Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Author's Note: This one is brief because there is a really long one at the end. I hope you will read it just because I tried to clear a few things up and I want opinions. But first read and enjoy the start of the sequel to The Girl Behind the Mask. It's a nice long chapter for you all.
Chapter One- The Return of the Unwanted
Several months ago Hinata had made herself a promise. She had promised herself that despite everything she had been through, everything she had given up, and everything that she had lost, she would not revert back o the person she had been before it all. While technically she had kept that promise, she was still a shadow of the person that she wanted to be. No she hadn't become an empty shell but at times it felt like she was pretty close. As it always did, life had gone on and she had struggled to keep up with it. She often found herself stuck in the past, dwelling on the what ifs and finding fault in herself even if it didn't lie there.
Life didn't stop to let her dwell though and she found herself rather lost and unsure. To say she was unhappy with her life wouldn't be true but neither was she happy it. It left her feeling rather restless. It felt like she was stuck in the same repetitive lifestyle day in and day out while a more exciting world passed her by just outside her window. With each passing day it was driving her crazy. She felt trapped and at the same time she felt as if nothing was tying her down. She had no direction, she was floating in the wind and there was nothing in sight that could possibly ground her. She had done her best not to fall apart but in the end what was she left holding together?
It was difficult to explain when she knew that while everything seemed okay from the outside, something wasn't quite right. She lacked the passion for something that many of her friends had. Naruto desperately wanted to be a police officer like his father had been, not Iruka, but the birth father he had never met. Sakura wanted to be a doctor and Hinata was sure that she would be an excellent one at that. Sakura was quite smart and rather determined as well. Shikamaru, well he seemed to be in the same boat as her. He didn't seem to know what he wanted to do. The main difference between them was that Shikamaru could care less that he didn't know what he wanted. Hinata on the other hand wanted something to work for. She wanted some sort of direction. She hoped that maybe that was what was missing in her life. Yet she knew that until she figured it out she had her friends to hold her together.
She heard the low buzz as she sat at her kitchen table, a bank book in front of her and a frown on her face. She nearly jumped as the low sound reached her ears. While the sound was not normally intrusive, she had been concentrating considerably on the numbers in front of her that signified her expenses over the last month and her bank accounts. The low buzz had succeeded in ruining her concentration and startling her.
Hinata dropped her pen and reached a slender hand out to grasp her vibrating cell phone from the table. Without checking to see who it was she flipped it open. After all she received very few phone calls these days and those she did receive were from only a small group of people. She received calls from Naruto, Shikamaru, and lately Sakura as well. Aside from that very few others had the need to get a hold of her. So for that reason she was slightly startled by the low male voice on the other end of the line.
"Yes. How are you doing," he said as she got over the initial shock and gave her cousin her attention. She had to give him and her father credit. Both seemed to be making a bit of an effort to at least see how she was doing. After all she had been on her own for several months now.
"I'm fine. How are you and my father," she asked. While saying that the current relationship between herself and her family was awkward was an understatement, there seemed to be a strange effort on their parts to make it better. She was wary but at the same time it was nice that they seemed to want to be a part of her life again.
"He's fine. We both are. I was actually calling to see if you wanted to come by for dinner on Sunday. Your father really wants to see you." There was a momentary pause then before her cousin spoke again. "Actually we both would like to see you. It's been quite awhile," he added more quietly.
Hinata gulped on the other end of the phone. She hadn't seen her father in several months, not since she had gotten out of the hospital after the incident. She had seen Neji around school but hadn't spoken a word to him other than an occasional time on the phone or in passing and all of their conversations had been rather superficial. Granted they deserved the silent treatment she had given them both but part of her missed them as well. Despite the fact that they had done a good job at making her life miserable she still missed them. They were her family and despite the rough relationship they had, she still had several fond memories with both her cousin and her father. Well perhaps not several but there were one or two.
"I uh… I s…suppose I c…could come. Would you like m…me to bring anything," she stammered into the phone. She had done well losing her stammer over these last few months. However it tended to creep up on her when she was really unsure or caught up in some intense emotion. It was annoying but she dealt with it. At least she could hold a normal conversation for the most part these days.
"No you don't have to bring anything. Just be there around five, okay?"
"Alright, I will see you then," she said softly into the phone.
"Okay, take care Hinata," Neji said before she heard the click of the phone signaling that her cousin had hung up.
She let out a sigh and closed her cell phone, placing it back onto the table. She glanced up then and looked around the small but tidy kitchen she sat in. Actually her whole apartment was small and tidy. She kept it rather clean and clutter free despite its size. It wasn't hard though considering she didn't have too many things. The one-bedroom apartment that she had been renting these last several months suited her just fine. It was affordable too, or at least she had thought that. Lately though she was beginning to wonder whether or not she had been right about the affordable part.
