A/N: This is canon divergent - Neji is alive, none of the couples are married with kids yet, etc... Originally posted on AO3. Please enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, and the fic and chapter titles are from Paramore songs.
Tenten cannot stop mumbling obscenities to herself as she cradles the slimy, bloodied creature in one arm, using her free hand to stroke Temari's sandy blonde hair that's damp with sweat.
"I can't believe we did it," she says, once she's composed herself a bit. Her heart is still beating at an overwhelming rate. "I can't believe we fucking did it."
Temari can't even bring herself to open her eyes, she is so weak. Never has anyone seen her this vulnerable, but she needed help, so she knew it had to be Tenten. "We? We didn't do anything! I pushed the fucking baby out!"
"Fair, fair, but you probably would've died in childbirth if not for me," Tenten counters. She removes her hand from Temari's head and holds the baby in both arms. It's asleep - after she pulled it out and cut the umbilical cord, she slapped its behind like she's seen doctors do on television, and it let out a scream, but she was able to coax it back to sleep with relatively little effort. Clearly, it took after its father in that regard. It has the same color hair, too. Tenten thinks that it's unfortunate that Temari's genes didn't shine through more. It has her eyes, though, and those are the best part of her, and it has inherited her brown skin - though, it's not quite as dark, its chestnut-brown skin is the same shade as Tenten's.
Tenten sighs wistfully at the newborn. "And I'm not even a medic. Fuck, little dude. We really did it."
She stands, stealing a quick glance at Temari. Her panting has subsided, and her pained expression has softened, but she doesn't ask to hold the child, which is what usually happens in the movies. Because she is an orphan, and because she was never any good at medical things so she spent no time around hospitals, and because Temari is the first of their friend group to have a child, movies are Tenten's only frame of reference for this sort of thing. She leaves the room, staring down at the baby in her arms. She washes it in the bathroom sink - which she was smart enough to disinfect before she started helping Temari - and wonders if she can look for something to weigh it on. She moves around the house for hours with the baby asleep in her arms.
"Okay kid," she whispers to the baby as she paces around in the living room, the day coming to a close, "let's take a walk around Konoha. I'll show you the sights."
Tenten had a couple of days to prepare for this, because Temari alerted her that she was on her way to Konoha for the sole purpose of having Tenten deliver her baby, so she was able to steal enough from the hospital to survive a week, at least. But she doesn't have a scale, and it seems of the utmost importance to record the baby's weight, but really, she has to go outside to keep herself awake after over twenty-four hours without sleep. She dresses it, wrapping it up in two blankets, and uses one hand to scribble a quick note to Temari before leaving the house. She steps into the summer night, taking in the fresh air. The hospital is not far from her new home, a decision she and Neji made knowing that they would be in and out of it a lot, since they were both newly appointed anbu and both inept when it came to medical jutsu. They are the only two out of their friend group to have become anbu, because they are the only two who have no plans for children - Neji because he wants to wait until Hinata bullies the elders into abolishing the branch system, Tenten because she hates children.
Temari, Tenten realizes, had no plans for children either. Temari tried hiding her pregnancy at first, which wasn't hard because she tried to stay as far away from Konoha as possible once she started showing, but Gaara insisted that she tell Shikamaru. Tenten, of course, was told first. She remembers not expressing the surprise she felt, and promising to keep it a secret. Temari never ended up telling Shikamaru, and Gaara has been so busy with his duties that he hasn't been to Konoha to discover this.
Shikamaru and Temari are an odd couple, to say the least. If Shikamaru had any concerns about Temari's absence in the past six or so months, he hasn't voiced them, at least not to Tenten. He and she aren't that close, but he knows that, second to him, she is closest to Temari out of their group, so he would come to her if he had questions about Temari's whereabouts. Tenten chalks the lack of communication up to Shikamaru being busy with his duties as the advisor to the five Kage but job aside, he and Temari seem to have a resistance to other people knowing how much they love each other. Whatever the case, Temari would have to tell Shikamaru about the baby now, unless she plans on keeping him a secret. That would likely destroy their relationship. Though, even the fact that she hid her pregnancy in the first place is likely to cause irreparable damage.
"What are we going to do with you?" Tenten whispers to the baby asleep in her arms. They've reached the hospital, and she quickly prays that no one she knows is there on this night, either as an employee or a patient. She walks right through the front door, glancing in every direction, trying to spot a glimpse of pink or pale blonde hair. The nurse at reception is occupied with another person, so Tenten slips through without being noticed. She nabs a hospital gown from off a gurney outside a random room and ducks into another one to change into it. She takes her hair out of its signature buns and unwraps her braids, holding the baby all the while. With her dark hair falling down to the middle of her back, no one will notice who she is at first glance. She unravels one of the scrolls that doubles as a bracelet and does a quick sealing jutsu - with one hand, something she mastered after temporarily losing feeling in her left arm for months after the war - to store her clothes in it. She leaves the room with no evidence that she ever entered and follows signs to the maternity ward.
It's relatively quiet. There are a few newborns in the nursery and they are all asleep. Tenten contemplates leaving the baby there just so she can gather things, but she decides against it. If anything happened to the baby, she would kill herself before Temari even got a chance to, so she would carry it around even though it will slow her down.
First, she finds a baby carrier that she can strap onto herself. She puts it on under her gown and secures the baby in it so that she is free to use both hands. She'll have to move slowly, though, as not to wake it up, but it's a fair trade-off. Next, she finds diapers and swipes some of those, sealing them into her scroll. She happens upon a scale and places the baby on it. 3.4 kilograms. Seems fine to her, even though it was born a couple of weeks earlier than expected. After putting it back into the carrier, she looks for milk or formula stored somewhere.
