Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairings, etc.
Special Thanks: goes out to rao hyuga 18, McKazekage, QueenP19, shyprincess82, ssspooky, xforeverherex, and Uchiha Miyoki-chan for all your amazing reviews! I love reading every single one of them - in fact, I can honestly say they're usually the highlight of my day. Also thanks to those who have added this story to their favorites and follow lists, I get so excited every time I see a new alert in my e-box!
Author's Note: I'm so excited about this chapter! There's a big turning point in Gaara and Hinata's relationship, as well as a very exciting piece of news for another character. I'll keep this author's note short so you can get right into the chapter, but I have just one more thing to say: thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Hinata left the meeting room almost two hours after Neji's revelation, parting ways with her cousin so she could mull over what she'd been told. She moved woodenly through the halls of her childhood home, thankful for her familiarity of the place since her pounding head allowed her to concentrate on nothing except the things - wonderful things, frightening things - Neji had shared with her.
He was a ninja, as was his wife. So were some of her other friends, as well, including Naruto. Imagining the hyperactive blond stealing through the dead of night to carry out some mysterious objective brought a brief, amused smile to her face, but it vanished just as quickly.
The door to her quarters opened as she was reaching for the handle. Surprised, she blinked up into Gaara's anxious green eyes, wondering what he saw in her own as his expression darkened.
Reaching out, he gently took her by the arm and drew her into the room before closing the door behind them. "What did your cousin say to you?" he asked.
Hinata could feel the tension radiating from him as well as she could see it in the pinched skin around his eyes and mouth. "Too much," she replied softly. "Things I n-never c-could have imagined."
"Your father?" Gaara's expression softened, and his hand moved to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear in a surprisingly intimate gesture.
"Yes and no." Neji told her their conversation was to remain between the two of them, but he'd also told Gaara earlier it was Hinata's choice whether or not to impart any or all of their conversation at a later time. She knew some things about the contents of the letter would have to come out eventually, but she hesitated to mention her cousin's choice in careers. Would Gaara think she was lying if she told him Neji and Tenten were ninja?
"N-Neji-" Hinata stopped, nervously biting her lower lip. Should I tell him? Or not? She knew she could trust him to keep the secret, so that was not a problem. But would he believe her?
Gaara guided her down onto the cushion on which she'd been sitting earlier, then folded his own long, lean frame onto the one next to her. "Yes?" he prompted softly. Now they were sitting and he was making no move to touch her again, but she saw the warmth in his eyes. He truly did care about what she had to say. "Neji - what?"
Maybe he wouldn't be pushing for an annulment now, after all? She could only hope.
Looking down at her hands, folded demurely in her lap, she whispered, "He's a n-ninja." Squeezing her eyes shut, she waited for her husband's reaction. He was going to laugh at her, or scoff at her, or accuse her of lying.
Silence. Then, as softly as she'd spoken, he finally replied. "I know."
Hinata's head jerked up so she could stare at him with wide, betrayed pale eyes. "What?"
A hint of what might have been remorse crept into his eyes as Gaara glanced away from her. "I knew your cousin and his wife were ninja. I knew before he came to my office the night you arrived to talk to me, actually. You see, those of us who are have a certain - ability to recognize others of our kind."
Her heart stuttered in her chest. "You mean you..." She lifted her hand to her mouth, feeling incredibly stupid for not having thought of it before. Come to think of it, Neji had even hinted as much during their discussion, but she supposed he hadn't wanted to come out and just say it. She appreciated him for leaving that up to Gaara.
"Yes. Myself, Temari, Kankuro, and even Matsuri. There are several of us in Suna. I no longer actively go out on missions, but I am still a ninja." Gaara stared at her anxiously, as if wondering if she was going to snap and start screaming.
She didn't feel even remotely tempted to scream, but the ridiculous urge to cry was creeping up on her. "I always though ninja were something of the distant past," she said. "People who lived a long time ago, but now only exist in storybooks."
"We are obsessed with our anonymity. It is what keeps us safe and alive. We prefer to work quietly, among the shadows, allowing the military forces in our villages to take the credit for keeping our people safe. Being a ninja is not easy, but it is rewarding, in its own strange sort of way." Gaara reached toward a pitcher Hinata had not noticed before and poured her a glass of water, handed it to her, then poured another for himself.
