"Nani?! Tsunade-baa-chan, you can't do this!"
Naruto's indignant outburst at the Hokage was met with a pained sigh.
"Naruto, there's nothing else I can do. That Uchiha is a criminal; in reality, your relationship with him can't change anything."
Naruto only stared at the Hokage, unseeing and his jaw clenched, but Hinata felt herself almost tear up at the sudden revelation. It had only been two days since the end of the war. Two days. And Sasuke was already being moved from the hospital to the prison for torture, questioning, and who knows what else. Hinata had seen the wound Madara's Susanoo had given the Uchiha; it was a deadly chakra wound that wouldn't heal completely for months. Without proper treatment, it could literally suck the life out of him. Hesitantly, the Hyuuga rose her voice.
"Demo, Tsunade-sama, couldn't Sasuke's wounds be life-threatening without treatment?"
Tsunade sighed again, feeling worn out. "I've talked to the Anbu, Hinata. I promise I've explained everything to them. It's just been decided that Sasuke's too dangerous to keep in the hospital. With the Akatsuki gone, he doesn't provide much valuable information either. Rather, his death might even help our relationship with other nations. The Raikage still holds a large grudge on the Uchiha."
Hinata felt her voice hitch and mentally berated herself.
It's Naruto-kun who's more devastated now, not me...
Worried lavender eyes flicked to listless blue. The blonde shinobi's face was pale, his usual warm tan dulled and sucked of life. He hadn't even been able to speak out against the action. Over the years, Naruto had learned which battles were better left unfought. Sasuke's current situation was unfortunately the best action for Konoha at this point in time. But that didn't make it any less painful.
Seeing Naruto so depressed and given up caused Hinata's heart to clench painfully.
There has to be something I can do. Something to help Sasuke, for Naruto-kun's sake... But what?
Fingering the ends of her sleeves in thought, Hinata looked at her palms and remembered the Byakugan sealing techniques that her father taught her during the war. Maybe she could seal Sasuke's chakra while treating him to appease the Anbu...
It probably won't work, but I've got to try!
Taking one more glance at Naruto, Hinata focused her eyes on Tsunade.
"Tsunade-sama, with the Byakugan sealing technique, I can seal Sasuke's chakra, r-rendering him powerless. Couldn't I do this and th-then treat him?
Tsunade narrowed her amber eyes at the young, hesitant girl. "Hinata, I'm sure you know the excruciating pain that jutsu can cause. And couldn't there be repercussions for your own body as well?"
"Yes. But, with proper chakra control, I can avoid any injuries to myself. But as for Sasuke...it will be rather painful."
Hinata's voice saddened as she mentioned the last sentence. But it was necessary to appease the Anbu. At least Sasuke would be able to live...
"I understand. I will discuss this with the Elders and you will be notified when a decision is made."
Sighing, Tsunade looked between Hinata and Naruto. The Hyuuga's plan could work, but even then, Sasuke's penalty was likely to be death. Tsunade thought of her own pupil, Sakura, and how devastated the medic-nin would be at the Uchiha's death. Sakura was actually planning to be at this meeting with Hinata and Naruto, but was called in to work at the hospital suddenly.
Nodding at the two shinobi before her, Tsunade dismissed them from her office. The Hokage rubbed her temples and leaned on the desk in frustration.
"Ugh, Shizune, when is Naruto going to take my place already?"
The Hokage's assistant sauntered into the office, carrying some paperwork, her faithful pig in tow.
"I don't know, Tsunade-sama. But that boy seems to have a lot on his plate right now..."
Sasuke growled at the chains holding him. The confined cell was dark, cold, and damp. The shinobi couldn't even lift his arm, let alone use any of his chakra. His kekkei genkai was completely sealed as well. He couldn't see anything, but Sasuke wasn't sure if he was blindfolded or if the room was just so dark.
He'd been treated by Sakura in the hospital for the past two days, but even then he'd only regained consciousness for one day. Why were they treating him like this? Didn't he help in the war? The Uchiha knew his status as a traitor, but he needed to be pardoned somehow in order to continue his brother's dream. Sasuke just wanted the normal life of a shinobi from here on out...or at least, that's what he felt was right.
But if I die here, at the hands of these Konoha idiots, nothing is going to happen.
An annoyed sigh escaped Sasuke's lips.
I guess I'll have to cooperate willingly through all this.
Although, if he had to die, Sasuke felt it would be best if he died in Konoha, even as a prisoner.
If Itachi had been captured when he was a member of the Akatsuki, he probably would have died like this too, right?
Maybe, but Sasuke just didn't want to think about that right now.
One thing continued to irk him, however. He still didn't know who the pale-skinned, dark-haired girl was from the battlefield. His memory failed him of that day, but he couldn't forget her soft voice and determination. Sasuke rubbed his fingers together absently.
Her cheek was so soft...
The sharingan user pulled himself from his thoughts as the door creaked open and someone stepped into the room. Sasuke heard strong footsteps fill the cell. They stopped in front of him, and he started when a rough hand grabbed his chin.
"Uchiha Sasuke. Look at me." Sasuke's blindfold was ripped off and he blinked in pain and surprise at the flood of light.
