Title: Strangled by the Red String

Fandom: Naruto (Shippu Konoha Gakuen Den! AU- set after Sasuke willingly goes with Orochimaruko and Kabuko)

Pairing: Sasuke-Hinata overall, but sprinklings of other pairings and crushes here and there.

For: Holly (faintheartstrife) who requested some SasuHina angst

Disclaimer: I do not own rights to Naruto. All rights belong to Kishimoto, VIZ and other enterprises.

"You're not going to stop me?"

A right foot rocked back for a moment, hand clenched on the railing. She didn't turn around because the backpack on his shoulders said it all.

He was running away from home. Again. Hinata Hyuuga was starting to feel Sasuke Uchiha only performed his vanishing acts to invoke a reaction from his peers, parents or anyone really.

"No. You won't listen anyway" the girl replied.

"Hn, you're one step ahead of Sakura then. She's already cried on me and promised to follow…what an idiot."

"Stop it."

"Why? …it's not like you two are friends, so it doesn't matter if I bad mouth her."

Hinata turned around on the apartment staircase, "She loves you."

Sasuke snarled, "She's annoying." "She loves you" Hinata repeated, stressing 'love' as if it should mean something to him.

"…why don't you come with me instead?"

Opal-colored eyes blinked slowly. This was a first. And it made Hinata wonder if he honestly did not plan on coming back. No. Sasuke would be back. It might take a few days, but he always showed up again.

"I…Sasuke I can't just…walk out without a reason." Hinata glanced to his stoic expression then to the straps along the teenager's shoulders. 'I'm not like you. I can't just walk away from my responsibilities.' Hinata mentally tacked on to her words.

"Figured that'd be your answer" Sasuke said before marching up the last step. Hinata ducked under his arm just before their lips could meet in a kiss. It wouldn't be right to reward him for bad behavior, so Hinata backed away and distanced herself from him.

She guessed from the way he smirked at her response that Sasuke had been expecting the brush off.

"I forgot to get Hanabi-chan a juice." Hinata mumbled, though wondering why she even bothered since they both knew the Hyuuga was a bad liar.

"I won't be here when you get back, so it's now or never." Sasuke told her.

"…alright." The girl tilted her head, projecting a smile because for all his melodrama, Sasuke was a good friend. They grew up side by side in the same corporate apartment complex. Went to the same nursery, elementary, middle and now were in Konoha Gakuen together.

"Goodbye then. Please text me sometime, so I can pass along word to your family."

Sasuke raised a hand, but didn't verbally affirm a promise to keep in touch.

'He'll be back.' Hinata said to herself after she turned a corner to a drink machine, losing sight of Sasuke in the process.

Yet there was a little whisper in the back of her mind, 'But what if he doesn't return?'


At first she didn't hear anyone calling her name. Instead, Hinata was focused on the scene unfolding outside the window. Naruto had just been discharged from the hospital yesterday, still banged up and bandaged and walking in on crutches.

There was a rumor going around he was looking for Sasuke Uchiha and ran into some trouble with a yakuza gang. In the courtyard below, the blond was projecting a smile so wide and effervescent it looked painful and forced. Yet, Hinata felt she was the only person who noticed the change…


She jerked as someone abruptly invaded her space by placing hands down on Hinata's desk.

"Glad I got your attention." Ino said while smiling. She pulled up the desk chair in front of Hinata and turned to sit facing the violet-haired girl.

"Listen, I need a favor. Can I walk home with you today?"

A series of slow blinks followed, because Hinata didn't understand how walking home together would be considered a 'favor'. Then she recalled the apartment complex was high security, so if Ino had business there she'd need to register as a visitor and it would be a hassle if she went in alone.

'Why would Ino-chan want to go to my building though?' Hinata asked herself. Then she saw the stack of notes and homework left on the blonde's desk.

Sasuke's missed work. Hinata held her tongue in dispelling Ino's assumption that he'd be home to accept the homework.

'Sasuke is Sasuke. He'll turn up again when he's ready.' Hinata thought, yet couldn't say because it would lead to awkward questions about her relationship to Sasuke. They kept their friendship quiet around school and rarely talked to one another, unless it was at the housing complex because of girls like Ino; who were so sure they were destined to be Sasuke's girlfriend.