She was using the money she had won racing to pay for the apartment, her cell phone, groceries, internet and other expenses she came across. It was becoming more obvious as of lately that she was going to end up dipping into the money she set aside to pay for college if she didn't get some sort of job. It was nearly the end of the summer and she still had another year of high school and one more summer to make it through between now and then. She didn't want to depend on her father to sign loans or cover the money she was short. The problem was she wasn't exactly sure what sort of job she could do. She had never really been good at much aside from racing and that hadn't gotten her anywhere she wanted to be.
Her phone buzzed again and she frowned at the sudden activity it was seeing. Rather than flipping the phone open this time, she actually checked to see who was calling. She didn't recognize the number so she set it back down on the table. She stood up, no longer interested in staring at the numbers in front of her. Her gaze drifted back to the vibrating phone and for some reason she didn't quite understand she was suddenly compelled to open it.
"Hello," she said as she brought it to her ear.
"Hinata, it's been awhile."
It took her several moments to place the familiar voice at the other end of the line. Immediately she had recognized it as a voice she hadn't heard in awhile. It took a few moments for the face of the speaker to become clear in her mind and when it did she nearly dropped her phone.
"Kakashi," she asked in disbelief.
"That would be correct," he answered, confirming her suspicions.
"Why are you calling me? If this has anything to do with racing cars I don't…"
"Calm down," he said interrupting her before she could finish her sentence. "You made it pretty clear that you were done with that. I actually wanted to run something else by you. Naruto and Shikamaru are coming by tomorrow and I was hoping you'd come with them so we could talk."
"I don't know," Hinata said into the phone while her mind worked to think about what it might be that Kakashi wanted to talk to her about and why Naruto and Shikamaru seemed to be in on it.
"Well just think about it," Kakashi urged sounding completely undeterred. "Hopefully I will see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah, bye Kakashi it was nice hearing from you," she said quickly hanging up the phone before he had the chance to utter a goodbye. Things were just a bit weird.
She picked up her phone again and shut it off before someone else had the chance to call her with some vague or just awkward phone call. She needed to get herself back together before she answered another one of those. She left the phone on the counter deciding she would turn it back on in an hour. Then she had every intention of calling Naruto and getting some answers. While she knew that she would be smart to forget her phone call with Kakashi had ever happened, she knew she wouldn't. She hated it but she was curious and most likely she would do just what Kakashi wanted and come see him tomorrow.
With her curiosity nagging at her mind she glanced at the clock display on her microwave. It was just after five o'clock. She slapped herself lightly on the forehead as she realized she had completely forgotten about dinner. Since school had let out for the summer about a week ago she didn't have an excuse for not having gotten anything together. She hadn't done anything at all today aside from going over her expenses and curling up with a good book. Yet she still hadn't remembered to take anything out of her freezer.
She padded over to the fridge, her feet bare as they had been most of the day. She pulled the door open and felt the cool blast of air against her face but the shelves were pretty much empty aside from some bottled water, milk, and various condiments. She frowned as she shut the door and brushed a strand of her dark hair that had fallen loose from the loose bun she wore, behind her ear. For a moment she stood in front of the fridge, her bare foot tapping against the floor, as she tried to come up with something to do for dinner. Once again her thoughts were interrupted though this time it came from a knock on the door.
She frowned to herself as she walked over to the door going through a mental checklist of who it might be. Naruto was out with Sakura and Shikamaru was going out with Temari. Maybe her neighbor had locked themselves out again. She was glad she had actually taken the time earlier to change out of her pajamas. Now she was in a pair of black jeans and a lavender t-shirt. While it was nothing special at least she was presentable. Reaching the door she pulled it open partway, the chain still latched so that she could see who it was before she completely unlocked the door.
"Shikamaru?" Hinata closed the door and quickly unlatched the chain, opening the door so that he could step inside. "What are you doing here? I thought you were going out with Temari."
"She's mad at me again the troublesome woman," he said shrugging his shoulders as he stepped past her and made his way over to her couch and sank down into it. "And since my plans were cancelled I figured I would come here."
The sad part was when she wasn't with Shikamaru, Sakura, or Naruto she was pretty much always here. They all knew it but they didn't talk about it. Even with her newfound freedom she rarely went out. She preferred to stay home at her apartment. At first her friends had been worried that it was because of what had happened with Sasuke but they had come to realize that she just wasn't looking for that kind of lifestyle. The number of times that they drug her out of her apartment was plenty for her liking.
"Well I hate to break it to you but I don't have any food," Hinata said as she closed the door and seated herself beside him. She wasn't overly worried about his fight with Temari. The two seemed to always be like this.
"Troublesome." She heard him mumble the word under his breath and then watched as he pulled out his cell phone.
"What are you doing," she asked as he brought the phone to his ear.
Forty-five minutes later and the two were still seated on the couch only now they were watching an episode of Japanese anime about a couple of ninjas while they ate their takeout. Hinata finished with her meal and leaned forward to place the almost empty Styrofoam container on the coffee table in front of her. She leaned back and stretched her arms over her head thoroughly full before she gave Shikamaru a side glance with her pale eyes.
