CHAPTER 6: Break and Enter
"Eggshell white or off white," Hinata asked with a joking smile as her hands held up two towels, her index fingers holding the labelled tags against the soft material.
"Does it matter?" he asked, annoyed, and tore both towels from her hands and dropped them into the shopping basket. "This is demeaning…"
Hinata sighed exasperatedly and walked behind him in slow and steady strides. It had been nearly two weeks since Sasuke's return and although living with him had gotten easier, it still wasn't 'easy' by any regard. Having to deal with his brooding ways and utter lack of respect for anyone was starting to take a toll on her. They had fallen into a mundane routine of shifts at the hospital, D-ranked missions, and isolation when at home. Hinata likened this life to watching over an ill-tempered and impatient child.
When working, he would scowl and glare at the patients, even causing some of them to request his removal from the treatment room. Then on missions, he wouldn't afford the task at hand the consideration necessary to complete it successfully. On one occasion, he was sent to help a farmer harvest produce. Sasuke had done it so hurriedly that half of the harvest was worthless. She had had to step in and negotiate proper reparation, which resulted in two more days spent at the farm when it was originally suppose to be one.
To Sasuke, everything he was sent to do was below him. He was better than anything he was required to do and these missions were a waste of his skills. Just to keep sane he would have to continuously reiterate that this unnecessary labour led towards something better. Once the D-ranked missions were complete and his probation over, he would be free to live as he pleased… and Nezumi would be by his side.
She, ironically, longed for the day that this hell ended and she was free to leave his side. The former Hyuuga heiress was hanging by a thin thread. She was exhausted with his difficult nature and being away from those she cared about. The only times she had with friends and family were the rare moments with the girls at the hospital, the odd encounters with Neji on the streets, and the times Naruto had come by to visit and train with Sasuke. Kakashi had even stopped by once to get reacquainted with his old student.
"Wh-what's next on the list?" she queried while her eyes wandered the store's shelves.
"Laundry detergent," he answered stoically, "he's going to make us do his laundry."
"Probably," Hinata replied, shrugging.
Together they went about purchasing the items on the shopping list and then returned to the old man that had hired Sasuke. The Uchiha carried most of the bags as they travelled. They had everything the man had asked them to purchase. He was an elderly man, having just moved into his own place because his only daughter had just married and Hinata took every precaution to make sure all the items they purchased would be easy for him to use. One vegetable peeler wasn't the carbon copy of the next one. They varied in size, shape, and ease of use. The extra effort she put into completing the mission went unnoticed to Sasuke, who assumed she was just wasting time.
"Doku-san," Hinata greeted him with a polite bow, "would you like us to unpack the items for you?"
"Oh, that would be very generous of you!" the old man's rough and worn voice came out cheerily.
Sasuke scowled and followed Hinata into the apartment, two full bags in his hands. She was offering services they weren't required to complete. His jaw gritted just to prevent his strong inclination to drop the items right then and stomp home.
"So how many missions have you completed?" Naruto asked as he removed his haori and placed it on the grass beside Hinata.
To no one's surprise, Naruto and Sasuke quickly adopted a sparring schedule, meeting routinely during the week. Even miserable weather couldn't keep the two resilient ninja from throwing punches. Hinata didn't mind at all. A spar meant she was momentarily relieved from her duties, free to study or run a few quick errands. If anything happened in her absence, she knew Naruto would have no trouble resolving the issue. Besides, she and many others would oblige to nearly any request made by the future Rokudaime. Not to mention he was technically her boss, but no one needed to know that much.
"Four," Sasuke answered flatly, waiting for Hinata to remove his chakra restraints.
Sitting in front of Sasuke, Hinata completed the familiar string of hand signs and tapped her fingers on the restraints. When they unlatched, Sasuke retracted his hands rubbed the area of his wrists that had been confined. He stood and briskly walked out into the empty patch of training ground, falling into step beside the Hokage-to-be.
"Hm, so only 46 more and 50 weeks left to go eh?" Naruto grinned mockingly.
"Shut up and spar," Sasuke instructed, and despite the words coming out stoically, his obsidian eyes gleamed playfully.
