Today was probably one of the most depressing days of her life.
In Konoha's hours of dusk, Hinata walked down the street with her shoulder slumped and steps stilted.
Hanabi was on a trip with her father and she hasn't seen them in almost a week. She was really starting to miss them. Shino, Kiba and Neji were deployed on different missions and she heard that none of them would come home until three more days, which made her worry her head off about her boys. Why was the mission taking three more days? Were they okay? Was one of them hurt? And what's worst, the bakery selling her favourite cinnamon buns took a summer-long break. That meant there were no melting of sugar in her mouth, the sweet cinnamon scent wafting to her nose, the sinking of her teeth into these buns for her for three whole months.
Today was definitely one of the most depressing days of Hinata's life. It definitely could get any worse.
Or so Hinata thought.
Wading through the city, she passed by a dimly lit restaurant window that made her stop suddenly. She traced her steps and rubbed her eyes. What she saw struck her speechless and hurt.
Seated near the back of the restaurant were two figures, leaning in to each other as if sharing the most delectable secrets known to man kind. Then one of them tilted their head back to laugh and her pink hair flashed at her. It was Sakura and across from her, the man dressed in black and orange, was none other than Naruto. Sakura had finally said yes to a date.
Hinata wanted to die. She wanted the ground to suck her up and take her as furtherest away from them as possible. No, she wanted the ground to suck them up and break them apart because they were definitely too close to each other. If she were Ino, she would march in there and rip Sakura out of her seat. If she were Tenten, she would go in there and castrate Naruto for forgetting about her confession. If she were Sakura she would punch the whole restaurant into oblivion, starting with that orange wearing blond.
But she was only Hinata and thus she did none of these things. She only slumped into her coat and wished she had the courage to do those things.
Hinata was so preoccupied by the sight of them that she did not notice someone had walked up beside her. She fought the urge to jump when she heard his voice.
"So you noticed them too?"
Turning her head, she had to rub her eyes again to make sure that it was not deceiving her. It was Uchiha Sasuke.
His red eyes were fixed on the couple sitting in the restaurant. One corner of his lips lifted into a smirk before he muttered, "Two can play at that game."
Without any warning, Sasuke gently caught her hand in his and pulled her into the restaurant. Hinata didn't expect anything like that and one foot tripped over the other and she practically fell behind him. One thing she did, however, was save herself from falling onto the ground and getting carpet burn. Expensive carpet burn by the looks of it. The maitre-d didn't even blink at her ungraceful entry, Sasuke looking cool and composed beside her, and asked to confirm their seats.
"Table for two, please," Sasuke requested. "Preferably towards the back."
"Will do, sir. Please follow me to your seats."
As they walked through the restaurant, Hinata felt a little conscious of herself. Although the restaurant was dimly lit, she couldn't help to think that people were looking at her purple coat and disapproving her fashion choices. Especially beside someone who was as naturally attractive as Sasuke.
Which reminded her as to why she was here in this predicament in the first place. "Sasuke-san, why are we here?"
Sasuke ignored her request and they both kept walking to their seats. The maitre-d gave them a booth where the seats was just one big curved, high back, cushioned sofa. With a seat as big as this, she only had to scoot around the table to be seated beside Sasuke. From their seating spot, they had a good view of the hustling and bustling restaurant and its people.
She tried her question again. "Sasuke-san..."
"Sakura and I had a fight," Sasuke stated, his eyes scanning the room for their targets.
Hinata had to stop both of her eyebrows from shooting off of her face. "I wasn't aware that you and Sakura-san were together."
His eyes shifted on to her. "That's what we were fighting about," he drawled.
Ever since coming back to Konoha, Sasuke has put a valiant, although reluctant at first, effort to try redeeming himself, not only with the villages, but with his friends or rather ex friends. Still, other than Naruto, be it a cold, silent glare or a brush off, Sasuke has managed to kept everyone else at arms length to him, even Sakura. This must be Sakura's stand to Sasuke about their relationship that seemed to become more complicated with every breath.
It was when she saw his eyes slit slightly that she pinpoint the reason Sakura was in the restaurant. Her whisper was as much confirmation of the reason to herself than it was to him.
