Author's Note: Hello everyone! Here is the next installment of Omiai! I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read this fic and reviewing. You guys are awesome! Please enjoy.
Disclaimer: Nope, sadly I do not own Naruto or any of its characters. I guess I can only claim to own the evil grandma… oh boy! ~_^
Day Seven: Down Memory Lane
Hinata stood in front of the kitchen counter with a determined look on her face. She was done second guessing herself. It was now or never. She grabbed the knife and started slicing the tomato. She then smeared some mayonnaise on the slices of bread, added lettuce, a slice of cheese and a slice of turkey and finally the slices of tomato. She put them in sandwich bags and then into an old lunch box she had come across in one of the less used cabinets in the kitchen. She then washed and packed some grapes, oranges, and a couple of apples. Better to have a wide selection. She also packed napkins, two bottles of juice, and a can of Starbucks coffee, just in case. She had a feeling that fruit juice just wasn't Sasuke's thing. She could have asked him what he would like but she was worried he would make fun of her for preparing a picnic with winter just around the corner.
She had texted Sasuke earlier that morning asking him what time they could meet up. They had agreed to meet up in the afternoon, so she had breakfast, finished her homework, and then sat in her room twiddling her thumbs. She had to admit that the anxiety she felt every time she knew she had to see Sasuke had lessened a lot. She was still nervous, but not terrified as she had been at first. Now she was even looking forward to it.
Since she still had over an hour left before she had to meet Sasuke she had gone to the kitchen for a snack when suddenly the idea to prepare a lunch for them hit her. It took a half hour of back and forth deciding whether she should do it or if it was too cheesy. Hanabi had just been making fun of her the day before for her unusual dates. Well she couldn't possibly get any more cliché than a picnic in the park. At least she didn't have a basket or a blanket.
Finally the time to leave came and she had the driver take her to the park. She had agreed to meet Sauske at the entrance and as she didn't see him right away she sat on a bench to wait. The anticipation that had built up inside of her slowly ebbed away as the minutes ticked by and Sasuke was nowhere to be found. She sat there clutching the lunch box to her chest debating whether to call him when her phone chimed in her hand alerting her that she had a text message.
"Where are you?"
She frowned and looked around for the fifteenth time just in case she had somehow missed Sasuke hiding among the children running around or the elderly couple sitting two benches over.
"At the entrance."
His answer came a few seconds later.
Was there more than one entrance? Hinata's brows knitted together in confusion. She looked up at the sign posted by the gate she was at and her eyes widened in realization. She didn't know there was more than one entrance. Thinking about it, the place probably had four entrances judging by the sign she was looking at that read: "West Gate." They were at Sakura Park, which everyone just called "the Park" but it was more of a forest preserve with walking and bicycle trails, a botanical garden, and a playground. It did make perfect sense that there would be more than one entrance. All the times she had been there that had been the entrance she had used.
"The west gate. Where r u?"
She replied and she could see him in her mind rolling his eyes in exasperation at her dumbness. To her defense he hadn't specified which entrance they should meet at either.
She couldn't help the smile that lit up her face, even though she was sure he would be wearing a scowl when she saw him. Picturing him almost made her giggle. Knowing that Sasuke was coming to get her made her feel warm and fuzzy inside. Funny how a few days of getting to know someone made such a difference. Only five days ago she would have been terrified at the prospect of an annoyed Sasuke.
She sat back down on the bench and didn't have to wait for long before she saw him walking towards her. She was still feeling fuzzy, but the usual nervousness at seeing him in person made its appearance. She did her best to push it down and smiled.
He shrugged. "Guess I didn't specify which entrance either."
"Yeah," she smiled sheepishly. "S-should we go?"
"What's that?" he asked looking at the lunch box she was holding with a raised eyebrow.
"Um… I brought some lunch."
"You do know it's almost winter, right?"
Her cheeks tinted. "I-it's just lunch, n-not a picnic. There are indoor tables in the botanical garden," she said in her defense.
He took the lunch box from her hands with a smirk.
"I-it's not heavy," she protested to his back as he walked away from her. She hurried to catch up with him, a flurry of butterflies in her stomach.
They decided to go to the arboretum first. The view there was breathtaking. The leaves had changed colors and the trees that lined their path were all covered in deep shades of red and gold. Since the air was crisp but not overly cold, there were quite a few other people around also observing the trees and plants. They walked around for a while, mostly in silence, looking at the trees and shrubs and at the educational plaques at their feet. Occasionally Hinata would comment on a certain tree and Sasuke would merely nod or grunt in acknowledgement.
