AN: I'm going to be uploading this and the first chapter of Cursed Lineages tonight for one reason: I am not working on fanfiction this month. Darth-Taisha's birthday fic is the only exception but beyond that, I am doing NaNoWriMo this month. So this will have to tide ya over.
This fic should be read before Cursed Lineages. It takes place two years after A Traitor Branded. It's rather long. Unbeta'd.
Hyuuga Neji's eyes widened to saucers when a kunai slammed into the conference table; startling everyone in the room. The two men that had been arguing had stopped, paling as they took in the hand gripping the blade embedded in the village map.
"Hayashi. Maeda." Uchiha Sasuke's voice was a low growl and he slowly looked up at the two, dark eyes narrowing. "Two years. You two have been bitching about this for two. Years."
Neji tried very hard not to have a heart attack at the scene before him. Oh gods, Hinata-sama did you really have to visit Sakura today of all days? I really am trying not to become an alcoholic, I really am but...
The two men began spluttering, backing away from the obviously unstable Uchiha. Slowly, he stood to his full height and let out a small breath. His eyes flashed crimson for a moment before he reined in his emotions.
"You all have one hour." He pointed to the map. "It's stupid that two years have gone by and only half of you have set yourselves up in your districts. I'm going to leave. Then I'm going to come back. If you idiots haven't figured this out by then I will pick for you." Eyes narrowed. "You won't like what I come up with."
When the Hyuuga finally followed the Otokage to his office he was pacing the room like a caged animal, obviously extremely upset about something. He briefly considered getting Naruto; if anyone could calm down Uchiha it was him.
But why was he even upset? He understood Sasuke's frustration concerning the clans, he was equally frustrated. But resorting to threats and violence? That wasn't something he did often anymore, if at all. Hinata kept him pacified for the most part and for the past two years since the establishment of the village the Uchiha had been calm...almost normal.
"If you've come to give me crap," Sasuke had stopped pacing and was scowling at him. "Save your breath. I don't want to hear it."
"Actually," with a small sigh, he walked over and placed his folder on the Otokage's table. "I was wondering what was wrong. It is not often you become so angry and Hinata-sama is not here." He tilted his head slightly. "Is something the matter?"
The Uchiha had a silent war with himself, unsure if he wanted to tell Neji the truth or not. After a moment he looked away, unhappy. "Hinata's sick."
"What?" this was news to him. Last time he had seen his cousin, which had been yesterday, she had seemed fine. "Are you positive? She seemed fine yesterday..."
"I wouldn't make something like this up." He all but snarled it at Neji and the older male decided he would need to start wording himself carefully. When it came to Hinata, all bets were off concerning how he would react.
"Is that why she has gone to the hospital?" He had been curious; Hinata had yet to miss a meeting so Neji had been a little concerned, but she had seemed well and he had figured it was just something routine.
"Yeah." Sasuke continued to look very irritable. "She never gets sick."
The slight fear in his voice made Neji start, blinking almost owlishly. "I am sure it's just something simple, Uchiha." He refrained from going up and touching the man's shoulder. Not only would Sasuke not appreciate it, there was a fifty-fifty chance he'd react violently. "What are her symptoms?"
"What?" he frowned at the Hyuuga, confused. He probably hadn't even been listening fully. "She's..." he waved a hand in the air dismissively and began to pace again. "She's been throwing up a lot; she's always tired and she's been...moody lately."
Neji immediately knew what the problem was and would have smiled were it not for the fact that Sasuke wouldn't take it well. The Hyuuga was surprised he hadn't figured it out yet. "I think she's fine, Uchiha."
Stopping, Sasuke turned to him. "You know what's wrong."
He held up his hands in a pacifying gesture. "I have an idea, but this is something that Hinata-sama will want to tell you herself. With her...moodiness as you put it," he was unable to hide the small smile that emerged at Sasuke's glare. "she will be upset with me if I told you and well...I make it a point not to get the women closest to me upset. My life becomes miserable when I do."
Sasuke opened his mouth to say something else when both males abruptly turned to the door at the familiar chakra signal. Immediately, the Uchiha was striding to the door, expression grim. Something was wrong with his wife, Neji knew what it was but wouldn't tell him and he...needed answers. Needed to know if she was alright.
He was being irrational and he knew it. If Neji wasn't concerned, obviously it wasn't anything life threatening, but seeing her so sick and being unable to do anything about it besides provide physical comfort was distressing. The Uchiha knew why he was reacting so intensely but he couldn't help it. Hinata was all he had, the only thing that meant anything in his otherwise empty life.