"So I got a weird phone call today," she said casually.
"Neji," Shikamaru asked without looking over at her.
"Okay so I got two weird phone calls today. Neji did call but that wasn't who I was talking about."
"So then I take it Kakashi called you then."
"Yeah he did. Wait a minute, you knew he was going to call," Hinata asked sitting up.
"Not exactly but I figured he might," Shikamaru said while still engrossed with the television. Either that or he was doing his best to ignore her. Sometimes it was creepy how uncanny his ability to figure everything out was.
"So then you know what he called about," Hinata questioned. Shikamaru sighed and finally seemed to give up watching the television. He took leaned forward and placed his now-finished meal on the table. He leaned back again and laced his fingers over his lean stomach before closing his eyes.
"Yes but I'm not going to say a word. You are better off seeing what Kakashi is going to talk to you about than hear about it from me."
"That's not fair," she said pouting slightly.
"You are friends with Naruto too. You should know that a pout has absolutely no affect on me anymore," he said without even opening his eyes.
"You're being… troublesome," she said using his own word against him as a bit of a taunt.
"Like I haven't heard that one before," he said only to be hit with a pillow right in the face a second later. "Now who's being unfair," he asked as he recoiled from the hit and sat up quickly in time to see Hinata scramble from the couch.
"Oh please you deserved that," she said laughing as she gathered up their trash and carried it into the kitchen. She heard Shikamaru grumble something under his breath before he once again leaned back on her couch.
Naruto had come over after his date with Sakura only to pass out on her couch beside Shikamaru. Deciding not to wake either of them, Hinata got out of the chair she had been sitting in and turned off the television. She paused briefly to look back at the two of them, both sound asleep on her couch. Naruto was sprawled out in every possible direction, about half of his body on the couch and half of it off of it. Shikamaru on the other hand was sleeping with his head propped up on the arm of the sofa and his hands neatly laced over his stomach. Shaking her head at the two figures she turned out the light and made her way into her bedroom in the dark so she didn't disturb either of the sleeping guys on her sofa.
She closed the door to her room and made her way over to her dresser to flip on her light. Her hip however connected with something on her dresser and she winced slightly as it hit the ground with a thud. For a moment the sound echoed through the quiet apartment but she didn't hear anything further. Sighing, she continued over to her lamp and flicked it on. The glow instantly illuminated her small room and she glanced back at the floor to see what she had knocked over. Her yearbook lay open on the floor by the end of the dresser. It had been a silly purchase as she had suffered through must of her high school experiences, but she had a yearbook representing every year.
Padding over to the open book, she scooped it up off the ground. Straightening, she went to close the book when she froze. Her pale eyes collided with a picture of Sasuke. He was with Naruto of all people as the picture had been taken in their chemistry class and then two had been paired up. Naruto was grinning and waving at the camera wearing a pair of goggles and holding a test tube in his hand. Still her eyes barely noticed her friend. Instead they were locked on the intense onyx gaze that seemed to stare directly at her. Her breath seemed to rush out of her lungs as if a giant weight was suddenly being pressed down on her chest. She struggled to breathe, her legs suddenly weak.
Unable to tear her eyes from the picture, she sank to her knees where she had been standing. In the picture his face was impassive, all hint of emotion completely hidden away despite the fact that his gaze had met the camera straight on. One of his hands rested on top of a pair of goggles that sat on top of the lab bench while his other hand was shoved into the pocket of his jeans. She drug another breath of air into her lungs despite the pain in chest that built steadily as she held back the sobs. Her eyes lingered on the picture and for the first time she noticed herself in the background, she was nearly invisible with her face turned downward. Blindly she reached up onto her dresser and groped around with her hand until it wrapped around the pen that had been sitting beside the yearbook.
Quickly she uncapped the pen and scribbled into the yearbook. When she pulled the pen away the words 'I love you' were written between herself and Sasuke. She stared at the words that she had never told him, the words she had only realized the true meaning of when it had been too late. She wished she had told him, she wished she had known. She wished that it made sense. For all intensive purposes her feelings should have never grown to become so passionate. It had been far too brief of a relationship. Yet there had been electricity, acceptance, a spark that she hadn't realized, a spark that she hadn't believed existed until she had felt it for herself. Now however, it was too late, that spark was gone forever.
She snapped the yearbook shut forcibly and left it on the floor as she stumbled to her feet. She threw herself onto her bed and buried her face into the pillow only to let out a strangled sob that was muffled by the fabric of her pillow. She wondered when the pain would go away. She wondered if the sight of him would always cripple her, or if little things would bring subtle yet painful reminders of what she had had and what she had lost. She was supposed to have needed time, but she wondered if she was doomed to forever have his face haunt her dreams.
