Fluttering. Flickering. The world melted slowly from a land of dreams to the familiar darkness of a bedroom. Hinata blinked slowly, once, twice - as though waving her last farewell to her sleepy state.

Her eyes weighed with an extra exhaustion for which she as an aspiring kunoichi was all too familiar with.

Stretching her limbs, an unwelcome soreness spread throughout her.

The bed felt much harder today, they really did need to purchase a new mattress.

'What time?' her mind wondered, glancing about the darkness to the window that cast a single crack of moonlight into their room.

'Naruto never closed the' – and before her mind could process another thought , the dread soaked events of the previous night flooded in.

Naruto on the table.

The burn of embarrassment in her stomach… on her cheeks.

Tsunade's rage.

Kurenai's kind voice.

Sai's laughter.

Her father's composure.

Her father's face...

Her father words.

The gasps from her dry morning mouth seemed to bounce like laughter in her once abandoned room in the Hyuga compound.

The crack of her father's hand echoed along side her screeches and pleas, in her mind, in her ears. The mortified and oft meager girl found herself seated upward in the near pitch black darkness , one hand rested in shock over her mouth while the other pressed firmly on the bed roll of her old bedroom.

The weight of the night returning... the weight of the night was too much. The gravity of the situation found the girl laying back on the bed roll- mortified. If only she could have remained in those first blissful moments of awareness .

Her eyes stared unmoving, unblinking to the single ray of moonlight filtering across her face. What had she done? What had she said? While the estrangement with her father was nothing new ,certainly the lines she crossed, he crossed, last night ? tonight? Led into dangerous territory that even in her deepest fantasies of confidence and guts, she had never entered.

Her eyes blinked once. Twice. Three times. The former Hyuga heir found herself unmoving, unthinking, only feeling beaten, bewildered and fatigued in the room that once housed her in youth.

How many post mission nights and mornings had she found her self in contemplation or doubt in this very room. In this very house. This house that told her she was not good enough.

Not strong enough.

Fast enough.

Smart enough.

This house that nearly suffocated her being. This house of Sun that showed her merely shadows. Her chest began to heave slightly . The nostalgia of her suffocating past seemed to take on its own persona as it delicately and painstakingly, wrapped its hands around her neck, its knees pressing on her chest forcing the breath from her. Was she truly back in this house… back in this prison?

A flash of golden hair in the sunlight and even brighter smile and blue eyes squinted shut, flashed before her.

Hinata quickly pushed her self-made attacker from her body as she staggered and stumbled and found her self flinging the wooden shuttered window of the room open. She heaved in the cool air of the night as her eyes scanned the other houses identical to her own chambers. Each housing other Hyuga. All in the same style. All in neat rows. Rice paper, wooden frames creating a cage from which she had once flew, and after soaring free for a years plus time found herself once more locked in. She had to move. She had to get out. As if in compliance with her thoughts her breathing steadied as her hands pressed down upon the window frame to boost her in the courtyard-



Her voice broke hoarse and barely audible on the courtyard . Kou's gaze flitted to her hands on the window sill.

"You are…" His hand rested on hers suddenly. Her gaze followed his much larger hand as it covered hers before flitting back to his eyes. "You are under surveillance. He will not… " Kou's face mirrored what Hinata could not view on her own. His features seemed to contort into a portrait of pure pity. "Just rest for now. Talk with your father in the morning."

Hinata's gaze fell back to his hand and the wet spots drip dropping on his fingers. The night was clear… the rain fell not from any cloud but rather down the crevices and hills of her own face. Kou only patted her hand once more, before his other calloused found themselves wiping the salty liquid from her face.

"All gates are under surveillance." The soft but serious tone of his voice worked to translate his intention. 'You will not be leaving this compound.' " Hinata sama- rest. "

Her blue hair curtained her face as her head cast downward staring at the large hands covering hers.

"Rest. " Kou removed his hands from his charge's and slowly pushed the window shutters back closed. Reassuring her with a pity glazed gaze as he did so. "Rest."

The soft click shut of the window was as loud in Hinata's mind as the crack she heard and felt to her face earlier in the evening? Yesterday? She didn't know. She didn't move. Only stood. Only contemplated barefoot on the hardwood floor before the window in her old cell , unmoving in the dark.


'Maybe…its better if you stay home.'


'I'll visit you everyday…'


His face. The smile on his face. That sad reassuring smile. She knew his words were true in meaning but despite his best intentions …


Hinata bit her lip. Often shrouded in failure and self doubt in youth, crying was something she learned to bypass. But this night the ocean worth of tears she'd been collecting seemed endless.

"Naruto…" the whisper was the only noise in the dark room aside from the slow pip pip of her tears falling to the floor.

