Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or its characters; I just borrow them on weekends.
This is the sequel to my Shino-Hinata fic, Filling in the Emptiness.
This fic starts off at the timeskip, and I use the 9-page Team 8 cameo from the manga as a springboard to begin.
Blinded by your Eyes
"Goodbye father," Hinata gave a bow to her ever-stoic father as she made her way to the clan doors to leave.
By her attire and gear she had, he knew she was off to train as usual with her teammates, "That Inzuka boy" and "The Aburame" as he liked to refer to them.
"Train hard, and don't get in the way," Hiashi said to her, as always.
Hinata despondently sighed in her head, and left.
It was a beautiful morning. It had rained for days, so the break in the weather with the sunshine beaming down on her was a welcome change. She adjusted her lavender and white hoodie, that seemed to swallow her up in its baggy plushness. Shino had told her when she first got it that he liked the soft feel of the fabric, having said so before commenting on how he liked how it looked on her.
So like Shino…she thought with a smile.
Waiting for his teammates to arrive, Shino stood leaning against a large oak tree adorned with a traditional shimenawa rope and gohei paper streamers. His head was snugly hidden behind his high black collar, dark sunglasses, and capacious sweatshirt hood.
He was glad for the clear weather. When he left home that morning the gardens in the Aburame clan tree grove were covered in butterflies, all making up for time they missed during the downpour. He reminded himself that he would have to invite Hinata over later to see them all…knowing how much she enjoyed butterflies, and he loved nothing more than to indulge her.
His kikaichu insects, that had been contentedly resting beneath his skin, suddenly roused, voicing his attention.
He looked up, sunglasses catching sight of a fellow Konoha ninja crossing in front of him. There was no mistaking it…
He stepped forward, "It's been a long time…Naruto." He said calmly.
Although, inside he was thinking quite differently.
Naruto stopped and turned, "Who are you?"
Shino groaned to himself, who else do you know that dresses like this…he thought…more so what other Aburame would even WANT to talk to you…?
"It's me…" he replied, some what hurt.
"Yea, but who are you!" Naruto reiterated.
"Even if it's been a while, you should at least remember the face of your friends. Reason being…that if you don't, it's painful for the person who called you out."
Shino watched as the wheels turned in Naruto's head.
"That annoying style of speech…is that…Shino!" He pointed again.
Although Naruto couldn't see it, he had the most annoyed 'obviously you retard…took you long enough' expression in the entire history of the world.
"So you finally recognized me…" Shino sighed.
"Hey! If you're covering your face that much no one is going to recognize you, idiot!"
Shino's skin crawled in a way he'd forgotten it could…as it was something only Naruto seemed to bring out in him. His kikaichu vibrated with annoyance, wishing to break free, affirm their namesake as destruction beetles. Of course, their master held them back as one does a dog on a leash.
But… Shino began to think…if the dog pulls hard enough, the master may…'accidentally' lose their grip…
"Shino! You're sure early!"
From up and over the fence jumped a tiger-sized, fluffy white dog. Riding on his back was a leather-clad, spiky-brown-haired boy with red tattoos on his cheeks.
Convenient timing Kiba, Shino thought.
Naruto instantly recognized Kiba, and they began chatting about Akamaru's impossible size change (Shino himself could barely believe how big he had gotten in just three years, even though he saw the change happen little by little every day) and other things that Shino tuned out as he broodingly averted his gaze. His attention was caught by a nursery spider guarding her egg case…carefully suspended in a nest of leaves tied together with silk. She was cleaning her forelegs and enjoying the warm weather as well…
The attempt to put what he was really worried about out of his mind was failing.
Shino sighed, slumping his shoulders and letting his hands, which had never left their pockets the entire time, sink down heavily.
Naruto took a moment from his conversation, glancing back at Shino, who the two seemed to have completely forgotten about.
"Hey Shino…" Naruto said nervously.
"You didn't seem to have any problem recognizing Kiba…Naruto," Shino said, the words dripping with gloomy malice.
"Uh oh, he's getting sulky…" Naruto made a face.
What will happen…Shino thought to himself…when Hinata meets him. How will he react to her? More importantly, how will she react to him?
Just as she was rounding the corner of the street's tall fence, Hinata expected to see the usual sight of Shino and Kiba waiting, always there before her. Instead, she stopped upon seeing another figure talking to them…someone with spiky yellow hair, an orange jacket, and a swirl medallion on his left sleeve. Despite the changed attire and slight maturation, she easily recognized him.
"Kya!" She yelped in surprise and ducked back around the corner.
N…Naruto-kun…! She gasped in her head, I heard rumors he was back in the village…but… should I do? I'm still not ready…I haven't seen him for three years…what should I say…umm…"
"What, it's just you Hinata? What are you doing over here?" Naruto came suddenly right up right in her face.