Temari would have to check into a hospital at some point, so they could find out things Tenten couldn't, like its blood type, or if it has any diseases. From what she remembers about learning laws in the academy, the baby would automatically be considered a Konoha citizen because of its paternity - or, would it? As far as she knew, that only matters if the parents are married, which Temari and Shikamaru are not. Still, to avoid any issues, Tenten assumes Temari will try to return to Suna as soon as possible to get the newborn registered as a citizen of her own village. What would Shikamaru do - what would Konoha do? Kakashi is a fine, just leader, but even he could not warrant the baby being raised solely in Suna if there is a possibility that he will develop the Nara clan's shadow techniques. Temari, too, cannot move to Konoha so easily: she is the Kazekage's - her brother's - advisor, after all.
"What are we going to do with you?" Tenten asks the child for the second time that night, as if it will respond.
Once she finds what she needs at the hospital, she slips away just as quickly as she came in. She keeps her hair down to remain unnoticed as she makes the walk back to her small house - which, in actuality, is Neji's house that she gradually moved into. It is away from the Hyuga compound because Neji, disheartened that the elders of the clan decided to keep the branch system following the death of Hiashi - who sacrificed himself to save Neji during the war - decided he would distance himself from the clan until Hinata is made its head. Because his curse seal, given to him by his uncle, was removed when Hiashi died, Neji is able to move freely, despite the protest of the clan elders who believe he should be marked a traitor to the clan, on par with Itachi Uchiha.
"I don't envy you at all," Tenten says to the still sleeping baby, putting her hand on its tiny back protectively, "born to parents that both come from important, powerful families. Even though I didn't have the love of a family...neither did Neji, and look how big his is! And with all the shitty politics, too. I'll take being an orphan any day."
She laughs bitterly and shakes her head. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a legendary kunoichi and she believes she has succeeded: her name was forged into the minds of many when it was learned that she wielded the Basoshen during the war, and the Hokage has recently promoted her to anbu. The idea of living the life of a civilian nauseates her, but she wishes she could've been like Sakura, who has two civilian parents. She imagines that it's hard for them knowing that their daughter is at risk of dying at any day, but Tenten is a selfish woman. She rather have normal parents worrying over her constantly than no parents at all.
"Well," she whispers to the baby, "at least you'll have a doting godmother - me, in case you aren't aware - and two uncles that will love you very dearly."
It stirs, making a quiet cooing noise, as if what she said pleases it, but otherwise remains asleep. If this is any indication, Tenten thinks, it's going to be just like its father. Unless, of course, Temari keeps it away from Konoha, in which case, it might end up spunky like her.
It's after midnight when Tenten unlocks the front door to her house and steps inside. Nothing seems out of place - none of the white furniture in the living room is moved, and though the walls are sparsely decorated with unique weapons Tenten has collected, not a single one has been touched. She slips off her shoes, leaving them by the front door, and heads toward the guest bedroom. Temari is no longer in the blood-soaked bed. The room smells sharply, something Neji will surely notice upon his return from his mission. She'd deal with that later. She leaves the room in search of Temari. Glancing down at the sleeping baby strapped to her chest, she notices for the first time, a trail of blood leading to the bathroom. She really had to figure out how she would clean all of this up before Neji returned.
She walks in, pushing open the door, and freezes in the doorway. She feels she should scream, but no sound comes out - how does one react to something like this? How does an anbu react to something like this?
Temari is lying in the marble bathtub, one arm hanging limp over the side of it. Blood stains the tub, the floor, Neji's expensive bathroom rug. Each wrist is sliced horizontally with a clean slit. A puddle of blood pools on the floor from the wrist that hangs over the edge of the tub.
Ten falls to her knees, one hand firmly on the baby's back. She scoots closer, pulling a towel off its rack, and presses into Temari's wound. The blonde's head turns, barely, slowly, and Tenten catches the faint upturn of the corners of her mouth. Tenten curses her inability to do medical ninjutsu for the second time that night.
Temari mumbles and the words come out slurred, almost like another language. "Sorry, Ten."
A/N: Many things:
1. I got this idea while re-watching Shikamaru and Temari's chunin exam match and remembering how much I used to loooove this ship. Their chemistry was so powerful from the beginning and tbh the only one of the ships that Kishi actually wrote welll...but anyways.
2. I really wanted to explore depression as it relates to childhood trauma (things I deal with myself), and I thought Temari, and Tenten, and Neji, (and just about any Naruto character tbh, these kids are fucked up) would be excellent characters to explore these themes with. I don't know much about postpartum specific depression because I have never been pregnant and I have no plans to ever get pregnant. If you feel that any of the subject matter was handled inappropriately PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know so I can learn from this and better myself.
3. I got information about whether the baby would be a Konoha or Suna citizen from the Narutopedia article about the Shikamaru Hiden light novel, and I got the idea of Hiashi sacrificing himself for Neji from a tweet from Twitter user beefysasuke, so credit to them for that!
4. I'm not sure if that depiction at the end is graphic enough for the warning or not but...please let me know in the comments if I should include it/give this fic a rating.
5. Work title comes from Paramore's "Hate to See Your Heartbreak". I'm not sure I like it. Might change.
WITH ALL THAT SAID (cus I love to talk) I hope you enjoyed this chapter enough to continue on this journey with me!