She sighed as she shifted in her perch. The tree she sat it gave an excellent view of her charges as well as the surrounding area. Hinata had been surprised when she discovered the tall tree in the middle of the devastated district but did not question it. Stranger things that trees surviving battles had happened in her life.

Hinata thought she was a fairly observant person. She could recognize the subtle tells of a person bluffing or lying. She would affirm if a person was telling the truth. Hinata knew when people were passionate about a subject or faking interest. She recognized the overtures of her fellow shinobi teams when they interacted.

She knew that Team 10's bickering was actually them checking on each other and making sure everything was running smoothly. Ino told Hinata of a mission that they acted like they didn't have a care and argued loudly within their target. Their quarry was surprised when he suddenly couldn't control his body. Ino had shuddered as she retold the story to Hinata and how dirty that man's mind had been. The young woman then had whispered to her friend of how he thought Ino was in a relationship with her two teammates. Hinata giggled quietly to herself as she remembered how they had busted out laughing at the thought of such things while at the same time Hinata filed it away. She became more aware after that of how she interacted with her team and made sure nothing in their manner implied such things.

Team 7's, antics were bright and dark at the same time. Sakura and Naruto had surrounded Sasuke's darkness and they had evened each other out. They were all seeking acceptance from each other, especially Naruto. Hinata winced as she thought about the old days and the awful things adults said knowing Naruto was in hearing distance. The team dimmed after the departure of Sasuke and somehow it became brighter when Sai became part of the team. The team became louder and animated as Naruto and Sakura dealt with Sai's odd habits and nicknames. Hinata sighed and looked over at her charges hammering away at a two by four and continued her train of thought.

Her cousin's team was constantly trying to find balance. Guy and Lee were a force unto themselves while Ten Ten and Neji kept them grounded. For the most part. Ten Ten was the calming force while her cousin helped stop the exuberance that flowed from their sensei and teammate. She also saw the interactions of Neji and Ten Ten. She knew they were together but they were never overt in their affection in public. It was always small touches.

Her own team was built on mentality of the hive and the pack. Strength in group and community. Both Shino and Kiba had respected their sensei along with treating Hinata both as a teammate and as a female at the same time. Shino understood the role of the Queen within the hive while Kiba had his mother and sister to show him female shinobi were nothing to scoff at. They worked on helping her with her struggles while at the same time improving themselves.

Now Team Hawk… They were a mismatched group that tied themselves together because of Sasuke. They looked out for each other while at the same time tossed insults at each other like they couldn't wait to kill each other. The insults seemed to die down lately. Hinata huffed quietly as she readjusted herself in her tree. That could because they are exhausted after working all day. But she saw way they cared about one another. They were afraid to show they were united. If they did that meant they cared then that implied they would actually go out on a limb for each other. No, Team Hawk wanted to present themselves as mercenaries so that nobody would try such maneuvers on them.

They all showed their affections for each other in odd ways and plain ones at that and Hinata thought she had understood all the ways someone could show interest or flirt.

The thing was however, Hinata, now knew after today that she had taken herself out of the equation. She didn't realize people were interested in her like that. She was sexless in her mind, all but to Naruto, and hadn't noticed that men watched her and showed their interest with their eyes.

She was torn between stabbing Sasuke with her kunai or thanking him. She rubbed the bridge of her nose, a gesture she was picking up from Neji, as she realized all of the comments that she had put out of her mind because she believed her teammates has viewed wrong or comments from her female friends. People had noticed she was a woman. She quietly mussed that it may have been because Sakura had to remove her outer jacket to heal her after her run in with Pein. She sighed again and checked on the two finishing up one of the buildings they had started.

She could blame it on her family. Hyuuga did not care if you were young, old, male or female. All that mattered was the clan and if one could contribute to it. She, until lately, had been accepted back into the fold after proving herself when she became a chunnin. But in all reality, she had herself to blame because she believed herself unworthy of such attention and now apparently she had it in spades.

Kami. She could see Sasuke's smirk now as she threw out a number tonight and the confused looks of the rest of the squad. Karin would catch on first then Jugo and Suigetsu would catch on together. A mild explosion may happen, she mused. I wonder if Suigetsu will keep up his flirting and if that counts towards the daily count. Suppose it does.

Hinata sighed and shifted again and looked at her charges continue to hammer away at the structure going up. In one month they had completed one building and now were moving onto a second one. These were businesses and had to be sturdy. Tazuna wouldn't allow it any other way. Hinata squinted up at the sun. It was almost noon. They would break soon and eat lunch with the rest of the workers.

She picked a leaf and shredded it as she thought about joining them for lunch as always. I wonder if the conversation will be different since I chose to come on my day off? Oh dear… They saw me in a dress.

