Quick break. Just fifteen minutes to rest, and all the genin winners of the one-on-one match should be back in the duel venue.
He remembered telling his Kakashi-sensei and his teammates that he would just grab a quick, fourteen point fifty-nine minute snack, and that he would be back in a second. The three eyed him distrustingly, but in the end, they let him go off. Perhaps, they sensed that it wasn't the snacks that he was concerned about.
"Room 209…hmm…this must be it." He inhaled deeply, and then opened the door.
The nurse turned to him, surprised. Obviously, the person this woman least expected to drop by in this room clutching a small hand-picked bouquet of wild roses was a badly bruised, dirty boy with hair still uncombed and clothes still not cleaned and pressed.
Him specific. Uzumaki Naruto-specific.
"Hi! Has the patient waken up already?" he decided to ask. His eyes went to the peacefully sleeping girl with raven hair and contrasting fair skin. There were still small contusions on her face, but she looked much healthier now.
"Briefly." The nurse was still debating whether to call him 'Sir' or 'kid'. She chose neither. "But what she had went through—the cardiac arrest- must have knocked the wind out of her. It's only to be expected. The doctors were even surprised that she didn't go to coma."
Coma. His fists clenched. Had that happened, he knew he wouldn't hesitate to hurt Hyuuga Neji badly…very, very badly.
"But she's safe now, isn't she?" he asked, trying to mask the tension in his voice.
"She is. Her determination to live is powerful. She really wanted to be alive—I was in the emergency room when she was brought here. She was calling out only one name. Maybe she wanted to live for that person." The nurse picked up her clipboard. "Anyway, if you need anything, you can press the buzzer over there—"
He looked at the red rubber button on the wall by the headboard of the patient's bed. "Sure, no problem."
As soon as the medical help left, he placed his flowers on the table. Because he had only fourteen plus minutes, he picked up these flowers that were growing by the road. It wasn't orchids, but it looked pretty in its pallid-hued simplicity.
His eyes went back to the buzzer. Of course, this wasn't his first time to be in a hospital—but it was the second. The maiden visit was when he was not yet in the age to know that the endless white walls and halls equaled to a hospice.
So before he could stop himself, his finger pressed on the buzzer. He waited for the sound of ringing, buzzing, or tinkling.
He tried again. And again. AND again.
Why couldn't he hear anything? Was the buzzer not working?
All of a sudden, the door burst open, and in came two panicked-looking nurses who were alarmed by the continuous ringing of the buzzer in the nurse station.
He looked at them, blinking.
"The patient? What happened to the patient?!!" both exclaimed.
He scratched his head. "Gee, I know nurses are always alert, but they didn't say that you guys are paranoid as well. She's fine, just like how you left her two minutes ago."
The two sweatdropped.
"What re you two doing here anyway?" he wanted to know.
"W-Weren't you the one ringing the buzzer awhile ago?" Finally, one nurse asked.
"Yup, but sorry, your buzzer's not working. I couldn't hear anything whenever I try to sound it See?" He pushed the button several times more, and within seconds, a doctor had rushed into the room already, worried. He grinned at the physician. "Hey, great timing, doc! I was about to complain on these defective buzzers…"
"…well, at least now I have proven to myself that the people working in this institution are real admirable people with efficient service first and foremost," he said sheepishly after the exasperated nurses explained to him how the buzzer works. "You respond well to emergencies!"
The female nurses looked at each other, and then rolled their eyes. He, on the other hand, was grateful that Haruno Sakura wasn't here, or he would be the recipient of yet another earth-shaking, teeth-shattering uppercut.
He blinked when he heard the door shut close. It was then that he realized that the nurses had left him alone once more. Sighing, he looked at the undisturbed sleeping patient. His eyes softened. "Hey, Hinata! Sorry about the mishap awhile ago. I was just trying to do my part as a concerned citizen by testing out the facilities of the hospital. I hope it didn't disturb you much or anything."
He sat down on the visitor's chair. Kurenai-sensei would be back from lunch any minute now, which would signal the end of his break. He began to spoke once more. "You were great in your match, Hinata. I'm sorry if I wasn't able to tell you that sooner. Neji made me upset, but I feel OK now. I hope that you get well soon…maybe one of these days we can try sparring. Your Gentle Fist technique was cool!"
"If you only saw the faces of the other examinees…Hinata, you impressed them real good! Hah! If only the battle was not stopped, you could have fought more…" His voice trailed off. "But…I'm a little glad too. I was afraid…for your health." He laughed. "Isn't that contradictory? Your worrisome nature must have rubbed on me somehow. I shouldn't worry, because I know you fight ably, but…oh, never mind."
"Speaking of rub, hey, I tried the ointment already. It's effective! Did you make it yourself? After you wake up, you should teach me how to do it, then I can show Sasuke one thing that I can do that he can't." He took out the medicine jar from his pocket and opened it. He smudged his finger through the creamy white mixture and then smeared it gently on the bump on her forehead. "Hope that can help," he murmured as he finished spreading the concoction on her skin, not without noticing the disparity of his calloused weapon-cleaving palm and the smooth silkiness of her almost milky-white skin.
Just then, the door banged open. He automatically withdrew his hand, his cheeks burning for some unfathomable reason. "I didn't ring the buzzer!" he yelled.
"What?" Inuzuka Kiba looked at him, eyes narrowed. "What buzzer? And what are you doing, sitting on Hinata's bed?"
He groaned. "What are you doing here too? Shouldn't you be bedridden because of my attacks?" He smirked proudly as he recalled the glorious finish of his match with Akamaru's master.