They walked through the arboretum and then followed one of the trails that crisscrossed the park in order to get to the botanical garden at the other end. They were walking on one of the trails when suddenly a very irritating voice reached Sasuke's ears. Even though he had only heard it once before it had been stored in his memory.
"What's up, Hinata?"
He turned around in the direction of the voice in time with Hinata and his worst fears came true. It was the dumb blonde riding his bike with a smile and waving like the idiot he was. With a frown he noticed that Hinata was mirroring his smile.
"Hi Naruto-kun," she waved back as he stopped in front of them. "What are you doing?"
"Just going for a ride and you?"
"We are just talking a walk. You remember Sasuke-kun?" she answered moving closely to Sasuke.
"Hey," he said acknowledging Sasuke with a smile that he returned with a nod. "Gotta go. Have fun!" he said as he rode away with his stupid grin.
Hinata waved him away and turned back to Sasuke. He thought he caught a glimpse of disappointment in her face before she smiled at him and said, "um… the garden is just ahead."
They finished crossing the trail they were on and arrived to the imposing glass structure that was the botanical garden, which housed a myriad of flowers and plants. Walking in was like stepping into a different place. They immediately felt the difference in the temperature of the carefully controlled environment for the flowers and the brisk fall afternoon outside.
They made their way into the luscious garden and Hinata was soon lost in the almost magical place. She was admiring all the colorful flowers and couldn't help the smile that adorned her lips. Even Sasuke was enjoying himself. They explored the whole garden until they reached an arch covered in white flowers that served as the threshold to the eating area located apart from the flowers but still offering a great view of the garden.
"It's not much," she said with a sheepish smile as she opened the lunch box and set the food out on one of the small wrought iron tables.
'Hn," Sasuke took one of the sandwiches and they both started eating in silence.
Hinata was starting to feel more comfortable around Sasuke, but she still wished it were easier to come up with things to talk about with him. She always worried she would bore him to death and he had become even quieter after they had run into Naruto. She was wrapped in her ponderings when Sasuke's voice pulled her back to the present.
"S-sorry, what?" she asked embarrassed. She had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't heard him.
"I said 'Uzumaki' doesn't ring a bell. How do you know him?"
"Um… well he doesn't come from a prestigious family." She was too busy digging in her memory to catch Sasuke mumbling an "obvious" under his breath. In between bites of her sandwich she started telling him how she met Naruto Uzumaki…
It was a sunny day and little Hinata's heart was aflutter. She had been practicing for days. She wanted to do a good job and for her parents to be proud of her. Today was the day of the first graders' presentation to show their parents what they had learned during the school year. From her spot behind the stage, she couldn't see the audience very well, but she kept her fingers crossed hoping that her mom and dad would be there to see her.
After her classmates finished their rendition of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, it was her turn to get on stage and read her favorite Corduroy book out loud. Since she was the only child in her class who knew how to read fluently the teacher decided to have her read in front of all the parents. She walked up on stage scanning the crowd for the two faces she wanted to see the most. Finally her eyes stopped on the left side of the room where she saw her father and her little sister Hanabi sitting on his lap. Her spirits that had soared for a moment fell when she noticed the empty seat next to him. Her mom had promised to be there if she felt better. Apparently she hadn't. She quickly shook her head and put a smile on her face. She had promised her mom she would do her best even if she wasn't there in person.
She stood in front of the microphone, opened her book, and started reading out loud. Everyone in the audience was marveled at how fluently and clearly she read all the lines. She was, after all, the best reader in her class. In truth her reading level was above many of the older children in the school. She was really enjoying having her audience enraptured with the story she was reading. Corduroy was quite a good story and it had been a while since she had had someone's undivided attention like that. It wasn't so bad to have all eyes on her once in a while.
"Red… blue… fuchsia," Hinata recognized the voice instantly. Little Hanabi was doing one of her favorite things: reciting the colors. She was quite accurately naming all the colors of the many posters hung on the walls of the auditorium. Soon little Hanabi had moved on to reciting numbers and letters and everyone's attention focused on the adorable child forgetting the other child that was up on the stage. Even Hinata's teacher had stopped paying attention. She was about to close the book and walk off the stage when she noticed a pair of bright blue eyes earnestly looking at her and urging her to continue. She had no choice but to oblige and finished the story for her only audience.
