AN: Thanks so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed this story. It is the last chapter and I really did have a ton of fun writing this one and The Debut. If you guys like Sasu/Hina, A Traitor Branded is coming out to be a very long series, probably longer than even The Debut. For Gaa/Hina fans, I have an idea brewing in my head for another AU fic, my profile will have more info. Thank you all so much for your reviews and faves, you guys are awesomesauce.
"Gaara, do you want a boy or a girl?" Hinata asked her husband one day while leaning over a large potted plant. "You never mention it."
Gently, he helped her stand up straight before wrapping his arms around her, a hand sliding over her very large stomach.
"I want a child." He remarked simply.
Hinata sighed. There were times when his short answers and lack of elaboration made her want to kick at his shins. She had actually done it once in a hormonal fit over something she couldn't even remember anymore. Oh wait, it had been over chocolate. At the time she had started desperately craving chocolate and apparently it wasn't an item Suna held in abundance. It seemed silly now but at the time she had been so upset and devastated that she had cried and fussed and eventually kicked at him. A few days later Kankuro returned from his mission and had told his brother that under no certain circumstances would he ever detour to Konoha again just to get his wife some candy and – goddamnit - not to ever send him another 'bullshit order' like that again. But she had gotten her chocolate, a ridiculous amount that she was still nibbling on every now and then.
But this was different, it was really important to her and she wanted a real answer. "This is a really simple question. You have to pick one or the other and I already know you want a child, that's a given."
Her husband turned her around until she was facing him at arm's length. She saw it in his eyes, he was weighing his options.
He's probably wondering if it's my hormones. Jerk.
They entered a staring contest. Hinata wasn't backing down this time, she was going to get a straight answer from her husband whether he liked it or not. When he closed his eyes and sighed she mentally danced a little jig. She loved winning these arguments.
She didn't get the answer she was expecting "What do you want me to want to have?"
The Kazekage's wife blinked at him dumbly "What."
"I am pretty sure this is a question that, if I don't answer in the manner you wish, will disappoint you. If I tell you I want a girl and you want a boy, you will be disappointed and vice versa. So, what do you want me to want the gender to be?"
Hinata cried out in frustration and pushed at his chest, further annoyed when he didn't budge or let go of her. She was not going to cry over this. Gaara was being unreasonable and it wasn't fair. "I just want to know what you want! It's practically the same as a 'yes or no' question, one or the other. And I want to know what you really want, not what I want you to want because I want you to want what you want and not what you think I want you to want."
He blinked at her again which meant that he was either confused or was about to refuse to answer her. Or both.
"And don't you dare try to not answer it!"
"Hinata," he began calmly, as if talking to a child "I can't answer your question because neither answer is applicable."
"…I'm not having an alien so I don't understand what you mean. I'm pretty sure the choices are girl or boy."
"If I answer your question honestly, you are going to become upset. I am being put in a difficult position because any option I choose will not be accepted."
"Gaara!" Hinata wanted to cry. Was it really that hard? Why was he being so difficult? "Please, I just want a real answer."
Her husband stared at her for another few moments, just long enough before she would become impatient "The answer is that it does not matter to me whether we have a boy or a girl. The gender will not change how I feel. I am content simply knowing that I…that I will become a father."
Well, it wasn't the answer she had been looking for, but it was the most wonderful answer he could have given. "Oh Gaara, you sound as if you never thought it could happen."
His silence was answer enough this time. Now she wanted to cry, but for a completely different reason.
Hinata being in labor was the most painful thing he had ever had to experience and if he could help it, she would never become pregnant again. When she walked inside the kitchen looking as if she were about to collapse he had learned it was because her 'water had broken'. Contrary to what he had thought birth entailed her water breaking did not mean the baby was going to come out 'any minute'. When they took her to the hospital he had expected to leave that evening with his wife and newborn child.
I should have paid more attention when this was being discussed. Or fully read those books Hinata recommended.