So many things were beginning to make sense now. Why sometimes a few of her friends did not show up for their usual group dinner; how she always seemed to be missing the same sort of quiet closeness the others shared, leaving her just on the fringes of things, no matter how hard they tried to include her; even Tenten's weapons collection and her knack for using them.
"I wonder why N-Neji chose to tell me n-now," Hinata mused, mostly to herself. "Everything has certainly b-been running smoothly all this time without me knowing about it. So what was so important about telling me n-now?"
"I would imagine your cousin was tired of hiding the truth." Gaara set his still mostly-full glass on the table before looking at her again. "I know I was."
Hearing him admit that truth impacted Hinata in a way she'd not expected. After the way Gaara had attempted to close himself off from her the night before they left Suna, and during the entire trip to Konoha, she had wondered if all their hard work growing closer was for naught. But ever since they'd arrived at her former home, he'd been an entirely different person. She longed to ask him about what had changed his mind, but refrained. He would talk to her in his own time, and pushing him to do so earlier would only serve to make him clam up again. That was the last thing she wanted, especially now when she so desperately needed the quiet strength he willingly offered.
The rays of the setting sun, allowed into the room through the open doors leading out to the verandah overlooking the garden, fell just right across Gaara to make his hair shine a deeper red than usual. Hinata watched him thoughtfully for a moment, admiring him even as he silently seemed to do the same thing to her. "Someone will c-come soon to g-get us for d-dinner."
He seemed surprised at her words, and to be honest, she'd surprised herself with them. She'd meant to say something about how she appreciated his honesty with her, and was thankful he'd chosen to share the truth with her now. But she just couldn't bring herself to voice the words. Not yet. She was still slightly - well, angry, at him and at her cousin, for keeping such a huge secret from her. Did they not trust her? Or was this just some other thing they felt they had to keep from her to "protect" her?
She was getting mighty tired of hearing about how much she needed protecting. She was no longer a child, even if most people still seemed to perceive her that way.
As if a servant had been hovering in the hall waiting for some sort of signal, a scratch on the door indicated the very prompt Hinata had mentioned only a few moments before.
Gaara stood, then reached out his hand and gently assisted her to her feet. "We'll talk more after the meal," he promised.
Hinata slid her hand into the crook of his elbow and smiled tiredly at him. I'm holding you to that, Gaara.
Despite both Gaara's and Hinata's best intentions, their conversation had to wait. As soon as the meal ended - wherein she, her husband, Neji, Tenten, Hanabi, and Temari sat in tense silence and only spoke a handful of words apiece - Tenten captured Hinata's arm and apologized before spiriting her off to the gardens.
The soft golden light of torches lit the paths as the two women wandered, as they had done many times in the past. For a while they meandered in silence, content to enjoy each other's company as they admired their beautiful surroundings.
At last, Tenten drew in a deep breath and then spoke. "Neji told me earlier that you finally know the big family secret."
Hinata had been wondering if that were the reason the older woman had spirited her away to the garden. "Yes."
Tenten nodded, pausing for a moment to inhale the perfume of a particularly beautiful white rose. "Are you terribly angry at us?" Beneath her carefully calm tone, Hinata sensed the uncertainty Tenten was trying to hide.
"No." She'd had a bit of time to think about it now, and ultimately she had decided she wasn't angry. Disappointed, perhaps, but not angry. "I understand why the secret was k-kept. I d-don't like it, b-but I d-do understand. I'm just thankful I know n-now. Though it might make it harder, knowing you're all in such d-danger all the time..."
"It's not always dangerous," Tenten said, straightening. "Even though we're perfectly content to allow modern fiction to mask the fact we exist at all, they do have a tendancy to overexaggerate things."
"If it's n-not so d-dangerous, why d-do you have so many weapons?" Hinata challenged.
Tenten laughed, looking carefree for the first time since before they found out Hinata was being sent to Suna to marry Gaara. "I don't use all of them on missions," she said. "Weapons are my tools of choice, yes, but I also enjoy collecting them and making them. It was the one thing I regretted having to give up when I married Neji, having to stop making weapons. Imagine how surprised and pleased I was when he presented me with a forge on the Hyuuga estate as a wedding present."
Even though Tenten's explanation helped ease Hinata's mind, at least a little, she still felt a little anxious. "I d-don't suppose you c-can tell me anything about what any of your missions entail?" she asked doubtfully.