Everyone clapped politely at the end, but she didn't even notice. The dazzling smile that accompanied those blue eyes was all the cheering she needed. After the presentation she went to join her father and Hanabi all the while looking for the boy who had been listening to her so attentively. She had wanted to talk to him. He seemed like a nice person. He seemed to be around her age, but she had never seen him before. For sure he didn't go to her school. He had been standing in a corner, almost like he had snuck in.
Sadly she left without being able to find him. Once home she excitedly told her mom all about him and she told Hinata that if she wished upon the first star she saw maybe she could see him again. And so that night little Hinata was glued to her window watching the sky from sundown to nightfall to make sure she wouldn't miss it.
Her whole summer vacation went by and she had no time to think about the blonde boy with the bright blue eyes and contagious smile. Sadly her mother's condition had taken a turn for the worse. She finally lost her battle and passed away a few weeks before Hinata started the second grade.
Since her mother had passed away Hinata always felt lonely and invisible. Her mother had always been the one who encouraged her and sincerely praised everything she did. Her father would also praise her, but after losing his beloved wife he had been overcome by grief. He had become withdrawn and left the care of his daughters in the hands of his mother, who wouldn't waste a single opportunity to berate Hinata and tell her how if she didn't work harder she would never become the heir to the Hyuuga clan and how she should be more like Hanabi.
By the time school had started again, Hinata was starting to think that the blue-eyed boy had only been a figment of her imagination. Halfway through the year she was almost certain of it. Still she kept an eye out for him, just in case he had been real. Finally one morning after a particularly long lecture from her grandmother, it happened: she saw him. Watching from a distance she saw that he walked into one of the second year classrooms. It seemed that they were in the same grade just in different classes! She wanted to say hello, but she was too shy. What if he didn't like her? He probably didn't even remember her.
Every day she would wake up promising to herself that she would say hi to him during recess but as the day wore on, her determination would dwindle and she would end up just watching him from afar. He was always surrounded by others while Hinata always kept to herself. Her shyness had just increased after her mother passed away.
Soon she learned that the boy's name was Naruto Uzumaki, that he was an orphan, and that one of the professors, Iruka-sensei, had been able to get him accepted in the school. The school they went to was one of the most prestigious schools where only the children of the rich could attend. It had been quite a feat for Iruka-sensei to get Naruto accepted. His argument that it would show just how generous the school was to give the opportunity of a stellar education to an underprivileged child was what finally sold the board of directors on it.
Life wasn't easy for Naruto. On top of being an orphan he was bullied by some of the other children, who thought he didn't belong there. Nothing seemed to get to Naruto though. Every time he would get knocked down he would get up and walk with his head held high; that smile that could brighten Hinata's entire day never faltering. Hinata admired him and wished she could be just like him and be able to brush off all of her family's nasty comments. Naruto wasn't the smartest, but he worked hard and wouldn't give up. He had such a bright personality that everyone ended up either accepting him or just giving up since it seemed that nothing could get him down.
She continued to quietly watch him throughout second grade and most of third grade until one day, the last thing she ever thought would happen actually happened. The fire department had come to visit the school to talk about fire safety. Therefore, the three third grade classes that were normally kept separate had been gathered in the school gym. That day the stars had lined up right and Hinata ended up getting paired up with none other than Naruto for the fire drill portion of the day. They had to exit the building quickly in pairs holding hands while the fire alarms blared on. She could have sworn that her heart almost stopped the moment she felt his warm hand wrap around her limp one.
Her cheeks immediately flared and she kept her head down trying to hide her embarrassment. Naruto thought she was just nervous, so he squeezed her hand tighter while he kept reassuring her with his bright smile that it was just a drill and that everything would be ok. She just nodded and kept her eyes averted until they were outside and he let go of her hand. She finally lifted her gaze thinking that he had left to join his friends and to her utter surprise her eyes met his bright blue ones and she felt like her heart would stop for real this time.
"You…" he was looking intently at her.
Oh no! Had he finally realized that she was always hiding somewhere watching him from afar? Was he going to confront her and tell her to stop stalking him? She just stared back at him with the look of a deer caught in the headlights. He seemed to not notice the terror in her eyes or chose not to care as he continued, "I know you. You read that story. I remember cuz it was one of my favorite stories and you actually knew how to read."
This time Hinata's heart did stop for a second. He remembered her! She couldn't believe it! She merely nodded.
"How come I hadn't seen you around before?"
She simply shrugged as she was still speechless. She couldn't tell him that she was painfully shy and that she did everything possible to make herself invisible to others. If people didn't notice her, they wouldn't judge her. She had enough of that at home. Plus that way she could watch Naruto without being disturbed.
"I'm Naruto Uzumaki," he said grinning.
