For Ryouga

Chain Reaction

Shino hadn't meant to start any of this in the first place. Never much into the fluctuations and sighs of the rest of the village, he usually spent his days either alone or in the presence of his teammates. This did not mean romantic presence of his teammates. This also did not mean he engaged in deep, meaningful conversations with either his teammates. The first time he had held Hinata's hand, they had been hidden underneath a bush during a very dangerous mission. He hadn't meant their touch to be anything but a way to calm her down.

It had done the opposite. He wasn't very good with people. Shino decided never to try that one again.

But everything collapsed from there, and looking back on it, he wasn't exactly sure what he was supposed to have done about it. As said before, he wasn't very good with people.

Several days later he had held her hand again. She had taken it first, shyly, smiling at him with that familiar hesitation. He assumed she assumed his action in the bushes had been a great betrayal of hidden love. What he didn't understand was why she had decided to pursue this imaginary infatuation.

But he didn't know what he was supposed to do, so he held her hand and they wandered quietly through the streets. People stared. He stared back, a tingling feeling working its way up his spine. Hinata cautiously leaned on his arm, giggling, her boob rubbing against him.

What. The hell. Shino actually really liked Hinata. In fact, he was protective of her. That did not mean he had ever intended for one of her boobs to be jostling against his body.

But because he was protective of her he couldn't really think of any things to do about this problem. The only other thing to could do besides hold her hand would be not hold her hand. He really didn't want to be the cause of any great drama. Now that he was thinking clearer, however, he realized that option one would cause great drama later on.

He hoped nobody blamed him for not grasping this earlier, but the fact that a girl had come up to him and put her hand in his was rather unprecedented. In fact, it had never happened before. It made him slightly queasy and he wondered what happened after this initial stage.

Despite all this handholding and general queasiness and carrying on, they hadn't actually talked since three days ago. He assumed he was supposed to open his mouth and say something, but Shino wasn't used to talking to a Hinata who thought he wanted her with a fiery hidden passion. Shino…wasn't used to talking very much at all.

"Uhh…hi." The intelligence of his first statement was stunning, as they'd been walking for at least ten minutes.

Hinata smiled at him, her lips quivering and eyes darting back and forth. "H-hello. I-I'm sorry, Shino-san." Fingers tightening their sweaty grip, she shrugged with obvious excitement. "I-I hope you don't mind…but…I assumed you wouldn't."

Oh dear, the situation was more critical than he had thought. Hinata stopped stuttering around him about a year and a half ago. Thank goodness she couldn't see half his face, because he knew he looked horrified. Things like that were not supposed to revert!

"…No, I don't mind." Actually he did, but it was too late now. The ship was going down, and Shino wondered whether she liked him or if she liked the idea of somebody liking her.

Right now, though, his most immediate concern was this: What to do next? Did this handholding and helloing mean he needed to spend more time with her? As in, more human contact? Was he required by some sort of hidden human obligation to buy her things and take her places?

Shino's great bubble of mysteriousness, which really functioned because he didn't know how to communicate deeply with other people, had just been shattered. Contrary to many stories that depict love defeating the agony of solitude, Shino was not pleased.

"W-would you like to get some food, Shino-kun?" And she smiled at him, those huge eyes staring into his soul.

Into his glasses, rather. "Okay," he managed. Damn those eyes. Maybe they had penetrated further than he had originally thought. Her hands were warm and sweaty.

All smiles, she led him to a tiny restaurant, tucked away in a tiny back alley. Far away from the prying eyes of their fellow ninjas. She slipped underneath the yellow slats, pulling him with her. Hinata almost matched him in day-to-day stealth, and today, he was grateful for that.

Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, he thought reluctantly as he gazed at the colorful scene before him. Glowing lanterns swung in the dusky evening.

Shaking fingers pulled at the zipper to his coat, lowering it down in the guise of helping him eat easier.

"Shino-kun," Hinata urged, fingers playing over the frames, "it's rude to have those on at the table."

Shino hadn't meant to start any of this in the first place. But as he slid his glasses over his nose, he had a slow revelation. Hinata brighter when she didn't keep herself hidden.