"You will answer all my questions truthfully. What you say here will help determine the penalty for your crimes. Although, you're probably gonna get the chair no matter what you say. Your whole family was a bunch of assholes anyway." A smirk tugged at the brute's lips.
Sasuke felt his anger flare at the man's spiteful remark, but calmed himself, knowing that he'd personally change the view of the Uchiha clan in time.
Respect will overcome disgrace.
"I will tell you anything you ask of me." The Uchiha bore holes into the interrogator's eyes, his glare contrasting with his compliant reply.
Here we go...
As Naruto and Hinata left the Hokage office together, a hopeful gleam emerged in the blonde's eyes. He turned to Hinata and smiled brightly.
A blush formed on the girl's face, but she returned the smile sincerely.
"N-no problem, Naruto-kun. I want to help Sasuke too."
They walked quietly side by side until they reached the base of the Hokage tower, but Naruto looked rather fidgety. The girl stole glances at him every now and then, wondering what would make him like that. Hinata had a Hyuuga council meeting to attend, but it wasn't very urgent. As they reached the doors, she turned to say goodbye when a strong, warm hand grabbed her wrist. The kunoichi's brows furrowed in confusion as she saw Naruto's bright blue eyes flit around nervously.
"Hinata-chan...I'm going to go catch some lunch at Ichiraku's. Would...you want to come along?"
His eyes settled on her hopefully, but she felt terribly self-conscious as a dark blush blossomed across her cheeks. Naruto didn't seem to notice however, as always, and Hinata secretly thanked God for the boy's obtuseness. Taking an inaudible sigh, Hinata reminded herself that this outing had to be only on the business of Sasuke. She felt a slight disappointment, but had been used to Naruto's disinterest in her. She just enjoyed the time that she could spend with the shinobi.
Hinata smiled at Naruto genuinely, trying her best to reduce the heat growing on her cheeks. The boy's eyes brightened instantly, and he flashed his charming grin at the girl, only deepening her blush.
I guess the council meeting can wait.
The pair walked towards the famous ramen shop, and Naruto chattered incessantly along the way.
"Hinata-chan, can you believe it? The war is finally over... As of now, the shinobi nations are all cooperating together. If it wasn't for Sasuke's situation, the world would be perfect."
"I know, N-naruto-kun. It's pretty a-amazing."
"Yeah...by the way, how's your Clan doing? Are you going to be taking over your father's position anytime soon?"
"Not yet, but my father is planning to s-step down soon, so I am taking lessons and attending meetings to be ready for that time."
"Huh. Sounds like a lot of work." He made a disgusted face, causing Hinata to giggle. Naruto smiled at her reaction.
She's so cute when she laughs...
Hinata was terribly nervous at first, but found herself relaxing as the conversation went on. Naruto's pleasant demeanor was intoxicating.
"Maybe, but the Hyuuga clan leader is a big job. How about you, Naruto? When will you be taking on the role of Hokage? I'm sure Tsunade-sama would be glad to give you the position."
Naruto looked away and his face darkened immediately. Hinata wondered if she had said something wrong.
"Naruto-kun...are you okay?"
"Hai, Hinata-chan. Sorry, it's just not something I want to talk about right now."
"I see...I'm sorry."
Naruto punched her arm playfully, shooting her a small smile.
"It's nothing you need to apologize for, baka."
Hinata smiled at the blonde shinobi, and the two walked into the small stall they had arrived at.
Naruto took a seat and pulled out the stool next to him for Hinata, causing the girl to blush lightly.
The shinobi nodded in response to her gratitude, and turned to face the old man in front of him.
"Could we have two bowls of ramen?"
"Coming right up. I see you brought your girlfriend today, Naruto. How long have you two been dating?"
The old man grinned as both Naruto and Hinata's cheeks turned beet red.
Naruto scratched the back of his head as he laughed nervously.
"Ossan...this is just Hinata-chan...we're not dating or anything."
Hinata looked down at her hands, too embarrassed to say anything.
"Oh...I see. Well, I wouldn't be surprised if you two started dating," the old man replied amicably.
The blonde shinobi laughed again before turning his gaze worriedly at Hinata. She had somewhat retracted into herself, her face still burning.
Ossan, why'd you have to say that? Now Hinata-chan is all uncomfortable.
"Sorry, Hinata-chan. I hope you're all right."
Hinata calmed her frazzled nerves and smiled warmly at Naruto, a dusting of pink still staining her cheeks.
"I'm fine, Naruto-kun."
She's so beautiful...
Naruto shook his head to clear his thoughts as the old man placed two bowls of ramen in front of the teenagers. Hinata smiled and ducked her head slightly in thanks.
They began to eat, and Hinata realized that she was actually rather hungry. It had been a long, tiring day. In the morning, she trained for an hour or so with Kiba and Shino. After Hinata returned to the Hyuuga compound, she was required to fill out paperwork and attend a council meeting. Then the tense conversation with Tsunade. The day was only half over and she already yearned to take a rest.
At least I can enjoy this time with Naruto-kun.
"Hinata-chan, if your plan works, are you really going to be treating Sasuke-teme?"