It took her a minute for her to realize that he was introducing himself and was expecting her to do the same. He had no idea that she knew all about him already. She could make a great detective if she said so herself.
"Um… H-Hyuga," she squeaked when she finally found her voice and then cleared her throat and tried again, "H-Hinata Hyuga, n-nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too!" he replied with a grin before running over to his friends that were calling him over. "See ya!"
She weakly waved back sure that that would be the last time he would talk to her. Boy was she wrong. After that, he would say hi to her every time they crossed paths and before she knew it she was sharing a table during lunch with him and his friends Kiba, Shikamaru, Choji, Shino, and Ino. In no time at all she was on first name basis with all of them and Ino, being the only girl in the group aside from Hinata quickly took her under her wing because "girls needed to stick together."
Fortunately her group of friends stayed together all the way through high school, making her life a lot more bearable and happy. Only with them she shared her love for writing and she could always count on their encouragement. During college the group had decided to go to different schools, but they still kept in touch. Choji had gone on to culinary school and was on his way to becoming a renowned chef. Kiba was in his last year of medical school to become a veterinarian and often worked on rescue missions for animals. Shino had somewhat followed a similar path becoming an entomologist, true to his love for all insects. Shikamaru was an engineer, and Ino had decided to follow her passion and become a teacher. Hinata was the only one who had not been allowed to pursue her dream and had gone to law school. It hadn't been so bad because thanks to Iruka-sensei and financial aid Naruto had managed to get in the same school. He had bowed he would become president of the country and fortunately the school Hinata had to go to had an excellent political sciences program.
Hinata ended her brief account with a smile as she finished her sandwich and started on the grapes. They continued eating in silence until Sasuke decided to voice what had been nagging at him since the first time he saw the blonde.
"Did you and Uzumaki go out?"
The question caught Hinata by surprise and she almost choked on the grape she had been eating. "Um, yeah for a little while but we broke up. H-he's engaged now."
She thought she did a good job keeping any bitterness off her voice and finished off with a smile before changing the subject, "s-so how did it go with the investors yesterday?"
"Ok," he replied finishing off his coffee.
They then cleaned up and looked around a little more. Somewhere along the way they found themselves holding hands; neither one could tell who started it nor did anything to let go of the other's hand. They followed one of the tree-lined paths and ended up at a small pond, their fingers still loosely intertwined. They sat down on a bench and looked at the sunset reflected on the surface of the pond. There were very few people around. It was getting late and the cool autumn air was getting chillier. Instinctively they moved closer together. Hinata was contentedly looking at the orange reflecting off the water when Sasuke called her name with that smirk Hinata was becoming very familiar with.
"What are we trying for today?"
Her gaze immediately went to their intertwined hands and he shook his head. "That was yesterday's thing."
"Um… w-well," she couldn't think of anything with his face getting so close.
"My turn then?" he asked in a low voice with that darn smirk still plastered to his face. She merely nodded frozen in place by his gaze. "How about kissing?" She was about to point out that in fact she had already kissed him in the cheek just the other day when he seemed to read her thoughts and pointed to his lips.
Her heart was pounding in her chest and she realized it wasn't fear, but anticipation. Before she changed her mind she closed her eyes and gave him a quick peck on the lips. When she opened her eyes expectantly she saw that he looked far from impressed.
"You call that a kiss?" was all he said before closing the distance between them once more and bringing his lips to hers. Hinata's heart was threatening to climb out of her throat and sparks chased down her spine. For a delightful moment she felt each of her breaths being grasped by Sasuke's. When he opened his eyes he was more than pleased to see Hinata's cheeks crimson and her lips slightly swollen.
"We should go."
Hinata nodded and followed him to his car feeling as if she was walking on a cloud. It surely had something to do with all the beautiful flowers and plants and not the kiss she had just shared with Sasuke, right?
The ride home was mostly in silence as usual but with none of the awkwardness. When Sasuke stopped at Hinata's door she thanked him and wished him a good day at work the next day. He wished her a good night and once she went in smiling from ear to ear she realized they hadn't made any plans for the next day. Oh well, she would text him tomorrow. With a smile she realized she didn't feel nervous at all about texting or calling him anymore. As she got ready for bed she kept touching her fingers to her lips, still a little incredulous at what had happened earlier that day but happy nonetheless. She caught herself giggling a few times before she finally went to sleep, completely oblivious of the fact that miles away Sasuke was in a similar state, minus the giggling, of course.
Author's Note: That's it for now folks! Please stay tuned for the next one.