hmfan24: Time flies. One thing I regret about this story? Writing it in first person. I'm starting to really hate writing in first person. Like, in my opinion, Hinata keeps cutting off into a rant about something random and so the story becomes hard to follow... I need a beta...But it's pretty good experience I guess. I'm majoring in Creative Writing so hopefully I get better and better.

Closer

"You know the closer you get to something, the tougher it is to see it, and I'll never take you for granted."

A distant clap of thunder was enough to wake me from my dreams. The rain was as strong as the wind against the windows of the room. My fingers wrapped around a bundle of sheets, trembling like me entire body. Judging by the amount of light that entered the room, it was either evening or morning. The room was colder than it was last night. No arms were present to restrain my movement. I was the only person in the room. I couldn't stop from shaking - just a natural reaction from awaking after a bang.

Sasuke had lied to me.

I still wanted to place the blame on him after all that he'd done for me. And so I did. Irrationally so. I could barely open my eyes. My surroundings were blurry. My pillow beckoned my heavy head, and although I lied in my bed for another half hour or so I couldn't concentrate on sleeping again. With each minute that passed, I expected Sasuke to arrive.

But he didn't. Literally, I needed to move on. I got to the edge of the bed and stretched my limbs until they popped. I let out another yawn that filled me up with enough energy to stand up. My distorted orientation made me feel like I was on a slanted floor. My ankles were sore, unable to hold up my weight. While I had meant to exit into the corridor of the complex, I inadvertently found myself on the back porch of the bedroom. Surely I should've seen the light escaping from the cracks of the sliding door, but I was more concerned with Sasuke's whereabouts than my own. And he could've been anywhere.

I stepped outside. Although there was a roof, the rain had puddled on the wooden porch causing it to glisten beneath the steadily brightening sky. The rain I heard was against the floor, not the window. Various doors connected porch that stretched across the manor's perimeter. My old house had a similar design.

I rubbed my waist where his arms had been the strongest. I smiled. In a way, he was still with me, providing a sense of security. But then I remembered what he said about my condition.

Amnesia.

I heard a sliding door beside me. The eldest girl with long hair, stepped outside her room. I stared at her until she stared at me. Without greeting, she caught my glance and went back inside.

"Wait," I said. For that moment, I couldn't draw her name from my memory. It was in my memory. Somewhere in a deep dark place along with other moments - every moment since her conception stayed in a chest in my unconscious. All the birthdays, childhood milestones, her birth, I could almost feel everything on the tip of my tongue.

They'd all be able to catch on after my fever subsided. Then whatever they knew was routine would be my time to fall on my face. I would never be fully healed. Nothing could cure amnesia. Days would pass and I wouldn't be able to cook how I usually cook, nurture how I usually nurture or even fight how I usually fight. Then my children would cease to look at me with respect, instead, they'd pity me like I pitied the elders that went senile in my household. I'd somehow lose my rank as a ninja and lose what little respect I had a shinobi to my village.

Maybe if I meditated, I'd come back to my senses. Yes, maybe spiritually, I lost my way. Neji was an expert on meditating and he might have even known some ancient Hyuugan rituals for my very condition. Although at this point, he was probably busy with whatever he was doing. Neji no longer watched over me. Sasuke watched over me now. And probably between then and now I had watched over myself.

"Mom, are you listening?" the young girl's voice scoffed from behind me. "I made tea."

I jumped, losing my footing for a second. The slanted rain caught part of my head, wetting my forehead and face. After regaining my posture, I turned around with an awkward smile, "Thank you, Jin." Her name popped up after seeing her face up close. Those dark features and soft, rounded eyes were too unique to her face to confuse her for anyone else - save for Sasuke.

Jin frowned. "Well, are you just gonna look at me?" she huffed. I cringed from her sarcasm. Her eyes were so dry.

"No...well...I..." I stuttered. Not only did she look like Sasuke, but she sounded like him, too. I reached forward to take the cup of tea from the tray. At least, Sasuke had a reason.

"Why are you stuttering? You never do that," she cut me off with a sharp, caustic tone, "You've been acting so stupid."

