Characters: Suigetsu, Hinata
Must Include: "to call a spade a spade"; "woebegone"; "lugubrious"; blizzard; the flu
Note: Sorry…I think it's a little unrealistic. Do you know hard it is to tie a blizzard to the flu? And not to mention getting Suigetsu and Hinata together in one place? Hard!
Disclaimer: Narunaru-chan is not mine!
Of Strangers and Friends
From inside the quiet cave, Hinata could hear everything. She heard every little whisper of the wind, every rustle of the dancing leaves, and every splash of water in the nearby pond. She also would have heard every footstep to land on the soft ground outside, which was exactly why she had chosen the spot.
Hinata took deep breaths as she prodded the slowly rising fire—she was exhausted. Her mission had ended with her just grasping the ends of safety, as the enemy shinobi team chasing her happened to be horrible trackers, with low enough pay to give up quickly.
Once the fire was blazing, she sat back against the cave wall with her legs pulled against her, trying to keep whatever warmth she had to herself (it was alarmingly cold outside), and rested her head on her knees.
Drowsy thoughts of how she would wake up early the next morning and head straight for home; how she would not even stop once for a rest lured her slowly to sleep. All she wanted was to get home; to see her family, her team, and him…
Hinata smiled against her pants, and unconsciously snuggled closer when she thought of his wide, toothy grin and the way pieces of ramen noodles flung out of his mouth when he got too excited during their lunchtime meetings.
The subconscious mind that controlled her dreams was beginning to stir awake, and a movie-theater screen appeared in her mind, with her deepest dreams as the award-winning film. She was older on the screen, and suddenly popping onto the screen was a man of stunning bright blond hair, who stood next to her with an arm around her waist…and another pop! later, there was a little blonde bouncing up and down between them, coincidentally with Hinata's beautiful marble eyes.
In the limbo between the conscious and unconscious, Hinata smiled again. This was one of her favorite nighttime shows. Outside the cave, the owls hooting in the surrounding woods, the sound of some forest animal lapping up water in the pond outside, and the buzz of the small night insects played as a soundtrack to her movie.
Tomorrow can't come soon enough…
Finally, Hinata let one last whoosh of the wind carry her to sleep… and did not even notice the heavy footstep that fell right beside her.
"Why, helloooo there."
Hinata's eyes flew open, and a short scream shot out of her throat before she conquered the notion with her well-defined shinobi instincts.
A young man around her age stood before her, and with sly grin and hazy eyes taunting his features, he snickered in delight.
"Heh, soweee Miss," he said, oddly slurring.
It did not take a second longer for Hinata to push herself into a standing, defense position and fling a kunai at the strange man, and then gasp at shock in what happened—
The kunai flew straight through the man, and in the dim moonlight, Hinata could not see what the shimmering around the hit spot was. What is he…?
"Whoa there, Miss! I didn't come here to staaart anything!" he practically shouted out, burping in the middle of the sentence. Really, Hinata was already more than suspicious of the way he was talking. Was it some type of dialect? Maybe he was from some isolated region?
This time, she threw kunai with chakra strings, and though they went straight through him like before, the strings tied him down—or at least for a minute. With a surprising splash, the man was a puddle of water. A clone?
Proving her wrong, the puddle immediately reformed back into the man, and he lunged forward and removed Hinata's weapon pouch by liquefying his arm, allowing him to stretch it and lash it out at the buckle that tied the pouch to her.
"Let'sa play nice, kay?"
Then, before she could try to attack him again (maybe with her reinforced chakra attacks), he took a step forward towards the fire and plopped himself down. He slapped his hands together and rubbed them against each other, smiling—grinning sloppily—up at Hinata.
"Ya got any food?"
Alarmed, she took a step back. Hinata stared at the complete stranger making himself comfortable in her cave in total disbelief. Was this how people in his village acted? And what village was he from anyway? He had no headband, though he seemed to be a shinobi, being able to avoid the kunai the way he did.
She looked at the light-blue haired man with pointy teeth and a funny accent again. Could he be trusted?
"Well, do ya have any or whaaa'?"
"Aw, c'mon. Ya ain't gonna leave a starving man just…starvin', are ya?" he pleaded with a mock puppy face.
"I…" Hinata weighed her options. With enough skill to be able to take her weapons, she doubted she could make it past him to the opening of the cave and escape in one piece. This man also obviously did not come to fight; he just wanted food.
Before her mind could stop her body, Hinata was reaching into her backpack for her extra instant ramen cups—courtesy of Naruto, who had laded her with them as she left on her first ever solo mission.
"H-here," she said, thrusting the cups at him.
"Thanks." He ripped off the paper lids and tore the water bottle off his belt and dumped water into the small containers. Holding both water-filled cups over the fire, he looked back over at Hinata. "Wow, Missy, did anyone eva' tell ya that you're very pwetty?"
Of course, Hinata turned bright red at this.
"Wowee, now that is cuteee," he slurred again, and leaned towards her, "If ya don't mind me askin'—do you have a poyplan?"
The man burped. "I'ma sorry. I meant bo-ee-fu-riend."