When she awoke, her eyes felt sore and she felt groggy. Even still she got out of bed to see if Naruto and Shikamaru were still there. She wasn't surprised that there were still two lumps on her sofa. She went back into her room and decided to nudge her yearbook under her dresser with her foot. For the time being she wanted it out of her sight. That small act alone left her feeling slightly better and after a long shower with hot water she felt human again. After her shower, she changed into a pair of capris and a t-shirt since the sun was out and the day would probably be warm. She brushed her long hair out and tied it back into a ponytail before slipping her feet into a pair of flip-flops. She walked back out of her room and observed the Naruto and Shikamaru again. While they seemed to both still be sound asleep she suspected Shikamaru was just faking so that she didn't make him do anything. After all she was rather certain that it was impossible for him to sleep with Naruto snoring in his ear like that.
She covered her mouth with her hand and laughed softly into it before quietly scooping up Shikamaru's keys from her coffee table. Still neither of them moved so she shook her head and left her apartment, shutting the door quietly behind her. It was a little after eight but the grocery store would be open and she could at least buy something for them to eat for breakfast. Plus it wouldn't take her very long since she was borrowing Shikamaru's truck. She was feeling considerably better, the night before not forgotten but over and done with. The pain had been intense, like a searing white hot heat but it had been brief and despite it life continued along. She had regrets and while she had not learned to live with them yet, she was trying. She was going to be okay. She was going to hold herself together at all costs.
Just under an hour later Hinata was slowly making her way to her apartment door. She was weighed down by various bags of groceries which she had piled onto her arms. Now she was walking rather ungracefully to her door. Opening the door turned out to be a process and she nearly toppled over from the bags but she managed to get inside without dropping everything. She kicked the door shut behind her and paused long enough to narrow her eyes at Shikamaru who was watching her with an amused look from the couch.
"Thanks for all your help," she said sarcastically. "See if I feed you."
"Food?" Naruto shot up from the couch and blinked at Hinata with large blue eyes. She stared back at him in disbelief. All of her noise and he wakes up because she mentions food?
"Only if you help me put all this stuff away," Hinata said before turning towards the kitchen, knowing that Naruto was going to be right behind her.
She wasn't disappointed and soon she had Naruto putting different things away while she started on pancakes. Every so often he would pause and ask her where something went and she tell him where. She was in mid stir of the pancake batter when she heard a gasp of delight behind her. Spoon in hand she turned to see Naruto clutching the ramen she had bought in his hand and staring at her with wide and shining eyes.
"Hinata… you brought ramen," he asked, his voice an octave higher than usual.
"Well yes. I mean you are over here enough and I figured I would have some here in case you ever wanted it."
"You are the greatest Hinata," Naruto yelled running at her with his ramen in his hands.
Hinata squealed as he lifted her off of her feet and proceeded to race around her apartment with her over his shoulder. Despite her orders for him to put her down, he continued to run the length of her apartment back and forth. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Shikamaru, still on the couch, laughing at her. The jerk was absolutely no help. So the next time that Naruto ran past the couch, Hinata let the spoon fly out of her hand. She watched as the thing flipped over and smacked Shikamaru directly in his head, splattering pancake batter in his hair.
Naruto came to an abrupt stop and even set Hinata on her feet. For a brief moment the room was absolutely silent and then Naruto pointed at Shikamaru and burst out laughing. Hinata started giggling uncontrollably as well. She covered her mouth with her hand but it did no good to hide her laughter. Both her and Naruto were nearly in tears as Shikamaru, looking completely un-amused, brought his hand up and cringed as he felt the sticky batter in his hand.
"Troublesome," he muttered as Hinata and Naruto continued to laugh at his expense.
"It is going to be our three month anniversary in a week. I want to do something nice," Naruto rambled from his place at her side. Hinata was only half-listening. She had been left out of the conversation so far as her attention was elsewhere. Mainly she was trying to figure out just where they were going. She had been unable to resist her own curiosity and now she was in the truck with Naruto and Shikamaru on her way to see Kakashi. Part of her realized that her decision to come was probably a bad one. She had a sense of foreboding that she simply could not shake, but still a part of her that she had thought to be forgotten hummed with an excitement that she hadn't felt in months. Try as she might she couldn't shake either feeling.
"Don't you think you are overreacting," Shikamaru questioned, one hand resting loosely on the steering wheel of his truck while the other was draped out the window. "It's only been three months."
"I really like Sakura. I don't want to mess anything up and she's the first real girlfriend I've had. Hey Hinata you're a girl. What do you think?"
Hinata actually felt her eye twitch and it surprised her slightly. It was probably due to the fact that not only she had managed to stay out of their conversation and was now she was being drug into it, but also the fact that it only had seemed to just dawn on Naruto that she was a girl. She supposed though the fact that it was Naruto explained a lot. Besides he really only did have eyes for Sakura.
