Hello everyone, BlackRoseDragon13 here! I've finally finished the second and final chapter to Just To Hear Your Voice! I've been procrastinating, trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to write this, and I got it figured out and written up. Now, this is the LAST chapter. No more! XD I'm also trying to figure out a POSSIBLE second chapter for Words of Encouragement, but nothing is guaranteed. Mostly I'm working on additional chapters for things because I'm out of ideas for new fics. If I think of something new, my priorities are to work on new things first, and then do additional chapters if I have time/motivation. Anywho, enough ranting! On with the story XD
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All the characters in this story belong to someone else, namely Masashi Kishimoto. And "The Prayer" belongs to other people, not sure who. Please don't sue. I'm a starving artist with no money XD
The brilliant summer afternoon begins to fade outside the windows of Hinata's penthouse apartment, the heat slowly giving way to the cooler air of a summer evening. Holding her upper arms in her pale slender fingers, Hinata watches the sky turn from a brilliant blue reminiscent of Naruto's eyes to shades of purple, pink, orange and yellow amongst the tall buildings of the city in which she now resides. She loves the silhouette of the tall structures. Her home city never had anything like the skyscrapers here, and scrape the sky they do, reaching into the heavens and allowing humans to feel as though they really can touch the stars.
Sometimes she still can't believe she lives here.
If it wasn't for fate reaching for her hands those four years ago, she may never had gotten the chance to live high above the ground, surrounded by beautiful works of art, furnishings that cost more than her prior rent, and people who find money to be a trifling thing when compared to the work they do to earn it. She now lives among them, money being the last thing on her mind when she gets to work. Most of it anymore goes to charities all across the country with causes she supports. She keeps enough to make her rent and purchase food and pay taxes and a bit on the side for other things, but not nearly as much as others in this city she knows. She isn't one much for glamour, but she does what she must to keep up with those around her and keep her image up for her fans.
Not that she doesn't have fun. She loves to go shopping and just tour the city when she isn't working on new lyrics and melodies. She has a few friends here that she goes out to lunch with every once in a while, and numerous boys are always trying to get on her good side. She adores her work, putting on concerts and making albums and meeting fans and talking on TV. It finally forced her to lose her stutter and gain a little confidence. She does get a little tired sometimes, but overall she truly loves what she does and appreciates every moment, glad for the opportunity to shine. Being a singer is her dream come true.
Every once in a while, she feels the urge to go home and see what's going on in her hometown. Sometimes she wants to go Sakura's cafe and have a cinnamon bun like she used to for an occasional treat. She misses seeing Ino every workday and listening to her stories. She even misses Anko. And she hasn't had the opportunity to see her cousin and his wife in months. Last thing she heard was that Tenten is now pregnant, about four months along by now. I'm a terrible aunt, and a terrible friend, Hinata pouts. One of these days I should just take a week off and go see everyone.
Sitting down on a small loveseat, she braces her chin in her hand, leaning on the arm of the couch and sighing deeply. Sometimes being famous isn't all it's cracked up to be. It seems like just yesterday Neji proposed to her, and now they're starting a family. Smiling, she lets her mind go back to the day.
"Are you sure I look presentable? I don't want her to think I just threw this on..."
"Neji, p-please. You look great. Besides, I'm sure she doesn't mind. All that matters is what you're going to say."
"Yes, I have it memorized...I just hope I don't fold under pressure. I'd rather go to trial right this moment than do this..."
"Oh, don't say that. You're going to do fine. Now, g-go out there and ask the girl you love to marry you." Smiling brightly at her cousin, she pushes him gently toward the belly of the small cafe where Tenten has yet to arrive. She remains hidden in the small hallway that leads to the bathrooms and back exit. From behind the counter, Sakura gives both Hyuuga a thumbs up and a smile. She's in on the scheme. Ino sits with Sai at a table, waiting for the moment Tenten walks in. Naruto and Sasuke are across the room, along with Shikamaru and Temari. Hinata waits until Neji sits at his table to go sit with Ino and her boyfriend. "I'm so excited!" she whispers, grinning like a fool. She picked their table so she could keep an eye on Tenten's most-likely path.
