From the previous chapter:

Sasuke realized that for once the word 'love' had never been foreign to him.

He had loved his family; his mother, his father and dare he say, his brother. All of whom are deceased now.

He loved, no loves his 'siblings' and new family; Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi Sensei.

All these things that he had never realized that he had subconsciously held to close to heart had been the reason that no matter where he went, he would always return to them.

And now he had another reason to stay and grow stronger.

He now had a new love.

He now loves Hyuga Hinata.


"A-ano…Sasuke kun…are you really alright?" Hinata enquired as she cradled the baby as the two partners rested their legs after the long walk the entire day. Between the two shinobis, a bright fire was blazing away the coldness around them but did absolutely nothing to lessen the strain between the two people.

Sitting opposite the young Hyuuga was her partner, Uchiha Sasuke or as Naruto fondly calls him, teme.

"Hn…" Sasuke muttered with eyes closed as he had his head tilted up as if he was watching the sky full with stars.

Despite his evasive demeanour, he knew that at that very moment and even as they continued their journey after 'THE' awkward event earlier, he was painfully aware of Hinata watching him. As isolated as he was, he just couldn't tell himself to simply ignore everything the little Hyuuga did. Ever since she kissed him, even though it was in no way at all romantically inclined, Sasuke felt as if a certain fuse in him had ignited with that certain spark and now, all Sasuke could see, feel or think was of Hinata Hyuuga.

And that definitely irked him to a certain extent.

"Hyuuga," shifting his body, Sasuke forced himself to face Hinata, who was sitting on a log he had found earlier while nestling their infant client close to her goods. Too close in fact.

Being a man, a hot blooded one too, Sasuke felt his brain start whirling by just the sight of her curves and he had to shake his head for mind clarity.

Hinata heard Sasuke utter her name and impulsively raised her head to look up at the Uchiha heir with her head cocked to one side. "N- nani…?"

Kawaii, squeeled Lil Sasu and Sasuke could only agree with that, only to have him shake his head again. Must be calcium deficiency getting to his head. He seriously needs to chug down milk the moment he finds some, Sasuke mussed.

"… The kiss…Hinata. What was …the kiss…for?" Sasuke turned his head to one side, presenting Hinata with only his left cheek, which was dimly getting redder by the moment. Luckily, the lack of light managed to camouflage the slight rouge staining his alabaster skin.

"K- kiss…"Hinata cocked her head to other side as she pouted her lips and cutely scrunched her eyes in attempt to comprehend Sasuke's slightly weird question. After a while of pondering, realization dawned upon her and a smile instantly graced her otherwise thoughtful face.

"Ah, THAT kiss." Hinata freed one of her hands for her to wave it in a dismissal-like- fashion in the Uchiha's way. "It was nothing…it w-was ju-just something that K- Kiba taught m- me before."

Sasuke, who had been staring at her the whole time suddenly perked his ears and felt his eyes go loco once again, "K-K-KIBA…as in Kiba Inuzuka?!!!"

Sensing Sasuke's sudden flare in energy, which meant only one thing, anger, Hinata instinctively held the baby closer to her as if she was protecting him from some rampaging demon. "U-U-Uchiha s-san…"

Hearing Hinata's slightly terrified voice, Sasuke immediately closed his eyes as if to will his anger or rather astonishment away. Taking a deep calming breathe, Sasuke slowly addressed his partner in mission, "Gomen. My brain is all muddled up at the moment."

Still on alert mode, Hinata carefully scrutinized Sasuke who sat stonily opposite her on the other side of the fire. The light ambers from the fire shed such dim light on the Uchiha's features, which made his look more tired and frustrated than his normal self. Beginning of dark rings under his eyes were tell tales of many sleepless nights and the dead faraway eyes told her a story of tragedy forced upon a boy at such a young age. Something that should not happen to anyone at any age.

Hinata softened here eyes and slowly rose up and crossed the small divide silently with the baby nestled in her arms, and made her way to sit beside her teammate of the moment. Slowly and gently, Hinata lightly touched his arm. Arms so strong and muscular. Arms that would someday hold and protect the person he loved.

Hinata wrapped her small fingers around his arm and called his name, "Sasuke kun…"

Sasuke not realizing that Hinata had come to sit beside him, jerked his head in her direction so fast that he might suffer from a neck strain the next day, immediately saw her smile and warmth radiated from this very small person that people like to deem weak. He relaxed his being and let her slowly comfort him by just being beside him, but what she did next totally took the wind out of his sail. Seconds later, Sasuke raised one hand to touch his forehead where he could still feel the warmth and imprints of a pair of lips left there.

Slowly, sitting once again, Hinata braved herself to look up at him with a deep blush settling itself across her face and smiled. "I was worried…" caressing his cheeks with her free hand, Hinata felt Sasuke subconsciously brushed his face against her dainty palm in signs of need for physical comfort.

"You really had me worried you know. Uchiha Sasuke, nobody has ever scared me more than you had just done." Hinata felt tears pool in her eyes, threatening to spill any given moment. "D- Don't y-y-you dare do that again, Sasuke," a tear trickled down her cheek, "Don't you dare scare me that way again."

With that said, Hinata buried her head into Sasuke's chest, baby and all. Letting herself cry her heart out, Sasuke slowly snaked an arm around Hinata's small body and drew her closer to him, bringing his other hand to enclose her and the baby tightly in his protective confines.

Hearing her sobs wrenched his heart but at the same time, spread such warmth and a feeling of contentedness and protectiveness. Burying his head into her soft hair as he inhaled her scent that was like no other, Sasuke felt his heart gave a mini explosion and his earlier muddled head, whirled and kick into gear so fast for him to even keep track with his mind.

"I love you, Hinata." And out it came. Just like that.

Hinata froze at this.

"I love you, Hyuuga Hinata."



So, hello again. And before you start pelting me, let me explain that if I hadn't opened and read the reviews, this chapter certainly wouldn't be here. That is how you guys have made me want to write again…and every single review means so much to me.

Not much going on in this chapter. A speedy development seems to unrealistic. That's how I feel anyway. And yes, there will definitely be a lemon but I'm not saying when. Lol…just wait and read.

Actually, a lot has been happening in these past months. And yes, I am now officially a jounin. Lol…I mean, a teacher. I sure have plenty of Naruto, Shikamaru and Kiba that's for sure. I have nearly 300 genins of my own, so yeah, my life is quite a whirlwind these days. Anyway, I have found the light for this story and I think I know how I want to navigate this 'baby' of mine.

So, I hope you all will be patient with this incompetent person as I try my best to finish the story as best as I could.

And kudos who guessed the quote (Chapter 9) correctly. Yep, it was crazy Kuzco alright. Gotta love that carton.

Thank you again.