"I'm not sure. I have never been in a real relationship," she said softly. The only relationship she had ever had had been with Sasuke. Not only had it been a brief relationship but it had never actually been defined. She had been swept up in a whirlwind of a romance that had never been labeled. Even her own feelings hadn't been clearly defined.
Naruto seemed oblivious to the fact that his question could have sent her spiraling back into unpleasant memories because he didn't seem to really consider her rather solemn answer. Shikamaru however gave her a sideways glance. Her pale eyes caught his own and her lips curved upwards ever so slightly. She was alright even if the memories were often painful. Shikamaru gave a subtle, almost unnoticeable, nod of his head and turned his attention back to the road.
"Maybe you can take her to dinner somewhere," Shikamaru suggested with a shrug of his shoulders. "Not ramen either," he added when he saw Naruto's eyes light up. "You would have to take her somewhere she likes."
Naruto's face visibly fell with Shikamaru's words and Hinata shook her head in amusement. She did not understand how it was possible for him to eat so much ramen without getting sick of it. She tried to think of what Naruto could do for Sakura without going over the top. Personally she didn't see a three month anniversary as something that needed to be celebrated but she supposed if she were in a relationship she would appreciate the gesture if it was made.
"Perhaps you could take Sakura to the museum. I think I read that there will be a Body World display. Sakura wants to be a doctor so she would probably like to go," she suggested.
"That's perfect. You are so smart Hinata," Naruto yelled, at least it sounded like a yell when they were piled into the cab of the truck, and pumped his fist into the air nearly smacking his hand on the roof of the truck.
"She's not going to believe for a second that he thought of this all on his own," Shikamaru pointed out which earned him a glare from the blonde.
"Maybe not but the important thing is that he was thinking about her. She will realize that," Hinata said with a confident nod.
"Thanks Hinata," Naruto said with a grin before reaching over and ruffling her hair.
Hinata made a face and squirmed away from him in the seat before pushing his hand away from her head. Naruto laughed and her and Shikamaru shook his head before flipping on his turn signal. The movement immediately caught Hinata's attention and her pale eyes flew to take in her surroundings. Immediately she felt like she had been kicked in the stomach.
"This is a garage," she squeaked out, a panicked look on her face. She blinked several times as if the scene that lay before her would fade away like a mere apparition. When she realized that it wasn't her mind playing tricks on her and that her friends had really brought her to a garage she got angry.
"Take me home now," she demanded, whipping her gaze away from the building to glare at her two friends. "I don't want anything to do with this. I want to go home."
"Look Hinata this doesn't have anything to do with racing cars. Just here it through," Shikamaru insisted as he pulled into a spot and put the truck in park.
"Yeah come on Hinata, it can't hurt," Naruto insisted.
Hinata glared at them both, her pale eyes narrowed in an uncharacteristic display of anger. It wasn't just anger that she was feeling though. She was hurt too. Anger however was the safer of the two emotions that were raging within her. Not bothering to say another word she wretched her door open and jumped out of the truck. Before Naruto or Shikamaru had a chance to move she slammed it shut with an unnecessary amount of force and stormed away.
She didn't bother to look back as she walked away from the truck and towards the sidewalk. She knew that it was ridiculous to think that she could walk back to her apartment from this place. For one thing she didn't even know where she was, but that didn't mean she couldn't try. Maybe Shikamaru would even give up and just drive her home. That was the best possible outcome from this.
She stopped short however when a motorcycle whipped past her into the parking lot and smoothly pulled up by Shikamaru's truck. She recognized the bike and knew the rider before Kakashi pulled his helmet off of his head revealing his spiked silver hair and his masked face. She wasn't sure why the man covered half of his face and one of his eyes but she didn't know of anyone who had ever seen him without them.
"Hinata I'm glad you made it," Kakashi called loud enough for her to hear. She bit her lower lip, annoyed that her plan to storm off seemed so easily thwarted by his words. Clearly he knew she wasn't happy but it didn't seem to matter to him. She sighed and finally gave it up, lifting her hand in a half-hearted wave as Naruto scrambled out of Shikamaru's truck.
Hinata slowly walked back over to where Kakashi, Naruto, and Shikamaru were standing. The look on her face was one of obvious annoyance. Actually she looked like she was grimacing. They all knew how she felt about car racing and yet here she was standing outside a garage. She still had the urge to bolt and she might have given in if it wasn't for Kakashi placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Come on inside. I want to show you something," he said before steering her around the side of the building towards a door.
She wondered why it seemed to take forever to get to the door but realized that she was dragging her feet in her reluctance to see whatever it was that Kakashi was talking about. Coming had been a big mistake. She should have known that nothing good would have come out of this encounter. She was vaguely aware that Naruto and Shikamaru were following behind the two of them.