For the first time since he was seven years old he was happy. Having had that for almost three years now had made him spoiled; there was no way he could let it go and had no desire to do so.
Her hand had been hovering over the door knob when he wrenched it open. Their gazes locked, his wife looking up at him curiously. Besides looking fairly pale, she seemed fine.
He was overreacting. He knew he was overreacting but there was a reason why irrational fears were irrational. Slowly, he reached up, his fingers brushing along her jaw. "What did Sakura say?" he tried very hard to keep his voice sounding soft instead of demanding. "Are you alright?"
There was a small cough and Neji shifted, moving towards the exit. "Well, I believe that would be my cue to leave..."
Confusion filled Sasuke when Hinata flashed her cousin a worried glance, wringing her hands. "A-actually Neji-niisan...c-could you maybe stay? Um, just for a moment?"
Tensing, white eyes flickered from the Uchiha back to Hinata, hesitant. Then he sighed and Sasuke got the distinct impression that Hinata had asked him to remain because his presence was comforting. He had to fight down a wave of jealousy at that; why did Hinata need to rely on anyone else for comfort when she had him?
Knowing he couldn't think that way, he moved to the side to allow Hinata in. He wasn't the perfect husband, not by a long shot, but at least he tried. Then again, there was very little he wouldn't do for his wife; the village he was running was clear proof of that.
Closing the door, Sasuke took in the two as silence settled in the room. After about a minute of this the Uchiha began to become highly irritated. He was not one known for having infinite patience and this was something he needed to know for his peace of mind.
Dark eyes narrowed. "Hinata." She jumped slightly at the tone and looked down and away from him, extremely nervous. This made his mind run rapidly with different things that could be wrong with her; none of them were positive and his anxiety increased.
"Hinata-sama," Neji's voice was soft as he closed the distance, putting a hand on her shoulder. Once again, Sasuke had to fight down a wave of jealousy when the male Hyuuga tilted his head, whispering something in her ear. Nodding, she looked up sheepishly at her husband and he tried very hard to keep his expression detached.
"I..." she bit her lip, looking over at Neji who gave her a thin but genuine smile. When she looked back up at him. Sasuke noticed how her hands suddenly flew to her stomach. "I'm...pregnant."
Sasuke's mind went completely blank. Both Neji and Hinata began to look uncomfortable when all he did was stare at her for the longest time.
"Oh." Was what finally came to mind to say.
Hinata's jaw practically dropped to the floor at his rather bland response. His dark eyes, which had been shining with agitation and a bit of fear, were now completely devoid of emotion. She spared a glance at her cousin, who looked as surprised and confused as she did.
That was it? That was all he had to say? She had been agonizing over what she was going to tell him, how, and had been horribly worried about Sasuke's reaction. It wasn't as if it should have been a surprise, they had agreed for her to stop taking contraceptives and had been of the mindset that if something happened it would happen. So it had been kind of planned. Kind of.
Even though he had said he was fine with having children, secretly Hinata was worried. She read about how fathers would become jealous or overly upset about their wives giving the baby more attention than them and her husband was an extremely jealous and possessive man. He had been trying to calm down on it but neither Hyuuga had missed the glares he had shot Neji a few minutes ago.
His lack of reaction was troubling. Would he become upset now that the moment had finally arrived? Would he avoid her? Then there was her biggest fear: would he even love the baby, considering how borderline obsessed he was with her? None of these concerns had popped up until Sakura had actually confirmed that yes, she was indeed almost eight weeks pregnant. Now that the reality of the situation had hit her hard, she was nervous and scared.
"Neji." Sasuke looked over at his cousin by marriage. His gaze still bland, he took Hinata's hand. "Tell my aide to cancel all of my meetings for the rest of the day. Can you and Anko handle the rest of the meeting?"
The Hyuuga male smirked, walking towards the exit. "You know Anko loves it when you let her take charge. We'll handle it." His smile towards his cousin was reassuring and Hinata held back the urge to cry. He wasn't angry. Stunned, perhaps, but not angry.
His hand squeezed hers and when Neji left he turned her to face him. She could feel his thumb brushing along her wrist, eyes focused on her.
"You're pregnant." It wasn't a question but Hinata nodded anyway. "How far are you?"
She tried to duck her head but he wouldn't let her, forcing her to keep her eyes on him. "E-eight weeks."
