Aftermath: Moving on…

Slowly and resolutely, without any sense of guilt, a flexible hand slipped into a basket covered with white handkerchief. And it had to pay for it immediately as the hand-thief received a sharp blow from a smaller hand.

Sasuke withdrew his hand pouting and glared at Hinata reproachfully, as if asking innocently: "what for?" Hinata totally blanked him and kept on walking down the street, carrying the basket close to her chest. Cold December wind flapped her scarf. It was late and the weather was getting chilly, but it generated no nuisance for the two people, slowly walking down the streets of Konoha. Winter wasn't a nuisance, because

a) it's not cold when you wear warm clothes; and

b) snow was special.

Hinata halted underneath a dimly glowing lamp pole and scanned the snow-covered houses in front of her. The street was supposed to be cleaned and swept, but so many people trod it up and down every single day that once the snow would fall it would soon be trampled, tamped and turned into such a thick blanket, that it was virtually impossible to chip it off the soil, unless one dumped a ton of salt. And the people of this block were rather stingy.

Therefore late in the night the street was glistening with trampled and smoothened snow which was now as slippery as ice. There must've been at least one kid who'd split his forehead or chin here while trying to skate during day time.

It wasn't even mid-winder and Hinata realized she was asking for unbelievable, but she really wanted it to snow lots. She wanted tons and tons of snow. And she wanted clear sky. And no wind. So that the full moon would shine and the snow would creak as one walked down the road.

"What are you thinking of?" he asked suddenly, and she would've winced any other time, but after two years with that creature, she had gotten used to such surprises.

"Just…" she shook her head and looked at him smiling faintly. Sasuke was wrapped in a thick woolly scarf, he was wearing silver jacket with high collar and fur was trying to escape his long dark boots. Unkind wind was ruffling his hair, but Hinata guessed that the Uchihas had a weird natural layer of underfur on their heads and therefore, they were never really utterly cold. "Somehow…" she moved onwards, because the food in the basket was about to cool off. "I miss your boots."

Sasuke blinked slowly.

"What boots?" he trimmed his collar and followed after her.

"You once had these boots. White high boots," she shrugged. "I can still see their noses in my head."

Those horrendous boots Sakura had bought him. The ones he had frazzled successfully during his spars with Naruto. He thought he owned them in his past life. On the other hand, it really was close to it. Even when he tried to recall the footwear he once had he sort of had to go from one dimension of his brain into the other, because the memories of that winter from two years ago were carved into his mind using different senses and it took pretty long to get to it.

But he did remember the boots. Despite the weird-factor, they had been comfy nevertheless. Though why she should be recalling the noses of those boots… Ah, he remembered that as well.

"You were like totally wasted then," he smirked.

"Then I suppose you do remember what happened the next morning, right?" she halted and turned at him, and there was something sly in her glance; and Sasuke wondered which part of her subconscious was always hiding that side of her.

He weighed down his head and hid behind the black hair curtain. It hadn't seen scissors for awhile. His mane was dishevelled and even the shortest strands were reaching his shoulders now. Yet, as far as memory goes, he never was the one to forget things. Especially if the past had anything to do with Hinata – he remembered every single detail. How else would've he been able to tease her? Though, the problem was that Hinata wasn't a scatterbrain as well.

"Guilty," he raised his gloved hand, looking her straight in the eye.

She bit her lip, thinking what she should do next. Wind ruffled her almost-shoulder-length hair, yet a thin white band didn't allow the short strands get into her misty eyes. With her hair trimmed in such a short manner and with that warm winter coat she looked more like a teenager, definitely not a grown-up kunoichi.

Something fluttered in Sasuke's stomach and he wished he could just turn round and go home instead of crawling to the Uzumaki lair, where he was sure he was going to get a terrible headache after only a few minutes of stay. Yet, he was supposed to support his friend and Hinata would surely nag him for at least a week if he were to turn on his heal and disappear all of a sudden.

Therefore, he merely grinned, reached out his hand towards her and closed his eyes. Hinata sighed. That bugger always knew how to terminate an argument before it even started. What was more, winter always made her nostalgic. And he expressed a wish to be guided so humbly and obediently that she just couldn't say no. Just like in the old days.

She took him by his hand without a single word and walked him down the icy street. Eventually in some magical way that basket ended up being carried by Sasuke and Hinata concentrated on the road, so that they could avoid pits and bumps. Although, even if there was the biggest trench ever, the chances that Sasuke would've flopped flat on his butt were still very slim. Yet she couldn't suppress her instinct to guard and protect.

"We go there, we give that, we leave," he grumbled on her left.

"He's your friend," Hinata contradicted him softly.

"But he's not the one in labour…"

Silence followed, during which Hinata was trying to grasp what he had actually been trying to say. She felt that he really wanted to convey something. Something which, most probably, he was a bit embarrassed to admit, and therefore reading between the lines was left up to Hinata's competence. So she decided to just take a plain guess.

