Hinata's eyes slowly parted as she greeted the waking world. At first she was pleased to note that the blurriness had gone away, and that she could see clearly. Of course she wasn't so happy to discover that she was in the hospital, wearing a hospital gown, instead of at the stadium wearing her ninja attire.

This had happened to her before, actually it happened to every ninja, but she never liked it. The sensation of knowing that someone had taken her clothing off and put her in something else without waking her up always disturbed her. It reminded her of the days when everyone wroter her off as weak.

Cautiously she moved her head to the side. There in the bed next to her was Shikamaru. 'Weird,' she thought to herself, 'I thought that they didn't do co-ed hospital rooms.' Temari was sitting next to his bed, looking very worried. Her back was to Hinata.

"Psst," Hinata hissed at Temari to get her attention. Temari spun around, trying to cover the fact that she had been caught off guard. Hinata giggled slightly and motioned her closer. Temari leaned in closer, probably assuming that Hinata's throat was sore. "He's faking it," Hinata whispered just loud enough for Shikamaru to hear. His eyebrow twitched slightly, confirming her accusation.

Temari laughed a little, then smirked. It was kind of weird that it reminded Hinata of Gaara. "I know," whispered back, causing Shikamaru's eyes to snap open in shock.

"Man," Shikamaru muttered, "I was having a good nap too." He didn't seem to upset though after Temari turned around again and started giving him attention. Hinata sighed to herself out of jealousy. She liked seeing her friends with people who make them happy, she just didn't like how lonely it made her feel sometimes.

Gingerly, Hinata sat up. She didn't start feeling dizzy, so she swung her legs over the side of her bed. It was then that she noticed the difficulty she was going to have. The hospital gown she was wearing had no back. Well, it probably did, but only the top of the gown was tied, leaving her entire backside exposed for anyone to see.

Her face immediately heated up, and she slammed her back down onto the bed. Her eyes were wide, as she stared unseeingly at the ceiling. Temari and Shikamaru looked over at her curiously.

Gaara walked through the door to the room, shattering the awkward atmosphere of the room, with an even more awkward atmosphere. He stood at the door, looking quizzically at his sister and Shikamaru, who were staring at Hinata. Then he turned his attention to the madly blushing Hinata.

"Is this a bad time?" he asked the room in general, and Hinata specifically.

"G-gaara!" Hinata squeaked out. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to check on you," he informed her.

"Oh," Hinata said, at a loss for words, "Th-thankyou." Then she lay back in her bed so that her back was covered.

"Weren't you just about to get up?" Temari asked her.

"Ah, um," Hinata explained. Her mind was racing. 'How do I address this delicately?'

Shikamaru sat up a little in his bed, to get a better look at Hinata, when his eyes widened in comprehension. He probably wasn't as shy as she was, but he understood what she might be going through.

"Hey Sweety," he addressed Temari, they were off duty now, and could be more relaxed in their dealings with each other. There was no reason for them to be coolly professional with each other, "Maybe hinata might like some privacy."

Temari nodded, as comprehension hit her. Then she stood and pulled the curtain between Hinata's bed and Shikamaru's. Hinata smiled at her greatfully before she got off the bed and found her clothes, folded in the seat next to her bed neatly. She glanced cautiously at the curtain, before she removed her gown completely, and started putting her clothes on.

She poked her head out from behind the curtain before she stepped out, fully dressed, and bright red. It didn't matter that they couldn't see her when she was behind the curtain, she had still been naked in the same room as men.

She got suspiscious, when no one made eye contact with her for a while. When it came to Shikamaru and Temari, it was almost understandable. They looked like they were in deep discussion about something, but whenever they glanced at her, they quickly moved their gazes. It was Gaara that really made her aware that something was up. He was staring fixedly at the ground, and his cheeks looked decidedly flushed.

"So, how is everything?" she asked slowly, watching his reaction. No one responded. Finally, Hinata looked behind her, at the curtain she had been behind. That's when she noticed that light had been streaming through the window, making the shadows of the furniture very clear.

Her eyes widened in embarrassment. She looked back at Gaara, and he met her eyes this time. She could feel a fainting spell creep up on her, and fought it for all she was worth. She barely managed, but she did, and grinned in triumph. Which apparently caused Gaara's blush to deepen.

She cleared her throat, and tried to sound athoratative, "So, what happened while we were out cold?" she questioned. Anything to distract from the fact that Gaara had pretty much seen her naked, as well as Shikamaru and Temari.

"Sasuke was also out cold, so they placed him under armed guard. I actually came in to check that you were okay, because he just woke up and the Hokage wanted to question him. The current theory is that he was after Hinata to add the byakugan to Orochimaru's abilities. Most likely through forced breeding," Hinata gasped at his words.