Hinata turned to face Naruto, only to see him stuffing his face with ramen. She couldn't help but giggle softly despite the seriousness of the shinobi's question. Naruto smiled slightly in embarrassment.
"Be careful, okay? We still don't know whether Sasuke is on our side or not...and...I'd hate to see you get hurt."
Naruto looked at her intensely, causing Hinata's cheeks to grow warm again. As she was about to reply, the blonde began once more.
"So... I was wondering if I could ask Tsunade-baa-chan to let me come with you for Sasuke's first treatment… If the elders approve of the plan, I mean. Are you okay with that, Hinata-chan?"
"Arigatou, Naruto-kun. I would be really glad!"
Hinata's reply caused Naruto to break out into a big grin. He had the urge to pull her into a hug, but restrained himself considering where they were. Finishing up their meals, the two shinobi pulled out their wallets to pay for the food. Naruto glanced at Hinata and panicked when he realized that she was pulling out her own money.
No, Hinata-chan! I want to pay for you!
"Hinata-chan, don't worry about the money...I've got it."
"No, Naruto-kun! I couldn't!"
"Really, I can handle it..."
"Demo...a-at least let me pay for my own f-food..."
"But that's the guy's job in a date.."
Hinata froze when she realized what Naruto had just said. Her cheeks blossomed in pink and she felt her heart skip a beat.
...A date? Nani?! D-demo, we're friends..
Realizing his mistake, Naruto mentally slapped himself.
"Ahh...Sorry, Hinata-chan...I didn't mean to say 'date'..."
Hinata felt herself deflate a bit at his reply, but was relieved that Naruto spared her from much potential embarrassment.
"I-it's okay, Naruto-kun."
"But really, please let me pay for you. I really want to."
His sincere request made Hinata's heart skip a beat, and she finally gave in, too embarrassed to bicker anymore.
She smiled, a blush still dusting her cheeks, and he sent a grin her way as well.
After Naruto paid for their meals, the pair walked out of the stall. The old man chuckled as he saw them leave. Their antics had entertained him greatly.
"Those two must really like each other."
As they left the ramen shop, Hinata almost gasped at the gorgeous view. It was nearing sunset, and the world glimmered in gold and purple hues. The sun loomed in the distance, a large red ball of fire. She took a deep breath, enjoying the peace that nature gave so willingly. Konoha was really a marvelous place. Hinata then turned to Naruto, who also seemed to take in the beautiful scenery. His golden hair complimented the colors of the sunset, his head tilted towards the sky and his bright blue eyes exploring thoughtfully. A breeze passed through the street, ruffling his deep orange hair. Blushing slightly, Hinata shook her head and spoke up hesitantly.
"Well, I guess I'll be seeing you later, Naruto-kun."
"Hai." Naruto turned to her and smiled. "Do you want me to walk you home, Hinata-chan?"
"No, it's really all right."
"Okay, if you say so. Hopefully we'll be getting some good news about Sasuke, ne?"
Both Naruto and Hinata yelped in surprise when a third voice entered the conversation.
"Yes, you are getting some good news."
A shinobi jumped down from a nearby tree. Upon looking closer, it was Yamato, the Anbu Captain.
"Don't do that, Yamato-taichou...it's scary...right, Hinata-chan?"
Naruto looked to Hinata and they both giggled slightly.
"I knew I'd find you here, Naruto. But with Hinata, too? I really struck the jackpot."
The three laughed, but Yamato's expression quickly turned serious as he addressed the two shinobi before him.
"Naruto, Hinata, Tsunade-sama sent me." Yamato then turned to Hinata. "Your request has been accepted by the Elders. You will be allowed to treat Uchiha Sasuke once a day, during the afternoon.
Hinata exhaled in relief and her face brightened, as did Naruto's.
It really worked!
"But, as we don't know whether Sasuke is really on our side yet, you are required to supervise Hinata's treatments at least once a week, Naruto."
"Hai!" Naruto and Hinata both chimed, exuberant.
"Arigatou, Yamato-taichou!" Naruto exclaimed happily. Hinata smiled and bowed her head slightly.
"Don't be thanking me. Tsunade-sama worked hard to get your request approved by the Elders. She is happy as well...Anyway, I've got some work to do. Don't go crazy, you two lovebirds," Yamato smiled and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Because he had already left, Naruto and Hinata couldn't exactly argue with Yamato's accusation. They both blushed deeply, but soon turned to each other, excited.
"Everything worked out w-well!"
"I know, Hinata-chan. So...I guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow afternoon?"
The blonde shinobi smiled and lavender eyes crinkled in response.
"Hai! See you soon, Naruto-kun."
A/N: I want to thank everyone so much for all the wonderful feedback last chapter! I wasn't expecting so much appreciation in just the first week. ^-^ It really motivates me to keep writing. Anyway, I really hope everyone enjoyed this chapter! I know there was a lot of NaruHina; I admit that I enjoy that couple as well. . Sorry if you don't share my NaruHina tendencies, haha! But don't worry; there is lots of SasuHina in store, hehe. :D Please review, follow, and favorite 3 It means so much!