Kiba, Neji, and Shikamaru all stood at the head of the table while everyone settled into their seats. Hiashi had grabbed Hinata from Gaara as soon as they entered and had placed her on the seat closest to the three.
The three looked tired, but nonetheless looked accomplished as they stood there, holding unto a small vial which contained what Gaara could only assume as the antidote.
"Is that it?" Naruto asked, pointing at the crystal clear vial and Kiba shook it just to let them see the swirling liquid inside.
"Of course, you moron." He playfully growled at him, perhaps a little too triumphant to be really annoyed with Naruto asking obvious questions, "We wouldn't be presenting it here to you guys if it wasn't."
Gaara nodded and folded his arms across his chest, "How was the trip?" he asked casually, as though they just came back from the local market or some sort. But it wasn't exactly a life-threatening mission either, it just took them a few days to go and get back, but that was it. An errand. A vitally important one, but an errand nonetheless.
Shikamaru grimaced, "It wasn't that bad, but trying to look for the plant was troublesome. It wasn't as hard as she made it seem, but the gypsy girl wasn't all that helpful when she was supposedly helping us."
Kiba snickered at this and the lot of them turned to him, "Yeah, and some of the people came with us wouldn't stop bugging Neji about his hair." At this, Neji's cheeks reddened and he looked away, "It's not any of their business what I do with my hair!" he snapped at Kiba.
An awkward silence filled the room before Hiashi cleared his throat, "I think it's high time you boys get to the point of gathering us all together instead of just giving Hinata the antidote."
The three of them looked away sheepishly and Akamaru, who was lying down on the carpeted rug beside them gave out a loud whine. Everyone tensed and they knew that there was a catch to this antidote.
"Well, if you really want to knowww…" Kiba started, "Hinata has to do something after she drinks it so the antidote would take effect."
Hiashi's eyes narrowed, "What?" he growled out, his grip on the table tightening.
Both Kiba and Shikamaru turned to Neji and he sighed. Of course, trust the nephew to deal with the father's anger. They weren't going to be on the short end of Hiashi's anger.
"You see, uncle…" he starts slowly, "Hinata-sama has to… kiss someone."
Hiashi's eyes lost the angry fire in them before being replaced with a perplexed look. "That's all?" he asked them, honestly curious as to why the three looked absolutely terrified of telling them, "That's no problem at all."
"Wait, uncle you don't underst—"
"Hanabi, go kiss your sister."
Silence reigned before Neji tried again, "Uncle, Hinata has to kiss a male."
"I'll do it then."
"Who is not her father."
Before he could even open his mouth, Neji cut him off, "or has any familial relations to her."
He turned to Kiba and Shikamaru. The two only blushed before looking away and Neji had to continue, "Or those she only sees as friends."
Hiashi's brow furrowed as he finally took in what Neji was trying to say, "Do you mean to tell me, that Hinata has to kiss a boy… in her state, romantically?"
By the time he growled out the last word, Hiashi had already stood up and towering over them all. They backed away slowly, all wanting to avoid the father's wrath and Neji quickly raised his arms, either trying to calm his uncle down, or as a defense.
"It's not like that!" he squeaked, "Even a light smack on the lips would do!"
Hiashi's anger filled the room and the tension turned almost unbearable before Hiashi cooled and sat back down, relenting.
"Alright, but that's all there is to that. I am not letting any of that foolishness last for a second longer than necessary."
As soon as he finished speaking, he turned to look at Naruto and everyone followed his example. Gaara felt his chest sting a little but he chased the feeling away, knowing he never had a chance in the first place.
As though reading his thoughts, Neji gave him a quick glare before turning his attention back to Naruto.
The blond sat frozen in his seat before he scrambled back, "Wh-what are you all looking at me for?!" he exclaimed as he leaned back in his chair and instinctively closed his eyes.
"I may act like I don't care about my daughter," a pause, perhaps having an internal struggle on just how wrong his methods of teaching were, "but I'm not blind that I don't see my daughter has feelings for you."
Naruto cracked open an eye, a blush playing on his cheeks as he watched everyone nod with agreement. If that wasn't the most obvious thing in Konoha, they didn't really know what is.
Naruto turned to look at them, at Hiashi who was glaring at him with ferocity, and surrender, to Neji who somehow looked the same way, to Gaara who was staring at the wall above his head. And lastly, he turned his eyes to Hinata, who had stayed silent in her seat, leaning on the table and watching Gaara silently with a sleepy smile.
His face tightened before he closed his eyes, stood up, and bowed.
"I can't do it." he took a breath, "I won't do it." he reiterated and straightened up, only to see everyone staring at them with a look of disbelief. It was only a flash of a second before Hiashi was at his throat threateningly.
"What?" Hiashi spat, "All you have to do is kiss her! A child! And you can't even do that?!" He was about to strike a punch before Neji had grabbed him by the arms and pulled him away. But as soon as he had sat his uncle down on the seat and gave him a cup of tea to calm him down, he took his place in front of Naruto.
"I never knew you were the picky type, Naruto." He said lowly, "Now, are you going to kiss her or not?"
Naruto held his ground, "No."
From the back, Kiba whined, getting impatient, "Why not?!" he demanded Naruto, "What's so hard, or wrong, about just giving her a light smack on the lips so this could all be over and done with!"