"Oh right," Naruto exclaimed, before he sprinted back to his haori and dug through its large pockets for a sealed scroll. "I couldn't get your Kusanagi, but this'll do." The blonde unravelled the rolled parchment and expertly released the seal with a stroke of his hand. In a puff of smoke, a glinting katana appeared and was caught in Naruto's dextrous hand. He waved it experimentally, frowning at how awkward it felt in comparison to the finer weaponry he was accustomed to. When he reached the Uchiha, Naruto shrugged apologetically and handed the item over.
Sasuke received the katana with disinterest, silently noting it was heavier and slightly bulkier than his blade. It was something made for an amateur, and not for some who had long since mastered the katana. "Where is my Kusanagi?" he demanded, dark eyes turning vengeful.
Naruto shrugged once more, offering a nervous grin in a poor attempt at making amends for the wrong doings of others. "It's under lock and key. Obaachan's ANBU wouldn't let me near it," he finally answered, disgruntled. It was something about keeping a lethal weapon out of the hands of a dangerous man. Naruto thought these recently imposed rules were simply stupid. After all, if the two sparred Naruto would be able take Sasuke down if needed, and that goes without mentioning Hinata would be nearby.
"Hn." The last Uchiha flailed the weapon and then took his battle stance, the previously contained chakra paving paths through his system. Sasuke wouldn't let an ill-produced weapon get the better of him, so he ushered the blonde with a flick of his temporary blade.
In returned Naruto grinned in with barely controlled anticipation and pulled out a kunai from his weapons pouch.
With a chakra enhanced pump of his legs, Sasuke was propelled towards his former teammate with blistering speed. The katana was met with a clank, resonating through the expanse of the training grounds. They broke away briefly before commencing their battle again. Hinata admired the intricate movements, the minute pivots of feet, the sway of limbs, and even the stern eyes that glinted with delight. She sighed and shifted her gaze back to the open scroll in her lap, leaving to two ninja to partake in their afternoon spar.
Hinata yelped and fell back as she was tackled to the ground by a large dog. "Kiba-kun! Akamaru!" she giggled as the large ninken lapped her with its long and wet, pink tongue.
An arm came out and the kunai swiped pass Sasuke's face. He had managed to narrowly dodge, but he inwardly kicked himself for getting distracted when he heard the Hyuuga woman scream and then laugh. Naruto seemed to notice the Uchiha's mind drift and continued his unbridled onslaught.
"Oi, Naruto almost got him!" Kiba exclaimed excitedly, "I thought Sasuke would be better than this."
"Huh?" Hinata forced her giggles away and eased Akamaru off.
"Naruto," Kiba pointed to the subject of interest, "he could take Sasuke any day."
"Hm." Hinata nodded and unwrinkled the scroll. "I don't think Uchiha-san realizes how strong Naruto has grown… he doesn't think he needs his Sharingan."
"He's not using his Sharingan against Naruto?" Kiba smirked. "So, why's fox-boy holding back?"
She smiled and shrugged before answering, "I think he's just enjoying himself. He hasn't seen Uchiha-san in years."
"So, I came all the way here to watch a friendly spar?" Kiba's lips straightened into a frown.
The former Hyuuga heiress blinked and turned to him. "Is that why you came?"
"Hai, Sakura was telling me about their afternoon spars and I guess I was curious to see how much the Uchiha traitor had improved," he explained, collapsing back on the grass.
"Even if they didn't hold back, Uchiha-san is restricted from using his advance jutsus as a part of his probation," Hinata replied, her lavender eyes looking down at him.
Kiba groaned, "what a waste of time…"
Hinata smirked uncharacteristically, falling into 'Nezumi' mode. "You're not happy to see me?" She pestered. Her smirk turned into a cute, playful pout.
"Aw! I missed you too, Hina-chan!" the dog loving ninja exclaimed as he bolted from the grass and smothered her in an all too encompassing hug. Laughter spewed from the supple lips as his hands move to tickle her sensitive spots.
"I…" she gasped in between her giggling fit, "n-never… said… I… m-missed you!"
"Fine fine," he scoffed, released her and crossed his arms, "then I didn't miss you either."
The last remnants of her mirth faded, her lungs returning to their normal, rhythmic breaths. Her slender fingers absently petted Akamaru who had rested his head on her stomach while a contented smile adorned her face.
