At First Glance
A silent, brooding raven haired man quietly tried to mask the smell of alcohol in his breath. He hurriedly searched through his coat pockets in order to find the same peppermint gum he always chewed. After carelessly tossing away the silver wrapper, the man casually threw it into his mouth.
Taking a breath to steady himself, he blew out twice into the cold winter air. Gentle puffs of visible white air briefly surrounded the oddly reclusive man. Calming himself, the normally stoic man hesitantly pushed the doorbell before him. Dropping his hand, he took a fast glance behind him to ensure that no one else had seen him.
He waited for about five seconds, while the sound of running feet became quite audible from inside the house. A small smirk formed on the guarded man's face, as he took pleasure in listening to the muffled squeals of excitement from the tenant of the little house. Within a short moment, the door opened for him.
Inside stood a woman wearing a green knitted sweater, her light pink hair pulled loosely into a braid. She gasped once she saw the stranger who stood at her doorstep, and promptly ushered him in. Blushing ever so slightly, she offered to take his coat. The onyx eyed man, so unused to such behaviour, gave her a half-hearted glare.
Though he had a threatening demeanour, his pink tinged cheeks made it impossible for him to be taken seriously. As a result, his female companion was quite quickly reduced to a fit of giggles. Watching her laugh, the man instinctively softened his stare. The warmth that radiated off this woman in waves had even managed to thaw his ice cold and deeply wounded heart.
He was a fool not to have noticed her before.
She was the one who was always there for him. She was the one who had seen him in his highest highs and lowest lows. She was the one who stood by him through thick and thin. She was the one who always had faith in him, when he had promised that he had changed. She was the one who accepted him for he was, not for who he was supposed to be.
Too bad she wasn't his wife.
Sasuke Uchiha took off his black coat and handed it to his pink haired lover. Watching her hang it away in her closet, he began focusing more upon her body. Her slim structure and small stature were drawing him in. Reflexively, the Uchiha heir moved closer to his teammate and wrapped his bigger arms around her waist.
Placing his head upon her shoulders, he nuzzled his face into the crook of her neck. This earned him a small sigh of pleasure from the woman in his arms, as she too mutely inhaled his scent. The women then turned into her lover's chest, looking up to meet his eyes.
"Are you sure this is alright?" shakily whispered the young woman, referring to their illicit relationship.
"Of course it is," lightly mumbled back Sasuke while pulling the woman closer into his body, in an attempt to sooth her worries.
"But you are still married, Sasuke!" impatiently cried out the woman with tears threatening to spill down her cheeks at any moment. Her emerald green eyes betrayed the fear and anguish she held deep inside.
"But we are in love, Sakura!" crossly countered Sasuke, realizing too late that his words did more harm than good. Watching the medic's saddened state, he softly continued on. "We can't keep living a lie. It will only make us miserable, but this? It makes us both happy."
"Our happiness isn't all that matters Sasuke," yelled out Sakura as she harshly pulled away from Sasuke's embracing hold. "What will everyone else think? What would Hinata think?"
Sasuke visibly stiffened at the mention of his docile wife's name.
Hinata Uchiha (née) Hyuga had unknowingly turned into a significant problem in Sasuke's life.
Sasuke had foolishly gotten married to the meek Hyuga heiress after a brief courtship and a whirlwind wedding. All that ran through his mind those days was an intense desire to settle down and reproduce. Sasuke wanted strong, healthy children running throughout his household. He wanted to continue the Uchiha bloodline, and what better way was there than to procreate with one of the strongest bloodlines still left in the village?
Lust too was a major factor in his decision to wed the Hyuga clanswoman. With dark ebony locks which framed her smooth glowing skin and cheeks so pale, that they lit up at even his lightest brush, she was definitely beautiful. Any idiot could have seen that.
But within months into their marriage, Sasuke knew he had made the wrong choice. The marriage had produced none of the results he had been expecting. Hinata was just too compliant and too compassionate. She never once raised her voice against him or dared to challenge his opinion. Not once did she even simply chide him for acting inappropriately.
In addition to that, Sasuke discovered early on in their marriage, that Hinata was going to have trouble conceiving. Even if she did conceive, the chances of that child surviving till childbirth were slim to none. Fertility issues ran throughout her mother's side of the family, none of which was informed to Sasuke prior to the marriage. Sasuke could only act as a helpless bystander while his dreams of creating a new family collapsed around him not once, but twice.
Twice Hinata had conceived and twice Sasuke allowed himself to pray for a miracle. Twice, he had gone to great lengths to protect his fragile wife from harm and twice he was rewarded with nothing. Twice he found himself shattered to bits and twice he found himself unable to even comfort his grieving wife. Twice was the number of times she miscarried. The first child disappeared in a month, but the second died around the seventh month mark.