"You supposed correctly," Tenten replied apologetically. "I'm sorry. But it's better for all involved if we don't discuss the particulars."
"Of course." At least Hinata had not been expecting otherwise, and thus wasn't too terribly disappointed. Experiencing the need to change the subject, she said, "It feels rather surreal, b-being b-back in K-Konoha again. It hasn't really b-been that long since I left, b-but at the same time, it feels like it's b-been half of forever."
"I know." Tenten quickly reached out to give the younger woman a fierce hug. "It felt so wrong, coming back home without you. I've missed our tea in the afternoon, and wandering in the gardens after dinner, and everything else we used to do together."
Hinata felt the tight coil of tension, which she'd been carrying around for the past two weeks solid (sometimes without even realizing it) ease a little. She wasn't back in Konoha to stay, and even though her father's funeral was looming ever-closer in the morning, she was enjoying the time she'd been gifted to spend in her former home. It helped ease the pain of her father's loss, the two of them not having been so close while he was still alive. While she mourned the time they'd never had, and would never have, to spend together, she appreciated the softening of grief the distance between them offered. "I've missed this, too," she admitted. "While I am g-growing used to Suna, and spending time with n-new p-people, I miss you, and Neji, and all my other friends so much sometimes..."
Catching Hinata's hand, Tenten pulled her to a halt. Tugging until the two women faced each other, Tenten shot a glance toward the house before leaning a little closer to whisper, "I hate to ask you this after everything else, Hinata, but I feel like I'm going to burst if I don't tell someone. Can you keep a secret?"
Wondering if she had room inside herself for one more secret, Hinata hesitated for only a moment before she nodded. Tenten looked so excited, she couldn't bear the thought of telling her no.
Tenten's smile grew slowly until it transformed into a breathless grin. Leaning the slightest bit closer, she breathed in a voice meant only for Hinata's ears, "I'm pregnant."
For a moment, all Hinata could do was blink in dull shock. Then, as the news finally sank in to her exhausted, overtaxed mind, she felt a responding grin of her own stretch her lips as she grabbed the woman she considered her older sister in a hug and squealed, "C-Congratulations!"
"Thank you." Tenten returned Hinata's hug, then pulled away, still smiling. "I suspected before, but what with everything else going on, I didn't have a chance to confirm it until this morning. I sneaked away to the hospital while Neji was in the meeting with the Elders so Sakura could run a few tests." Her hand went to her still-flat belly, rubbing soothingly. "You're the first person I've told."
Hinata felt her heart sink a little. "N-Neji d-doesn't know yet?"
"No." Tenten looked down swiftly, suddenly seeming shy and anxious. "Like I said, there's been so much else going on. I didn't want to give him one more thing to worry about today. I'm planning to tell him tonight." Closing her eyes, she let out a brief sigh. "And, to be honest, this baby couldn't have come at a better time."
Another nerve deep inside Hinata twanged forebodingly. "Why d-do you say that?"
Tenten shook her head, remaining silent until the two women moved to sit on one of the benches set back a little ways from the path. When they finally settled in, she continued rubbing her stomach soothingly as she explained. "Even though Lord Hiashi didn't always approve of me and my relationship with his nephew, he eventually got used to me. In fact, there - there towards the end, he even said something about my being an asset to the clan." Her lips suddenly clamped together in a firm line, and her eyes narrowed. "Not too long after Neji and I got home, already having heard the news when Lady Tsunade and the others caught up to us since they were moving so quickly, I knew there was going to be trouble."
Hinata drew in a sharp breath, sure she already knew where this was going.
"Lord Hiashi had gotten used to me, but evidentally the Elders haven't. They approached me quietly, suggesting it was best if Neji and I separated so the future leader of the Hyuuga wouldn't be tied down to some clanless, nobody kunoichi." Anger radiated from Tenten in waves, and Hinata felt more than just a little flare up inside her own chest in agreement. "I had already begun to suspect while we were in Suna that I was pregnant, but like I said, I didn't have a chance to confirm it until this morning. The Elders gave me until after the funeral to set things in motion with Neji, so he and I will be able to face them together with this news."