"I know that you made it clear that you didn't want anything to do with cars and street racing anymore, but I was hoping that maybe we could get you to change your mind. I have my own garage now and I need racers," he said before pausing at the door. "You are a natural when it comes to racing. You've got great eyes for picking up on things that most racers miss. And I know that this isn't anything you've ever done before, but if you're willing to give this a try, I think you'll be surprised at how good you can be."
Hinata wanted to tell him that there was no way she was changing her mind. She had burned Violet's mask and she was never going to wear it again. She didn't care that she had been one of the best, those days were over. She wanted to tell him that she didn't even want to go into his garage. But all her thoughts and all the words that played at the tip of her tongue were suddenly forgotten when she processed his words.
I know that this isn't anything you've ever done before.
It didn't make any sense. He had just said that he needed racers and this was obviously his garage. What was it that she hadn't done before? She opened her mouth to ask the question but Kakashi had already pushed open the door and stepped inside. Hinata had no choice but to follow and when she did his words suddenly made perfect sense.
"Motorcycles?" She managed to get the word out though it came out as more of a question than anything else. She saw Kakashi nod his head and then move towards the closest bike.
"I decided to branch out and try something a little different. Turns out I like this even more than racing cars," he said with what she could only assume was a grin under that mask of his.
All Hinata could do was stare at the motorcycles before her while she tried to wrap her mind around the concept that while Kakashi wanted to get her involved with racing again, it was a different kind of racing. It took her a moment to realize that all three of them were staring at her, attempting to understand her reaction as she said nothing and simply stared at the bikes.
Truth be told she wasn't even sure of her own reaction. She didn't know how she felt. She knew that she wanted to remain angry, that nothing about the prospect of riding motorcycles for Kakashi should intrigue her, but there was something she couldn't shake. It was almost like she was being presented with a lost part of herself and now this was a chance to regain it. Still sense started to win out over the mixture of feelings that was being stirred within her. She shook her head slowly before she spoke.
"I can't," she said quietly though she noticed that her voice lacked the conviction that it did earlier.
"Well why don't you just take a look around first. Maybe you can try out one of the bikes too if you're interested," Kakashi said gesturing at the bikes laid out before them.
Hinata nodded slowly, almost unsure of herself as she turned back to look at the bikes. She noted then that the bike at the far corner of the garage was of all colors, orange. She took a few steps towards it before stopping and looking back at the group that had been watching her quite intently so far.
"The bike is orange," she said though it was more of a question than a statement. Orange wasn't exactly a popular color except when it came to…
"Yeah that's my bike! Isn't it awesome," Naruto exclaimed running up to her side.
Hinata stared at him, her pale eyes wide as they moved from Naruto's grinning face to the bike and then back again. She was trying to tell herself that she had just misheard her friend but she was having no luck convincing herself of that. She looked at Kakashi whose face gave away nothing and then back to Naruto once again.
"Your bike," she questioned him. "You race motorcycles?"
"I do now. I had to bribe Kakashi into letting me give it a try," Naruto explained. "I bought him some books from that dirty series he likes to read," he added quietly causing Hinata to recall various occasions where she had run into her racing mentor with his head buried into a book with an explicit cover.
"Turns out he's not half bad," Shikamaru added, his tone sounding as bored as usual.
"With Naruto and Sai I only need one more racer to have a team," Kakashi explained.
"Did I hear my name?"
Hinata whipped around at the sound of a new voice and her pale eyes fell on a young man standing in the doorway to another small room. He was pale with black hair and eyes. In fact he almost resembled Sasuke in a way and for a moment Hinata felt a brief knot in her throat. A second later though it faded as it was clear to her that the young man was quite different. For one thing he was wearing a shirt that showed his midriff. She was almost certain that Sasuke Uchiha had never worn anything like that a day in his life and she hadn't been close with him for very long.
"Sai this is Hinata. I am trying to convince her to become the third member of the team," Kakashi explained to the black haired young man.
"You are small, maybe a bit mousey but not terribly ugly I suppose," Sai said pointedly.
"Don't listen to him. He doesn't understand the concept of feelings," Naruto said practically growling at Sai.
"He doesn't like that I call him dickless," Sai stated, which in turn caused Hinata to turn red and Naruto to clench his fists at his side.
"Don't take anything Sai says personally. He has the demeanor of a cactus," Shikamaru said quietly in her ear nearly causing her to jump as she hadn't realized he had come up beside her. He laid his hand on Naruto's shoulder as if to restrain the blonde as well. "They have already been in one fight. No sense in letting them have another."
Hinata stared blankly at the black haired young man before her trying to figure him out but she decided it was in vain and finally shook her head and looked away. She really didn't want to know, at least for the time being. Instead she let her attention shift back to the bikes. There was the orange bike, which she now knew to be the one that Naruto used. There was also a black bike white a white bird painted onto the front, its wings racing back over the side paneling on the bike. Because it was the only other bike uncovered, she assumed it was Sai's. The remained two bikes were covered though she wondered what type of bikes lay underneath.