The soft voice in the hallway should have alerted her someone was there. But it wasn't until the door whipped open that the Hyuga seemed to snap from her tearful reflecting. The sound of a match lighting ripped through the darkness and stale sadness of the room. Much like her name sake, before Hinata could blink her ears and eyes were violated by the bright crisp light of

"Imouto…" Exhaustion kept the surprise in her voice suppressed as she took in the lanky nin before her.

Hanabi blinked observing her sister before carrying the match to her dusty and unused desk and lighting a candle. Turning back towards her crumpled and tear stained sister an uncomfortable feeling immediately over took the younger Hyuga.

"Wipe your face." The girl dead panned as if to ease her own discomfort more than her sisters. "It's unbecoming. "

Not wishing to be seen in tears, Hinata wished to jump from the floor but simply lacked the energy. The elder Hyuga pressed herself up with one hand and found support against the wall below the window. The warm light of the candle overtook the room and Hanabi stood beside it ,back leaning against Hinata's desk, hands bracing her there.

The two said nothing. Hinata's gaze met the floor for minutes before finally casting back up to her sister. A sad smile forced the younger to look away. Then back. Hinata's gaze found her eyes once more, unwavering.

Steely as ever Hanabi quickly swallowed the nervous lump in her throat. She had watched this girl, her sister, her entire life. Watched her shoved into walls when no one was looking by Neji. Watched her favored and spoiled by the women of their clan. Watched her unwatched by their father. Hanabi never said one word on any of it. But she had* watched it all. She had seen Hinata crumble , crumbling , defeated ,depressed , but whatever this was…it was unnerving .

Hanabi cleared her throat scratching her head and eyed her sister once more. Her blue locks always shiny , always in order were tangled and fuzzy. An eeriness of body and soul left her paler than usually even in the warm glow of the candle .

"Imouto- " Hinata began ,

"That bruise..." Hananbi interrupted scratching the back of her head again. Hinata touched her cheek feeling a steady throb "It brings out the color of your hair and the circles… under your eyes." The girl dead panned once more, circling her own eyes with finger before moving them again to itch the back of her head.

To any normal person the conversation would have seemed awkwardly comical. Under different circumstances maybe even to Hinata. All the elder could muscle was a half hearted smile as she as she approached the mirror on her desk .The younger cast her gaze on her sister as she attempted to smooth out her disheveled locks.

Uncomfortable with the lack of distance between them, Hanabi backed away so she could watch her sister in the mirror.

"Thank you."Hinata spoke after some moments. She turned once more to face her young sister questioning with her eyes what she was doing there. Sheer exhaustion led her to slump back to the floor. One leg stretched out before her.

"Imou…Hanabi… I really-",

" You really fucked it all up ." Hanabi's voice never raised nor wavered with emotion as she finished her sister's sentence.

Hinata's face shot up, a palm covering her own mouth. Profanity was not often heard in the Hyuga house. Even a curse during training resulted in one of Hiashi's legendary punishments. Her and Neji often murmured their own swears during missions and deadly situation. But to hear such words come from Hanabi . little Hanabi?

Well, truly to have more than a surface conversation with her was abstract to the elder Hyuga sister so what did she know really. Too exhausted to really be shocked Hinata only nodded .

Hanabi let out a lengthy sigh dropping to the floor on Hinata's rumpled bed mat and comforter.

Hanabi shook her head frustrated as an uncharacteristic shout escaped her lips.

The door quickly slid open as a sleepy young face its head in flitting back and forth between the two sisters.

" Get out Kai."

The younger brother of Kou blinked not wanting to face Hiashi wrath should anything happen on his watch.

"I Just... um..."

"OUT!"Hanabi's cast her icy eyes on her guardian causing him to scrunch his face. The young nin opened his mouth to fire back when-

"It's okay Kai... really." A warm smiled eased the annoyance Hanabi had put in him. Offering the elder heiress a smile , the door slid shut without incident.

Hanabi gazed at Hhinata shaking her head. " Ever the saint… huh."

Now it was Hinata's turn to observe. Her lips parted to speak but stopped as she as her slender sister burrowed her nimble fingers back in her locks mussing them once more and kicking her feet in true tantrum style.

Despite her frustrated efforts they fell right back to the pristine condition they were always in. Black. Straight. Perfect. Just like her. Hinata was about to inquire upon Hanabi's presence once more when the younger piped up glaring up at her with one eye visible , the other still hidden beneath a clenched fist of a frustrated hair filled hand .

"Why did you come back here? Why tonight?"

So that was it. Hinata's gaze diverted from her father's clone to the window then to the floor. Her fingers found themselves in that slow youthful fiddle.

So that was it.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ruin your night. I… He ….I was made to come."

