Hinata sat up, but became frozen as she faced him. A few moments of silence reigned as they listened to Sakura's soft breathing, and to Naruto's nasally snores.

"Hyuuga," Sasuke said in a slightly hoarse voice. It sounded so sexual that it caused her to blush.

Sasuke's long bangs hung in his face. The shadows beneath them told Hinata that he had indeed been sleeping, and she wondered how her tiny voice could have possibly roused him. He wore his usual impassive expression, the line of his mouth betraying his ill-humor, but his eyes held hers completely.

Hinata abruptly remembered to speak. "I-"

She found herself incredibly distracted as Sasuke yawned. Failing to notice how her jaw hung slack, Hinata openly stared. Sasuke was completely off guard and he didn't seem to mind. This was a side of him she hadn't anticipated – one she hadn't known to exist! It robbed her of what little composure she had mustered. Only when she noticed how Sasuke was peering at her did Hinata snap out of her stupor.

"I-" Hinata repeated, her gaze quickly darting away. Maybe if she stopped looking at him, she wouldn't freeze up so much.

So it was true. He was – handsome. Almost too handsome. Suspiciously handsome. Hinata unconsciously wrung her sheets in her hands.

What had she been intending to say anyway? How could she voice the ineffable feelings stirring within her? She herself didn't understand them. She felt her resolve crumbling, but clutched onto the very last bit.

"I...I...I-"

Hinata had managed to say "I" five times in as many minutes. Sasuke was growing impatient. He absently scratched an itch at his side, drawing up his wifebeater in the process. Hinata followed his hand with her gaze, watching as his shirt inched higher...and higher...

Sasuke coughed.

Hinata's eyes snapped up. She turned pink at seeing the odd way Sasuke was looking at her. Then the corner of his mouth twitched in a possible amusement, though after she blinked, it had disappeared, but she was a Hyuuga, and had never doubted her eyes.

"Come closer," he invited.

"I – umm-" For some compulsive reason unknown to her, she did the contrary, and attempted to scramble away from him. She would have crashed against Sakura's sleeping form had Sasuke not caught her wrist, stopping her. He jerked her back with surprising strength, a strength he had yet to learn to apply to normal people and situations, because Hinata was pulled so forcefully she collided with his chest.

She drifted in Sasuke's vague scents of sandalwood. She had instinctively flung her arms around him, and now it was his turn to freeze like a statue. She observed that he had a nice torso, nicer than it seemed in his clothes. She could feel his heart pound, and his muscles brace beneath his shirt. Maybe he shared her anxiety, though he was far better at hiding it.

Her dizzy eyes opened as she felt Sasuke manually detach her. She flushed and looked down, but he took her chin and raised her face. He surveyed her thoughtfully; warily, and indifferently. Now was her chance to say something – anything!

"Can I kiss you?" he said.


Yawning in unison, two brunettes glanced at each other, before one quickly looked away. The other raised his eyebrow.

Hinata concentrated on Sakura's back, feeling her heart quicken as it pounded beneath her ribs. The previous night had been...it had been...

Odd.

Hinata remembered each detail perfectly as though it had happened only moments before. Of how Sasuke had asked whether he could kiss her, and how she had mumbled, "okay," in consent, feeling her cheeks burn despite the cool air. How he had kissed her but once, lightly biting her bottom lip as he pulled away, and when her eyes fluttered open, she noticed him watching her carefully.

The evening had ended a moment later with Hinata averting her eyes, unable to say a word. Sasuke offered a brief smirk, before muttering something extremely strange.

I can't wait to take you.

He had breathed the words, as though absentmindedly. With that, he returned to his mat and took retreat in his blankets as though nothing had happened.

For the remainder of the night, Hinata could not sleep very well. Her dreams were littered with crimson eyes and raven hair, and every once in a while she would awake and look at Sasuke to see that he had not moved an inch.

Her cheek twitched.

