For Kage no Atsui, the person who requested this SasuHina. I'm so sorry for forgetting your name ehehehe.
Sasuke watched the Hyuuga heiress as she methodically dictated her thoughts on the telegram machine. He knew she was still infuriated with their conversation awhile ago, but he had to admit that her anger did not even diminish her poise. Her fingers tapped in lithely nimbleness, reminding him of feathers softly touching the breeze. She was slightly hunched, looking over at the machine, but her posture was still unmistakably refined and elegant as that of a swan.
Classy brat. Sasuke snorted scornfully at her way. Too damn composed.
"That's the last of it," said Hinata after awhile, nodding to herself.
"Don't worry. I'm sure the Kazekage can adjust to this little delay," he said, getting up from the stool. "The Sand Village has a host of brothels too, I trust."
She clasped her hands together and stood up, opting wisely to disregard his comment. Instead, she led the way to the stairs heading for the bedrooms.
The Uchiha watched her intently for a few more seconds before he followed her out of the room.
They had not gone very far when several muscled men crossed their path, leering at them. Hinata recognized one of the unpleasant-looking faces as one of the inn's guests that they first saw upon entrance awhile ago.
The very same man stepped forward, arms and jeering smile radiating in equal smugness. "Well, hello, missy. This little dump rarely gets beauties like you for guests, so the boys and I thought we should seize the chance to get to know you better."
Hinata bowed slightly in apology, and then attempted to sidestep them. This prompted the men to crack up boisterously.
"Hell, the missy's a well-bred little mousy!" one hooted.
"That's got to be a princess, I tell you!" another one remarked while throwing Hinata's back a lewd gaze.
The leader of the muggers cackled as well. "Hey missy! We're not yet through with the introductions." His grubby hand reached out to touch her kimono, but he was firmly paralyzed when he felt a heavy blow on his knuckle.
As the muscled man withdrew with an anguished cry, Sasuke rotated his kunai and then drew it back to its sheath.
The rest of the men eyed the dark-haired young man contemptuously. One straightened, and then without warning, attacked.
"Heh." It took Sasuke only a couple of seconds to retrieve his kunai and slam its handle on the same area where he hit their leader awhile ago. He quickly followed this up with a swift direct hit on the man's nape. The assailant was fast asleep on the floor in an instant.
"Why you—" The rest of the men looked at their fallen comrades, and then back at the smirking dark-haired shinobi.
"Stop it," said Hinata all of a sudden, gazing at her bodyguard firmly. With that, she knelt down in front of one of the men. She closed her eyes, channeling her chakra into her fingertips. However, just as she was about to treat the man's bruise, the gang's leader pushed her hand away from the patient angrily.
"We don't need the help of a weak woman!" yelled the man crassly. "It's just a small bump—"
"You don't understand," said the Hyuuga calmly, still unnerved by the rough attitude of the man. "He was hit on the exact spot where all the nerves of his hand meet. If I do not heal this at once, his hand will be immobilized for weeks."
"We will have our guy checked by our own medics." Finally, the leader pulled the man up with him. "And you can go back to your tea ceremonies and paper-folding sessions."
"B-But Boss, what if the lady's right?" asked one of his men uncertainly. "Ringo might be in trouble!"
"Don't talk unless I tell you so!" The leader jammed his knuckle onto the man's stomach. The impact made the guy's eyes dilate, and in an instant, he was out cold. The rest of the rowdy men stopped laughing, nervously stepping back from their outraged chief.
Hinata looked up at the boss in dismay. "How can you hurt your own men?"
"I've had enough of your holiness, woman!" The leader stepped forward to strike her with his fist, but a second later, his movement was checked. His blazing gaze turned behind his shoulders and met Sasuke's cool stare. The man straightened, and felt the tiny but deadly precise edge of the kunai against his nape.
"Step back," snarled the Boss. "Or I'll tell my boys to finish you."
"Heh." The pressure of the kunai intensified, sending the leader in a sudden mass of cold sweat. Blood slowly trickled out of the puncture and slid down his nape, mixing with his perspiration and, yes, his scent of fear. Initially, he thought that the lad was just bluffing— for how could such a youthful face know how to kill?
But as the terrifying recognition dawned on him too late, he realized that with the way the kunai was held against his nape by this boy, he knew that the boy and Death weren't strangers to each other. He knew that the boy would have no qualms of slitting his neck.
"Uchiha-san, that is enough," said the dark-haired woman, her voice unexpectedly rising.
"W-What did she say?"
"A-An U-Uchiha? B-But that's impossible! The whole clan's dead…"
An Uchiha! The man heard of the clan's extinction by the hands of one of its own. But one lived. A Leaf shinobi who signed his name in blood in a compact with a devil from Sound village.
swift stolen glance at the boy behind him, and his suspicions were
confirmed. The gleam of the Konoha head protector was
He exhaled soundly to try to calm his nerves. Now was not the time to let his temper ruin his only chance to get out of this mess alive. The boy was only after the welfare of the lady. Yes, he could let that go, if it meant he would live.
