A/N: Merry Christmas everyone and happy reading to you all!
"Are these flowers…for me?" Hinata asked with slightly wide eyes. She was clearly trying to hide her shock, but instead failed miserably to do so.
"It's a gift…for…helping me that day…" the Uchiha muttered almost to himself, not at all pleased that he'd chosen to give them to her in person. He could've taken the easy way out by sticking a thank you card in the bundle and having it delivered by the flower shop, but he didn't. Even he had manners, and knew that the proper way to thank someone was by doing so in person.
"O-Oh, I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you just now. What did you say?"
Sasuke sighed, letting through a hint of impatience. "Look, do you want the flowers or not? Cause if you don't, then I'll just burn them to a crisp right here." That last part had been a rather lame attempt at humor in his case, but he was also just as serious.
"N-No! Don't d-d-d-do that! I'll keep them! I-I will!" she stammered, looking quite defensive, if not a bit frightened.
He rolled his eyes. "It was a joke." Sort of.
A soft giggle escaped her lips, causing the Uchiha to redirect his gaze towards her. "Why are you laughing?" he questioned, raising an eyebrow.
Her head was lowered, but she raised her eyes a bit to meet his. Her silver orbs were gleaming and looked strangely appealing to him in that instant. "It's just that…I never took Sasuke-kun as the joking type," she smiled shyly. "You were always so serious, even when we were children." The smile on her face then widened as her cheeks grew red. "It's kind of…cute."
He froze upon hearing such a word, not quite sure of what to make of it. It didn't upset him as much as he thought it would've. The word just didn't fit him. If anyone was cute, then the Hyuuga was definitely-
He mentally pummeled himself for almost finishing that thought. He had no idea as to what it was that he was thinking, but he was also less than pleased with himself. Was the world coming to an end, or was he just losing it?
The mouse-of-a-girl seemed to notice the turmoil going through his mind as she peered at him from beneath her straight-cut bangs. "Um…is something wrong?" she asked, blinking questionably.
Sasuke could only hold his breath in response before suddenly turning away, fearful of how fast his heart was beating for reasons he couldn't fully comprehend.
"I'll…be going now," he muttered, while keeping his back to her as he headed for his apartment.
Those eyes of hers, and the way her full lips curved into such a gentle smile. Groaning, Sasuke shook his head, disappointed with how weak he seemed to be feeling these days.
'What a dangerous girl...'
This made him pause. 'What the-I'm not her brother!'
"Stop saying that! I'm not your-!"
"Oniichan!" came the sudden voice.
Sasuke blinked, a bit startled to find Hinata giving him a slightly impatient look from above as she stared down at him. "Oniichan, how long do you plan on sleeping today?"
Puzzled, the Uchiha couldn't help but question it himself. How long was I sleeping?
"It's already evening!" she pouted. "Why are you so sleepy all the time?"
Sasuke raked a hand through his dark locks before rubbing gently at his eyes. "Not sure…" he mumbled, forcing himself to sit upright on the couch. He yawned a bit before facing the Hyuuga with dull eyes while trying to keep them open as well. "What is it?" She usually didn't wake him up unless she really needed something. "Do you want to take another bath together after all?"
He watched in silent amusement as her pale cheeks grew red with embarrassment. "N-No!" her pitch was higher than usual, making it even more difficult for the Uchiha to keep his composure. "Oniichan, please stop t-teasing me. I d-don't like it when you're mean like this," she said quietly, while twiddling her forefingers.
Sasuke had to hide behind a hand in order to regain his composure. "Alright, alright, what is it that you need?" he asked, now fully awake.
He followed as the young girl led him into the bathroom. She pointed at the tub. "The water won't come out."
Dropping to his knees beside the tub, Sasuke turned the knob, waiting for the water to rush forward. Five minutes of waiting, however, indicated that nothing would be coming out anytime soon. All that revealed itself was a clear droplet, hanging from the spout.
"Looks like the water's been cut off," he stated as he stood up. Stupid water bill…I knew I was forgetting something, he thought to himself. He was usually diligent when it came to things like that, but watching over the young heiress lately required more work and attention on his part, leaving little attention to anything else.
He sighed, face-palming himself. This isn't good. I need to a hold of myself…He secretly stole a glance in her direction, taking notice of how flustered she seemed.
"D-Does this mean that I can't take a bath?" she asked. From the look on her face, she seemed to be upset about this, much to his surprise. Had she also forgotten the alternative of taking a bath elsewhere?
"Oniichan, w-what should we do?" Her eyes were shimmering, giving him the impression that she was about to cry. A part of him strangely enjoyed the expression on her face, while the other part wanted to beat his perverted half senseless.
