A Disastrous Week
As summer continued, groups from all over the nation came together to try their best at a new challenge. Groups of three must stay in a deadly forest for a week with no contact with the "outside world". It was going to be dangerous for they were to bring nothing but themselves, kunai, and shuriken. No food was to be brought into the forest for they had to find the food inside to survive. Every group was ready to go and face the danger that was ahead.
"Yeah! I'm ready! Lets do this already!" Naruto yelled.
Sakura hit him. "Would you shut up!?"
"We will now begin the event! We will assign each group to a number and they must pick a group leader. This will take a few minutes, so please be patient," Iruka explained.
"I have to wait longer!?" Naruto complained.
"If you're going to continue your yelling, could you go somewhere else?" Sasuke wondered.
Kakashi looked over at the group. "Here are the groups. When you're name is called, please join us up here. Neji, TenTen, and Lee."
"Wahoo! We are group 1!" Lee ran up to Kakashi.
"Right, now, please pick a group leader," Gai told them.
TenTen smiled. "I think Neji should be our leader."
"Is that ok with everyone else? Neji? Lee?" Gai wondered.
"I'm fine with it," Neji agreed.
"Ok then. Group 1's leader is Neji!" Kakashi pointed over to the forest. "Please wait over there while we get the rest of the groups."
"Group 2 will be Shino, Kiba, and Hinata," Iruka announced.
"Who will be the leader?" Kakashi asked.
Hinata just looked away. She didn't want to be the one to pick.
"Kiba will be our leader, for now that is," Shino decided.
"Wh-what!? Me!?" Kiba was shocked.
"Is that ok with you, Hinata?" Kurenai questioned the girl.
Hinata softly smiled. "Y-yes. Kiba will make a g-great leader."
With that decided, they walked towards the other group.
"Group three will have Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura in it," Kakashi called them up.
Naruto ran towards Kakashi. "I'm gonna be the leader!"
"No you're not! Sasuke can be the leader," Sakura smiled.
"Hmm, well, both of you can't be the leader. You'll have to decide now. Which will it be? Naruto or Sasuke?" Kakashi asked them.
"It seems you guys are having a hard time deciding. We will do this the easiest way known to man! At times like this, you should play rock-paper-scissors," Gai laughed.
"Rock-paper-scissors?" Sasuke was puzzled.
"Have you lost it!?" Kakashi smacked Gai.
"Not at all! Kakashi, you be the judge. Best 2 out of 3 wins the spot as leader!"
"Oh, forget it! Sasuke can be the stupid leader. I just want to get started," Naruto walked off.
"That was easy," Iruka smiled.
"Hmm…too easy…" Kakashi agreed.
"Lets move on! To make this go a little faster, we'll call more than one group up. You will find a teacher and tell them who your group leader is," Asuma declared.
"Group 4, Shikamaru, Chouji, and Ino. Group 5, Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro. Those are the last two groups," Iruka called.
"Ok guys, who's going to be your leader?" Asuma looked at group 4.
"Shikamaru said he wants to be the leader," Ino smirked.
"When did I say that?" Shikamaru wondered.
Asuma patted Shikamaru on the head. "Come on, this will be the time for you to shine. You can show all the others how strong you are. Shikamaru, be the leader for once."
"Yeah, be the leader Shikamaru," Chouji agreed.
Shikamaru let out a sigh. "Fine, I guess I have no choice."
"Gaara will be our leader, no questions asked!" Temari said.
"Fine, go ahead and line up by the others. We will begin the event now," Kurenai told them.
"The time has finally come! Go forth and adventure out into this dangerous forest. Challenges will come your way so be careful! Now, get going," Anko let the event begin.
The five teams ran into the forest ready for the challenges that were ahead of the.
"Lets see. We couldn't bring any food, so that means we'll have to find some kind of food in here to eat," Sakura smiled.
"If we can find a river or something, I can catch some fish and Sasuke could cook them," Naruto explained to them.
"Does anyone know where a river is?"
"We just need to do some searching. We don't need to do anything but survive for a week. Once we find a river with fish, we could stay there so we don't have to search for food everyday. Of course, we might get tired of fish after awhile, but it's the best option that we have," Sasuke decided.
Naruto laughed. "If we get tired of fish…we could always eat grass or dirt!"
"That's gross!" Sakura yelled.
Group 2 began to look around the forest.
"Ok, we'll need a place to sleep and a way to get food," Kiba frowned.
"I…I'm sure we'll be able t-to find everything we need," Hinata smiled.
Shino sat on the grassy ground. "Should we begin looking for food now or should we wait until we get hungry?"
"Uh…well, if we wait until we get hungry, it will probably be harder to find food. I think we should begin looking for food now," Kiba nodded.
Hinata looked at the ground. "W-we'll probably be hungry by the time we find the food, so after we eat…we c-could look for somewhere to sleep."
"That's a great idea Hinata!"
"So, we should begin to look for something to eat."
"Hinata, why don't you stay here? Kiba and I will look for the food. Since there's a river close by, why don't you get some water for us?" Shino asked.
"That's right," Kiba cut off a branch of the tree next to him. "Before we go, I can carve some cups to hold the water."
"I-if that's what you want me to do, then I will stay here and collect water f-for us to dr-drink. We could eat here so we will have plenty of water," Hinata agreed.
"Ok, instead of collecting water, you could always make us three cups to drink out of. Do you think you could do that for us?" Shino wondered.
The girl took Kiba's kunai. "I can do that! I can also collect branches to make a fire and rocks to make a fire pit."
"Don't over do yourself, ok? Try to stay in this area. Don't wander too far off. Shino and I will be back later. We better get going," Kiba waved to Shino to follow him and they ran off.
"Oh…ok…" Hinata began to carve the branch into cups.
Ino sat on the ground. "What should we do? We have to find some kind of food to eat."
"I was gonna sneak food in, but of course we had to be searched before going into the forest. What kind of food could be around here?" Chouji pouted.
"Hey! Do you hear that?" Shikamaru wondered.
"Shh…it sounds like water in a river. We could grab some fish and find a way to cook them!"
"See, you make a great leader, Shikamaru," Ino smiled.
They ran off in the direction that they heard the water.
Temari picked an apple off a tree. "Hmm…all of these trees have apples growing from them. I guess we could deal with eating just them for tonight. I mean, it's already starting to get late."
"Tomorrow, we'll search for more food and a better place to sleep. For right now, we should be fine out in the open like this," Gaara agreed.
Kankuro pulled more apples off and threw them to Temari. He looked disappointed that he had to eat apples for the night.
"Look guys! These bushes have berries on them!" TenTen giggled.
Lee climbed a nearby tree and threw an acorn at Neji.
"What do you think you're doing?!" Neji demanded.
"This tree has acorns. I guess we could make some kind of food with these and the berries. Maybe there are some other fruits around here," Lee smiled.
"It's best to stay here for the night. Tomorrow we can get a better look around. It seems to be getting late," TenTen decided.
"I'm sure we all ate before we came here anyways."
Neji took some berries off the bushes. "Who wants to make sure these aren't poisonous?"
Lee swooped pass Neji and grabbed a berry. Shoving it in his mouth, he took his hand and shoved his thumb high in the air.
"Good, now crack some of those acorns open. Lets see how nasty those taste."
TenTen ate a berry. "They're sweet!"
"Heh! Of course, you pick the finest berries TenTen," Lee laughed.
"Hmm…I guess since Kiba and Shino aren't back I can get some water and bring it back to this area," Hinata decided as she walked over to the stream.
A sudden chill filled the area. It seemed as if someone was watching Hinata.
"If only there were fish in this stream, Kiba and Shino wouldn't have had to run off looking for food," she smiled at herself.
"Cute girls like you shouldn't be left alone," a voice hissed.
Hinata jumped up. "Wh-what?"
"This is our territory!" another voice echoed.
Two older boys jumped out of the trees.
"I-I-I…I don't want to fight!" Hinata told them.
"Too bad cause we want to kill you!" the boys laughed.
They began to attack her and she lets out a scream.
"Kiba, something's not right," Shino said.
"What is it?" Kiba wondered.
"I don't know. I'm gonna go back to Hinata. Keep looking for food!"
Shino ran back towards Hinata knowing that something had happened to her.
"I think I ate too much," Sakura laid on her back.
"At least we had plenty to eat," Naruto agreed.
Sasuke stood up. "We should get to sleep. The sun is starting to set and it's best if we get up earlier. Got that?"
"Ok, I don't think I can move though," Sakura nodded.
"Yes sir! Time for bed!" Naruto laughed as he closed his eyes.
"Idiots," Sasuke mumbled, "I didn't mean just sleep where you are…"
He sat up against a tree and closed his eyes. Slowly, Sasuke fell into a deep sleep.
All of the groups fell asleep where they started. They decided it would be better to search in the morning when they knew they would have more time to search in the light. Seeming that they were not allowed to bring any kind of lights with them, they could not see after sunset. Only one group was left awake, and those three kids left awake were members of group 2...
I can't win! They're too strong! Hinata thought.
"Too bad! You're going to die!" one of the boys went in to hit her.
"Hinata!" Shino saw her being attacked. "Get away from her!"
"You're too late, boy. She's now mine!"
"Sh-Shino!" Hinata yelled.
Bugs slowly formed around Shino. They crawled down the tree he stood on and attached themselves to the two boys that were attacking Hinata. They tried to throw them off, but couldn't.
"The more you make a fuss, the more chakra my friends will take," Shino smirked.
"G-give up now…or you'll b-be k-killed…" Hinata told them.
Shino ran up to Hinata. He called back his bugs and told the two guys to get lost. As they ran off, Hinata fell into Shino's arms and began to cry.
"Shh…Hinata, it's ok now," he softly whispered in her ear.
"I-I-I was so sc-scared," she barely uttered.
"I'm here now, I won't let anything happen to you. Lets get going, ok? I'm sure Kiba found some place for us to stay for the night," Shino held onto her.
Hinata kept hold of Shino as he carried her to where Kiba was. It seemed that she was wounded when she was attacked by the two guys.
"H-Hinata! Are you hurt?!" Kiba ran up to them.
Still holding onto Shino, she slightly nodded her head.
"I'll take care of her, ok?" Shino decided.
"What happened?" he wondered.
"I-I rather n-not talk about i-it r-right now," Hinata frowned.
Shino looked around and saw that the place Kiba found was right by a small river and had a cave. It seemed like a safe place for them to spend the week, or at least until Hinata was better.
"You shouldn't move too much. Those cuts of yours are deep," Shino explained to the girl.
"I…I know," Hinata nodded.
Kiba placed a cooked fish in front of her. "Eat up, Hinata. With what happened to you, you'll need your energy."
"Eh?! There's nothing to be sorry about!" Kiba smiled.
"It was stupid to leave you behind. For right now, this place is the perfect place to stay. We should stay here at least until Hinata is fully healed," Shino decided.
"It's ok. If you two think we should go somewhere else, we can. Please, don't let my injuries hold the two of you back!" Hinata pleaded.
Kiba patted her on the head. "Hinata, calm down. We're not going to leave here. It's probably one of the better places to stay."
"I'm gonna get to bed," Shino walked towards the cave.
Hinata jumped up. "Shino…"
"You should get some sleep too. I'll get to bed in a few minutes," Kiba smiled.
Nodding, Hinata ran to the cave.
"Hinata, you're still scared, aren't you?" Shino questioned as she walked in.
"M-maybe…j-just a little b-bit," she stuttered.
"Come here," he waved her over by him.
Slowly, Hinata made her way towards the boy. He wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. His warmth filled her body and made her feel safe. Shino was taking all the fear Hinata felt away.
"I won't let anyone hurt you," he whispered.
Beginning to cry, Hinata fell to the ground in tears. Kneeling down, Shino took her hand. He laid her down and let himself fall next to her. As she held him tight, they began to fall asleep in each others arms.
A few minutes later, Kiba walked into the cave, shocked. He walked towards them and softly smiled. He began to understand that whatever happened to Hinata truly did scare her. Shino was the one to save her, so she didn't want to be without him. Sitting up against a wall of the cave, Kiba closed his eyes and let out a sigh. Finally, he fell asleep.
"A fresh day has started!" Naruto yelled.
Sakura looked around. "I think we should for the other groups. It would be nice to stick around with them."
"That's a good idea," Sasuke agreed.
They began to walk in the direction of the cave that Hinata, Kiba, and Shino were in. As the group came closer, Sakura saw Kiba sitting outside of the cave.
"Kiba!" Sakura called.
"Huh?" he looked up to see her standing in front of him. "Hey, Sakura…Naruto, Sasuke."
"Where's Hinata and Shino?" Sasuke wondered.
"Oh, they're still asleep."
"Aren't you going to get them up? They shouldn't waste their time sleeping," Naruto told him.
Kiba turned to Sakura. "Could you wake them up for me?"
"Uh…sure!" Sakura chirped as she walked into the cave.
As the girl slowly made her way into the cave, she saw Shino and Hinata on the floor. It was shocking to see Hinata and Shino wrapped around each other. Slowly, she noticed Shino turning over. He stared at her for a minute, but finally noticed who was standing before him. He looked at Hinata and back and Sakura knowing that she was probably getting the wrong idea. Calmly, he began to explain what happened to Hinata. He talked in such a quiet voice; he didn't want to wake up the sleeping Hinata.
"So, don't get the wrong idea…ok?"
"I understand. Shino, just get Hinata up and meet us outside," Sakura smiled.
Shino nodded as she turned around and left the cave.
"Hey, where's Hinata and Shino?" Naruto demanded.
"They're coming. Give them a few minutes," Sakura told him.
Shino walked out of the cave. Clinging to him was the still frightened Hinata. He no longer mind her hanging onto him, it felt comforting even.
"Wh-wh-wh-wha…" Naruto was speechless from what he was seeing.
"Sakura, Naruto, Sasuke, what are you guys doing here?" Hinata asked.
"Well, we saw Kiba sitting outside, so we decided to come over for a visit. Who would have guessed that we were just down the river a little?!" Sakura laughed.
"It's a nice place you found here. You have everything you'd need. Look, those trees over there even have apples growing from them," Sasuke pointed.
"We didn't even notice that. By the time we found this place, we just ate and went to sleep. It was late and we were getting tired," Shino explained.
Kiba stared at Naruto. "So, you guys had to sleep out in the open?"
"It was a nice night, so we didn't mind. I bet most of the other groups just stayed where they were once they got in," Naruto decided.
"Y-yes, but where we w-were, there was n-no food. I-it was just a little stream…n-no fish," Hinata barely uttered out.
Naruto looked at Hinata. He finally noticed her arms were rapped and she had scratches all over her face. "Hinata, what happened to you? You didn't have all those cuts when we began."
Hinata tightened her grip on Shino's arm. She didn't want to be the one to tell the story. She was too scared to even think about what happened to her.
"Hinata got attacked while Kiba and I were looking for food."
"Sh-Shino…!" Hinata cried.
He softly patted her on the head. "We left her alone like idiots. I felt that something was wrong, so I went back to get her. I fought off the two guys, but she didn't leave the battle unscratched."
"Hinata…" Naruto mumbled.
That would explain why she's so attached to him. He saved her from her attackers. Heh, and I thought she might have finally started to like someone other than Naruto. That was even stupid to think about. Though, something still is different about her. Wouldn't she have tried to cling to Naruto instead? Try to get him to see her? To be interested in her? Sasuke thought.
"I felt really bad after seeing her hurt. I felt like I failed being the team leader," Kiba frowned.
"N-no Kiba! Y-you're a great leader. You're l-like a br-brother to m-me," Hinata admitted.
Blushing, Kiba nodded his head and said, "Thanks."
"Well, I guess because Hinata and Shino have just gotten up, you haven't eaten yet. Naruto can get some fish and I'll cook them," Sasuke suggested.
"I could grab some of the fruit that's growing on the trees," Hinata tried to smile.
"That's a great idea," Kiba agreed.
Hinata looked towards the trees. They felt so far away and she was still scared to be by herself, even if it was just a few feet away.
Shino held onto Hinata. "I'll help you, ok?"
"Uh…ok…" she nodded.
"What should I do?" Sakura wondered.
"Keep Kiba entertained," Sasuke told her.
Kiba pointed to the cups and plates they made to eat and drink with. "Do you think you could help me wash them?"
"Fine, but only if you'll answer some questions."
Naruto walked into the river and started to search for the fish. Sasuke joined him in the water and tried to help get the fish.
"Hey, did you notice how Hinata was clenching onto Shino?" Naruto asked.
"Yeah," Sasuke grabbed a fish.
"What was up with that?"
"I don't know."
Naruto pulled out another fish. "Do you think something's going on with them?"
"Hinata's probably still scared about what happened to her. She's finding protection and safety in Shino," Sasuke told him.
"I guess, but the way Shino is so willing to go with Hinata and everything. Isn't there something weird about that?"
"No, he probably just doesn't want to see Hinata get hurt. Maybe he likes to protect her."
"Likes to protect her!? Does this mean that Shino likes Hinata?"
"How should I know? Why don't you just ask him?"
"I will! It's just…I don't want to ask him with Hinata around."
"Then, you'll have to find a way to get her away from him for a minute."
"Right!" Naruto jumped up.
Hinata picked an apple off a tree. "Shino, if you want to help the others, you can."
Shino took the apple from her. "If I didn't want to help you, I wouldn't have offered."
"Thank you," she handed him another apple.
"I knew that you weren't going to be ready to do something on your own. I could see the fear in your eyes. I didn't want you to be scared, and if that means that I have to tag along side you, I'll tag along. I'm gonna do what I can to keep you from danger. You know, I don't want to see you get hurt again."
"Shino, I feel like I'm being bothersome for you. I'm sure I'll be fine on my own. You can go and help the others," Hinata reached up for another apple.
Shino pulled Hinata's hand away from the tree. He held it tight. "You'd never be bothersome. As I said before, if I didn't want to help, I wouldn't have offered. I like being near you, ok? You can cling to me as much as you like, all that matters is that you feel safe. I don't want you to get hurt again. It's my fault that you got hurt in the first place…"
"How is it your fault?" Hinata wondered.
"Because, it was my idea to leave you while Kiba and I looked for food. I take full blame for anything that happened to you."
"That may be true, but," Hinata pulled his hand up to her face and held it tight with both of her own hands, "if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have been able to survive. You saved me, Shino."
Shino turned away as he took his hand back. He was bright red. Hinata continued to pick apples and Shino held them in his arms. She was happy to have him helping her, and it seemed that Shino was more than pleased to lend Hinata a hand.
"So, Kiba, what's been going on with Shino and Hinata?" Sakura asked.
"You already know. Shino explained everything," Kiba smiled.
"That's not what I mean! They seem almost like they're going out. Are they?"
"How would I know? It's not like I only hang out with them throughout the days. I'm sure that Hinata and Shino both have other lives other than our group work. I don't know everything about them. For all I know, Shino might have a girlfriend from some other place."
Sakura giggled as she rinsed the dishes. "That's funny, Kiba. I highly doubt that!"
"Well, who really knows? To be honest, this is the most I've seen Shino talk. I usually force Hinata to talk to me, but I can't crack Shino. I don't know much about him at all. Well, I know I wouldn't want to mess with him because he's a pretty tough guy, you know what I mean? I guess Hinata is the only one that's able to get Shino to talk so much. Heh, I'd love to get a smile and a laugh from him."
Sakura turned to see Hinata and Shino. It seemed to her that they were having fun. Even though Shino was not smiling or laughing, she knew that he was enjoying himself. Maybe he hid behind his oversized jacket and sunglasses to hide his true feelings. If they were to see Shino show happiness, maybe Hinata would be the one to bring it out of him. Who really knew?
"I hope Hinata can make Shino happy. It seems that she might be the only one that can."
"Eh? Sakura, what do you mean by that?" Kiba demanded.
"I don't know, it's just, without even smiling, Shino seems happier around Hinata."
"I…I guess you're right…"
"No more acorns…no…more…" Lee mumbled.
"Wake up," TenTen lightly shook the boy.
Jumping up, he yelled, "No more acorns!"
Neji, gathering some acorns, took one and threw it at him. "What did you say about no more acorns? You have to eat something if you want to have energy."
"Yeah," TenTen laughed, "it was your idea to eat acorns anyways!"
"Maybe we should just look for the other teams," Neji decided.
Lee looked at them. "Hmm…how long have you guys been up for?"
"You've been sleeping for a good hour longer than Neji. I've only been up for 45 minutes. Neji and I have been planning on what we should do. You were sleeping for so long, we had to wake you. I thought you were never going to get up," the girl explained.
"I'm not that sure where the other groups are, but I think it would be better if we stick around another group. We could help each other find food. It's a little easier than just sitting around with just our group members," Neji told them.
They began to walk deeper into the forest in search for the other groups.
"Apple…" Kankuro mumbled as he took a bite of the fruit.
"Apple!" Temari chirped as she threw one to Gaara.
Gaara looked at the apple as he heard footsteps coming towards them. "Hmm…footsteps."
"Footsteps?" Temari echoed.
Walking past the sand group were Ino, Shikamaru, and Chouji. Kankuro looked at them as he let out a soft chuckle.
"It seems that these losers survived their first night," he laughed.
"Be quiet! You fools!" Gaara growled.
"We didn't know you guys were over here. We just went to look for some of the other groups. Sorry if you guys marked this place as your territory. Heh, just passing through!" Shikamaru smiled.
"This place is horrible. Why would we mark an apple infested place our territory? We were just eating some apples, which are probably going to make me sick, before searching for some other place to go. It's the worst here!" Temari complained.
"Shut up," Kankuro told her.
"But, you brought up a smart idea. If we found the other groups, we could all work together to find food. It would take less effort and be easier. I guess it was a good thing that you ran into us. Do you know where any of the other groups may be?" Gaara wondered.
"We have no clue," Ino frowned.
"That's why we're just looking around like a bunch of idiots," Chouji snickered.
"Then, we'll just have to join you," Gaara decided as he stood up. "It will be easier this way. Six pairs of eyes are better than three."
"Fine," Shikamaru agreed.
With shocked looks from both, Shikamaru's and Gaara's, teammates, they began to walk through the trees trying to find someone else in the forest.
"Hey," Shino called as he walked up towards the river where Sasuke and Naruto were. "Do you have enough fish now? Or are you two still catching some more?"
"We're done. I think we should have enough for now. If not, I'm sure Naruto will go get some more later on," Sasuke decided.
Naruto looked at Sasuke, then he turned to Shino. "Huh? Where's Hinata?"
"Hmm? She's with Kiba and Sakura. Why do you ask?" Shino wondered.
Sasuke grabbed the fish. "I'll get cooking these!" He ran off.
Shino turned to see him leave. He began to follow Sasuke but was stopped by Naruto.
"What?" Shino demanded.
"Uh…so what's going on between you and Hinata? Are the two of you going out now?" Naruto began his questioning.
He stepped back. "I…I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Liar!" Naruto shouted. "You know what I'm talking about. Don't you think you need to give Hinata a little space? I mean, you're hanging all over her. If I was her, I know I would not like that very much. Nope! Not at all!"
"You don't know what happened to Hinata. I don't want to see her get hurt again. If you don't understand that, then you need to just back off. Naruto, Hinata's not like you. She doesn't have the strength like you have, all she has is her innocents. Maybe I am being overprotective…but I just don't want to see her get hurt…not again. This whole situation isn't something that you could understand. I…I have to get going. Later," Shino walked off.
H-he does like Hinata! Th-this just doesn't seem possible. Shino just doesn't look like the type of person to open up to someone. I guess when he saw Hinata get hurt, it opened up his heart a little. I think I liked it better when he didn't talk though… Naruto thought.
"Hinata, how are you feeling?" Sakura asked.
"M-much better," she smiled.
"That's good. I don't like you being so scared," Kiba nodded.
Shino walked up to them. He placed his hand on top of Hinata's head. "Hey."
"Shino!" Hinata giggled as she grabbed for his hand. "Where's Sasuke and Naruto?"
"Sasuke's cooking the fish. As for Naruto," he looked towards the river; Naruto wasn't there, "I don't know where he went to."
"That's not good. I'll go try to find him," Sakura decided.
Kiba turned to her. "Will you be ok on your own?"