"Put away the weapon, boy," he said quietly. "And we'll go away."
"Leave your wounded men here."
The chief's first instinct was to refuse, but he sensed that the Uchiha wasn't keen on being said 'no' to.
It was only then that the kunai's pointed edge left his skin. As soon as it was gone, he stepped away and turned to his foes.
The Uchiha's eyes never left them as he spoke. "Hinata, do what you want to do to those bodies. They'll just have to pick up their friends later when you're done."
"Uchiha-san, they've already yielded to our favor," warned the lady. "Let them go."
"Heh." A smug smirk formed on his face. "Sure."
"Why, Uchiha, picking up men in motels already?" said Hanabi, shaking her head in mock disapproval upon seeing Sasuke carrying two men on his back as Hinata followed him quietly from behind. "Where are your morals?"
"These are your sister's," grunted the dark-haired bodyguard, throwing the bodies down on the floor. "Your father didn't tell me that she's into collecting low-life losers."
"Father was afraid you'll back out once you learn that Onee-san collects idiots like you for a hobby." Hanabi crossed her legs smugly.
"Kazuma-san," said Hinata, turning to their driver, "bring me my medicine kit, hurry."
"What happened to them?" Her younger sister asked curiously, throwing the males an inquisitive look.
The elder sister shook her head. "Later. I must treat them first."
The driver returned, carrying a small suitcase. Sasuke watched as Hinata sat down beside the man called Ringo first. Little balls of light came out from her fingertips as she traced the chakra channels of the man's neck.
"Before Onee-san was engaged to the Kazekage-sama," said Hanabi, making him turn towards her, "she used to travel around the country, studying the various illnesses and injuries in the poorest parts of the land. Father and I never really understood why she devotes so much time and energy to such an unprofitable endeavor. Imagine, a clan heiress working as a lowly medic without compensation."
"Hanabi," said Hinata, glancing at her with a gentle frown. Her vocation was something she felt that should not be taken so flippantly.
But the younger Hyuuga went on with her narration. "But I was more indulgent than Father. I didn't mind her being away on medical missions while I was left to study the balancing act of the burdens of a clan head, because those were the only few times I could really see her happy."
Sasuke said nothing, but he kept on gazing at Hinata, who was now beginning the treatment of the disrupted chakra pathways of the man.
Darkness softened by rays of moonlight that filtered that cloudy night enveloped the whole place. Sasuke, who was standing alone on the balcony, could see that what extended beyond this town in the middle of nowhere was only a vast ocean of sand.
Everything was still, quiet, and serene. Except for a few shadows caused by lights left on by the inn to guide unexpected weary night travelers to warm beds and food, the whole area was fast asleep.
He looked over his shoulders.
Well, there remained a stubborn soul that would not bow down to the call of slumber.
Hyuuga Hinata was still up, keeping careful check of every change in her patient. The other patient, the one beaten up by the leader, woke up an hour ago, but after being assured that he was safe from the leader and was under her custody, the man had fallen asleep once more.
On the bed at the far side of the room, the Hanabi brat was also fast asleep. Hours earlier, she was whining that a Hyuuga main child could never sleep in a room with an Uchiha in it, but after her elder sister fixed her a glass of warm milk, Hanabi's snores were now competing with the men's. He had smiled secretly when he saw Hinata drop a small amount of sleeping powder in the drink before she gave it her sister.
Perhaps, he should try that trick next time on his brother, only he would pour the milk on the whole bottle of sleeping powder, and then give it to him.
Having no idea of what else to do outside, Sasuke entered the room again.
His entrance caught Hinata's attention for a moment. She gave him a small smile, which he replied with a shrug.
"You should be sleeping, Uchiha-san," she said, following his movement to the other side of the room.
"Oh, yeah?" he asked in boredom. "It's way past your bedtime too."
"I want to be sure that this man's condition is stable before I can rest," she responded, in a manner most unusual to his ears but so natural coming from her. So self-effacingly.
He pushed aside the uninvited feeling of ease starting to brew within him. "Cute." He sat down on a chair and propped one leg on the table. "A little girl taking her pretend doctor game seriously. But shouldn't you be playing house instead, to practice your future role?"
She sighed. "Must you start again, Uchiha-san?"
"This." She shifted to face him. "Your sarcasm machine should run out of fuel by this time. Can't we speak to each other without resorting to snappy comments?"