Hinata's beet-red shade turned redder. "You mean…boyfriend?"
"Yeah, yeah. That's it. Well do ya?" He started swaying back and forth, and didn't realize that his ramen cups were already boiling.
"No…" Hinata started, "E-excuse me for asking, but are you…alright?"
He giggled at this, and suddenly dropped his ramen, leaning further towards Hinata so that their faces were just a foot apart. Hinata couldn't help but notice the odd tone of his face; it was pale, and watery-looking.
"Well," he hiccupped, "to call a spade a spade—I'ma druuunk. Haven't ya ever been before?"
"Oh…" was all Hinata could think of. How in the world had she been caught in this situation? It seemed absurd that five minutes earlier she had been on her way to Dreamland, and now she was sitting in a cave with a total stranger with suspicious abilities, and feeding him nonetheless!
"And by the way, my name is Suuuigetsu," he spluttered, "Nyce to meet ya."
As Hinata was mentally debating whether or not to reply to this with her own introduction, but Suigetsu did not wait for one—
"When is you're birthdaaay?" he asked, burping again.
"How about your faaavorite color?"
Hinata was seriously concerned for herself by this point.
"And your family! A pwetty girl like ya must have a good family!"
"Hey, hey," his eyes got wide as he asked the next question, "Are ya' a virgin? Heh heh, I bet you are!"
Frozen in shock, a little frightened at this man's friendliness, Hinata sat silent as the questions fired off. They were inquiries about her, but he answered each and every one with a single glance in her direction and a drunken laugh. Surprisingly, his guesses were right—her favorite ramen was indeed miso, and she had one little sister—and it seemed like after a few minutes, he knew her as well as any of her friends back home.
He was just asking whether she would prefer a steak or seafood dinner, when suddenly he froze, and his face turned slightly green.
"Excuse me awhile, milady; I need to take a piss," he said almost civilly, besides pronouncing the word 'piss' with a hiss.
"Ah, okay…" Hinata watched as he rushed to the cave opening in a sort-of crabwalk, hunched with his hands between his legs.
A moment later, the sound of running liquid reached her ears, and she heard him muttering to himself outside. A minute passed, and Hinata thought he must have held himself in for a long time. Another two minutes passed, and she believed that he was probably very special in regards of the bladder area, with his water and all. By the fourth minute, Hinata was very disgusted, but was able to convince herself that he must be playing some sort of trick on her with his water.
Finally, Suigetsu walked in just as a gust of freezing wind made its way into their cave and they both shivered.
"Whoa…" Suigetsu sat back down by the fire, wrapping his arms around himself. "I think there's gonna be a blizzard tonight."
"Look," he explained, hitching a thumb over his shoulder towards the opening behind him, "there are strong winds, snow is beginning to fall, and I feel high pressure coming in."
Hinata was aghast at the sudden change in demeanor from drunkard loopy to serious and well-informed. "I…see," she said, "Will we be safe here?"
The sly smirk crept back up to dominate his expression: "We, huh? Already thinking that far, eh?" he snickered, "Yes, we should be safe, but we'll freeze down to our bones. Get ready to snuggle."
This left Hinata wide-eyed, blushing, and almost wishing the drunken Suigetsu was back.
"So, what are you doing here anyway, Leafy?" said Suigetsu, eyeing her headband.
"Hmm, impressive. Chuunin?" he clamped a hand around his neck, massaging it, "No offense to ya or anything, but you hardly look more than that."
Pride a little wounded, Hinata nodded.
"Don't ask me why I'm here. Or why I was drunk like that. I still am, really. The moisture in the air outside probably sobered me up. You see, my body needs a lot of liquids, and my bottle was empty till I ran into that pond outside. Before that though, I had to beat up some drunk bastards down at the village bar—" Suigetsu stopped to check if Hinata was listening. She was. "—to get some beer. I don't remember much after that."
He looked at Hinata expectantly.
"Yeah, my body type is pretty different," he demonstrated by suddenly transforming his hand to a puddle of water suspending in mid-air, and continued, "so the air outside probably diluted the alcohol in me, and I probably pissed out most of it. I should be fine the rest of the night."
Hinata did not like the glint in his eye when he said 'night', but ignored it with a weak smile.
Suigetsu took another swing of water from his bottle, and sighing, he leaned against the rock wall. "I'm in some pretty deep shit."
"Oh…?" said Hinata.
Suigetsu sighed some more, and launched into his story: "First off, let me advise you to never travel with a cold-ass bastard who can't speak two words without threatening someone, a feisty bitch who won't stop punching you for everything you say to the cold-ass bastard, and a huge monster of a giant who could kill you any second—and," he added, getting a little worked up, "who could talk animals into crapping all over you."
Honestly, Hinata was surprised and impressed with herself for not fainting in the presence of this madman yet.
He continued, "But I am seriously in deep shit when I get back to them. I snuck off, you see. But this is like paradise right now, ya know, with you and all—" (Hinata blushed here) "—but anything away from that bitch! I can't stand her! One second she's punching the guts out of me and the next she's flirting so much with that cold-ass bastard that she could raise the horny old geezers back from the dead!"
