A Mothers Touch

Chapter nine

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

― Dr. Suess


"Oh, honey. You look gorgeous!" An optimistic saleswoman beamed.

Hinata stood in front of a 360 degree mirror on a white platform gazing intently at the floor-length black gown that hung on her body. The front of the dress, upon initial glance, seemed simple with no cleavage, but when one turned a full look at an arching back was granted. Hinata knew she would be wearing her hair down, so it didn't matter much what was revealed in the back. In all honesty, the saleswoman had convinced her to wear something unexpected, especially since it was her first event in a long time.

Surrounded by many dresses in the trendy little boutique, Hinata felt a bit lost. She was sure of what style and color she wanted, but nothing seemed to be fitting right in the beginning. A few dresses later and Hinata found the one she was currently wearing. It was comfortable and long. Emphasized a small waist and left room to admire a beautiful neck. Or so the saleswoman said. At that point, Hinata was willing to buy just about anything.

"I'll take it."

The saleswoman, named Kimiko, smiled. "Perfect! I'll ring you up right away. Would you also like to look at our handbags…clutches, perhaps?"

Hinata quirked her bottom lip. She had forgot. "I'd like to see some."

"I'll bring a few out that I know will go with the dress. Just a moment!"

When the saleswoman had left, Hinata shimmied out of the dress, carefully laying it back into the box from which is came. For a moment she stared at her almost naked form in the mirror. Mainly at her stomach, which unlike Hanabi's, was void of any stretch marks or other indications that she had given birth. She peered over at Hayako who snoozed silently in her stroller, sucking her pacifier. Letting out a sigh, Hinata slipped back into her sweater dress and boots.

Her phone began vibrating from inside her purse and Hinata had to dig around for it a bit longer than she should have, a reminder that she needed to clean out her purse. Much to her surprise, it was Itachi. Her heart skipped a beat. Was there some sort of emergency?

"Hello?"

"Hinata. It's me." Itachi's voiced seemed strange on the phone. It had been so long since she had heard it via the phone.

Not wasting any time, Itachi continued. "Have you prepared dinner for tonight?"

Hinata felt her eyes widen. He expected dinner?! "I'm sorry, but no…"

"That's good. I want to speak with you about a matter. Over dinner tonight should be fine."

Relief washed over Hinata like a violent wave. "Hayako as well?"

"If you'd like…but my mother has offered to watch over her."

Hinata felt her mouth slightly come ajar at the thought of Itachi's mother babysitting Hayako. "Y-you told her?!" She ended up taking a seat on the platform in the middle of the plush, white dressing room.

Itachi had paused and Hinata heard him sternly speaking to someone farther away. A door closed and Itachi was back.

"Yes. My father as well."

"H-how did they react? Were they angry?"

There seemed to be a bit of humor in Itachi's voice. "I know you're apprehensive about offending or upsetting them. I assure you. They're okay. If anything, my mother wants to make up for lost time and will shower you and the baby with gifts. I recommend some preparation."

"Even if they were, there is simply nothing they can do. My parents don't control my actions and quite frankly never have. They have let me make my own choices as a child and also as an adult, good and bad, and that includes this one. They both know that I have sound reasoning and for a reason that mainly my mother cannot fathom, I chose not to disclose the fact that I had a family. They won't question my decision, although it may hurt them, but will only assume that it was for the best at the time."

Feeling herself become nervous, Hinata took a deep breath. Itachi always explained things in such a way that gave her sense of security. As if everything would be okay. Yet the nagging sense of impending embarrassment and rejection from his family steadily crept back into her mind like it always did.

"Do you understand my mindset? I decided to tell them before the event because I believe that it would be easier on you. Think of it as a smooth transition. Tomorrow, during the banquet, things should be much more enjoyable for you."

"I…I understand but…what about the rooms? If she wants to take a look? I didn't completely unpack everything like I had thought…there are still a couple boxes with picture frames and miscellaneous things."

At that point, the saleswoman had returned with several clutches and small purses with straps. She looked slightly flushed.

"Ah, Itachi. Can I call you back in a few minutes?"

Hinata heard a pen tap some surface, what she assumed was a desk.

"I'll see you at home. I'll be there early. We can continue to talk then."

"Alright, goodbye."

Hinata snapped her phone shut and gave the saleswoman a polite smile. She probably looked nervous.

"I didn't mean to interrupt, mam! Okay what we have here is a Miyaki exclusive…"

(line insert)

Chills ran up Hinata's body as she set her bare feet on the cold wood floor of the living room. A bumbling, and who she assumed was a new addition to staff, but well-meaning attendant set her boxed dress and other bags by the door, a sheepish look embellishing his round face. Hinata gave him a small smile as she handed a few bills into his hand as tip. Surprised at the amount, the attendant brightened and thanked her loudly before closing the door.