Stupid?

"Um," I paused. My eyes watered. A feeling in my throat developed. I couldn't stand up to someone who was a head or two shorter than me. I couldn't say anything to defend myself that would make sense. I took a breath. Why was she talking to me like I was her child and not the other way around? She must have inherited her tongue from her father. Yet and still, I had never done anything in my knowledge to offend her. So why?

At least Sasuke had reasons for his callous attitude. This girl had a family. She had people in her life who cared about her. Sasuke cared for her. She even treated him disrespectfully.

"You're being stupid and weak," she said in a low voice, "and I hate it."

Something cracked or snapped. And I heard it. I felt it - a stinging sensation on my hand. I felt the same sensation on my daughter's face. Her reddened cheek was throbbing in my mind. I had slapped her. I was the one who snapped. Then I spoke, "Do not speak to me like I am some missing-ninja, Jin. I am your mother." I spoke like a woman in an even, unyielding thunder. The same voice I remembered my mother speaking in when she disciplined us.

I closed my eyes and opened them again. Jin was still standing. She lowered her face, however, with her bangs hiding most of her features. Her firm grasped locked the tray in her hands. And yet the tea shook in its cups.

I wanted to apologize, but I didn't. She opened her mouth before I could. I hoped to God what I did didn't permanently damage our relationship. Would she ever respect me? I knew there I had to keep a balance between discipline and affection, but I had no idea what that was from a parental perspective. I knew words scorned children easily - or...lack thereof in some cases.

"You are my mother," she whispered, "I know you are." The tray she held shook more. The way she said it made it seem like she was trying to remind herself that I was the same person that raised her. She must have had doubts about who I was.

"Jin, I-..."

"But then why do I feel like that's the first time I've heard my mother speak for days?"

My heart thumped and my eyes shot open. Things were as I feared. My daughter knew that something about me was amiss. That I was different from I had been. Who I had been did not exist to me, but she existed to everyone around me. This was more than merely my burden.

"Momma, Dad won't tell me what's wrong. Hayato knows something too and even he won't tell me. How sick are you? Are you dying? Tell me so I can do something! Because when I look at you and don't see or hear you like you used to act... I get so scared. I don't want to you to go away," she said, her voice slowly dropping into a whisper.

I wasn't even sure what to say from that point on. But again, some kind of instinct kicked in and I brought Jin's head to my chest. "I'll get better soon. Don't worry about me. I'm staying right here." And that was my duty to her and to my family. Stronger than a ninja's duty to their country, mine was to stick by my family's side despite any temporal circumstance. It may have been trite, but that was a revelation that doesn't really sink in until a person has a frightened child in their arms.

Jin sniffed the air a few times, pulling back her tears. I let her go to straighten herself out. She had managed to keep the drinks from spilling with a stretched arm. From what I heard, she was an adept ninja, after all. She handed me a drink and took one herself before tossing the tray aside. "Don't tell anyone what I said. Not even Sasuke. If Sasuke finds out, he'll start treating me even weirder than usual. For a shinobi's who's supposed to be a badass, he acts like a total pansy around the house."

"Your father likes to show he cares about us," I said, trying to keep the same tone that 'sounded like the girl's mother.'

"Yeah, whatever, you care about us, right? And you're not gushy. Why can't he be like you?"

Sasuke's more of a softy than I am? That's almost kind of scary. I giggled until I realized that maybe Sasuke had this side to him when he was younger. But instead of going home to a family, he went home to the memories of his dead family. And he probably had many nights where he cried himself to sleep. Every night, however, he didn't have me or a mother to cry into like Jin does when she's sad. So what did he do?

Jin stared at me with wide, onyx eyes over the teacup she brought to her lips. She stared at me like she was watching an exotic fish in an aquarium. The silence warranted me to speak.

I tilted my head to the side. Was giggling out of character for me, too? I straightened my face and nodded. "Sss..Your father," it was still hard for me to say his first name, "hasn't always acted in this manner, I assure you."

"That's what I heard," she said with a frown. "He's so lame now. Always, 'Jin-hime this' and 'Jin-hime' that. He treats us like this because we're girls! So annoying..." She complained. "I'm a warrior, too."

