Title: Christmas

Author: Persephone-sings

Date: 11/28/04

Author's note: I know it's a tad early for a Xmas fic, but it wouldn't get out of my head! Enjoy!

Christmas

She didn't notice him come up behind her. She was too busy watching Kiba and Naruto take turns tackling each other into piles of snow. Sakura and Ino sat back in one of the trees surrounding the practice area, laughing and chatting as only old friends could do.

"Do you ever want to be someone else?"

Not concentrating on the speaker, Hinata didn't think before answering.

"All the time." And then she felt her cheeks flush when she realized what she had said. Hyuugas were not supposed to admit something like that. She'd have to add it to her list of short-comings once she forced herself back into the Hyuuga compound later that night. It was the truth, however, and Hinata had been one of the first to learn how to accept that.

The man leaning against the fence where she perched grunted in response and eyed the wrestling boys with resignation. He was sure they would never grow up. At the age of twenty-three and at the rank of jounin, Kiba and Naruto were, in his opinion, as childish as ever.

Hinata turned her head slightly to watch him, "And you, Sasuke? Do you ever want to be someone other than the number-one rookie from our class? Ever want to not be the last and strongest Uchiha?" Her voice was quiet, much like it was when they were students, but there was a peace about her, a serenity that had been missing before.

He was silent for a long while and he didn't move his eyes from his laughing friends even as he answered her.

"Christmas." He felt her start against him, surprised that he even answered her. Uchiha Sasuke was not known for his skills as a conversationalist and she hadn't been expecting him to respond at all.

She understood, he knew. She said nothing and yet he felt as if she had said everything. She had lost her mother at a young age as well. Unlike Naruto, she and Sasuke knew what it was like to love and be loved by a mother and they missed it. It was like a large part of their lives was missing because their mothers weren't there to see them, touch them, speak to them, and just be with them.

Holidays were the worst, her eyes silently agreed with him. When fathers ignored their eldest daughters except to make biting remarks about their failures and orphans were conveniently forgotten until after the holidays were over.

Their companionable silence was shattered when Sakura and Ino ran over, screaming at Naruto and Kiba who chased after them with snowball

That same winter, on Christmas Eve, Hinata steadily trudged through shin-deep snow, watching the flakes falling hard around her. Her family wouldn't realize she was gone until Christmas morning, when she wasn't there to serve tea. They could do without her, she believed whole-heartedly, and felt it would do her much more good to get away from them than to celebrate a holiday with them.

It was cold, and she shivered, but she clutched her bag tightly against her and crossed her arms tightly in front of her chest to ward off some of the chill. She was on a mission and a little snow wouldn't stop her.

At that thought, the snow seemed to fall even harder and by the time she had made it to her destination, she was covered in the fluffy, white snow and she was pushing through knee-deep drifts

Grumbling to herself about stupid ideas and stupid weather, she rang the doorbell before her nerves could chase her away. She knew this was right, felt it all the way to her toes (though she couldn't quite feel those so well anymore).

She watched as the door opened slowly and a young man looked at her blankly. His eyes were dark and shadowed and she wondered when the last time was that he had slept a full night. He was dressed warmly in a sweater and jeans and she envied his toes their house slippers.

"Hinata? It's almost nine-thirty. What's wrong? Is there a mission?"

She bolstered up her courage and gave him a small smile.

"A mission? Well, it's just for me." She didn't say anything else, not quite sure how to explain her sudden urge to see him, to be with him, and to share this holiday with him.

He raised an eyebrow and motioned her inside, "Your mission? Aren't you on holiday-leave?"

She entered the warm house gratefully, stopping in the doorway to brush the snow off her shoulders and stomp her feet.

He took her soaked coat and helped her brush snow out of her hair with a soft smile. Perhaps it was the season that was making him soft. Or maybe it was just her. He wasn't sure.

"Ah, well, I am but my mission is a holiday-centric mission."

He steered her into the living room and she couldn't quite suppress a sigh of delight as he gave her the seat closest to the fire.

She looked up at him, saw the fine lines of tension and haunting pain around his mouth and eyes.

"Merry Christmas, Sasuke."

And she thought, maybe even hoped, that the tension lines eased somewhat with the smile that followed.

"Merry Christmas, Hinata."

Owari