Hanabi stared angry and blank at her sister before her face contorted into one of pure confusion. "Oneesan…"

The formality sounded strange coming from her sister. For all the Hyuga's formalities, perhaps as a sign of dominance or manifestation of the flip flopped status of the two sisters, Hanabi had always referred to Hinata as just that, Hinata. No oneesan, no sama, no chan. Just Hinata.

"The day you walked out of here, one year, three weeks ago…"

Hinata's observed her sisters face as the shadow work of the candle danced across it. The two gazed straight faced at one another as a pregnant silence took the room

"You know… they had a whole meeting. Ottousan took major slack." Hanabi leaned forward her arms now resting on her knee caps. Her vision narrowed a bit at her sister. "The main branch . They wanted you. Not me. They wanted you to lead. "

Hinata only shook her head slowly. "…Well I-"

"Have you ever been to the tea country?"

Hinata looked back up at her sister a little confused by the lack of coherence in their conversation and the sudden tinge of emotion in her voice.


"Everything there is so different. It's always warm and…" Hanabi looked to the window then to the door. Licking her lips slightly she crawled forward and repositioned herself at Hinata's feet. Confused and exhausted Hinata opened her mouth only to be cut off again. " There's a vender there who sells these ice shaving covered in this.. lotus syrup, and when the sunsets there, everything turns bright red like its on fire."

Hinata nodded at her sisters attempt to get her mind off the heap of trouble she would be forced to answer for in the morning. Hanabi and she rarely interacted, so while her actions were endearing, the elder was really too exhausted to fully appreciate them .

"The houses there, they're all structured and when there's a rain storm it makes the most soothing sound when it bangs against the windows and– "Hanabi stopped looking at Hinata's weary smile. "What?"

"You're smiling."

The younger quickly adjusted her lips into a pert line.

"I just don't think I've ever seen you…smile. "

Hanabi cleared her throat and let her eyes slowly shut.

"Hinata..." The girl paused for effect then flashed her eyes opened "Have you heard of Ogenki Steaks?" Hinata nodded slightly noting how Hanabi's voice had lowered with her eyes . With Kiba on her team she'd dined at nearly every barbeque joint on the continent.
"Then you've met the ice cone vender- Akiho?"
Hinata's gaze went wayside from exhaustion and Hanabi's strange line of questioning.

"Imoto-san….I'm very-"
"Tonight I received a lot ryo in gifts…"


" I didn't count it but Father only granted me 50,000...but that's okay because if you can pay Akiho, 100,000 ryo, he'll grant you passage to pretty much any country you want! I mean, fake passport, birth records, school report cards -" Hanabi paused. Her fingers yanked down her inky locks repetitively in their own nervous dance as her eyes tried to capture his sisters.

Lavender eyes snapped to attention as Hinata furrowed her brows a bit confused by what her sister was offering. She escape the village? Was she crazy. No matter where she fled , status as a missing nin from Konoha was a death wish . A great way to earn top ranking in most bingo books.

Realizing she held her sister's attention, the younger Hyuga lowered her whisper again "Moon Island is amazing. It never snows there and they have everything, beaches , spas, game halls…" Hanabi's hand reached from inky locks to touch her sister's hand. The contact caused the elder to jump, shocked by the strange sensation and surprising warmth of her young sister's hand. No longer slumped against her desk, the elder nin was at full attention head cocked slightly to the side, eyes rimed and red- wide in disbelief.

Both sister's waited for Hinata's voice to emerge, but neither knew what it would relay.

Hanabi's eyes looked back towards the window. Then back to her sister…She pursed her lips and shook her head…lowering her voice to even lower decibels .

" Tonight I got fifty thousand ryo, and over the past year and three weeks… I took on every mission I could. Found lost cats –searched for herbs, filed papers in the Hokage's office-" Hanabi paused her story intensely watching Hinata as she rubbed her face in disbelief. "All together over the pas years I saved up 192 thousand three hundred and eighty two ryo with tonight's 50 thousand that makes –" The younger Hyuga paused her excited whispers as her sister now clenched the younger Hyuga's hand so tightly her white knuckles flushed red-

" Stop!" Hinata's whisper came out hurried and concerned. Her eyes said everything she wanted to - thoughts of treason , byakugan eyes reading lips from across the compound. Hanabi's punishment if, no, when Hinata was caught?

"You'll be in so…so much trouble for helping me," the elder found her voice "and besides that …my whole life… is here. I can't take you're money and I can't run. What would happen if-"

Hanabi shook her head and chuckled slightly . Hinata really wasn't getting it.

"Yesterday I went to training grounds 14… on the west side of the village. " Hanabi stared at Hinata for a moment. The girl continually shook her head slowly back and forth as if trying to stop her sister's pleadings. "My bag is there…packed and waiting ."

Hinata ceased her shaking head.