Sasuke, growing up, didn't really care about the gender of the person he was talking to. He never used honorifics. Maybe that changed for him. Or maybe it was part of the Uchiha culture... to treat Uchiha women as such. "He's not used to caring about people like he cares about us. He used to be annoyed and embarrassed by his emotions as well. In public at least..."

"That's what ninja are supposed to do!" she exclaimed, sipping the rest of her tea in one, big gulp. "I don't show my emotions."

At least she thought she didn't. Perhaps she was only visibly upset to me as her mother. However, I had figured that telling her the truth would be more difficult for her to handle than telling Hayato. Hayato, after all, was more open with his feelings and thoughts than Jin who had taken the avoidant approach since I had been conscious. Since she was a child in the end, she would have taken the news worse than Sasuke did.

"Where is your father?" I asked.

"Um, in Isamu's room. I think. Because he was crying. He kept everyone up - running around. No one could sleep except for me. He does that a lot... And it takes Sasuke forever to put him to sleep. It's kind of funny seeing everyone running around. I'm so sorry I missed it. They look like a bunch of dorks," she smirked. "I say just let the brat cry." She laughed.

So Jin had a sadistic side... I let out a sigh. Maybe she's just spoiled like Hanabi was.

"You should've asked me to help," I suggested.

"That's what I told him! But he got all quiet and so I just went back to bed," she said with a frown and a pause. "You know, I suppose it's a good thing that you and dad are home more often. Remember when I was his age? You and dad were always on ANBU missions to make money. Things didn't settle down until the twins were born. I think that's why they're so spoiled," she explained, making a face.

Did my family cut me off? Perhaps there were tensions between the Hyuuga and the Uchiha just like before when Sasuke and I were younger. There were enough tensions within the Hyuuga clan, so when I had married into a third party, there must have been conflict. But the connection between me and my clan dwindled since my childhood.

And my father never showed me the same affection Jin got from Sasuke. He'd always be the first to discpline, and so he failed to keep a balance. So when I came home after a stressful day or rough mission, servants would tend to me, but my father would often overlook me. At his worst, he would ridicule me.

I felt a tinge in my heart. So the tension probably got worse after I married Sasuke. But if I found happiness, then I must have found freedom from that train of thought somehow. Jin, Hayato, Sasuke and everyone saved me from the cycle of self-doubt that once haunted me. The time had come for me to give what I never got, and Sasuke had done the same.

After Jin set her teacup on the tray on the floor, she hopped off the porch into the rain. "Anyway, I'm going to go train."

"In the rain?" I asked.

"Duh..." she wiped her nose and snorted. "You should probably sit this one out since you're sick."

Sasuke poofed in front of her. "No one else is getting sick today," he said without inflection. "Jin, go back inside."

"I want to practice. My chidori is stronger in the rain," she said, sparks flew around her fingers.

"I said, 'no', Jin, go back inside and practice in the dojo."

"...whatever." She stomped away into her room.

Sasuke looked over his shoulder, back at me. "Sorry."

"I'm fine. I was just talking to Jin," I nodded and sat down on the wet, wooden porch. "Can you tell me something, Sasuke?"

He came closer, taking the open area next to me as his seat. "Yeah." I could tell he felt awkward. He wasn't talking as much. He had been stern with Jin. The way his mouth stayed straight and tight made him seem uncomfortable.

"I think the children are starting to catch on. So can you tell me how to act like I used to? " I smiled and reached out to touch him so I could get his attention. By feeling the warmth of his shoulder, my smile grew.

His eyes widened. And then he put on a warm, nostalgic smile. "You are every essence of a princess - strong, kind and fair," he began wistfully, closing his eyes as if to dream, "You are as good of a healer as you are a fighter. You take no nonsense from anyone - especially not me. The children respect you as much as they do love you, for when you are stern, nothing gets in your way. You smile a lot, but in a calm way. Your voice is so calm at all times. Like you're singing. You cook better than I do. And you're better at organizing the kids to clean. You're better at a lot of things like that. "

I wanted to get closer to him as he admired me so lovingly. Did he fear getting closer to me? Perhaps I had to make the first move. But at the same time, I felt my heart race in a way that meant I was anxious about touching him. So I stayed frozen, only half-way listening.