Itachi had beat her home, Hinata noted as she spotted a stack of papers and a thick black binder on the table. He must have brought home work to do since he was leaving early. In all truth, Hinata did think Itachi worked too much. He wrapped himself in his work, which Hinata appreciated. Although his long hours didn't bother her, there was concern present in her mind. Using her own father as an example, Hinata saw first-hand what too much work and stress could do to the mind and body. Slowly his work would consume him to a point where he wouldn't be able to function without it. Hinata hoped Itachi hadn't already reached that point.

"That Shinji…" Itachi commented from the couch in the living room. He lightly shook his head and continued to smoothly type.

Hinata bent to lift Hayako out of her stroller. The bow that Hinata had clipped into her hair was grasped tightly in between Hayako's fingers. The baby started to giggle when Hinata gave her a pout in response to her taking the bow off. Wet with Hayako's saliva, the bow slid out of her fingers when Hinata gently took it away.

"I've been thinking, Itachi." She said as she walked into the kitchen, Hayako propped up on her hip.

"About?" He called.

"For tomorrow night, I need a sitter for Hayako. Sakura offered yesterday. Do you mind if she comes here?"

Hinata heard the smooth flow of key pressing stop. She had his full attention.

"Who is Sakura?"

"Haruno Sakura. I knew her in high school. She's a good friend."

The key typing started up again. "Do you trust her?"

"With Hayako?"

"With Hayako and also here with our valuable possessions."

Hinata mixed baby formula and water, shaking Hayako's bottle. "I figured you might not be comfortable. She did tell me that she had applied for a position in your office, so I'm sure you could pull her personal information and resume."

"Haruno Sakura…" Itachi murmured. He thought for a minute. "No, that's fine. I remember momentarily reading her file and reviewing the background check. She is competent enough."

Hinata entered the living room with Hayako, who sucked contently away at her bottle. She nodded. "I trust her fully." Taking a seat opposite him, Hinata made herself comfortable. Hayako held her bottle in one hand and tightly held a piece of Hinata's long hair in the other.

Itachi promptly closed the laptop and directed his gaze at Hinata. He cleared his throat. "Now about my mother…she also wants to stay the night in the guest room and help you get ready for the anniversary banquet. I told her that you were fine with this, although you would be very nervous." He paused to give Hinata some say.

Her heart sped up, but Hinata nodded and tried to ignore her apprehension. "I am fine with that."

"She also wants to meet your family, but I informed her that there were family issues and that for now it wouldn't be appropriate. My father is indifferent. They both realize what family you come from and don't have any qualms with you. No need to worry."

"Now concerning the room situation, I've constructed a plan that may not be the most comfortable, but considering the short notice seems like the best plan of action. Before my mother arrives this evening, if you would like us to move your belongings temporarily into the master that would take care of any wondering suspicion. Keep Hayako's belongings in the guest, of course. I'll spend the night at the office tonight and be back tomorrow for the banquet."

Hinata lightly frowned. "Y-you don't have to do that. Where would you sleep? I don't mind sharing a room while your mother is here. Also, pictures. We don't have any hanging up."

Itachi crossed one leg over the other. "It was only a suggestion. If asked about pictures, the answer is we just moved and wanted to wait until the baby had reached a point to where she could sit up on her own for some reason or other. That would be now, of course. I've already scheduled a studio shoot with a friend of mine. It's next Sunday. I'm leaving his card on the table if you would like to speak with him about specifics. Wakahisa Deidara."

Hinata made a mental note. "Wakahisa Deidara…" She echoed. The name felt familiar.

"You may have heard of him. He's rather eccentric. You'll meet him tomorrow night, actually. "

Hayako began to cough up milk, sputtering the substance on the rug. Peering down, Hinata quirked a lip. The rug was such a nice royal blue or rather…was a nice royal blue. She glanced up at Itachi who was also looking at the rug with a mixed expression.

Slowly he looked up and met her stare. Hinata bit her lip and lightly shrugged. "Babies." Taking a small towel thrown over her shoulder, she cleaned the rug best she could. Hayako sat beside her, happily drinking away.

"What time is your mother coming again?" Hinata asked as she looked up from the rug. A sudden, cold realization shuddered throughout her mind and her eyes widened with surprise.

"I-I never asked your parent's names!" Her head tilted as she reprimanded herself. "How ridiculous is that?!"

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "Nothing to worry about. Uchiha Fugaku and Mikoto. It simply slipped your mind. She's coming around five, but knowing her, she'll be here fifteen minutes early. Dinner reservations are for five thirty."