Sasuke could feel a big headache coming on. This girl is seriously not good for my health. Picking up the wooden basin from its place beside the tub, the Uchiha grabbed the necessary supplies needed for proper bathing, placing them into the basin. Once finished, he headed for the door, but didn't step out completely when he realized that Hinata hadn't followed him. He turned his head, eyeing her from over his shoulder. "C'mon, let's go."
She blinked, understandably confused. "Where are we going?"
"To the bath house," he answered. "Didn't you want to take a bath?"
Her eyes lit up upon hearing the word as she eagerly nodded her head. "W-Wait for me, I'll get my stuff too!"
Sasuke watched in amusement as the Hyuuga scrambled around for items to place into her own wooden basin.
After dumping a bucket of hot water over himself, Kiba shook off the excess water before turning to his teammate beside him. The two, were as usual, stuck like glue and had decided to make a visit to the bath house that evening. "Oi, Shino."
The pale-skinned Aburame was seated on a wooden stool, scrubbing the parts of his body that were easy to reach with a washcloth and a bar of soap. "What is it?"
Kiba slicked back the wet hair that had been matted to his forehead, and glared at his close friend. "You never told me why we shouldn't have seen Hinata the day we were supposed to," he frowned, a single fang visible. His tone became suspicious. "You're not hiding something from me, are you?"
Shino visibly halted at this, calmly reaching for the shower head as he rinsed off the soap from his body. "…No." The very sight of the two at the time had broken his heart. He figured the least he could do was to keep the same thing from happening to his teammate.
"Ah, I saw that! You froze for a second just now, didn't you?"
Standing up, Shino walked slowly over to the bathing area, careful to not slip on the wet floor. Climbing into the unoccupied bath, he submerged himself completely, allowing only his floating locks to be seen.
"And now you're obviously ignoring me!" Kiba cried out in frustration. An older man scrubbing his body was three seats down, scrubbing himself clean while glaring at the younger boy to keep it down.
Kiba lowered his voice. "Oi, Shino! I know you can hear me, you jerk!" he hissed.
"Eh? The bathhouse?" questioned a wide-eyed Sakura. "You mean…you actually want me to go with you, Sasuke-kun?" the girl was literally beaming with joy, much to Sasuke's annoyance.
"I just need you to help this girl right here," he sighed, placing a hand on the Hyuuga's head. It was better to explain the situation now then have his former teammate misunderstand his request.
"Oh, that's it?" she seemed genuinely disappointed now, much to his relief. "Well, that's fine too, I suppose," she smiled, having regained her energy. "I don't mind helping, but to think that she actually forgot what a bath house was…" The kunoichi leaned down to peer into the younger girl's face, knitting her eyebrows together as she studied the younger girl curiously. "It's rather strange if you ask me, considering the fact that you occasionally loved to bathe here."
"I-I did?" she looked more surprised than necessary. It was just a bath house after all.
"You did," Sakura grinned. "And you probably don't remember, but whenever you came here, a few of the village boys would come by to sneak a peek and-"
That gained the Uchiha's full attention. Had he heard the kunoichi wrong, or had she actually said what he thought she'd said?
"Eh? Th-They did?" The Hyuuga blushed, her face taking on a shade as red as a tomato.
"Well, of course!" Sakura laughed, obviously pleased with the younger girl's reaction. "A pretty girl like you-it's no wonder the boys couldn't leave you alo-"
"Enough!" His voice came out clear and sharp. He glared at Sakura, as if indicating for her to not speak of the topic any further. This gave cause for the kunoichi to freeze, her lips shut tight. And beside her, he couldn't help but notice the slight look of fear on Hinata's face as well as she remained close by Sakura's side.
It pained him somewhat to see her fear him as she did now. He immediately turned, and with his back to them, he muttered "I'll go in first…" before heading inside.
"Why are you so mad?"
Those words of hers had echoed throughout his mind for the remainder of the day, up until the next morning, which was today. And as usual, Naruto passed his morning with a daily helping of a bowl of ramen. Today's flavor was spicy chicken with a topping of fishcakes. The broth was flavorful and piping hot, while the noodles were soft and thick, with a gummy-like consistency. The blond knew that he couldn't have asked for anything more, and yet, despite the oversized bowl before him, all he could find himself thinking about was the hot-tempered kunoichi he'd known for years.
He slurped a mouthful and chewed, with thoughts of the pink-haired beauty on his mind.
It was obvious to everyone, even him, that she seemed to only have eyes for Sasuke, no matter how much the Uchiha tried to dodge her advances.
He certainly cared for his teammate, but the fact that the jerk was unwilling to give her any sort of a chance was beyond frustrating, because not only did this anger him, it also made him jealous. A true friend would have probably given up on the girl and allowed his friend to be with her instead, but if said friend had absolutely no interest in her while she continued to chase him, then did he not have the right to feel as he did towards the both of them?