Sasuke smirked as he took a bite out of his sandwich as he watched Hinata twitch every so often. Usually when a worker would look her way.

She was already noticing the attention she garnered. Of course, they saw her in a dress so they were trying to guess why she dressed the way she did and why she covered herself up. They were civilians for the most part so they didn't understand the function of the Hyuugas wear but then again she was wearing a long jacket in the beginning heat of summer. His brow furrowed. It wasn't even a light jacket. Didn't she have a light one? Or have a summer outfit? Surely as an heiress of a clan she would have something more breathable. He quietly grumbled into his sandwich as he realized he was worrying about things that shouldn't be any of his business. He shook his head as he noticed Hinata twitch more violently.

"Hyuuga." Her eyes zeroed on him. "Are you getting shocked or have you devolved a new tick?"

Hinata drew herself up and glared at him like he was the scum of the earth as he held back a smirk. "Neither. I just have noticed you guys have more people looking at the table than normal. I'm worried they'll actually recognize you or start rumors."

" Really? They're looking at us?" Suigetsu looked over Hinata's shoulder while Inari, who had been telling Suigetsu about the Land of Waves, twisted to look as well.

"I think they are looking at you Hinata," Tazuna stated as he ate his rice. Hinata turned pink while Suigetsu grinned at the Hyuuga Heiress.

"Got yourself some admirers from coming in here yesterday in a dress. Careful not to encourage them, I don't want to ruin my shot here in Konoha defending your honor."

Sasuke rolled his eyes and slapped his teammate upside the head. "She's our guard. If anything, ANBU will step in so she can make a get away with us." Suigetsu rubbed his head and shot a look at his attacker.

"But you were really pretty yesterday Hinata!" Inari piped up and blushed as his grandfather chuckled.

"Why thank you Inari. I appreciate the complement." Hinata shot a look at Sasuke who didn't make any indication that he saw her look. Might as well count it. She smiled at the young man who smiled back.

"If you are so worried Hyuuga you could use your eyes to see behind you," Sasuke suggested.

She looked at him slightly alarmed. "There's no need to use my family's Kekkai Genkai. And wouldn't that alarm the ANBU that are watching us that I am using chakra." He shrugged. Hinata sighed. "Fine." She looked over at Inari and Tazuna. "Don't be alarmed. I am going to use my Byakugan to check out the room around us." Inari looked interested while Tazuna waved on.

Hinata flew through the seals and quietly activated her Byakugan. Veins bulged around her eyes, as she swept the area to see who was looking at them and making note who they were while at the same time who they were looking at. Inari stared at the veins that stretched out from her eyes. He started to reach out but stopped himself. Hinata motioned him over and he scooted closer.

"You can touch. Just don't poke too hard," she told him. Hinata angled herself more toward Inari while she continued to look while Inari ran his hand across the protruding veins. She noticed more people were beginning to look this way. One of the workers nudged his buddy and motioned over at her. They both seemed more interested in her than the others at her table along with others who had been looking her way.

Great. She grumbled to herself. Now people notice me and it's for the last thing I want them to. My family's abilities. She turned her attention back to Inari who had stopped following her veins.

"That's really cool! Does it hurt to use?" Hinata shook her head.

"Just can get dizzying sometimes if I'm not focused when I activate it," she answered. She looked at the clock on that hung on a pole in the lunch tent. "You guys better get to finishing your lunch. It's about time to head back out."

Hinata swung her legs over the bench and grabbed her plate to head to trash bins. She heard movement behind her and wasn't surprised to see that it was Sasuke that following her.

She and her dark companion reached the trash can and disposed of their trash. She looked over at the Uchiha who was smirking at her.

"What?"

"Nothing," he replied still smirking and she huffed before heading towards the exit not caring if he followed or went back to the lunch table. He followed. "Though, do you have a number?"

"Eight." She shot at him and crossed her arms as they stood outside the tent. Hinata making sure Sasuke wasn't visible to the public.

"Hn. Was that a guess?"

"No. That even includes Inari's comment."

"Good. Keep it up."

She gapped at him and he continued to smirk at her until the rest of the group joined them to head back.

He might have even smirked through the rest of the work day.

.*.*.

"Kakashi Hatake was your sensei right Sasuke?"

"Yes. Why do you ask? Get asked a perverted question by him?"

"I thought it was Naruto's sensei that was the perverted one."

"There are more than one pervert that taught the dope and even more in Konoha, Hyuuga. In fact Suigetsu adds one more to the count."

"Hey!"

"So why hasn't he come by and visited?"

"His prerogative, not mine. Again, why ask me these questions."

"He was in the hospital again today for chakra exhaustion. Sakura hit him upside the head and claimed he was bad as Naruto, who, by the way, is hanging out with the 8-tails to learn how to control the 9 tails better."