It was currently a little past three.

Hinata shook her head at her own stupidity. "Okay…that's fine. I have a couple hours…I'll move my things now." She gave Itachi a sheepish look. "Do you mind watching Hayako for a bit? She becomes fussy in her playpen now."

He wouldn't say no. She knew that. He knew that.

Itachi nodded, but added. "We'll be up there if you should need any help."

True to his word, Itachi stood idly by while holding Hayako. If he was holding back the urge to direct her, Hinata was almost sure that he wanted to. But yet, he stayed for the most part quiet as she moved clothes, shoes, toiletries, and other personal items. He had some space in his closet for her clothes, so that part of the equation worked out nicely. Her shoes weren't a problem, they were placed in his closet as well. Her jewelry case sat on his dresser. When Hinata opened the drawer that revealed lacy things, for a moment she hesitated but then realized that high school was over and with it her tendency to become red cheeked when it came to anything intimate.

"Ah, Itachi?"

He had been wiping Hayako's mouth, as that she had spit up again. No doubt he was more prepared this time around. Itachi looked rather into it, something that Hinata found amusing.

"Hmmm?"

"Where can I put these?"

"Put what exactly?"

Hinata tentatively held up a bra.

"Oh. There's an extra drawer empty in my room. It's the last one." He continued to softly wipe Hayako's face.

Finishing within the hour, Hinata pressed the last of her things into Itachi's drawer. Standing up she caught her figure in the mirror and stared. Not so much thinking about herself, Hinata wondered what Itachi's mother would think? What would she say? Hinata had supposedly been married to her son for a while. She had a child with him. What would a mother say to a woman who was married to her son but neglected to contact her?

An icy feeling washed over Hinata. She shook it off and walked back into Hayako's room, the new nursery. The story would be that they just moved and hadn't decorated yet. This wasn't completely false, Hinata decided. She still would have liked to see the room completed decorated in the pretty pastels and baby animal prints.

Taking no time in showering and throwing on a simple black halter dress, Hinata was ready in no time. Coming downstairs and into the kitchen, she passed Itachi and Hayako in the kitchen. He was putting some kiddie snacks in a bowl.

And then the doorbell rang, echoing. It resonated with Hinata and she threw a panicked glance at Itachi. He gave her a knowing look. Hayako shook his finger with a balled fist, bringing it towards her mouth for happy chewing.

(line insert)

The older woman who stood before Hinata hardly looked past fifty. Uchiha Mikoto had aged well mainly because as a girl she had grown up in Okinawa, adopting and keeping the Okinawan lifestyle as an adult and even up into her older years. She encouraged it with her boys, but Mikoto was never one to be forceful, much like their father.

A soft look adorned Mikoto's face as Hinata quickly bowed with respect. Stepping inside with a certain grace, Mikoto clasped Hinata's hands and gave her a reassuring nod.

"It's so wonderful to meet you!" Hinata managed to get out without a stutter.

"Welcome to the family, Hinata."

"So this is who Itachi has been hiding from us all this time." Mikoto gave her oldest son a stern look. A look that immediately morphed into pure joy as she laid eyes on Hayako. Adjusting her red shawl on her shoulders, Mikoto advanced towards her son and kissed him on the forehead. Turning towards Hinata she smiled with a twinkle in her eyes.

"May I?"

Somewhat taken aback, Hinata blinked in slight confusion. "O-of course!"

Hayako found herself in her grandmother's warm arms and cried not for one moment. Hinata took a step back and watched as Itachi's mother took to her baby with such ease. Black hair cut to the shoulders brushed a red shawl that draped small shoulders. Uchiha Mikoto was as regal as Hinata could have imagined. Hinata immediately saw elegance she had come to admire with age. It was how she would have pictured her own mother. She would have aged beautifully. Hinata was quite sure of that.

"Mother. How have you been?" Itachi asked as he gently handed Hayako to his mother.

Mikoto glanced at her son and gave him a look. Hinata was astounded at the resemblance. Itachi definitely took after his mother.

"I've been handling business for your father. He's been having a hard time with Sasuke especially. The Sunohara branch hasn't recovered yet and you know your brother. Although let's talk of that tomorrow. I've brought gifts for Hayako! They'll be up later, so in the meantime Hinata show me this darling dress."

"Is there anything that I can get for you?" Hinata heard herself asking in a voice not all her own.

Mikoto had taken a seat in the dining room area. Hayako was cradled in her arm, silent and staring intently at this new smiling face. Itachi had escaped to the living room, clicking through stations to settle on financial news. He was soon on his laptop.