"Yeah, me too," Ino says, giving Hinata a sly look. "But judging by the worrying and fussing you're doing, I think you're more excited than Neji! He looks so stoic over there."
"N-no I'm not," Hinata retorts. "And he always looks like that. He's just nervous. He's been so worried about getting this just right."
"I am quite certain he will do well," Sai reassures, sounding slightly cryptic as always with his well-articulated speech. "Neji is one you can count on to be composed no matter what. That is why he will make a splendid lawyer once he actually manages to finish college."
Smacking him on the arm, Ino hisses, "Don't go there! His classes were full, and he had to wait. It has nothing to do with him."
Sai gives a smile. "I was joking, Ino."
Pouting, the blonde murmurs, "With you, it's hard to tell..."
"Here she comes!" Hinata squeals out to the cafe. "Everyone act normal!"
A dull buzz of forced conversation breaks out into the room, people looking anywhere but at the door or at Neji. Sparing a glance at her cousin, Hinata sees him swallow a lump in his throat as Tenten opens the door. She's wearing a yellow sundress, her hair down around her shoulders and white flip flops on her feet on the warm autumn day. Glancing around, she gets a suspicious look on her face as she sits across from her boyfriend. "Neji, what's going on? It seems like everyone's here today."
Neji, his face now totally relaxed, replies, "Well, it's a nice October Saturday. Most people like to go out on days like this."
"Huh. Well, why are you dressed up so much? You look silly!"
A small blush conquers the bridge of Neji's nose. Hinata had been a little skeptical about the full brown suit Neji insisted on wearing, and now she could playfully tease him later. "Well, today is a special day. It has been exactly two years, three months and four days since the two of us began dating. I thought it was worth celebrating."
Giggling, Tenten admits, "Okay...but is it really a tux kind of celebration? You could have gone with a nice shirt and tie."
Looking a bit disgruntled, Neji mutters back, "I wanted to wear the suit..."
"Okay, okay...so, what are we getting?"
"I've already let Sakura know what we'll be having. She should have it ready any time."
Right on cue, Sakura comes out from behind the counter with a tray. On one side is a plate with Neji's favorite dish – herring soba – and the other is a small platter with a lid. Tenten's brow creases in confusion. "Where are my sesame dumplings? They're my favorite!"
"I have a feeling you'll like this better," Neji says, smiling across the table.
Giving the man a skeptical look, Tenten waits for Sakura to place the platter in front of her. "Here you go Tenten...enjoy!" Sakura walks quickly to the counter and places the serving tray on it, spinning around as not to miss anything.
"This better not be some kind of joke, Neji. If this is plums like last time..."
"Just open it," Neji laughs. "You're driving me mad."
Heaving a sigh, Tenten lifts the lid and places it to the side. Once she makes sure it isn't going to crash to the floor, she looks back at her plate. Then she blinks once, twice. "Uh..."
During her pause, Neji slides smoothy from his chair to the floor beside his girlfriend. Stealing her hand and the small box on the platter, Neji opens it to reveal a beautiful gold and diamond ring. "Tenten, you have touched my life like no one else. I never thought I would find someone who is as caring, beautiful, fun, and wonderful as you. But you proved me wrong. For the last two years, three months and four days you have made my life all the better. You chase away rainclouds and bring sunlight into my life. I love you more than anything on this earth. Now, I have one thing to ask of you..." Sliding the ring onto her slender finger, he asks, "Will you marry me?"
Tears swim on the brink of Tenten's eyelids, threatening to spill over onto her cheeks. "So...that's why I don't get any dumplings..." she jokes with a small laugh, wiping at her eyes. "Neji, I...I...yes. Yes yes YES!" Regaining control of her brain, she launches off the chair to tackle the Hyuuga man to the ground, planting kisses all over his face. All around their friends clap and whistle, glad that two of them are finally tying the knot.
Hinata wipes at her eyes, clapping between sniffles and hiccups. I'm so happy for you, Neji...