"She's trying to make you jealous."
Sasuke glared at her slightly but her lips twitched on its own accord. And Sasuke was jealous all right. Having lived with someone as reserved and dignified as Neji, she could point out the tiny subtle signs of human emotion and she could definitely tell that inside, Sasuke was secretly seething at seeing Sakura and Naruto together. Which made her brighten up slightly as that meant she had a company in her misery.
Watching them was really making her miserable. They looked so good and happy together. Their laughing smiles blinding, something she could never really say about her own. And that reminded her of something else.
"Uhm, Sasuke-san," Hinata tried hesitantly, "Why did you bring me here?"
Sasuke raised an eyebrow at her question. "I thought it would be obvious why I brought you here."
She just shook her head.
"Hn, If they want to play it that way, then we can as well." There was suddenly a glint in his eyes and his lips grew into a diabolical smirk. "And we can do it better."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Hinata.
"Just play along and watch."
Without another notice, Sasuke scooted across the booth, stopping right beside her and swung his arm around her. The contact shocked her and made her body stiffen.
A great big clattering noise suddenly rang out through the restaurant. Conversation died slightly as all heads turned to the perpetrator.
"Oops." A red tint adorned of Naruto's cheeks, his grin a bit sheepish. "Sorry, just an accident, no need to worry about it. Please get back to what you were doing."
Across from him Sakura's head was in her palms, shaking.
Sasuke's eyes flashed to her and he sighed. "I apologize if I'm making you uncomfortable but I... I need your help with this."
It perplexed her why he needed her help specifically as this was a fight between Sakura and Sasuke but Hinata was always one to lend a helping hand. It had become an annoyance to her, her disability to say no, however in this situation she was interested to see how it would turn out. She knew that if she got up now and left, she would spend the rest of her day in misery and anxiety, as it already were before she was dragged into the restaurant.
Mind made up, she gave Sasuke a small smile and a nod.
Sasuke didn't acknowledge her but she knew he was grateful.
"I'm asking persmission to tuck a strand of hair behind you ear."
Hinata took a moment to answer. Mainly to steel her resolve and prepare herself for contact from someone who is not a member of the people she considered as 'her boys'. She let out a determined huff, "Permission granted."
Sasuke angled her on the seat to face him. "Keep your eyes on me but watch their table," he quietly ordered.
She nodded. There was no question as to who 'their' table was and she didn't need her byakugan to find where they were seated, after that plate debacle and her natural scope wide enough. From where she was facing she could look past Sasuke's face and see Sakura's back, and Naruto's eyes that peaked above her head along with his luscious blond spiky hair and headband. Hinata almost jolted out of her seat then. Naruto's eyes were staring right at their direction.
"Focus," Sasuke hissed. "What happened?"
"Naruto is staring right at us."
That was obviously the news he wanted as he grinned, actually grinned, which was quite shocking to Hinata as she didn't remember a time that he grinned without menace. "Good. Now that dobe's looking, I'm going to tuck your hair in. Give me a small smile."
Her lips moved to form a small, innocent smile. Sasuke's hand brush to tuck her hair into her ear, the slight contact of their skin feeling unfamiliar and weird.
There was a small cracking noise. So small, she would have missed it had she not trained her ears as a ninja to strain for the smallest of noises. And in the edge of her vision, she caught Naruto unclenching his hand from his porcelain tea mug. She channelled chakra into her ears to tune in to them.
"Naruto, control yourself!" Sakura scolded quietly. "You almost crushed the tea mug!"
"Sorry," Naruto puffed out.
That was when Hinata's heart starting beating faster. Now, why did Naruto almost crush his mug just then? Was it because Sasuke tucked her hair in? Does this mean that Naruto was bothered by Sasuke tucking her hair in? She had to stop herself from hyperventilating.
"You see that too?"
"Hai," confirmed Hinata.
A glint flashed in his eyes. "Hinata, I need your permission to put my hand on your cheek."
"Hm..," Hinata hesitated, thinking about his request. Then she took a deep breath and said, "Okay."
"Good. Eyes on mine."
Hinata waited for the contact and when it came, it didn't feel as unfamiliar as it was before. Yet there was still the tingling missing on their touch. It didn't make her want to burn up in flames or jump out of the seat of her chair in flailing happiness.