"You may not fit my clothes but we can buy new ones and live scarcely until we find jobs. 200,000 ryo is enough for two passes"

"You- "

"We don't have all night, Hinata. The sun will be up in four hours and tonight's events have already set us back big time. " The usually emotional teen had all but been taken over with earnest excitement now. Both hand now returned the grip of her elder sisters . "Takes three days to reach Tea Country, and with you missing… father will have both houses on our trail so…" The girl leaned in lowering her voice for effect "You need to decide right now."

I don't under-

"Right now! I can't put my future on pause for you. Not here in the cage, or fly out with me tonight...I know…Naruto…and all of that…. Is here…. but so is Dr. Kenji…. "


"I saw the box."

The candle seemed to dance in response to the heightened tension now filling the room. Hiniata's mind was flooded with questions- what's whys and how-the weight of everything was too much but one question stood clear in her mind.

"You…. you have everything here…so, why would you-"

Hanabi smiled shaking her head once.

"That's a story we don't have time for."

"That's it?"

"That's it."

...And so you just left her there?" Sakura all but blurted out, pink hair bouncing with the enthusiasm of her voice.

"I didn't just-" an aggravated sigh escaped Naruto's lips as his posture went limp. Returning home to an empty apartment was a bit more of nostalgic shock than he expected. No pot simmering on the stove emitting pleasant smells. No gentle murmur of the television and light snoring on the couch. Just a dirty lavender sweatshirt laying on the arm of the couch. His eyes had combed over the state their...his empty apartment and after a few moments of observation, the blonde had flicked the light off closed the door and left without taking a single step into the apartment.

A wandering mind and a anxious feet had found him in team 7's old training grounds, and a concerned and knowledgeable sakura knew he'd be there. It was imperative one, that she checked in on the kid, and two, that she got the gossip straight from the source.

The dejected spirit of her teammate was contagious and now had stirred up angsty feelings of her own. A condoling smile took the girls lips as she watched her Naruto in his extremely rare depression no jutsu. The bright light of moon fully exposed his sad expression. His eyes shifted to their respective corners to expression and even the normal intensity in his eyes seemed dim.

"Well...you're here..." Sakura started as her voice took on a slow and kind tone to soften the bluntness of, "and she's there...so you kind of...left her there." Her eye flitted up and down Naruto a little worried his reaction might be one of anger or hurt and neither was her intention, she was always just a girl who couldn't let a friend hide from the truth.


The fox nin opened his mouth to respond but shut it again along with his eyes. A heavy silence fell between the two. The crickets song seemed to heighten the awkward nature of their conversation while the cool breeze did little to carry off the heavy subject matter.

"Hinata is-" Naruto bit the corner of his mouth drawing a little blood "she-" the blonde turned his head so suddenly his full on gaze caused Sakura's eyes to widen - not for anticipation of what he would say but from the sheer energy by which Naruto did…everything.

The time he'd shared his life apartment bed thoughts feelings with the strange daughter of the Hyuga house had been some of the brightest moments of his life. Growing up in the dark, shunned as the nine tails, Naruto had always carried the burden to make his own light. Before teammates teachers and friends, before admiration, praise, and acknowledgement it was him and him alone.

The boy held out his hand and watched as the moonlight set it aglow in its eerie light. To him Hinata did much of the same. That day he'd stumbled upon Shino and her in the Korean Barbeque was the first time for all her awkward mistakes he'd ever felt that kind of pain in his heart.

'His first instinct was to continue to his booth and wait patiently for team 10 to arrive for a Friday night dinner, but as he stared at the pair sitting there in silence he had to stare.

"Is there anything I can get you while you wait?" The chipper voice of the waitress pulled him away from the couple he had just recognized . Why not start off with a pre dinner - dinner, and eat it before Shikamaru, Ino, and Choji showed up? In truth a four way bill split with Choji was never fair anyway.

Taking the menu he didn't bother to read to far into it before his eyes fell back to the whatever was going on across the room with Hinata and uh what was his name?

"Anything?" the waitress insisted squatting down beside him to grab his attention.

"Uhh... The number three." Naruto nodded fingers tapping repeatedly on something he wasn't even looking at. His eyes rested steadily on the couple across the room.

"OH? You mean the pork party special? Are you sure , hun? That's a big meal for just four..." Naruto only nodded giving her neither an audible yes nor no.

It's not that it was weird Hinata was sitting there with um... uh- her teammate. The weird part was the depressing energy vibing from that booth.

"Would you like something to drink or some sides before the rest of your party arrives?" The teen didn't move only kept his eyes fixed on whatever was going on at the table across the way. Naruto's eyes took in the rigid posture of...uh...um SHINO! Yes! and the stiff arms yet slumped posture of Hinata. He could almost see the dark cloud around them.