Still staring at the window, Hinata smiles brightly at the memory. Tenten is a wonderful girl and the perfect match for cousin. She is fun and spontaneous to make up for his usually-stoic and well-structured attitude. The wedding was a wonderful affair filled with laughs, friends, and the love between the pair. Hinata has been to a few weddings, but she has yet to enjoy one as much as her cousin's. And a child is just the thing they need, Hinata thinks with a smile. Neji needs to bond with a child and relearn what innocence is like. Neji was forced to grow up quickly and missed out on many of the joys of childhood. Hinata is sure that watching his own child grow up would be a wonderful thing for Neji to witness.
The thoughts of children brings another person from her past to the forefront of Hinata's mind: Anko. Just before she left, her boss gave birth to twin girls, much to her husband Kakashi's shock. They were quite a handful last time she visited, but definitely a pair of angels.
Turning, the Hyuuga girl sees her boss waddling toward her, her overlarge belly entering each room before the rest of her. The doctors have confirmed the presence of two children in Anko's womb. But at her insistence, they have kept the genders a mystery to her and her husband. So, for another two weeks, Anko is scheduled to keep waddling. "Yes ma'am?"
"I thought you were supposed to go home an hour ago?" the dark-haired woman says with a frown. "Where the hell is Lee? Doesn't he have the next shift?"
"He had an emergency with a f-friend of the family," Hinata explains, having gotten the call from her fellow employee a half an hour before her shift was supposed to end. "He h-had to go. It's no trouble really. I didn't have anything planned, so it worked out fine."
Frowning deeper, the ever-hormonal older woman still muttered, "Well, the next time I see him, he's getting one hell of a surprise."
"Anko, please don't," Hinata insists. "I really don't mind, and it's important to him. D-don't do anything to Lee – he's such a sweet boy. Please let it go, just this once?"
Giving her employee a stern look, Anko relents, "Oh, all right. But he better call me next time. You make sure he knows that."
Smiling at her boss's true nature – she puts up a tough front, but is really sweet when it comes down to it – Hinata says, "Thanks Anko. I will."
Leaning on the checkout stand next from Hinata's with a sigh, Anko rubs her belly tenderly. "Next thing you know, people will be saying I've gone soft."
"Oh no," Hinata assures her. "I w-wouldn't worry about your reputation, Anko. Everyone knows not to mess with you!"
"Heh." Grinning widely, Anko spins the subject. "Yeah, I guess. So Hinata, when're you gonna settle down? What about that man that comes and visits you sometimes? I thought the two of you would be married by now!"
Blushing heavily, Hinata sputters, "B-b-but we've only known each other a f-few weeks! I mean, sure, I l-like him a lot, but m-m-marriage?"
Anko laughs loudly, startling several customers a few check out counters down. "Oh Hinata, you know I'm just messing with you! But it's about time you started thinking beyond this check out counter, you know? You're a great person, and I love having you work here, but gosh, girl...you have so much potential! You're pretty and smart and plenty kind. You're in your prime! You need to have a man and a couple of kids hanging off of you." Giving the girl a grin, Anko adds, "Heck, maybe I'll just give you one of mine. Lord knows I'd have more than enough trouble with one!"
Still rather frazzled at her boss's teasing, Hinata mutters, "Maybe...I just haven't thought that far, you know? It just seems like I'm not ready for that y-yet..."
"Well, when the time comes, you'll know." Giving her favorite employee a genuine smile, Anko pushes herself off the counter. "Anyway, I better get back to my office. I've got a few statements that I need...to..." Suddenly, Anko stops mid-sentence, eyes going wide. "Uh..."
"Anko?" Worried, Hinata furrows her brow as she asks, "Are you alright?"
Blinking a few times, Anko hesitates before saying, "Hinata, honey...get my husband on the phone."
"My water just broke."
Shocked, Hinata gapes at the older woman for a moment before grabbing the phone from next to her register. Scanning the list of emergency numbers kept at every counter, she connects to Kakashi's cell phone. "H-hello? Kakashi? This is Hinata, I work for Anko. You n-need to get down here right away. Her water broke."
On the other end, Kakashi gives a heavy sigh, sounding almost bored. "Alright. I'll meet you at the hospital. Call an ambulance and have them pick her up. I'm too far out."