"Hn." He was still showing no emotion but she guessed that he was trying to sort them out. His touch was reassuring, for it meant he had noticed her discomfort and didn't want her to feel that way. "Is it too early to know the gender?" she nodded. "Good, don't tell me if you find out."
"Hm?" the statement confused her. "Really? Why?"
He shook his head. "Just don't tell me." He refused to elaborate so she dropped it.
Even though she already knew the answer, she decided to test the waters. "So you're not...upset?"
Relief filled her when he looked confused. "Why would I be upset? We both agreed we were fine with having children." He shrugged. "It was only a matter of time."
The relief faded at his bland tone. He didn't just sound unconcerned, he wasn't concerned. It was as if she had told him the weather or was talking to him about a meeting. Sasuke honestly didn't care that she was pregnant and she wasn't sure how to feel about that.
She had expected him to be upset, nervous and/or jealous. A more positive side had hoped he would have been elated, since it meant that he was finally going to be rebuilding his clan. Complete indifference had been the last thing she would have guessed concerning a reaction.
Tears stung her eyes but she blinked them back. He was no longer looking at her as he was walking over to his desk, so he missed the way her hands moved over her flat stomach and her expression became downcast. She knew it was hormones speaking, because she knew without a doubt that she loved Sasuke more than anything, but for a brief moment she wished that she hadn't gotten pregnant at all.
Would he even love their child? It pained her that she didn't know the answer.
The moment Hinata had told him that she was pregnant Sasuke's mind had taken a vacation and mentally he was floating around aimlessly, unsure of how to feel or act. At the moment, he felt nothing; because although she had told him the news it didn't feel true.
Besides the continued morning sickness and the other pregnant woman things that seemed never ending, nothing about Hinata had changed. Not really. She didn't look pregnant and so it was difficult for him to register that she was pregnant. The only time he even thought about it was when Hinata would do or say something due to his lack of reaction or emotion concerning the subject.
For some reason she was becoming depressed and he couldn't at all fathom an idea as to why. He could only guess it was a 'pregnancy' thing
"What?" he snapped, looking over at Sakura who had her hands on her hips and a frown on her face. She was also pregnant, although she was farther along than Hinata, much farther along. Hinata was due at a projected end of August to early September while Sakura had maybe four more months to go. They already had a two year old, Kenkai, and this one was supposed to be a girl.
But that really had little to do with the question bouncing around in his head. "Why are you in my office?"
Obviously she was becoming more and more like Tsunade, because she looked at if she wanted to hurl his desk at him. "Hinata-chan has an ultrasound appointment today."
A dark brow twitched. The hell was her problem? "And you're telling me something I already know because...?"
If anything, the look became murderous. If one had asked him years ago if he thought Sakura would ever look at him with anything but love and adoration he would have laughed – not with humor – at something so ridiculous. How the times changed.
"Why aren't you going?"
He blinked at her. "I'm supposed to go?" Hinata had never mentioned it so he had figured it was a girl thing or something. She had been acting rather reclusive towards him lately anyway and while it did upset him, he wasn't really sure what he could do about it.
"Of course you're supposed to go, Sasuke-kun! You're her husband and the father! You're supposed to be giving her support and standing by her side."
Sasuke was beginning to grow irritated, because her tone implied that he hadn't been doing so. He ignored the very strange sensation that moved through him at the title of 'father'. "She didn't tell me I was supposed to be there, how was I supposed to know?"
Green eyed rolled and he bristled at how exasperated she seemed. What, was he supposed to be psychic now? If Hinata had wanted him to go hoping that he'd gain some form of telepathy so that she wouldn't have to ask him then she had set herself up for failure. He was powerful and rather amazing – if he did say so himself – but even telepathy was beyond him.
"I can't believe you, Sasuke-kun. Do you even care that Hinata-chan's pregnant? Because she thinks you don't and her stressing is not good for the baby."
The irritation faded as confusion replaced it. Why would she think he didn't care? It was hard for him to believe that she was pregnant but he did care about the fact that she was. Was that why she was being so reclusive and withdrawn? She could have just asked him, it wasn't as if he would have gotten angry.
Instead of answering he stood, shrugging out of his kage robes. He hated wearing the damn thing anyway. He wasn't going to bicker with Sakura over something that was between him and his wife. Obviously, Hinata had wanted him to come to these doctor appointments and had pulled some sort of weird female thing that women did when they wanted to confuse the hell out of their significant other.