The waitress gaze followed the boys across the room and her face immediately brightened.

"Oh friends of yours? Would you like to join that couple?"

Naruto's eyes grew larger than Choji's stomach would in the next hour.

""Ahh couple?" His gaze finally met the brown orbs of the waitress who seemed a bit confused by his reaction.

The waitress did a double take back and forth the shrugged her shoulders.

"I'll...give you a minute to...decide."

The blonde made no register of her voice!

'Really ? Shino and Hinata? Naruto shrugged looking around to see what else was going on in the restaurant. It wasn't that much of a surprise. Weird people always ended up with weird people - 'like how magnets work...Wait-' before his mind could correct his thoughts. it wandered to Sakura and Ino and there what couples bet. He knew for a fact the girls had taken bets on who of the rookie nine would hook up with who first.

If he had to bet he would have placed his ryo on Tenten and Neji, but this would give him a chance to make quite profit. After watching Granny Tsunade lose time after time, Naruto had learned the lessons that seemed to evade her. Before he'd put his plan in action he needed to watch longer to be absolutely sure Shino and Hinata were an Item!

The thought of the Aburame lowering his hood to kiss her made him laugh then frown, 'gross'.

The strange thing about the two was they didn't seem happy. We're they in trouble? Waiting for Kiba? The murmurs of the hungry patrons became drowned out as he stared at the two completely unmoving . Shino's hidden face was certainly not going to reveal any details and the boy became so enthralled with the couple he didn't realize how his body was now bent halfway to the side trying to get a glimpse at Hinata's face. A silk curtain of blue locks shielded his way and Naruto found himself pouting in annoyance as he tried to see through it.

If this was a date, it was the most horrible thing he had EVER seen. A couple... just sitting...not moving... not talking... not touching... or were they?

'Shino isn't the kind to ...' Naruto face grew red once more as his eye moved down the length of Hinata's body. Even shrouded and hunched her shape was evident through her bulky sweatshirt causing the boy to blush slightly. Eventually the wood blocked him from scanning any further and the blonde paid little heed to the strange stare the waitress gave him as he bent over to peer under the table across the way as she passed by.

A quick glimpse revealed no touching was going on under there, just the relaxed hands of Shino on his own legs and the pale hands of Hinata clenched tightly between her legs. As he emerged back to a normal sitting position, scrunched eyes shifted back to Shino stiff as ever.

'mmm' People didn't just up and go out to sit and stare. 'but these aren't normal people it's Shino and Hinata' Naruto remembered how the Shino's bugs had once tickled his skin and the thought immediately evoked a shiver and frown.

"No Way!" and even if that were the case..."Hinata wouldn't ..." ?

"Now quiet girls...! Always go for the quiet girls!" Jiraiya drunken voice broke through his thoughts. "They always whisper because they're full of secrets for the bedroom!"

"Huggnnn" An audible whine of disapproval escaped Naruto's features as he aggressively shook his head 'No no no no' earning another odd look from the waitress. "Hinata wouldn't...not in public and not with...would she? " An strange sensation over took him as he again found himself eying the girl up and down.

"Yo! Shino! Hinata!" Kiba's obnoxious entrance immediately halted Naruto's mind from wandering where it was going but did little shake the Hyuga from her thoughts.

Naruto's lips pouted as the big head and obnoxious fringe of Kiba's hood suddenly blocked his view. So they we're just waiting for Kiba. The nin put his suspicions to rest and let his eyes wander the restaurant once more in boredom. He knew he was early but the others should have arrived at this point.

"So you gave it to him after all?" Ears couldn't help overhearing the wrath in Kiba's voice and eye's couldn't help but fall back on the trio seated across aisle from him. The somber Hinata. The ridged Shino. The angry Kiba! Naruto mouth widened in disbelief this couldn't be-

"Naruto." Shikamaru was immediately caught off guard as Naruto shook his head and motioned for him to be quiet, pointing across the way to the tense table.

Shikamaru peered at the team then lazily back to Naruto.

"Should we joi-"


Ino was offended by the sound, but as she gazed where Naruto was pointing her ears, nose, and sense of drama perked up instantly and her mouth complied to the command intrigued by what was unfolding. Kiba may have had the nose for combat but drama, relationship issues love romance? Ino had him beat there.

Choji took notice of team eight and moved straight towards the juicy scene unfolding before him- Eight large trays of pork strips , lettuce wraps and succulent dipping sauces the waitress laid out on the table as she lit the barbeque. He could have kissed Naruto for pre ordering if the blonde wasn't now poised on his knees watching from the booth closer to Team 8.

Shikamaru let out an eye roll as he sat next to Choji while Ino slowly slid in the booth next to Naruto mirroring his posture.