Sasuke stroked her cheek.
Suddenly, a massive thump sounded from their table making them jolt away from each other. Hinata had to blink rapidly to register what she's seeing.
"Teme," Naruto greeted cheerfully, Sakura beside him, "Hinata. Got room for two more?"
It didn't look like they were expecting a no, or if they did, they weren't going to obey it. Naruto and Sakura scooted into the booth until they sat across from each other. Naruto from her, Sakura from Sasuke.
"Hinata-chan," Sakura chirped, blatantly ignoring the black-haired man that sat beside her. "I haven't seen you in ages. What brings you here?"
"Good evening Sakura-san and Naruto-kun," Hinata greeted back. "Uhm.. well... Sasuke-san asked me-"
"I asked her out on a date," Sasuke stated bluntly. "And we were enjoying ourselves greatly."
Naruto seemed to tense slightly and glared at Sasuke. "Enjoying, huh?" His blue eyes flashing to the arm thrown over Hinata's shoulder. "It looked like to me like you were just throwing yourself all over her."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "And what if I was? She seemed to be enjoying it very much."
Steam came out of Naruto's ears. "Likely story, she wouldn't want a slime ball like you manhandl-"
"Ha ha, very funny Sasuke." Sakura smiled in an effort to lighten up Naruto. There was a brief moment where Sasuke and Sakura shared a glance that said I know what you're trying to do here and I won't give in. Well, Hinata thought, Sakura wasn't fooled but Naruto seemed to be.
That was when a waiter came with their menus. He was nonplussed to see two extra people on their table, merely grabbing the extra menus needed to accommodate them. Food was the last thing on their minds though. Everybody, with the exception of Hinata, seemed to be in a stare off with each other. Sakura, was glaring at Sasuke. So was Naruto, gripping his chopsticks in an effort to stop from poking eyes out. And Sasuke was doing his best to look as menacing as possible when he glared at both Naruto and Sakura.
Thus was the age old dynamic of Team Seven with an added Hyuuga into the mix.
Sai wasn't here to offend anyone at this moment. However, Hinata couldn't help thinking that even Sai's offensive jokes could have lighten the tension around them. When their food came, it remained untouched, except for Hinata's. Even Naruto's ramen was untouched as he remained in the death glare competition with his friends.
"The food have arrived. We should have them before they get cold."
Sakura nodded. "You're absolutely right, Hinata-chan. Naruto-kun, let's have our meal."
"Absolutely right, Sakura-chan," Naruto said, emphasising over the honorific. "It absolutely smells delicious."
Sasuke leaned forward slightly to accept that challenge. "Yes, it would be a shame to let the food grow cold over distasteful company. Right, Hina-chan?"
"I don't know know who he's calling distasteful company, but I can see that Hinata-chanis enjoying our company," Naruto retorted.
"I think you need to get your eyes checked out, dobe, because Hina-chan does not appreciate you bothering her meal."
"Why, You seem a bit grumpy today," Sakura pointed out, "Maybe it's time you went home and took a nap, Sasuke-ojisan."
Sasuke head snapped towards her. "Shouldn't you be more attentive towards your date, Sakura?" he bit out. "Because your date is bothering mine."
Hinata slumped in her seat, afraid of causing a nuclear reaction between the three of them.
Throughout their meal, they were still glaring at each other although their mouths were full. It was a miracle that all of them were able to chew their food properly instead of choking from the heavy tension that clouded their table. Even though she knew that Sakura did not have feelings for Naruto, Hinata still felt her stomach dip whenever Sakura made small brushes at Naruto's arms or dabbed the corner of her napkin to Naruto's mouth. Sasuke gritted his teeth and tried to match her stroke for stroke.
Naruto was making her uneasy though. His eyes was practically fixed on where Sasuke's hand was on her arm.
Sakura's arm brushed against Naruto's.
In return, Sasuke tucked another strand behind Hinata's ear.
Naruto's eye twitched, his eyes boring holes into her skin, making her blush her head off.
Sakura ran her hand down Naruto's arm.
Sasuke ran his hand up Hinata's non-chopstick holding arm and cupped her cheek.