"Heh." He placed his arms at the back of his head. "You remind me of somebody… who thinks everyone can be his friend—acquaintances, enemies, friends, friends-turned-enemies…"
"Is it a bad thing," she asked, "to try to make peace and live happily with the people around us? In our case, we shall be in each other's company for some more days, so it won't be a bad idea to be nice to each other."
He smirked. "I am not here because I want to broaden my social circle. I'm here because the Godaime thinks it's funny to throw a live chicken into a den of hungry wolves."
"A chicken and a wolf can be friends if they want to," she said quietly, "as long as there is mutual respect between them. I believe that if we develop esteem for each other, then we, too, can live in more congenial terms."
"Well, that's too bad." He eyed her sardonically. "You are exactly the sort of person that can never earn my respect."
Her shoulders sagged, and in the faint play of the candle's flickering shadows on her face, he saw forlorn acquiescence. And for a split second, he suddenly felt a hollow ache within him, something he would most usually feel whenever he had done something that he didn't think twice on.
"Go to sleep," he instructed gruffly, getting up from his seat. "There are still a few hours remaining before dawn."
She smiled forcibly. "You too, please, Uchiha-san."
Sasuke woke up with the dusty streams of sunlight pouring down from the windows. He got up from where he was seated, only to feel something slide down his legs. Puzzled, he knelt to pick it up.
He turned his eyes to the rest of the room. Both of Hinata's patients were already awake, chatting. Hanabi was still fast asleep. Hinata's bed was vacant. On the far end of the room, the futon of the driver was neatly folded.
Kazuma, maybe. Sasuke bent down the basin and splashed some water onto his face to wake up his still drowsy senses. It rained after he and Hinata had both settled to sleep—her, on her own bed, and him, by the balcony—despite of Hinata's plea for him to just sleep on her own bed while she would transfer beside her sister. It was her reparation, for his supposed divan was occupied by her patients that night.
But he defiantly lodged himself in the doorway, telling her that he would just keep a watchful eye on them. What he didn't expect though, was that the cloudy skies would finally pour down heavily. The rhythmic pounding of the raindrops and the comforting chill that embraced his form put him into a trance, and then finally, to a dreamless sleep. He remembered waking up briefly sometime, chilled, and someone placing a blanket on him gently. And then afterwards, it was all a blur.
"Hey, why did you splash the soup on your face?" the man named Ringo yelled, looking at him as if he was an idiot.
"Soup?" He looked down. Indeed, the basin that he thought was filled with water was instead filled with cold chicken soup. A vein popped in his head when he felt the sticky broth rush down his face and drip on the floor. What the hell…
The door then opened. A service lady entered, carrying a basin of fresh water and some towels, followed by Hinata. Before he could even react, the two women noticed him.
To his dismay, the service lady dropped what she was holding and instead, clutched her stomach as she pointed at him repeatedly, doubling over in laughter. Hinata had the grace to stifle the sound of her laughter with her hand, but her eyes danced in amusement.
That was when Hanabi woke up groggily, rubbing her eyes. "H-Hey, why is everyone so happy this early—" She then noticed the bodyguard standing in the middle of the room, a dark aura emanating from him. Her sleepiness was replaced by shock, and then a vintage Hyuuga Hanabi smirk. "So soups now qualify as facial masks too, Uchiha? What'll be next, spaghetti sauce?"
"Back off, brat," he muttered.
"U-Uchiha-san, here's a towel," offered Hinata, finally retrieving her composure.
"What is a soup doing in a basin?" he asked through gritted teeth, snatching the cloth from her hand.
She smiled apologetically. "I was feeding Ringo-san and Gaido-san earlier, and I thought it'll be easier to do it if I'll just be holding one large bowl instead of two smaller ones."
"Ringo? Gaido?" He turned to the men, who grinned at him, in utter disbelief.
The cleaning lady was wiping tears of laughter in her eyes. "I'll go get a new basin, Madam," she said to Hinata. "Will there be anything else?"
"A tray of breakfast for four people, please," the dark-haired lady said with a smile. "And please tell our driver to come up and eat with us."
"Right away." The service woman snickered at the bodyguard before leaving the room.
Sasuke finished wiping his face. Throwing down the cloth on the floor, he faced Hinata, still irked. "You and your girl scout deeds…"
"I'm sorry, Uchiha-san. I really am," she apologized once more. "I didn't mean to—oh, wait, don't move."
He stood in suspended uncertainty as she tiptoed, wiping her fingertip on his brow. Her pale forehead was creased lightly in concentration as she rid his face of unnoticed soup remains.
He exhaled audibly, making her step back, embarrassed. "I-I'm sorry. T-There was soup residue—"she started to say, her cheeks flushing.
"Thanks," he said stiffly, not liking the way his senses were appreciating the sight of her, flustered. He turned his back on her and headed for the balcony. He suddenly felt the need for some fresh air, the way his throat was tightening at that moment.
to be continued