"Me? Cha! Who do you think you're talking to? Don't worry about me, I'll be fine!" Sakura began to run off.
"…she's overconfident…" he mumbled.
"Where'd you put the apples, Hinata?" Shino wondered.
"Oh!" she jumped up. "Kiba and Sakura helped me wash them and then we put them by that tree."
"Hey, I'm going to go help Sasuke. Ok?" Kiba walked away.
Shino sat down by the river. He looked into the water. Hinata sat down next to him. She stuck her hands into the water and splashed her face. Smiling, she turned to Shino and splashed him.
"H-hey!" Shino shook his head. He took off his sunglasses. "You even got my sunglasses wet."
"I'm sorry," Hinata turned to him and smiled.
As she looked into his eyes, she was shocked. Never would she have guessed that behind Shino's sunglasses, a pair of beautiful eyes were hidden.
Patting Hinata on the head, Shino mumbled "Don't worry about it," and he placed his sunglasses back on.
"Shino…why do you wear those sunglasses?"
"Uh…I…I don't know. I've always wore them. I guess it's just a habit."
Hinata got back on her feet. "You have beautiful eyes, Shino." She turned away from him. "Looking at them sends a chill up my spine, and they make me blush…"
"Thank you," Shino mumbled. And at that very second, as Hinata started to look back at Shino, he showed a small smile.
"Shino," her cheeks turned an even brighter red.
"Look who I found!" Lee yelled as he came closer to Naruto sitting on the ground.
"What's he doing by himself?" TenTen wondered.
"I don't know, but I don't think he's playing hide and seek," Neji walked up to Naruto.
"What's wrong, Naruto?" Lee questioned the boy.
"Go away," Naruto mumbled.
"Where's Sakura and Sasuke?" TenTen asked.
"Probably by Kiba, Hinata, and Shino…"
"Why aren't you with them?" she smiled.
"Because I can't stand that Shino!"
"What did Shino do to you?"
"He doesn't know his place. He thinks he knows what is best for her…but he doesn't. He doesn't know anything. He'll just hurt her. And he says he doesn't want to see her hurt."
"Huh? Who's this girl you're talking about?"
"Hinata…what is Shino doing to Hinata?" Neji demanded.
Naruto pulled his head up. "I don't know anymore."
"Naruto!" Lee was shocked to see tears falling down the boys face.
Naruto wiped away the tears. "Heh, guess I got carried away. If you want to see them, they're across the river. I bet someone's looking for me by now. I just kind of left. If you get there fast enough, there'll be some fish left over."
"You're coming with us," Neji took Naruto's arm and pulled him up.
"Yeah, you need to fill us in on what's going on," TenTen giggled.
"But you have to be more of a man. No more crying!" Lee agreed.
"I…I guess…" Naruto began to walk towards the other side of the river.
"Do you know where Naruto went to?" Kiba asked Sasuke.
"I haven't seen him since he was talking with Shino. I knew Naruto wanted to ask him some questions, so I decided I should just get out of there before I had to become a part of their conflict."
"Why would there be a conflict between the two of them?"
"I don't know. I think it has something to do with Hinata clinging to Shino."
"What? Is Naruto jealous?"
Sasuke stared at Kiba. "That's probably the best conclusion."
"I'm not that sure who's the bigger idiot right now…Naruto or Shino."
"I think it's a close call. Naruto is trying to hide that he's jealous while it looks to me that Shino is actually having fun with this. I just don't understand. It's not like Shino likes Hinata, right?"
"I'm not that sure. I know that Hinata used to like Naruto, and I always thought that she still had those feelings. I don't know if her heart is starting to warm up to Shino, but I know that her heart is changing Shino for the better. I've never seen the two of them talk this much. It makes me happy. I don't really want to see that change."
"Don't you think you're being a little selfish?"
Kiba picked up the plate that held the cooked fish. "I know I am, but I'm not being selfish for myself. I just want what's best for Hinata and Shino. If that means that they become a couple, so be it, let them be together. They seem to be good for each other. Isn't that all that matters? Naruto should learn that he doesn't always get his way. Like when your team was picking the leader. Naruto kept pushing and pushing to be leader, but soon he just gave up. He can't fight Shino forever. One day one of them will give up, and I know as a fact that person won't be Shino."
"I guess you're right. Naruto will give up eventually. Heh, that's just who he is," Sasuke laughed as they walked towards Shino and Hinata.
"Sorry it took so long. I didn't know that we caught so many fish," Sasuke told Hinata and Shino.
"Th-that's ok!" Hinata smiled.
Sasuke looked at them. "Hey, where's Sakura?"
"She went to look for Naruto. She didn't think it was a good idea to let him be alone," Shino explained to him.
Kiba heard footsteps coming towards them. "Wh-who's there?!"
"Hello!" Lee jumped out from behind the trees as Naruto, Neji, and TenTen followed.
"Hey, what are you guys doing around here?" Sasuke wondered.
"We saw Naruto and decided to come and visit. My group thought it would be more fun if we found the other groups, so we had Naruto guide us here," Neji told them.
"Wh-what about S-Sakura? Sh-she was out looking for you, Naruto," Hinata stuttered.
"We didn't see her when we were walking here," TenTen frowned.
"Hmm…?" Kiba heard more footsteps. "Who could it be this time?"
"Sasuke!" Ino cried as she ran up to the boy. She grabbed his arm and began to smile.
"Get off," Sasuke pushed her away.
"Ino, have you seen Sakura?" Naruto demanded.
"Oh, yeah! She was tagging along side us. She told us where to find you guys. I couldn't help myself, so I ran on ahead."
Gaara, Shikamaru, Kankuro, Sakura, Temari, and Chouji walked from the same direction Ino came from.
"I'm sorry guys, I wasn't able to find Naruto," Sakura couldn't look at her teammates.
"Why were you looking for me in the first place?" Naruto asked.
"N-Naruto! I was worried about you!"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare any of you."
Lee stared at the fish. "Is that your leftovers?"
"We haven't stared to eat yet. If you want, I'm sure that there will be enough for all of us. Sasuke and Naruto caught plenty of fish," Shino said.
"Yes! Please, join us!" Hinata chirped.
"Don't mind if I do!" Lee plopped down on the ground and smiled at everyone else.
Everyone sat next to each other and stared at the fish. Sasuke nodded for them to take one, and they all did. Eating the fish, they happily talked. Naruto was the only one not enjoying himself. After each bite he took, he would look up and Shino and give him a dirty look. Most of the time Shino didn't notice, but when he did, he would just turn to Hinata and make sure she was ok. Hinata was oblivious to the two boys fighting. At this point, all she wanted was to see everyone having fun.
After all the fish was gone, Hinata offered everyone an apple. She walked up to Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro to give them theirs.
"No thank you!" Kankuro turned away.
"M-maybe you'll want it later on," Hinata frowned.
"That's not likely. We left that apple infested place for a reason! Hmph!" Temari yelled.
"I-I d-didn't know. Pl-please forgive m-me."
Shino took the apple Hinata was holding. "If they don't want the apple, just forget about them. It just means they're a waste of your time."
"Hey!" Kankuro pulled the apple from Shino's hands. "What if I want it later? Why do you have to be such a jerk?"
"Yeah! I really want an apple," Temari held out her hands.
"Oh, here," Hinata gave her one and softly smiled.
"Idiots," Gaara mumbled as he ate the apple he was already given.
Hinata looked at Shino. "Lets see, I still have to give Naruto an apple." She looked around and spotted him sitting by himself. "I'll talk to later, ok, Shino?"
"Huh? Yeah?" he nodded as she walked off.
"N-Naruto," Hinata held out the apple.
"Huh?" Naruto looked towards her. "Oh, hey Hinata. What are you doing?"
"I was giving everyone an apple. Would you like one?"
"Hmm…uh…sure," he took the apple.
"Um…" she looked away.
"So," Naruto started, "what's going on between you and Shino?"
"What do you mean?"
"Sakura thinks that you two are going out. Is that true?"
"N-no. Why would you think that?"
"Well, you're always hanging on him."
"I-I…it's n-not like th-that…"
"Then what is it. Hinata?!" Naruto yelled.
"I-I…I just…d-d-don't know…" Hinata looked away from the boy as tears formed in her eyes.
"That's what they all say. I bet you're just trying to hide it from yourself! Just like Shino! Why don't you just admit it? Stop lying! You're doing a terrible job!"
"I'm s-sorry. I d-didn't mean to make you mad. Pl-please…"
"I can't take this anymore! Why don't you tell him! If you like him, why won't you let him know?"
Kiba saw Hinata from where he was sitting. He turned to Lee, who he was talking to, and walked towards Hinata and Naruto.
"Well? Hinata, are you scared?!" Naruto shouted some more.
Hinata fell to the ground gasping for air. Tears fell down her face, and she could no longer control herself. She was scared of Naruto. She didn't like him yelling at her.
"Hey!" Kiba yelled as he walked to Hinata's side. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Kiba…" Hinata mumbled.
"What did you do to make Hinata cry. Huh, Naruto?"
"You have no business in this," Naruto scolded.
"If it has to do with Hinata, I have everything to do with it. I don't need you yelling at Hinata. Do you see what you're doing to her? She's crying, Naruto. What happened that made you so mad that she would cry?"
"I don't have to tell you…"
"Huh? Hinata?" Kiba turned to the girl.
"He just doesn't like him. I don't understand. Wh-what did Shino do to you. Did something happen between the two of you? Naruto, I'm c-confused. Sh-Shino's a nice person, why don't you like him?"
Naruto began to walk away. "If he ever hurts you, don't expect me to come run to your rescue. And Kiba won't be there for you forever. If you ever want to be your own person, grow stronger, Hinata. Shino will just hurt you in the end…"
"What does he mean by that?" Kiba demanded.
"Oh, Naruto, I never meant to make you mad," Hinata pouted.
"Just leave him alone. He's just wasting your time."
"Kiba, I'm not that sure what's going on. Naruto asked me if I liked Shino. That question confused me. What would make people think that I like him?"
"It's just, Hinata, you've been hanging onto him. It even has me wondering. Do you like him?"
Kiba patted her head. "Don't worry about it. Just keep on doing what you're doing. All that matters is that you're happy. Ok? Don't worry about Naruto. If he keeps on bugging you, just tell me, I'll take care of him."
"Th-thank you, Kiba."
Naruto walked past Shino and stopped. He walked back towards the boy and an evil smile grew on his face. He slowly grew closer and closer until he was able to reach out and grab Shino by the neck. Before Naruto could bring forth his arm, Shino turned his head and stared at Naruto.
"What do you think you're doing?" Shino demanded.
Naruto stood up straight. He began to reach for his kunai.
"Are you trying to kill me, Naruto? Do you want me dead?"
He pulled out the kunai and held it in front of his face. "Lets fight."
"Fight? Are you crazy?" Shino wondered.
"Probably!" Naruto jumped back and began to run forward towards the shocked Shino.
H-he is serious! Naruto, you idiot! Shino thought.
"Die!" he swiped his kunai across the air. Hitting Shino in the face, he fell back. "Why don't you fight back? Are you scared?!"
Shino wiped the blood that dripped down the cut on his face. "I don't understand what you want from me. What did I do to make you so mad?"
"Shut up! I don't want to talk to you! I just want to fight!"
Getting on his feet, Shino brushed himself off. "Sorry, I don't want to fight you." He turned away and waved Naruto off.
"I don't care what you want!" Naruto grabbed Shino by the back of his jacket. He held the kunai up against Shino's neck. "I'll kill you…I swear…I'll kill you!"
Shikamaru, finally noticing something was going on, ran up to the two boys.
"Naruto! What are you doing?" Shikamaru demanded.
"Don't bother me or I'll kill you too!" he hissed. Naruto pulled the kunai closer to Shino's neck.
I don't like the look of this. I guess I should do something, Shikamaru decided. He got into position and stared at Naruto. "I really didn't want to have to fight, but I guess I'll have to. Shadow possession jutsu!"
I can't move, Naruto noticed. "Shikamaru! Why don't you just stay out of this?"
"Sorry, I can't have you killing people. You need to calm down a little."
"Shikamaru, I hope you don't expect me to escape," Shino frowned.
"Huh? Actually, that's what I planned you to do."
"Well, I can't. If you didn't notice, my shadow is part of Naruto's. I can't move either."
Neji, already knowing about the commotion, decided to finally go see what was actually going on.
"What are you guys doing?" Neji questioned.
"Oh, it's nothing, Naruto's just trying to kill me," Shino explained.
"Does this happen to be about Hinata?"
"I don't know."
"You don't need to get involved, Neji!" Naruto shouted.
Neji walked up to Naruto and pulled the kunai from his hand. "You shouldn't be messing around like this. Didn't you know? It's dangerous to play around with your kunai knife."
"I'm not playing around!"
Getting on his knees, Neji pulled off Naruto's shuriken carrier.
"What are you doing!?" Naruto demanded.
"Shikamaru, you can let go. Naruto won't be hurting Shino without his kunai and shuriken. I'll hold on to them for now," Neji explained.
"Right!" Shikamaru nodded as he released his shadow possession jutsu.
Shino raised his hand as bugs flew from inside Naruto's clothes.
"What the-" Naruto yelled.
"Heh, you didn't think I would actually let you kill me, right?" Shino snickered.
"Your chakra bugs? Were they eating at Naruto's chakra this whole time?" Neji wondered.
"More then likely, yes. Even as Shikamaru was using the shadow possession jutsu, my bugs were still at work."
"Nice thinking," Shikamaru laughed.
"Why do you find this funny? I might not have my kunai or shuriken, but I can still kick all of your butts!" Naruto frantically punched the air.
"You know, you're starting to really tick me off. Byakugan!"
"What are you planning to do? Are you going to stop my chakra flow? Huh, Neji?"
"Did you hear that?" Hinata asked Kiba.
"Hear what?" he stared at the girl with a puzzled look.
"Neji…he activated his Byakugan."
"What's your point?"
Hinata started to look for Neji. Finally spotting him, she also saw Shino, Shikamaru, and Naruto.
"Something's wrong. I think something's going on between Shino and Naruto," she pointed to the boys. "And from the looks of it, Shikamaru and Neji have gotten involved."
"You want to go check it out, don't you?" Kiba wondered.
"I really do, but I know I'm unwanted at the moment by Naruto. Whatever is going on, I know I shouldn't get involved in. Even if I am the cause of the problem, I shouldn't push my way into it. I will just get myself hurt. Aren't I right, Kiba?"
"I guess so. Whatever you think is best, I'll support you, ok?"
"Thank you, Kiba, you're too kind."
I wonder where Neji went. He just left so suddenly. I hope he's ok. I know he's strong and everything, but everyone has their limit, TenTen thought.
She walked around and saw Lee staring at Sakura from a distance.
"What do think you are doing? Are you spying on Sakura?" TenTen demanded.
"Huh!?" Lee jumped up. "N-no!"
"If you like her so much, why don't you go ask her out?"
"I have a very simple reason for not doing so."
"And what would that reason be?"
"I have already."
"She has rejected me every time."
"Have you been putting in that charm of yours?"
"Yes, but it seems to not have any affect when it comes to her."
"Well, why does she always say no?"
Lee stared up at the girl. "I don't know."
"Don't you think you should ask her why she doesn't like you?" TenTen questioned.
"I think it has to do with my hair cut…and the eyebrows."
I can't say I blame her for that. You look like a mini Gai-sensei…" TenTen giggle to herself.
"I guess I could change my hair style. Maybe that will change Sakura's mind on me."
TenTen's eyes grew wider. "If you have to change yourself for her, she's just a waste of you time. If she doesn't like you for who you are, then you shouldn't like her. You're better than some shallow, coldhearted girl!"
"You think so?" Lee wondered.
"I…I know so!"
"Then, I'm going to tell her that. If she doesn't like me for me, I'm through with her!"
"You go, Lee!" she cheered him on as he walked towards Sakura.
Why is Lee walking this way? Is that idiot going to ask me out again? How many times do I have to reject him before he gets the message? I don't like him! Sakura sighed.
"Sakura, I need to tell you something," Lee stated.
"What is it?" there was an annoyance sound to her tone.
"I've decided, with the help of my friend, that if you do not like me because how I look, I should just give up on you. If you don't like me for me, you're just a waste of my time. I never thought that it would come down to this, but I just couldn't possibly like someone as shallow as that."
"Wh-what are you talking about?"
"It's the eyebrows, right? You don't like me because of my eyebrows. I understand, that's why I've decided to no longer like you."
"No, it's really not that, I just don't really even know you…" Sakura softly smiled.
"Don't really even know me?" puzzlement filled Lee's voice.
"Well, you just randomly asked me out. I couldn't say yes to a complete stranger. Also, I barely know anything about you. The only things I know about you are from your sensei. Anyways, I don't think you know a lot about me either."
"Would you like to start over?"
"Go ahead," Sakura giggled.
"Hello! My name is Rock Lee. I would like to know more about you."
"Call me Sakura. I'm glad to meet you."
Lee looked around and saw TenTen walking around. Softly smiling, he turned back to Sakura. "I would like to get to know you better. Heh, maybe after our week in this, we could possibly go out on a date and learn a little more about each other."
"I would like that," Sakura felt her cheeks turning red.
She's blushing! I think this is a good sign! Lee thought.
"Neji, Shikamaru, just leave Naruto alone. He doesn't even see what's so clearly in front of his face," Shino remarked.
"What do you mean by that, Bug Boy!?" Naruto yelled.
Shikamaru turned around. "If you don't need me anymore, I'm going to go find a place where I can watch the clouds."
"I guess I should get going too then," Neji agreed as the two boys walked away.
"Everyone is right, you are an idiot, Naruto."
Shino placed his hands in the pockets of his oversized jacket. "As I said, you can't even see what is so clearly put in front of you. You're blind to the world."
"I still don't understand. I can see everything. My vision is pretty good!" Naruto laughed.
"Yet you're totally oblivious to the feelings someone has for you."
He slowly backed up. "What are you trying to say, Bug Boy? Do you like me or something?"
What? Where did he get that stupid idea? He really is an idiot, Shino shook his head. "I wasn't talking about myself. I was talking about Hinata."
"Huh? About Hinata? Ah, you're confusing me!"
"Can't you tell? Each time you go near her, she starts to tremble and blush. She can barely utter a sentence when talking to you. Don't you understand why?"
"Are you trying to tell me that Hinata likes me?"
"Yes!" Shino slightly raced his voice from it's calm nature.
"So, I guess I'm going to have to fight for her."
"What are you talking about?"
Naruto held up two fingers forming a peace sign. "Don't worry! I vow to win!"
"Win what?" Shino demanded.
"Well, I already know that you like Hinata, but if she likes me…I'm already ahead! Heheh! This will be easy."
"Why are assuming that I like her?"
"You guys have been real clingy lately. I think you know what that means. Very buddy-buddy."
"Have you ever heard of friendship? Naruto, we're on the same team, we're going to be buddy-buddy as you put it."
"Uh huh, sure. Just admit it. You like Hinata. Heh, but I won't let you have her. You're only going to hurt her," Naruto ran off.
Why would I hurt her? From what you have been telling me, your only reason for wanting her is to make me jealous. Which, that wouldn't make me jealous. What a moron! Shino thought.
He saw Kiba and Hinata talking and decided to join them. He had nothing better to do, and from where they were sitting, they'd probably seen what happened. Knowing them, they would want to ask what went on and why it happened. Shino was the only one that would actually tell the truth. Anyways, he had to tell Hinata that he told her only secret. It kind of made him feel bad inside. It made him feel like a bad friend. Shino, inside, was mad at himself; he told Naruto that Hinata liked him for his on happiness.
Finally reaching Hinata and Kiba, Shino placed his hand on the girl's head. Hoping that she wouldn't be mad at him, he opened his mouth and barely uttered, "I need to talk to you…"
"Sh-Shino! Wha…what is i-it?" Hinata stuttered.
Kiba stared at the boy. Behind the sunglasses and long collared jacket, he had no clue what Shino was thinking. Even his voice was constantly the same. It was virtually impossible to see what was wrong with the boy.
"Hinata…it's best if I talk to you alone," Shino broke the silence that fell upon the group.
"Y-yes. I understand, Shino. We'll b-be back in a m-minute, ok, K-Kiba?"
"Don't worry about me, I can see I'm unwanted," Kiba joked.
"Think nothing of that kind. It's just very important," Shino explained.
"Uh huh," he nodded as the two walked away.
A thought came to Kiba's mind. Holy- Is Shino going to tell Hinata that he likes her!? I couldn't tell…his body language is too hard to read. Or maybe something bad happened. I don't know!
Hinata and Shino walked past a few trees until they were deep enough into the forest where no one would be able to hear them. Hinata turned to the boy and gave him a puzzled look. She couldn't imagine what would be so important that she would have to get this far away from the others. Shino hid his face; he couldn't bare to look at Hinata.
"Shino, what was so important?" Hinata finally spoke up.
"I don't usually like to explain a lot. I'm usually the type of person to get right to the point, but in this case I just can't. Hinata, I feel as if I've done the worst thing. I have already concluded that you saw what happened between Naruto and myself. Am I right?"
"I heard Neji and turned to see what was going on. It wasn't any of my business, so Kiba and I decided it would be best to stay out of it. I knew you could handle it."
"I see. To be honest, I wish you would have took a step in. If you did, the mistake I made could have been prevented."
"Mistake? Prevented?" Hinata repeated.
Shino continued. "I know that what has happened can no longer be erased, so I am here to admit what I have done wrong. Hinata, if you can no longer trust me, I will understand. If you no longer want to be a friend of mine, I will understand. If you end up wanting to kill me or maybe just hate me for the rest of my life, I will truly understand because at this point, I'll admit, I'm hating myself. I have probably done what you would have done one of these days, if not tomorrow, the day after, and so on. I couldn't see there to be a reason why you would forgive me for what I will soon tell you."
Hinata placed her hands together and showed a pleasant smile to Shino. "I'm sure I can forgive you for whatever happened. Please, don't worry about such a thing, Shino."
Another wave of silence filled the air. Shino didn't want to tell Hinata the one thing he spilled to Naruto. He just couldn't find the right words to break the news to the innocent girl that stood in front of him. Maybe Naruto was right though, maybe he'll end up hurting Hinata. The thought made the boy feel sick. He never wanted to see Hinata get hurt again. He didn't want it to be his fault. Not again.
"Sh…Shino?" Hinata tried to pull the boy back to reality.
Closing his eyes, Shino finally to just blurt everything out. "I told Naruto you like him!"
It took awhile for Hinata to finally soak up the words that were just said to her. Finally gathering her thoughts, or so she thought she had them gathered, she raised her arm and straightened her hand. Pulling her arm back, she swung forward and let her hand swipe across Shino's face. She noticed that tears had came to her eyes and pulled her hands up to her face. Looking up, Hinata saw that Shino did not move his face from the direction she had hit it in. Her eyes grew wider. Shino still didn't show one ounce of emotion. His body stance did not change and neither did his expression. Though it was impossible to see through the shades that covered his eyes, Hinata knew something was wrong. She felt a chill that pulled through the air. Shino was hurting. He was ashamed of himself. How could she stay mad? Even if he told her secret, she didn't care, for at that moment, her friend was hurting just as much as she was.
Inside, he must be crying. He must be feeling some sort of pain. I can't be mad…I don't want to be. Shino is too important to me. I want him to stay happy. Even if he won't show it, I want to feel the warmth within him flow again. Shino doesn't deserve to be hurting. He might have slipped out a secret of mine, but I'm sure it was for a good cause. I'm sure there was a meaning behind it. It must have been Naruto. He must have gone too far. Naruto shouldn't have messed with Shino. I'm still not clear on what happened…but Shino is in pain from it. I just know he is! Hinata thought.
"I'm sorry, Shino, I shouldn't have hit you," Hinata whispered.
"It's my own fault. I deserved it," Shino mumbled.
"No you didn't! I wasn't thinking. You…Shino…you shouldn't have to feel that way. Shino…you can be happy too…you can be happy…"
"Hinata, it's still unclear to me why I even told him such a thing. Naruto was being irritating, but that's just his normal nature. I don't know why it got to me so bad. I think that telling him that you liked him made me a little happy inside. It's still a mystery why though. Hinata, if saying things that will hurt other people is the only way to make me happy, then, no, I don't deserve to be happy. I shouldn't even walk on this earth if hurting is the only way to fulfill my happiness. Honestly…that's just wrong," Shino admitted.