Nodding even though he can't see the gesture, Hinata thanks the man and presses the phone down for a moment before calling 911 and telling the woman on the other end just what's going on. She then slams the phone down and directs Anko to a bench by the door, ignoring all the staring customers. "Here, sit down until the ambulance gets here."
"Thank you, Hinata," Anko says, easing down onto the bench while taking deep breaths. "Can you clear that lot out of here? It's bad enough my water's broke without having half the city staring."
Apologizing, Hinata gestures to the gather crowd. "P-please just continue as usual! There's n-nothing to see here! Go on!" Once the group begins to disperse, Hinata points to another employee named Shikamaru. "You! Get control of them and keep things running while we're gone!"
"Yeah, yeah, no problem," the man says, rubbing his neck with a bored expression on his face. "Sure...even if it'll be troublesome."
"Thank you!" Taking a deep breath, Hinata turns to see the ambulance pull into the parking lot. "Okay, they're here. Kakashi said he will m-meet you at the hospital when he can. Do you want me to stay here, or...?"
"Thanks, Hinata. Um...if it wouldn't be too much trouble, I'd like a familiar face with me." Despite her usually-tough demeanor, Anko looks a bit unnerved. "This is all a bit new to me."
"Of course." Watching the paramedics gather her employer into the large vehicle, Hinata prepares for a long evening.
Several hours, countless screams, and many worried glances at the door later – less than half of which Kakashi is actually present for – Hinata finally receives word that both twins have arrived safely. The girl actually laughs when Kakashi literally faints at the word that both children are indeed little girls. As soon as she is able, she joins Anko in the delivery room.
The woman looks exhausted, but also aglow with the pure, untainted happiness of a new mother. Tucked under each arm is a baby girl, sleeping peacefully now that the ordeal of their birth is over.
"Oh," Hinata whispers in awe. "They're beautiful, Anko..."
Smiling tiredly, the woman replies, "Aren't they?" She looks down lovingly at both babies. "As soon as that silly husband of mine wakes up, we'll decide what to name them. He was so hoping for a pair of boys...I can't believe he actually fainted."
Hinata giggles lightly. "What are you thinking of calling them?"
Anko looks down at both girls again, a thoughtful expression on her face. "Well, it's a tradition in my family that all girls have names that start with 'A', but I don't know if Kakashi will want to do something different. Though I'd like to call them Ayumi and Azumi. Ones that sound similar, you know?"
"I like them," Hinata replies, smiling at the nearer child.
"Thanks." With that, the woman gives a wide yawn. "I guess that's the signal I should try to sleep. Maybe by the time I wake up, that pervy man I call a husband will decide to wake up too."
Two nurses come forward to take both babies to the nursery as Hinata giggles again. "Well, congratulations, Anko."
Turning to leave, Hinata pauses when Anko calls her back. "Yes?"
"I mean it," the older woman says, a dead-serious look on her face. "Thank you. For everything you did today. I...I really appreciate it."
Smiling, Hinata replies, "Of course. I was h-happy to be here." Nodding farewell, Hinata makes her way out of the hospital, taking a short bus ride home.
Hinata was amazed to hear from Anko several days later, asking her to be the girls' godmother. As a result of her accompanying the older woman through the whole ordeal, Hinata soon learned that Anko did not have many close friends because of her defensive, callous nature, and was truly touched at how dedicated Hinata was. Over the next few months until Hinata left, the two really became close friends, with Hinata babysitting quite often for the new mother. She doesn't hesitate to say she misses the twins, who turned out to be named Ayumi and Azumi as their mother wanted.
When she surfaces from the memory, Hinata starts a bit when she realizes that the evening is starting to slip away. Glancing at a clock, she sees that she has half an hour to get ready. So many events...so little time. As a successful musical artist, she often attends social events and charity affairs to help connect with fans and also give back what she earns. A good share of her income is put to good use in charities, and she makes routine appearances as the galas put on for each one she supports. Leaving the couch, she disappears into the bathroom to put on a bit of makeup – she's never been all that excited for the powders and paints – and change into her gown.