If she had expected him to be sensitive or something close to it, she obviously married him for the wrong reasons. He was about as sensitive as Naruto was intelligent; it just wasn't there. Sakura made it sound like him being there should have been something obvious to him and he just...
Women are so damn confusing. He should have stuck with his guns on never getting involved with a woman ever.
He hated hospitals. Hated them. Sitting down, Sasuke glanced over at his wife who smiled shakily as she lay on the bed. He took her hand although his expression remained neutral. With Sakura in the room he couldn't talk to her about her strange behavior concerning these new abilities she seemed to want him to have but he would the moment the pink haired woman was gone.
"Alright, Hinata-chan, how are you feeling?" lifting up the top of the hospital gown, Sakura began to put some sort of goop on Hinata's stomach. His wife squirmed a little but otherwise didn't complain.
"I'm alright." White eyes flickered over to him warily and he felt a little hurt because Sakura was right, she had thought he hadn't cared. She had been very surprised to see him when he had entered; meaning Sakura had acted on her own because she had been fed up with Hinata being upset.
Why did she always confide in other people concerning their relationship? How was he supposed to know there was a problem if she never said anything? Whatever 'signs' he was supposed to be seeing he obviously wasn't, so why didn't she just come out with it? He'd never hurt her, he loved her too much to even contemplate such a thing, so why didn't she trust him?
"Sasuke?" her hand slid from his and she blinked when he actually moved his head away from her as she reached up to touch his cheek. Thankfully, Sakura didn't see it or she would have pitched a huge fit; but he felt confused and conflicted at Hinata's hurt and confused expression. It didn't happen often, but he seriously wondered if she needed him as much as he needed her. She had family and friends, all he had was her and apparently; she thought he was a cold, uncaring bastard.
"Here we go..." Sakura sounded distracted as she looked at the machine and then briefly over Hinata's stomach as she moved some sort of weird stick thing along; spreading the goop out more. "You guys are going to love this; I was able to get the newer machines that show a 3D picture of the baby..."
When he took in the images on the machine Sasuke's hurt and slight feelings of betrayal quickly faded. He could do nothing but stare at what was undeniably a child inside of his wife's body. Something hot and hard gripped his chest as he looked at the child, their child, his child. It was only then that it hit him.
I'm going to be a father.
All of the emotions that he probably should have felt a few months ago hit him like a swift kick to the gut and it wasn't until Hinata gripped his wrist that he remembered he needed to breathe. He didn't look at her, however, because he could not take his eyes off of what he was seeing. It shouldn't have been possible but there it was, undeniable proof that he, Uchiha Sasuke, was going to become a father. It was such an absurd notion he couldn't even find it amusing.
Panic ripped through him as the sheer magnitude of what was happening really hit home to him. That life, the life he had helped create would be fully dependent on him in just a few months. Eventually the baby would grow into a child that would be able to talk and would want to come to him because he would be that child's world.
Would the baby look like him or Hinata? Black eyes or white? Would he be able to love the child? Would the child love him? He wasn't...exactly a good person and very few people liked him. When they found out the truth, would they condemn him as the others? Would the child become ashamed?
Would he even be a good father? His own father had practically ignored him as a child and love wasn't something Sasuke could fully comprehend. He loved Hinata, but it felt more like an obsession most of the time and it wasn't the same as loving a family member.
He hadn't realized he was standing until he heard Sakura's voice. He looked over to his wife whose eyes were wide with surprise and worry. After a moment of looking at him, though, her expression turned to a warm smile. Knowing that she understood, he decided to let her handle telling Sakura why he was suddenly walking out of the room.
I really hadn't been taking it seriously. The Otokage realized as he sat outside on the walkway of his backyard, staring at nothing. He understood now why Hinata had thought that he hadn't cared; because in a way he truly hadn't. The situation hadn't felt real to him, so no emotional investment had been involved.
Now that he was faced with the reality of the situation he couldn't stop feeling things. He wanted to actually go and find Hinata but he wasn't entirely sure of what he would do or say. He supposed he should apologize, but the Uchiha rarely did that unless he was being sarcastic. She wasn't upset with him, thankfully, but he still felt rather torn and conflicted.
"There you are." He turned as Hinata, dressed in a simple dark grey yukata walked over, sitting down beside him. They sat there for a while in silence before she finally slid over next to him, leaning against his frame. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders he tried to figure out what he wanted to do or say and came up mostly blank.