The boy's face darkened. "Dumb luck. It won't happen next time." He let himself into the hospital room. Instinctively, his eyes set on the sleeping dark-haired girl. His eyes grew quiet. "Will Hinata be alright?"
"She's going to be fine. In fact, the nurse said she woke up awhile ago and only went back to sleep afterwards." He shrugged. "And your injuries are fine?" His tone was not of concern; it was of playful mocking.
"OF COURSE IT'S FINE, UZUMAKI!!!" yelled Kiba, face red. "The likes of you aren't the ones who can harm me seriously. It was all child's play when we battled!" He slammed his fists on the table for emphasis, and ended up shaking his throbbing fist muscles, muttering curses.
"I see." He shrugged again, and accidentally nudged the notebook by the table. It fell down on the floor, summoning both males' gazes.
"What's that?" Kiba looked at the book curiously. He picked up the pad and read the lines out loud. "Dear Diary, I just woke up from my sleep—"
Kiba snatched the notebook from his hand. "Baka! That's Hinata's diary!"
"Really?" His eyes widened, revealing the fact that it was his first time to touch something of absolute intimacy and confidentiality, of a female property at that. A girl's, so to speak.
Kiba nodded and placed it back on its original location. "We shouldn't be reading things like these—"
"Aren't you curious?"
"Even a little?"
"Even a little."
"Don't you wonder if she writes about…you?" His eyes grinned wickedly.
Now that made the dog-lover stiffen. "W-Well…"
Sweatdrops started to form on his forehead, and it was all he could do not to laugh out loud. Of course he was only kidding when he brought up the idea of reading Hinata's journal, but it was fun pulling the boy's leg a little. "Aaah…"
"Let me read then."
Both eyes turned to the bed. Hyuuga Hinata was smiling at them, eyes twinkling.
He was the first one to recover. "H-Hey, I'm glad you're awake…"
Kiba nodded vigorously. "I'm so relieved. I told you already to back out, but you were stubborn!"
Her gray eyes looked down. "I'm sorry for making you worry, Kiba." Regret was evident in her soft voice. "I-I wanted to prove something…to the people around me…to the people dear to me…" she blushed. "…and to myself, most importantly."
Kiba paused, and then sighed. "And have you succeeded?"
"I think I did," she replied.
"Well, I know you did!" he beamed. "It was a great match!"
Her eyes widened, and her blush deepened. "Aah, Naruto-kun…a-arigatou…"
"I wasn't able to watch, but I'll ask Shino." Kiba grinned. "Or Kurenai-sensei. I can't make that guy talk even if I tell him that mankind's fate depend on it. Maybe if I threaten the ant race then maybe he would care a little."
"Kiba-kun!" she laughed softly. Her eyes then went to the diary. She reached for it and went to the latest entry—the one she wrote after she woke up for the first time since her heart attack.
"Dear Diary, I just woke up from my sleep, and I can't help but feel overwhelmed that I had been given another chance to live my life. Anyway, the match with Neji' nii-san was the scariest thing that ever happened to me. Kiba-kun, the kind-hearted friend he was, tried to dissuade me, but after witnessing the matches in the exams, I realized that it was now or never. That I would make myself change now or forever lose the guts to do so.
But it was really scary.
I really thought it would be my last moment in this world. His eyes told me that he would be willing to harm me seriously if I do not give up. But I kept thinking of somebody…somebody who carried a never-say-die attitude not only towards his battle but to life in general. Even when the whole world was against him, he could still stand tall and face it. I wanted to be like him.
So while writing this, I just realized that I feel so happy, knowing that I did what I wanted, and for that, I was a better person. I wanted to thank him so much, but how? Perhaps, my prayers would have to do now. It would never do that I thank him; I know I could never be that gutsy to say it to him outright."
He then noticed that her hands were trembling already.
"Hinata?" he asked, worried. "Which part of your body hurts?"
"I-I'm fine, Naruto-kun…don't mind me…" Her fingers unconsciously touched her forehead. She gasped when she felt that it was cold.
"Ointment," he quickly said, not wanting to perplex her. "The medicine jar you gave me."
"A-Ah yes…" She looked at Kiba, whose eyes were on the table. She followed his gaze.
He grinned sheepishly. "Not a florist's choicecut, but I feel that I have to bring something to cheer you up."
"Flowers…" It was evident that the girl still hadn't fully comprehended the situation. Her Naruto-kun brought her flowers?
"Periwinkles…" Kiba groaned. "Don't you have a better bunch, Uzumaki? We see them everyday."
"Yes, they're everyday sight, Kiba," he said. "But even if it looks so ordinary, if the periwinkle flower disappears, people would surely look for it." He remembered what Kakashi said about that flower in one of their training sessions in the forest. "The beauty of the flowers lay on their simple insignificance—that's what makes them pretty." His eyes turned to the patient. "Sort of like you, ne?"
Her eyes widened. "E-Excuse me?"
Kiba slammed his nape. "Idiot! Don't you dare pick on Hinata for your teasing!"
"Shut up and die!"
"Hey, how do you think will the patient recuperate if you both act like that?" Kurenai-sensei materialized in the room, Shino behind her. "Anyway, Uzumaki Naruto, you have to go back already. Kakashi is looking for you already."
"Oh…okaaaay." He gave Hinata a quick grin. "See you around! Get well soon, Periwinkle!" He waved and left the room, the subject of Kiba's homicidal glance, Shino's blank look, Kurenai's amused stare, and Hinata's blushy gaze.
After a while, Shino spoke up, "White periwinkles. Rare."
Hinata's eyes shook, not without a touch of a pride. "Naruto-kun picked it for me."