As Hinata walked that morning alongside him, she began to consider the concept that the kiss had not occurred – that it had all just been a dream. A very strange, perverted dream that that would hopefully never recur. Yes, that was probably it!

Feeling relieved by this rationale, Hinata continued to follow Naruto and Sakura's gaudy forms. The group had already delivered the package to the Fire Lord and were on their way back to Konoha.

Despite her best efforts to prevent it, Hinata's mind drifted back to her strange evening. Was it really just a dream? Somehow she had gone from relieved to disheartened in minutes.

She glanced up at the blue sky to observe that the morning had aged to afternoon. She drifted along unaware of her surroundings, or of the fact that she had begun to lag behind the others. It had been a strange dream. An...almost nice...dream.

She glanced at Sasuke's retreating form, again thinking of the kiss, the excitement and pleasure that had encompassed her throughout, how it had been seconds but felt like minutes that they were connected by skin, and warmth, and an unspoken deal, because suddenly kissing each other wasn't wrong, it was okay. No, it was perfect.

The kiss, Sasuke's kiss, the pleasure of it drugging her, the warmth of his whisper tickling her throat, her spine trembling even as he withdrew-

...I can't wait to take you...

How – wrong! How, just – perverse – for her to dream about such a thing! She blushed to herself, scratching her cheek as she walked. Sasuke was clearly a bad influence, making her think those types of things. Long she had daydreamed of Naruto, but for his innocence, his playfulness – never in a sexual way! No – that was just too weird!

"Hinata."

She blinked and looked up at hearing her name in Sasuke's voice, spoken so deliberately from his careful lips. He had never called her by her given name, but now breeched a realm of familiarity that made her blush because it was so stark and unique and-

Maybe her dream hadn't been a dream at all.

"You're about to walk into a-"

Blackness.


Her head was pounding when she opened her eyes, wincing against the light. She tried to get up, but the world was spinning. She made it shakily to her feet, half bent over. She began to fall again, when someone caught her arm. She grasped onto the nearest fixture, which just happened to be him. She was suddenly leaning on a very familiar chest.

Sasuke's closeness did nothing for Hinata's dizziness.

"I..." she breathed. "What-?"

"You walked into a tree."

Hinata looked up at him in disbelief, but his humorless expression betrayed no mischief, and she didn't see him as the joking type. She therefore came to the conclusion that he was telling the truth. Clearly her powerful doujutsu was no match for trees. "S-sorry," she said, feeling incredibly ashamed. "I-"

"Is that all you can say around me?"

All she could say... He was referencing her dream, as though it was real. No, that couldn't be right. "W-where are Naruto and Sakura?" she asked, revealing that she had several other words in her vocabulary.

"Looking for water," Sasuke responded, and as he said this, she remembered their proximity, because he tentatively touched her waist, as though acquainting himself with the physical contact. For the entirety of Hinata's existence, she had been accustomed to embracing boys and girls alike – her family, her teammates, even friends and classmates. But she was unused to Sasuke, who interpreted it in an entirely different light. He didn't have a vast collection of allowances, just her. She was the girl he touched, and kissed. She squeezed her eyes shut as she realized he was going to do it again.

"Ne, Sakura-chan!"

She had never been so relieved to hear Naruto's voice. Hinata opened her eyes to see that Sasuke had looked up, an annoyed expression across his face.

"I think they're this way!" Naruto squawked from nearby.

Sasuke looked back down at Hinata, sensing her tenseness. "Calm down," he muttered, with no indication that he intended to release her.

As Hinata defied him by doing the exact opposite, she saw a mischievous glint in his eye, one he probably reserved for his prey. As her shade of red increased incrementally, he remained sinister. Maybe this was revenge for that night with the darkness, the paralysis, and the toppings.

Naruto and Sakura were even closer now. She could hear them calling their names.