It was plenty enough to overload her circuits. She fainted, collapsing to the ground. Kiba and Shino ran up, trailing behind.
Shino stopped upon seeing Naruto, with Hinata in his arms…trying to rouse her, "Hinata, why did you fall over? Hey!?"
"Why is it that you always faint when you see Naruto…!" Kiba laughed nervously.
Shino clenched his teeth, his insects writhing.
"You didn't seem to have any problem recognizing Hinata either…Naruto…" He said, holding back what he really wanted to say.
His first impulse was to go to her (of course he was worried about her!) and show some kind of affirmation to Naruto to the fact they had been dating for three years. He wanted to get right in Naruto's face and assert to him…dare he think it…that she was his girl. Although he didn't like sayings like that, as it made Hinata sound like property. He knew that if Hinata ever said that he was her man, he wouldn't feel like property…he'd agree with her.
But he just stood there, hands in his pockets…observing. He was good at watching it seemed…when Naruto was around.
"Should we take her to the hospital?" Naruto said with worry.
"She'll wake up in a bit," Kiba waved a hand, "We're used to it, trust me, she's fine."
Kiba elbowed his tall teammate, and whispered, "Hey Shino, careful, I think he's trying to invade on your 'turf'!"
Kiba was well aware of their relationship status. It was a source of endless amusement for him. Thankfully, after two years of teasing he finally toned it down, and got more mature about it.
Shino didn't hate Kiba though (even if he said he did on occasion) despite how annoying, loud, and brash he was at times. It seemed no matter how much he got on Shino's nerves, he never made his skin writhe like Naruto did. Kiba cared about people, about him, Hinata, and Akamaru; most of all, Kiba understood him. Every subdued mannerism, quirky habit, and hidden expression was understood; not misinterpreted as arrogance, inhumanity, or unfeeling.
He was his best friend, as strange as it was for an Aburame and an Inzuka to be best friends, that's what they were.
"I can see that Kiba…" He replied softly.
"Aren't you going to do something about it?" Kiba looked into his face.
"Hey! She's waking up!" Naruto, unaware of their side conversation, suddenly burst out.
Hinata slowly opened her milky purple eyes, to see three faces hovering over her. She blushed and jumped up to her feet, "Oh no…did I…"
"Heh, yea you fainted all right," Kiba grinned.
"Hinata, are you okay?" Shino stepped forward, a hand leaving the safety of its pocket to gently touch her arm.
"Yes…I'm fine," She replied, still a little flushed, hands drawing up close to her chest.
It was quickly discovered that Naruto was looking for people to come on a mission to go infiltrate Orochimaru's lair in the Rice Country. Team 8 had to turn him down because they were very busy with missions of their own, one being scheduled the next day in fact. They parted ways, and went off to their usual training spot. Kunerai-sensei was not with them today, as she was away on a mission of her own.
Shino had not said much else to Hinata since they bumped into Naruto. They began their training with Kiba being the only one saying anything….
"Today I think it may be good if we do some exercises in evasive maneuvers," Kiba said. Akamaru backed him up with a cheerful bark.
Shino stood silent, looking away from Hinata's direction. Hinata was staring at the ground. Neither replied.
"Oookay, no evasive maneuvers, forget that; silly idea anyway. How about, target practice? We need to brush up on our kunai throwing,"
Neither replied. Hinata looked up and in Shino's direction, but he had not moved.
"…okay you two." He crossed his arms, "Shino, you okay?"
He turned to look at his canine teammate, "I'm fine."
"Could have fooled me."
Kiba could just make out his eyebrows dipping into an ever steeper angry slant.
"S…Shino-kun…" Hinata said carefully, "Umm…about…earlier…"
No coherent words came to Shino's mind. He really just wanted some time alone to calm down. His emotions had been welling up so strongly since Hinata fainted that his body ached with the angry buzzing of his kikaichu. So he simply walked away.
His teammates stared, watching him walk off.
After a moment of hesitation, "Shino-kun!" Hinata followed after him.
"…" Kiba put a hand on Akamaru's head as he nudged his side, "Yea boy, I hope they work it out too…"
Shino had stopped and was leaning on tree when Hinata came up, "Shino-kun…" Her face began flushing again.
He knew she'd never be able to say it, "You seemed to be glad to see Naruto,"
She paused, "Of course I was. H…he's my friend and we haven't see him for three years,"
Hinata wasn't fooled by his calm exterior. She was well-attuned to him now, and could easily make out the sound of his kikaichu buzzing in displeasure.
She stepped closer to him, "…it wasn't what it looked like,"
"It seemed to be exactly what it looked like."
"He surprised me!" She raised her voice a little. In their three years together she had grown more bold when talking to him alone. Around no one else could she speak her mind so strongly and without stuttering.