Shikamaru nodded, "This isn't the time to be choosy, Naruto."
Naruto stared straight ahead before averting his gaze to look at Gaara. The young, redheaded Kazekage was also staring at him with confusion. Seeing as Gaara was the only one in the room who had any real idea what Naruto felt, he was probably the most astonished with Naruto's answer. The blond couldn't believe it himself, but he knew that what he decided on was the right choice.
"I'm not being choosy." He said at last, still staring at Gaara, "But it's because I'm not the one she'd want to kiss."
Everyone shot up at that and Neji backed off.
"What do you mean?" he asked a little warily. "Hinata's always had a crush on you. For the longest time."
Naruto chuckled sadly, "And I wish I could've noticed that sooner, but that was all it was. I was just a crush."
Neji had finally caught on to what Naruto was trying to say and he turned to look at Gaara, "You don't mean… You don't actually think she'd turn back if Gaara kisses her?!" he exclaimed, incredulously, "She doesn't even know him properly! And neither does he!"
"I don't think, I know." Naruto told him, expression determined.
Kiba moved forward, "Naruto, don't take this the wrong way, but Hinata's terrified of Gaara," he spared a glance in Gaara's direction, "No offense."
Gaara made no move to reply as he was as stupefied at Naruto's answer as everyone else was.
"I have to go with the dog boy on this one," Temari spoke up for the first time that night, "It seems a bit impossible if she were to kiss Gaara. Even with his current intentions, I don't think it would work if the feeling wasn't both ways."
"What do you mean by, "intentions"?"
Gaara broke out of his stupor to curse silently at Temari. He wasn't supposed to say anything about the matter before all of this was cleaned up. Neji also had the same idea as he sighed before placing a calming hand on his uncle's shoulder. Before he could explain however, Gaara had stoo up and walked over to Hiashi.
"Hyuuga-san," he spoke to him formally, "I… I had hoped to ask for your permission to have Hinata-san's hand in marriage."
Hiashi didn't reply for a while before he looked up and met Gaara's gaze head on, "And from what I hear, you know nothing of my daughter, and in turn, she knows nothing of you."
Gaara nodded, "If she does not wish it to be so, I will respect her wishes."
Hiashi had no answer for that and merely kept quiet, looking into the distance. Silence filled the room before Shikamaru took a step forward and announced, "I think it'd work."
All heads snapped to him, "What did you just say?" Kiba asked.
"I said, I think it would work."
No one argued this time around as Shikamaru grabbed the vial that they left on untouched on the table. Naruto had silently picked Hinata up and held her in his arms carefully. Feeling her hand hold his cheek made him somehow regret his decision, but he knew it was the right one.
"I'll kind of miss you when you get back to normal." He whispered in her ear as he buried his nose in her hair. She giggled.
"But I'll always be here with you." She whispered back as she made him meet her eyes. Naruto gave her nose a peck.
Shikamaru guided him to where Gaara stood, tense and patient at the same time. He carefully opened the vial, making sure not to spill a drop.
"Gaara, I need you to at least take a sip of this." he told the redhead and he complied willingly. He took the vial, and gingerly took a generous sip, feeling a cool, minty feeling go down his throat. He handed Shikamaru back the vial who turned to Hinata.
"Hinata-chan, Hinata-chan," he cooed, sweating a bit because he wasn't really that good with kids despite what he pulled last time, trying to get Hinata to look at him.
With Naruto helping out, they managed to make Hinata drink the rest of what was left in the bottle.
Everyone held their breath as Naruto silently handed Hinata over to Gaara.
"Be careful with her," Naruto told him and Gaara knew the blond wasn't talking about carrying her.
"Gaa-chan?" Hinata asked as she held on to his shoulders and looked up at him with her wide, innocent eyes. Gaara gulped.
"Hinata-chan…" he started, "I… I need you to ask you a favor?"
Hinata tilted her head, "What is it?"
"I need you to close your eyes."
Hinata giggled, patting Gaara's cheek affectionately before closing her eyes.
With one last look around the room, he took a deep breath, leaned in, and kissed her.
So… I'm abusing my deadline for about a few hours. Haha, I promised before the year ends so ta-dah! Here it is! Happy New Year, everybody! I'm kind of cheating since it's already the 1st here in this side of the world, but on the other side it ain't so I'm considering my promise not broken. /slapped. Hehe.
Anyways, we're almost there guys. We're almost at the end, and I'm feeling a bit joyful and sad about that. When I first started writing this chapter, I honestly felt like I couldn't go on anymore, I've lost all inspiration for this story, but somewhere around the middle, the words just continued to flow out. So yeah, but I think it's about high time we say goodbye. The next chapter may be the last, who knows really, but we're almost there. That we can be sure of.
Also, my hope for GaaHina to become canon may have just been crushed, but aren't we all glad that NaruHina seems to have the highest chance of becoming canon? So happy. But so sad. I'm going to miss you Neji, we all will. ; 3 ;
So anyway, sorry I missed Christmas, and Hinata's birthday, and partly New Year. XDD Hope you guys can take this as my gift to you lot. Hope you like it, and don't forget to leave a review. w Thanks to those who still read and review my fics, you're really the reason why I haven't stopped writing (even with obvious lack of skill). Mwah. Love lots.