By this point, Hinata couldn't help catching a certain woebegone tone in Suigetsu's rant…
"She freakin' keeps his dirty clothes! Who in the world would do that?! She won't even touch my clothes when it's her turn to do the laundry, while she actually cuddles the bastard's!"
Oh boy, what a jealous little boy he was. Hinata smiled for the first time since his arrival.
"Maybe…" Hinata started, "you should treat her nicer? Try being polite…maybe then she'll stop, um, hitting you?" Hinata took a deep breath after her surprising outburst of actual sentences. It was amazing, she realized, the way she was actually giving him advice when she barely talked around her friends.
"Polite?!" Suigetsu spat, "You're kidding! You can't be polite with that crazy witch! Not even the boss is polite to her!"
"The cold-ass bastard."
"Oh," said Hinata, yet again. She took a minute to think before starting again, "Hmm… maybe that's what attracts her to your leader—his authority over you guys? Maybe if you showed more leadership skills, she'll see you in a new light."
Suigetsu seemed to have completely missed the step where Hinata figured out his secret yearning for Karin's attention.
"Tch. Yeah, right. I wish it was that easy. But she's always going on about how great he looks, smells, talks, thinks, and how amazingly smart and strong he is! I don't know how I live with it, really," Suigetsu fumed, exasperated.
"Don't be like that! You are very handsome, Suigetsu," Hinata assured him, reddening slightly.
"Then why doesn't Karin think so?!"
"Karin? Is that her name?"
"Yeah," said Suigetsu, looking a little guilty, probably at giving names away so easily.
A concentrated look fell on Hinata, and she spoke slowly, "You need to do something special for her. Show her that to you, she is something special, and to your leader, she is nothing but a mere subordinate!"
Suigetsu looked tempted to believe this, but finally said, "But that's exactly it. I think something happened between them…you know, something like that."
Hinata's eyes widened.
Laughing at her expression, Suigetsu responded, "Yeah."
"But…the most important this is the way you feel about her. Do you think you can make her happy? Happier than if she was with your leader?"
"I…" He looked skeptical.
"Because if you aren't even sure about that, you have to stop your feelings right now! They are useless if you don't put action behind them!" Hinata shouted, with a passion that surprised her—in the good way.
And Suigetsu was convinced, by her tone, if anything.
"You know what? You're right! Once I get back, I'll do everything to prove to her that I'm the better man!" Suigetsu's expression was now hopeful, and he smiled at Hinata not smugly, but appreciatively. "Hey, thanks."
Hinata gave a curt nod and returned the smile. "It seems like you really like her."
Suigetsu's voice softened, "Yeah…"
"That's sweet," she said, now looking over his shoulder at the full-blown blizzard whipping about outside. In all the chatting, she had not noticed how cold it was, and begun a slight tremble.
"Whoa," Suigetsu shouted, startled, "Careful, you'll catch the flu!"
Suigetsu stood, walked around the fire, and planted himself just besides her, so that they were just barely touching. Though his skin should have had a little chill, due to all the water in him, there was unusual warmth radiating from him.
Hinata took out a little hanky and blew her nose, and her scrunched up expression relaxed. "Flu? You mean cold."
Suigetsu waved her off. "Flu, cold, same difference."
Chuckling quietly, Hinata did not argue further. "Sorry for interrupting. Go on."
"Are you sure? Are you going somewhere tomorrow? You should sleep."
"I'm fine, thank you. But you can't pretend you don't want to talk more about her," she said, smiling.
He grinned and bent over the fire, outstretching his hands to catch the warmth.
"She's really something, really," he said whispering now, and eyes distant and lugubrious as he thought of this girl, "she's incredible at chakra sensing, that's why the bastard chose her, though she seems to think so for other reasons…"
"I'm sure you'll win her over someday."
"Yeah, well maybe," he faced the other direction, as if a little embarrassed, "She's kinda beautiful, you know. She has nothing on you, of course, but there's just something about her I can't help wanting. But hell yeah, she's sexy."
Awkwardness fell over them, and Hinata noticed for the third time how extremely strange it was to be giving advice on love, comforting, and huddling this strange man with dangerous friends. But even more strange was how she enjoyed this. She didn't have to be her usual self, stammering and over-thinking every little thing she wanted to say out loud. It was a strange kind of freedom.
"So," he said now, bumping her shoulder with his, "What lucky guy is in your life? You said you didn't have a boyfriend, but that's probably only because of your shyness."
So he had caught on to that.
Hinata blushed as she thought of the hyperactive blonde back home, and the way he hugged her from behind, squeezing the life out of her.
"Oooh, so I'm right!" Suigetsu grinned, sipping his water and looking knowingly over at Hinata, "Spill."
A freezing breeze rushed into their cave, and both, shivering uncontrollably, unconsciously leaned into one another. As natural as nature, Suigetsu slipped an arm around Hinata's neck, and she fell into him, both arms worming around his waist.
"Well…" she began with another one of her meek smiles, and the night reigned on in the world in between.
Strangers or Friends?