"You still love him, don't you?"
She stuck a blushing glance at the ground, "…I don't …please just listen,"
"I don't want…to be in the way of your happiness, if you want to court him -" He swallowed, not believing he was saying this, "go right ahead."
"NO!" She yelled. Every cicada within 5 meters dropped off their tree trunks and buzzed off in a flurry.
He stared right into her eyes, startled. Very rarely had she ever raised her voice in such a manner.
She breathed…composing herself. Finally, she began, looking right at him,
"It was a childish, little girls crush…and I still have a crush on him I think, but…" She took his arm and removed it from his pocket so she could hold his hand, "I love you…" She smiled, turning a light shade of flush from saying those words. He loved it when she smiled like that… "I look up to Naruto, he's an inspiration to me to try harder…cause when I look at him I feel like anything is possible." She paused for a moment, then moved into him, leaning her head onto his shoulder, his arms gently coming around and protectively holding her at the waist. She closed her eyes and continued,
"But I finally realized, that I want to be like him…not with him. I'm invisible to Naruto, he's completely oblivious. He likes Sakura, or any other girl…but not me. I could see it in him today, he still doesn't know about my crush. Even if he came up to me tomorrow and asked me out…I would turn him down. He's nice to look at, like some piece of artwork, but is completely untouchable. We're nothing alike…it took me a long time to figure that out."
Then, she thought, because she couldn't bring herself to say it to him…I never thought that anyone would want to date me…someone so shy and pathetic. But…you believed in me, helped me…and showed me that I am strong. Then you said that you liked me… even loved me…and showed me your true self. You're such a kind, gentle, intelligent person, and have been so unbelievably romantic…please don't be mad at me for my childhood crush…
He clutched her closer, "I'm sorry I acted so brashly, I just…" He leaned his head onto hers, "I was so scared of losing you…I couldn't bear it. Forgive me."
"Shino…" She pulled away just enough to look up into his sunglasses.
"I know I'm only 16...but I love you so much…I can't think of another person I'd ever want to spend my life with." He said with the wisdom of someone far older.
Shino allowed her hands to pull his hood back, exposing his dark brown, fuzzy poof of hair. Next to go was the upper two clasps of his high-collared, black coat. The final barrier of Shino's defenses to fall was his glasses, which she slid off his nose and folded, before placing them in his sweatshirt pocket. His fully-exposed face had the subtle, warm expression she loved to see on him. The darkness where his eyes once were seemed to look into her the same as her Byakugan could do. Her pupil-less milky purple irises were shadowed by her eyelashes.
It was strange. Hinata had been dating Shino for three and a half years, and deeply kissing was not something they were strangers to now. They had never felt pressure or need to go much beyond that and snuggling when sharing a bed together (while on missions that is, she had never stayed overnight at his place before).
However, Hinata found herself thinking suddenly about how attractive Shino was, and how she never really noticed how he made her feel until that point. What his touch, look, or voice did to her. It was as if her hormones had just kicked in, and before she knew what she was doing her hands were undoing the remaining clasps of his jacket and smoothing themselves over his bare chest.
Shino of course had been attracted to Hinata ever since the academy, having a similar crush like that of Sakura-chan had for Sasuke-kun. However, as he grew older, the crush developed into love, and now as they were both teetering on those delicate years between childhood and adulthood, it was developing into something more.
"Ahhh!" The two embracing teens startled and released each other. There next to them was the grinning face of Akamaru. He panted, then vocalized, "Rrrrorrrr,"
"You found them Akamaru! Good boy," Kiba walked up and patted his companion's fluffy head. His grin quickly faded as he looked up to see Shino sternly fumbling his glasses back on while clasping up his coat, and Hinata zipping up her sweatshirt and fixing her hair.
But the grin slowly returned, bigger than ever, with a smooth, steady rising motion.
"Am I…interrupting something?" He said so thickly with pleasure that you could cut it with a knife.
"Kiba, Don't sneak up on people like that." Shino said in the typical authoritative, deep voice of his as he flipped his hood back over his head.
"You mean don't sneak up on people who are BUSY?"
"K-Kibba!" Hinata was blushing like crazy, "You're terrible, we weren't doing anything…"
"Oh, then if I was to…say…tell everyone about this nothing you'd not care then?"
"KIii-BA!" She yelped.
"Arf!" Akamaru smiled.
"We should be training, I am sorry we took so long," Shino walked past his teammates back towards their training area.
Hinata walked alongside Kiba, Akamaru on her other side.
"I was just kidding, you know that, I wouldn't gossip to everyone." He said to her.
"I know Kiba…" she smiled at herself, still thinking about what had just transpired.
They trained together as usual, but Shino and Hinata could not help exchanging a few incisive, blushing smiles.