Hours had passed yet Hinata had made no progress. Apparently that was considered 'normal' and no it did not mean that there was something wrong with the baby, take her home for a while and try to get some rest.
Then it was time and the entire time Hinata had been miserable and in pain. Seeing her like that had been painful, yet he refused to leave her side. Since he had met her he had never heard Hinata so much as raise her voice – even when she became angry with him she had remained soft spoken – watching her scream because she was in so much pain had affected him in ways he did not wish to experience again. Guilt had hit him as if it were a physical force, feeling that he was at fault for her pain. If he had exercised better control or if he had stuck to his original plan to not become intimate she would not be in this position had been constant thoughts.
He had never felt so relieved when the doctor had told her "One last push".
A high pitched cry had emerged and a strange nervous sensation went through him. His wife had been pale, utterly exhausted and yet so unbelievably happy.
"Congratulations, you have a boy."
Gaara felt numb at first, listening to the tiny voice making itself known to the world. He watched as they cut the umbilical cord and wrapped his son – his son – in a blanket and gave him to his mother. The tiny thing was arms and legs and he had found himself unable to tear his gaze away.
"Gaara?" Hinata's voice was tired but happy. Her gaze was inquisitive "Would you like to hold him?"
Hinata had told him later in a rather amused voice that the look he had given her when she asked that had been something along the lines of absolute horror. He had felt terrified at the time, watching her hold something so tiny, so incredibly dependent on the ones who had brought him into the world. Gaara had been unable to do it and allowed the nurses to take the child to be cleaned and moved Hinata to the room she would be staying at for the next few days.
"Are you upset?" She had asked him once they had settled her in "You look so pale."
"I…was terrified;" he admitted "not of the child but…" he tried to think of the proper words "I was afraid I would have hurt him."
His wife had given him a reassuring and loving smile "I don't think you could ever hurt your son, Gaara. You wouldn't allow it."
The Kazekage had not shared her sentiments at the time. When they brought the baby into the room the nurses had him sit down on a chair. They had told him that this would help him feel more at ease when holding the baby, because he wouldn't feel as if he would drop and hurt him. It had helped and the nurses had been very patient with him, showing him how to position his arms – make sure you cradle the head – and very gently gave him his son.
The feeling he experienced was not something he could easily put into words. The child's eyes were closed shut and he seemed so red and chubby yet Gaara could not help but feel that he was looking at something beautiful. His son squirmed, yawning slightly while making little fists in the air and he just stared.
I will protect you. He promised the tiny, fragile life in his arms. No harm will ever come to you or your mother. Most importantly, you will know love. I swear it.
Yasashiku, Yasa for short, had decided that crayons and walls went perfect together.
Of course, no one else thought her son's artistic talents to be as amusing as she had felt they were. Hinata had been 'lightly' scolded for allowing her two year old son to decorate the outside of the Kazekage's door and walls. Yasa's father had found the entire ordeal amusing and pretended he heard nothing as one of the council members politely told her that the Kazekage, being the important man that he was, really couldn't receive important diplomats and guests with blue and pink scribbles on the door and walls.
Nevermind that Gaara had told her he would watch the child while she had gone to run errands and the only reason she was getting the blame was because she had been caught picking him up right as a council member was walking by. Hinata had tried very hard to be angry with her husband for letting her take the blame but she just found the entire situation too funny.
"You know, you could have at least attempted to look guilty," the Kazekage's wife set her son down on his desk and began to wipe at Yasa's colored hands and face. The child protested, squirming, but as a mother with two years experience she knew how to deal with it. Cleaned, she looked down at her son's chubby face. Green eyes so pale they looked almost white, similar to her pale lavender. His hair was dark red and as unruly as his father's.
"I can promise you that I will also be approached with the same complaints," the Kazekage remarked, sitting up in his chair. He lifted a hand and Hinata walked over, placing the tiny boy in his arms. "I think he is growing out of these pants."
