Cause for Conversation

By: firefly

Note: My first real SasuHina fic. Written for my lovely Sharingank's birthday.

Cause for Conversation

Hinata stumbled when Hanabi called out her name, sweat dripping into her eyes as she staggered past Neji, attempting to maintain some vestige of the Jyuuken stance.

"Enough," Hiashi raised a hand from the sidelines, watching Hanabi as she approached.

Hinata quickly straightened and bowed her thanks to her cousin for the spar before turning towards Hanabi.

"Hokage-sama wants to see you," Hanabi said, much to her and her father's surprise. "For some mission."

"M-Me?"

"Don't make Hokage-sama wait, Hinata."

"Yes, father," she stammered, bowing before she scurried out past the gates.

She vaguely wondered whether she was being summoned as a substitute for someone, as the number of shinobi had dwindled since the chunnin exams.

By the time she made it to the front doors of the Hokage's office, she was out of breath and clutching a fistful of her shirt. The medics had said it would take at least a year for the damage to heal.

Wincing, she straightened and knocked.

The door opened almost immediately and for a moment all she could see was the glint of metal between blonde and blue.

"Hinata! You're Sakura's substitute?"

"N-Naruto-kun?" she stammered in surprise.

"Oi, Sasuke, Hinata's substituting for Sakura," Naruto shouted over his shoulder, before grabbing her wrist and dragging her into the office.

"Naruto, do you mind?" Tsunade said irritably from behind her desk. "Let go of her."

Hinata watched in mortification when the blonde stuck his tongue out, but Tsunade only sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Yes, well, you probably know why you're here. Haruno Sakura is unable to attend to this mission because"—

"She has the chicken pox!" Naruto interrupted. "She's sick, and this old hag is forcing me to go on a mission when I should be taking care of her."

Hinata wilted a little at his comment and Tsunade lost her temper, punching a hole through her desk.

"Idiot! She has her parents to take care of her. Now shut up and listen to the mission details," she barked.

"Hn."

Hinata glanced off to the side and noticed Uchiha Sasuke, his face expressionless safe for the twitch in his right eye.

Hinata gulped and turned her attention back to Tsunade.

Inwardly, she didn't hear a word, her thumping heart drowning out the words.

I'm on a mission with Naruto-kun, she thought, her stomach wringing in excitement and nerves at the thought.

But there's also Sasuke-san…she gulped again, biting her lower lip as the feeling in her stomach became more unpleasant.

There's Sasuke-san…and he's really intimidating. What if he thinks I'm weak? Will he make fun of me in front of Naruto? Is he that mean? Oh, oh no, I hope he doesn't talk to me. I might embarrass myself. I might even run away from him, or worse…I might…and as a testament to her last thought, a wave of nausea swept over her.

"Awww!"

Hinata nearly jumped at the sound of Naruto's wail.

"That's it?" he whined.

"That's it," Tsunade snapped back. "I don't care if you think it's boring."

She turned to look at Hinata, her voice and expression softening drastically. "Did you get all of that, Hinata?"

Hinata nodded dumbly in response.

"Okay. Deliver the maps to the feudal lord, be bored, and come back," Naruto recited dully. "Got it."

"Good," Tsunade said in relief, slumping back into her chair. "Now get out."

Hinata made sure to stay close to Naruto on the way out, since being near Sasuke was making her knees wobbly. And not in the good way, either.

However, when they'd gotten their packs and made it to Naruto's house so he could get his, Hinata broke out in a cold sweat.

Naruto ran into the apartment and left his teammates waiting outside. Hinata carefully kept herself ten feet away from Sasuke, staring intently at a dandelion growing at her feet.

The silence was painfully awkward as they waited, and she regretted the instant she looked up, hearing the scrape of his sandal against the dirt.

She caught him glancing at her when she looked up, and hated herself as the blood rushed uncontrollably to her cheeks.

Oh no, oh no, oh no…please don't let him think I like him, she moaned inwardly. I can't help the blushing. I blush when old people pat me on the head, for God's sake!

"I…" Hinata froze upon hearing herself speak.

"I hope…Uchiha-san is doing well," she choked out, lowering her gaze to his shoes.