While all of this was running through her head, Hinata nodded and vocally replied with, "Sure. You can walk home with me…"

"And Sakura too?" Ino blurted out. A long pause spaced out the request and Ino's explanation.

The blond leaned in and whispered. "Look, she needs something, Hinata-chan. Some kind of hope he's not gone for good, so just let us walk with you to his place and drop off the homework. That's all I ask."

"…o-of course Sakura-chan can come along." Because Hinata knew how terrible it was to wait forever while feeling uncertain where one stood.

In fact, Hinata glanced back to the courtyard where Naruto was laughing with his circle of friends while they tried to mark up his bandages and arm sling. The blond-haired boy spotted her looking through the window. He waved and smiled, so in return Hinata offered a shy wave of her hand then ducked down.

Today marked a two month landmark since their first and, so far, only date. And for being so friendly to her in classes, Naruto had yet to call her back.

So yes, she could empathize with what Sakura was going through.

Mikoto Uchiha smiled tiredly when she opened the door to three girls, although she only recognized one.

"Hinata-chan, it's good to see you" she said as the girl bowed then introduced her compansions.

"Sorry to intrude, Mikoto-san" Hinata said sincerely because the mother looked like she had been through Hell already.

Understandable since Sasuke had been missing for five days and his 'disappearing acts' were always the worst on Mikoto-san because she loved him so much.

Behind Hinata's back, Ino and Sakura exchanged looks. In the end Ino shrugged, obviously since Hinata and Sasuke lived in the same building they knew each other's parents, no big deal.

Sakura's expression spoke volumes as to how much 'bullshit' she thought that to be, but decided to reserve her judgment as Sasuke's mother invited them inside for tea.

"Oh no, we couldn't impose…"

"Thank you so much, Uchiha-san" Ino piped up above Hinata. As the girls stepped inside and took of their shoes, Hinata was shocked when Ino winked and held a finger to her lips before wandering down the hallway.

"W-wait…Ino-chan…" Hinata hissed as the blonde opened a bedroom door. Sakura had followed Mikoto-san into the kitchen, so it was Hinata awkwardly standing in the hall while Ino snooped around Sasuke's empty bedroom.

"I'm so glad you three came by. I was worried Sasuke would fall behind, but I really don't know anyone working at his school to ask for a teacher to drop off his homework."

Sakura smiled a little, "Think nothing of it, Uchiha-san. We…we're all worried about Sasuke."

"It's nice…I suppose. I know Sasuke can be difficult and has trouble making friends, so I'm glad his classmates think enough to look out for him. …even when he does this…" Mikoto stopped talking for a moment, putting the prepared kettle on.

Green eyes blinked owlishly, "Sasuke…has run away from home before?"

Mikoto nodded solemnly. "Yes, ever since Itachi died, he sometimes takes off for a few days at a time. …saying he has gone looking for Itachi."

Shocked, Sakura managed to ease herself down in a chair. She…had no idea Sasuke had a brother. Well…a dead brother.

"They were so close as children, so naturally Sasuke had some… issues letting go." Mikoto sat down beside the pink-haired girl at the kitchen table. "But, I honestly thought he'd grow out of this habit by now."

After Hinata managed to wrangle Ino out of Sasuke's bedroom, she pinned the blond with a look Ino would almost call a 'glare', but that was insane. Hinata-chan didn't have a mean bone in her body, so glaring should be physically impossible for her.

Once she was seated, with a hot cup of tea in front of her; Ino couldn't help but notice how comfortable Mikoto-san was around Hinata-chan. A glance to Sakura told Ino she wasn't the only one suspicious.

It reached a peak as they prepared to leave, Mikoto-san took Hinata-chan aside. Ino leaned out from the hall and happened to catch part of their conversation.

"…no, not yet Mikoto-san. I'll let you know the minute he contacts me though."

The dark-haired housewife smiled then, in surprising move; leaned forward and hugged Hinata.

"Thank you. I know Sasuke trusts you, so please keep trying to get ahold of him…try to get him to come home."

Hinata frowned, but in the end nodded and promised, "I will."

'…something fishy is going on.' Ino thought when Hinata rejoined them and saw her and Sakura to the gate of the complex.

Notes: A bit confusing right now, but I promise things will clear up with more installments. Thanks for reading…and I hope this fits in your angst requirement Holly. If not I'll try harder next time.