A/N: Okay, I tried to update as soon as I can but everything's been hectic lately, even when it's Christmas! Though I'm still on a pretty tight schedule, thank you for waiting patiently and also for the reviews, awesome readers!

Reply to an anonymous reviewer: I'm still debating on the correction on "throw it" changed to "throw it away", but thank you so much for the notice. It is much appreciated. Regarding your questions, also for the sake of the other readers wondering about the same thing, I think it is going to be evident that Sasuke would accept Hinata for who she is. This story's a romance genre, after all. :)

If any of you have questions, feel free to ask anytime and I'll answer without spoiling anything from the story.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Chapter 5

Panting hard from the exertion of running, Hinata turned her flushed face to the side and eyed the guy who was also trying to catch his breath. "What's going on?" she said in between breaths. "Everybody's been…acting strange lately."

The Uchiha gave her an odd look. "How dense of you" he said.

Finally catching her breath, Hinata straightened up and looked at him in confusion. He didn't explain further and she watched him make his way to the railings. The school rooftop was really the only place they could have some peace and quiet. "What do you mean, Uchiha-san?" she said, tilting her head.

He glanced at her over his shoulder. "You've got yourself a fan club, idiot." At her stunned expression, he sighed exasperatedly. "You're hopeless" he said and turned his gaze straight ahead. "This is a good thing for you. It means you're growing more popular each day," he paused, "just like you wanted."

She blinked owlishly. "So, you mean, back at the classroom…" she slowly said, trying to process everything as it came to light, "all those guys we ran from…"

"Were flirting with you" he finished, turning to frown at her. Her face flamed up at the revelation. He continued, "And it's not 'we', it's 'you'. You ran from those guys while I ran from those women. We just happened to have the same place in mind to hide in."

But she wasn't listening to him anymore. "Wh-What should I do?" she stammered in panic. "Does this mean I'll be dealing with the same hardships as Uchiha-san does every day?" She gulped. Images flowed in her head, images of the Uchiha glowering at the surrounding women, the weariness in his face and the numerous times he desperately tried to escape. Her face slowly filled with dread. "I-I d-d-don't want that! I don't th-think I can h-handle it!"

"Then you should've thought about that before you asked me to make you popular" he said.

But she wasn't thinking straight back then! She was too focused on getting back at Gaara that she hadn't thought about the consequences!

"And it wasn't like this happened to you all of a sudden, Hyuga" the Uchiha said irritably. "You should've noticed the growing number of people crowding around you these days. Haven't you realized lately you were having a hard time arriving here because some of our classmates want to have a 'talk' with you?"

She could only stare at him.

He scoffed. "Let me guess, when you allow them a bit of your time, they only spout nonsense."

He was right. And he knew it.

"So you haven't noticed the obvious" he said. "And here I thought you were intelligent."

The insult failed to come through to her. But what he had said about their classmates was true. People do flock around her seat during lunch period or whenever there's no teacher around to try and strike up a conversation with her, especially the guys. She paled at the realization. She should…she should just back down, revert to her old self!


The sound brought her gaze to a pair of onyx eyes narrowing back at her.

"I don't like that look" he said.

She blinked in confusion. What look?

As if he could read her, he said, "You looked like you want to give up." Then, he sneered. "Pathetic."

And there goes his favorite word to describe her. She frowned, a little peeved. But she couldn't deny his accusation, so she remained silent.

He shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned his back against the railings. "I'll only say this once," he said, his eyes looking straight into hers with such intensity, "I won't allow you to quit."

She froze. It took her time to process his words, doubting she had heard him right. "Wha—why?" she asked, breathless.

He shot her a glare. "You'll only waste my efforts on you."

She bit back a sigh. She should have figured he would say that. What did she expect, anyway? For him to say 'Hyuga, you can do this'? She had long concluded compliments were a luxury when it came to the proud Uchiha. Encouragements, only wishful thinking.

When she didn't reply, he eyed her for a moment, gauging her expression. Confident that she had understood and accepted his point, he looked away from her and scanned the surrounding area. He was wondering about one thing for a while now. "Why does no one go here?" Not that he's complaining.

She looked up at him, then at the place. "That's probably because of me."

His gaze went back to her. Her eyes were on the ground and she had a wistful smile on her face. He kept quiet, knowing that the Hyuga would explain further.

"You see, in this school, people categorize every student into three groups. The popular, the acceptable...and the 'losers', as they called" she said and sighed. "New students aren't exempted from this." Her pale orbs met his. "You were amongst the popular. Surely, you can guess where I belong."

He remained silent.

"I've always liked the rooftops" she continued. "The air around it relaxes me. This rooftop used to have quite a few students occupying it. That is, until I transferred. Everything's been fine the first few times I went here. But because I was considered a shame to be seen with, most students avoided me. They stopped coming here and I was left alone." She weakly smiled. "It didn't help that later then, I became Gaara-kun's girlfriend."

It didn't take a genius to figure out that many girls pine for the Sabaku. So, everyone hated her, he thought, because of him. It wasn't that he particularly cared for what she had gone through, but he found himself not liking her ex-boyfriend. It didn't occur to him that the Sabaku's not responsible for his fan club's actions.