"Can't you really trust Neji that much?"

Sasuke slowed down his pace and gave a quiet growl. That sound was coming from deep inside his chest and usually it was his way to announce his defeat. Hinata sighed.

"He just needs to be there and prevent… I don't know, drunken birds from crashing into the windows," she said calmly. "They are going to sleep all night. Perhaps right up to the late morning."

"All night," he grumbled underneath his nose, but Hinata heard him nevertheless.

"Unless, of course, you have some ulterior motives."

Sasuke hid behind his huge jacket collar. Hinata was about to throw his favourite word at him, but a muted sound of a crashing plate reached her ears and she looked up.

They were finally standing in front of a moderate two-storey house in the West side of Konoha. There was light in all of the windows, and the landlords were definitely noisy. Well, those two were never silent to be honest. Sasuke opened his eyes, looked around and hunched insensibly.

"Let's leave that basket and go home, honestly," he mumbled quietly.

"We didn't come just toleave the basket and go," Hinata pulled him with her and they climbed up the steps to the main entrance. "Today is the last day as Sakura is home. We need to show moral support."

"I'm pretty sure she's brimming with certain morale," Sasuke eyed the windows, wondering which part of the house the screams were coming from.

"They're your teammates. What if I didn't come at Kiba's or Shino's beckon…"

"None of them is able to smash a concrete wall with one fi…" Sasuke didn't manage to finish his sentence, because suddenly the door flapped open and something scared shitless and yellow ran outside.

"Save yourselves!" the creature yelled and dashed through Hinata and Sasuke. He was fast enough to make their hair flutter. He might've escaped if it weren't for Sasuke's arm which was even faster, and he grabbed the escapee at his nape.

"GAH~" Naruto gurgled something as Sasuke put him on the doorstep.

"Going somewhere?" Sasuke raised his eyebrow.

Naruto was blue with fear. He eyed Sasuke with Hinata and then looked back inside the house, shaking like an asp leaf. Hinata met Sasuke's eye and they both entered the warm vestibule, without wasting the warmth while keeping the door open. Sasuke didn't forget to drag Naruto along and close the door behind him.

"Care to explain?" Uchiha let the blonde go and he flopped on the floor.

"You don't understand," Hinata almost fell over as she saw Naruto playing with his forefingers just as she used to back in the days. "She's gonna kill me T.T"

"For what?" the guests asked simultaneously.

"Well I… I bought her new comfy shoes and…" he explained breathless. "And she tried them on, but when she stood up she couldn't see the noses well, and she can't really bend you know… so she… went mad. A little," Naruto stood up, when another plate crashed into the kitchen wall.

"A little?" this time Sasuke raised both eyebrows.

"NARUTO!" a roar came and Uzumaki hid behind Uchiha. Hinata, totally perplexed, watched the scene unfolding right in front of her, as Sakura emerged into the vestibule from the kitchen, with her pink hair tied with a ribbon, her face red with anger, and wearing black loose dress and navy blue boots. Her turquoise eyes were quick to locate the target.

"You!" she pointed somewhere at Sasuke's shoulder where Naruto's nose was still visible. "It's your fault! You did this!" she pointed at her huge round belly.

Sasuke rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

"Well, I hope so," he grumbled. "Otherwise he'd suck if he couldn't knock up his own wife."

Sakura froze as if thunderstruck. Hinata's eyes widened in astonishment while Naruto squeaked something incoherent. There was a strange silence in the house.

"Are we calm yet? Great," Sasuke began unbuckling his jacket, being a true embodiment of Zen.

"Oh," Sakura's legs crossed in a funny manner and she went pale.

No one asked anything. They just stared frozen at her, with question marks in their eyes.

"I think…" Sakura swallowed. "My waters just broke…"

"Oh, for the love of…" Naruto snatched Sasuke's arm. "Medic. CALL FOR A MEDIC! MEDI—"


No matter how serious her condition was, Sakura still bothered to come closer and whack Uzumaki properly in the face.

"I am a medic, you moron," she growled. Her forehead covered in sweat.

"But still now yo- OOMF~" Naruto hushed as Hinata thrust the basket with home made taiyaki into his hands. She was just as quick in getting rid of her coat, scarf and gloves, turning Sasuke into a temporal coat-rack.

"Let's go," she took Sakura's forearm gently yet resolutely, and guided her into the depths of the house.

"Well, here's your medic," Sasuke sighed and plunged his hand into the basket Naruto was holding, pulling out a fat and still warm taiyaki.

"But this is not…" Naruto was certainly out of the loop. "It's not a broken arm or a split eyebrow… does she even have any experience in this?" he glanced at Sasuke hopefully. Uchiha took a bite of his taiyaki and glared at Naruto with "Are you stupid?" in his eyes.

"Sorry I asked," Uzumaki pouted.