"Naruto thinks I'm going to hurt you. I'm not sure why that thought goes through his mind, but it does. I just want you to know that I don't want to hurt you. Ok? But I can tell that you're feeling better."
"Feeling better? Please, explain."
"You were so scared yesterday and this morning. You no longer have to cling to my side. It must be because you're growing so strong."
Hinata let out a soft giggle. "Not really. I'm still scared. It's just that everyone is here now, and it's pretty bright out. We're so close together, it makes me feel a little better. Though, I'm still scared, and I'm trying to be as strong as I can be, but I still have these times that I just want to hold onto your arm and pretend that yesterday never happened. I'm trying not to be a pest…"
"I like pests, so you can cling to me as much as you like. All that matters is that you feel safe. Got that? Nothing else matters to me. Not Naruto, no one. I just want to make sure you're ok. I never want to see you get hurt, even though I have done that to you yet again."
Throwing her arms up in the air, she wrapped them around Shino and buried her head in his chest. Letting a few tears form in her eyes, she soft began to spoke, "Please, don't say that. It's ok now."
Holding her tight, Shino started to feel somewhat better about what has been happening. The beginning of their challenge was bumpy, and it only kept getting bumpier as the day progressed. Though, now, Shino felt that things would get better. Maybe Naruto will still be angry, but he didn't care at this point. No, he was happy that Hinata was ok.
"We better get back to the others. I'm sure Kiba is wondering what is taking us so long," Shino decided as he let go of the girl. He began to walk off.
Hinata reached for the boy's arm and held it tight in her grip. "May I hold onto you? I'm scared."
"Scared of what?" Shino was puzzled.
"Of Naruto…I don't want him to hurt you."
"Neji is holding on to his kunai and shuriken…there isn't much he can do to me."
"But, I'm still scared. What if I told you that it's because I don't want to have to face him. Would you understand if I said that?"
"Don't want to have to face him?" Shino repeated.
Hinata let out a soft sigh. "I…I'm not th-that sure if…if I l-like him a-anymore."
What is she trying to say? Hinata doesn't like Naruto anymore? What? Shino thought.
"I'm serious Shino! I'm not that sure. After all, he has barely even noticed me. I don't think I should put myself through all of this anymore. Maybe…just maybe…my crush has subsided."
Shino began to walk, pulling Hinata along with him. "Don't worry, I won't let him bother you."
"Thank you…Shino," Hinata giggled as they made their way back to the others.
What is taking them so long? I'm starting to get worried. Is Shino hurting Hinata? What if she's crying!? What should I do? Or maybe they're just bonding…talking? Well, if they're confessing their love for each other, maybe they're kissing or hugging or something to that matter. Wait! Do they even like each other? I've just been concluding that because they seem so close lately. I'm so confused! Now I'm getting nervous… Kiba thought. He let out a moan. "Where are they!?"
"Where are who, Kiba?" Hinata questioned.
"H-Hinata!" Kiba jumped. "What happened? Are you ok? What did he do? Did he hurt you? I'll kill him if he did!"
"Are you talking about Shino? He would never hurt me, Kiba. What made you think that?"
"Uh…well…you were just gone for so long. I was worried. I didn't know what was going on. Not that I'm saying I don't trust Shino or anyting…it's just…"
"Just what?" Shino demanded.
Just what? I don't know! Can't a guy just be worried about his teammate? Sheesh…you're totally hopeless. What would ever make me think that you, out of all the people here, would actually tell someone you like them. Eh, does Shino even know how to love? Kiba wondered.
"Not answering me? Fine, I see how it is. You must not want to know what happened."
"What!?" Kiba growled
"Hey, look Shino, Neji's all alone. Lets go talk to him!" Hinata decided as they walked off.
"Don't leave me!"
"Come on then," Shino shook his head.
Kiba jumped up and followed them towards Neji.
"Ok, ok…calm down Naruto…you know what you're doing," Naruto began to talk to himself. "All I have to do is make Shino a little more jealous. He can't keep this innocent act going on for too much longer. I'm sure that by now Hinata has figured out how he's just going to hurt her. Lets see, what to do. I need to find a way for Hinata to hate Shino, but…I just don't know how to do that…"
Gaara slowly walked towards Naruto. "You shouldn't be talking to yourself. It's not healthy."
Speak for yourself! Naruto thought. "Eh…what do you want?"
"Oh, I see. What, am I not allowed to hold a conversation with you? Are you trying to make my life more worthless? Do you want me to die?"
"I'm sorry, Gaara…I'm just trying to figure something out. I'm getting stuck…and…"
"Maybe I could help?" the boy suggested.
"Help?" Naruto paused. "Maybe you could be of some help."
"What do you need me to do?"
"Well, you see, I'm having these problems with Shino. I want to make it where Hinata hates Shino so much that she'll never talk to him again, but I don't want her to hate me for doing this. In other words, she must not know it's me that is making this plan. Got that?"
"Hmm…this might be hard, but I'll help you out. It's fun to mess with people's heads."
"Yeah, sure…what's the plan?"
"Ok…here's what we should do…"
Neji stared at Hinata, Shino, and Kiba as the made their way towards him. Hinata waved and showed Neji a sweet smile.
"What are you doing?" Hinata wondered.
"Nothing…I have nothing to do," Neji frowned.
Shino saw the kunai and shuriken of Naruto's on the ground. "You didn't give Naruto back his shuriken and kunai?"
"It's better if he didn't have them. Naruto can survive without them for a day or two."
"Yes! Naruto is strong enough to go on without his kunai! Heh, I'm sure of it," Hinata giggled.
Man, and I really thought that Hinata was over that little crush. I guess I was wrong. I was sure that she was starting to warm up to Shino. Eh, maybe they are just better as friends, Kiba thought.
"But," Hinata continued, "it wasn't very nice of you. Neji, you shouldn't have taken Naruto's things. It's a little thing called stealing."
"I didn't steal them! I took them because he needs to know where his place is. He was being an idiot. Hinata, I don't think you could understand something like this," Neji shook his head.
"I might not understand, but I want to. I want to know what has been going on. I want to know why Naruto was so angry with me. I want to know why he doesn't like Shino. I want to know all these answers, but no one will tell me. Neji, why don't you help me understand? Stop telling me I can't!"
Shino turned to Hinata. "Naruto is mad at you?"
"He was yelling at her. All Hinata was trying to do was give him an apple."
And he was telling me that I'm going to hurt Hinata? I would never yell at her! Shino frowned.
"I wouldn't worry about Naruto at this point. He's probably just mad that Sasuke is his group leader or something stupid like that," Neji decided.
"You're right, Neji. So, where is the rest of your group?" Hinata questioned.
"Hmm…Lee went to see Sakura…and I think TenTen went to go check up on Lee."
"You mean, you don't even know where your group members are?" Kiba demanded.
"No…not really. They'll be fine on their own."
"Eheheheh…yeah…" Kiba nodded.
"But aren't you lonely?" Hinata looked at the boy.
"Huh?" Neji stared at the girl. "I…I don't know. I never really thought of it like that. It's not that we're always off by ourselves. TenTen usually drags behind me."
"I know that Lee is a Taijutsu specailist and that you have the power of the Byakugan, but what about TenTen? What kind of gift does she have?" Shino asked.
"TenTen? She's great with weapons. She never misses her target…no matter how far away it is."
Hinata smiled. "Wow! That's amazing!"
"Neji! Neji!" TenTen yelled as she ran towards the boy. "Guess what!"
Neji turned to look at her. "What is it?"
"It's Lee and Sakura. Something great is happening! See, I gave Lee this lecture, and he took my advice…and! And! I…I really think it worked! I think that Sakura is really giving Lee a chance. Isn't that great? Now we won't have to hear him sulking every time he gets rejected by her!"
Without Neji noticing, Shino, Kiba, and Hinata walked away. Neji turned to see them leaving. He wanted to call after them, but he decided not to.
TenTen grabbed Neji's hands. "Isn't this wonderful? What if Lee and Sakura get together? It would be so romantic. Wouldn't it…Neji?"
"Yeah…I guess that would be a good thing," Neji agreed.
She hugged Neji and whispered in his ear, "Don't forget, Neji, I never miss my target." Then, she poked him in the chest; right over his heart. TenTen ran off in search for Lee.
"What…what just happened?" Neji questioned himself as his cheeks began to heat from TenTen's touch. "I don't know what this feeling is. I must be losing it."
Gaara, Kankuro, and Temari walked over towards group 2. Shino stared at them. He demanded to know what they wanted. Temari just smiled, and Kankuro laughed at him.
"We mean no harm, really," Gaara reassured them. "I just want to talk to Shino. Ok?"
"Why?" Shino questioned.
"Why? Don't ask such a stupid question. We just want to talk to you," Kankuro explained.
"Don't worry, we're not going to hurt you. We're serious, we just want to talk," Temari agreed with her teammates.
"Fine. Hinata, Kiba, I'll be back in a few minutes," Shino walked off with Gaara.
The plan has begun. Get Shino away from Hinata has been a success, Gaara though.
Naruto sat up against a tree remembering his conversation with Gaara.
"Ok…here's what we should do…Temari, Kankuro, and myself will get Shino away from his group. After that, you will transform into Shino. At that point, Shino will be far away from the grouip and will be clueless to what is going on. You will go up to Hinata and be a total idiot as Shino. Do as you please until she gets so angry that she'll hate Shino for the rest of her life. I'll warn you now, you might get hit or slap, but it will be worth it. Once you have pleased yourself, come find us in the forest. I'll leave a sand trail for you to follow. Don't take too long…I don't know how long I'll be able to hold Shino back for. He doesn't look like a trustworthy person," Gaara explained.
"Got it! This will be easy! Thanks for your help, Gaara. Your plan is perfect," Naruto smiled.
Naruto began to laugh. "What a perfect plan! This is sure to work! Heheheh…transform!" Naruto looked at himself. "Great! I look just like the Bug Boy! This is going perfectly!" He walked towards Hinata and Kiba.
"Shino!" Hinata chirped.
"Hey, that was fast," Kiba noticed.
"Yeah, it was easy to get away from those idiots," Naruto (as Shino) agreed.
Hinata grabbed for the boy's arm. "I was scared they were going to hurt you."
Naruto pushed her off. "Don't touch me!"
"Shino!" Kiba shouted.
"Don't 'Shino' me! Hinata, what is your problem? Do you think I really enjoy you hanging on me like that? Gosh! Can't you give a guy some space? I can't sit here and babysit you every second of your life. I have my own life to get to anyways!"
"I'm sorry," the girl begged for forgiveness.
Sorry? Uh! She's supposed to be angry! Naruto thought. "Sorry? Sorry!? Do you think it's just that easy? Well…it's not! You stupid…"
Hinata fell to the ground.
She tried to scoot away as the boy got closer.
Tears began to swell in her eyes.
They began to drip down her cheeks.
Hinata covered her face. Kiba tried to comfort her, but nothing seemed to work.
"I'd rather see you die before having you cling to me ever again. Why would I want to protect a weakling like you? Ha! You're such a joke, Hinata. You'll never be a good ninja like me!"
"Shino…Shino…you'd never say something like that to me…" Hinata mumbled.
"Oh, that old act I was pulling? Wasn't it great? Hinata, you really are an idiot. I could honestly care less about you."
Uncovering her eyes, Hinata stood up and looked at what looked like Shino. "I…I hate you! You said that you liked pests. You said that I could cling to you as much as I pleased. You said you just wanted to keep me safe…you lied! You said you never want to hurt me again. If that's the truth, why do you keep on pulling at me like this? I shared my secrets with you, but you just keep tearing me down, Shino, what about how I feel? I'm sorry if I did something wrong…I never wanted to hurt our friendship. You just look so lonely…I thought we could be lonely together. I truly was wrong. I must be an idiot if I thought we had something…something more than the little friendship that pulled us through all our missions. I was wrong…I was so wrong about you. I thought you were nice…innocent…sweet…maybe that was just an act…I no longer know. I hate you for jerking me around…I'm not a toy, Shino!"
I can't hold this form for much longer! Naruto waved his hand. "Whatever!"
He began to walk away, but Kiba stopped him. "Shino, stay away from Hinata, or I'll have to hurt you. I can't have you playing with Hinata any longer. It's just not right!"
"Yeah, yeah," the boy disappeared into the distance.
"Shino…Shino…why would you do this to me? Why? Shino…what happened. What are you hiding behind those shades that cover your eyes? I don't understand," Hinata whipered.
Kiba stared at Hinata. "That wasn't Shino."
"Wasn't Shino? Didn't you see the boy who just hurt me? That was too Shino!"
"Nope," Kiba pointed at his nose. "I know Shino's scent, and that wasn't him. I know my teammates all too well. The person I smelled…well…I don't think you'd want to know who it really was."
"You know who that really was? Who, Kiba, who?"
"It might hurt you though…"
"I need to know! I can't let that person get away with what he did!"
"N-N…Naruto!" Hinata fell back to the ground. "I will make him pay. I will not let him do this to me…or to Shino!"
"Calm down a little. I know you're angry, but right now, it's best that we stay away from both of them. I'm sure Gaara and his group helped with this. I know they did…they took Shino while Naruto made a fool out of himself. He obviously didn't remember my keen nose."
"I'm not that sure that I can honestly forgive Naruto for what he has done. Now, he knows things that he doesn't have the right to know."
"It will be fine. Ok? We'll figure everything out. I won't let anything happen to you. Also, you now know that Shino is dedicated to protect you."
Hinata's face lit up. "Right!"
Naruto finally caught up with Gaara, Kankuro, Temari, and Shino. He saw them talking; Shino looked agitated.
"Sorry it took me so long," Naruto laughed as he walked up to him.
"Naruto," Shino mumbled.
"What, Shino, you're not happy to see me? Are you still mad about what happened early? You should really learn how to put these things aside!" the boy chirped.
"I was wondering when you were going to get here. You were taking your sweet time, you know that? I was starting to get angry," Gaara explained.
"What was even the point of me coming back here? This has been a waste of my time," Shino told the two boys.
"Well, you had to come here because we had this surprise for you!" Temari smiled.
"Yeah, there's just one problem…we lost the surprise. So, uh…yeah…sorry about that…"
"Lost the surprise?"
"Here, take this instead," Kankuro held out the apple that was given to him by Hinata.
That's the apple he took from my hands after refusing it from Hinata, Shino remembered.
Shino grabbed the apple. "If you didn't want it in the first place, you should have never taken it."
"Aww…if you don't like the gift, don't take it."
"Speak for yourself. I'm going," Shino left them.
"Did everything go as planned?" Gaara wondered.
"Yep! Easy as could be. Hinata hates him more than ever and I got some good information to use against Shino," Naruto began to laugh again.
"Shino!" Hinata pulled him to the side.
"What is it?" Shino questioned the girl.
Kiba walked next to him. "Shh…I don't see Naruto. Hinata, hurry up and explain the plan."
"Explain the plan?" Shino repeated.
"When you left, Naruto transformed into you and made a complete jerk of you in front of me. I ended up saying some things I regret, but I also said that I hated you. I didn't know until he was gone that it was Naruto. Kiba could smell his scent. Now, when Naruto comes back, we're going to pretend we're fighting. He's not going to know that I know it was him this whole time," Hinata explained.
"Once we think Naruto is satified, Hinata is going to take the lead and make Naruto regret the day he ever came up with this plan," Kiba said.
"Did he make you cry, Hinata?" Shino wondered.
"Then, yes…he will regret ever coming up with plan. I will not let him get away for hurting you…not this time…"
"I see Naruto coming, get ready," Kiba warned them.
Naruto walked passed some trees and saw Hinata, Shino, and Kiba.
"I hate you, Shino! How could you be so mean? Don't you care about me?" Hinata demanded.
"I…I don't know what you're talking about," Shino frowned.
Kiba pushed the boy. "I thought I told you to stay away from Hinata. You've hurt her enough. Are you not satisfied yet?"
"I really don't know what you're talking about."
"What do you mean? Not ten minutes ago you were telling me that you didn't care about me. You yelled and you tore me down. Is this just another one of your acts? Well? I've had enough!" Hinata yelled.
Naruto started to walk over towards the group. It's my turn to be hero…heheheh…
"Hey! Shino, what are you doing? Look at pour Hinata!" the boy shouted.
"Huh?" Shino turned to see Naruto walking over to Hinata's side.
Naruto held out his hand and placed it on Hinata's shoulder. "Hinata, what's going on? What is Shino doing to you? Did he hurt you?"
Hinata fell into Naruto's arms letting fake tears drip down her cheeks. "N-Naruto…"
"It's ok, I'm here now. I won't let anything happen to you. I'd never hurt you…not like Shino did."
Hinata's grip grew tighter around Naruto. "Kiba! Now!"
Kiba pulled Naruto away from Hinata and held onto his arms tight. Naruto tried to fight him off, but wasn't able to.
"Heh, you're not getting away from me that easy, Naruto," Kiba snickered.
"You'll pay for the things you've done," Shino agreed.
"Yes, because I won't take your lying anymore," Hinata looked away.
"Lying? What lying? I don't know what you're talking about!" Naruto squirmed.
Shino held onto Hinata as a real set of tears formed. "You've hurt Hinata one too many times."
Naruto saw Hinata tightening her grip around Shino. "Sh-shouldn't you hate Shino? Hinata! He hurt you! He told me your secret, and he doesn't care about you! Don't you understand? You'll just keep getting hurt if you stick around him!"
"No, Naruto, you're so wrong. If I'm to stay around you, that is how I will get hurt. You yelled at me for being friendly. You're being selfish, and I just don't understand why. What has Shino ever done to you? N-Naruto, I will no longer be the bait for your tricks. If it's the only way to make you stop hurting Shino…I would like it better if we had nothing to do with each other," Hinata frowned.
"Nothing to do with each other?" he repeated. "You're the one that likes me! I'm just trying to do you a favor and keep Bug Boy away from you. What, do you want to be hurt?"
"Shino would never hurt me on purpose."
"I highly doubt that! He's already hurt you so many times, hasn't he? I mean, he did tell me that you like me. I mean, what could be worse? That's like shoving a kunai straight through your heart. Shino had no reason to tell me that information. None at all!"
"What!?" Naruto tried to pull away from Kiba again.
Kiba tightened his grip more. "I don't think so. You're not going any where until we're done settling this little dispute."
"Naruto, you're an idiot. You told me that you didn't want me to hurt Hinata. If you think about it, I'm not the one who's been hurting her…you are!" Shino grew tense. "I told you that information because you kept on asuming that I liked Hinata and that she liked me. I told you all of that because you kept on pushing me farther and farther off my edge."
"No matter what, I'm still a step ahead of you!" Naruto growled.
"Still a step ahead?" Kiba repeated.
"Yeah! Hinata liked me!"
Hinata turned away from them and squeezed Shino's arm. "I'm sorry, Naruto, but once again, you are wrong. When Shino told you those words, I had yet to figure out that I no longer have feelings of that sort towards you. Naruto…I'm sorry, but I couldn't possibly like someone who keeps pushing me down…not to mention keeps on hurting my friend."
Kiba, shocked from hearing Hinata, let his grip loosen on Naruto. Being free from Kiba, Naruto ran up to Shino and hit him.
"I'll kill you for feeding Hinata all those lies!" Naruto yelled.
As Shino fell to the ground from Naruto's blow, his sunglasses got knocked off. Hinata was surprised that Naruto would do such a thing. Shino was pushed away from her…flung from her grip.
"Naruto…" Shino mumbled as he got back onto his feet.
Hinata grabbed his sunglasses and held them in her hands. She was scared to go up to him because his eyes were filled with so much rage and hate.
Bug Boy has eyes? Naruto thought as he began to laugh. "Come on, loser! That punch was nothing! Don't tell me that's all I have to do to win."
Naruto went in to hit Shino again, but Shino quickly raised his arm and blocked the hit. Grabbing Naruto's wrist, he pulled it behind the boys back until he started to scream in pain.
"Ah! Ow!" Naruto let out a scream.
"Had enough yet? Ready to give up? Huh!?" Shino's voice echoed.
"Never!" Naruto tried to get free but failed.
"It's impossible to move…I'm not letting you go anywhere!"
Hinata saw tears forming in Naruto's eyes. He was in pain. She knew he deserved it, but he had enough for now. It hurt to look.
"Shino…" she whipered. "Please! Stop it, Shino!"
In an instant, Shino dropped Naruto and turned to Hinata. He looked away when he saw Hinata shaking in fear. Opening his mouth, he softly sighed and began to speak. "I'm scaring you, aren't I?"
"It's not that, Shino…it's just…you're hurting Naruto. I know he did some nasty things, but it's just not right."
Shino walked towards Hinata and took his sunglasses from her hand. He whispered into her ear that he was sorry. Then, he went back to Naruto and pulled him off the ground.
Naruto pushed Shino away after getting up. "Don't touch me. I don't need your help!"
"Hey! Naruto! Could you come here?" Sasuke called for the boy.
"Heh! I'm wanted. See you guys later," Naruto walked away.
"I don't think that went how we had it planned," Kiba mumbled.
"Come on, Hinata, you look tired. Maybe you should rest," Shino suggested.
"I'll rest, but do you promise you'll watch over me while I'm sleeping?" Hinata wondered.
"Yeah, lets go," he nodded.
Hinata grabbed onto the boy. "Kiba, will you be ok on your own?"
"Don't worry about me! Take care of yourself," Kiba smiled.
Hinata and Shino walked off as a thought formed in Kiba's mind. Hey! Maybe Hinata really is starting to like Shino. This could be good…this is kind of cool!
"What did you need?" Naruto demanded.
"I was just wondering if you finally got a chance to talk to Shino."
"Yeah, but he's real hard to crack. I found some good information, but every time, I just get hit back. It's almost impossible to get Hinata away from that Shino, but I think I can! Though, she did say she no longer had that crush on me. I'll just have to prove that I'm better than Shino. Heh!"
Sasuke shook his head. "You'll never learn, Naruto."
"What do you mean by that?!"
"What ever happened to you liking Sakura? Have you given up on her because now someone is looking at Hinata? You don't know anything, Naruto. You really should give up on girls. You're never going to get you way! You idiot!"
"Give up one girls? Are you saying I should stop liking girl and start liking guys or something like that? Huh!?"
"Yeah, pretty much…"
"Gah! No way!" Naruto whimpered. "I wouldn't have any better luck with guys than I do with girls. This is a stupid conversation!"
"You're the stupid one," Sasuke snickered.
"This isn't funny!" Naruto shouted. "I give up!" The boy ran off.
"Naruto…" Sasuke whispered. You just give up too easily. You'll never be a great ninja if you keep this up. If you want something or someone enough, you should be willing to anything to get that certain thing. You're just giving up, and that will never solve anything. If you don't try hard enough…you'll just start giving up everything. That's not like the Naruto that I know…
TenTen finally spotted Lee and stopped the boy. She smiled at him as he looked at her in a quizzical way.
"What's wrong?" Lee wondered.
"Lee, how did you know you liked Sakura. How did you know that she was the one you wanted to confess your love to?" the girl questioned.
He looked away. "I didn't. I just saw a pretty girl and fell for her. I just now realized that we don't know much at all about each other. Why?"
"I was…uh…just wondering. You know, my curiosity will probably kill me one day!"
"You're not making much sense. Did something happen that I should know about?"
"Oh, no…what would make you think like that?"
"Eh!?" TenTen covered her face as she fell to the ground. "This! This can't be happening!"
"Are you going to tell me now?" Lee asked.
"I said some things to Neji…things I shouldn't have said."
"What could you have possibly have said? It's not like you confessed that you've loved him since the day you met and that you're not complete without him."
She looked up at him. "Not exactly. Well…kind of something like that…"
"What do you mean by that?"
"I'm not that sure."
"Well, what did you tell him?"
"Uh…that I never miss my target. Then I poked him over the heart…"
"I know…it's hor-"
"That's great!" Lee began to laugh. "But I'm not that sure if Neji is capable of loving."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"He's just not the type of person I could see in a relationship."