"I miss this…" her voice came out in a low, yearning tone, "where's Shino?"
Kiba's strong arms moved behind his head while his eyelids drifted downward. "On mission," he supplied.
She rolled on her side, moving her mouth to the side of his head. "For whom?" she whispered.
"Who else?" His chin nodded towards the two combatants to indicate his answer. "He's with Lee."
She relaxed back onto the grass. There was no further need of inquisition, only Akai worked in pairs and those two had been partnered since that day three years ago.
Sasuke jumped off the ground to avoid the low kick swung by Naruto. He landed when the kick's follow-through was completed, and while Naruto was coming out of it, Sasuke stabbed his blade aimlessly towards the blonde. The katana was dodged easily with the simple movement of falling back. Then the blonde's legs were thrown up, locking Sasuke's arm while pulling him to the ground.
"Hey, what's got you all rattled?" Naruto commented, still containing the arm wielding a katana.
Their heads whipped to the side of the training ground where a brunette man was assaulting the Hyuuga, inducing strings of uncontrolled laughter. Naruto grinned knowingly, seeing his best friend narrow eyes of the pair.
"They're too loud," Sasuke stated disdainfully.
"And since when was noise a problem for you?" Naruto teased, his grin never leaving his face.
"Get off of me," the raven haired man demanded, entirely avoiding Naruto's insinuations.
His instructions were ignored as Naruto continued blissfully, "unless… you and Hinata are… friends?" He grinned vibrantly, "or maybe you're giving up on Nezumi?"
"Shut up, only Nezumi is worthy of the Uchiha name," he rebuked, jaws visibly tensed, "your Hyuuga friend is weak. Too scared of the ninja life that she gave it up, feeding some lame excuse about curing people."
The Hokage apprentice's grin pulled downward into a disapproving frown. "I beg to differ, teme. At the very least, get to know her a bit more before you make such harsh assumptions. I can assure you… Hinata is stronger than she appears."
Sasuke scowled and turned away from his friend's cerulean eyes, shifting his sight to the Hyuuga whispering into the brunette's ear. She was propped up on one elbow and it would've looked seductive if not for all her baggy clothes and his assumed lack of a figure.
"I think we're done." The blonde unlatched his legs and released Sasuke's arm, making sure to also reclaim the katana. "I'm kind of hungry, want to grab some ramen?"
There was a curt nod as Sasuke pulled himself up.
"Hinata!" the raspy voice called. She smiled in response and picked up the chakra restraints, preparing them to be reattached.
"I hear Shizune is working you pretty hard," Kiba commented mockingly as the two neared.
"Like a dog!" Naruto chuckled at the Inuzuka's eye roll. "So, what are you two up to?" he asked, motioning to the former members of Team 8.
"Just catching up," Kiba replied, his smile as bright and wide as Naruto's.
Sasuke grimaced at the brunette's cheery disposition while his hands were held out for the chakra restraints. Like always, his attention was drawn to the strong wrists being subjected to the odd sensations sent through his system by her soft, slender fingers. If it weren't for his natural inclination towards an indifferent expression, his face would betray the effect her fingers had on him.
"Are you done or still catching up?" Naruto inquired, his eyes shifting between the two, "because teme and I are headed for ramen."
"It's alright, w-we can catch up another time," Hinata interjected with a placid smile, "right, Kiba-kun?"
"Oh, but the adorable puppies!" he whined immaturely.
"Puppies?" A blonde eyebrow quirked upwards.
"Hai, Hana just delivered a litter of puppies last week, and Hinata always visits new pups."
"It's fine, I'll c-come by another time," she assured with a gentle hand on Kiba's shoulder, completely unaware of the onyx stare the act was garnering.
"No, by all means Hinata-chan," Naruto cried, "you've been stuck with teme for longer than is good for you health!"
Sasuke sent the cerulean eyed, grinning Hokage-to-be a menacing glare.
"I'll watch teme for the rest of the day! You go and have fun with Kiba!"
"A-are you sure?" she asked with uncertain eyes, still entirely missing the Uchiha's darkening disposition.
"Great!" Kiba shouted enthusiastically and his white ninken barked. Before Hinata could respond, Akamaru was already dragging her away by the sleeve and Kiba had his hands glued to her back, pushing her along.