Ino is so much better at all of this than I am...I should invite her to one of these parties sometime. At the thought of her best friend, Hinata's face saddens a bit. I wonder how she's been faring these last few months...she hasn't been calling like usual...ever since...
One morning before the sun had risen, Hinata had gotten a sob-stained phone call from the blonde. After taking several minutes to get her speaking English again, Hinata got the news that Sai had suddenly broken off their relationship with no hint at an explanation. The Hyuuga girl has spent hours counseling her friend, including the expected threats to the boy's well-being and promises of chocolate and movies when she arrived. But eventually Ino told her none of it was necessary, giving a half-hearted goodbye before hanging up the phone. Since then, Hinata had only managed to get her friend on the phone a few times, and only for a few depressed sentences before the blonde insisted she had to go.
Slipping an earring through one earlobe, Hinata lets a sigh escape her lips. It seems as though everyone's lives are changing, not just hers. She keeps in touch with people as best she can, but everyone has their separate existences, and some things slip by unnoticed. Hinata can handle the small changes, because she knows that life is constantly shifting, but there is still one thing in her life she's having trouble coming to terms with.
He'd introduced her to a recording artist in the area, who had hooked her up with an agent. Over the several months that followed, he'd kept in contact as her career progressed rapidly, from local radio to live performances around the city to making it to the bigger cities on the coast. But once she hit the big times, her favorite raven-haired man simply disappeared. His home phone line disconnected, his blog remained empty of updates, and it seemed as though he'd just cut himself out of the picture that was her life.
She still checks the blog every day, leaving the occasional comment asking where he is, but no one ever answers. For the last year or so, she has been the only one accessing the forgotten website, pining for a word, any word, from the man she finally admits to herself she's fallen in love with.
Finishing her getup, Hinata grabs an elaborate mask complete with feathers, sequins, and glitter, all lilac in color. The gala tonight is a masquerade theme, and she is hardly one to skip out. Slipping on her shoes, she heads for the door, locking it behind her and putting her keys in her small amethyst-colored clutch. With the click of her heels echoing behind her, she makes her way down to the street where her chauffeur picks her up in the sleek black limo she's ridden in countless times since her arrival in the city.
"So, another charity ball, eh?" her driver, Kankuro, asks. He can be a bit racy sometimes, but he always tries to keep up conversation as he tours her around the city.
"Yes, this time it's the children's cancer charity," Hinata replies. "Masquerade theme."
"That ought to be fun."
"Yes..." Letting her mind wander, Hinata looks out the window, watching the lights fly by.
"No date tonight?"
Hinata smiles. "No, no date. You know better than that, Kankuro...I never take a date."
"You should. It's never any fun to be alone. One of these days, you ought to let a guy take you out somewhere, start dating."
"Oh, I couldn't do that..." Seeing Itachi in her mind, she adds quietly, "he might come back..."
Kankuro looks in the mirror sadly at her. He doesn't know about Itachi, but he can tell she misses someone. "Sorry...shoulda kept my mouth shut."
"No! No, it's not you." Giving him a smile in the mirror, she says, "Thanks for thinking of me."
"It's my job," he replies with a wink, pulling into the line of cars waiting to drop off their charges.
Rolling her eyes, Hinata puts her mask over her face.
By the time she makes it onto the carpeted walk, Hinata is blinded by photographers, lights so bright she can't see the now-dark sky. Smiling and waving like she's been groomed to, she slowly makes her way to the door, passing people she knows and people she doesn't.
Inside, she takes a deep breath. She hates photographers. Within the brightly-lit building, she can blend into the masses, make her appearance and do all the things expected of her tonight. Rub elbows with other philanthropists, be introduced to people she doesn't know and will likely forget by the time she gets home, and try to find her place in the hierarchy of celebrities.
For hours she sips glasses of champagne, listening to the music while slipping little finger foods between her painted lips. She gets compliments on her deep purple dress, her elaborate mask, and the number on the check she wrote for the charity. Blushing beneath the sequined plastic, she answers questions and makes polite inquiries of her own.
"So, when is that new album of yours going to make its way on the shelves?" a masked, portly man asks with a chuckle. His mask, ironically, sports beady eye holes and a pig's snout.