She blinked deliberately slow, taking the opportunity to look at him through closed lids. He shrugged in response, the constant furrow in his brow receding a little.

"I'm okay," he said offhandedly, turning to look at the windows of the apartment. He seemed to pause a moment, realizing that he should return the polite inquiry.

"You?" he said shortly.

Hinata nodded frantically, a wispy little smile overtaking her features. "I-I'm okay."

Another pause.

"I heard your cousin beat you badly at the chunnin exams."

Hinata flinched, wondering if he was going to rub it in. But he merely continued his observation of the windows, neither scrutinizing nor disdainful when he momentarily glanced over at her.

There was a sharp intake of breath when she realized he wasn't making fun of her. Rather, in his own offhand way, he was asking if she'd recovered from the fight.

"Um…the medics said it would take a year," she whispered, feeling his eyes return to her as she poked her fingers together. "B-Before the internal damage…before it…"

"Okay, I'm ready!"

Hinata trailed off, smiling weakly at the ground as Naruto bounded out of the building. Sasuke grunted in annoyance before turning to lead the way, and although she was somewhat relieved by the interruption, she couldn't help but feel a little dismayed as the rest of the words lingered and died away on her tongue.

She didn't speak to Sasuke until three hours later, when they paused near a river to have some lunch.

Naruto tossed his pack to the ground and Hinata set hers down as well, blinking when an orange jacket was flung over it.

She yelped the moment she looked up, catching a glimpse of a half-naked Naruto before he dived into the water.

Stumbling away from the riverbank, she looked away to see Sasuke forming a seal over a pile of sticks. A moment later, he blew a gentle stream of flames into the wood, leaving Hinata humbled and somewhat awed.

This time it was he who caught her looking as he glanced up, and she automatically took a step backward, wincing inwardly at how it must have looked to him.

He didn't react, merely blinking at her action before lowering his eyes to the fire again. Hesitantly, she made her way over and sat across from him and the fire.

"C-Can I…" she swallowed when he looked at her. "Can I help…?"

"You can cook the fish," he replied, and she nodded in return, glad to be of some use.

Naruto returned with six fish, two for each of them. Sasuke saw Hinata's blatant discomfort as a dripping, half-naked Naruto sat next to her, completely oblivious to her embarrassment.

Had it been Sakura, she would have smacked him upside the head and shouted for him to put some clothes on.

But Hinata…Sasuke mused, watching her fidget on the log.. Hinata's too nice.

"Oi, dobe," Sasuke interrupted Naruto's chatter. "Go put on some clothes."

Naruto made a face at him. "Yes, mother."

When he got up and left, Hinata breathed a sigh of relief, almost tempted to thank the quiet boy sitting across from her. Almost.

The aroma of cooked fish filled the air as the fire charred the skin, and Hinata started, remembering that she'd brought seasoning with her. Naruto returned, this time fully-clothed, in time to see Hinata seasoning the fish, an assortment of little packets and vials at her feet.

"Wow, Hinata. That smells good!"

She ducked her head at the compliment, focusing her attention on the fish as a little smile graced her face.

When she handed Sasuke his share, she thought she imagined the soft 'thanks', his murmur lost amongst the quiet splintering of burning wood.

After they ate, they set out once more and this time Hinata felt the tension seep from her shoulders, almost content to be in both Naruto and Sasuke's presences. Almost.

They reached their destination a few minutes past sundown, all three pausing to stare appreciatively at the enormous mansion looming before them.

A guard at the gate asked for verification and Sasuke handed him the assignment along with their I.D.s. A moment later, they were ushered into the mansion and directly into the room the feudal lord was residing in.

Hinata felt the world fall away beneath her feet when they entered a room full of at least forty people, all talking loudly and jubilantly amongst the clinks of wine glasses.

"His lord is throwing a function," a maid explained to Hinata, who felt horribly exposed as she, Naruto, and Sasuke stood among the seated, rich guests.

Naruto seemed unperturbed and bounded up to the feudal lord, thrusting the box of maps in his face.

The man smiled and thanked him, reaching forward to take the box. A moment later, an enormous, red-faced woman who could only be his wife stood up and squealed.

"What an adorable boy!"