Hinata dropped her chopsticks in shock. Sakura fumed quietly and Naruto's twitching became more pronounced.
And then it happened. With a gentle but calculated and deliberate stroke, Sasuke moved his thumb on her increasingly red cheeks.
That was when Naruto's fist pounded on the table.
"That's it!" Naruto growled. With a ferocious snarl, Naruto jumped over the table and tackled Sasuke, his shoulders digging into the latter's guts. Plates and cutlery crashed off the table as their bodies tumbled onto the floor, trading blow for blow. People gasped, shocked and made room for them to brawl on the floor. Hinata immediately got up and profusely apologised to the maitre-d who looked panicked and confused as to breaking apart two volatile, brawling shinobis.
Sakura, however, had no problem as to stopping them. Cracking her knuckles, she took two plates and, in a style a la Sakura, smashed the plates on top of Naruto's and Sasuke's head.
They fell backwards, clutching their heads.
"This is why I can never go out with you two anywhere!" Sakura growled frustratedly, grabbing the collars of their jackets. "It always ends up like this! Now you're going to stop this nonsense, clean this mess up or I will end you."
"Oww, that hurts," whined Naruto, holding a bag of frozen peas against his eyes.
They were in Naruto's apartment with her volunteering to tend to Naruto's wounds while Sakura did Sasuke's. Right now, they were sitting on his couch, Naruto with his shirt off and the first aid kit on the coffee table. Hinata was too busy applying bandages to his face and giving him small doses of healing chakra to really appreciate how nicely toned Naruto's chest was. Or how much cleaner Naruto's apartment was from when she remembered it.
"Well this is what happens when you attack poor, innocent Sasuke-san like that." Hinata admonished gently. She dipped the cotton in some rubbing alcohol again before pressing it against the open cut on his cheek.
Naruto flinched in reaction. He grumbled out as her hands dabbed on his cheek, "He deserved it, I regret nothing and innocent is something he is not. And Sakura's scarier than Sasuke will ever be. I bet she's healing her dear Sasuke-kun right now and letting me stew in my bruises."
"Well, Sakura-san has decided to heal none of the damage both of you dealt to each so that you and Sasuke will learn your lesson."
Naruto continued murmuring as she applied bandages. Something about someone being 'mean' and 'cruel' and that when he becomes Hokage, he was going to 'fire her ass off'.
Which made Hinata laugh. "Naruto-kun," she placated, "Would going to Ichiraku's make you feel better?"
Naruto's whole body perked up at the mention of Ichiraku. "Yes!" He bounced up from the couch. "Just let me get my shirt and Gama-chan."
As Hinata watched him go to his room, she remembered the thing she wanted to ask him. And she thought it was fairly important so she should ask him now. Hinata waited until Naruto came out with a new shirt, looking so good Hinata had to sigh in appreciation, and picked up his jacket from the couch to shrug it on.
Oh no, she was fidgeting with her fingers again. Somehow her voice had gotten very soft and quiet but still, Naruto turned his head to her and smiled for her to continue.
"Why... Why did you tackle Sasuke to the ground like that?"
Naruto stopped from putting on his jacket for a moment. Then he sighed loudly and flopped onto the couch beside her.
"Because Teme's a bastard that knows how to pull my strings."
What was Naruto trying to imply? Can Naruto even be subtle enough to imply anythigng? Hinata's heart started beating faster. Maybe Naruto didn't realise he was implying that his jealousy had driven him to do it, but that was what she getting at. She didn't want to jump to conclusions where her heart was already jumping off cliffs.
"And how..." she urged him.
"Sakura asked me for help in her fight with Teme," Naruto said offhandedly. "And me being my stupid self, said yes. Honestly, I should've have listened to Sai and let them deal it out themselves but Sakura's puppy dog eyes got me."
He stopped slightly. Other people would have gotten bored with him or annoyed with his stupidity and ignored him, but Hinata, Hinata had always listened to him attentively. His habit of rambling was always a result of decades of people ignoring her and sometimes even Naruto felt stupid about his out of control rambling habits. Yet, he never did when he was with her. He didn't know what it was, this feeling whenever she was near, but it made him tingle with pleasure.