"What about the theory that he might be after you," Temari questioned, "so that he could harness the power of Shukaku?"

Gaara shook his head. "That one isn't quite as popular as the other, because most of the assaults were geared towards a Hyuuga, and not myself. Also, Orochimaru left Akatsuki because of their plans to harness demon power. He's a great believer in inner strength."

"But how did he fix it so that Hinata was on the mission?" Shikamaru questioned.

"That's one of the things that Tsunade is going to ask him about," Gaara answered.

Hinata absorbed all this with out saying a word. It seemed as though everything had been wrapped up well, except there was something bugging her. Finally it hit her.

"Do they know what kind of genjutsu he used?"

"Kurenai said that it was a standard genjutsu, and that he wasn't the one using it. Instead, it was placed on him, and set to trigger when he lost consciouness. Anyone who was connected to him would be pulled in."

"So, they weren't trying to get Shikamaru," she stated, feeling a cold shiver of dread go up and down her spine. 'It's true. They were trying to get me.' Her mind refused to contemplate what they would do after that. Gaara shook his head.

Silence engulfed the room. No one really knew what to say about the subject, and changing the subject too abruptly would be obvious, and rude. Finally Shikamaru did his duty as the smart ass.

"So, now that you're dressed, why don't you leave me in private so I can keep my modesty?" he grumbled, shooting a significant glance at his girlfriend.

"What modesty?" Temari shot back, taking his cue for what it was. They began to good naturedly argue, making it just a little awkward for the other two in the room. Each felt like a third wheel, even though there were four people in the room.

"I think we should leave them alone," Hinata said unnecessarily. Gaara nodded, and opened the door for her. They made their way halfway down the hall before Sakura came charging after them. Hinata and Gaara turned around to watch her.

"Hinata!" she panted, "You can't leave yet. You still have to check out."

"That's where we were going Sakura," Hinata replied, looking worried. The amount of energy that Sakura put into running after them didn't match up with her message. "Why did you run after us?"

"I just went into the room that you and Shikamaru were sharing, and I walked in on Temari and Shikamaru making out!" she practically shouted this, and several people in the hall looked back at the hyperventilating girl.

Gaara's eye twitched and he stared at the door they had just left. Hinata could feel as each of his muscles tensed, one by one. He looked incredibly dangerous just now, and Hinata tried to suppress a shudder as she imagined the thoughts going through his head. Most likely they involved maiming Shikamary to such an extent that he was going to wish he were dead.

"Gaara," she said quietly, trying to break his concentration on the door. He acknowledged her existence, but that was it. "Would you escort me to the nurse's station so that I can get checked out?"

Slowly Gaara turned his attention away from the room the happy couple resided in. He turned it all on her, but the aura of death and destruction was hidden slightly. He nodded and turned away, following wherever Hinata might lead.

The silence began to get to Hinata, making her wish that she were alone, instead of with a very protective younger brother. 'This must be how Kiba and Shino feel after I meet one of Hanabi's boyfriends.' She glanced at Gaara, only to see him staring strait ahead, slightly above her shoulder.

"Gaara," she said finally, having had enough, "Your sister can take care of herself." The silence grew, and the atmosphere became tenser. "They have been dating for almost two years, what do you think they did on there dates?"

"Knitting," growled Gaara, which caused Hinata to giggle. He glared at her, and the suicidal part of Hinata took over. She giggled even harder. So hard in fact that she nearly lost her balance and ended up bumping into his chest. This stopped her giggling instantly, because she was so close to him.

'Don't faint! Don't faint!' she though desperately. Gaara peered down at her, and grinned as f he knew what she was thinking. It was too much for the young heiress to handle. She let darkness take over.

'Something's different,' she thought seconds later. Normally about this time she would be off in la la land, or wherever it was that she went when she fainted. Instead she was still here, just with her eyes closed. There was something warm at her back, and something pressed into her hand.

Cautiously she opened her eyes, to look directly into green orbs that were hovering over her. She looked around, and saw the uncomfortable contortion that he had put his body into, so that her back was against his chest, but his face was in front of hers. 'That must really be hurting his neck,' she thought idly, as she scrambled to her feet.

The only thing hampering her progress was her hand, which was firmly anchored by his. She stared at it dumbly before she comprehended what it meant.

'We're holding hands!' she inwardly squealed. She closed her eyes to savor it before she knew what she was doing. She snuggled into his chest and absorbed the feelings that flooded through her.

"This is just right," she whispered to herself, before she remembered where they were and jumped away in embarrassment. He just smiled, and took her hand again. Walking with her to the nurse's station and into a future of being loved, protected, and treassured.