Though he did not want to admit it, an ugly part of himself was envious of Sasuke, jealous of how easily the Uchiha drew her attention without even trying.
And as for the other part, well, all he could feel was anger towards Sakura, his frustration at its peak as he tiredly watched his only love pursue his best friend.
Naruto lowered his chopsticks, disgusted with the twisted feelings deep inside of his heart, and yet, he couldn't help it, because when it came to Sakura…
"Sakura-chan…" the sound of her name on his lips felt so familiar, yet felt foreign at the same time. Though it had only been yesterday, it felt as though he hadn't seen her in days. His mood only worsened with each passing second as he recalled how harshly he'd spoken to her yesterday. The look on her face had certainly been priceless, but that alone hadn't been worth the thought of her possibly coming to hate him.
His heartbeat was frantic as he stood from the table, his head turning left and right between the filth that was his apartment home as he searched for clean clothes to go out in. He knew he was a fool. He was very well aware that most of his friends thought him a fool as well, for being able to submit so easily to one young woman out of hundreds within the village without a second thought. He knew, but didn't care.
Nothing frightened him more than the thought of the pink-haired kunoichi coming to hate him. He had to apologize to her. His pride could have waited forever for all he cared.
Wait for me, Sakura-chan!
The women's bath was mostly empty, aside from the two older women chatting busily amongst themselves. Sakura led the younger girl with her over to one of the open stools on the right side of the baths and had her seated.
"All right, now, remove your towel so that I can wash your back for you. After that, you'll scrub your arms and legs by yourself, okay?"
The Hyuuga nodded, and proceeded to slowly strip herself of the white towel wrapped around her fairly generous and young form. Sakura found it difficult to keep from ogling the girl with envious eyes while continuously glancing down at her own lacking of assets in disappointment.
While scrubbing the other girl's back, Sakura became lost in thought as she recalled the Uchiha's sudden outburst at her comment. He was usually composed and very rarely voiced his anger, but the look on his face had said it all. In the years they'd known each other, Sasuke had surprisingly become quite transparent.
She pushed her lips out into a full-on pout. He obviously got mad because of what I said about Hinata…The thought of it began to make her feel depressed as she recalled Naruto's anger from yesterday as well.
She hung her head and sighed, earning her a well-confused stare from the Hyuuga. "Are you okay, Sakura nee-chan? I-If you're tired, I can scrub your back for you instead if y-you'd like," she suggested.
The kunoichi smiled and shook her head sadly, feeling not quite as sad at Hinata's attempt to cheer her up. "No, it's nothing…" That was anything but true, of course, though to voice her worries to a younger girl seemed somewhat pointless, not to mention pathetic on Sakura's part.
Dumping a bucket of warm water over herself, Sakura heaved a sigh as heavy as her heart felt at that very moment. And to think that she could do nothing but upset her teammates infuriated her to no end.
I really am stupid.
The old man sitting three seats away from him watched nervously as an angry Uchiha scrubbed vigorously at his pale and muscular arms, unaware of the strength he was putting into said scrubbing as he thought back to his outburst half-an hour ago.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID!
He flung his washcloth aside, taking no notice to the fact that it had slapped the old man three seats from him, in the face. With a sigh, Sasuke hung his head low as he continued to recall the frightened look on the Hyuuga's face…
"And you probably don't remember, but whenever you came here, a few of the village boys would come by to sneak a peek and…"
Just thinking about it made his blood boil with rage. Ah, damn it! Why did she have to go and say all of that?
Standing up, the Uchiha promptly ignored the old man shakily reaching out to hand him back his washcloth, and instead headed towards the steaming hot baths to take a long and much needed soak.
Due to the amount of steam, though, he was surprised to see that he hadn't noticed someone was in it already. And from the looks of it, the person seemed to be a woman. Her long hair was gathered to one side and slick with water as it glistened beneath the bright lighting from above.
Sasuke was just about ready to step out in case she tried anything, but the second his foot was out of the water, a strong hand suddenly placed itself on his shoulder and a familiar voice passed through his ears.
"What are you doing here?" asked Hyuuga Neji, his eyes eerily similar to that of Hinata's, only sharper and colder.
The Uchiha wanted to bang his head against the tiled walls of the bathhouse until he was unconscious, or better yet, dead. Because of all the people to meet in such a place, why, why, WHY did it have to be him?
A/N: I'm back! Tadaaaaa! Reason for my absence? School of course, but the semester is over for now and I'm finally free! Think of this chapter as a Christmas present for everyone, or anyone still reading this story. :P Next chapter will be up…soon? But in the meantime, there's a oneshot I've been working on, so if anyone's interested, do let me know. I've been eager to put it up while finishing Sasuke Oniichan at the same time. Thanks for reading~!