Each time Sasuke had heard the news, he felt a portion of his affection on his wife just shrivel up and die. Each time, that feeling was replaced with a deep loathing and mistrust. What good was she as a wife if she could give him what he had wanted the most? Had he not given her everything that she had possibly needed? There was nothing wrong with him but everything seemed to be wrong with her!
On the eve of the death of his second child, Sasuke simply walked out of the hospital. He didn't care that he was leaving his hurt, unconscious wife alone at the maternity ward. He just had to get out of that suffocating space. It was that place which had mercilessly took his child away from him. Sasuke needed to do something, anything to numb his pain.
He wandered into the first bar he could think of and drunk himself senseless.
If not for Sakura's timely intervention, he was sure that he would have gladly spent the rest of the night there. But the alarmed medic, begged, pleaded, yelled and eventually cajoled him away from the intoxicating atmosphere. Sasuke agreed to leave on one condition; he would not go back to his own house. His wounds were fresh and the pain was still raw.
Hesitantly, Sakura offered her guest room to her drunken teammate. Supporting the stumbling Uchiha against her shoulder, she carefully pushed him onto her bed. But liquor had muddled Sasuke's sense of control and impulsively, he had latched on to Sakura's arm. Pulling her down on the bed beside him, he captured her lips in a passionate kiss.
Sakura's initial protests were later transformed into moans of pleasure. That one reckless act quickly spiralled out of control into another. By morning, a naked Sasuke found his arm draped possessively around the body of his sleeping but equally naked companion. Staring at her sleeping form, Sasuke found himself not regretting his adultery one bit.
He knew that what he was doing was wrong, illegal even, but he couldn't help it. What he did just seemed right.
And thus began their affair.
For the first time in his life, he Sasuke Uchiha was irreversibly, irrevocably in love. Sakura Haruno slowly began to transform his life for the better. She was fiery, vibrant and full of life. She wasn't afraid to let her temper show nor was she willing to compromise on every issue. She was an intelligent woman, who was always eager to demonstrate her affection. She was devoted to him, but she didn't coddle him.
And even though she knew it was wrong, Sakura Haruno loved him right back. The only thing she regretted was that she loved a married man.
"Why are you mentioning her name now Sakura?" confusedly asked Sasuke trying to figure out a way to pacify his teary eyed lover.
"Because no matter what she will always be your wife and I will always be your whore," bitterly lashed out Sakura with her head hung low in shame. "Because no matter how we justify this, itwill never, ever be alright."
"Sakura..." soothingly murmured Sasuke, while nearing closer to her and stroking her head.
"I want the best for our child Sasuke," managed out Sakura, crossing her arms protectively on top of her stomach.
"I know." Replied the former avenger, as he abruptly rested his hand on her abdomen as well. "I'm still waiting for you little guy."
Through all her sadness, Sakura managed to smile a tiny bit. At precisely the same moment, her stomach growled out loud as well. The two teammates blankly looked at each other before slowly cracking into fits of semi-muffled laughter. Once they had caught their breaths, Sakura sheepishly looked back towards Sasuke.
"I'm hungry," she stated truthfully. Now nearing her fourth month, Sakura Haruno was no longer a stranger to morning sickness, sudden back pain or unusual cravings. Thankfully for her, Sasuke was often too happy to oblige to her requests. "I want popcorn."
A small smirk broke out on Sasuke's face, as he stood up and walked towards her kitchen, it was disorganized as ever, but he had no problem locating the popcorn and cooking it. The aroma of the popcorn engulfed the whole room. Sakura sat around her kitchen table and watched wide eyed as Sasuke cooked. She was eager to eat.
"Hey Sasuke," randomly began Sakura, looking up at her secret boyfriend from across the table. "I call naming rights if the baby is a girl. You can name the baby it's a boy."
"Hn," briskly answered Sasuke, not caring much for the deal at all. All he truly wanted was for a son or daughter to follow in the Uchiha footsteps.
Pretending to be miffed, Sakura picked up a single piece of popcorn and tossed it at Sasuke.
"This is a big responsibility," impatiently reminded Sakura, folding her arms across her chest in mock defiance.
"I understood that before you felt the need to throw popcorn at me," drily responded Sasuke, earning him a small "hmph" from Sakura. He too, though, picked up a piece of popcorn and tossed it back out at Sakura. "I didn't say I wouldn't get revenge, did I?"
"You!" began Sakura, only to be cut off by a piece of popcorn flying past her left arm.
With minutes the popcorn throwing morphed into an all out contest. Popcorn flew uncontrollably in every direction, landing on almost everything in the vicinity.