"It wasn't that I didn't care." Was what eventually came to mind and she flinched beside him, ducking her head. A small hand slid up his chest and he closed his eyes at how good she always felt to him.
"I...I know. Sasuke, I'm so sorry I should have...I mean with everything that's happened with you I should have..."
"It's fine." But it really wasn't and they both knew it. He wasn't normal; he wasn't the 'typical guy'. Socially, he was heavily stunted. Normal things that the 'average' guy should or would know weren't things he could grasp because of the way his life had gone. For a year he had held some semblance of normalcy in his life with his genin team but then he had left and he truly had never interacted with people on such a close level before.
Sasuke had always felt detached from everything until his insanity had consumed him and three years with Hinata wasn't enough, it seemed. Just when he had thought he had finally gotten a hang of being in a real relationship he realized he still knew nothing.
Idly, he watched as his wife moved, taking his hand in hers. Gently, she placed it on her stomach and he stiffened, feeling a little wary and panicky. Warm pearl eyes looked up at him and she smiled. "I love you, Sasuke."
For a moment he was rendered speechless. It was strange, why was it now that he could see and know exactly what she was feeling?
He didn't smile or return the words, but he did pull her close, wrapping his arm around her as his lips moved over hers in a heated kiss. The hand on her stomach did not move.
"Oh!" his wife, who was now almost seven months pregnant, jumped, a hand flying to her stomach as she lay in their bed.
The Otokage had just returned from a long day of meetings, some of which Hinata had been present for. Of course, there was the assigning of missions and other things that kept him at the tower until late hours. He wished he could be around for her and the baby more, but the village wasn't going to run itself.
"What's wrong?" he was drying his hair after taking a much needed shower. The book Hinata had been holding was now at her side and she looked a little uncomfortable.
"Ah...the baby..." she gave him a nervous smile. "The baby is kicking."
"They move in there?" he was slightly embarrassed and annoyed when she had giggled at the honest question; how the hell was he supposed to know these things?
"Would you...like to feel?"
Not really. The thought of that seriously distressed him because really, there was something alive squirming around in there and she wanted him to feel it? Awkward. Of course, he took in the look his wife gave him, that cute look of slight excitement and love and forced himself not to look reluctant as he slid into bed beside her. His hand awkwardly hovered over her stomach as he looked at it and then at her.
Giggling again, she took his hand and moved it to a specific spot over her stomach as she raised her shirt. At first nothing happened, then he felt it. It was as if something was pushing against her skin, trying to burst out. Alarmed, Sasuke snatched his hand away, staring wide eyed as he swear he saw a hand move and what the fuck.
When he got up and practically bolted out the room as if the alien thing would burst from her stomach and attack him, he ignored her laughter because damnit, that just wasn't natural and he really needed to get away from her. That. They weren't supposed to squirm in there and until it or he calmed down he refused to go back in there.
The next day, when Naruto found out about it, he teased Sasuke so badly that the brunette actually seriously attacked and tried to kill him. He was quite displeased with Hinata and Naruto's laughter at the situation after he had calmed down.
And they called him insensitive.
Gods, he couldn't believe he was doing this. He really didn't. His pride as a man was officially going down the toilet and were it not for the fact that Hinata and the baby came before such things he wouldn't be bothering at all.
"Eh? Oh, sup, bastard?" the future Hokage was holding his daughter, Akina, while trying to do some sort of super human movement in a haphazard attempt to multitask. The small bundle was about as red as her hair and was crying profusely.
Maybe this was a bad idea. Actually, he knew it was a bad idea...but there wasn't anyone else who could relate although apparently Tenten was pregnant with their first child. So Neji didn't count, he needed someone with experience.
"I...need..." he grit his teeth, fists clenching at his sides. "Some...advice." he said the word so low Naruto almost hadn't caught it over his crying child.
As if sensing her father's shock, Akina actually stopped crying as Naruto stood there dumbfounded, fully taking in the Otokage. After a moment a huge grin split the blonde's features and he gave his friend a sly look.
"What was that, bastard?" he put a hand to his ear "I didn't quite catch that. You needed something?"
I hate you. "...Yes." The things he did for his family.
Family... it actually gave him a warm feeling. He hadn't thought that possible until now.
"Well, I can't exactly help ya if I don't know what it is. Here." Sasuke was suddenly holding a squirming redhead as Naruto began rummaging around for something. The Uchiha held her awkwardly, feeling highly uncomfortable.
I guess...I better get used to it. Soon he'd be holding his own child. The thought made him very nervous.