He hated her. Absolutely loathed and despised her. She was the epitome of everything he was not looking for in a bride. Hyuuga Hinata irked him the wrong way on so many levels that it was near incomprehensible. He didn't know how many times he had mentally reiterated her various flaws, but it was irrelevant in the end because it never changed the disgust and repulse he felt for her. And now Naruto was observing some misguided relationship.
But at the same time, the last Uchiha was not dense. The bizarre feelings she elicited did not go unnoticed. It was partially why he detested her to the extent that he did. In his many encounters with women, not one had ever been gentle and tender like she had. In contrast, they were wild and feral, looking for the same thing he was looking for. Sasuke certainly didn't suspect his intentions for this woman were any different than for any other. It had been over a month… and she was always there the last two weeks, and she touched him in a soft, delicate manner that intrigued.
But beyond that, he didn't care for the woman. The feelings coursing through his body were purely instinctual… just lust. He wanted nothing else from her. Unfortunately, he couldn't act on those feelings. He had a bet going with the Hokage after all, and Nezumi was integral to the resurrection of the great and noble Uchiha clan.
They were greeted by the ramen stand's owner once they pushed the fabric flaps away. Taking stools in the middle, they both gave the man their orders and then fell into a silence that Sasuke expected would soon be broken by his loudmouth friend. And sure enough…
"So teme!" Naruto grinned from ear to ear. "Are you treating Hinata well?"
"Hn," he sounded impassively and sipped from the cup of green tea placed in front of him.
The blonde chuckled, "I'll take that as a 'yes,' at least for your own sake."
"What's that suppose to mean?" the Uchiha scoffed, his obsidian eyes narrowed menacingly.
Naruto turned and smirked uncharacteristically, like he knew something Sasuke did not. "It's just that you're the village traitor and if it came down to you hurting Hinata, physically or emotionally, I'm not the only one that will come to her side."
"You would betray your best friend, someone you consider a brother, for a weak Hyuuga girl?" Sasuke's deep toned came out amusedly and a smirked fought to take over his countenance. "Is it because everyone is worried she can't protect herself?" Sasuke was certain of it. Her submissive and tender personality served little to her. It no doubt could persuade many to aid her in the event she needed it. However, that meant she needed to rely on others and he absolutely despised it.
Another chuckle ripped out of Naruto's mouth as he shook his head. "No, it's because she is loved and respected by many of the strongest ninja, as well as some of the most influential villagers. You may be a brother to me, but you were the brother that betrayed me, nearly killed me. Hinata…" He paused to sort his words before speaking genuinely. "She is the sister who has always been on my side, even though I never realized it."
The Uchiha's mouth straightened into a thin line and his eyes shone with outward disinterest. The blonde's words neither affirmed or denied his assumptions, but he decided it was closer to affirmation and Hyuuga Hinata was the type to rely on gaining the love and devotion of others.
"She has a strong backing and I would suggest getting on her good side, especially if you hope to restore the Uchiha name as one of Konoha's most respected and noble clans," the blonde finished as their orders arrived. "Take it this way, if she approves of you, then the three quarters of the village that want you dead may just start to warm up to the Uchiha name again."
"Really?" Sasuke asked incredulous, his tone dry and sceptical, "and what makes her so special? The way I see it… I'd more likely notice if you stepped on a bug than if she vanished." He was becoming irritated. It appeared three quarters of the village was either after favour from the Hyuuga clan by treating her well, or they were foolish.
A blonde eyebrow rose up. "I'd tell you that was out of line, but I know you're just in denial," he ridiculed, but still managed to give Sasuke the benefit of the doubt.
Naruto sighed and picked up his chopsticks, slurping up a ball of noodles before he added, "there's more to Hyuuga Hinata than meets the eye."
Dark eyes glinted with amusement as his lips pulled into a derisive smirk. "She's not even a ninja," he retorted.
"But she's among one of the best doctors in Konoha," Naruto countered, though Sasuke could care less.
Sasuke twisted the noodles onto his chopsticks and transferred them to his mouth and chewed thoroughly before speaking, "and Nezumi. What do people think of her? If the Hyuuga is held in such high regard, then Nezumi would be even more respected."