With no real interest in what was going on across the room, Shikamaru barely cared her thin frame was blocking his vision.

"I almost don't want to ask... " Shikamaru's eyes moved back and forth between the backs of the nosy blonde duo a sigh of annoyance parting his lips.

"What? Did you lose your hearing or something?" Kiba questioned in annoyance.

Ino all but fell off from her seat as she looked behind her but finding both her teammates disinterested her sights rested on Naruto.

"What. is. going. on?"

The fox nin never strayed from the scene, only mumbled three words that made Choji not drop, but waver with his chopsticks and even caused Shikamaru's lazy eyebrows to rise,"Team 8, "San-Ka-Ku-Kan-Kei!" The words emerged in syllables much like the drawn out, "NOOOOO?" that escaped Ino's lips afterwards.

They'd heard of cells getting broken apart due to love triangles all the time! Every ninja knew it was taboo to be romantically tangled with your teammates! Apparently every team but team 8!

Shikamaru and Choji's eye met in shock but soon agreed on disbelief.

"No way" Choji was quick to chime , never breaking away from his sizzling pork strips. He may not have been the most slender nin in Konoha, but there was no way Shino was getting it in before he was. The thought actually made the Akimichi heir consider if maybe it was time to slim down. His mind and the smell of grilled pork quickly returned with a verdict of "nah". Ino was having similar thoughts but of a different nature. She thought Hinata would be married with children before she stayed conscious long enough to even kiss a boy.

"Oi Hinata?" Kiba's elevated voice broke all of team 10 from their own thoughts and earned the trio a gazes from all over the room.

"Kiba." The bass Shino voice served as a warned for his teammate to calm down.

Naruto looked back to Shikamaru and Choji blue orbs so growing in disbelief while Ino gripped his shoulder in disbelief.

Kiba grabbed his hair in frustration knocking his hood off . "So, when did this happen?" The boy worked to restrain his aggravation, but could barely suppress it. Naruto understood. If his girl was "training" with his team mate he'd be pretty pissed too.

What he had never understood, was how TenTen, Ino, and Sakura gushed over the trashy antics of the nin on the Suna Shore - but the scene going down in this restaurant was undeniably engaging.

"Where did you do it? When? "Naruto's eyes followed just as slowly as Hinata shook her head. He couldn't see the pain on Kiba's face but , could certainly hear it in his voice.

"Hinata?"As the Inuzuka grabbed her arm, Ino's gasp shook him from his fascination. Enough watching! The blonde stood to make his way across the aisle, rolling up the sleeves of his jacket. Kiba was an alright guy, but he knew better than anyone how he needed to be put in his place once in the while. His fist was just the rolled up newspaper to do so.

Even if Hinata was wrong he wasn't going to sit back and -

"Last night."

He froze in his tracks.

To Naruto's ears, the room fell silent. For the first time since he'd entered the restaurant, Hinata had spoke and despite the quiet of her voice among the soft chatter of the packed restaurant, the pitch of pain in it struck something funny in him.

Unknowingly his hands clasped the orange and black material over his heart. His eyes went to Shino's who didn't notice him standing there a distance away. Shino's eyes and hand were now on Hinata and her shoulder.

"I-I was in the Kitchen and he came in - Kurenai is away so I know...I knew I shouldn't have done it... but I couldn't wait anymore and ...and so I gave it...to him in the kitchen...on the table.

Four mouths fell opened as Shino nodded at the table. Hinata's head never lifted but her hands did to cover the sob that escaped her mouth.

"Did he scream? Did he hurt you? Did he even care at all?" Kiba inched closer across the table towards her with every question. As her head shook back and forth in a characteristic no.

Naruto was curious and a trouble maker but in the fun sense but Drama always bored him and was Sakura's number one tool to make him leave her alone but he had to get to the bottom of this. What were these three doing and why would Kiba put himself though the pain of wanting to know these things? And how could Hinata be so cold to answer, 'Last night on the table?' Jiraiya was right after all. He was so confused he didn't even know who to who to stand up for anymore. The broken hearted Kiba or the treacherous Hinata who had seduced both her teammates with her womanly charms.

"So what now?" As always Shino added a touch of logic to situation. Looking from Hinata across the booth to Kiba he noticed Naruto now standing behind Kiba and cocked his head to the side in questioning manner.

Kiba took it as a sign and nodded before slamming his hand down on the table, "Well you could stay with Shino, but the bed bugs will bite and since we don't know when sensei's mission will end. I'll take you back. Come on. You can have my room I'll sleep on the couch."

Take you back? Bewildered Naruto looked between all three. Take her back! REALLY after all this? Shino opened his mouth to address the boy but was shocked when the girl beside him lifted her head.