"Eh?" Naruto squinted as he raised his head to the woman towering over him. Another moment later, and his face was being squashed into her cleavage. Hinata gasped as Naruto thrashed in the woman's grip, his muffled screaming lost amongst the laughter of the guests.

"Hirako! I want a son just like him!" The woman exclaimed to her husband. "He's so cute and chubby and…" she trailed off suddenly, dropping Naruto to the floor when her eyes fell on Sasuke.

The Uchiha stood very still, hoping that if he didn't move, she wouldn't see him. But oh, the woman saw him. And oh, did she squeal. Loudly.

Sasuke could have dodged her and run out of the house, seeing as how the mission was accomplished, but years of having random old women hug him during his childhood years left him immobile and helpless to her affection.

Hinata had to raise a hand to stifle her laughter when the woman grabbed Sasuke in such a tight hug that he stumbled, falling bodily into her bosom. Delighted, she squashed him closer, swinging him delightedly from side to side.

"Hirako! I want this one!" she cried. "He can be our son!"

"Ahaha, Mikami…" the man laughed, waving a hand offhandedly as the guests roared with laughter. "Let the poor boy go."

"You're…so…cute!" Mikami gushed, stuffing his pockets with candies and pulling him back enough to plant a kiss right between his eyes.

Sasuke's face was bright red, from either lack of air or embarrassment or both, his lips twisted into a pained grimace. Naruto staggered to his feet, chest heaving. Then he saw Sasuke and fell back to the ground, laughing hysterically.

Mikami eventually released him after much goading from her husband, insisting that they stay the night because they were children. She seemed deaf to the fact that they were capable shinobi and even took it upon herself to lead them to their room.

"Here we are!" she sang as she threw the door open, ushering them in. "My three children can sleep here for the night!"

Silence.

"…there's only one bed," Sasuke muttered.

"Yes! You can all sleep together like siblings. It'll be so cute."

"…we're not siblings. We're not even related."

"Oh? You're not?" she pouted at this, tapping her finger against her chin. "Then I suppose it would be inappropriate, no? Seeing as how you two are naughty little teenage boys. I wouldn't want this little angel here"— she pinched Hinata's scarlet cheek. "—to be harassed by you two."

"Bring two more beds!" she bellowed suddenly, making the three of them jump. "My children will share a room because the house is big and scary at night. Darling," she cooed, cupping Sasuke's chin. "Want mommy to sleep with you?"

Neither Hinata nor Naruto had ever seen the Uchiha's face go from white to puce that fast.

"Aww, a shy-shy boy, huh? All right, mommy will go join daddy for the rest of the night. Sleep tight!" she leaned down and planted a kiss on each of their foreheads, pausing at Sasuke long enough to smack him on the rump.

The moment she left the room, Naruto leapt onto the bed and collapsed in a fit of hysterical laughter.

"Dude! She just slapped your—!"

"Shut up," Sasuke whispered acidly, right eye twitching uncontrollably again. "Shut up, or I'll kill you."

"I bet you're even more embarrassed because Hinata saw it!"

"Shut up."

Hinata took a step forward, hands rising to pacify the enraged Uchiha.

"N-Naruto-kun…let's all just s-sleep, okay?"

Naruto ignored her, rolling onto his stomach and propping his chin up on laced fingers, winking suggestively and pursing his lips.

"Want mommy to sleep with you, Sasuke?"

For a moment, Hinata could have sworn she saw the liquid black of Sasuke's eyes spiral into crimson, but then he closed his eyes, inhaling deeply before walking over to the bed farthest from Naruto.

However, it seemed that Naruto's judgment was horribly skewed and his self-control was at an all-time low that day. He leapt to his feet with his pillow in hand, lunging towards Sasuke with it.

Hinata's jaw dropped, her stuttered warning drowned out by Naruto's holler.

"Pillow fight!"

THWACK.

Silence blanketed the room as the pillow impacted soundly off the back of Sasuke's head. He staggered and caught himself, hands slightly raised and frozen by his sides, a curtain of dark hair hiding his eyes from them.