She was too dizzy to move from her place against Sasuke's chest, his hands securing her waist. "Naruto-kun-" she indicated. She didn't want him to see them. Not yet! Not when even she, herself, didn't know what this was.

Sasuke seemed pleased by her dilemma. "Aa? Naruto?" He lowered his face to her neck and asked, "What about the dobe?"

She hadn't known it until that moment, but her neck was incredibly sensitive, at least to Sasuke's whispers. She almost sunk, but Sasuke supported her more fully. She clutched his shirt and buried herself in it, hiding against him; contradicting herself completely. She felt his body stiffen, then shortly after relax. He became apprehensive as well sometimes, but quickly adapted to every thoughtless contact she initiated.

"Oi Sasuke! Hinata-ow!" Naruto's voice was now merely yards away. Sasuke could vaguely see them beyond some foliage.

"Stop yelling!" said Sakura, who was even closer.

Just beyond the brush.

Hinata trembled as she was rushed with panic, adrenaline, and – excitement. But Sasuke must have misinterpreted it as anxiety, because he finally released her.

"There you are!"

She looked up to see that Sakura had entered the clearing, Naruto close behind, a bump on his head. Hinata suddenly realized that although Sasuke had released her, she was still leaning against his chest. Naruto seemed to notice this, eying the pair.

She quickly detached herself from the Uchiha, even though she should have known better, and nearly collapsed in result.

"Hinata," said Sakura, grabbing her shoulders to steady her. She gave the Hyuuga a once-over, before resting a palm against her forehead. "It's not like you to walk into things. Is there anything wrong?"

Everything was wrong!

Hinata mechanically shook her head back and forth, though she was terrible at lying. "I just wasn't w-watching where I was going," she said unconvincingly. When she saw that Sakura was not satisfied with this explanation, she struggled to elaborate. "I've been...p-preoccupied."

Sakura narrowed her eyes. "Preoccupied? With what?"

"Ju-just..." Hinata tried her best not to look at Sasuke, but from the corner of her eye, he seemed to be watching her with the others. "Things," she finished lamely, glancing at the ground. Her answer only made Sakura more suspicious

A few hours later, the pink-haired kunoichi had given up on trying to understand why Hyuuga Hinata was walking into trees. As they continued on the long path back to Konoha, even Hinata didn't notice how she stayed alongside Sasuke, or how the two of them were walking much further behind the others than before.

She jumped when she was suddenly addressed.

"Hinata-chan!" Naruto called, turning around, and managing to walk backwards. Beside him Sakura gave him an odd glance. "Can you scout a mile ahead?" The sun was setting, and the crazed Ozai had warned the group of powerful adversaries that haunted the night. Only Naruto had taken the advice seriously.

"Ah – sure!" Hinata responded. Naruto briefly wondered why Sasuke and Hinata were so far behind, but simply shrugged it off as he turned forward. They were probably engrossed in conversations about him!

Besides, Naruto thought, as he glanced at the girl beside him. He didn't mind having alone time with Sakura-chan.

A few yards behind, Hinata lightly shook herself. Before Naruto's interruption, her aching head had begun to droop towards Sasuke's shoulder. She was grateful to have caught herself. She didn't understand what all this was.

Regardless, it was...a secret.

She could tell because Sasuke was mostly impassive towards her again. Not that she treated him any differently...aside from the blush that crossed her features when she thought of their first, uninterrupted kiss.

So yes. It was their secret.

As the heiress prepared to activate the byakugan in order to scout as Naruto had instructed, Sasuke suddenly caught her eye. She gasped as he grabbed her arm and pulled her against him, wrapping an arm about her waist. "If you need to rest your head..."

So it was official. They were...together – even though it was easier to deny each other, and to pretend that every kiss was just part of another dream. She wasn't ready for this – she was scared!

And yet...all she wanted...all she wanted was...

Sasuke had stopped in his tracks, and as Hinata looked up, she realized why. Their famed medic, Haruno Sakura, had impaled Naruto with her fist.