The raven-haired man scowled as the Hokage-to-be slurped loudly and began speaking with a mouthful of food, "most people believe the stories of Akai to be rumours or made up stories to inspire children to become ninja. I doubt you'll find one person, outside those that work at the Hokage tower, who have encountered and gotten her name. So, no, there is no real consensus about her."
"But the Godaime Hokage knows who she is, correct?"
Naruto nodded while he slurped the noodles up. A mischievous smirked crept over Sasuke's lips as he lifted up his bowl to sip at the soup.
It was another typical day for Hinata, consisting of waking up, making breakfast, heading to meet Tsunade for their D-ranked mission, and then watching Sasuke complete that said mundane and menial mission. She didn't mind so much, it gave her time to study up on some of the latest medical techniques. Her shifts at the hospital had been cut in half because of her new duties, though she remained on call in case any emergencies arise.
Sasuke had just completed his eighth mission since returning to Konoha and his third week was winding down. Today's mission had Sasuke cleaning every inch of a house owned by a well respected family. It was the eldest daughter of the Fire countries former feudal lord. When the woman's father was lord, she had met and fallen in love with a Leaf nin and therefore moved into the hidden village and started her own family.
Hinata had found it amusing to watch the woman's young twin girls follow Sasuke around. Even at the tender age of seven, the twins had been quite adept at recognizing a handsome man when one happened to cross their path. Hinata had inwardly wondered what type of father Sasuke would be. But judging by the chosen method of dealing with the ogling girls, she decided the subject should be breached with whichever woman was brave enough to wed him.
"Excuse me! Hinata! Uchiha-san!" The pair turned around to lay eyes on a brunette woman speed walking towards them.
"Shizune," Hinata greeted, granting the Hokage assistant a pleasant smile, "is there something wrong?"
The woman stopped in front of them and shook her head alongside a dismissive wave. "no, not at all. Tsunade is… uh… not available to take your mission report right now so I will."
"Oh a-alright." Hinata turned her lavender eyes on Sasuke. He grunted and pulled the folded report out of his pant pocket.
"Great!" Shizune received the paper and added it to her clipboard. "Arigatou! I have to go catch up with the other teams coming in."
Hinata offered a small wave and the woman turned to leave, but a deep voice stopped her. "Where is the Hokage?"
A light chuckle escaped Shizune's lips as she answered, "she's at home sleeping off… her uh… workload."
The Hyuuga smiled knowingly. "Tell her, we hope she f-feels better."
"We?" Sasuke raised his brows.
"I hope she feels better," she corrected.
"I'll let her know." Shizune offered one last smile before heading down the hallway.
Hinata sighed and started walking in the same direction, intent on getting back to the Uchiha compound so she could rest. She managed two paces before she realized the lack of a presence sauntering after her. She frowned.
Down the hall, Sasuke was leaning into the Hokage's office, his ear pressed against the wooden door.
"Uchiha-san, w-what are you doing?" Hinata whispered while her head whipped around to catch any eyes witnessing his bad behaviour. "You're on p-probation…"
"Hn." He smirked and reached up to her hair, pulling a hairpin out while her hands swatted fruitlessly. The hairpin was then slotted into the keyhole and wiggled until there was an audible click.
Hinata's lavender eyes widened in horror. "N-no!" she squeaked and grabbed on to his elbow to prevent him from moving.
His head tilted downward to meet her reproachful gaze with a smug smirk. "If you're scared then don't come in."
Her eyes widened further if that was possible and then she was pulled along by his strong strides, her hand still gripped his elbow. Outside, she was biting her bottom lip, staying abnormally close to him, and trembling with anxiousness, but inwardly, she was running her options in a calculated manner. Hinata certainly didn't want Sasuke to get in trouble, what mattered most at this point was his motive for breaking into the Hokage's office.
"Wh-what are you looking for?" she quietly interrogated as he headed straight for the file cabinets.
He observed the locks on the file cabinets and then stomped over to Tsunade's desk, ransacking her drawers for the keys. "ANBU records" he answered.
"N-Nezumi… the one you and Naruto-kun are always talking about," she responded disbelievingly, "y-you broke into the Hokage's office to find out her identity?" Oh boy, she was starting to feel a little lightheaded.