"You're father's a tool. If he can just sign you away and send you out like trash then-"

"I'm staying at the inn above the st... stationary shop so... I...I'll be okay, but really, thank you both for supporting me." For the first time in the night the the blue veil lifted and Naruto and for the first time in his life felt a strange pang in hi chest. She always looked frail to him but her swollen red eyes seemed glossy and unseeing as they bulged out of her pale skin . A smile occupied her face in feigned appreciation but the sadness and weight of her soul shown through it reminded him of an albino frog he once summoned. The girls face was so odd and tortured and oddly...beautiful...and...eerie that it stuck an incredibly strange chord in his heart. He heard but didn't fully process the humor of what he thought was going on, the full story of what had transpired between her and her father, nor the lack of space that was now between him and side of her face.

Kiba's face scrunched in surprised. He was occupied with the intensity of the situation he didst even detect the smell of ramen and sweat behind him, "Naruto?"

Hinata's head instantly shot to the side to be met with sunshine hair and wide eyes with an intense stare. . The boy didn't think, before the words escaped his lips "Oi Hinata? You can live with me!"

The shock felt like 10 seconds but lasted less than one as her eyes took him in and in an instance of of recognition as to what she might look like and who she was speaking to. Through all her trauma through all her sadness of the past few days her instincts took over and in a rush to hid her face. The girl banged her head so hard on the table she ended up not having to worry about where to stay that night as a concussion earned her room and board in Konoha Hospital.

That was all a year ago, and before the girl ever stepped foot into his apartment the eerie light of her face that night had stepped foot into his heart.

Awkward moments of coming home to post mission turned into awkward moments of having nobody home when he returned and she was away on missions. Someone had once told him , "It's not like you ever had a family in the first place. and if the lonely he felt in the entrance of that home tonight was the slightest taste of what Sasuke knew... Naruto only nodded to himself gazing over at Sakura. Who still stared back at him expecting him to finish his sentence.

"Hinata, is your what?"

"My only family…here." The blonde eased out as though he were figuring out a math problem not for Sakura's benefit but for his own. "Not like you're not like my family!" Naruto quickly protested hands waving for emphasis. "I just mean like family live at home Family like a husbands and- no no like like people you live with!!"

Sakura feigned insult but offered a smile happy to see some life back in her team mates eyes and to calm Naruto's spastic nature

"So- in order for her to be very happy she needs to have her family..."His mind flinched back to days when she'd drearily stare out the apartment window or how her hand would hold his a little tighter on days they'd spot her father around time. The yearning in her voice when Neji would drop in to check-in on her and she'd ask about her sister and without saying his name her father.

She was enough for him as far a home life was concerned but outside of Hinata, he still had his own team 7 family to repair. Naruto knew plenty but was sure of one thing. He'd never stop until his family was back together and tonight Hinata had the chance to mend hers. How could he deny her?

"She needs her family...Right?" the fox nin's questioning eyes met Sakura's for an answer .

Unsure she could confirm what he wanted, she braced her hands against the rough log they were seated on. The crickets chimed their opinions freely as the breeze picked up once more.

"Right? –" Naruto's insistence made her smile. Whether it was an answer or a steaming bowl of ramen- if Naruto wanted it from you… he'd get it.

"Well…" Sakura stopped breathing for a moment as her gaze cast upward to the millions of stars above training grounds, and for a heartbeat her thoughts wandered to who else might be counting the same stars. Gripping the russet fabric over her heart it was now the awareness in her bright orbs that caught Naruto off guard. " I like to think of it as a movie.."

"Sakura-Chaaaan, !"

She barely reacted to his dramatic display as her green eyes followed Naruto as he threw himself back back over the log meeting the ground with a thud.

"No... Seriously If-"


The cherry haired nin flopped back to match Naruto's posture. Anyone who found the two nin, backs slumped over a rotting old log would have assumed some odd nature training must have been occurring instead of a team 7 heart to heart.

"IF your life were novel…AND you were the Hero- is this how the story would end?"

Annoyed blue met questioning green as the cricket choir once more took center stage. Naruto smiled at Sakura's heart felt attempt but how could someone with a good home and caring mother understand the importance of his situation. Naruto had grown up alone without family… His story turned out very different due to his inner being and support from people like Iruka and Kakashi sensei – Sakura and ... even Sasuke….

Sakura propped herself up on one elbow as though she could almost hear his inner mention of the Uchiha.

"You don't get it" he murmured in a grumble that only her Naruto sensitive ears could detect.

" What don't I get…? I think I get it...Maybe you don't get it. Did she say she wanted to stay home? "

Naruto opened his mouth to argue but it quickly closed... "Well,"

"Is that what she said?" Naruto's gaze shifted over once more at the girl glaring down at him.

"Ya know… Hinata may be quiet… and..."