Nodding slowly, Hinata realized what Tenten was planning. "Since you're p-pregnant with Neji's child, the future heir to the Hyuuga c-clan's leadership, they c-cannot touch you. C-Clan law, as it was laid d-down b-by my ancestors, make a c-clan leader's marriage irrevocably binding once a child is c-conceived."
"Yes, exactly. In what little time I've had, I was able to do some research which led me to the same conclusion." A small smile, glimmering with the smallest hint of humor, briefly turned up the corner's of Tenten's mouth. "In other words, Neji himself couldn't get rid of me now, even if he wanted to, let alone the Elders."
Reaching out, Hinata squeezed Tenten's hand. "Neji will never want to 'g-get rid' of you," she said reassuringly. "And he is g-going to b-be so excited when you tell him your news."
Tenten smiled. "Thanks, Hinata." She looked up at the sky, where the first few night stars were starting to shine against their velvety black backdrop. "I don't mind if you tell Gaara - I understand there should never be secrets between a husband and wife - but if you don't mind, could you have him keep the secret for a while longer? I want as few people as possible to be in the know, at least for a few more weeks." Once again, she absently rubbed her belly, the motion seeming as natural as breathing even though it was so new to her. "It still feels a little surreal to me, being pregnant. Neji and I have wanted a child for so long, and to be honest - well, I was starting to wonder."
"D-Do you have a hunch about whether it will b-be a b-boy or a g-girl?" Hinata had met mothers who did, and others who didn't, so she was curious to know which category Tenten fell under.
"Either way, I hope he or she is healthy," Tenten said. "But, if I had to make a guess, I'd say a girl." She smiled impishly, the corners of her eyes crinkling with good humor. "But maybe that's just me. I want a daughter to spoil rotten, and I think Neji does, too." She offered Hinata a quick wink. "'Aunt Hinata' - it's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
Even though she was Neji's cousin, the two of them had always been as close as a brother and sister growing up. She was pleased Tenten felt the same way. "It d-does, d-doesn't it?"
"Speaking of nieces and nephews..." Trailing off, Tenten glanced hopefully at Hinata out of the corner of her eye. "Any hope of my little one having someone to play with any time soon?"
The old familiar heat flared into Hinata's cheeks, and she quickly looked away from Tenten.
"I'm sorry!" Tenten grabbed her from the side for a tight, apologetic hug. "I didn't mean to-" She sighed heavily and withdrew. "I'm always shooting my mouth off without thinking. Forget I asked." She waved her left hand, as if to brush the topic out of the air between them.
"N-No, it's all right," Hinata hastened to assure her. "I'm n-not offended. And it's n-not you. It's just..." She trailed off. Things were just too complicated to explain.
Tenten smiled, her eyes full of silent understanding. Once again, Hinata was grateful for the other woman's intuitive nature, since it often led her to understand things others weren't really sure how to explain.
As full darkness settled into the sky, Hinata quietly excused herself. She and Gaara still had quite a bit to discuss, and she could tell Tenten was anxious to share her good news with Neji. The two women said good night to each other as they entered the house, then went their separate ways.
Hinata drew in a deep breath as she made her way through the familiar halls of her former home. Things were so comfortable and familiar here, and if she wasn't careful, she ran the risk of getting too comfortable again. She needed to be on her guard to prevent Gaara from carrying out his annulment idea.
The very soft, almost undectable hum of the Hyuuga family (and servants) going about their daily business vanished completely at night, leaving a blanket of calm quiet over the estate. Outside, however, the comforting chirrup, chirrup of crickets and the throaty calls of frogs kept things from being too quiet. It was the lullaby of her childhood, and Hinata hadn't realized how much she'd missed having those nighttime noises until now. Suna was barely hospitable for humans, let alone insects, birds, and other animals. Nights in the desert were as quiet as a grave.
Shivering at the morbid thought, Hinata quietly slid open the shouji through which she'd first entered earlier in the day. For a moment she blinked in the brightness of her room, surprised to find so many lights blazing, especially since all the others had been dimmed for nighttime.
She took another step inside, then realized why the lights were still on so brightly. Gaara lay across two cushions set up by the door out to the garden, the index finger of his left hand still marking his place in the book he'd obviously been reading when he fell asleep. His chest rose and fell in a soft, even rhythm, and the boyish features she'd noticed before seemed even more so in repose.