Trying not to giggle, Hinata replies, "Well, I'm wrapping up it soon. I have a recording session scheduled for next week to get the final track done. I can't legally say when it will be released, but...it will be soon."
"What charity will this album pay for?" a reedy woman asks, bobbing her head much like the bird her mask depicts. "It seems like practically all your money ends up going to anyone but you!"
A smile tugs on Hinata's lips. The crowd around her is swelling a bit as they await her answer. People in masks, faces hidden, but eyes still gleaming from within. "Well...as I've said before, and will undoubtedly say again, I come from a mixed background. My father is well-off, of course...but I worked hard once my title of heir was denounced, and I know what it's like to work for something. I'm blessed to be where I am now. And I know how to make a living on less that what I earn now. So I find no pain in sharing the money I don't need."
The woman shifts slightly, offering no further argument.
"Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find the restroom." Breaking away from the group with a nod, Hinata makes her escape. She hates it when people question her choices to donate. It's the people who are selfish while acting generous that make her sick.
Turning, she sees another mask. Some kind of animal peers at her from above a crisp black tuxedo, though she can't for her life determine just what it's supposed to be. "Yes?"
"I couldn't help but hear your speech back there, and I must tell you...I find it heartening to hear that true philanthropy still exists."
Pausing, Hinata tilts her head slightly. "Thank you."
"And I was wondering," the man continues, holding out a hand, "if you would honor me with a dance."
Hinata stares at the offered glove as though she's never seen one before. Despite the music in the air, no one is dancing. "Um..."
With her own lilac orbs, Hinata tries to see the eyes behind the stranger's mask, but she comes up empty-handed. "Well...okay."
Stepping into the proper stance, the man begins leading her with practiced ease, gliding around the small open space around them. Slowly, those around them catch on, staring.
Embarrassed, Hinata bows her head slightly.
"There's no need to hide," the man murmurs. "You are an exquisite dancer."
"My father had me learn," Hinata replies automatically. "All Hyuuga are expected to be graceful and poised at all times."
"You certainly carry the title well."
After several moments of silence, Hinata asks, "Who are you?"
"Just another son of another tycoon," the man answers evasively. "We are a dime a dozen."
"Well, you are certainly unlike the few I've had the...pleasure of meeting," Hinata replies. "Is there a name to go with you, or are your kind simply numbered given how commonplace you are?"
She can't see it, but Hinata knows he is smiling. "Perhaps if you're lucky, my name might slip out sometime tonight. That is...if you would indulge my company?"
"Better yours than the crowd I was with before."
With that, Hinata lets him twirl her around for several minutes until the song fades beneath the hum of conversation.
"Thank you," she says honestly. "I haven't danced in quite a while."
"It was my pleasure." With a bow, he kisses her hand, making her blush. "Tell me, how much longer do you plan to stay?"
Glancing around, Hinata sees that the crowds are slowly thinning. "Not much longer, I guess." She feels almost...sad. "Was I able to earn your name? I'd love to see you again."
The man pauses, staring at her. "...almost. Could I have to honor of taking you for a stroll? The summer nights are lovely...if you can escape the camera flashes."
Hinata feels her interest perk. "Do you know where to hide?"
"Even better. I know where the back door is."
A thought strikes Hinata. "One of these days, you ought to let a guy take you out somewhere, start dating." Smiling, Hinata lets him lead her against the tide of fleeing celebrities. She feels giddy, going against protocol and sneaking about, trusting a man she barely knows. It reminds her of singing in a stranger's apartment several years ago. Pushing Itachi from her mind, she lets the man slip her through the door.
Behind the convention center, the door opens to reveal a back street, across from which is a park. Making sure the coast is clear, the pair jog across the street to hide in the darkness of the trees and grass. Once clear of the street, the man takes her arm, leading her slowly down the path.
"So," Hinata begins. "Any names yet?"
"Try guessing first."
"Oh, I'm no good at that..." she admits. "Besides, I thought you said I'd almost earned it? I think letting you lead me here warrants an answer...don't you?"
Her acquaintance slows to a stop. "One last thing."
Rolling her eyes behind her mask, Hinata relents. "Fine."