"Got it!" More rummaging around and then the blonde was back, gently taking his baby girl who was blinking owlishly at Sasuke. "Thanks. She's kind of a handful and Ken's in his 'terrible twos' and stuff. Thank gods Sakura took the kid to work with her. So sup? If you're here, I'm almost positive it's cuz of Hinata since she's due like, any day."
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Sasuke looked away. "Yeah. Something like that."
He opened his mouth as if he was going to say something in an attempt to tease the Uchiha but thought better of it. The man was clearly stressed out for many, many reasons. Honestly, Naruto was extremely happy for Sasuke, because he was living the life Itachi wanted for him and the blonde genuinely wanted him to be happy. This was his second start, his new family. While Sasuke wasn't going to do it in Konoha, it didn't mean that they couldn't be around each other or have their kids grow up together like Naruto wanted. If Sasuke had a boy, it'd be interesting to see how he and Kenkai would get along.
Maybe they'll be like us. The thought made him chuckle.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothin'." Still smiling, he walked over and set Akina down in a small crib in the living room. This would only be their home for the next three years but it was nice, Sasuke had hooked them up. Or maybe it had been Hinata. Probably Hinata. "You want something to eat? Drink?"
"No." The Uchiha began to look irritated and Naruto resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Guy was so uptight sometimes.
"Well?" This was like pulling teeth and Naruto's patience was even thinner than Sasuke's. "C'mon, watcha want?"
Uncomfortable silence filled the room as the brunette shifted stiffly. "I want..." he made an irritated noise and scowled heavily.
Looked like he was going to have to play the guessing game. Sasuke had too much pride for his own good. "You worried about dropping him?"
He was blinked at. "What?" he shook his head, going back to his uncomfortable expression. "No...well yeah, but that's not really it. And we don't know the gender, we could be having a girl."
Naruto looked thoughtful. "Wanna bet on it?" he grinned "Just a friendly bet. If I win, we get to eat at your guys' house for a week."
"Hell no." No hesitation. "I deal with you enough during the day and Hinata won't be cooking. And before you even open your mouth to utter the words, I'm sure as hell not cooking for you."
"Aw, you're no fun." Shrugging, the blonde tried again. "Okay, so it's not that you're afraid of dropping him...or her." He rolled his eyes "Worried about the delivery? Uh...dealing with Hinata being in labor?"
Shaking his head, he gave Sasuke a sympathetic look. "I can tell ya now, you think you know your wife but you're gonna see a completely different side of her once the pain gets bad enough. It actually...kind of sucks." He frowned "I mean, you love your wife and you wanna be a dad but then you see her all like that and you wonder if it was worth it."
The brunette wasn't sure if he liked that and he was very concerned, but that wasn't all of what he had wanted advice on.
Naruto, being the somewhat overly perceptive individual that he was at random occasions, picked up on it. "Hey? You okay?" humming, his eyes squinted as he tried to figure out what Sasuke could seriously be worried about. He tried to think about the more common things new fathers think about and picked the one that made the most sense. "You worried about being a crappy dad?"
Bingo. Sasuke didn't respond but he didn't have to; the tense posture and slight shift in his eyes was enough. He should have guessed it immediately, the Uchiha had a lot of insecurities that he didn't often show, but they were definitely there.
Since the blonde knew that Sasuke probably wasn't going to say much more he decided to just come out with it. "Well, I mean...if it were easy there'd be like, an instruction manual or something." Naruto shrugged. "There's a crap ton of books out there but to be honest it's kind of different for every dad because it's your kid and they're their own person and you your own person, y'know?" No response, but he knew the brunette was listening.
"Anyway, Hinata's gonna be super tired, so you could take one for the team and take care of the kid by yourself until she can really move around. Changing diapers sucks ass, but she's gonna do it, so you might as well suck it up for a little bit.
"Uh...talk to your kid. I know it sounds stupid because they're a baby but seriously, I read somewhere that stuff helps or something like that. Not that baby crap moms and grandmoms spout, real heart to hearts." He snickered when Sasuke raised a brow at him. "I mean...just do stuff with them. I remember you saying your dad never really paid attention to you or whatever cuz of Itachi. So just...do everything with your kid that you wanted your dad to do and you'll be fine. At least, I think so."
Obviously Sasuke cared; otherwise he wouldn't have sought out the blonde. It really was heartwarming to see his friend like this. Although he had never given up hope on the fallen avenger, even he had held doubts concerning whether or not his old teammate would find true happiness. Sasuke was emotionally and socially retarded on a lot of things but Naruto knew that the Uchiha would be a great father. Hell, he practically worshipped the ground Hinata walked on; gods help the poor bastard if they had a girl.