"I think I need to sit down," Hinata whispered clutching at the closet arm which happened to be Naruto's. The realization of what was being presented to her, washed over her like a wave, catching her unaware and at a loss. Before she had set foot into this garage she had had no intention of even considering any offer that Kakashi was going to give her. Standing here though she found her resolve wavering. There was something so familiar, so comforting about the garage. It was something she loved and she supposed that even though she had said goodbye to racing before, it hadn't changed the way she felt about it.
She felt herself sitting down in a chair though she wasn't sure how she had come to be standing by on. Lost in an internal conflict everything going on around her was a mystery. She missed racing, she was sure of that but she wasn't sure if she was ready to face the pain it had caused for her either. Why was it that she was cursed to continue loving something that had cost her so much?
"I don't know if I can do this."
She realized that she had whispered those words out loud only after she had said them. Uncertainly she looked up to find four sets of eyes gazing back at her. Each holding some amount of pity, understanding, resolve, and for Sai, curiosity, She dropped her gaze again and shook her head causing several strands of her hair to fall down in front of her face.
"You don't have to make a decision now Hinata. You can think about this."
It was Kakashi's voice that interrupted what had rapidly started to become an oppressive silence. She looked up at him, her pale eyes meeting his masked face and she nodded. While she felt a slight lift in the burden that would be her decision, it was still weighing heavily upon her. Still she managed to pull herself together and keep the shattered pieces in tact.
"I would like that. You're right, I just need some time to think," she said with a resolved nod though the confidence was forced. Inside she was still shaken.
"Take all the time you need," Kakashi said, his eye crinkling up in what she could only assume was a smile beneath his mask. "Now if you'll all excuse me I have some things I have to get done before tonight."
"See you later Kakashi," Naruto said brightly, waving a hand. Shikamaru made a sound that for him was a grunt of acceptance. Hinata however just stared at the spot her racing mentor had been only moments ago. How he managed to simply appear and disappear like he did had always been beyond her.
"What's tonight," she asked when she finally processed what had been said.
"A party," Naruto said excitedly as he offered her a hand and pulled her to her feet.
"Oh that sounds like fun," Hinata said lying for the sake of her friend. She wasn't in much of a partying mood at the moment. Actually her plans consisted of going home and trying to figure out how her life had taken a turn to try to put her back into the world of racing.
"Yeah I bet you're going to have an awesome time."
For a moment Hinata thought Naruto was talking to Shikamaru or maybe even Sai, but when she looked over at him and saw his bright blue eyes staring directly at her, she realized that when he had said you, he had been talking to her.
"W…what," she stammered out. "I'm not going to any party."
"But you have to go. It will be fun. Everyone is going to be there. You'll get to see all the racers and everything," Naruto exclaimed waving his hands in the air.
"What he means is that he already told Sakura, who of course told Temari, that you were going and as we speak they are probably waiting outside your door so that they can help you get ready," Shikamaru said with something akin to a smirk on his face. "So unless you want to tell them yourself that you're not going and potentially put Naruto's life on the line, then I suggest you start getting used to the idea of going."
All Hinata could manage after that were weak protests as Naruto drug her towards the door. She swore she could even hear Shikamaru chuckling.
It looked like a tornado had hit her bedroom apartment. There was no other way to describe the mess that was strewn about all around her. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that the mess was only temporary but no matter how much she tired to clam herself she still felt like this was going to take hours to clean up. In the back of her mind she was already regretting that she was allowing herself to be drug to this party. She should have been more adamant about not going but now that Sakura and Temari were tearing through her closet and tossing clothes onto her bed she supposed there was no way of changing her mind. Instead she closed her eyes, counted to five, and decided that she might as well face this disastrous night with her chin held high. Still she couldn't help but think there were plenty of more things that were preferable to going to this party. Having a root canal or listening to Gai and Lee go on about the power of youth were just a few of those things.
She briefly entertained the thought of throttling Naruto for ratting her out to Sakura but the she knew that she would never do that. Besides her blonde friend never meant any harm by it, he was simply being himself, and as much as she hated to admit it, this was sort of taking her mind off her big decision. At least for the moment she was more concerned about what Temari and Sakura were going to try and dress her in than what she was going to tell Kakashi.
With a sigh that went unnoticed by Sakura and Temari, Hinata decided to try and cheer up. She supposed she was glad for their help and company. She wouldn't have had the slightest idea what to wear to this party. She may not be too thrilled about going but her friends would be there and so she would be able to deal with it. Plus Temari had mentioned that she would get a chance to meet her younger brothers. Hinata knew little more than their names but she did know that Naruto was good friends with Temari's youngest brother Gaara. The two of them had befriended one another through martial arts competitions and Hinata was interested in meeting Naruto's friend.
"I've got it," Temari said pulling something out of Hinata's closet.
"Let me see that," Sakura demanded, taking the article of clothing from Temari's hand. "Oh you're right."