His wife giggled "You said that last week."
"I still stand by what I said," his son tried to hand him a crayon from wherever he had been hiding it and Gaara gently put it to the side "you are simply trying to make me believe I don't know what I'm talking about."
"His pants –" she began and ignored the look her husband gave her "his pants are fine. They're not even an inch above his socks. You're overreacting and we both know it."
Instead of responding to her he lifted Yasa until the boy was eye level with him. "You and I are going shopping without your mother this weekend," he remarked calmly "and we will buy you clothes that fit properly." His son giggled happily in response.
Hinata sighed "I give up on you. Fine, his mother will just take a personal day and spend time with Temari-chan."
His eyes were closed but he did not sleep. Beside him he felt his wife shift and she curled up at his side, a hand resting lightly on his chest, just above his heart.
"Gaara?" Her voice was soft "Are you asleep?"
"If I were, you would have awakened me."
He smiled when she bit his shoulder playfully and he put an arm around her bare shoulders.
"Gaara, it's been four years since we had Yasa, have you ever thought about having another baby?"
The Kazekage's eyes opened and he looked at his wife but found nothing revealing in her gaze. "I haven't." he responded honestly, frowning slightly. He was not entirely sure where she was going with this.
"W-well…would you…would you ever want to?"
He didn't answer her right away and she didn't press him for an answer. Eventually he spoke "When you were giving birth, it was…difficult watching you in so much pain. At the time, I had decided that we would not have any more children. Are you asking me because this is what you want?"
"No…I…" she looked away from him "You really don't want any more children?"
"I am content with Yasa. I…do not wish for you to suffer the same pain you did when you had him, but if you truly would like to have another child I will not protest or be angry." Her expression did not improve and he realized that she felt he hadn't answered her properly. "If you would like to have another child, Hinata, I would like to have another child."
She sighed in relief and looked up at him "I'm really happy to hear that…because I'm pregnant."
"It's mine now! Nyah!"
"Yasa give it back!"
Sakura sat with Hinata on a bench at a Suna playground watching their children bicker. Hinata's son, Yasa, was holding up in his hand a strange looking stuffed doll that looked strangely to her like Uchiha Sasuke. His other hand was pushing back a pink haired girl, a year younger than him, who was desperately trying to get her prized possession from him. When Sakura realized what it was Hinata's son was now claiming as his she slapped her hand over her face.
"Oh gods, how on earth did Akina ever get another one of those?" Sakura groaned "I thought I threw the other one away."
Hinata looked over at her friend, bouncing on her leg an extremely amused toddler at the scene being displayed for her.
"What is it?"
"It's a plushie. Of Sasuke." Sakura did not sound too pleased "My daughter has a crush like you wouldn't believe and she's only five. Naruto has threatened to beat Sasuke to a pulp if he even so much as contemplates coming near her." A sigh "I guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree…"
Haya, the toddler, began to squirm and complain when Hinata's leg stopped moving and she had to quickly shift to keep the girl from falling. "Haya, please don't do that."
Big, watery pale green eyes turned on their mother and Haya's face began to scrunch up in preparation for the tears she was about to produce. Suddenly, the little girl found herself being plucked up off her mother's knee and into the arms of her father.
"Don't cry," he said softly, putting a hand through her burgundy-colored hair. The Kazekage smiled down at his wife before walking around to sit beside her, holding his giggling squirmy daughter skillfully in his arms. He looked up at the children still fighting over the Sasuke plushie. "Yasa, that's enough. Give her back what she wants."
The two males locked into a small staring contest. Yasa tried to cheat by putting on his best 'sad face' and his father merely stared blankly back.
"B-but Papa!" the boy paused when he realized that he was dealing with his father and not his mother and possibly a different approach needed to be exercised "But she started it," he muttered under his breath "I'll give her back her silly-looking doll if she takes back what she said about me!"