"Lee! You're so wrong! You just haven't see his softer side. I know that deep down inside, there's a very sweet Neji that no one has seen before. I one day want to awaken that Neji."
"You're blushing again."
"Oh!" TenTen smiled. "I guess I can't hide it anymore…"
"Heh! But that's a good thing!"
"Shikamaru!" Ino cried.
"What is it now?" the boy looked at her.
"Shikamaru…I'm getting hungry. Could you cook some fish? Please!"
"Why don't you ask Sasuke? He'd cook it better than I could."
Ino looked away. "True, but I don't want him to do that."
Shikamaru looked back to the sky. "How I envy the clouds."
"Clouds? You sure do look at the clouds a lot. Don't you? Do you like them that much?"
"I guess you could say that. It's just, clouds are so free…able to do what they wish. I hope to be like that one day. I want to do what I want when I want."
"That would be nice, wouldn't it?" Ino sat down next to the boy.
Shikamaru slightly jumped as the girl smiled at him.
"What are you doing?" Shikamaru wondered.
"Just looking at the clouds."
He pointed towards the sun. "The sun is setting. It'll be dark soon. If you want something to eat, I suggest we get something now."
"If I cook anything for you, I'm going to feed myself."
"You're really going to cook?"
Shikamaru stood up. "I am the leader, aren't I? It's not good leadership to let my teammates starve. Chouji is probably dying from being hungry."
"Yeah!" Ino jumped up and grabbed the boy from behind, giving him hug.
"Wh-what…what are y-you d-doing?" Shikamaru stuttered. His face began to change to red.
"Are you blushing?" Ino demanded.
"You're lying!" Ino giggled. "Shikamaru is blushing!"
"Stop it…lets just go…"
"Did I say something wrong?"
"Ino…it's just…" Shikamaru grabbed the girl's hand and dragged her down towards the river. "We have to get something to eat before the sun sets…!"
You know, you're not a very good liar, Shikamaru. Could it be that you possibly like me? That's so cute. Though, I've never thought of you as anything but my friend. You have such a weird personality. I understand one thing though, the fact that you just want to float among the clouds. It's such a wonderful dream that I hope you'll one day fulfill, Ino thought.
Shino looked at Hinata as she sat against the wall of the cave. She titled her head towards the boy and smiled. She wondered if he was going to join her. Shino turned away and looked outside.
"It's getting dark. The others will probably come in here soon."
"Shino, aren't you hungry? Have you eaten enough today?"
"Um…yes?" he wasn't that sure.
Hinata's stomach slightly growled as she held herself. "Eh? Was that me?"
Shino reached into his pocket and pulled out and apple. "Would you like to share?" He took out his kunai to cut the apple with.
Shino began to cut the apple as he sat next to Hinata. He softly placed a piece of it into the girl's hand. Her heart started to pound as his hand touched hers. Her face began to flush.
"Hinata, are you ok?" Shino wondered.
She looked away. "I'm fine…"
"Don't worry, Hinata…I won't let Naruto do anything to hurt you. Ok? It's just not right that you have to be pulled into our conflict."
"But, I am the conflict. If Naruto never saw me clinging to you, he would have never gotten into your face."
"He's just jealous."
"Jealous? Of what?"
"…it's nothing…don't worry about it…"
"Is there something you're not telling me about?"
"Maybe we should just get to sleep."
"Naruto's jealous because we're so close. Is that right?"
Hinata ate the last piece of the apple. Closing her eyes, she let her head fall into Shino's lap. "I'm not going to let any person jeopardize our friendship. Never ever…"
"Hinata…" Shino slowly pulled his fingers through the girl's hair as she drifted off to sleep. Soon, he let himself fall back against the wall and fell asleep.
"So tired," Kiba mumbled as he stumbled into the cave. He noticed Hinata sleeping in Shino's lap and smiled. "They're cute together…"
Following Kiba, the other groups came into the cave. Naruto went deep into the cave until he could no longer see anyone. He was mad at the first thing he saw as he went into the cave. Sasuke followed Naruto and slept back by him to make sure he didn't pull anything as everyone slept. Ino, Shikamaru, and Chouji took a small portion of one of the walls. Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro also made their way to the back of the cave. Lee sat next to Sakura as she fell asleep laying her head on his shoulder; this made him blush.
"Kiba, TenTen and I are going to take the first watch. Shikamaru said he'd take second watch with Ino. I know you were probably up most of last night, so don't worry. You just need to get your rest," Neji told the boy.
"Lee and Sakura offered to take the watch after Shikamaru. I'm going to sleep close to Naruto so I make sure he doesn't pull anything. Sasuke is also watching him, but I really don't trust Gaara's group."
TenTen smiled at Kiba. "You worry too much. Nothing's going to happen. Just get some sleep. We are way too tired to worry about anything!"
Neji took TenTen outside. Kiba sat in the middle of the cave and let himself fall back. Laying down on the ground, he gave out a sigh and fell asleep.
"TenTen, if you get tired, you can just go inside the cave and sleep. I'll be fine on my own," Neji looked at the girl as she sat on the ground.
"I'll be fine. Won't it be better if you have someone to talk to?" she wondered.
Silence filled the air…
"Um…so what did you mean by you never miss your target? I know you weren't just pointing out the obvious to me."
"Oh…that…I don't think that's important."
"Do you like me?"
He really wants to get down to the point, now doesn't he? TenTen smiled. "Of course! You're a great friend, Neji, how could I not possible like you?"
"I mean, TenTen, do like me for more than just a friend?"
"Uh…you meant like that? I…um…do you really want to know?"
TenTen slipped her hand in his. Her cheeks turned red as Neji turned to look at her. Her smile grew bright as she began to speak. "Neji, yes, I do like you as more than just a friend."
"Then it really is true," Neji wrapped TenTen in his arms, "you never do miss your target. No matter what you're throwing."
"Eheheheh," she softly giggled and poked Neji in the side. "You're such a romatic person!"
"TenTen…lets not wake the others up…"
Resting her head on his shoulder, she whispered, "Ok…" As her words drifted off, so did she.
The next morning quickly came. Lee walked outside to see TenTen resting in Neji's arms. He smiled to himself as he went to collect apples. Shortly after he woke up, most of the other groups joined him. Shikamaru decided to catch the day's supply of fish; Ino thought he would need some help, so she so kindly helped him. Getting up, Sakura noticed Lee picking apples and quickly joined him. Sasuke started to build a fire outside as Kankuro and Temari helped to find more wood for it. Everyone else was still asleep; other than the just waking up Naruto, that is.
Naruto walked passed Gaara and smiled. He looked harmless when he slept there holding himself in a ball. Getting closer to the entrance of the cave, Naruto notice Hinata and Shino sleeping next to each other. The girl was still resting in Shino's lap. The boy felt jealous.
"Sasuke is right…I should just give up for good," Naruto decided. He turned to the exit and then turned to look back at the sleeping couple. "Take care of her, Shino. You're now the only one who can. I give up for now…you win…"
The boy walked out of the cave with an aching heart. Over the years, as he got to know Hinata better, Naruto slowly started to grow a liking to her. He never knew that the girl, too, liked him. It made him feel bad about himself. Jealousy ran down Naruto's spine. He gave up for now, but all knew that it was not the end of the conflict between Shino and Naruto.
"How many fish are we getting?" Ino wondered.
"Uh…I don't know. Enough to at least fill up everyone for the morning. We'll be able to get more later if we get hungry again. Why, are you getting tired? You don't have to help," Shikamaru told her.
The girl grabbed a fish and smiled. "It's not that I'm tired. I was just wondering. I guess I'm just trying to make a conversation."
Shikamaru stuck his hand in the cold water and pulled it out, splashing the girl that stood next to him. He smiled at her and said, "Don't try too hard. You might just come up with a boring topic."
"Hey!" she yelled as she pulled her hair out of the bun that was once nicely formed on top of her head. She shook her hair off and frowned. Looking like she was going to catch another fish, she splashed the boy back.
"Thanks, now my hair is wet…"
"It'll dry faster if you let it down."
"I rather not."
"Fine, I'll do it for you!" Ino pulled the tie that held Shikamaru's messy hair up.
His hair flung in front of his face covering his eyes. "I said not to. Now my hair is in my way."
Oh! He kind of looks cute with his hair down like that, Ino thought. She started to collect fish again. "I didn't know that you didn't like your hair down. I'm sorry."
"Huh? There's nothing to be sorry about. Even if I told you to stop, it's not like you would have."
"You're right. I'm the type of person that just has to have their way. That's why you don't like me, right? I think of myself before other, and I can be selfish. I'm mean and cruel. I'm bossy, too…aren't I?"
"I never said that. What would make you think I didn't like you?"
"Because I try to be the leader even though I'm no good at it. Even though you're the smartest on the team, I keep putting you down. I'm a terrible person! Shikamaru, I'm sorry that I'm so mean to you. I guess I just can't help it. It's in my nature…maybe…I don't know. Forgive me…please?"
Shikamaru patter Ino on the head. A small smile grew on his face. "Don't think so low about yourself. Everyone is selfish. Just try as hard as you can…that's all that really matters. You haven't done anything wrong. Ok?"
"You think so?"
"I know it…"
Face turning red, Ino jumped up and hugged Shikamaru. Knocking him over, she fell on top of him. Laughing, she rolled off of him and let herself lay in the shallow water.
Getting up, the boy looked over at her. "Are you ok?"
"Are you sure? Your face is all red."
"Huh?" Ino touched her cheeks to feel their warmth. She began to laugh again. "This is great!"
"Let me help you up," Shikamaru help out his hand and the girl reached for it. As he pulled her up, he turned away hiding his own flushed face.
Would you look at that? I think I'm growing to like Shikamaru! Ha! Who would have guessed that would ever happen. He can be fun at points… Ino thought as they walked out of the water and brought the fish over to Sasuke.
Gaara, finally waking up from his slumber, walked towards the exit of the cave. He saw Shino and Hinata still sleeping. He stumbled in their direction.
"What fools…why would you waste your whole day sleeping?" Gaara demanded from the sleeping pair. He reached out his hand and softly touched Hinata. Gently, he shook the girl awake.
"Uh?" Hinata looked up to see Gaara standing there. "You!" She jumped up and hit the boy.
"What was that for?" he hissed.
"Y-you're the one wh-who helped N-N-Naruto with th-that stupid pl-plan! I…I can never forgive you for what you d-did."
Gaara slowly backed up. "I just woke you up because I didn't think you would want to waste your day sleeping. Just wake up the boy and leave me alone. I was just trying to do something nice. You don't have to yell at me for that."
"Yes, for what you did yesterday. That r-really h-hurt me…"
Gaara was shocked was the girls words. "…sorry…"
Hinata smiled as she turned to Shino. "I'll wake him up. Thank you for getting me up. You're right, I would not like to sleep all day. If I did, I'd be up all night."
"Right…" Gaara walked outside.
Turning to Shino, Hinata bent over and place her hand on his shoulder. Shaking him back and forth, she tried to wake up the boy.
"Eh…" the boy mumbled as he squeezed his eyes tightly closed.
"Sh…Shino…" Hinata whispered in his ear. She shook him harder.
Finally, Shino opened his eyes up and looked upwards to see Hinata standing there. "Hinata? What happened? What's going on?"
"Nothing. We've been sleeping for awhile now. Everyone else is outside. Gaara woke me up. I think he just got up himself. It was very nice of him."
"Gaara? He was helping Naruto. How can you call him nice?"
"Outside…he might look mean…but inside…I believe that he's a nice person. Kind of like you, Shino. On the outside, to be honest, you kind of look cold…heartless…but you let Kiba and myself see the real you. You're a warmhearted guy. And…when I looked into your eyes that day…I knew for sure…you're innocent…more innocent than anyone could ever see."
"Hinata…" Shino stood up. He placed his hand on her head and messed with her hair. "You're innocent, too…even more than you think I am. It's written all over your body. You're so kind…"
"And that is my weak point. I'm too kind. Don't you agree? I can't even protect myself. I have to hide behind you and Kiba. I can't keep up with the two of you. Kiba is so strong…he never thinks before he attacks though. Unlike him, you like to think things through. You know that every attack counts and that you can't take a move back. I guess I've learned a few things, but I could never be as strong as you. I don't know how you hide the emotions you feel so easily. I know it's one of the rules of the ninja…never show your true feelings during a mission…but I just can't. I just can't do it…"
"That's ok, Hinata. As long as we're on the same team…I'll protect you. If you don't want to hide what you feel, you don't have to. Kiba isn't that good at hiding things at all…that's what he has Akamaru for. Right?"
"Heh…of course. I bet Akamaru misses Kiba as he's sitting at home. But, Shino…unlike Kiba…you seem to have your emotions easily covered. Tell, what's your secret? How do you do it so easily? Why can you do it but not me?"
"It's not easy…not at all. The sunglasses are to hide what my eyes might slip out and show. The long collared jacket, it hides my lips that can so effortlessly produce a smile at any moment…without a warning. I have no secret. I just simply hide everything that will show those meaningless feelings."
"Meaningless? Do you not care about feelings at all?"
"Not really. They don't help in a fight…they just get in the way."
"Maybe…just maybe…Shino…was I wrong about you? Perhaps you are coldhearted. My eyes might have possibly made a mistake."
"It's not like that. Is it possible that you just don't understand why I don't think emotions are important? That could be it."
"It's not likely."
"Hey!" Kiba ran into the cave. "Gaara was telling me that he woke you guys up. Come on…we just finished cooking! You should hurry up and get something while it still hot."
"Kiba!" Hinata turned to the boy.
"Uh…did I come in at a bad time?"
"No…" Shino walked towards the exit and left.
"He's being stubborn…" Hinata mumbled.
"It was a bad time…wasn't it?"
Tears formed in the girl's eyes. "N-no. You c-came at th-the perfect t-t-time. If Sh-Shino didn't leave…I might have not b-been able t-to h-hold back th-these tears any l-l-longer…"
"What happened? Did you two have a fight?"
"Not really…I think I might have hurt his feelings though."
"Feelings? I don't think it could be that."
"Kiba…I just want to go home. I want this week to end. I miss my sister and father…I miss my warm bed. Kiba…I miss the fun we used to have as a team. Everything has been falling apart though. Shino is right…I just don't understand him. I was just pretending to."
"Eh?!" Kiba bit his lip. And everything just went downhill! I thought this was going to turn out good. Now, Hinata is in tears…and Shino seems to be back at his one word sentence talking thing. Is there anything I can do to help them? I want to see them both happy…
"I…I'm sorry…Kiba. This has nothing to do with you. I shouldn't get you involved. I'm not going to drag you in any farther. Please, don't worry about this. Forgive me for bringing you in this much. I must be a terrible friend."
Kiba placed his hand on Hinata's arm. "You're a great friend, Hinata. I think, right now, you're just a little confused…that's all. I'm sure that whatever happened between you and Shino will end quickly. I think you mean too much to him for him to keep a grudge. Just trust me…he won't."
"I hope that you're right…" she nodded.
I hope I'm right as well. I talk as if I know Shino well enough to say such things. I guess I might be faking myself. I just want to see everything back to normal. Shino seems to be Hinata's new Naruto…but this time…her hero is actually protecting her. I don't want to see Hinata hurt…I know that I can't protect her myself…it has to be Shino, Kiba thought to himself. "Lets get going, Hinata. Everyone is probably waiting for us."
"R…right!" Hinata agreed as the two of them walked outside.
Kiba took a seat next to Shino. Hinata sat on the other side of him.
"Bring on the food!" Chouji yelled.
"Be quiet!" Ino shouted. "Shikamaru and Sasuke will be here in a second."
"Ok, start out with one. If you're still hungry, there will be more left," Shikamaru mumbled as he walked towards the group.
"Here," Sasuke put the plate of fish in front of them.
"FOOD!!!!!" Chouji jumped up.
"Didn't I tell you to shut up?" Ino hit the boy.
"You're last!" Shikamaru gave him another lump on the head.
"The girls can go first. After that, the guys can," Sasuke explained.
Each girl grabbed a nicely cooked fish and went back to their spot. After all the girls were done, the boys began to pick at the remaining fish. Just as promised, Chouji was the last to pick.
Hinata touched the fish. "Oww…"
"Are you ok?" Shino wondered, but not once did he look at her.
"Ye…yes. It's j-just a l-little hot…"
Huh? Hinata is stuttering. But she never stutters anymore in front of Shino and myself. What's going on in that head of hers? Kiba wondered.
"Make sure you're careful, Sakura," Lee smiled at the girl.
"It looks so good though, I can't help but want to dig right in," Sakura nodded.
Lee began to laugh. "I know, but do you really want to burn that face of yours?"
They quickly finished the meal that was so nicely cooked by Sasuke, with the help of Shikamaru. After finishing the meal, it was decided that maybe they should try to have a little fun today. No one knew that their fun would quickly be stopped when Hinata's attackers decided to strike again.
"Look at the pretty girls…so many pretty girls!" one of the boys chanted.
"Which one to choose?" the other boy wondered.
"N-not this! Not th-them a-a-again!" Hinata shrieked. She held onto Kiba's arm. Shino wasn't around at this point. He was off with Neji, Shikamaru, and Lee.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of these guys!" Kiba decided. I talk big, but without Akamaru…I'm not much at all!
"Hmm…you see that girl? She's the same one from before!"
"Yes, but she has a different protector this time…and he doesn't seem so tough!"
"Shut up!" Kiba pulled shuriken out. Flinging them across the air, everyone missed.
TenTen ran towards them. "Your aim is off. Let me give it a try." She began to reach for a scroll, but remembered she didn't bring any with her. She didn't even have a shuriken to use. "No good! I don't have anything on me!"
"They keep moving, it's impossible for me to use my mind transfer jutsu unless they stop!" Ino told everyone.
"Heh, they're so helpless!" one of the boys smiled.
"Chouji! Human Boulder!"
"Go Chouji!" Ino cried.
"Miss…" Sakura frowned as the boy walked back towards the group. "I have nothing to offer myself…Hinata? What about you?"
"If only the others were here; they could help us…" Hinata looked around.
"Hinata! Use the Byakugan to see how far away the others are!" Kiba decided.
"R-right! Byakugan!" Hinata looked around. "There!" Hinata began to run in the direction of the group that Sasuke, Naruto, Gaara, Kankuro, and Temari were in.
"Not so fast!" the two boys grabbed her.
Sakura started to run in the direction Hinata was going towards.
"One more step, girl, and this one gets killed," a kunai sat up against Hinata's neck.
I can't fight them off. I'm still not strong enough. I can never deal with them on my own. Without Akamaru, Kiba doesn't seem to have the confidence to fight. Ino's ability only seems to work if her enemy is standing still. Chouji's not fast enough to hit the two boys. Sakura seems to not want to offer whatever skills she holds. TenTen is the only one that could actually hit them, but she doesn't have anything to attack with…I'm guessing that no one has a kunai or shuriken to offer her either. This is beginning to become hopeless…if only Shino was here…he'd be able to get rid of these two creeps easily! Hinata thought.
"This isn't good…no one has a kunai? Shuriken? Anything I can throw?" TenTen asked.
"Nothing…" Kiba mumbled.
"What should we do first to the little girl?" one boy questioned.
"Hmm…well…I just don't know…" the other one snickered.
"You'll do nothing to Hinata!" an angry voice echoed.
"Who thinks they can stop us?"
"Go!" the voice said as tiny insects made their way up the two boys's clothes.
"Shino…" Hinata faintly said.
The two boys let go of Hinata. She fell to the ground, letting her arm land on the kunai that had dropped with her.
"Ah!" Hinata let out a scream.
"Hinata!" Shino let his guard down as he looked at the girl. He, at that point, had already called his bug friends back.
"Stupid!" one of the boys hit Shino behind the head. He had been knocked out from the powerful blow. The boy reached for the girl.
"Don't lay another finger on her…or you'll have to face me!" Neji yelled, his Byakugan was already activated.
"You don't scare me!"
"Leaf whirlwind!" Lee let out a yell as the boy who dared to touch Hinata was flung towards a tree.
The other boy went to take Hinata, he was stopped in an instant.
"Shadow possession jutsu!" Shikamaru took hold of his shadow. "Tell us, who are you two?"
"I am Yowai…and that one over there is Maneru."
Gaara's group walked towards the boy that got hit by Lee. Gaara looked at him. "What are you doing here?"
"Just messing around with your heads. It's fun to give people a good scare!" Maneru laughed.
"Oh, we'll give you more than a scare…" Kankuro snickered.
Neji pulled out shuriken as he ran up to TenTen. Neji gave them to the girl. "Aim for the Maneru guy…leave the other one to the rest of us…"
"I live up to my words. I never miss my target!" TenTen smiled as she threw the shuriken.
Maneru jumped out of the way. "Your aim is good, but you're too slow!"
Hinata had already pulled the kunai from her arm and was so desperately trying to wake the fallen Shino. So far, she had no luck.
"Please, Shino, wake up…wake up!" she begged.
"Hinata, you're injured. Lets get out of here and get that arm of yours wrapped," Kiba tried to get her to leave the boy's side.
"Not without Shino! I won't leave him…no matter how much pain I'm in!"
"Get in the cave…I'll get Shino," Kiba told the girl.
Finally giving in, she got up and ran towards the cave.
Ino showed a small smile on her face. "Ah, just in time, Shikamaru. With you holding onto this idiot, I can easily do my own move."
"Are you sure you want to do that? Take Sakura into the cave and check on Hinata. We'll take care of these guys," Shikamaru decided.
"I'll come with you. They're too fast for me to even hit them," TenTen decided.
"Ok, lets get going," Sakura joined the girls as they ran off towards the cave.
"Not so fast!" Maneru threw shiriken at them.
"Wind scythe jutsu!" Temari yelled. She held up her large fan. "Hmph! You're not too fast…now are you?"
"Temari, keep an eye on the rest of the girls," Gaara looked at his sister. "Make sure nothing happens to them. Get them safely to the cave."
"Ok!" Temari nodded as the girls began once again to got to the cave.
"Ready for a real scare?" Gaara wondered.
"Go easy on the guys," Sasuke told the boy. "Heh, they don't know who they're up against."
"You want to take care of them then?" Kankuro demanded.
"I think I can handle them with the Sharingan," he nodded.
"Don't be foolish! Temari and Lee were the only ones that have even gotten a hit so far. Lee's fast enough to catch up to these guys, and Temari hit Maneru while he was distracted," Shikamaru explained.
"Hmm…so…I have my own question. Why hasn't anyone hit me yet?" Yowai asked.
"Easy, because if we were to hit you, Shikamaru would be affected as well. We wouldn't want one of our own teammates getting hurt, now would we?" Neji smirked.
Lee took a hold of Yowai. "Go ahead and let him go, Shikamaru. I have him now!"
Shikamaru released the boy from his shadow. All the boys took a good look at him. Quickly, Naruto gave him nice punch in the face. The force that Naruto gave also knocked Lee off his feet, making him lose his grip on Yowai.
"I'm getting sick of this! I'm taking matters in my own hands now!" Gaara yelled as sand swirled around him.
"We're trying to not kill these guys. Gaara, if killing is all you're going to do, then, please, watch over the girls or something else," Neji decided.
"All we wanted was to have fun with some pretty girls, but you just had to ruin our plans, now didn't you!? This makes me so angry," Yowai's eyes were filled with rage.
"So you thought you could take the girls from our team?" Chouji asked.
"Yeah, pretty much. We didn't know there were that many of you," Maneru agreed.
"You want girls, eh?" Naruto laughed.
"Naruto, what are you thinking?" Shikamaru demanded.
"No, Naruto, you're not going to use that jutsu. Don't!" Sasuke yelled.
"Heheheh! I'd close your eyes if you don't want to get a bloody nose!" Naruto smiled. "It's time…Harem jutsu!"
By mixing the multi shadow clone jutsu with Naruto's famous sexy jutsu resulted in the harem jutsu. A jutsu liked that is any perverts dream.
"My God!" and the noses dripped from the two older boys.
"Here, have a better look!" Naruto screamed in with a girly voice as he struck the boys. They flew across the forest, hopefully not to be seen again.