"Kami help us."

"Anyway, he asked me how you were doing since I live with you-"

"That makes it sound like Sasuke had a choice in the matter."

"Shove it fish-boy. Your old sensei asked how you were and I told him he could ask you his self. Which then made him ask when would be the best time to do that."

"Point Karin?"

"We are going to a visitor tonight?"

.*.*.

The fact that it was the red head Karin that answered the door instead of Hinata let Kakashi breathe a little easier. He worried for a moment that she would forget about the conversation they had and that him showing up unexpectedly might have ended badly for him.

"Yo!" He greeted as Karin smiled at him and let him into the house which housed his former student and his team. Their guard was seated in a chair and appeared to meditating. She opened one of her eyes and nodded at him before settling back into it.

The rest of the furniture were occupied by the three young men who it looked like had been having a discussion of some sort before he walked up. The pale one nodded at him while the one with hair as bright as Naruto's old jump suit greeted him which brought him to Sasuke.

His former student stood and crossed his arms in front of him with a serious face. "Ask what you want then get out."

"Now now Sasuke. This is the first time we've seen other in how long? I thought we could sit down and have nice conversation and catch up." His former student rolled his eyes grumbled under his breath while Kakashi beamed at him.

"Fine. Take a seat." He gestured towards the various furniture. "It's not much, but then again I suppose I should be happy I'm not rotting in an ANBU interrogation cell."

The pale one snorted, "It was better than a few of the rooms back with that snake bastard."

"That is true. I would say this is much better than the conditions in both places," the orange haired one spoke.

Kakashi took an arm chair and sat down while Sasuke took up his former spot and Karin looked to go back to what seemed to be the kitchen. It was silent after the twos comments.

"I think it would be polite to introduce your teammates to Kakashi, Sasuke."

"I was getting to that Hyuuga. Go back to mediating or whatever the hell you do." Sasuke snapped at his guard. Kakashi saw Hinata flick a chopstick at him which struck the Uchiha upside the head.

"As long as you are a gracious host, I will."

Sasuke glared at the Hyuuga before turning back to him. "Kakashi. These two here are Suigetsu," Sasuke pointed at the pale one, "and Jugo." The orange haired on nodded. "This is my former sensei, Kakashi Hatake. Never believe his excuses to being late. Ever."

"Now Sasuke. That's mean." Kakashi stated while settling back into his chair. Karin walked back into the room and placed a plate of goodies on the table and took the chair next to Hinata. Interesting.

"The truth hurts," was the waspish answer. "We were even late the chunnin exam finals. We were lucky that my match wasn't forfeited."

"That's what Kiba said." All of the shinobi looked at Hinata who had opened her eyes. "I was still weak after fighting my cousin in the pre-lims. I fainted during the match between Naruto and Neji. You were absent then Sasuke."

"Naruto mentioned you. Said you almost died during that fight." Sasuke thought back to that long ago chunnin exam.

"Wait. The guy that threatened me in Iron Country almost killed you?" Suigetsu spoke up.

"He actually succeeded. My heart stopped for a minute or two," Hinata commented as if discussing the weather.

"WHAT." Hinata jumped at the volume of Suigetsu's and Karin's combined voices.

"I didn't blame him. I still don't. In the end, the experience helped him and the fight between him and Naruto ended up starting to mend the rift between Neji and my father."

"But still! He killed you!"

"Old history and wounds from a family matter that were misunderstood led to that. Neji still apologizes for his actions." She tone indicated end of discussion. "I believe Kakashi wanted to catch up with Sasuke. I will stop interjecting. I am sorry Kakashi."

Kakashi had during the discussion leaned on his elbows on his knees. Tsunade was right. There was some weird dynamic here between the four and their guard. After the first time he had visited the Hokage after Sakura's refusal to introduce him to Karin, she had filled him on her actions while at the same time looking very pleased.

He could see why. Who would have guessed little Hinata Hyuuga would be the one guarding Sasuke Uchiha? Apparently almost dying during the fight with Pein had instilled the Hyuuga with something. But in the meantime…

"Oh no! It's quite alright. I just came here to inform you that the Hokage has thought over your request and that if you four continue to do what you are doing without incident, she will allow you to train."

Hinata's eyes widened slightly before nodding, "Just how much longer will they need to wait?"

"Could be four week or four months. Who knows. I was just to tell you to behave and that eventually you'll be rewarded."

"You stole that from a fortune cookie. What did the broad say? Really?" Karin gave Sasuke annoyed look at the way he addressed the woman who was a legend in her own right next to the Snake Sannin.

"Who cares! We'll get to train again! I can't wait!"

"Blood thirsty fish," Karin intoned without any heat.

"I honestly didn't expect you to act this well behaved Sasuke."