The next thing Hinata knew she had several articles of clothing shoved into her arms and Sakura shoved her into the bathroom. Not bothering to protest, because against the two of them it would be a losing battle, she went to work changing into the skirt and top that Temari and Sakura had selected for her. When she walked back out of the bathroom Sakura grinned and Temari whistled. And once again before Hinata had a chance to utter a word she was ushered back into the bathroom where they began to work on her hair and makeup.
She wasn't sure how much time had gone by, to her it had felt like hours but she was sure that was an exaggeration, but she was finally ready to go. For the first time since Sakura and Temari had shoved her into this outfit they allowed her to look in the mirror at the finished product. Her hair was down and straightened to perfection without a single flyaway and an enviable, glossy sheen. Her bangs were swept to the side and tucked behind her ear. Her eye shadow was smoky, her eyeliner was black, and her lips were glossy. She was wearing a black garter lace-up skirt that stopped just above mid-thigh and a black ruffle corset with burgundy panels and lace accents. On her feet were a pair of black patent dancer heels that gave her about three more inches of height.
"I wish I could fill out a corset like that. You look hot," Sakura said coming up behind her and looking in the mirror herself. Sakura was wearing a lime plaid ruffle mini skirt that stopped just above the middle of her thigh and showed off her long legs, a strappy pair of black heels, and a fitted black tank top. Her pink hair was pulled back into a bun though several strands had gotten loose to frame her face. She wore eye shadow, eyeliner, and lip gloss as well, emphasizing her pretty face. Naruto was probably going to fall over when he saw her.
"I look like a stripper," Hinata squeaked, her face turning a color that resembled the straps of her corset.
"So at least you look like a hot stripper then," Temari supplied placing a hand on her hip and grinning at the other two girls. Temari had forgone her usual hairstyle of four pigtails and instead let her hair down where it fell in gentle waves just past her shoulders. Sakura had done her makeup as well. She was wearing a pair of light blue jeans that looked like they had been painted onto her legs and a purple buckle fishnet tank top. The tank top's straps were black buckles while the actual tank top itself was a sheer purple material that showed the world the strapless black tube top and the flat stomach underneath of it. To top it off she wore a pair of skull chain strap boots that Hinata thought fit her personality rather well. Even all dressed up Temari still looked like she could kick someone's ass.
"She does not look like a stripper," Sakura insisted.
"Really who the hell cares as long as she looks hot," Temari offered to which Sakura nodded in agreement.
"I can't leave my apartment like this," Hinata said, her face still resembling the color of a tomato.
"You can't not leave your apartment like this. It would be a waste," Temari stated as she brushed a strand of her hair back behind her ear. Her cell phone went off a moment later and she flipped it open in one easy motion after snatching it off the dresser. Her teal eyes scanned the screen as she read the message and snapped her phone shut. "No more time to argue. Our ride is here."
"But…" Hinata started though her protest was cut short as both Temari and Sakura grabbed one of her arms and proceeded to somewhat drag her out of her apartment. She was only certain of one thing. She was in for a long night.
A/N: Okay so my thoughts and comments about the whole thing. I went back and forth with how long after the first story that I wanted this one to take place. Originally I had planned for it to be more like a year and for Hinata to not be so upset still but I ended up changing it about midway through writing this chapter. I really do believe though that Hinata would be the type to blame herself for what happened even if it really wasn't her fault, so I think the guilt and pain she feels fits her well. I also believe she would rather internalize her suffering than have her friends worry about her. Hence the reason she seems mostly fine when she is with them. Next is the way Hinata felt/feels about Sasuke. I feel like my previous story lacked in developing their relationship the way I wanted it to be so I am sort of establishing it here. They way she felt/feels doesn't make much sense but that's just the way it happened. Extreme situations tend to make things intense so her feelings for him were definitely intensified there at the end of the last story.
Moving on sorry if this chapter isn't very exciting but I was just trying to establish what is going on with Hinata and the basis of this story. I know there is quite a bit of friendship fluff going on. Anyway next chapter new characters will be introduced and the plot will thicken, or so I hope. Sometimes I am not sure. Just to name a few though you will see the sand sibs, the akatsuki, team hawk (minus sasuke), yamato, anko, ibiki, kurenai, yugao, possibly ino, choji, and maybe hanabi. If I missed anyone you would like to see let me know and I can see if I can work them in. Most of the characters from the original will also return at some point. The only ones I am having trouble fitting in are Kiba and Shino as I opted for the Naruto/Sai/Hinata team instead of the more traditional one of Kiba/Shino/Hina for the racing. I just like it better. I can't explain. And now that I have rambled far more than any of you probably wanted to read I am wondering two more things. First off do you like longer chapters like this which take more time to right, or faster shorter updates? And secondly do you think I need a beta reader, for grammar errors and such, or are they not too terrible? Anyway thanks for reading and I hope you all end up enjoying this story as well! Remember reviews are awesome motivation!