"Demure! But, she's..." Sakura's eyes shifted upward in contemplation, "assertive- in her own ways. She left home right? That was her decision..."

"But Neji…her dad…and sister… Sometimes I Know-"

"That was her decision Naruto- that was her... I don't know, nindo" The blonde sat up now face dangerously close to his colleagues.

Sakura's eyes didn't back down in the least from his questioning orbs until a smile broke her expression and a chuckle escaped her lips.

If Sasuke would have left his family issues behind … and accepted her feelings…where would she be now…

Sakura didn't realize she was laughing until the cocking of Naruto's head sideways grabbed her attention. The fire in the boys eyes let her know she had gotten her point across.

Shaking her head to dismiss her own laughter she continued as though nothing had happened, "So I'll ask again. If your life was a movie… would you have sent Hinata back…to the place she left?"

Naruto only shook his head no still observing the strange behavior of his colleague?

"so...what then?"

The breeze picked up especially strong silencing even the crickets choir.

The girl could no longer contain her own discontent , amusement …or awkward feelings on the situation and broke into soft laughter to hide the tears of her forlorn heart.

Boy's were funny.

Kai Hyuga- brother of Kou. Guardian of Hanabi Hyuga excelled at many things but had a passion for two. Sleeping and arguing with his charge when nobody was around to get him in trouble. These reasons were exactly why he was very upset when he was woken to guard Hinata's door, and why he took the arrival of Hanabi to visit .

This of course was also why the sharp slide of the Shoji door caused the young Hyuga to jump to attention . He was shocked when the usual steel faced Hanabi didn't roll her eyes at his surprised reaction as was oft her way. The nimble Hyuga simply nodded at him and made her way down the hall barely acknowledging the curious Kai.

"Hanabi-sama" He called after her. Not wishing to pick a fight on home grounds he did have something he honestly wanted to ask her. The rail thin Hyuga stopped at the mention of her name but neither turned her head nor made any movement to hint she was thinking of doing so. Kai smiled slightly at her typical "heiress" behaviors.

"Hinata-sama…how … is she okay"

Hanabi began walking forward again paying little heed to his question. Kai let out an amused huff. Hanabi could certainly be quite the bitch. Her cold nature was really something else. His gaze shot up as the young Hyuga stopped her glare finding him over her shoulder. Kai cringed feeling almost as though she was reading his mind . The young Hyuga eyed him up and down a few times. "She's in there… sleeping . So be quiet and let her sleep."

"Yes ma'am" the branch member nodded a rare case of nerves getting the best of him. The heiress simply continued down the hall.

"Ha-Hanabi sama?"

The nin stopped again looking over her shoulder… your foot? The young Hyuga looked down at her feet then back to Kai blinking slowly the two stared at each other for a long moment until Hanabi's gaze appeared panicked.


"Hinata sama healed it for you?" The words came out more like fact than question. Hanabi looked down once more at her pale toes as a slight smile spread across her face. she nodded before resuming her journey down the hall.

Kai shook his head. It was amazing how so much of the Hyuga house was yin and yang, black and white, night and day - and the Hyuga sisters were definitely the perfect example. What he wanted to say to the cold young Hyuga was, 'you could take some tips in selflessness lady', but what came out was,

"She is very kind isn't should be more like her, You're lucky to have such a sister."

Hanabi smiled as she headed down the wooden hall. As her lavender eyes met Kai's, a slight smile appeared on her face causing the young man to step back from shock.

"I am" she responded softly flipping her raven locks over her shoulder as she once more continued down the hall.

Shocked. The young Hyuga laughed slightly thumping his back against the wall beside Hinata's door. Hinata having a break down. Hiashi losing control, and now Hanabi smiling…

The boy simply shrugged as he closed his eyes to resume his nap.

Everything was certainly out of sorts in the Hyuga house tonight.

Well! She is back! And I just want to say after years of not updating my life has changed in ways that you wouldn't believe! It's been crazy(literally in some ways) I now work as a professional writer (shock I know because my grammar still sucks) and in truth writing as a day job made really lose a lot of passion fro writing in my free time. But a few months back, I received some really motivating pms and reviews from people and I want to say thank you so much for the push to continue to all of you with a lil extra thank you to AmazingBlaze101 and CheerfulBubbles369 for giving me that little wake up push! and encouraging me to do some fun writing. More than just fanfiction I wanted the circle game and shedding especially to be really good stories apart from the naruto world and kishi's characters. I 'll try to update soon(for what its worth) and honestly this story should be fin within two chaps?

I'm rusty and it shows I know so bare with me as I get back into it and get back into the characters and writing voice.

Next Chapter? A Story We Don't Have Time For.

Thanks everyone for being patient. Serena-Chan is back on the map^_~