"You do have childish side, but only when we're alone. We had a few races and played in the rain from time to time. I could never win at hide and seek even win I tried. We played all the time during training. It was hard to stay serious. But, for us, it was like living the childhood we should've had. I guess that's what they meant when they said marriage means starting a new life with someone. You live through everything in a new way..."

Playful? So that meant Sasuke had a playful side as well.

"And to the world, you're a great leader. They respect you as the head of the Hyuuga and Uchiha clans. You're strong and diligent, but sympathetic enough to have diplomacy. Your diplomacy gets you a long way."

A clap of thunder errupted. I clung onto Sasuke's arm.

His face went red. "Thunder does frighten you from time to time, doesn't it?" he mused. Between two fingers, he held a lock of my hair. I could hear the music he strummed from each strand. The mysterious connection I felt with him was played beautifully by his innocent intentions. "Do I frigthen you?"

"You used to."

He twitched.

"But now...I don't know what I feel for you," I said.

He knew what he was doing. He could please me. But I wasn't sure if I could please him. My ignorance of our relationship probably caused him the most pain. I could feel how tense his muscles were against my arms. He was uncomfortable. "Are you afraid, too?" I asked.

"A bit..."

"Of what?"

Sasuke was reverting back to his old self. He was closing up to me. "You don't remember me. And so I have to start over, but I don't know where to start. I don't know how to act. And I feel like I lost my wife. She'd know what to do. But it's not about me right now..."

I didn't know how to act either. So in a way, we were in the same boat - yet separated by time. And yet, I felt like we were one in the same. "Ever since I was little, I've believed in soulmates. I believe that we might fit together and not even time can truly separate us. We're connected," I smiled.

"How do you know that?"

"I-I really like touching you," I held him closer, knowing that it was silly to fear someone who feared me as much. The simple chemistry made my head go numb. His warmth held me closer.

Sasuke's face reddened. "Don't say something like that with that cute smile on! D-Do you even know what you're saying?" he stuttered. With his voice cracking, he sounded like a teenager. "The old Hinata would've never said something like that!"

He was right. But I was so happy to see him... I felt like I had known him for years and spent every minute of my day with him. And I had. So at that moment I wasn't behaving like the teenage Hinata neither was I the married mother Hinata, but somewhere inbetween. I let Sasuke stew in his thoughts until soon enough blood began to trickle from his nose. Again.

"Sasuke, your nose is bleeding! Maybe we should go to the..." I stopped. Sasuke had that same dazed look that he did years ago. This was definitely deja vu.

Sasuke squirmed to cover his face. "Yeah... it does that, you know."

"Are you sick? What does it mean when your nose bleeds like that?"

"Oh, so you want to know?" he taunted. His red eyes looked directly into mine. He smirked and grabbed me by my wrist then gently guided my hand to his stiff groin. "I swell up so much that it starts overflowing through my nose."

I got flustered. This was all too much. The world was spinning so fast. "Sasuke..." But at the same time, I enjoyed this sort of thing that couples did all the time.

"God dammit!" said a young, female voice before she slammed the door, "Sasuke what the hell is wrong with you?"

"What?" Sasuke jumped up. "That was Jin. God dammit," he said in with the same inflections that Jin did, "I hate it when this happens." He turned back to me and his face softened. "You look confused. You're only 17, right? I guess that was a lot for you. Stay here," he gently commanded. He slid open the door to the dojo right back. "Or come with me. Yeah, come with me." He grabbed me by the wrist again. His hands were shaking.

I couldn't see his face. But I could see, over his shoulder how Jin was now curled up in a ball. "I hate you both so much. Don't you have any respect for us? You always do gross things outside your bedroom like touching each other like that," she mumbled.

"Jin-chan," I said, "Adults do these things..."

"Ugh," she grunted loudly. "I'm just gonna train until I get it out of my head."

"Jin-hime..."