"Anything else?" He didn't think so and wasn't surprised when Sasuke shook his head.
"No." he sighed, turning his back to his host "Thanks." It was said genuinely, making the blonde grin broadly.
"No prob! Hey –"
Both males turned when they felt the familiar chakra of Hinata's cousin coming at them very quickly. Sharing a confused look with the Uchiha, Naruto walked over and opened the door right as Neji landed in front, his expression grim. Relief was actually visible when he took in the Uchiha.
"You're here. I've been looking for you. Hinata-sama's water has broken and she's at the hospital now. It would appear your child wants to arrive a little earlier than planned."
For a moment the Uchiha just looked at Neji as if he couldn't believe he had even spoken. Color drained from his face before he blinked and shook his head; shaking himself out of whatever fog he had been under.
"I'll grab Akina!" Naruto rushed into the house as Sasuke walked out, his expression its usual blank mask.
The world moved in a blur for Sasuke the moment he stepped into the hospital. He was rushed here and there and he actually allowed people to touch him because he was honestly too out of it to care. If anyone asked him anything Neji was the one who answered because his mind was focused on just what the hell he was going to do when the baby was born.
He felt rather helpless and lost; a lot of it just him in disbelief. Was this...really happening to him? It felt like this was someone else's life because him having a family again after everything was just...surreal. The fact that he had actually created a life was still something he was struggling with because it just...it shouldn't have been possible.
This should be happening and yet it was. Not too long ago his life had been revenge. That goal had become skewed, warped and twisted upon learning the truth about Itachi but it had been revenge all the same. A few years ago, had he and Hinata met under different circumstances, he probably would have tried to kill her. He wouldn't have thought twice about it. Now he was married to her and when the baby was born it would be the start of their family.
Family. A mother, father, child...except this time the roles were reversed and he was the adult. He had no idea how he was going to feel when he looked at their child for the first time.
Our child. My child. I'm going to be a father. Aniki, this was what you wanted, right? You...should be here. We should have been doing this together. You should have had a family. His brother definitely had deserved it more than him. He probably would be doing a better job of it as well. Itachi had always been perfect at anything and everything he put his mind to. He probably wouldn't have been standing around like an idiot trying to come to terms with something that he should have already dealt with months ago.
Someone touched his arm and then the world was moving around him once more as he remained a silent spectator. It wasn't until he actually heard his wife screaming that he snapped out of it, alert and alarmed. His dark eyes took in his surroundings; he was outside of the delivery room. When he looked at the clock he was stunned to realize that twelve hours had actually passed. What had he been doing? He couldn't at all remember.
When he heard Hinata scream again all thoughts not pertaining to her flew out the window. She was in pain; he wasn't going to just stand back and wait.
Steeling himself, he walked in.
His wife was panting, face flushed and body coated with sweat. Hair was matted to her forehead and she looked so unbelievably tired. He had never seen her look so completely worn out and he brushed hair away from her face, his expression blank but his eyes bright with emotion.
Naruto was right; watching one's wife go through something like that was terrible; he never wanted to see her look like that again. He had held her hand and damn her grip had been strong; his hand still hurt. He had tried to give her words of encouragement, going through those lessons the midwife had given them. If she had been grateful, her damning him to various pits of hell and other things she had screamed at him had been a strange way of showing it.
She had been the one who had wanted kids, why was he the bad guy?
Hinata had been able to hold the newborn briefly before they had whisked him away to be cleaned after the father had denied the offer to hold him. His son. How those two words could exist in regards to him was beyond his comprehension.
He didn't say much as they cleaned her and got her to her room for the next few days. Although he had been silent, he had also refused to leave her side for any reason. The nurses told the new parents that the baby would be brought in shortly. He spoke when they were finally alone.
"Hey." She let out a tired laugh and leaned into his touch as he brushed his hand along her forehead to cup her cheek. Hinata did seem genuinely happy and that was a little confusing. Or maybe not; she had been more than ready to have the baby come out around the seventh month.
"I...must look really horrible right now." Her smile was tired and sad as she closed her eyes.
"You look..." his thumb brushed along her cheek "tired." she laughed weakly again and his return smile was thin. "You don't look horrible." He was being completely honest. "You look the way you always look."
"How do I always look?"
