming out of the labs, then where did we go wrong?"
"Um... You're not going to like this." Shizune laughed nervously. "Do you want the good news or the bad news?"
"Give me the good news. I could use some good news."
"The good news is that the error that occurred was non-lethal," Shizune stressed. "And only one batch of oral contraceptives was affected. So at most, only 120 bottles of faulty Mongestin were circulated in the village. Of the 120 bottles, 33 were untouched because they were still in storage at the hospital's pharmacy. I've already removed those bottles."
"And the remaining 87 bottles?"
"Roughly half those bottles, 45, were prescribed to civilian women. So they won't impact the roster of active ninja." Shizune winced. "The other 42 bottles were prescribed to our kunoichi. You already know about the 20 kunoichi who are pregnant. I interviewed them like you asked – and they were all using the Monogestin from the bad batch. So that only left 22 kunoichi unaccounted for. I'm in the process of tracking down every kunoichi who received the faulty Monogestin and calling them in for a routine physical. I've already given 13 physicals. The really good news is that each one of them was in good health and not pregnant. I replaced their contraceptives, so they'll be okay."
Tsunade couldn't help sighing in relief.
"So that only leaves 9 more kunoichi who may or may not be affected," Shizune concluded.
"I notice you didn't say exactly what the error was."
"Ah... That would bring us to the bad news." Shizune gulped. "Just remember, Tsunade-sama. The error was non-lethal. So please don't kill the messenger! Or the instigator! I'm sure it was just an accident!"
"Shi-zu-ne," Tsunade growled. "Please, just enlighten me."
"I took samples of the Mongestin from the bad batch to our lab for testing, just like you asked. And... the funny thing is... they were were all calcium supplements." Shizune said that last part in a rush and braced herself for an explosion. She didn't have long to wait.
"Yes. Wada Calcium CD3 to be exact. The 120 bottles of faulty contraceptives? Well, they weren't really contraceptives at all! So I thought... if the calcium supplements are in the bottles of Mongestin, then what's in the bottles of Wada Calcium CD3? I sent several samples of that calcium supplement to our lab, too. And... as it turns out... The Monogestin was swapped with the Wada Calcium CD3. Someone at the hospital's pharamacy mixed up the labels on the bottles."
"Are you telling me that I might end up with 29 pregnant kunoichi – over seven full four-man teams of inactive ninja – because of some idiot at the pharmacy?!"
"Yes!" Shizune squeaked. Tsunade's fury was always impressive – as long as you weren't on the receiving end of it, that is. If you were, it was impressive... and terrifying.
Uh-oh. Tsunade-sama is on the warpath.
Someone is going to die... horribly.
Hyuuga Sho carefully reviewed a real estate purchase agreement that he was making on behalf of his clan. As an elder on the Hyuuga clan council, he enjoyed some discretion over the clan's extensive finances. The only ones who could hold him accountable for his spending were the other members of the council – and the clan leader. His lips twisted in distaste as he thought of Hiashi. The man had been an acceptable clan head until he'd gotten soft. Imagine! Allowing his love for his daughters and nephew to impair his judgement! It was a disgrace. Hiashi should have branded his weaker daughter with the caged bird seal years ago. Hiashi even treated his nephew as true member of his immediate family despite the fact that Neji was from the branch family. And while the young man was very skilled, Hyuuga Sho did not approve. Not at all.
He shook himself and refocused on his task. He was purchasing a small plot of land that bordered the Hyuuga estate. The land belonged to the village, but was unused. With just a little work – and a little bit of security (Perhaps a wall could be built around it?) – it would make a fine training ground for the warriors in the clan. Or perhaps they could build additional living space for branch members on that plot. Or perhaps a new amory? In any case, the clan was growing, so they should expand their lands to match that growth. The village council was more than willing to sell that unused plot to the Hyuuga clan. He reviewed it one more time. Everything was in order.
Hyuuga Sho signed the agreement with a flourish.
Tomorrow, he would take it over to the Records Room at the Hokage tower himself. He would personally see to it that the contract was filed promptly and correctly. After all, the last time he sent a servant to submit a contract to the Records Room, it took the peons who worked there weeks to get it done properly.
He sniffed a little in irritation.
It's shameful how incompetent the lower class is. It's a good thing we don't associate with the commoners. If we dilute our blood, we would end up just like them – with mongrels in the family.
To be continued...
(1) It seems like everyone is on pins and needles waiting/hoping for Naruto and Hinata to get back together. What? You guys don't want more angst or more misunderstandings? (amused) Yeah, me neither. I mean... I suppose I could drag it out a few more chapters... but I won't. I think I've tortured my favorite characters enough. Poor Naruto! Poor Hinata!
(2) In case you're thinking it's strange for Hinata to burst into tears in front of a near stranger... Please remember that she's pregnant. True story: When I was pregnant with my son, I burst into tears right in the middle of watching a Muppet movie. I cried over the Muppet Christmas Carol! It was embarrassing! I wasn't just a little bit teary eyed, I was fully sobbing my eyes out – even though I'd already seen that movie many times before without crying. I don't know what came over me. I didn't dare watch that movie again for years. To this day, I still don't get it. (shrug) Being pregnant does weird things to you!
(3) Next chapter sneak peek:
"There has to be something we can do!"
"Why are you looking at me?" asked Takeshi in irritation.
"You're the strategist on this team," Koji pointed out. "So think of something already."
Ken smacked Takeshi over the back of his head... hard.
"That was your plan?!"
(4) Please review. Thanks!
(5) EDIT 11/25/08: Replaced "Kami!" with "God!" According to someone who studied Japanese in college, "Kami!" isn't used in the same way as "God!" is in English. It's not used as an expression of frustration or exclamation, either.