"A water would be quite appreciated, dear. You must also show me the dress you intend to wear tomorrow night. In fact there is so much I want to speak to you about! But I know that you have dinner reservations. We'll have plenty to talk about once you get back."

Hinata went to get her mother in law a water bottle and in a flourish of chatter from Mikoto she found herself upstairs in Itachi's room opening the closet door to reveal her dress hanging up. She wondered if Mikoto would find it inappropriate. She wasn't sure how conservative her mother in law was. In fact it all seemed like such a daze.

Hinata knew Mikoto had to be holding in so many questions, yet she spoke away on tangents here and there avoiding the topics of marriage or pregnancy. Above all, Mikoto seemed happiest for her son. As she looked at Hinata's dress, Mikoto happily chatted away.

"What is it you like to do in your spare time?" Mikoto turned to Hinata suddenly. A warm smile brightened her face. "Besides being a mother and dealing with my son." A neatly manicured hand held Hinata's dress by the hem and wise, brown eyes inspected the fabric. Standing beside her, Hinata held Hayako.

Hinata thought back to the days when she would paint and draw. Her father's slight scorn for her hobby was no surprise to Hinata and she quickly ended the interest. With a small smile she said:

"I used to paint and draw."

"Oh, that's wonderful! I'm quite fond of portraits myself. When Itachi was younger, he used to be a collector of Chinese…why, Hinata? Are you okay?" The young woman had suddenly looked very uncomfortable.

"Yes…yes I'm fine. It's just…I can't believe that you've been so kind to me this far. I…I married your son and didn't even meet you. And…and I…" Hinata trailed off as she lifted a hand to cover her quivering bottom lip. "I'm just so sorry!" Hayako pressed a hand to her cheek and pulled.

Sensing sadness, Hayako turned a confused face to her grandmother and pouted.

Mikoto walked over to Hinata, gently took her hand, and settled the three of them on Itachi's bed. She laid a soft hand on Hinata's shoulder.

"I know my son. He has mysterious ways and while I don't understand how he could keep something so joyous away from us until now, I accept it and look forward to the future."

Hinata began to sniffle. "I'm so embarrassed." She attempted a sheepish smile.

"I can tell that it's been weighing on you, dear. Not to worry! Stranger things have happened with this family. Tomorrow we will officially welcome you into the family and you can see that not all Uchihas are entirely like my son."

There was suddenly a knock on the door. A startled Hinata immediately began to wipe her face and stood up.

"Come in, tachi. We were just finishing up."

Yet the svelte figure that waltzed into the master suite wasn't Uchiha Itachi, although they bared a slight resemblance. In walked Itachi's cousin, Uchiha Shisui. In fitting colorful attire that he was known for. The famous Japanese designer never left his home without signature flair.

"Oh Auntie, it is certainly not the distinguished Uchiha Itachi, but you've got the next best thing. And this must be his beautiful wife and child! Keeping this within the family of course, but I'm coming out with my baby line soon and would love to keep modeling within the family. Does mommy like?"

Shisui's asymmetrical cut and dash of blue eyeliner gave him this sort of simple, sophisticated look that seemed effortless. Dressed in all black, a blue scarf was all he used for pop of color. It was more than enough. There was something demure and yet not about Uchiha Shisui. It caused Hinata to smile and accept his air kisses – rather European.

"Nice to meet you…?" Hinata trailed off slowly, giving him a chance to introduce himself.

"Shisui."

"Shisui." Hinata echoed. "This is Hayako."

"She's adorable. And would look fantastic in…" Shisui went on to what seemed to be random ideas and fantasies concerning clothing. Mikoto gave Hinata a look and both women smiled.

The fashion designer turned to his aunt and complimented her on her elegance. Not knowing that his cousin stood behind him a good few inches taller with a disapproving look.

Itachi cleared his throat and folded his arms. "Shisui. We weren't finished."

"Oh, cousin. Once I heard that we were viewing your wife's dress for the event I just had to see what she was wearing. It was a must. Which speaking of, where is the piece?"

Hinata gestured towards the closet. Not taking any time, Shisui went to the closet. After a few minutes and a series of slight sighs from Itachi, it was suggested they give Shisui some time alone and go downstairs.

"That Shisui surely knows how to keep me on my toes." Mikoto commented as she sat on the couch. She placed a soft kiss on Hayako's head.

"The random visits are becoming a nuisance."

"This one wasn't random. I mentioned I was stopping by and invited him. He wanted to meet Hinata and the baby."

Itachi turned to Hinata. "Ready to go?"

Sliding a list on the table for Mikoto, Hinata nodded. "Here's all you need to know."

Mikoto gave her new-found daughter-in-law a knowing smile.

"A mother always knows."