"It's not silly looking!" Akina screamed at the boy, which, at five years old, was quite loud. "He's way cooler than you'll ever be anyway now gimme!"
The boy gave the girl a look that made him look strikingly like his father. "His head looks like the back of a duck's butt." He deadpanned.
Hinata immediately buried her face in Gaara's arm, her shoulders shaking. Even Sakura was trying to hold it in and not doing a very good job.
"You know," Gaara murmured to his wife "you are only encouraging this sort of behavior by laughing."
That only made her shoulders shake even harder.
"Yasashiku," the Kazekage cut in just in time to stop Akina from exploding "I will not repeat myself."
"And Akina," Sakura joined in, still laughing "apologize to Yasa for whatever it is you called him. I've told you about calling people names."
Both of the children stiffened and hesitated. It was getting serious.
"Here's your Duck Butt back," Yasa grumbled, shoving the stuffed plushie into the little girl's hands.
"Don't call him that!"
"Akina." Sakura's tone left no room for argument.
"I'm sorry I said your hair looked like a sprocket." She stuck her tongue out at him and he returned the favor.
All three adults looked at each other. What the hell was a 'sprocket'?
"Now go," Sakura waved an arm at the two of them "go play nicely. Or else."
"I-I'm so sorry…" Hinata emerged from her husband's arm, her hands covering her mouth as she continued to giggle "I just…he looked so serious and I just couldn't help it…"
"He looked just like Gaara and his voice was deadpan like his too." Sakura started laughing again "If Naruto were here he probably would have encouraged him."
"Where is Naruto-kun anyway?"
"He stayed behind to talk to a few dignitaries," Gaara explained "they're discussing potential candidates for the chunnin exam." His expression turned thoughtful as he adjusted his daughter "We only have a few that seem promising this time, a lot of the previous genin we had were promoted the last two exam periods."
"Hmmm…you know now that you mention it," Sakura leaned forward, resting her hand on her chin "Yasa and Akina are at the age where they could start going to the academy. Naruto's on the fence because she's 'Daddy's little girl' and you know what? I kinda am too. When I look at her and think about how she could end up on a dangerous mission or be killed, it's kind of scary." She looked at them "Is it like that for you guys?"
"Well…" Hinata hesitated "Yasa wants to be like his father, so he's actually already in the academy here. We did talk about it because I felt the same way you do…I still do sometimes." She turned and put an affectionate hand through her daughter's unruly hair "Gaara and I- we didn't have a choice as to whether or not we could become shinobi. It was expected of me as heir and Gaara…in any case, we eventually agreed that if our children decide a path that we should support them in it, even if we're scared of the outcome. So since Yasa said his dream was to become Kazekage like his father, we're going to support him. If Haya decides she wants to become a shinobi then we'll support her, but we want our children to be able to have that choice."
"That's pretty cool," Naruto said from behind, walking over and putting his arms around Sakura on the bench "I think I can get that. I mean in the end we all followed our own path, our own nindo right? It'd be messed up if we denied that to our kids…I guess…" he muttered the last part sadly and Sakura leaned back, patting his arm affectionately.
The five of them sat and watched the children play, breaking them up with verbal warnings when they got too 'rowdy'. Other kids from the area ended up joining in and soon all of them were running around and playing games.
"Hey, Gaara?" The Hokage looked over at the Kazekage from his side of the bench.
"You know, I love you like a brother right?" When Naruto was greeted with silence he continued "I'm just saying, because it's cool that Aki and Yasa are playing now and all that but…"
"Naruto," Sakura warned "don't you dare start that."
"I'm just saying Sakura! Anyway, all I'm saying is when your kid hits puberty he needs to stay away from my daughter or I'm going to have to have a serious talk with him."
The Uzumaki's began to bicker and Hinata looked at her husband curiously. It was almost as if he hadn't even heard Naruto with the way he was paying attention to his daughter.