At home, Hinata kept checking the time anxiously. Fretting, she merely looked up at her clock again, mentally willing pointer to move more slowly. It was time for her check up and Sasuke was nowhere to be seen. In fact she hadn't seen her husband since yesterday. She had an appointment with Tsunade and everyone in the village knew that the Hokage didn't like to be kept waiting.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Time kept moving, and Sasuke still had not shown up. Resignedly, Hinata began to fumble with the buttons on her coat and started to bend down to pick up her socks. It was at that moment that she noticed how round her once flat stomach had become.
Smiling softly, she tenderly placed her hand upon her stomach. Twice she had carried to no avail, and all she was left with was endless sorrow. But this time it would be different, this child was special. Hinata knew beyond doubt that this child would leave her womb kicking and screaming. She knew her child would finally call her mother. She knew that this child would be the answer to her prayers.
She knew that this child would be born alive and well.
It was a woman's, no, a mother's intuition.
Hinata waited a bit longer to see if her husband would show. He didn't. So, the Hyuga heiress simply bundled up and decided to visit the Hokage by herself. But walking was no easy chore when one was pregnant. Hinata winced as she struggled to make her way towards Konoha Hospital.
The weather too changed significantly, as it went from a bright sunny day and morphed into a cold windy one. Dark clouds began to ominously cluster together, and the once blue sky was captured under a blanket of grey. Deep thunderous rumbles soon engulfed the air and flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky. Rain poured from the heavens, hell bent on soaking everything in its path.
Hinata groaned at her poor luck, while she walked as fast as her body would allow her. It was at times like these, that she sorely missed her ninja skills. The Hyuga heiress painstakingly increased her progress, though no amount of walking acted as a shield against the chilly winds and drenching rain. Shivering, she held her head down and tried to keep moving forward.
Suddenly, a pair of warm calloused hands latched onto her shoulders. Within moments Hinata was soaring through the sky. Startled, she looked sideways to identify the offender. Instead, she found herself looking straight into cerulean blue orbs which radiated kindness and concern.
"Teme is going to be so mad," teased the exuberant young man, once they had finally landed. "If he found you like this."
"Naruto..." gasped out Hinata, unable to do more than to just stare at the man standing before her.
Said man grinned, running her hand through his unruly blond locks. It had been two years since he had been back to Konoha, back to his home. An urgent mission had taken him out of his village soon after Hinata's fateful wedding. For two years, all Konoha had heard of him was his accomplishments and his ever growing reputation.
Yet here he was. Naruto Uzumaki was standing right in front of her. He was the ninja who was always striving for peace and diplomacy, yet was never afraid to tackle a challenge head on. He was the one who rose from the ranks of a measly, low ranked genin to a well respected jounin. It was him who had taught her to never give up and always persevere.
And it was Naruto Uzumaki who had been her childhood crush.
"Where you heading off to?" inquired Naruto, while trying to shake off some of the water on his hair. "I'll come with you."
"I have to see Tsunade," truthfully replied Hinata before she realized what Naruto had meant. "But it's no big deal! I can get there by myself and you probably have things to do and..."
"Let's go," cut in Naruto, stopping Hinata's list short. "I have nothing to do and teme would kill me if I left you alone like this."
"Thank you," quietly mumbled Hinata, as a stubborn blush spread like wildfire across her pallid cheeks.
She felt grateful for Naruto's support, especially when her own husband hadn't bothered to help her out. A sense of longing washed through her, as she reflected upon her life. It was at times like these that Hinata wished her husband too would act in a similar manner. Lately, it seemed as though no matter what she did, she could never please her husband.
Her marriage to Sasuke was merely a marriage of convenience.
"The baby is healthy," certified Tsunade, when she finally looked away from the ultrasound. "He's a fighter, this one."
"He?" wistfully repeated Hinata, sitting back upright. "My baby's a boy?"
The Hokage nodded again for confirmation.
"Thank you, for everything you've done for me," managed Hinata, unable to fully express her gratitude.
Tsunade's eyes softened as she looked at the frail woman standing before her. She knew about Hinata's plight and the difficulties she had endured. But looking at Hinata, also made her resent Hiashi and his deplorable behaviour. What type of man would marry his daughter to the highest bidder, as if she were a mere animal?
Controlling her emotions, the Hokage bid the woman farewell. It wasn't within her authority to put limits on parental rights. As much as she hated to admit it, Hyuga Hiashi could do anything short of murder to the rest of his clansmen. In addition to that, the Hyuga acted as a great source of ninja talent and losing them would mean that the village would suffer as a whole.
Still, the utter helplessness she felt when she looked Hinata Uchiha in the face was always too much to bear. Sighing, the Hokage reached for her sake bottle.