"Hn." His eyes held a glimmer of triumph as a finger looped through a key chain and pulled the set of keys out. His smirk grew as Hinata pinched the bridge of her nose, but she didn't move to stop him from sheathing key after key into the keyhole until the cabinet unlocked. The top drawer was pulled open with ease before his fingers shifted through the papers, and then he move on to the next, and then the next, and then the last.
The sound of the last drawer being slammed shut caused Hinata to flinch slightly. She was still contemplating what to do, especially since she was particularly unmotivated to oppose him. There were no ANBU records kept here after all, and she knew that.
Sasuke then walked back to Tsunade's desk and sifted through the stacks of paper. His face was decorated by his signature scowl as he moved from one stack to another, coming up with absolutely nothing. Then something caught his attention, sitting inside the outgoing items box, atop the Hokage's desk, was an orange envelope. A red stamped and two signatures sat where it had been sealed. He flipped it over and read the destination print on the envelope, a room a few floors down. What caught his attention next was the ANBU swirl watermarked behind the room number. His scowl upturned into a smirk as his hand lifted the set of keys up, taking note of the same room number labelled on one of the keys.
"Let's go," he directed, grabbing Hinata by her sleeve and unsympathetically pulling her along.
"Wh-where?" She stumbled after him. He gave no answer.
Before entering the hallway, Sasuke checked to make sure no one was around to witness their break and enter, and when the halls were empty, he pushed the Hyuuga woman along at a brisk pace. They descended the stairs and down three floors.
Upon exiting the stairwell door, Sasuke had let go of Hinata and had told her the room he was looking for, his silent request that they visit that room without arising suspicion from the people working on this floor. Hinata had reluctantly agreed, choosing a more subtle method for dealing with the Uchiha because alerting anyone would cause a longer probation sentence and she didn't want that. She led him down the hallway while smiling polite greetings to anyone they passed along the way.
Eventually they reached a secluded corner; one that she never knew was built into the Hokage Tower's architecture. And from the looks of it, very few knew of its existence. The hall had grown sparse as they moved away from the main working segment of the building, no one to witness their transgressions.
"It says 'd-do not enter'," she warned, finger pointed at the sign, "this is a bad idea, we should go."
How she hadn't realized it earlier was beyond her. She had known Sasuke's objective was Nezumi's identity but what she never realized was that he'd actually figure out where all the sensitive ANBU records were stored. She groaned as he went to unlock the door.
"No, Uchiha-san!" She grabbed his arm with both of hers. "That's sensitive information."
"Don't come in if you don't want to," he stated with a smirk, inwardly wondering why she was putting up more of a fight.
The lock clicked to indicate that it had been successfully unlocked. Hinata moved on instinct, wedging herself between him and the door. Her normally soft eyes were stern and forceful.
"Move," he commanded.
"So be it." His hand came up and latched onto the area above her shoulder. With a firm squeeze, her eyes rolled back and the lids came down to drape her eyes. Her legs gave way and he caught her in his strong arms. Shuffling over to the side of the door, Sasuke gently placed her on the floor, adjusting her position so her knees were up and her head was rested on her kneecaps, giving the impression that she was resting. His hands tingled as he spoke, he hadn't expected to feel such toned and firmed muscles underneath all that oversized clothing, "I may not have use of chakra but I still have my knowledge of basic pressure points."
He took one last glance at her before getting up and stepping over the threshold as he swung the door open. It shut afterward with little sound, so noiselessly that the quiet whisper of 'Byakugan' floated through the air.
Hinata watched as Sasuke's head shifted to take in the room's entirety. She sighed and stretched out from the position he had put her in. "What now?" she mused out loud, a cute purse of her lips. She certainly didn't want to fight Sasuke, chakra or no chakra, so her hands formed a seal, and then another… then she stopped to reconsider her predicament, remembering Ino's words. Ishindenshin should not be used for trivial matters! Knowing that Ino would consider this a trivial matter, Hinata sighed and stood up. With one last glance of Sasuke starting on the first cabinet, he'll be in there for awhile, she began her walk down the hall in search of the Uchiha's best friend and the only person that could get Sasuke out of this mess unscathed.
"Ishindenshin would be so much easier…" she whined under her breath.