Hinata squeaked and backed up against the wall when Sasuke slowly straightened and turned around, staring directly at a grinning Naruto. An instant later, the pillow was snatched from the Kyuubi-holder's hand and was repeatedly thwacked over his head.

"Eek!" Hinata stumbled out of the way when Naruto ran past her, jumping on his bed to grab another pillow.

The look on Sasuke's face could only be described as vicious as he leapt after Naruto, the pillow fisted in his grip. Hinata pressed herself against the wall, aghast and at a loss for what to do as the boys pummeled each other with pillows.

Feathers flew in a flurry around the room and a particularly vicious whack from Sasuke sent Naruto sprawling onto the floor. Sasuke towered over him, standing on the bed and looking demonic as he raised the pillow over his head, ready to deliver the finishing blow.

Naruto merely grinned, putting his fingers together to form a seal.

"Kage Bunshin no jutsu!"

Sasuke fell backwards onto the bed when one of the four clones leapt up and tackled him, screaming simultaneously.

"BANZAI!"

The others jumped to their feet and joined the fray, outnumbering the single Uchiha, beating him all over with the feathery wrath of five pillows.

"N-Naruto-kun," Hinata stammered from the corner, torn as Sasuke crawled out from between the mangled linen, jumping clear across the room and onto another bed. Naruto and his clones chased, and Hinata watched in awe as Sasuke flipped one onto the floor, ducking and sweeping the legs out from beneath another.

But even Sasuke couldn't handle the onslaught of five pillows and was knocked back onto the mattress, completely at Naruto's mercy.

"N-Naruto-kun, please stop!" Hinata pleaded, torn between feeling sorry for Sasuke and happy for Naruto's victory. But Naruto didn't hear her, him and all four clones laughing in unison as they beat on the defenseless Uchiha.

Hinata took a step forward, her mind racing wildly.

Poor Sasuke. He's already so upset and Naruto-kun won't stop bothering him. He's…not so bad…not so mean…almost nice, I guess. Should I…should I help him? Should I go against Naruto-kun?

"No one's here to help you, Sasuke," all five Naruto's taunted. "Just give up!"

Hinata took another step forward, hands rising from her sides.

He told Naruto to put on clothes for my sake. He asked about me. He said thank you. He's…not so bad, not so scary, not so…

"Ha! Too bad Sakura-chan can't see this! Then she'd realize how much you suck!"

Sasuke managed to squint through one partially opened eye to see Naruto grinning down at him between the barrage of pillows.

"Come on, Sasuke! Just give up and—oof!"

Sasuke's eyes widened as Naruto's face contorted in shock, before he disappeared in a poof of smoke.

A second later, another Naruto yelped as a pillow connected with his gut, making him disappear before Sasuke's eyes. He sat up abruptly and the real Naruto, along with his two remaining clones, stared dumbly at Hinata, who stood there, wide-eyed and flushed, chest heaving.

"Hinata?" Naruto said incredulously.

"You shouldn't…" she gasped, on the verge of fainting. "…be so mean, Naruto-kun."

"Ohh, so you're taking his side, huh?" Naruto said teasingly, jumping off the bed, approaching Hinata with the pillow. "Then I guess you're an enemy, Hinata."

The white-eyed girl shakily moved backwards as Naruto approached, her fingers wringing her pillow as his grin widened.

"Don't worry, I'll go easy."

Hinata yelped and closed her eyes, but not before seeing Sasuke lunge on Naruto from behind, grabbing him in a headlock.

"Gah! Sasuke, you bastard!"

They both fell to the floor, wrestling and screaming and rolling over the carpet. The Naruto clones stood in dumb silence for a moment before lunging back into the fray.

Hinata stood there, face flushed and chest heaving.

Sasuke saved me. Sasuke helped me. Sasuke…Sasuke is…

Another clone vanished with a yelp when Hinata's chakra-laden pillow connected brutally with his face.

"Again?" the remaining clone said in surprise, advancing on her. "Well, I don't really wanna hit a girl but I don't have a choice here."

Hinata's brow furrowed in the slightest at the remark, her grip tightening as she poured more chakra into the pillow. The clone raised the pillow and swung it down, staggering forward when Hinata raised her arms and blocked.