A feeling like she'd never experienced before rose up into her chest. Swallowing hard to banish the sudden prick of tears in her eyes, Hinata crept over to the main switch for the light and quietly flipped it. She held her breath, afraid the sudden darkness would wake her husband, but he slept on, oblivious. Relieved, she waited until her eyes had adjusted to the pale silver light streaming into the room through the thin cover of the shouji doors leading outside, then quietly crossed to her bedroom.
Careful not to make too much noise, Hinata opened the bottom of the two drawers on her bureau and pulled out a light blanket. She unfolded it as she made her way back to the main room, shaking out the wrinkles before draping it over her husband's sleeping form.
"G-Good night, G-Gaara," she whispered. For a moment she hesitated, still kneeling next to his impromptu pallet, wondering if her sudden impulse should be followed or abandoned. Deciding it wouldn't hurt anything, she leaned over and pressed a very gentle kiss to the tattoo over his left eye.
He neither moved nor wakened, and Hinata let out a relieved breath. Not daring to touch him further for fear of disturbing him, she went back to her room and quietly dressed for bed, not bothering to call for Matsuri. She wanted absolutely nothing to make noise which could potentially wake Gaara, and her maid's coming and then leaving would definitely qualify.
Once more feeling the exhaustion of the past few days catch up with her, Hinata gratefully climbed under her own blankets. Her bed welcomed her like an old friend, and she allowed her scratchy eyes to slip closed as a completely content sigh escaped her lips. The bed was smaller than the one in Suna, but it was familiar, and more importantly, it was a place where she could sleep. Right now, that was her only priority.
Despite the thoughts still whirling around madly in her mind, mostly focused on her father's funeral in the morning, Hinata fell asleep within moments of her head settling on her pillow. As she descended further into the darkness which blanketed all sensation of the outside world, she thought she felt a slight disturbance, but it vanished before she could discern its source or intent.
She dreamed of shadowy figures, of steel and blood and death, and woke only short few hours after falling asleep, screaming.
No, wait. Hinata blinked, realizing the tortured sounds she was hearing were not coming from her own throat. Instead, they were filtering through the door into the next room.
Hianta scrambled from her bed in such haste, she nearly tripped over the covers still tangled around her legs. She shoved them away impatiently, only distantly cognizant of the fact she had no weapon. If the assassin had returned, and this time gone after her husband, she would have nothing with which to defend herself.
But it was not she who needed defending.
Her only thought was of Gaara, and protecting him from whatever was making him scream as if he were seeing the face of Death himself.
Throwing open the door, Hinata's pale eyes sought out the pallet on the floor. There was no evil shadow with upraised weapon hindering her view of Gaara, but she didn't stop to spare a breath of relief. Instead, she ran across the room and threw herself onto the floor next to her husband, the rug burning her knees as she slid unsteadily with her momentum.
Gaara lay on his back, face set in a horrible mask of fear and hatred as his body twisted from side to side, hands scrambling at his throat as if to release something which was blocking his airway. Even in the dim light filtering through the shouji, Hinata could see the angry red scratches his own nails were inflicting on his skin. If she didn't stop him, he would soon begin to bleed, and there was a strong possibility he could hurt himself even further.
"Gaara!" She knew even as she cried his name it would do no good, since he couldn't hear her over his own screams. So she allowed her instincts to guide her and did the only other thing she could think to do.
Summoning strength she didn't even know she possessed, Hinata reached out and latched on to Gaara's shoulders, using every bit of her slight weight to try to still his wild thrashing. "S-Stop it, G-Gaara!"
His eyes snapped open, fogged with the haze of sleep, absolutely no recognition to be found in their depths. With the speed and accuracy of a striking snake, Gaara's hand shot up so his fingers could latch around her throat, squeezing so hard she instantly felt her breath cut off.
Hinata froze. She instinctively knew if she moved, if she so much as thought about moving, she would die. There was no doubt in her mind about the truth of that fact. But, instead of feeling panicked or angry, she only felt sad. Grief for the childhood which had turned Gaara into an insomniac who was forced to relive horrible things in his nightmares the few times he did actually manage to fall asleep spread through her chest and made tears prickle in her eyes, where her vision was slowly going grey along the edges from lack of oxygen.
As she watched, recognition dawned in Gaara's eyes, followed less than a moment later by horror, then terror.
At the exact same time, the door across the room shot open.
"Let go of her!" Hinata had never heard her soft-spoken cousin sound so dangerous ever before.