"I'm not going to talk about this with the likes of you!"

"It's been worse," he whispered to me. "Well, I'll leave you alone today then," he announced to her.

There was a thud and then chipper barks that errupted from the hallway. What could that be? I got ready to activate my Byakugan. I concentrated on Sasuke's reaction.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes and frowned. He didn't get into a fighting stance, but his lips tightened. "What was that? Is that?"

"Hey Uncle Sasuke! Hey Aunt Hinata!" yelled Bakura. "Goodmorning!" A tiny, black dog followed behind him. Bakura looked to be the same age as Jin and Hayato. He had long, shaggy hair and red fang marks on his cheeks like Kiba. I'd met this boy before. However, if he was really our nephew then that would mean he'd have to be Hanabi's son.

"When did he get here?" Sasuke asked.

Jin didn't reply. She still lied like a log on the floor. There was a small silence as Bakura started stretching. He then looked up to Sasuke, "Ah, right, I slept here overnight - in Hayato's room. He always lets me sleep in the bed with him but this time he let me have the bed to myself while he slept on the floor. He's so cool. I tried to get him to come train but I guess he's really tired. Um, oh yeah, Jin said she was inviting-..."

"Good morning..." said a boy coming from the outside. He had Hyuugan eyes and brown hair tied up into a ponytail. "Ah, Aunt Hinata...Sasuke... Jin, what's going on?" He was just as monotone as most people in this house, but dressed in a traditional Hyuuga attire. Neji once owned a pair of shoes like his. At close observation, he almost looked like Neji, in the nose and body build area. But, to be completely honest, most Hyuugas looked somewhat alike. People often confused Neji and I for brother and sister. At some point we went along with it and built a sibling-like bond. But to see a face like Neji comforted me.

"Life, Shin, and I hate it," she mumbled, still not moving. "Sasuke, are you still here? I need to train. So I think you should leave." She stretched her arm into the air until it started to glow with blue lightning.

Shin's vein popped in his temple. He clenched his teeth and glared at Jin. "Dammit, Jin, you call me over here to be your whipping boy? I can take you on! Just don't make any cheap shots like last time," he shouted, stripping his composure and his shirt to get into a battle stance.

"I'll leave. Your mother and I are going to go on a walk so keep an eye on Isamu," he said as he took my hand. We wandered down the hall. "Are you alright? You were starting to look light-headed."

How does one look light-headed? I giggled, "Sasuke, I'm fine."

"Dammit, you're sick!" he sighed and rubbed his temples. "Dammit! My head hurts so bad right now that I might be sick."

As I tried to read what Sasuke was thinking, the veins around my eyes began to twitch. There was another clap of thunder and Sasuke's arms quickly snaked around the lower part of my waist. I jumped.

"Sorry..." he let go, but I held his arms around me. "What?" he gasped lightly, "Hinata, do you want to have sex with me?" His cheeks got pink.

My face burst into heat. "What? But...I..." Sex? I really didn't know how to do that. Would it be right to reject him since I was his wife? He didn't own me, but it would be kind of insulting to him just to blow him off like this. I could barely think of kissing him let alone do adult things with him.

The children came from somewhere, I reminded myself. And then there were those weird sensations that I could feel from his arms still being around me. And there were those weirder feelings I got from when he looked at me earlier.

"That was insensitive wasn't it? I rushed off with you before I even asked," he sighed again. "Dammit this is so hard. I can't help but be selfish with things like this."

"Sasuke..." I pleaded.

He grunted again. His frustration boiled passed its brim in a nonviolent way."And then you look at me with those eyes. And you same my name like that..."

"I'm sorry, Sasuke," I apologized and lowered my head.

Sasuke brought me closer. "I'm sorry. I need to try this sensitivity thing. Let's just take a bath and call it a day."

"Okay," I nodded. A bath? I could tolerate a bath. I could see Sasuke naked. But sex? That was just too big of a leap for someone with my mind and my memory - or lack therof. I remember going on missions where Kiba and even Shino would sneak off with girls they met in the villages we passed through. They came back, telling each other stories about how much fun they had smashing a girl. The only times I heard these stories was when I walked in on them having guy time. Everyone seemed to like to shield my ears from the word sex.