Naruto scooted closer to Hinata and tried to catch her eyes as he told his story. "So Sakura's plan was to get Teme jealous so that he would actually acknowledge his feelings for Sakura. That's why we made sure to grab a table that you can see through the window. But we should have guessed that Sasuke would outplay us. He's the bloody genius after all. He threw both me and Sakura off our seats. Well-" he chuckled, "-me mostly."
One of Naruto's arm was slung over the back of the couch and playing with her hair. Playing with her hair. Hinata didn't know whether to pass out from happiness or to pass out from embarrassment. But she didn't' want to pass out because she was hooked onto his words, and she had a foolish and hopeful inkling of what he might say next.
"How did..." Hinata swallowed heavily. "How did Sasuke out play you?"
The hand that played with her hair untangled itself and began to caress the side of her neck all the way to the edges of her cheeks. They were soft and slow caresses, leaving fire in its trail and making her burn brighter than a star. His touch always gave her warmth. It was so unlike Sasuke's in that aspect. Blue locked onto soft lavender and held it intensely, transfixed with its beauty.
"Sasuke had you with him."
All the air went out of her and she sat, staring at him with her eyes wide. The callous tips of his fingers lightly caressed her cheek, the contrast making her feel wonderfully tingly.
"Every time he touched you, I felt my insides burning. I mean, I knew it was innocent but I wanted to skewer him, to skin him, to break him arms or something. Anything to stop him from touching you -" his thumb glided onto the edge of her lips, "-the way I wanted to."
"Naruto-kun," she breathed out.
"Hinata-hime, do you think you still want me?" Naruto asked sheepishly.
They were so close to each other, she could see his blush that layered those adorable whiskers. That cunning mouth that would break out into a brilliant smile. Those eyes that just sparkled with confidence, a bit of arrogance and kindness. There was only one way she could reply to his question.
She leaned closer to him, with the intent of kissing him. He leaned closer as well, his eyelids closing.
Unfortunately, this was the moment when her body accidentally slipped on the couch. A miscalculation when she leaned closer to him and unexpectedly, she couldn't help but trip while sitting.
As a result, instead of their lips locking, Hinata's forehead hit Naruto's nose. Naruto recoiled in pain and Hinata recoiled as well, but flailing in apologies, guilt and embarrassment. All the blood was firing her up in the biggest blush she had ever blushed while Naruto cradled his nose and groaned in pain. How she wanted to disappear right now! She screwed this up badly! She was about to get her first kiss from Naruto and now she might have accidentally broken his nose instead. Hinata couldn't apologise enough or be more mortified.
"Ow..." Naruto groaned.
"I'm so s-sorry! Naruto-kun, are you okay? Do you need some pain-killers? Naruto-kun, oh- I didn't realise-I'm so sorry for this!" Her voice was getting considerably higher and wobbly with panic.
Naruto rubbed his nose, mumbling, "And I thought Sakura hits hard. Geez, Hinata, if you didn't wanted to kiss, you could have just said so."
Hinata's cheeks burnt up and she wanted to cover up her face in embarrassment, her hands twitching to do so. "I'm sorry!"
This was when Naruto laughed. "I'm just messing with you." Then his face grew thoughtful. "It looks like to me, and I would just be guessing here, that you're new to these kind of things."
Hinata didn't even stop her hands from covering her face. She let her hands fly and obscure her sight in hopes that, a bit childishly, if she couldn't see Naruto then Naruto couldn't see her. Then she would be able to escape from this humiliating predicament and hide in her room forever.
But then, Hinata felt gentle hands prying her open and holding her hands to the sides firmly. Her eyes met with the sapphire blue she so loved. Naruto's face was right in front of her own.
"But that's okay," he said to her, "Because I'm new at it too and we can learn these things together."
Naruto caught her lips in a kiss. It was short, it was wet and fumbly but it was also wonderful and amazingly fulfilling.
Hinata then wondered at which point this day became one of the best days of her life.
AN: Hello guys! This fic has been translated to vietnamese by the lovely Lá.
She's also translated pieces from One Piece, KHR, -Man, Fairy Tail and more! Definitely worth checking out.