Gaara's fingers relaxed, and he snatched his hand away from her as if he'd been burned. As his hand withdrew, so did the rest of him, sending his body crashing back against the shouji leading to the garden so hard the wood shattered and the fabric tore.
Footsteps moved rapidly across the room in their direction. Hinata, sensing what was coming, spun around, placing herself between Gaara and Neji as she threw her arms wide to block her cousin's advance. "N-No!" she cried.
Neji's pale eyes burned with cold white fire, but the look was directed beyond Hinata's shoulder. "Get out of my way," he snarled. "He tried to kill you. I can't let such violence against my little sister go unpunished."
A soft click sounded, and then the lights came on in the room. Hinata looked beyond her cousin toward the doorway, where Tenten stood in her nightclothes, a katana in her right hand and four ninja stars between the fingers of her left. Despite the fact she and Neji had been pulled out of bed - and sleep - they looked remarkably alert.
So this is the ability of a ninja, Hinata thought in distant wonder.
Hinata turned slightly, surprised to see Temari standing in the other doorway between the hall and Hinata's suite. She, too, was barefoot and in her nightclothes, though she held a beautiful but wicked-looking bladed fan in her right hand instead of a sword. Unlike Neji and Tenten, though, she looked exhausted, with huge dark smudges beneath her eyes, made all the blacker against her sheet-white skin. Behind her, the shadows of others - guards, perhaps? - hovered watchfully.
"Your brother was trying to kill Hinata." Neji's eyes flickered briefly to Temari before once again settling on Gaara. "I've had my doubts about this marriage ever since Uncle first told me about it. This is the last straw. I'm putting an end to this, now."
Reaching out, Hinata carefully curled her hands around Neji's tightly clamped fist. "D-Don't," she whispered. "P-Please, Neji, d-don't."
Neji's eyes finally shot to hers, narrow and angry. "Hinata-" he started.
Before he could say anymore, Hinata applied pressure to his hand, trying to push him back towards the door. "P-Please, just g-go b-back to sleep," she whispered. "It will b-be fine."
Once again, Neji's eyes flickered toward Gaara, then back to her. He looked like he wanted to protest again, but instead he silently withdrew his fist from her grip, turned, and then paused next to Tenten. "I will be close by if you need me." His eyes narrowed. "Very close by."
Tenten shot Hinata an unreadable look, then shifted her shuriken to her right hand along with her katana so she could take Neji's arm and pull him away.
At the other doorway, Temari met Hinata's eyes for only a moment before she, too, vanished, closing the door behind her.
Hinata waited until the sound of retreating footsteps faded completely before finally allowing her attention to return to her husband, who sat among the ruins of the shouji door he'd knocked over. He'd drawn his knees up to his chest, and he clutched handfuls of his red hair with fists so tight it looked like the fine bones in his hands would snap at any moment.
Carefully approaching, she knelt down just out of his reach, knowing it would help him feel better. "G-Gaara?" she whispered.
He didn't look at her. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "But now do you understand? A future with me would do no more than hurt you. Maybe even-" he faltered for a moment "-kill you," he finished softly.
"You aren't g-going to hurt me." Hinata had no idea from where her confidence was coming, but she did not question it. She knew even as she said it: it was the absolute, unquestionable truth.
Gaara looked up at her with haunted, bloodshot eyes. "How can you be so confident with all this evidence of my murderous side staring you in the face?" he asked hopelessly.
Leaning forward, Hinata gently rested her hand on his upraised knees. Smiling gently, she replied with all honesty, "B-Because I'm b-beginning to realize the real Sabaku G-Gaara c-cannot see himself c-clearly," she said.
"And you do?" Gaara sounded like he wanted to hope, to trust her, so badly, but he wasn't sure he could.
Hinata closed her eyes and rested her forehead against his, closing her eyes and putting herself entirely at his mercy. And, because there was only one thing to be said, she whispered simply, "Yes."
*~To Be Continued~*
Author's Notes: In another couple of chapters, we'll have another Gaara point of view. I'm so excited to start shifting Gaara and Hinata's relationship, though I'm afraid everything won't be smooth sailing just yet. (Sorry!) I posted this chapter a few hours early since I don't feel very well and don't want to wake up sick and not be able to post this chapter for you all. Thanks for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you again for the next update!