"Change back!" Neji shouted.
"Do you have no dignity as a man!?" Shikamaru demanded.
Naruto changed back to his normal state. "Heh, well it did get rid of those guys…so get off of my back already."
"It might have got rid of them, but we could have done it without you having to turn into a naked woman!" Sasuke yelled.
"That's many naked women. You know you liked it, Sasuke," Naruto began to laugh again.
Sasuke began to blush. "I didn't like it! That has nothing to do with it! Shut up, Naruto!"
"So, I guess Sasuke did like it," Lee whispered to Neji.
"Mmm…guess he's easy to amuse," Neji agreed.
"Lets see how the girls are doing. I saw Shino get knocked out. Also, I know that Hinata screamed in pain before that. We should figure out what happened," Shikamaru decided.
"After the week is over, we will report those two guys," Neji nodded.
"Yowai and Maneru…those names will not be forgot very easily!" Chouji let out a roar.
The boys walked towards the cave were everyone else waited for the trouble to be gone.
"How is your arm doing?" Kiba wondered.
"It's still bleeding. What should we do?" Hinata frowned.
Sakura held the wounded arm of the girl. "This is bad. It's a real deep cut. Do you have any bandages, Kiba?"
"I don't know where. Shino had some, but I don't want to look through his stuff. I'm not the type to be looking through people's private things…"
"Is this his bag?" Temari asked as she lifted a black backpack.
"Don't look through there. It's not yours. I'll be fine…really!" Hinata smiled. More blood dripped onto her pants.
"Hinata!" Neji's eyes grew wider as he saw his cousin's blood dripping.
"We have nothing to wrap it with," Ino explained.
Lee pulled off the bandages that were so neatly wrapped around his left arm. "Here, lets get that wrapped quickly. We don't need you to lose anymore blood."
"Here, I'll do it," Sakura took the Hinata's arm again and slowly wrapped it with what was given to her by Lee. After she was finished, she smiled at her work.
"Eh…" Shino began to moan.
"Shino!" Hinata turned towards him, putting all her weight on her hurt arm. "Ah!" She fell on top of the boy when her arm finally gave out.
"Err…" Shino began to slowly open his eyes as Hinata tried to get off him.
"Sorry, sorry," Hinata apologized as she pulled herself to her feet.
Shino sat up and began to rub the back of his head. "What happened? When did I get in the cave?"
"One of those guys knocked you out when you went to see if Hinata was ok," Kiba explained.
"Hinata! You got hurt, didn't you? Are you ok? What happened?" Shino demanded.
"I…I'm f-fine Sh-Shino…" the girl mumbled.
Ino stared at the boy in sunglasses. "When your bugs attacked those two guys, they dropped Hinata. They also dropped the kunai they were threatening her with. Her arm ended up landing on the kunai once she landed on the ground."
"I-it's n-nothing! R-really!" Hinata flapped her arms around.
Shino grabbed the girls hurt arm. "If you keep moving like that, you're just going to bring more pain to that arm of yours. I suggest you stop waving it around like that."
"I-I kn-know…Shi-Shino…" Hinata retrieved her arm. "I'll b-b-be more c-careful…"
I wonder if he forgot about the argument we had…I wonder if he thinks I have forgiven him. I have yet to know what to do. Right now, I'm scared of you…Shino. I haven't been scared of you in forever. Why now? Why must I be scared now? We're friends, aren't we? Hinata wondered.
"Uh…I'm sorry, Hinata," Shino turned away from the girl. "I'm acting as if nothing happened between us this morning. I just keep jerking you around, don't I?"
"I-it's not l-like th-that…Shino."
"You're stuttering, Hinata. You haven't stuttered around me in forever. Once we began to become a real team, you, me, and Kiba, you stopped stuttering around us. It was because you were no longer scared of us. Am I right?"
"It's because you saw a different side of me. You're unsure of the friendship we have. I understand, Hinata. I was out of line. I shouldn't have yelled. I just couldn't keep myself calm. I guess I was even being selfish."
"You…you weren't being selfish. Sh-Shino, I was the one that was probably out of line. I don't have the right just saying what you are and what you're not. I was acting childish. If anything, I was being selfish. Not you…b-but m-me," tear began to form in the girl's eyes.
"…I've hurt you again…"
Hinata shook her head. She began to cradle her injured arm. A small smile formed on her face as she wiped away the tears. Softly, she let herself giggle. "No…you didn't hurt me…you were the one who came to my aid…you are my hero…Shino…"
Kiba could no longer contain his happiness. He was overjoyed because the two kids were friends yet again. Jumping up into the air, he explained, "Yeah! That's my girl!"
Hinata turned to see her friend. Her face was totally flushed. That's my girl? What was that about? Kiba was always weird…but that might have just crossed the line.
"Sorry…" the boy mumbled as he sat back down.
Naruto walked up to Hinata and Shino. He had a frown on his face. "I'm sorry, Hinata. I'm sorry that I hurt you. I was being selfish…I wanted you for myself. Over the years, as I got to know you…I grew a liking to you. If I knew that you liked me as well, I probably would have told you. I know, I'm not the shy type, but I just couldn't say anything to you. I was an idiot. Maybe…just maybe…you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I now know I cannot be like Shino…I can't have the same relationship with you that you have with him. I don't care anymore…I guess I've been woken up finally. I think I'm the best and that everyone should like me; I never thought anything else. I was wrong…so wrong. I was just lucky to have a friend like you, Hinata…and I hope we can keep that friendship…no matter what. Ok? So, no matter what happens between you and Shino…I always want to be your friend…"
"I liked you because you were strong, Naruto. I thought that if I were to become more like you…I, too, would be stronger…and have more confidence. I looked in you for strength, but I soon discovered, as this week started, that I no longer want strength…I want someone that will always protect me. I couldn't see that in your eyes…they didn't hold what I needed. But, when I finally saw Shino's eyes, I noticed something different about him. I noticed that inside, he was just like everyone else. He had a warm heart, but he just doesn't know how to show it to the world. I want to help him do so. I figured that he would always be here for me…he already said he'd always protect me…and I'm pretty sure he'll keep his word. I need my hero to protect me…that is the strength I need…I don't want to become anymore powerful. I'm fine the way I am…I think!" Hinata explained.
"Shino…" Naruto turned to the boy. "I guess that you probably won't forgive me so easily. What I did was wrong. Pranks are all I'm good at, but they're not so funny anymore. I was an idiot for thinking I could win against you. I truly am giving up this time. Shino, I leave Hinata's safety in your hands. If you fail though,. I won't be able to forgive you…I might just have to beat you to death. Got that?"
Shino nodded. "I understand, but I hope you know I don't find you as that big of a threat. I do promise you though…I will take care of Hinata. This time, I'm going to keep my promise. I swear…I will not let myself or anyone hurt her."
Hinata's face began to turn red. Her heart was beating fast. She didn't understand what was going on inside herself. There was something in Shino's words that made her nervous, but those were almost identical to what he said to her before. What was happening to her?
"I better get going. I want to see what everyone else is doing. Make sure you take good care of that arm, Hinata," Naruto smiled as he left the two.
"Maybe I should wash this out," Hinata looked at her arm.
"Uh, that's a good idea. Want me to come with you?" Shino wondered.
"No…I'll be fine on my own," Hinata ran out of the cave.
Hinata slowly walked up to the river. She sat down and stared at her reflection. Letting out a sigh, she began to unwrap her arm. It was throbbing in pain. Blood ran down her arm making her cringe.
"I wonder if when I put water on it if it will hurt. I hope not," Hinata frowned as she stuck her uninjured arm into the water.
"Hinata!" Lee called for the girl as he walked up to him.
She slightly jumped and took her arm out of the water. "L-Lee…"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"Oh! Right! I asked Shino for the bandages he had. I wanted to rewrap your arm in that instead of my old wraps."
"Hmm…you're washing out your wound. That's a pretty smart idea. Would you like some help?"
"Y-yes! Please!" Hinata smiled at the boy.
Lee dipped his unwrapped hand into the water. "Now, this might sting a little, but I really don't think it should…but it might."
The boy lightly rubbed his hand against the girl's arm. He noticed that the cut was still bleeding, so he dipped his bandaged arm into the water. When he pulled it out, he pressed Hinata's cut a little harder.
"That kind of hurts," Hinata mumbled.
Lee let go. "Sorry!"
"No, please, keep going. I know that if you put more pressure on it, it should soon stop bleeding."
"You're a smart girl. I guess you're just another genius from your clan…just like Neji!"
Hinata softly sighed. She let a frown form on her face. "No, Neji is much better than me. He is both smart and strong. I don't think I could ever live up to be better than him."
"Well, if you keep trying, you can be as strong as you want to be. That's what I had to do. I had to work to become a great ninja. I wasn't born with anything special like Sasuke and Neji…and even yourself. I don't have anything like the Sharingan or the Byakugan. All I have is sheer will power."
"Even with my Byakugan…I don't have much else to offer. I'm just too weak."
"Maybe you just have to give yourself credit for what little you have. If you keep trying, you're bound to get stronger. If you just give up, you're just going to stay at the same strength…or just get weaker. Keep pushing yourself, Hinata, I'm sure that you can become a great ninja."
"You really think so?"
"If I could do it, I think you can as well. Just believe in yourself…have a little faith."
"I'll do it!" Hinata jumped up. Hinata bent over and gave Lee a hug. "Thank you so much."
"It's no problem, but I don't think you've stopped bleeding."
"Eh?" the girl let go of him. Looking at her arm, she noticed that it was dripping blood. After that, she looked back at Lee; his outfit had blood spots all over. "I'm so sorry!"
"Don't worry about this. I'll be fine. Let me wrap your arm back up so you don't get blood everywhere," Lee pulled the girl towards him. She say down letting him gently wrap her arm. Finishing, he gave the girl back her arm.
Hinata slightly bowed down her head. "Thank you very much, Lee."
"It was no problem!" Lee began to laugh.
Unknown to Hinata and Lee, throughout the whole time Lee was over by Hinata, Shino was watching them. When Hinata gave Lee that hug, jealousy ran through Shino's body. It confused him. Why was he so jealous that she gave another boy a hug? It's not like he hasn't gotten a hug from her before. Shino's face slightly began to flush.
"What has gotten into me?" he mumbled to himself. "Why is my face-?"
"Hey, Shino!" Kiba walked up to his friend.
"Huh? Kiba? What is it?" Shino wondered.
Kiba stared at his friend for a minute before finally coming up with the right words to say. "Are you feeling ok?"
"Um…well…your face is all red."
Shino placed his right hand on his right cheek. He felt the warmth from the heating cheek. "Uh…"
"Maybe you should lay down," Kiba looked around. He spotted Hinata with Lee. "Oh!"
"Oh what?" Shino demanded.
"You were watching Hinata, weren't you?"
"Ok, maybe I was. I was just making sure she was ok."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Do you like Hinata?"
"She's my friend…I have to like her."
"I mean, do you like her as more than a friend?"
"I…" Shino stopped himself.
"Come on! You know you can tell me!"
"I don't know."
"Are you jealous that she's being friendly with Lee?"
Is that was this feeling is? Jealousy?! Shino wondered.
"You are, aren't you? Maybe you do like Hinata for more than just friendship. It's possible. Shino, maybe you're just not the type of person to admit those types of feelings. I guess that's understandable. If I liked Hinata, I wouldn't want to admit something like that either. Or, maybe it's that you just haven't realized the truth. Maybe you're trying to hide the fact that you do want her as more than a friend. Though, I wouldn't really know. You don't really talk to me much. This is just provong my point because I've been doing most of the talking."
"I think you might be right…"
"Maybe I do like Hinata. I might just want her to be more than just my friend, but that isn't something she needs to know right now. I don't think she likes me as anything other than a friend. For right now, I'll stay by her side as a protector…I gave her my word…"
Shino! He's really telling me how he feels! "Maybe you should just take a chance and see how she feels about you. It's possible that she does want to be more than your friend. I mean, come on, she rejected Naruto for you!"
"Why do you want to get Hinata and myself together so badly?"
"Uh…you're going to think sounds stupid. I just noticed how you talk to Hinata a lot. You seem to like to talk to her…or I might be just imagining that. Sakura and I were talking when our groups first met up. She was saying how even though on the outside you didn't seem happy, she still felt that inside you must have been happy. I just want to see both you and Hinata happy. Maybe I'm being selfish, but I just want you to have some fun. I want to see you laugh and smile. I don't want you to always be that emotionless statue. I know, it's pretty stupid of thinking that. I am being selfish…"
"I've smiled before…"
"Yeah, it was for Hinata. I smiled at her. It was the second day we were here. Yesterday…when you were helping Sasuke with the fish."
"She splashed me…and I took of my sunglasses to get the water off. She told me that I had beautiful eyes…that they made her blush. I couldn't help but let her see me smile."
"So, maybe I was right. Is Hinata softening you heart?"
"I guess you could say that. She just makes me want to talk. There's something about her that makes it ok to show how I feel…just to her."
"Whatever you do, don't tell her! Ok?"
"I won't tell her. I promise. When the time is right…I'm sure you'll tell her."
"Sorry for what?"
"We're a team…I should talk to you more…"
"Don't worry about it."
"Thanks, Kiba," Shino let a very tiny smile form on his face.
"Was that a smile I just saw?" Kiba teased.
"Fine, but we're going to work on your humor next…" the boy snickered.
Sakura walked up to Hinata and Lee. "How's your arm doing, Hinata?"
"Much better thanks to Lee. He wrapped it all up. See!" Hinata showed Sakura her arm.
"Yeah, Lee's nice like that. He's always willing to help."
"Is that a compliment?" Lee wondered.
"Of course. You're a pretty good guy," Sakura nodded.
"He also told me that I shouldn't just give up. He told me that if I keep on trying, I too can become a great ninja! Lee told me that he had to work hard to become as good as he is," Hinata giggled.
"That's true. Lee kept training and never gave up. He became a great ninja…even if he can only use Taijutsu. I, too, had to train myself very hard. In the academy I was an excellent student, but once I became a Genin I knew that my brains wouldn't help me all the time. Kakashi-sensei told me I have a talent for Genjutsu…so that's my strong point. I'm not that good with anything else. That's what I have Sasuke and Naruto for. They're wonderful fighters that help me find my inner strength. I think that everyone has a special hidden talent…it's just they don't know how to use it yet. Sasuke has his Sharingan…Lee has the Hidden Lotus. TenTen has perfect aim and Shikamaru is a great strategist. If you keep trying, you, too, will find your hidden talent."
"I wouldn't really call Sasuke's Sharingan a hidden talent. It was just something he was born with, just like the Byakugan is something you are born with. It a Kekkei Genkai. The Hidden Lotus is something that I had to train very hard to be able to use."
Hinata reached into the pocket of her jacket. "I can make this…"
Sakura took the little bottle. "What's this?"
"It's a healing ointment."
"Did you have this the whole time?!"
Lee began to laugh. "I bet that would help that wound of yours. Don't you think so, Hinata?"
"I never thought of that!" Hinata was surprised.
"Here, let me help you put some of that on," Sakura smiled as Hinata took off her jacket. The wind began to blow heavily. "It's getting windy…"
"You can wear my jacket if you don't mind the blood stains."
"Won't you get cold?"
"I'll just sit by the fire for a little bit. I'm planning on just going to bed soon anyways…"
Sakura put on the girl's jacket. "Thank you so much."
Sakura unwrapped Hinata's arm. She lightly spread the cream onto Hinata's injury. After she was done with that, she rewrapped the arm.
"Thank you so much, Sakura," Hinata slightly bowed her head.
"Hey, I should be the one thanking you!" Sakura giggled.
"I better get going," the girl began to walk away.
"Hinata!" Lee called at her. She turned around. "Make sure you keep yourself warm!"
"I will!" she waved at them as she began to walk towards the cave.
"Hinata, won't you be cold with out your jacket?" Shino wondered as the girl walked up to him.
"Well, I was thinking that Sasuke could make a fire in the cave so it stays warm in there," Hinata explained to the boy.
"I'll go ask him. Would you like my jacket for right now?"
"No, I should be fine. I'll be in the cave, ok?"
"Right…" I could have told her…should have told her! Shino walked away.
Hinata walked into the cave and began to shiver Maybe I should have taken his jacket…but I didn't want Shino to be cold.
"Ah! The wind just keeps getting stronger and stronger!" Ino whined.
"Here," Shikamaru handed the girl his small over shirt. "I know it isn't much, but it should at least keep the parts of your arms that aren't covered warm."
"Shikamaru," she took it and put it on. "What about you? Won't you get cold?"
"I'll be fine. Remember, as the leader, I have to make sure my team is ok before myself. Ok?"
"If you say so. I just don't want to see our leader get sick."
"I'll try not too…"
"Are you cold?" Neji looked at TenTen.
The girl was pacing back and forth. "I am not cold…I am not cold…"
"If you're cold, at least come over here by the fire…"
"I am NOT cold…I am NOT cold!"
Kiba noticed TenTen pacing. He looked to see Neji trying to get the girl to go by the fire. He took of his jacket and walked over towards TenTen. Kiba softly placed it over the girl's shoulders.
"Huh?" TenTen turned to see Kiba behind her.
"Keep yourself warm. Be smart and go by the fire until it goes out. Sasuke is going to start a fire inside the cave. Keep my jacket on for now. Go over by Neji. He's probably cold as well," Kiba insisted her to keep the jacket even though she didn't want it.
"But…I'm not cold…"
"You're lying. You're just saying that to make your body think it's warm. I know it's probably working right now, but in a few minutes, you're going to be freezing."
TenTen slipped on the jacket. She slightly smiled. "You might have bad aim, but you are a smart one. I'll give you that."
"Go over by Neji. He most likely wants you to sit next to him. You know? To keep the both of you warm. So, get going."
"How are you going to keep warm?"
"I'm going to get some wood. I'll keep myself active," Kiba walked off.
"Kiba's a real nice guy…" TenTen mumbled to herself as she finally gave in and joined Neji next to the fire.
Shino passes Temari as he helped to collect wood for the fire that was to be made in the cave. He noticed that she was sitting by herself, shaking. Temari must have been cold. Shino turned around and walked up to the girl.
"If you're cold, you should really sit by the fire," Shino told her.
Temari looked away as if she was trying to ignore him.
The boy placed the wood that he held next him. He took off his jacket. "If you're not going to sit by the fire, take my jacket." Shino threw it to the girl.
Catching the jacket, Temari demanded from the boy, "Why are you being so nice?"
"I can tell that you're cold. I don't need the jacket. I'll be fine without it."
"You just don't seem like the nice type."
"Looks can be deceiving."
"Shouldn't you be worrying about your own girlfriend?"
"I don't have a girlfriend."
"That Hinata chick. Isn't she your girlfriend?"
"…no…" inside, Shino was fighting with himself to make sure he didn't begin to blush.
"Let me guess, you two are just really close friends? Everyone has the same story. Inside, you can't help but love the girl. Stop fighting it, give up…you're in love."
"Why would you say that?"
Temari wrapped the jacket around her. "Look at yourself. You're a mess! Can't you tell that you're blushing? It's sad how easy I can see through your act."
"So, you too can tell? Yes, it might be possible that I love Hinata, but is that truly important? I didn't know something like that was so easy to read off of my face. I've tried to hide so many things, I guess they all finally caught up to me."
"Your name is Shino, right?"
"Well, Shino, take my advise, you won't be able to hide those feelings you have forever. I know you and I aren't the type of people who just give up, but you should. Give up on hiding…show your feelings to that girl. I can tell that she's in love with you, but she's way too shy to say a word. Be a man and just tell her!"
"Do you really think it's that easy? You want me to just walk up to Hinata and tell her that I love her? It doesn't work like that!" Shino's voice was raised.
"Well, if you turn around, you'll notice that Ino now knows," Temari pointed behind the boy.
Shino turned to see Ino standing behind him. Oh, this is just great…
"Shino…Sasuke wanted me to tell you that we have enough wood…" Ino barely let out.
Temari began to laugh. "I think I'll let the two of you be. Thanks for the coat, Shino!" She ran off towards the others.
"I'm sorry if I wasn't supposed to hear that. I won't let anyone know. I promise!"
"Don't worry about it, Ino. Hurry up and get by the fire. I'll bring the wood that I already gathered over there," Shino mumbled.
"Are you mad that I heard what you said?"
"No, I'm mad at myself for saying it so loud. If you could, don't tell anything to anyone. I have a feeling that Temari might do that for us."
"I won't say a word. And, Shino, if it helps, I think I might like Shikamaru for more than just a friend. I don't know why, but there's just something about him that I really like."
"It's a confusing feeling…"
"You must be cold! Lets get by that fire," Ino grabbed for some of the wood that Shino got.
"Ok," Shino picked up what was left on the floor. They quickly walked inside the cave where Sasuke had already started a fire.
"Here, Hinata, take your jacket," Sakura handed it to the girl.
Hinata smiled. "Are you sure you will be warm? I'll be fine without it."
"I can't do that to you. I want you to have it back."
"If you insist…"
"Are you feeling ok?"
"Are you sure?"
"You look tired. Maybe you should lie down."
"It's just the lost of blood. It's probably making me weary."
"Your arm hurts…doesn't it?"
"Yes…very much. I'll be ok though…I'll suffer a little, but I promise to live through the pain."
Sakura placed the jacket around the girl's shoulders. "Get some rest. You've been put through a lot lately. I'll make sure that no one bothers you."
Tears began to form in Hinata's eyes. She couldn't control herself. Slowly, she let herself fall into Sakura's arm. Sakura held her tight.
"Hinata…what's wrong? Why are you crying?" Sakura whispered.
"I can't do it, Sakura. I've been trying real hard to fight off the pain, but I'm starting to give in. It hurts…it all hurts so much. I no longer know what to do. Why was I born with this fate? Why must I always be the one to hold the rest back? There isn't an easy way to get what I want, and that is what I fear. I fear that I will never be able to reach my goal."
Poor thing, she's suffering a lot. "You're right…it is hard when you hold back everyone else. I should know. I was always the weakest member of my team, and I still am. I'm nothing compared to Naruto and Sasuke. I've decided to face the facts. No matter how long I train, I cannot become like either of them. I am my own person. Therefore, I have to make my own plans and find my own strengths. You have to do that too, Hinata. You cannot be like Kiba or Shino…you're your own person. No one is perfect, so don't try to be. I don't think people would like you as much as they do now if you became powerful. Kiba and Shino need you to keep that warm heart of yours…we all do. So, Hinata, don't change who you are…"
"…Shino…" more tears began to fall.
"Oh! Hinata…you…like him…don't you?"
Hinata's eyes widened as she began to squeeze Sakura's shoulders. "Does it look like I do?"
"Do you think he thinks that I like him?"
"I highly doubt it."
"I do…like him…"
"It's hard to like someone when you don't know how they feel about them. I've wanted Sasuke for so long that I never realized that I don't even know him. We've been on the same team for so long, and yet I feel as if I have just met him. At least you have that relationship with Shino. You are so close to him…"
"I always wondered why I never joined that group. Yes, the group that loves Sasuke. I never understood why everyone likes him. He doesn't talk much, he's mysterious…nothing special to me. I liked Naruto because he was somewhat like me. I was pushed away from my family because of how weak I am…he was pushed away from the village for a reason I still don't know of. Unlike me, though, he never gave up. No matter how many times he was pushed away, he just came back ten times stronger. I wanted that strength…I never received it. I give up on it. I found someone who was willing to protect me. I craved for that kind hand…I knew that was what I needed. Before I knew it, I found myself attracted to Shino. It was scary at first, but now it's slowly becoming clear to me."
"This is more than a crush, isn't it? You're in love with the boy…"
Hinata pushed herself off of Sakura. "I'd do anything for him! I want to make him proud…proud to call me his friend. I never want to let him down. If I had to, I would die for him. I want to be by his side forever…but I don't think he feels the same. He probably thinks of me as a little sister. I don't blame him, that's all I really am to Kiba as well…"
"Don't give up on him just yet, ok? You'll make it through."
Temari walked up to the scene between the two girls. She smiled as she took off Shino's jacket. A evil thought can to her mind as she stared at Hinata.