Satisfied, Hinata left the examination room only to be surprised by Naruto, yet again.
He was sitting in one of the green metal chairs assigned to visitors, idly flipping through an old magazine. Stifling a yawn, he stretched his taut arms out. It was then that he finally noticed the former Hyuga heiress staring at him in shock.
"Hinata, is something wrong?" worriedly asked Naruto, his brows narrowing in confusion. "Why are you crying?"
It was only then that Hinata noticed the small tears making their way down her cheeks.
"I'm...I'm going to be a mother," blurted out Hinata, hastily wiping away her free falling tears. "I'm finally going to be a mother!"
"You'll be a fantastic mother," softly reassured Naruto, shifting uncomfortably because he had no idea how to calm down the woman before him. "Believe it."
"I'm sorry," abruptly apologized Hinata, after a small silence. "Here you are after two years, and all you hear are my problems."
"Nonsense," waved off Naruto, his trademark grin slowly returning to his face. "Besides, what are friend for? Anyways, I was kind of wondering if you would do me a favour."
"Sure," sniffed Hinata, drying the last of her tears. "What can I do for you?"
"Lunch." Immediately responded Naruto, before her realized how he had sounded. "I, mean, I just came back and I have nothing to eat. With Ichiraku also being closed today, I have nowhere else to go."
"Of course," replied Hinata, smiling at Naruto's odd request. "But it will take a few minutes."
"I can wait," eagerly answered Naruto, matching her smile with one of his own.
And so the duo set of towards the Uchiha household.
Once they got to her house, Hinata pulled out her key and opened the metal gates which guarded her home. Behind her, she heard Naruto whistle in surprise as he surveyed the huge manor. It was a majestic house, built by Sasuke's ancestors. But with only two residents, it was often lonely and quiet.
"Just, um, wait here," ordered Hinata pointing towards the grand living room as she waddled towards the considerably smaller kitchen. Naruto however, paid no attention and followed her into her kitchen.
"What do you plan on making?" enquired Naruto, as he too began rolling up his sleeves. "I want to help."
"It's alright Naruto," pacified Hinata, in an effort to spare Naruto the extra work.
"I'm a good cook too," stubbornly insisted Naruto, his eyes sparkling with defiance as he faced Hinata. "Just let me help, will you?"
"Okay," relented Hinata, sucked into Naruto's contagious optimism.
"Great, let's make ramen!" gleefully announced Naruto, unaware that an amused Hinata was shaking her head in disbelief.
An hour later, they finally finished cooking and were more focused on cleaning up. While Hinata cleaned the utensils, Naruto focused on taking out the trash. Once he returned, he sat at her dining room table and looked quizzically at the Uchiha wife.
"Is...Is something wrong?" timidly asked Hinata, once she could no longer stand the intense gaze Naruto was directing at her.
"Huh, no...Of course not!" denied Naruto, scratching the back of his head, to avoid the awkwardness. "It's just...Hinata how is living with teme treating you?"
"It's great," mentioned Hinata, after a brief hesitancy. She avoided looking Naruto in the face, in fear of losing her well maintained composure.
Her life was anything but great. In fact, it was just short of miserable. Hinata found herself living for other people, but not herself. Nothing in her life had turned out the way she wanted it to. Born into an uncaring family with no mother to call her own, all she had wanted was a caring husband. But fate had ripped that wish away from her as well.
Never before had Hinata wanted to just break down and cry. She wanted to smash the glass facade that her life had become. She wanted to release the pain she held deep inside. But she couldn't, she wouldn't. Hinata would do nothing to right the wrongs in her life. She would just keep moving forward.
She was after all, a Hyuga by birth and an Uchiha by marriage.
But Naruto wasn't as easily fooled. A childhood filled with distrust and misplaced hatred allowed him to see through the shields of others. He wasn't easily convinced by the front Hinata was putting up but had enough sense to not say anything of it. She was hiding something, but Naruto didn't want to pry.
Still he gave it one last chance.
"Is it really great, Hinata?" repeated Naruto, concern tingeing his voice.
"Yes," firmly replied Hinata, turning her faucet off with a bit more force than necessary. "It is."
"If you say so Hinata-chan, if you say so…," thought Naruto, before turning around to focus on the table before him.
All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ~Henry Ellis
There we go. I'm finally done this chapter. It was a bit longer than I thought it would be. I'm also changing the course of this story (by which I mean I'm tweaking it to fit new storylines).Anyways, I owe another apology for my extreme procrastination tendencies. I will try to get chapters out on a week to week basis, but don't take my word for it. I am busier right now, but I am still trying to get this whole time management thing under my belt. So please don't hold any grudges, let me know what you think of this chapter and anything I should improve or scrap altogether.
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