Disclaimer: I Do Not Own Naruto

From this point on there are no more flashbacks

Chapter 11

Melting Point

Hinata kicked pebbles around, the front of her sandal scuffing from the roughness. She shifted her weight up and away from the fence she was leaning on. She felt ridiculous waiting for someone who didn't even know she was there. Walking up the dirt road she saw someone coming towards her. Noting it was Sakura waving at her she obliged by meeting her halfway. "I haven't seen you around these parts." Sakura giggled. "It's been such a long time. How do you feel being home, finally?"

Hinata felt her stomach drop. She was never really on good terms with Sakura. Hinata knew, Sakura and Sasuke had a history together, and whenever she was brought up Sasuke would completely dismiss the subject. As if that part of his life never existed. Hinata wondered now, if it was a sore spot for him. She looked down sadly, not ready yet to even reminisce. "It feels –" Hinata had no words. She was irritable and really didn't feel like talking. "It's nice." She finally forced out. Sighing, she realized Gaara had already filled her daily dose of conversing.

"That's great," Sakura enthused, "Well," she continued. Sakura always looked ready to go. She just seemed to have that type of personality. "The Hokage would like to speak with you. She asked me to come get you. I was surprised to hear you were back. Supposedly, you returned a couple weeks ago. No one told me about it. And you'd think I'd see you around the village." Sakura explained sadly.

Hinata was relieved to hear Sakura's ignorance. She didn't want to be pitied, especially from someone in his group. Walking deeper into the village, she pushed the subject of Sasuke to the back of her mind. She was doing so well avoiding it.

Entering the Kage tower Hinata was reminded of Gaara's meeting. She wondered if he were still here. "I'll go ahead and tell her you're here. So just stay put." Sakura smiled, "Oh, yeah, and welcome home!"

Hinata did exactly that, looking around absently. She waited a rather long time before she finally heard someone making their way down the steps. Fixing her jacket, she expected to see Sakura.

She felt her breath leave her, and before she could even turn away from him, she had tears flowing from her eyes. She wanted to run back home and hide in her room, but she was summoned by the Hokage, and it would be the biggest disrespect if she turned away from the village leader. Caught between a rock and a hard place her mind froze. She didn't want to be weak, not in front of him.

The stress caught up to her, and she became pale. Her eyes closed as she saw a blur of Naruto's orange jumpsuit, and Sasuke's black shirt.

"She'll be fine." Tsunade guaranteed, hands pushing people away. "Give her some space. I'm sure Hinata would be embarrassed to see all of you hovering so intently." Tsunade looked at Sasuke specifically. She was well aware of the situation, though it didn't stop her from being the slightest bit confused. Shifting her attention, "Excuse me Kazekage-sama," Tsunade whispered. Gaara's eyes latched onto Tsunade's pleading gaze. Gaara knew immediately and took his leave. He would not interrupt, but he made sure she knew he wasn't one to wait. "Tonight," he gestured, and Tsunade nodded slowly in agreement.

Hinata's eyes opened reluctantly. She wasn't positive about her placement and was confused upon hearing Sasuke's concerned voice. "Are you alright?"

"N-No," she moaned, pressing her fingers onto the back of her head. She winced when she hit a tender area. She sat up, feeling the wooden bench support her. She took notice of the hour, seeing the sun's descent.

Hearing Sasuke shuffle, she felt him tug her hand away from her head.

He placed a baggie filled with crushed ice onto her temple and knew by her expression, how pleased she was. "Thank you," she whispered. She looked up at him, the corridor too dark for her to see him clearly.

He looked away, tension working its way into his system like a poison.

"I'm sorry." He said suddenly. He handed her the bag, and stood. Hinata watched as he turned to leave, but stopped. "I haven't been so good lately." He confessed. Sinking into silence again, she attempted to push the conversation. "Me - me either," she mentioned, her voice shaky. She adjusted the bag in her hands, the ice numbing.

He came to sit next to her, a sigh escaping him. "I went to see you – a month or so ago."

Hinata looked at him from the corner of her eye. Questions she couldn't voice slipping from her mind.

"I saw you." He stated, almost questioning himself. He was wary, but guilt was pushing him through.

Pausing for a moment, he carefully selected each word, "It was pathetic… how effected I was when you left." His voice echoed in the swallowing silence. It was just the two of them. "So when I saw you, it was different."

Hinata felt hallow, she was being filled up with Sasuke's thoughts, a rarity even at their best moments.

"I needed you. I needed you to be here – with me. But when I saw you, I knew…" He paused, discomfort gnawing at his insides. He would actually say it, "…that you didn't need me. At least… not as much as I needed you." And it was as simple as that.

And he was right.

They sat together for awhile longer, his arm encircling her small frame, as she leaned on his shoulder. They watched the sun disappear behind the wall of mountains from the window at the end of the hall. Shrouded in darkness and the comfort of silence, Sasuke stood to leave. Conveniently, the hallway lights flickered on, illuminating his inevitable departure. He and Naruto would be going on a long term mission, at his request.

Sitting there alone, Hinata stared at the melted bag of ice.

The next chapter is the last, so review!