So, to be honest, I didn't have much of an opinion either way. Lately, with Sasuke, I had what could have been urges to touch him and hold him. When I loved Naruto, I didn't feel such a physical need to touch him like I do with Sasuke. No, not just touch him. I didn't want it to end there. And he was my husband. The only thing standing between us was my social anxiety and inadequacies that kept me from doing much of anything.

Call it a day? I had just awaken. Physically, I'd been sicker before. I didn't need this much rest. But knowing me, I'd somehow find a way to pass out and go back to my dreamworld of flashbacks and memories.

The manor had a small outdoor bath. There were little patches of newly planted shrubs and bamboo stalks that made a cute fence. The bath itself covered, but allowed for sunlight to get in. In this case, it provided protection from the rain.

The rocks were slick and and shiny. The fog from the hot air was dense, but I could still see Sasuke's bare body across from me. My head felt full and heavy although I'd only been in the water for a few minutes. We sat on opposite sides of the bath. He wouldn't look at me and his arms folded tightly. He gripped the sides of the bath as if he were holding himself up from sinking, but the water was too shallow for that.

"I got a little nervous back then because I couldn't remember the two boys. Those are our nephews...?"

"Yes," he replied without elaborating. He grunted again and lowered his body so that his mouth submerged with water. Bubbles came to the surface.

There was a crow that croaked in the distance. Distant sounds like the Uchiha flag that stood at the front ruffling in the air were a lot more clear than anything else. "How?"

"Shin Hyuuga is Neji's brat. He has a rivalry with our clan - probably got it from Neji. And he picks on Hayato whenever he can because he knows he can get to him. He has a temper - probably got that from his mom. He last ranked at the top of the class, but the system's screwed up anyway. Jin should've beat him."

"And then Bakura?"

"Bakura is my brother's son. And he's an Inuzuka. And so he has that damn dog and those fang marks. But he really likes being here more than he likes being with the Inuzuka clan. We're trying to teach him Uchiha techniques so he can learn how to integrate the two styles of fighting somehow. Or just choose the Uchiha techniques since they're obviously superior," he snorted with the last remark. Sasuke's shoulders shrunk and he stretched his arms out and leaned back.

So the two boys were our nephews. Neji had a kid! That's so funny. I would've never guessed he'd be the type to raise a family. He was always so tense around the children of our clan since they weren't as well-behaved as he was. Then his son has such a temper. Who would've known?

"If Shin hates Uchiha, then why is he here now?"

"These kids don't know what hate is," he snorted again, lying his head back with a smirk.

Oh right, Sasuke hated his brother. But he eventually forgave him. I didn't hear the entire story behind it, but at some point, Sasuke must have accepted Bakura into the clan.

I heard water splash. Sasuke was suddenly closer to me. He smirked and closed his eyes. "Is this okay?" he asked and waited for me to nod. "Hinata, this... I... lo..." he stammered, touching his face, "could you turn back into your 17-year-old self - physically, you know?"

"W-Why?" I asked. I wasn't offended. I simply didn't understand his request.

"Maybe then I won't try anything or something...and it kind of brings me back, you know?" he said then paused as he turned his head away, "Nevermind. Forget I said anything..."

My head felt heavier, so unconsciously, I leaned on Sasuke's shoulder. I didn't think anything of it. At that moment, he was just a firm, warm thing to lie on.

"Hinata! Hinata! God dammit! " he yelled in the same way Jin did earlier.

I wanted giggle. But I didn't. Instead, I closed my eyes completely.

hmfan24: I did not expect this update to be this long. Sorry? I don't know if that's a good or bad thing for you. Sorry for not updating. College is draining. Throughout the year, I got a lot of pleads and amazing comments. I feel like I'm doing something right. So shouts out to pigs103 and xX916-chanXx and XxStarxGazerxX and Lecs and justqn for making me feel fuzzy inside with your nudges and reviews. I usually don't do shout-outs, but I think it's important to acknowledge fans of the story every once in a while.