"I was amazed that Shino offered me his jacket. I thought you would get it out of all the girls. Or did he not give you it because you already have a jacket? Hmm…puzzling…" Temari smirked.
"What do you want?" Sakura demanded.
"Just thought I should join your touching sight. I over heard the moving conversation. Who would have guessed that our sweet Hinata was in love with Shino?"
"You heard that?" Hinata was shocked.
"Yeah…I already knew about Shino's feelings, but I never would have presumed that you shared those feelings. It's heartwarming, really!"
"What do you mean?"
"Stop with your acts, Temari. Why are you pulling Hinata's strings like this?" Sakura wondered.
"Pulling strings?" Temari shook her head. "I'm pulling no strings, that's more of Kankuro's thing. I'm telling the pure truth. Hinata and Shino share the same feelings."
"I want to believe you, but I just can't. I won't allow myself to trust those words unless it is Shino telling me. No one else," Hinata decided.
"Fine, don't take my words as the truth. I don't care. Take his stupid jacket and give it back. I don't want to talk to losers like you anymore," Temari threw the jacket at Hinata and walked away.
"Thanks for being such a jerk!" Sakura yelled at Temari.
Hinata held Shino's jacket tightly. She smiled at Sakura. "I better give this back to him. I don't want to see Shino catching a cold."
"Hinata, you're a really good person. I don't care what other people have to say, I like you the way you are," Sakura nodded.
"TenTen, make sure that you give Kiba his coat back."
"I know, Neji," TenTen let out a sigh. "Maybe you should start wearing a warm coat like this."
"Eh!? Why would you suggest something like that?" Neji demanded.
"Oh, so I could take it to keep myself warm."
Neji began to blush. "I…I'll look into that…"
"I'll be back in a couple of minutes."
"I don't think Kiba has come inside yet. Why don't you see if Hinata knows where he is?"
"That's a good idea. I'll get right on that!" TenTen walked off in the direction of Hinata.
"Kiba? No, I haven't seen him in awhile. Sorry," Hinata frowned.
"Don't be sorry! I just wanted to give him his jacket back," TenTen explained.
"Oh, I could do that for you. I have to go give Shino his jacket back. I'm sure he'll know where Kiba is."
"If you want to…"
"It will be no problem. I don't mind." It will give me a good exuse to talk to Shino. Hinata's cheeks began to heat up.
"Hinata? Are you feeling ok?"
"You're all red in the face. Are you running a fever?" TenTen placed her hand on Hinata's forehead. It startled the girl. Hinata, getting nervous, pushed herself away and ran towards Shino. TenTen followed the girl. She didn't want her to be running around if she didn't feel good.
"Hinata!" TenTen called.
"Oh no!" Hinata turned to Shino. She held out the boy's jacket. "Here, Shino."
"What's going on, Hinata?" Shino wondered.
"Hinata, if you're not feeling good, you shouldn't be fooling around like this," TenTen explained.
"Not feeling good?" Shino placed his hand up against Hinata's face. "Hinata! You're burning up!"
Her face began to glow bright red. His hand was cold, but soothing, up against her skin.
TenTen noticed the girl's expression. I guess love is in the air or something. Hmm…I guess I could help a little. Heh! It might just be fun! "Shino, take care of Hinata. I want you to watch over her very carefully. I'll make sure no one bothers the two of you. Hinata's probably feverish because of that arm of hers. You'll need to take good care of it. Got that?"
"I'm fine…really…" Hinata faintly let out.
Shino patted her on the head. "That's what you said last time when we were on a mission. You hurt your ankle, but you swore it was ok. Hinata, you ended up with a fever because of all the strain you were putting on yourself. I ended up carrying you all the way home. You were in tears. I don't want to see you in that kind of pain again. Lets go lie down."
"Ok…if you insist…"
Go for it, girl! TenTen giggled inside. Now, I'll just figure out were Kiba is. After that, I should probably go see Neji. I said I'd be back in a minute, but I know I've been gone longer.
"Chouji, why don't you lie down? You look very tired," Shikamaru told his friend.
"If I do that, I'll feel useless. I haven't done much since we got here…"
"That's not true! You tried to fight off those two guys, Chouji!" Ino reminded him.
He let out a sigh. "But I failed."
"At least you tried. That showed that you have courage. Get some rest," Shikamaru turned to the girl. "If you'd like to, you can go sleep as well."
"I think I'll stay up a little longer," she decided as Chouji walked away from them.
"Aren't you tired?"
"Yes, but you are too. I don't think it's fair that you have to stay up while I sleep."
"I have to…it's a leader thing."
"Then, I'll just stay up with you!"
"Why would you want to do that?"
"You'll need someone to keep you company…"
"Why are you being so nice to me? You've been hanging around with me all day. Wouldn't you rather be around Sasuke…or someone more exciting?"
"Sasuke…he doesn't interest me anymore. I've moved passed my childish crush. Shikamaru, you've taught me something….I've learned from you…"
"What are you talking about?"
"I only liked Sasuke because he was cute and strong. Every girl wanted him, so I thought I should want him too. I was being shallow; stupid. You taught me that I should look inside a person. Even if you're not the best looking guy around, you are caring. At times, you don't even want to do anything, but you always come through. No matter what, you're always there for your team. I feel very bad because I've been treating you like trash. You're better than that. Shikamaru, you're the best leader I could ask for."
Shikamaru's cheeks began to turn red. "I-Ino…thanks…"
"I…I like you…Shikamaru…"
"Heh, I like you too, Ino," the boy softly laughed.
Ino took his hands in hers. "That's not what I mean. I like you as more than just a friend."
"I meant the same thing."
"If you say so. Go get some sleep. I'll join you and Chouji in a few minutes. I just need to see who's going to do the watch tonight. I need to see if we're going to switch off tonight as well."
"If you volunteer…I'll take guard along side you. Ok?"
"I'm going to try not to have to. I want to get some sleep tonight."
"Who's gonna take the first watch?" Naruto wondered.
"Neji did it last night. I know that Kiba did it before that," Sasuke explained.
"Shikamaru, do want to take watch?" Neji questioned.
Shikamaru frowned. "Not really, but if I have to, I will."
"I'll take watch," Lee smiled.
"Ok, who else?" Naruto asked.
"If I need someone else, I'll get someone. I'll be fine on my own."
"I'll take the second watch," Gaara decided.
"Works for me," Sasuke agreed. "If the fire goes out, you can wake me up. I'm going to bed."
"Ok!" everyone walked off.
"Sasuke, Naruto, where's Lee going to?" Sakura wondered as the two of them joined her.
"He's going to take first watch," Naruto explained.
"Oh! Did he want me to join him?"
"No, he'll be fine on his own. Gaara will be taking the second watch of the night. Just worry about yourself. Ok? Get some sleep," Sasuke told the girl.
"It's about time I found you, Kiba," TenTen smiled.
"Eh? You were looking for me?" Kiba wondered.
"I wanted to give you your jacket back. I couldn't find you and no one knew where you went to."
"Oh, I just wanted to go for a walk."
"You should have asked me for your jacket back. It's cold out here."
"It doesn't matter to me. I'm fine, really."
The girl let a frown form on her face. "Is something bothering you? You don't seem like your cheerful self."
"Maybe a little…I don't really know. How's Hinata doing?"
"She has a fever, but I told Shino to take good care of her. It looks to me like they really care about each other. It's cute."
"Huh? Something is bothering you. Come on, tell me what it is."
"I'm not that sure. Shino has just been spending a lot of time with Hinata lately. I know that they both like the other, but they are oblivious to how the other feels. I just miss spending time together as a team. Our team seems to be slowly falling apart. I miss spending time with Hinata. She might not look it, but she's a really fun girl to be around. She's very caring as well."
"Uh…this is just a guess, but is there any chance that you like Hinata as well?"
"You mean as more than a friend? Of course I did. I soon gave up on those feelings though."
"Because, she always said the same thing to me. She always told me how she thinks of me as her older brother. She cannot fall in love with someone she sees a brother in. So, I decided that I should be the best big brother for her. I decided that I'll just love her as if she's my sister. It's for the better…"
"It breaks your heart to see her falling in love with someone else. Doesn't it? But what about Naruto? Did that, too, bother you?"
"Naruto? Not really. I didn't find him as a threat in that way. He's too stupid to figure out that Hinata liked him. I never thought much of Shino either."
"When did Shino start to bother you?"
"It's not that he bothers me…I just get jealous. They think that I can't hide my feelings, but I think I've been keeping this a secret pretty nicely! Hinata is unaware of the feelings I have held for her. I wish for it to stay that way. It's to keep her happy."
"I see, Kiba, you care a lot about Hinata. You're putting her own happiness before yours. It takes a real friend to do that. I admire that about you."
"It's not just for Hinata…I want Shino to be happy as well. I'm fine being just friends, but I don't think Shino should have to suffer as being just friends. He's discovered something important, and I don't want him to give up that important thing. I want him to be with Hinata so they can both be happy."
"It takes a real man to say that; a real, strong man. You're truly a good person."
"Come on, lets get back inside the cave. I bet Neji is worried about you."
"Just like Hinata is probably worried about you."
"Heh, I understand. I won't run off without saying something next time."
TenTen began to take off the jacket that was wrapped around her. "Here, take this back."
"No," the boy forced her to keep it. "At least wear it until we get back to the cave. We don't need you to get a fever."
The two began to laugh as they made their way back to the others.
"TenTen! Kiba! Where have you two been? Everyone else is already asleep," Lee was surprised to see the two.
"Sorry, I had to go find Kiba. He's just like a dog…always running away," TenTen smiled.
"Did you just compare me to a dog?" Kiba demanded.
"Well, Neji was getting worried and so was Hinata. Get some sleep. Ok?"
"Right!" they quickly went into the cave where they found their own place to sleep.
After a few hours on watch, Lee went into the cave to wake up Gaara.
"My turn?" Gaara mumbled.
"Yeah," Lee smiled as Gaara left the cave.
Lee sat himself down and quickly fell asleep.
Hinata slowly opened her eyes. Kiba's jacket was wrapped around her. She looked around to notice everyone still asleep.
It must not be morning yet. I guess I'll just sit outside for awhile, Hinata decided as she got up.
The girl slowly made her way out of the cave to see Gaara sitting watch. She smiled as she noticed the boy shaking from the cold. Being the kind person she is, Hinata placed Kiba's jacket over the boy. Gaara was shocked and turned to look up at the girl.
"What are you doing up?" Gaara wondered.
"I couldn't sleep any longer…I guess. I woke up just needing some fresh air," Hinata explained.
"I think I understand."
Hinata sat next to the boy. "Aren't you lonely being out here all by yourself?"
"Oh, you must be the type of person who does everything alone. Right? I wish I could do everything on my own, but I'm not strong enough."
Gaara tugged at Kiba's jacket. "You didn't have to give this to me."
"True, but I wanted you to keep warm."
"I could just use my sand to do that."
"Why waste your energy? Keep the jacket. I'm fine without it…I have my own."
Hinata smiled at the boy. "I'm told that a lot. I should take it as a complement…and I do most of the time. It's just, maybe I'm too nice. I'm an easy victim…I'm so weak. I try to do things on my own, but I'm always failing. I couldn't even stop two guys from hurting us. It's pathetic."
"Because you were the victim of those two guys, it made Shino react. We would have never gotten those guys without you."
"True, but I was also the reason that Shino got knocked out. If I didn't land on that kunai, that match would have been over within seconds!"
"I could have easily stopped them myself, but the others wanted to prove themselves worthy as well. I backed down for one of the first times and let them do as they pleased. Who knows, my sand might have not even been fast enough to get them."
"Gaara, I think that you're a good person…you just don't want to show it."
"Shino…what's he to you?"
"Oh! We're just friends. You know?"
"Friends? Heh! I thought that for sure he was more than that. If you're just friends, why was Naruto trying so hard to get you to hate that guy?"
"Because…Shino and I are very close. Naruto was jealous of the friendship. He liked me…"
"What about Shino? Does he like you?"
"I highly doubt that! He probably thinks of me as a little sister or something like that."
"What about you? How do you feel about Shino?"
"I like him…I like him a lot…"
"Heh! Just friends…?"
"I…!" Did I just say that? Did I admit to liking Shino? I told Gaara. He's going to make sure everyone knows. What am I going to do? This is terrible!
"Don't worry, I'll keep my mouth shut. Of course, you'll have to do me a favor," Gaara snickered.
Hinata was puzzled. "A favor? What is it?"
"Keep me company."
Gaara let a smile form on his face as the two began to talk some more. After talking for hours, Hinata ended up falling asleep. Unknown to her, she was resting her head on Gaara's shoulder. He didn't mind though; Hinata's presence was comforting.
Morning came, and everyone began to wake up. Gaara was watching the sunrise as Kankuro walked out towards him. The boy was shocked to see his younger brother with Hinata.
"Gaara?" Kankuro questioned as he walked closer.
"Shh…" Gaara shushed him.
"What's that girl doing out here?" Kankuro demanded.
"Keeping me company…"
"Company? Why would you want her to do that?"
"Because I asked her too. Do you have a problem with that?" Gaara was becoming agitated.
"N-no!" Kanbkuro smiled. Man, I hate him when he's angry liked that.
"…Shino…" Hinata mumbled as her head fell into Gaara's lap.
Shocked, Gaara looked down at the girl. His cheeks turned red.
"Gaara! You can come in now!" Temari called to her brother as she walked out of the cave.
"Shut up!" Gaara growled.
"Huh?" Temari saw the sleeping girl. Gaara was holding her tight. "Gaara…what has gotten into you? Are you being caring?"
"What's it to you?" he demanded. "Shino, is he awake yet?"
"Not that I know of."
"Hinata! Where are you!" Kiba could be heard from in the cave.
"Dog boy is though," Kankuro snickered.
"They must be worried. Hinata was out here almost all night," Gaara explained.
Shino walked out of the cave. He noticed Hinata in Gaara's arms. He slowly made his way to them.
"Hinata…" Shino sighed.
"You were worried about her. Don't worry, nothing happened while she was out here," Gaara told the boy.
"What's Hinata doing out here?" the boy wondered.
"Something about keeping Gaara company," Kankuro smiled.
"That's just like her, but you should have made her go back in. And what are you doing with Kiba's coat? Hinata should have it on to keep her warm."
Hinata began to open her eyes. "Shino…don't worry…I was fine…"
"Hinata!" Gaara was shocked to see the girl awake.
"I must have fell asleep. I'm sorry, Gaara, I'm no good at keeping people company."
"It wasn't your fault. You were tired."
Hinata stood up and turned to Shino. "I scared you. Didn't I? Please, forgive me. I just didn't think it was fair that Gaara had to be out here by himself."
"Don't worry about it," Shino patted the girl on the head.
"You're too kind, Shino," Hinata began to giggle.
"Hinata, do Kiba a favor and go see him. He was very worried about you. He woke up in a panic because you weren't there when he opened his eyes."
"You're right. I'm very sorry. I'll see you guys later," Hinata smiled as she walked into the cave.
Gaara noticed that he was still weating Kiba's jacket. He was going to stop the girl, but Shino didn't let him.
"You can give Kiba the jacket later…"
"Gaara, you look tired. Maybe you should go get some rest," Temari suggested.
"I'm fine," he took off the jacket and handed it to Shino. "Give this back to Kiba for me. I need to go do something." Without another word, Gaara walked off.
"What's gotten into him? He's been acting weird lately," Kankuro frowned.
"Everyone has been acting strange. Something must be going on in that head of Gaara's," Temari agreed with her brother.
"Gaara probably likes Hinata," Shino stared at the ground.
"Likes Hinata!?" the two of them yelled.
Shino nodded. "Yeah. I could tell he does."
"How would you know?" Temari demanded.
"Figure that one out for yourself. If you remember anything from our conversation yesterday, you would understand how I know."
"Yesterday? Oh! I remember now!"
"What are you two talking about?" Kankuro wondered.
"Don't worry aobut it. It's nothing important. Shino, shouldn't you be checking on Hinata ro something?" Temari laughed.
"You annoy me," Shino walked away from the girl and into the cave.
Kankuro was shocked. "Are you just going to take that attitude of his?"
"It's just not that easy. For some reason, I think he might be right. Maybe Gaara does like Hinata."
"Is that even possible?"
Hinata walked up to the panicking Kiba. The boy was pacing up and down the cave. Waking up without Hinata next to him gave the boy a real shock. In a sense, it even scared him. The girl tapped the boy on the shoulder, making him jump. Turning around, Kiba saw the smiling Hinata.
"Hi, Kiba. How are this morning?" Hinata giggled.
"I'm fine...now that I know you are ok..."
"Oh...I made you worry. That wasn't very nice of me."
"I just didn't know where you were."
"I was just outside with Gaara. I woke up and I couldn't fall back asleep, so I was just going to sit outside for a little bit. When I saw Gaara, I thought I should go say hi. He was also alone and looked cold. I ended up letting him wear your jacket to keep him cold. Then, I kept him company for the rest of the night...or, should I say, until I fell asleep."
Kiba nodded. "That was very nice of you. Oh, look, here comes Shino."
Hinata turned around and waved at the boy. Shino slowly made him way towards them.
"Hey," Shino mumbled.
"Gaara and the others are still outside?" Hinata questioned.
"Temari and Kankuro are. Gaara went off somewhere. He told me to give Kiba back his jacket."
Kiba took his jacket. "Thanks..."
"It was nothing. I guess I owe Gaara."
"Well…he did watch over Hinata while she was outside."
Hinata covered her face. "I can't believe I fell asleep. It makes me feel so bad…"
"Hinata!" TenTen and Sakura yelled.
"Wh-what?" Hinata turned to see the two girls running up to her.
"Come on, come on! We have to rewrap your wound!" TenTen chirped.
"Hurry! We'll do it for you. Lets go wash it out in the river," Sakura agreed.
"It's ok; I think it's all better," Hinata nodded.
Kiba poked the girl's hurt arm. She let out a scream. "All better, huh?"
"Go with them, Hinata. They'll take good care of you," Shino told her.
"Oh…ok, Shino…if you think so…"
"Great!" the two other girls dragged Hinata out of the cave.
"Hmm…Hinata sure does listen to you nicely," Kiba laughed.
"What do you mean by that?" Shino demanded.
"I bet she would jump off a bridge if you told her to."
"Why would I tell her to jump off a bridge?"
"I wasn't saying you would. It's just…Hinata didn't want to go with TenTen and Sakura, but when you told her that she should go with them, she did."
"What's your point?"
"Hinata does what ever you think is right. I wonder why that is…"
"Kiba, you're confusing me."
Kiba scratched his brown hair. "Heh, have you ever thought about why she does that?"
"I wanted her to go with Sakura and TenTen for a reason…"
"A reason?" Kiba repeated.
"Well, it's mainly because she does need to wash out her wound…but there was another purpose."
"Hinata always goes out with us. I don't think I've ever seen her with other girls unless we're together with another. Still, she usually sticks close to us. She needs some other people to hang out with…she needs to be with other girls. I think it will help her. I don't mind her shyness…it's just…I want her to be able to be around people without being afraid…"
Kiba looked away from his friend. "You're always taking such good care of her. Hinata is lucky to have such a great guy liking her."
"I have to go do some other things…bye!" Kiba ran out of the cave.
"Kiba!" Shino yelled after the boy but received no reply.
Sakura began to take the wrap off of Hinata's arm. "How was your night, Hinata?"
"Uh…fine…" she mumbled.
"No need to be shy," TenTen smiled.
"How's Kiba and Shino doing?" Sakura questioned.
"Good, or so I think they are."
"Hinata, TenTen and I have been doing some thinking. You've already told me your feelings towards Shino. TenTen also figured out how you feel. We think that you should go for it and ask him how he feels. It's the quickest solution."
"I-I…I can't d-do th-that!"
TenTen began to giggle. "I thought you would say that. Sakura and I can help you out. It will be easy! Anyways, friends help friends."
"Yep! That's what we are!"
"TenTen…Sakura…" Hinata pulled her arm away from them. "I don't know if I can."
"Hinata!" Sakura noticed that the cut on the girl's arm reopened.
Hinata no longer cared. She let the blood drip off her arm and onto her clothes. Tears began to drip down her cheeks. The pain was just to much. Then, out of nowhere, sand wrapped around the girl's arm. It gently pushed down, putting pressure on the wound.
"If you don't put pressure on that, you'll just keep bleeding."
"Gaara!" Sakura and TenTen yelled.
"Let me bleed…I don't care!"
Gaara walked towards her. "The more blood you lose, the weaker you become. Also, if you lose too much blood, you could die."
"What about Shino?" Gaara demanded. "If you die, you'll kill a part of Shino with you…and Kiba." He was becoming angry. "Would you want to do that to them!?"
"Like it matters…"
"Heh! Thought so," he let the sand fall from her arm. It was soaked in blood. Slowly, he walked away from the three girls.
"That guy gives me the creeps!" Sakura shuddered.
"I thought he was creepy the first time I met him too. I didn't think he could show niceness to anyone, but I was proved wrong. He just has a shell that's hard to crack. I know that on the inside, he's a nice person," Hinata smiled.
"He did try to help you just now. Though, Hinata, you just pushed him away. I never saw you as the mean type," TenTen agreed.
Hinata stared at her bloody arm. She let out a sigh. "I guess I've been mood lately. That isn't really like me…is it?"
"It's also not like you to not stutter," Sakura took her arm and rubbed the blood off with a wet cloth. "I guess you're just trying to break some bad habits."
"I think you're right!"
"So, when did you start liking Shino?" TenTen wondered.
"Yeah! Tell us all the details!"
"Well," Hinata started, "I'm not that sure…"
Gaara made his way back towards the cave. He met up with his brother and sister. They pulled him to the side.
"Gaara, do you like that girl, Hinata?" Temari demanded.
"What if I do?" Gaara shot back.
"It's just not like you to like someone," Kankuro explained.
"People change. I might like Hinata, sure, but I don't stand a chance…not when she likes Shino."
"We could take care of that guy!"
Temari nodded. "Yeah, he'll be an easy fight."
"That wouldn't change Hinata's mind. She can see through an act like that. I won't force anything like that on her. I'm not like I used to be…" Gaara admitted.
"That's for sure…"
Kiba watched over Hinata from up in a tree. A frown was on his face as he stared at her. He would never let Hinata nor Shino know about the feelings he holds for the girl. As long as someone took care of her, that's all that ever mattered to Kiba.
"I guess I'm going to be the one in the middle. Lucky me…" Kiba mumbled.
Kiba knew he couldn't make Hinata happy; not the way Shino could. He could never dry up the tears from her eyes so easily. He didn't know how to. He knew how to make a joke; could make any one laugh, but never knew when to take something seriously. That wouldn't work for Hinata. Shino knew when to take something seriously. He somehow could make Hinata smile without even saying a word. There was just something about him that made Hinata glow. Maybe it was her ability to see through the sunglasses. It was unknown to Kiba.
"I'll just have to help them get together or something like that…I guess. It's all I can do…at least I know that would make Hinata happy," Kiba let out a sigh as he continued to stare at Hinata.
"I don't really know when I began to have these feelings. I don't yet understand them either. It feels as if I just woke up one morning and decided that I liked Shino. I'm not that sure," Hinata frowned. "I think it might have started when I noticed how he always took care of me when we were on a mission. TenTen, he told you about the time I hurt my ankle on a mission, right? Well, I remember that I was trying to be brave; trying to pretend the pain wasn't there. I ended up getting a fever from all the strain. Kiba wasn't sure what to do, so he just went into panic mode, but Shino, he just picked me off the ground and told me I wasn't allowed to walk. He carried me on his back all the way back to the village. I felt that I was just getting in their way. I didn't feel important to the group. Kurenai-sensei was devastated when she saw me hurt. She, too, went into a panic type mode. Shino put me on the ground at that point, and he told her that everything would be ok. Shino explained that it's probably nothing serious and offered to take me home. He didn't want to let me walk on my own, but he caved in when I asked nicely and said I would be fine. He walked me all the way home. I guess Kurenai-sensei contacted my family, because when I got there, Neji was waiting outside for me. I couldn't tell if he was angry or concerned. Before leaving me with Neji, Shino patted my head and told me that I had to heal quickly because our team wouldn't function right without me. As Shino left and Neji walked me away from the entrance, a little butterfly came and flew onto my nose. I knew it was from Shino, and the thought of getting a gift so pretty from him made me blush. I think it was at that point when I started to think differently about him. I think it was that night that changed my feelings of friendship to something greater."