It was only after everyone quieted down and Sakura made Naruto apologize that Gaara spoke up.
"Only if you keep your daughter off of my son. Beyond that, I can make no guarantees."
One random night the Kazekage's wife asked if he could take her to their favorite spot in the village. During the beginning of their marriage Gaara had shown her four locations that he often went to which overlooked the entire village in a breathtaking view. He never did tell her that the view she had chosen as her favorite had also been his, but she had seemed to understand that.
So late that night he took his wife to one of the highest peaks along the border. Up so high, the village looked small but bright, thousands of lights were scattered along the domed buildings, giving the otherwise barren village a strange, earthly beauty. He held her against him, slightly shielding her from the wind.
"Gaara, do you believe in destiny?" His wife asked him.
There was a thoughtful pause. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"I mean, what if you had grown up without the demon and what if I hadn't been born a Hyuuga? Do you think that we would have found each other anyway? Do you think our lives would have been different?"
"Our lives would have been different, yes." He looked thoughtful and pulled his arms tighter around his wife's now-motherly frame "No one is born knowing what their life will be like. I would not be the person I am today had my father not sealed the demon inside of me and you would not be the person you are if you had been raised in another clan or even as a civilian. As two separate people with two separate lives and personalities, the odds of everything happening like they have in this life are nonexistent."
"However," he continued "over the years that I have come to know you, I know that I cannot exist without you in my life. I am not 'Gaara' without 'Hinata'. In saying that, I am sure that this fact would be consistent no matter how our lives or personalities might have ended up. I believe that two halves of the same soul will eventually draw themselves together to become one. Does that answer your question?"
She spun and wrapped her arms around him, pulling him down to her in a passionate kiss. His hands rose to frame her face, wiping away her tears.
"I love you," she sobbed, wiping at her face "I love you and our life and our children and there are times when I look at you and all I can think about is how happy I am that I've met you. They say that marriage and children sometimes diminishes the bond and love a couple have but I…I still feel as passionately in love with you as I had when I was twenty three and sometimes I would wonder if you still feel the same way now that we're so much older and…"
His wife stopped and eventually her tears turned to sniffles. Dipping his head, he brushed his lips against hers lightly, almost chaste. He continued to kiss her, each kiss growing slightly firmer as he had that first night so many years ago.
"Hinata," he murmured against her lips "many things have changed between us over the years and if you've had doubts that means that I have not been showing you the depths of my feelings properly." When she opened her mouth to protest he silenced her with a brief kiss and continued "Out of all of the changes we have experienced together there has always remained one constant and I have expressed it verbally only a few times. I love you, and that feeling has not, nor will, ever change. You will always be beautiful to me no matter how much your shape changes or how old you will become. You are the only woman I have ever loved, and I when I die I will take that love with me, but it will never, ever fade. I hold no regrets on how my life turned out, if I had to do it over again I would change nothing, especially if it meant I would be without you. I love you and I hope that I never give you reason to question that fact again."
She burst into tears again and he pulled her close, wrapping his arms tightly around her.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" she sobbed "I love you…I love you so much…"
For the first time since they had been together Gaara chuckled "Yes, Hinata. I know."
AN: That's it gaiz! It's not mentioned in the last scene but they are in their late forties, in case you were wondering why she was spazzing out about being older (and thusly fearing that he found her to be less attractive).
For those who don't read The Debut, I do have another Gaa/Hina story in my head (GaaHina be my OTP yo) and I'll be putting up the general basis of it on my profile. The actual idea is based off of another fanfic I read but was never finished. I had thought it was an awesome premise although I'll be going a different route with it.
I hope you've enjoyed this fic and I thank all of you for your reviews and faves. I love writing and I love sharing it with others. I am content simply knowing that people enjoy it but I am also thankful to those who do leave reviews. You guys make me laugh or I'll nod my head at an opinion and it's really a lot of fun. Thanks so much to all of you.