"Sing for me."
Her face grows hot beneath the plastic. "H-here?" She accidentally stutters, something she hasn't done since she left home. Her agent had practically beaten the habit out of her. "B-but..."
"Everyone is on the other side of the convention building," he coaxes. "You don't have to belt anything out. Just a few lines. No one will hear but me."
Suddenly very nervous, Hinata shifts slightly. "Oh...alright. I suppose I could...
"I pray you'll be our eyes...and watch us where we go...
And help us to be wise...in times when we don't know...
Let this be our prayer...when we lose our way...
Lead us to a place...guide us with your grace...
To a place where we'll safe..."
Blushing hotly, Hinata removes her mask to fan herself. "H-happy?"
The man doesn't move, just staring at her. "Very. Thank you."
"Well? What about you?" Hinata smiles at him, insides trembling with nerves and lingering excitement. "Just who are you?"
Slowly, with pale, slender fingers, the man reaches for his mask. Removing it, he lifts his face into the lights not from the moon or stars, but the city around them. With bottomless black eyes, he locks gazes with Hinata.
Her mask falls to the ground as her grip loosens with shock.
A warm smile break across his face. "Yes...it's me."
Tears coat Hinata's cheeks. "But...I thought...you've been..."
Kneeling in front of her, Itachi takes her hands in his. "I know that you have all the reason in the world to be angry with me. I've been...stupid. But there has been much going on in my life, much of which called for drastic change.
"I'm much like you, Hinata. My father is a businessman, that 'tycoon' I referred to earlier. But both my brother and I agreed that we didn't want to run his business, so when I moved to your home city to get away, Sasuke came with me, and we lived there for several years away from our father and his company.
"However, he has been ill the last few years, and he begged that I take over for him. And after living on my own for a while, I realized that I have a responsibility to my father. So, I agreed to run it until either he recovers...or he passes away. Then, I will pass it to my cousin, Shisui. He wants it more than I do...so we will all end up happy.
"So, I apologize for my lack of contact. I've been so busy these last few years...I wanted desperately to get back in contact with you, but...well, it just hasn't happened. But when I heard you were attending tonight's gala, I had to speak to you. I know that what we had before you left was...incomplete. But...I want you to know...that I truly care about you. I..." He swallows thickly. "I really do love you. And I hope you can forgive my silence and foolishness, and allow me to continue pursuing you."
Speechless, Hinata just stares into Itachi's inky eyes. In them, she sees sorrow, regret...but more than that, love. Breaking into a watery smile, she launches forward. "Of course you can pursue me, silly...I love you too." Wrapping her arms around his neck, she holds him against her.
Clutching her tightly, Itachi stands, twirling her. "Thank you, Hinata...I promise I will make up for lost time." Setting her down, he looks down into her pale lilac eyes, gaze intense. Without hesitation, he captures her lips.
She responds with vigor.
Only once they break apart, does Itachi murmur against her forehead, "I would do anything just to hear your voice...my angel...I love you..."
One Year Later
"You may now...kiss the bride."
Applause erupts as two lovers embrace, capturing each others' lips. In the crowd sit several familiar faces to both. An old employer with two twin girls and a husband, a cousin with his family – a young boy and another on the way. A blonde friend back with the man she loves, a brother with his own bride expecting their first child. All look on as the pair run back down the aisle. Both are smiling wide, making their way to the limo that will carry them to their reception, driven by the new bride's faithful chauffeur. The love in their gazes is boundless, the songs in their hearts singing loud, now joined in a duet, each melody complete now that they are combined – the music that brought them together will hold them together...forever.
*Wipes tears* Wow...it's about time I finished that! I know, you are all probably very mad at me because it took so long...but hey, at least now it is done! This is the conclusion for "Just to Hear Your Voice". I like the way it turned out, personally ^^ I just hope you all like it as well! Please, let me know what you thought and drop me a review. It really makes my day to hear from you guys :) Again, apologies for the delay...but I couldn't force this story, because that would ruin it, and it just flowed today, which is the way it should be ^^ Thanks again for reading, and bonus thanks for reviews ;) Luvz to you all!