"That is so…CUTE!" the two other girls chirped.
"He likes you," TenTen smiled.
"He totally likes you!" Sakura agreed.
"I don't know…" Hinata closed her eyes. "It would be nice if he does."
"Want me to tell you an easy way to figure out?"
"I told you, I can't. It might be easy for you two to admit something like that, but I can't. I can't just walk up to him and say 'I like you. Do you like me?'. It just doesn't work that way. Not for me…no matter how hard I try…I'm just too shy…"
"That's ok, Hinata," TenTen looked the girl in the eyes. "I'm sure that when the time comes, everything will be figured out. You'll tell him; he'll tell you. It doesn't really matter who tells who first, as long as you know that the feeling is the same from both sides."
"Those are some sweet words, TenTen…"
The girl jumped as she turned around to see Neji standing behind her. "N-Neji!"
"Neji, what are you doing over here?" Hinata questioned.
"Just came to see how you three are doing," Neji bent over the river and washed his hands off in the cold water. "How are you feeling today?"
"I've been worse…I've been better."
"How long have you been standing there?" Sakura wondered.
"Long enough to know that the heir to the Hyuuga clan likes someone by the name of Aburame Shino. Am I right?"
The girl covered her face. "Oh no!"
"I think you've been listening too much. You over heard some things you didn't need to know," TenTen giggled.
Neji stood over his cousin. "You know they won't allow you to leave the clan. The secrets of the Hyuuga clan are too important…you can't just think you can do whatever you please! It doesn't work that way for us!"
"What!?" Sakura was shocked.
"You know the clan won't allow this kind of behavoir from the heir!"
"But, Neji, if that's true…" TenTen let her words trail off.
"I don't care!" anger formed in Hinata's eyes. "Let Hanabi be the heir to the Hyuuga clan. I don't care anymore! All of that doesn't matter to me…it doesn't."
"Well, maybe you should start to think what is best for the clan!"
"Neji!" TenTen pushed the boy. "Stop that! I don't want you here right now. Go away!"
Neji looked away. "I know what you are thinking, TenTen. It's understandable. Fate has already decided…our destiny is sealed. People have been trying to change it; so have I. It is useless. We cannot change what will happen."
"That's not true! Naruto wouldn't have won his match if fate was already decided. You know that, Neji! You said he couldn't win…that destiny wouldn't allow it, but he did. Neji, think about it, we are choosing our own destiny. We are paving our way to the life that we want to live. It is you who doesn't see that. Our fate hasn't been chosen yet! We can change it if we try hard enough!" Sakura decided.
"What do you know!?" anger built in Neji's eyes.
"I know that the clan would not like the idea of an outsider coming into my world of love, but Neji, you don't care about that. I know you don't. If you did, you would have never let TenTen into your own love life!" Hinata told him.
"Then tell me what it is that I am worried about, Hinata. What do I care about?"
"I think that you might be worried about me. I think you're scared that I might get hurt if I let someone in. But, if you can, I think I should be able to as well!"
The boy looked his cousin in the eyes. He could tell how serious she was. "You…you're right…Hinata. I should let you do as you wish. You deserve to spred your wings, as do I." He let out a sigh and let a smile form on his face. "Take care of that arm of yours. I don't want to see you getting hurt."
"Hey, Neji," he turned to a giggling TenTen. "You know, you can sometimes be a big softy!"
"Whatever," he waved them off and walked away.
Sakura grabbed Hinata's arm and began to wash it with the river's water. After getting all the blood off, she used a little of Hinata's ointment on the cut. Slowly, she wrapped up the wound.
"Hopefully, you'll be fully healed soon," Sakura smiled.
"I hope so. I don't like it when people worry about me too much," Hinata nodded.
Running up to the three was a breathless Shino. "Hinata, have you seen…Kiba?"
TenTen grabbed one of Sakura's Kunai out of her case. Quickly, she threw it at the tree which Kiba was still sitting at. "Tree."
"Tree?" Sakura looked up in the tree and saw the peeping Kiba. "Kiba!"
Oh no! I've been found. Kiba jumped out of the tree. "I guess you found me!"
"Kiba, were you watching us this whole time?" Hinata questioned.
"Uh…maybe," he frowned. "Yeah."
"So, that's where you went to. Why did you run off like that?" Shino asked.
If Kiba was in that tree the whole time, could he have possibly heard the conversation I had with TenTen and Sakura. Does he now know the feelings I hold for Shino? just the thought sent a chill up her spine; Hinata began to blush.
"Well! Would you look at the time! I think I'm hungry. Shino, lets go get something to eat. Apples, lets get some nice, red apples!" Kiba began to pull Shino away.
"What are you doing?" the other boy mumbled.
"Kiba!" Hinata called to her friend.
He turned around, letting go of Shino. He knew what Hinata was thinking. She didn't want him to tell Shino anything he heard. A sweet smile formed on his face. "Don't worry, Hinata, I understand." Inside, the boy was crying. He was happy to know that Hinata and Shino felt the same way, but it hurt at the same time. Even though he told TenTen he had given up on the love he had for Hinata, it wasn't all true. In the back of his heart, there was still a special place for Hinata; a place that no one else could replace.
"What was that?" Sakura turned to TenTen
"Uh!" the girl began to laugh. "Nothing! I have to go check on something. Sakura, take care of Hinata." She ran off.
"I think TenTen knows something about Kiba that I don't. It's rude to force myself into this, so I guess I'll just wait for Kiba to tell me himself," Hinata nodded.
"We all have our own secrets. Maybe Kiba shared his with TenTen just like you've shared with us," Sakura suggested.
"I guess you're right…"
Kiba continued to pull Shino deeper and deeper into the forest. Finally, he let go and stopped. Kiba wanted to tell Shino how he felt. He wanted to let him know the love he felt for Hinata, but he knew he couldn't. Shino would hate him.
"Why did I get dragged out to the middle of the forest…again?" Shino questioned.
"Middle of the forest?" KIba tried to play stupid. "I didn't even notice!"
"What are you talking about? You've been acting weird all day."
"Can we just get back to the others?"
Man, what has gotten into me? I'm going crazy! Is it because I finally admitted that I once had feelings for Hinata? Once…ha…yeah, right. Who am I trying to lie to? Myself? I know that I still want her…I know that I still love her. I just can't. I have to do what is best for the team. The team! If it means giving up these feelings, so be it, I'll give them up. Hinata would be happy with Shino then she would be with me anyways… Kiba thought.
"Are you even listening to me?" Shino demanded.
"Oh…you said something?" Kiba scratched his head.
"See what I mean, you are acting weird today. You don't seem like yourself."
"It…it doesn't concern you!" the boy yelled.
"Then, why did you drag me all the way out here?"
"I-I don't know! It's just Hinata…and the others…and you…and…"
Kiba continued his nonsense talking. As he went on, he just confused himself and Shino.
Shino put his hand in front of the other boy's face. "Stop it."
"You have to understand, Shino! You have to!" Kiba begged.
"Understand what? You're barely forming sentences, of course I don't understand."
Kiba turned away from his friend and then faced him again. "I'm trying my hardest to be a good leader, but I keep failing at what seems most important. I want what's best for everyone, but I keep on thinking about the same thing…over and over again. It's stupid really, because me thinking like that, why would I even do that? I'm just making myself nervous and it's dumb…really! Ha ha ha! I guess I can be a real idiot sometimes! Don't worry, I have everything under control!"
"I'm not that sure what you're talking about, but ok. If you think you can do it on your own, go ahead," Shino nodded.
"Don't worry about me. Shino, get back to the others…I'll catch up in a second."
Without another word, Shino walked away from the boy.
Kiba, once he could no longer see Shino, let himself fall onto the ground. I have everything under control? What was I thinking? I have nothing under control! And if Shino doesn't confess that he likes Hinata soon, I might just end up blurting out my own feelings! Kiba held himself close as tears began to form in his eyes. The cold tears fell down his cheeks as he broke down into a complete sob. What am I doing? I can't do this. I can't be crying…I have to be the strong one…the strong one! He tried to wipe away the tears, but he couldn't control his crying any longer. I don't want to be the strong one. Why can't Shino be the strong one? Why can't he be the leader while I just be a back up? Man, I'm such a loser! I have to pull myself together. I can't let Hinata or Shino see me this way. I don't want Hinata to worry about me…she has enough to worry about. Kiba bit his lower lip. "I'm such an idiot!"
Ino stared at Shikamaru as he washed his face in the river. She could tell that he was still tired.
"I just want this week to be over," Shikamaru mumbled to the girl.
"Aww, now why would you say that?" she wondered.
"I'm sick of eating fish and apples…I want to take a hot shower…with soap…and a warm bed sounds real nice right now…"
"Why don't you go back to bed? You look real tired."
Shikamaru wiped the dripping water from his forehead with the back of his hand. "I'm going to let you in on a little secret, ok?"
"Sure," Ino leaned in close.
"I'm not very fond of using rocks for a pillow."
"Ha ha…very funny," she rolled her eyes and began to walk away.
"Where are you going?"
Ino stopped. "You know what…I want this week to end too."
"What's your reasoning?"
"I feel gross wearing the same outfit everyday."
"If you feel so gross in it, take it off and wash it."
"Shikamaru! I'm not going to just take off my clothes and wash them in front of everyone."
The boy shook his head. "Then, just jump into the water. I'm sure you can get some of the dirt off that way. You might be able to clean yourself off as well."
"You're such a loser."
Shikamaru walked in front of the girl. He stared into her eyes as he let a smile slowly form on his face. "You know, it was just a joke." He pulled at the hair that fell in the girl's face. "It doesn't take a genius to figure that out."
She smacked his hand away. "Don't toy with me! It's not funny!"
"Ok, ok! I get it. I'll leave you alone."
"You're so heartless!" Ino whined
"I think you've told me that before…"
"Maybe because I did tell you!" she punched him in the stomach. "Jerk!"
He slip his hands in her's. "I'm trying my best, really…it's just hard when I'm so laid back and you're so…um…"
"Fine, I give up. Lets go find a place where we can look at the clouds. But when we get there, you're going to be my pillow."
They walked off in search for a place where there were no trees in their way. A place where they could just lay down and stare at the clouds.
Kiba, finally making his way towards the others, saw Neji and quickly made his way to him.
"Hey, Neji, have you seen TenTen?" Kiba wondered.
"She's in the cave. Why?"
"I just needed to ask her about something."
"I don't know if she really wants to be bothered," Neji looked at the cave. "When she ran into the cave, I asked if something was wrong. She just mumbled something about not being able to tell. I think she might have mentioned your name, but I couldn't really tell."
"Aww, man! I can't believe this!"
"Nothing…it's just…don't let anyone come into the cave. I need to talk to TenTen in private."
"Neji, this is important. I can't tell you, ok?"
"And don't use your Byakugan to look in…that goes for Hinata too! And Shino and his bug friends! I don't want anyone else to hear this conversation. Got it?" Kiba began to walk towards the cave.
"Ok, ok," Neji shook his head. He didn't understanbd what had gotten into Kiba.
Kiba looked around the cave. He finally spotted TenTen sitting against one of the walls towards the back of the cave. Slowly, he made his way to the girl. She looked up and frowned.
"Why are you here all alone?" Kiba wondered.
"I almost said something I would have regretted to Hinata and Sakura. I almost told them about what we were talking about last night. You remember, right?" the girl asked.
"Yeah, that's kind of why I came to talk to you."
"Oh," TenTen's eyes widened, "go ahead!"
Kiba sat next to her. "It's ok if you tell someone. I almost told Shino today. I want him to know, but I think he would hate me if he knew. I'd feel better if he knew. Though, I don't think it would go so well. I'd feel better…but Shino would hate me…I know he would."
"Your heart is crying. I can hear it. You're in so much pain, Kiba."
"I know. That's why I came to talk to you. I thought if I told you what happened, I might feel a little better. I'm not that sure if it will work, but I'm willing to try anything."
"Continue then…I'm willing to listen…"
"I feel like such an idiot. When I pulled Shino away, I was being so selfish. I didn't want to say anything about my feelings for Hinata. I found myself making up some lame excuse about me having everything under control. It totally confused Shino, and I just told him to get back to the others…that I would catch up later. I ended up on the ground in fright. I know I don't have everything under control. I'm stupid for thinking I do. I feel that if Shino doesn't tell Hinata soon…I might end up saying something about my own feelings to her. I don't want that to happen because I know both how Hinata and Shino feels. I was crying, TenTen, crying! It was so dumb. I was crying over my own stupidity. I figured it out…I have to be the strong one out of the group. If I'm going to be the leader, I have to keep these things under control. Right? I have to make sure I do what is best for the team. And the best thing is for me to keep my feelings for Hinata to myself. Am I wrong?"
"I know that if I was Hinata…I would want to know how you feel. She'd probably like it better if you didn't keep secrets like that from her. Shino would probably be the same way. It's hard though, but if you really want to no longer love Hinata, you have to admit to loving her in the first place. Tell Hinata and Shino about how you feel. Tell them that you don't want to feel that way though. Say anything that comes to your mind. I'm sure if they hear you confess the love you wish to get rid of, one of them is bound to tell the other their true feelings."
"I guess you're right…"
TenTen smiled. "Oh…another thing…all real men cry. So, don't be afraid to admit something like that . You're strong for showing your true feelings."
"It's not stupid?"
"Of course not!"
"Then, I'll do it. I'll tell them how I feel. And after I admit to it…I will try my hardest to no longer feel this way," Kiba jumped up.
"Go get them, killer!"
"So…do you know where Shino and Hinata are?"
"Last time I saw Hinata, she was still with Sakura at the river. As for Shino, I haven't seen the guy," TenTen said.
"Maybe he went to check om Hinata. I don't know. I guess I'll get her first," Kibva waved to TenTen as he walked off.
I hope I'm right. This better be the right decision… TenTen grasped her legs against her. She was scared for Kiba. She didn't want things to go wrong.
Gaara spotted Shino as he was heading towards the river to talk to Hinata and Sakura. He walked over to the boy.
"Shino," Gaara mumbled as he grew closer.
Shino turned to see Gaara. He knew that he had something to say to him. "What?"
"You're going to talk to Hinata, aren't you?" Gaara wondered.
"You talk to her a lot, don't you?"
"Why do you only really talk to her?"
"…" Shino had no response. He didn't know why he could so easily talk to Hinata but not to any one else. There was just a connection between the two of them. A connection that was even unknown to them. There was no real reason behind any of it, truthfully, it's just how they were.
Gaara stared at him. "You like her. I can tell. Heh, I guess the silent types have to stick together."
"What do you mean by that?" Shino demanded.
"Don't worry…I know something you don't. I won't get in the way."
"Get in the way? In the way of what?"
Gaara saw Kiba walking towards them. "Forget it. Just make sure you don't think of me as your enemy. I'm not trying to hurt Hinata. I'm on your side now."
"Shino!" Kiba called.
"On my side?" Shino turned to Kiba. "I think I understand what you're trying to say."
"Good…" Gaara mumbled as Kiba pulled Shino away.
"So, Kiba, what's so important?" Hinata smiled.
"Right…" Kiba looked at the cave. He saw TenTen standing outside with Neji. She softly smiled and gave Kiba a thumbs-up. "I guess I need to make a confession."
"A confession?" Shino repeated.
"Yeah, but you have to hear me out. I don't want any interruptions until I'm done. If you don't hear it all the way through…you're bound to end up with the wrong idea."
"We're listening; right Shino?" Hinata giggled.
"Go on…" Shino nodded.
Kiba cleared his throat. "Ok…how should I start this?" He pondered for a second. "I guess I should just go right into this…Hinata, I like you a lot! But! But I don't want to anymore. I was talking to TenTern, and she thought the best way for me to get rid of such feelings is to admit them first. I understand that you only think of me as a brother, so I want to think of you as a sister. I know it will be hard for me, but I'm doing this for Sh…sheverybody! It's for the best. Heh…heh…"
'Sheverybody?' Kiba was about to say my name! He was about to basically tell Hinata that I like her…that could have been bad, Shino thought.
"You're right, Kiba, I'm glad you told me. I had a feeling that you were hiding something from me, and I knew what ever you were keeping hidden was making you avoid me. I don't like when you have to avoid me. Yes, I only think of you as a brother…but…but I…I'm flattered that you have such feelings for me. Kiba…I'm sorry, but we won't be able to be anything other than friends. I like being your friend. I think having it any other way would be weird," Hinata blushed.
"Uh…" Kiba turned to look at the other boy. "Do you hate me?"
"Why would I hate you?" Shino wondered. "I can't stop the way you feel. So you like Hinata? It doesn't have that big of an affect on me. There is no reason for hating you."
"Well then! Heh! Since I have that off my shoulders, is there anything you want to tell the other?"
"Um…K-Kiba! What would m-make you think that?" Hinata questioned.
I understand why she was stuttering before, but why now? Shino demanded form himself.
Kiba scratched his head. "Oh…I guess TenTen was wong about the other thing we talk about. Darn! I was really hoping that was going to be the thing she was right about."
"What are you trying to say, Kiba?" Shino looked at him.
"Well," Hinata smiled, "if there's nothing else you need me for, I'm going to get going. I wanted to talk to Naruto."
"Go ahead, Hinata, I'm sure there's nothing else Kiba needs. Anyways, it's good for you to talk to Naruto," Shino nodded.
"You think so?"
"Ok," the girl ran off in search for Naruto.
" 'Sheverybody' huh?" Shino looked at Kiba.
"Did I ever mention how much I like having you as a friend? I mean, what kind of idiot wouldn't want to be your friend?" Kiba let out an airy laugh.
"You were about to tell her that I like her, weren't you?"
"Well, I was mainly doing that for you!" Kiba yelled.
"Well…I thought if I explained how I felt that maybe you'd do the same thing. TenTen said that it would work…"
"TenTen? How could she give you such advice unless she knew that I like Hinata?"
"Well, I guess she knows. Hey, but don't get the wrong idea, I don't know how she figured it out."
"Kiba…I don't want you to mess around with this anymore. When I'm ready, I'll tell Hinata. Ok? I'll know when it's the right time."
"Your heart will know?"
"And it will cry out 'Shino! Tell Hinata you love her!' ?"
"And then you two will live happily ever after?"
"And get married?"
"And have many children?"
"And let me be the godfather of the children?"
"I don't even know if she likes me. Why would you even talk about such things?"
Kiba began to smile. "I have a way of knowing things. So, can I be the best man?"
"It's not like I'm getting married!"
"Will being with Hinata make you happy? Will it make you smile?"
"Why are you asking me so many questions?"
"I just want what's best for the team."
Shino bit his lip and then replied, "Yes, Kiba, being with Hinata will make me happy."
"Yay! I thought so!"
Hinata looked around in search for Naruto. She finally spotted him sitting under a tree, eating an apple by himself. She walked up to the boy and smiled.
"Hey," Naruto looked up at the girl.
"Why are you all by yourself?" Hinata wondered.
"I don't know. I guess everyone else is doing their own thing so I decided to keep away."
"Well, if you want me to, I could keep you company."
"That would be nice. I like having a friendly face around."
Hinata sat next Naruto.
"Have you eaten yet today?" Naruto questioned.
She frowned. "No, I haven't really had an appetite lately…"
"That's not good. Should at least try to put something into you."
"I guess you're right…but I don't think I could handle eating another apple or anymore fish. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of either."
"Heh, well, I heard that where Neji's group was before had some kind of berries and acorns. It made Lee a little crazy though. I think there was something about attacking acorns…I'm not that sure, you'd have to ask one of them about it."
"Attacking acorns?" Hinata giggled. "That couldn't have been fun!"
"Probably not. So, Hinata, what have you been up to?"
"Nothing much. I was just talking to Sakura and TenTen…then Kiba and Shino."
"Fun. You spend a lot of time with those two guys, don't you?"
"I guess so. I like being around them. They were the first two people to ever make me feel like I am actually needed."
"They're your best friends?"
"Yes! They've helped me through so much…I know that if I get into trouble, they will always be there for me. They are two very great people."
"Hinata…I want you to know that I'm here for you too. Don't think that you only have to lean on those two. If you ever need anything and they can't come, I'm willing to come running to your side. Ok?"
"Thank you, Naruto. That means a lot to me. I'm glad that I have friends like you that are always there when I just need someone to lean on."
"I'm glad we agree on that. I've got your back and you've got mine!"
"Yes!" Hinata nodded as the two of them began to laugh.
Temari saw Shino and Kiba talking. She was unsure of the conversation they were having, but she decided to mess around with them. Gaara told her that he wasn't going to try to win over Hinata because of her liking Shino. Well, Temari wanted to see if she could convince Shino not to like Hinata…or at least make him know of the competition.
"Hey! Shino!" Temari called to the boy. "I can't believe you were right. Who would have thought Gaara would like that Hinata girl. It's unbelievable!"
"That's great…" Shino mumbled.
"What?! Shouildn't you be angry?"
"No, it's ok."
"But…you know that you won't be able to get Hinata for yourself now! Gaara will be the one to win over her heart first. If you think that you'll win…you're wrong!"
"You talking as if Hinata is a prize in a game or something. She isn't!" Kiba growled.
"What do you know? You're just a stupid freak!" Temari snapped.
"Well, you can just tell Gaara that I'm not going to play his games. If Hinata likes Gaara, so be it, I will leave her alone. It is her choice to make…I don't think either of us should be interfering with this. It's not for us to be meddling in," Shino explained.
"Anyways…I don't think Shino would fall for your trap…" Kiba nodded.
"Trap? What do you mean by that?" the girl demanded.
"Why don't you ask Shino?"
Shino placed his hands in his pockets. "I already talked to Gaara. He told me that he wouldn't be getting in my way. He said that he was on my side now…that he's not going to hurt Hinata. So, if you know what's best for you, you better stop prying into my business."
"How can I trust that he actually said that? That doesn't sound like something Gaara would say!"
"Better believe it, Temari. Get lost," Kiba walked awy from her; Shino followed behind him.
"Oh," Temari frowned. "This isn't how it was supposed to turn out!"
"TenTen, what's been going on? You've been acting strange ever since I had that conversation with you, Hinata, and Sakura. Did I do something wrong?" Neji asked the girl.
"Have I?" TenTen questioned. "I haven't noticed…"
"That's what I mean. You're just letting your words drift away. I can tell that you're keeping something a secret."
She turned to him. "What's the one thing that would make you happy?"
"I…I don't know anymore. It would make me happy if you wouldn't look so worried. I'd like to know what's on your mind."
"You want Hinata to be happy…right?"
"Yes…I guess you could say that…"
"Even if it means giving up everything she ever believed in? Even if it means that she must go against the Hyuuga clan?"
"I don't like the idea of her doing anything against our clan, but I've realized that it doesn't matter anymore. Ever since I've decided that I have to help Hinata out…I've changed…"
"You're right, Neji, you have changed. You have woken up to become a very wonderful man. You are taking care of your cousin, you're keeping our team together…you're amazing."
"I guess so. I started out believing that no matter how hard you work, you can't change the future. I was putting everyone down, making them feel bad, just because of the pain I've been in. If I kept on trusting my own words…I wouldn't be here…I'd still be the selfish little boy I once was."
"Heh, I hope everything works out…for you…for Hinata…for everyone!"
"I hope so too…"
Sasuke walked around, looking for something to do. Not paying attention to where he was going, he walked right into Temari. It didn't even faze him; he kept on walking.
"Hey!" Temari yelled at the younger boy.
Sasuke slowly turned around. "Huh?"
"You have some nerves! Would it kill you to apologize?"
"Apologize? For what?"
"You idiot! You just totally bumped into me. I almost fell face first into the ground."
"Uh…maybe you shouldn't have been just standing there."
"Don't talk to me that way. Anyways, you should be the one watching where you're going. What are you doing anyways? Just wandering around like an idiot?"
Sasuke, seeming unusually dumb, smiled at the girl. "Just trying to find something to do."