He was a little confused when she burst into tears. He had only been telling the truth; there was nothing that would make her ever look 'ugly' or 'horrible' to him. Maybe she was just feeling emotional. Understandable, since she had just given birth to their son.
"What should we name him, Sasuke?" the question brought him out of his thoughts and he shifted to take her hand, looking thoughtful. He hadn't even seen the baby yet, not really. What he had seen had been odd to him, a red squirmy thing wrapped in a blanket that Hinata had looked at as if it was the most beautiful thing she had ever laid her eyes on.
"Do we have to decide right away?" she shook her head and he shrugged in answer to her question. "Did you have any names?"
"U-um... a few. Nothing really special or anything..."
Sasuke resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her. Even now she was acting humble. Weird woman.
"Here he is!" one of the nurses came in wheeling in a crib, a smile on her face. "Haruno-san says she'll be up to see how you three are doing soon."
"Thank you." Hinata said softly and the nurse smiled warmly.
"He's such a sweetie," the nurse giggled "I can already tell he's going to have all the girls after him, he's so cute."
I really hope not. Sasuke thought sourly. He prayed his son would be spared the fangirl brigade.
Curious, he actually moved to peek inside the crib as the nurse tended to Hinata, making sure she was comfortable and checking her vitals.
They had put the boy in some sort of blue onesie and where before he had been squirming around he was now quiet. Dark, squinted eyes were taking in his surroundings and eventually the tiny thing tried to look up at him. He had a head full of dark purple hair and where before his entire body had been red, now only his cheeks were tinted with color; the rest of him was pale.
Slowly, almost fearfully, the father reached in, brushing his fingers against soft skin. The baby made some sort of noise before a tiny hand reached out to lightly grip his. Years later, he still would be unable to classify the emotion he felt at the small gesture, at seeing his son for the first time.
"Would you like to hold him?" the nurse was smiling warmly at him and Sasuke took a step back, hesitating. Understanding, the smile turned reassuring. "I promise, you won't hurt him as long as you hold him right."
A little annoyed at being read so easily, he nodded curtly although he felt highly apprehensive. The baby was so tiny and fragile while he was anything but delicate and gentle.
She had him sit down at the chair beside Hinata and when she moved to position his arms correctly he actually didn't protest; wanting to make sure he didn't do anything wrong. Then she was walking over, the baby wrapped in a blanket, and gently positioned him in Sasuke's arms.
A soft noise came from the bundle and Sasuke watched as his son yawned and blinked up at him, eyes a bit more open now. He squirmed a little but otherwise remained still, his gaze inquisitive. Now the Uchiha understood why Hinata had looked the way she had when she had held him earlier.
Sasuke had no idea how long he sat there, holding the curious newborn in his arms. Eventually, the baby's tiny eyes closed as he let out a few more yawns before falling asleep. He was aware of his wife's eyes on him but he couldn't stop looking at his son. He really couldn't describe what he was feeling at the moment, only that it was something he had never thought he could feel.
He loved Hinata. Like her name, she had brightened his otherwise dark and desolate world. A bright beacon of light that he had been unable to resist. Now that he was no longer deep within the darkness, he found himself not ever wanting to return. Why would he, when he had two bright lights that...
His fingers brushed along the boy's cheek. "Mitsuaki." The name came to him and the moment the word left his lips he knew that it was perfect. "That's his name."
"Autumn light?" she sounded a little surprised and curious, but her tone didn't suggest a preference one way or the other. Instead, she was looking at her husband, taking in the way he gently held their son, the look in his eyes as his finger moved along Mitsuaki's cheek. She tried to blink back tears but eventually the spilled down her face, a smile on her lips.
"It's a beautiful name." she wiped at her face but the tears only kept coming when he actually kissed the sleeping boy's forehead.
"Mitsuaki." The word was whispered. "My son." The Uchiha looked up at his wife and she was graced with one of his very rare warm smiles. "Our son." Then he hesitated, a little unsure of himself. "Hinata..." she stopped him, knowing what he wanted to say.
"I know. You don't have to say it. I know, and he'll know it too. A-and...he'll love you as much as you love him."
Blinking at her for a moment, he shifted his gaze back down. "Hn."
He had thought that Hinata agreeing to be with him would be the happiest moment of his life. It still was; but so was this. Especially this, because her decision, their decision, had led to the birth of their son. Uchiha Mitsuaki.
For the first time, Sasuke was actually thankful Itachi had forced him to return to the land of the living.