A second later, she spun 360 degrees around him, making use of her training. He had no time to react as she slammed the pillow over his head.

Sasuke watched in astonishment as the reclusive Hinata swung her pillow hard enough to knock the clone's head off, her trim and tidy hair askew and jagged against her flushed cheeks. The real Naruto pinned Sasuke to the floor, pushing a pillow onto his face in an effort to keep him still.

She's hit all the clones…Sasuke thought inwardly, managing to punch Naruto's shoulder in his blindness. But she'd never hit Naruto.

Hinata stood over them, out of breath and torn between her feelings as her crush pinned the distant boy she feared beneath him.

I don't want to hit Naruto-kun…I like Naruto-kun…but…

"Naruto-kun," she said meekly, knowing he wouldn't listen. "Please…stop."

Sasuke…was nice to me. Sasuke was…not so bad.

"Naruto-kun…" she said fearfully, taking a step forward, feeling a sense of recklessness take hold.

I can't hit him.

"Naruto-kun."

But I have to help Sasuke.

"Naruto-kun!"

"Ugh!" Naruto felt himself be lifted bodily off of Sasuke, too shocked to prevent Hinata from pinning his arms behind his head in a submission hold.

"Hinata?" he yelped incredulously.

"I'm s-sorry!" she cried, looking down to make sure Sasuke was okay.

The Uchiha sat up, his eyes wide as he stared back at her in unconcealed surprise.

"Hinata,' Naruto said her name again, this time sounding impressed. "Who taught you the Master Lock?"

"K-Kiba."

"Damn. Don't let anyone tell you you're weak ever again."

Something leapt in her chest and she relinquished her grip, backing away as she blushed. Naruto gratefully lowered his arms and winced as he moved his arms about.

Sasuke slowly got to his feet, too surprised at Hinata to get back at Naruto. He took a step closer and for a moment the three stood in subdued silence, Hinata desperately avoiding Sasuke's gaze and Naruto looking amused between the two.

"Oi…I'm not letting you off free, Hina-chan."

Hinata raised her eyes, her jaw dropping when Naruto readied his pillow, a grin spreading over his face.

"Now I'm not going easy."

She gasped and ducked when Naruto swung it at her, rushing past him as he staggered from his momentum. She turned to see the pillow coming straight at her chest and had just enough time to feel a jolt of fear run through her before it connected.

"Naruto! Stop!"

She closed her eyes as Sasuke shouted, an urgency in his voice that made her knees buckle.

Something much heavier and harder than a pillow connected with her front, throwing her back onto the bed behind her.

She gasped when she hit the mattress, the air knocked from her lungs, most of the weight centered on her stomach rather than her chest. Unhurt but winded, she lay there in shock for a few seconds before realizing she couldn't breathe.

Dark, black strands of hair brushed over her forehead and she blinked rapidly as they tickled momentarily against her eyelids. Then Sasuke's face came into view.

Hinata froze, blushed, panicked and became nauseous simultaneously.

Sasuke was almost nice, not so bad, even approachable, she'd discovered in the last day. Sasuke was an okay guy.

But that did nothing to make her current situation okay in any shape or form.

Sasuke was on top of her. Sasuke was staring at her. Sasuke was heavy. Sasuke was warm. Sasuke smelled like lotion and tomatoes.

Hinata whimpered, trembling fingers closing over his shirt's collar and seizing in shock. Why he didn't move immediately was beyond her, and why Naruto did nothing but gape was something she'd think about for the rest of her life.

Maybe he was just as frozen and blushing and panicked and nauseous as her.

His face was red. He was sweating. He seemed a bit green.

Hinata almost felt comforted by that. Almost.

"…you okay?" he croaked, trying to remove her frozen fingers from his collar and failing miserably.

Oh my God.

"Hinata…" he said her name for the first time that day, and she was not surprised to hear him sounding slightly desperate.

No wonder he wasn't getting up. Her fingers were gripping his shirt so hard her knuckles ached and she only became conscious of it when he awkwardly touched her hand.

"Mmph," Hinata whimpered in apology, letting go and closing her eyes when Sasuke practically leapt off of her, his face bright red as he looked between her and Naruto.