Finally realizing what he was doing, Sasuke snapped back to a bad attitude. "Why am I answering your questions anyways? Maybe I should ask the questions. It is kind of suspicious of you to just be standing there. Why don't you tell me?"
"It doesn't matter," Temari frowned.
"Fine then…be that way," he began to walk off.
"It's just!" the girl called out. Sasuke turned to listen to her. "Gaara…he's my brother…and I just want what's best for him. Is that so wrong? If he wants something…I want him to get it."
"What is this something that he wants?" Sasuke started to seem interested.
"You can't tell anyone. Ok? But, Gaara likes Hinata. He told me that it doesn't matter because she likes someone else. It's not like me…but I started to feel sad. As his older sister, I should get what he wants for him. So, I decided to talk to Shino. I couldn't even scare him out of not liking Hinata. It's so pathetic. I don't know how to make Hinata like Gaara. It…it's so…stupid!"
"You sound a lot like Kiba."
"Kiba? Don't compare me to that dog!"
"Well, I'm just stating the facts. He said the same thing to me. He wants what is best for both Hinata and Shino. They're like family to him. He's being selfish, just like you. So, Temari, it's going to be hard to get Hinata to like Gaara. First, you're going to have to get past Kiba. After that, the road to changing Hinata's heart is just going to get harder. Just give up now."
"Hey! Instead of trying to change Hinata's heart, why don't I just make Shino forget about his feelings towards her?"
"You'd still have to go through Kiba. Anyways, Shino is probably even harder to crack. Just look at him…I'm not even that antisocial! Also, what has Gaara said about you trying to mess around with the two of them?"
"Uh…he told Kankuro and me to stay out of it. Gaara said that Hinata would be able to see through an act like that."
"Maybe you should take your little brothers advice. Stay out of this. He obviously knows what he's doing. Stop butting in."
Temari pulled at her hair. "Ah! This is so stupid!"
"You're a bright one," Sasuke mumble.
"Shikamaru…" Ino whispered as she used the boy's stomach as a pillow.
"Huh?" Shikamaru wondered.
"What are you thinking about?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know? You have to be thinking about something."
"What are you thinking about?" the boy shot back.
The girl lifted up her head as she sat up. "I was remembering something Shino and I were talking about…I think it was yesterday."
"I see…you're thinking about other guys…"
"It's not like that! It's important!"
"That's what they all say. We haven't even been together for that long and you're already cheating on me. How shameful," Shikamaru joked.
"I wouldn't cheat on you. Anyways, Shino li…li…likes bugs!"
"Uh…likes bugs? You're a smart one."
"No, no, no…I can't tell you. Um…shh…this conversation never happened…"
"You're hiding something."
"Nope! I'm not hiding anything!"
He poked the girl in the side. "You're lying to me."
"I told you already, I can't tell you. I promised him! Don't make me break an important promise."
"But, Ino, you're the one who started to tell me. I wasn't forcing you to do anything."
"It's not that I don't want to tell you. I don't like keeping secrets, but I have to."
Shikamaru placed his lips up to Ino's ear. "Maybe you should talk to him about this. If Shino's always on your mind, you'll never be thinking of me."
Blushing, she nodded. "You're right. I should talk to him about this. Shino shouldn't be the guy I'm thinking of. You're the only man I want in my thoughts!"
"You're man, huh? I like the sound of that."
"Shikamaru…you loser…" Ino laughed as she walked away.
"So, when you do tell Hinata, what are you going to say?" Kiba wondered.
"I don't know. I haven't thought about that," Shino softly replied.
"You should say something really charming!"
"Yeah, like…'Hinata, I know that we've been friends for awhile now, but those feelings of friendship have changed. I know longer just like you as a friend but as something so much more.' Heh, wouldn't that be sweet?"
"Fine, what were you thinking?"
"Well, I was just thinking of something simple like 'Hinata, what would you say if I told you I like you as more than just a friend?' "
"Do you really think Hinata would be able to easily answer that?"
"Your right. I should just come out and say it…"
Ino, already listening to the conversation between the two boys, began to walk over to them. "Hey, Shino…Kiba!"
"Um…Ino…what's up?" Kiba smiled at the girl.
"You see, I need to talk to Shino."
Shino could see that Ino was concerned about something. "What's the matter, Ino?"
"The thing I heard about…last night…" she mumbled.
"Thing? What thing?" Kiba demanded.
Ino looked away from the two boys.
"Don't worry about it Kiba. It's just something that Ino heard last night."
"Eh? I want to know!" Kiba whimpered.
"Temari was being a jerk last night, and she said some stuff to me. Ino over heard something," Shino turned to the girl. "You're worried about some oft hose things you heard, aren't you?"
Ino smiled. "Shikamaru told me that to get them off my mind, I should talk to you…"
"Talk about what?" Kiba still demanded.
"About me liking Hinata!" Shino snapped.
Kiba bit his lip and whispered, "I don't think you wanted to say that so loud."
"Um…" Ino tapped Shino on the shoulder.
"Lets go," Shino pulled her away from Kiba.
"I'm still confused!" Kiba yelled to them.
Ino let out a sigh. She fidgeted at first but finally told Shino all she could. "It's not like I told anyone…because I didn't. I swear, I didn't! It was just Shikamaru…and he poked and poked…and poked! I still didn't tell him though because I would have broke the promise I made. I'm sorry that I almost told him. I feel terrible for almost spilling everything out. But…but! I made a a very good safety statement. Uh-huh! I almost said that you like Hinata, but I told Shikamaru that you like bugs instead! Good save, wasn't it?"
"…" Shino was speechless.
"Grr!" she growled. "It was so stupid! I can't bel-"
Shino put out his hand to stop the girl from talking anymore. "Don't worry, Ino. It's hard to keep secrets. Don't push yourself too hard by trying to keep mine. You shouldn't have to be worrying about something that has nothing to do with you. I am sure that everything will work out ok even if you do end up telling Shikamaru."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. Shikamaru is a good guy, right? As long as no one tells Hinata. I just don't want her to know yet."
"What about Temari? She's bound to tell Hinata!"
Shino looked away. "I'm not that sure. I did my best to tell her to leave things alone, but I don't think she got the message."
"Um…what would you do if I told you that I saw Temari talking to Hinata and Sakura last night?"
"I don't know. Did you?"
"Yes," she nodded.
"You're friends with Sakura. Maybe you could talk to her for me."
"Me talk to her? I wouldn't really call us friends!"
"Talk to her for yourself. Sakura is becoming real good friends with Hinata anyways. Maybe she could give you some information about Hinata's feelings for you! Sakura probably knows if Hinata likes you or not."
"Uh…" Shino's cheeks glowed bright red behind his collar.
"Sakura won't mind!"
"I guess so…"
"Heh! You're a good guy, Shino. Make me proud and figure things out!"
"You're right. I have to figure things out myself. I didn't want Kiba doing things for me…I should ask you to do things."
Ino smiled. "For being filled with bugs, you're not that creepy! I'm really shocked…you are a good guy at heart."
"You thought I was creepy?"
"Don't worry, I'm used to it by now. Kiba and Hinata probably thought I was creepy at first…and they're the best friends I could ever ask for. So, call me creepy, call me bug boy…I am a little creepy…and I guess I am a bug boy. It's all true, so…it doesn't matter to me anymore…"
"You're so selfcentered!" Ino joked.
The girl began to laugh. "I better get back to Shikamaru. That loser is probably worried about me or something stupid like that. You get going as well. Go get your girl!"
"Right," the boy let a small smile form on his face and walked away.
Oh, what a beautiful smile. I wonder why he doesn't show it often, Ino stared at Shino as he walked away. Coming out of the trance Shino's smile put her in, she walked back to Shikamaru.
Shino slowly made his way towards Sakura. He was uneasy about asking her about Temari. It wasn't right for Shino to make other people do things for him, but he just didn't feel right doing it. Stopping himself before making it all the way to the girl, he turned around and headed for Kiba. Maybe it would be easier if he had someone else with him.
Kiba smiled at the boy. "Everything ok with Ino?"
"Uh…yeah," Shino mumbled.
"Something's wrong. What is it?"
"I just have to do something."
"What kind of something do you have to do?"
"Um…I have to talk to Sakura…"
"Sakura? Why Sakura?"
"Ino told me that I should talk to her. She saw Temari talking to Hinata and Sakura, so I wanted to ask her if she would tell me what Temari was talking about. I fear that she might have mentioned the fact that I like Hinata."
"If she did, Hinata probably wouldn't be able to even talk to you."
"I just want to reassure myself…"
"Do whatever feels right to you!"
Shino let out a sigh. "I hope that this is the right thing to do."
"Go on. I don't think Sakura is with anyone right now. It's now or never!"
"Right…I'm going, I'm going," the boy nodded as he walked off.
Ino stared at Shikamaru. It seemed that he was sleeping, but she just couldn't tell. Sitting down next to him, she let out a sigh. "Oh, Shikamaru, why do people have to confuse themselves so much when they are in love? Why can't people just go out and tell each other that they like them? Is it that hard?"
"You tell me. Why did it take you so long to tell me that you liked me?" Shikamaru mumbled.
The girl was surprised that the boy was awake. "I was unsure if I really liked you."
"See, that's one reason. I'm guessing that you're talking about Shino. Am I right?"
"Maybe he's just scared to tell Hinata because he doesn't want to be rejected. I would be the same way. I only admitted to liking you because you came out and said it first."
"Wait, wait, wait! Are you saying you liked me before I said I liked you?"
"How long have you liked me!?"
"Lets see…how long have we been in a group together?"
"Since we became Genin? No way!"
"No, it was after that. I think it was before I became a Chunin…"
"You don't even remember? Wait, that's so long ago!"
"Yeah…I'm pretty good at keeping things secrets."
"I always thought you liked Temari."
"What would make you think that?"
"I don't know…you just seemed into her."
"She came to my rescue a few times…it made me feel stupid. I hate when a girl is the one saving me. I should be the one saving the girl. Right?"
"I don't think so. A girl can always be stronger than a boy. It's better that way. Anyways, who cares which is stronger. Does it truly matter?"
"When you put it that way, I guess it doesn't."
"Naruto, if you liked me…why didn't you ever tell me?" Hinata questioned the blond.
The boy laughed. "I don't know! I never really thought of that. I guess I liked you, but maybe it wasn't enough to actually want to tell you. I'm not that sure."
"I never told you because I was too scared. Everytime I would even get near you, I would get nervous…I would pass out most of the time."
"But you're not like that anymore! You've grown more mature!"
"I guess so. I think it was really because of Kiba and Shino. They pulled me out of my shell. I used to be scared to try something new, but I'm not anymore."
"Hinata, you were nervous around me when you liked me, but why aren't you nervous around Shino. I know you like him, but I'm confused," Naruto stared at her.
"I think it's because I've known him for so long. I was his friend before I realized that I liked him for something more. It is confusing…I guess I feel comfortable around him. Shino is very easy to talk to!"
"Easy to talk to? He rarely talks. He's always hidden behind sunglasses and an oversized jacket!"
"I think that's why we get along. I used to be quiet like that…but Kiba won't let me stay silent anymore. I must be like Kiba in a way…trying to get Shino to finally come out of his shell."
"Seriously, have you ever saw him out of that jacket and those sunglasses?"
"I saw him without sunglasses the second day we were in this forest. As for the jacket, the weather does change. He has to take it off in the summer. I'm not going to let him overheat…even if I'm the one that has to pull it off of him!"
"Hmm…you're right! It does get hot in the summer!"
Hinata began to laugh. A bright smile formed on her face. She was glad that Naruto understood her feelings towards Shino. She didn't like it when they were arguing.
Shino slowly made his way towards Sakura. The girl sat by the river cleaning Hinata's blood off of her. She softly hummed a tune to herself and didn't even hear Shino coming from behind.
"Sakura?" Shino walked next to her.
She jumped. "Sh-Shino!"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"No, it's ok. I wasn't expecting a vistor. So, what's up?"
"Um…nothing. Uh, what are you doing?"
Sakura showed Shino the bottom of her outfit. "Well, some of Hinata's blood got onto my clothes, so I'm trying to get it out. It's not working very well."
"Blood is hard to get out. You shouldn't worry too much about it. We'll be out of this forest in a few days and you'll be able to change into fresh clothes."
"Shino, I have a feeling that you didn't come over here just to see what I was doing. What is it that you really want?"
"Ino was telling me how she saw Temari talking to you and Hinata last night. I wanted to know if Temari told Hinata anything."
"Anything?" Sakura repeated. "Be more specific."
"I can't tell you everything, but if you're wanting to know if Temari said anything about you, she did. She told Hinata that you like her. Hinata didn't believe Temari. Ok?"
"Wait, why didn't Hinata believe her?"
"Because…Hinata won't believe in such words unless they come from you."
"So…she doesn't know yet. That's good…"
"Oh! You mean, you really like Hinata?"
Aww…great! That's another person who knows… Shino thought.
"You can't tell her, ok? She'll know when I'm ready to tell her."
"She would believe me, remember? Just, Shino, don't wait forever."
"I won't…I promise. Now, would you like me to help you with that blood stain?"
"You know how to get it out?!"
"Wearing light grey isn't the best color for a shinobi."
"That's why I wear red…but even blood can be seen on this shade," Sakura laughed.
Shino took the bottom of the girl's dress. "Now, here's what you do…"
Night quickly grew closer. The five teams resigned back to the cave. Each person fell asleep waiting for the next day to come. Tonight, they decided, they would go without someone staying up to watch over the others. For once, they felt safe that night. Kiba had finally let out the feelings he wished to no longer hold while Shino still kept quiet about what went on inside of his mind. Though it was a day where many secrets were revealed, the night had ended peacefully.
Hinata walked out of the cave. She sat on the floor looking at the dirt. It wasn't that she didn't want to sleep, she just couldn't. Hearing someone leave, Gaara walked outside himself.
"Hinata, what are you doing still up?"
The girl looked up to see Gaara standing in front of her. "I guess…I guess I just couldn't sleep. What about you?"
"I just wanted some fresh air, and I heard someone come out. I'm kind of glad it was you," Gaara admitted to her.
"A lot of people like you, but you don't seem to care. You have your heart set for one guy…"
"Um…I don't think that many people like me…!"
Gaara smiled at the girl. "I'm one of those people who do like you, Hinata. There's just something about you that attracts me. It doesn't matter though, because you won't change your mind. You've already decided that Shino is who you want."
"You're right, Gaara, my feelings for Shino aren't going to change. I'm flattered by the fact that you like me, but it is best if we just stay friends. One day, you might find someone else you like…someone more than me!"
"Maybe I will. Lets get back inside. You look tired," Gaara pulled Hinata back into the cave where they slept for the rest of the night.
The last three days came and went rather fast. There were no more attacks and everything stayed peaceful. The final night came faster than anyone would have thought. The teams were happy to know that they would be able to leave the next morning. Getting to take a warm bath and changing their clothes was one of the first things each person wanted to do. Hinata's arm, though still painful, began to heal. Yet, she still didn't reveal her feelings to Shino just as he still hasn't. This final night meant an end to having to survive on fish and apples…and acorns! Though this adventure was about to end, there were still things left to do.
"Yay! Lets get a move on!" Naruto shouted. "They're going to be surprised that we survived!"
"Not us, just you," Sasuke push Naruto to leave.
"It was fun though. We might have had to live on fish for this week, but at least we got to do it with all of our friends," TenTen giggled.
Ino smiled at the girl. "That's true, but I still think that I would rather sleep in my own bed. I'm sorry, but the cave floor isn't comfy!"
"Some of this week was fun, but you must admit, some of it was scary!" Kiba yelled.
"Y-yes…but we made it…out s-safe…" Hinata stuttered.
"For most of us, yes, but for you, you came out hurt in the end," Neji told his cousin.
"Um…but now…I'm o-ok!"
"Hey, lets go. Maybe we'll get to go out and eat…" Chouji started to run out of the forest.
Naruto followed him. "I want some ramen!"
Shino put out his hand for Hinata. "Come on, we don't want to waste anymore time in here, right?"
"Yes!" the girl grabbed his hand as they made their way to the exit of the forest.
What a wonderful…yet scarey…experience. I wouldn't want this week to have gone any other way…no…it was perfect. Thanks to you, Shino… Hinata thought as her cheeks turned red.
"Ah, it seems that all of you made it out alive," Kakashi smiled at the group of fifteen.
"How did it go?" Asuma questioned.
"It was fine up until we got attacked by these two guys…" Shikamaru pointed out.
"Attacked? Who attacked you?" Gai demanded.
Lee jumped up to answer his sensei. "Ooo! It was these two guys named Yowai and Maneru!"
"Was anyone hurt?" Kurenai wondered.
"Hinata was, but we wrapped her arm and used some of her oitment on the wound," Kiba explained to them.
"Fine then, how about we take all of you out for a nice meal then?" Kakashi decided.
"Oh! Kakashi-sensei, lets get ramen. Please, please, please!" Naruto shouted.
"You can get whatever you want. Sakura, Sasuke, come on, it's my treat. Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro…you guys can come as well."
The seven of them walked off.
Asuma began to laugh. "Chouji, Shikamaru, Ino, lets get you something to eat as well. Kurenai, why don't you and Shino, Hinata, and Kiba join us?"
"Ok…how about it?" Kurenai looked at the three of them.
"Actually, I better get home…" Shino mumbled.
"Yeah, I want to change…and take a bath," Kiba agreed.
"Hinata?" Kurenai smiled.
"Um…I'm n-not h-hungry. Anyways, I-I better go and w-wash out my c-cut…and e-everything…"
"How about we join them?" Gai asked Neji, Lee, and TenTen.
"That sounds great. I could eat anything right now…as long as it's not fish!" TenTen giggled.
"And afterwards, we can train!" Lee agreed.
Neji turned to his cousin. "Hinata, would you like me to walk you home?"
"N-no…I'll be fine…" she smiled.
"Fine, then I'll join you guys," Neji nodded to his teammates.
Everyone but Hinata, Kiba, and Shino had left.
"Ok, if you don't need anything, we better get going," Kiba waved as he left with Shino.
Hinata watched the two boys walk down the road until she finally decided to go after them. She didn't have a reason to follow them…not a clue to why she was even doing it. It was just this feeling she had; a feeling that she had yet to understand. When she was finally a couple of feet away, she hid herself behind a building. Why didn't she want herself to be seen?
Oh, I'm such an idiot… Hinata thought. "Why…?"
"Did you hear something?" Shino asked Kiba.
"Um…no…" Kiba was unsure if he heard something or not.
The two boys continued to walk down the road. Hinata began to follow closely behind them again, but, not watching where she was going, tripped over a rock in the road.
"I knew I heard…" Kiba turned around to see Hinata lying on the ground, "…something…"
"Hinata, what are you doing here?" Shino wondered.
She stood up. "Uh…um…j-just making my w-way home…"
"But you're house is in the oppisite direction," Kiba pointed out.
"I…I…I h-have to go!" Hinata tried to run away, but Shino was holding her back.
"You know, Hinata…if you wanted to hang out or something…you could have asked," Shino told the girl.
She looked away from him. Not being able to take it anymore, she began to cry.
"What's the matter, Hinata?" worry filled Kiba.
"I-I…I just don't…don't know wh-what…to do an-anymore…" she sobbed.
"Shino, I think you should tell her now," Kiba looked at his friend. "It's now or never!"
"…Kiba…" Shino wanted to talk to Hinata. He wanted to explain to her that no matter what the problem was, everything was going to be ok, but he couldn't. He was afraid to tell her the truth.
Uh! Come on! If you aren't going to tell her Shino…I'm leaving you here to deal with this problem. You're the only one left to make everything better. I'm sick of seeing you two liking each other so much and not doing anything about it! Kiba began to growl. "Catch up with me once you've solved this problem. And if you don't end up telling her…I will! Got it?" the boy ran off.
Hinata wiped her eyes, but the tears continued to flow. "I'm s-sorry…Sh-Shino. I have t-to go…I told N-Neji…and everyone…and…"
I have to…for…Hinata… Shino brushed away Hinata's tears and embraced her. "It's ok…Hinata…you don't have to be sorry. This is all just…just a big misunderstanding…"
"Misunderstanding…?" she repeated.
"I'm not going to keep it from you any longer. Ok? So, Hinata, do you want to know the biggest secret that I hide?"
"Biggest secret? Shino…if you wish to share it with me…I wish to hear it…"
Shino let go of Hinata. The boy unbuttoned his jacket so all of his face could be seen. He also took off is sunglasses and stuck them in his pocket. "Hinata…I…"
Kiba ran off in search for the others.
"I know I shouldn't, but it will take those two long enough to admit they like each other. Everyone is going to want to hear this! I just know it!" the boy stopped when he heard Naruto yelling about ramen.
"I could just eat all day. Ramen! More ramen!" Naruto shouted.
Kiba walked in to see everyone there. "Hey! Everyone, come with me, quick!"
They turned, puzzled, staring at the boy.
"Stop staring! Hinata and Shino are going to tell each other how they really feel!"
Kiba, leading the way, brought everyone to the sight. They hid in the bushed, waiting for one of them to admit their feelings.
"Hinata…I…like you…" though Shino's words were barely there, they rang in Hinata's ears.
More tears came down her face. "And all this time…I was scared that Temari's words were a lie."
"Does this mean…?"
"Yes, Shino! I don't think I could have gone on another day without letting you know. I like you too, Shino…more than you think I do!"
"Congratulations!" everyone shouted as the jumped out from behind the bushes.
"Where did you all come from?" Shino was puzzled.
"Kiba!" Hinata shrieked.
Kiba smiled at the two. "I just couldn't let you two celebrate alone. We've all been waiting for this moment. Hinata couldn't go on another day…I couldn't go on for another hour!"
"You knew that she liked me this whole time!?" Shino was shocked.
"I knew Hinata liked you, I knew you liked Hinata. Man, I'm just that good!"
"Now this is what I call a happy ending!" TenTen laughed.
"Yes, but…Hinata…what will your clan think about this?" Shino wondered.
Neji looked at his cousin. "That, Shino, is a whole different story. For now, lets not worry about it…we shouldn't have to wonder about something that isn't important at this point."
"You're right, Neji!" Hinata agreed.
"This is a great ending to one disastrous week," Shino smiled at everyone. "I feel like new things are going to happen. New, wonderful things!"
And new, wonderful things shall come. And a happy ending it was!
NOTE: Ah, and it's finished. I am so happy now! Ok, right, so, I don't own these Naruto characters. If I did, well, you wouldn't want to know what I would do if I owned them, so lets just leave it with I don't own them. Maybe, one day, I will! Yeah, I know, keep dreaming. So, as my second Naruto fanfic, I can say I like this one a billion times more than my other one. Man, what a change this one was too! I went from a Naruto+Hinata lover to a major can't stand that pairing. How I have this weird love for Shino+Hinata now. Oh well! I guess I can change! Anyways, yes, the plates just poofed out of no where. Actually, it's this new jutsu (not) call "plates appear out of nowhere jutsu"! Also, I don't think I will ever use that stupid "I'm a pest" "I like pests" line ever again. That part was supposed to be so serious…and I added that…like a moron. Well, it's too late to change it now. And I don't know why I made Gaara like Hinata. I just felt like adding that. It was one thing for Kiba and Naruto, but I just had to throw in Gaara. It added to the conflicts…I don't know…
So, I'm glad this is over. I can now start on my new Naruto fic. Another thing…this was NOT supposed to be this long. It was supposed to be about ten pages at max…it's now 62 pages (Well, 62 pages on my computer...)! Oh well, the longer the better…right? Who knows, I might make a sequel to this story. I did end up making hints to it. I did kind of leave you guys in question, didn't I? What happened to Yowai and Maneru? And what will the Hyuuga clan say about Hinata and Shino being together? Or TenTen and Neji? It's all a big mystery! I'll possibly work on a sequel if you like this story. Except the sequel isn't taking place in a forest because that was boring…and annoying…and I lost track of the days in the end. I also almost forgot the last dialouge between Gaara and Hinata before the paragraph about them leacing the forest. I started spazzing because I thought done…but I wasn't. Ok, I should get going then. It would be nice if you told me what you think. Also, it would be nice to know if I should make a sequel or not!