"When you're threatened with blindness you have a tendency to do what your captor asks," Sasuke commented dryly. "Plus I was done being a pawn. I saw a way out. If I have to be under suspension for the rest of my life so I can live my life, I'll do it."

"Who threatened-" Suigetsu smirked and pointed with his thumb over his shoulder towards Hinata who had returned to her meditative state. "Ah."

"It was a very tense time. The Raikage was going to kill us though we didn't kill the Eight-Tails." Karin stated calmly. "Or something unpleasant."

"Uh-Huh. So that's what went down inside the cave. I saw the Kages approach but when I didn't see Danzo," Sasuke glared at the name, "with them I took off to see why he would not when obviously this was something he would want to see through."

"How did that bastard even get chosen?" Sasuke growled.

"I believe it is called intimidation." Sasuke snorted. "But then Tsunade awoke from her coma so all was right and she had his status revoked. I believe he's being held somewhere."

"Interesting."

"Yes Something about-"

"Kakashi, I believe you are revealing too much," Hinata interrupted. "If you have nothing else to talk about besides other criminals I think you should leave."

"Ah, come on Hinata! I want to see Sasuke blow a gasket." Sasuke's eye twitched.

"I don't. I would have to clean it up." She replied to Suigetsu's comment as she glided to the door and opened it. "Good bye Kakashi. Visiting hour is over."

Kakashi stood and cheerfully waved good bye to Sasuke and the rest of the household before walking to the exit and whispered to Hinata, "Expect something from the Hokage in the next week or so. It deals the previous topic." Hinata nodded minutely.

"Thank you for coming by Kakashi. Maybe you can come by another time? "

"That is a high possibility! Goodbye!" Kakashi waved again and Hinata locked the door behind him and turned to face the various expressions on Team Taka's face.

"It's time for you all to get ready for bed." She stated flatly. "It's been a long day and tomorrow is going to be even longer. No arguing."

Sugietsu pouted but it was ruined by the grin that surfaced. "But Hinata! We haven't even told Karin and Jugo about your reception today at lunch!" Hinata pinked while Jugo and Karin looked at between the two.

"There's nothing to tell. People were just looking our way more than usual."

"You mean looking at you. Comin' to see us at lunch in a dress and around construction workers? You should have known better." Suigetsu grinned while stretching. "Well I'm off to bed. Night!"

Sasuke rolled his eyes at his friend's antics while Karin gapped at their guard. Jugo had simply shook his head at Suigetsu and took his leave with a nodded and a goodnight. Karin eyed Hinata. Hinata returned her the look with a tilt of her head.

"GAH," Karin pulled her hair. "How can you not know?!" She tapped her chin while Hinata frowned. "It has to do with how she was raised. Has to. I mean come on. Look at the others in the group…" Karin began to mumble to herself and walk up the stairs to her room leaving a bewildered guard.

Sasuke's smirk had slowly emerged again. "Looks like I'm not only one." He commented which brought Hinata's gaze back to him after watching Karin mumble the whole way back to her room.

"Only one?" Hinata commented back as she took up residence again in 'her' chair.

"That doesn't believe that you're that ignorant of the looks you gain."Hinata shrugged. "So final count?"

Hinata stiffened. "Fifteen."

"No."

"What do you mean no? I was on track at lunch."

"Then you missed a couple looks from there on." Hinata huffed and shut her eyes to begin mediating to end the conversation. Sasuke's smirk enlarged and he moved in front of her. "Don't you want to know when you missed them?" Hinata's eyes flew open and she glared. "You do have to include Suigetsu's comments. Though the looks at you received from the aviary worker," Sasuke tilted his head. "I don't know how you missed them."

"I was worried about my duty, as a guard." She growled.

"By the way, why did you stop Kakashi? And what did he say to you before he left?" He leaned forward into her personal space.

"I don't have to explain myself to you."

"Hn." The staring contest continued.

"I believe I told you to go to bed." Hinata stated.

"You did, but I'm enjoying this."

"… Should I add that to my count?" Sasuke smirked and Hinata blushed.

"Goodnight Hyuuga. Our game continues."

Yes. I'm still divided between strangling him or thanking him. Though strangling is pulling ahead.

…. * …. *….

*coughs* Well… I haven't updated this in a year and I feel horrible for that, especially since I wanted this done by now. And it looks like my writing style has shifted. Again.

Long story short. I graduated college in May, start grad school next week. Plot bunny hid from me for a long time combined with the fact I haven't read the manga since maybe February. Hopefully I will finish this story sometime in the foreseeable future.

Anywho, thank you all for reading and doing that thing you do with story alerts & favorites! :Hugs:

Fergie20

Dis: Don't own. Kishi does.

Read & review?