"Oh my, I see I was wrong about my children. They can't keep their hands off each other, even in separate beds!" a delighted voice said from the doorway.

Hinata sat up so fast the blood rushed to her head and Naruto and Sasuke whipped around.

Mikami stood leaning in the doorway, smiling very, very widely.


They didn't talk on the way back. They didn't talk when Naruto went into the bushes for washroom breaks. They didn't talk when the Hokage commended them on a job well done. They didn't talk until Naruto went home and they paused on the sidewalk, ready to part ways.

Hinata couldn't bring herself to speak first this time, let alone look him in the eye.

His sandal scraped the ground and her eyes rose to his collar.

"I'm…"

Hinata shook her head, nibbling on her thumbnail.

"You…don't have to apologize, Sasuke-san."

He said nothing and she thought he might leave it at that and depart. But then his hand rose uncertainly from his side, gesturing.

"I didn't hurt you?"

She shook her head again, body bowing inwards with embarrassment.

"You saved me. Naruto-kun didn't know…and you stopped him."

"You helped me first," he said without hesitance. "Why?"

Hinata shuffled her feet, biting her thumb harder as she kept her gaze on his collar.

"Because…because it was unfair."

"So?"

"I…" her voice became painfully small. "I thought…I should help also b-because…you were nice to me."

Sasuke said nothing in response to this and she dared herself to raise her eyes, following through when they rose of their own accord. She caught his gaze and gave him a wisp of a smile. He gave her a look she could only describe as calm and content, his brow relaxed and mouth slightly quirked.

"And…" her heart beat painfully fast, almost hurting her when he looked back at her.

"You're…not so scary to be around," she whispered, mortified with herself for saying something so silly, yet somewhat happy because she meant it.

Sasuke gave her a strange look and she blushed, lowering her eyes again to his sandals.

The panic she'd felt around him before was nothing compared to the panic she felt when she saw his sandaled feet move towards her, one step at a time. She kept her gaze there, shoulders hunching and knees buckling when his feet came to a stop inches from her own.

She breathed slowly and unevenly, not daring to look up, wildly questioning herself why he was so close and why she was reacting this way.

If anyone saw him standing this close to her, what would they think? Why was he so close to her, anyway? He could talk and she could still hear him from ten feet away. Why did he have to smell like lotion and tomatoes? Why did she find that so…cute?

"S-Sasuke," she stuttered into her hands, feeling the heat creep down her neck and up her forehead. "I have to…go."

She could feel his eyes on the top of her head and made herself faint with wondering what he was thinking as he stared at her.

"Will you show me how to do that with my chakra?"

"H-Huh?"

"What you did to the pillow. Will you teach me that?"

"I…I…" she stared at her feet, as if searching for an answer. "Y-Yes. If you want."

"…Hinata."

She wilted visibly at the sound of her name, swallowing hard and raising her eyes to stare at his collar, refusing to let them venture higher.

She saw his shirt crease as he reached into his pocket, suddenly. A moment later, he held his fist out, expecting her to take whatever it was he held.

Hesitantly, she opened and raised her hand, feeling something small and crinkly drop into her palm before she closed her fingers over it.

Sasuke paused as if contemplating his actions, then turned away from her. She lifted her eyes when she saw him take a few steps away, his back to her, then meekly whispered goodbye when he waved without turning around.

She turned around and started walking home, feeling her heartbeat slow and the heat drain from her red face. Her grip relaxed and the little object in her hand almost fell between her fingers.

Hinata stopped and raised her open palm, staring in shock when it rolled over, glinting in the sunlight.

Sasuke had given her strawberry-flavoured candy.

For a moment, she was so bewildered and flattered that her face must have looked damn silly to any passerby. Then her mouth closed, widening into a slight smile when she unwrapped the glossy paper, popping the sugary sweet candy into her mouth.

His departing gift to her was candy. He asked for her company in the guise of training. He was utterly tactless. Her generation's heartthrob and genius, the last Uchiha and stoic shinobi, was still as much of a 12-year-old boy as anyone else.

She pressed the wrapper between the pages of a diary and kept it there, as a reminder of not-so-bad Sasuke.

And from then on, she'd remember lotion and tomatoes whenever she tasted strawberries.