Surprised? It's thanks to you faithful reviewer that kept on reviewing even after this story was never updated in two years.
I suppose I'll return to this story. Maybe. Just stick with me, and you'll find out.
Disclaimer: No ownage whatsoever of anything or anyone from Naruto.
"Sasuke? Is something wrong?"
He looked up. Hinata had turned around and noticed that he wasn't following.
"No, it's nothing," was Sasuke's stoic reply.
Night had fallen.
And Sasuke was sipping at his tankard of beer, trying to blend in and look inconspicuous. He had tucked his headband away underneath his shirt, and had managed cover up the Uchiha fan symbol on his back with a jacket he had "relieved" from a random thug that had tried to vendor to them what looked suspiciously like cocaine, but was told that it was "just sugar, you know, it's rare around here now."
Hinata was trying to follow the same suit. However, while it was easy enough to conceal the fact that they were foreign shinobi, it was a bit more difficult to conceal her tell-tale Byakugan, and she nearly shone in the dark, tiny bar with her fair alabaster skin.
"We'll manage," Sasuke had said.
Hinata grimaced. She supposed she was managing alright, dodging stares and whoops.
But she then decided promptly decided to put aside her own worries and uneasiness for the good of the mission and Hinata took a gulp of her own tankard of beer, forced it down her throat, and felt heat spread throughout her body, from her head to her toes.
She had blatantly turned down Sasuke when he asked her to seduce the bartender, who had taken a real liking to her, the way his eyes smoldered suggestively when he first passed her her drink. But he was a short and squat fellow, balding, with crooked yellow teeth, and a sinister smile. And frankly, Hinata wasn't one to tease.
Sasuke was trying to obtain some scrap of information by eavesdropping, since Hinata refused to obtain information herself, and Sasuke really didn't feel like pressing her. However, the Uchiha was only half doing what intended to do, as he was distracted by questions racing through his mind. Exactly who were these men with cracked hitai-ate? Were they a part of an organization, ran by someone? Who was the leader? Sasuke sighed and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. It might be better to get some information first, he concluded.
He felt a hand softly tap him. "Sasuke? I-I am g-going to, um, 't-talk' to some of these m-men, and see if th-they k-know anything."
The old stutter again. But only half of it registered to Sasuke, since a group of men bantered in, cackling and cheering vociferously. "Jin's at it again! We've hit the motherload!" One of the men pointed to the bartender and barked, "Booze! And bring lots of it! Keep it coming!"
The bartender gave a delighted smirk and started to uncap bottles of beer. He was going to be paid handsomely tonight.
Sasuke and Hinata's ears both tuned into their conversation at the mention of Jin, possibly the Jin that they were looking for.
"Did you hear, Haiji? The family he looted this time was loaded! Richest we've seen in years! Even had a pretty young mother who begged for her child's life." The man paused to take a swing of beer. "O'course, he slit both their throats," he said with relish.
Hinata cringed. Sasuke listened even more intently.
"Keep it down, idiot! Do you want the whole town to know?" The man name Haiji harshly scolded the loudmouth that was just talking.
"Aw, ferget it, Haiji! The police force in this village is total crap, now! And no one's gonna tell." The man shot a glare at the other customers at the bar. "Right?"
The other people mumbled what sounded like an agreement in return.
"Then, we'll just seal the deal with a free drink for everyone in this bar." At that, the bar erupted into hoots and praises for the man, and promised that their lips were sealed.
"See guys? I've got our asses covered." Several men from the group still didn't seem convinced, as their uneasy frowns told.
"Anyway, Jin always shares. Since he got a lot this time, we can relax." He turned his head over to Haiji again. "Whatcha goin' to do with your share, Haiji? Have some fun with the girls?"
Haiji leaned back into his seat and pondered for a moment. "I suppose. But I don't want the usual that we go to. Girls over there have lost their fun. Heard Jin usually goes to that really fancy one on the other side of town. What do you think of that one, Toru?"
Toru's face lit up and cracked into a mischevious smile. "Ah. You mean that one. Shinku, that's what I think it's called. I heard the girls there can be..." And at that, lifted his hands to his chest and made a bouncing motion. "...A real 'handful,' if you get what I mean." The other men raucously guffawed. "So it's a deal, then."
Sasuke had heard enough. It was enough to give him a direction on where to start in the hunt for this Fujiyoshi Jin. The Jin that the men mentioned seemed to fit the description of who they were looking for. A killer out for fortune. A man with a insatiable taste for women. It fit, but Sasuke was informed of his cunning and tricky way of using various disguises. It seemed childish and even easy, but it certainly shouldn't be underestimated.
Sasuke gave his empty tankard of beer a final thump on the wooden counter, and spoke over his shoulder "Hinata, let's get going." He felt a weight press onto his back.
"Hinata," Sasuke repeated.
He looked over his shoulder, but he had to do double-take over his shoulder, as he could not believe his eyes at the sight that he saw.
Hinata's heavy coat was on the floor, leaving her exposed and showing a lot more skin than Sasuke ever thought it was safe for a normal woman to show in this village. It was a lot more skin than it was ever safe for Hinata to show Sasuke himself.
"Hinata. We're done here, you really don't have to do that to get information," Sasuke grounded out. This really was taking a toll on his self-control.
"But Sasuke," she whimpered. "It's really hot..." Hinata felt like her body was on fire, with the flames of alcohol were licking at it, making her mind hazy.
Sasuke turned and looked at Hinata. Her eyes were foggy and glazed over and her cheeks were blotched a bright pink. He peered over at her tankard of beer. Halfway done, and Sasuke didn't expect for Hinata to be able to handle a fourth of it.
"C'mon, we've got to get out of here." Sasuke threw Hinata's jacket back on her, clasped a hand tightly on her wrist, and made a beeline towards the exit.
Sasuke had to drag Hinata out, since the effects of alcohol had rendered her dazed and she stumbled every few steps. To their misfortune, Hinata accidentally stumbled into one of the thugs that had came in with Haiji and Toru. So close, Sasuke grubled inwardly. They were just a breath away from the door.
"Watch it!" Sasuke felt a hand fist into his shirt, and he was lowered to the other man's face level. His eye caught the thug's hitai-ate in the moonlight. It was cracked.
"I suggest you watch where you're going, or you're not going to have legs to go around anymore," he hissed.
Sasuke didn't reply, as his thoughts were too occupied in getting Hinata out of the place and at the mystery of the other man's cracked hitai-ate. He let out a sigh of relief and looked down at the pathetic mess that was Hinata, who was half-asleep. Sasuke sighed again, this time in quiet exasperation and worry for Hinata. He heaved her onto his back and dashed towards the hotel that they were staying at.
It was a shabby little thing, the hotel. The wooden door was moldy, and looked like it was ready to come off with a couple of good shoves. Water was to be fetched from a well located at the front, but it was dirty and who knew what floated around it in. Carcasses of dead animals that drowned in it, Sasuke reckoned. It was the best they could find, as Village Hidden in the Clouds seemed to be in abundance of hotels that would have Hinata dying of mortification and embarassment if she was ever caught in them. It was those kinds of hotels that advertised "For Your Optimum Pleasure" everywhere, but truly, Sasuke wouldn't have minded.
He had finally made it back, jammed the key in, and threw the door open. Sasuke layed the slumbering Hinata on the moth-eaten bed, and finally unwinded. His muscles were aching from a long day of searching in a place he knew no knowledge of, and he was just about ready to collapse onto a bed, no matter how worn or hard. But as he looked around, he saw that there was only one bed.