He was snapped out of his thoughts when she sat down and handed him his lunch. He accepted it without a word and took a seat. Why she kept on making him a meal, he always wondered. She had assured him it was a proof of her gratitude, but does she really have to make him lunch every day? It wasn't like he was helping her for her benefit alone. If only she knew his real intentions…

He opened the lid and the smell of tomatoes wafted through the air. Oh, how he loved that smell. She was a great cook, but he refused to admit it out loud, especially in front of her. He looked at her across from him. She was eating in silence with her eyes fixed on her meal. Then, a sudden question crossed his mind. Before he could think, he blurted out, "Did you used to make him lunch?"

Her head snapped up.

He almost slapped a hand to his mouth. Where the hell did that come from? But he couldn't help but admit he was a little curious of her answer.

"You mean, Gaara-kun?" she asked softly, blinking. Then, she gave a nod. "I did."

He felt his jaw tighten.

"But only once" she said. "Many girls make him lunch. I didn't want to bother him anymore with mine so I stopped immediately."

He didn't miss the emotion that crossed her eyes, even when she bowed her head. Sadness…

"I…I didn't have enough courage to give it to him…even when we were together" she said. "So, he had never tasted my cooking."

He just gave a nod.

The silence that came after was short-lived when she spoke, "Wh-what about Uchiha-san?"

He glanced at her, she sounded nervous. "What about me?"

"I was wondering…for quite some time now. P-Pardon my asking but, don't you have a chef?"

"We have" he said.


She didn't have to elaborate for him to understand. She was wondering why he doesn't bring any lunch with him to school. Deciding that she at least deserved some explanation, he said, "Our chef has an apprentice who my mother had assigned to make my lunches for school. I'm surprised my family still allows him to stay considering that his choice of food is never edible."

She tilted her head. "Never edible? How come?"

"I think he likes to try different stuff. Everything he makes always turns out to have a sickening taste." He almost shuddered at the memory of some of the dishes.

When he looked at her, to his surprise, her expression was worried. "What do you eat during your meals, then?" she said.

He shrugged. "Whatever's not his cooking. The chef cooks our breakfast and dinners. He also makes my lunch during weekends."

"I see." She smiled and nodded. "I finally know why you'd rather go to the cafeteria to buy your food."

"I don't have a death wish" he said. When she giggled, he felt a tug at the corner of his lips.

A little later, they finished their lunch and Sasuke stood up.

"You better be prepared of what's to come" he said. "For the meantime, if I were you, I'd avoid as much people as I can. You don't want any distractions or hindrances in your goal."

She nodded in agreement.

A blow of a whistle brought everyone's attention to their P.E. teacher, Baki.

"I'm sure all of you would enjoy our activity today" his deep voice sounded through the big gymnasium. He showed the class a ball in his hand and tossed it in the air. Their eyes were glued to the white ball when it landed back in their teacher's palm. "Dodge ball" he said with a smile.

Hinata eyed her classmates. They all seemed so excited about it. But she begged to differ. She was nervous. Mostly because she knew she would be the main target of the opposing team. Then her own team would be infuriated with her if she would be out of the game, as usual. If it wasn't for the fact that the groupings depended on the teacher, she was sure nobody would want to be teamed up with her.

She was brought out of her thoughts when Baki began calling the names of students for each of the two teams required for the game. In the end, she was assigned to team B. Her pale eyes landed on a raven-haired guy from the opposing team. She was to face against the Uchiha. She gulped. She could feel her stomach coiling as the start of the game drew near.

"Hey, dweeb!" a female voice called her attention.

Hinata turned her head to gaze upon her brown-haired teammate. She was giving her a stern look. "Y-Yes?" She mentally slapped herself for her stuttering. Didn't she already train herself to stop this habit of hers?

"You better not mess up this time! Got that?!"

Despite herself, she stuttered out, "Y-Y-Yes…" Then, the girl turned and left.

The blow of the whistle echoed through the gym walls. "Alright, go to your respective zones" Baki said and waited until everybody was settled. "Listen up, as always, headshots are not allowed and counted. Once there are only a few players left, the 'no lines' rule is immediately applied at my signal. Meaning, the boundary lines between the two zones is eradicated and the remaining players can go anywhere the court to shot at their opponents. Is that clear?" At their nod, Baki raised an arm. He blew the whistle once more and brought down his hand, shouting, "Start!"

The two teams rushed to the center line where several balls were placed. Team A got to the balls first and immediately threw at team B. They successfully hit four members and they let out a cheer.

Hinata paled. Someone tried to hit her; thankfully she was able to duck at the last second. She really didn't like to throw a ball, much less grab one. But if she wouldn't do so, there's a high chance she'll be eliminated soon, especially without a means to deflect incoming balls.

She gulped. What was she to do?

Panic started to rise in her. Her eyes widened at the sight of her opponents looking at her with a smug look on their faces. She knew that look, knew what was coming. They're aiming for her. She was easy target.

She saw movement at the far side of the opposite zone. And before her eyes could follow, her pale orbs landed on a pair of blank onyx staring back at her. Uchiha-san…

It was only a simple look in the eyes but, strangely, she felt something build up inside her.

And as if everything went slow motion, her head whipped to the incoming ball and her instincts took over her body. She dived, flipping forward through the air and simultaneously grabbing the ball originally aimed at her. As soon as she landed on the ground, she threw the ball to another opposing member who was just, a while ago, smugly looking at her. He didn't even have the time to react when the ball hit him hard in the stomach and he landed flat on his butt.

Hinata beamed at her success. But before she could look at her teammates' reaction, she noticed everyone had stopped and was staring at her, open-mouthed in shock. It slowly dawned on her what she had just displayed in front of the whole class.

Her face flamed in embarrassment. She had never thought she had the guts to do that stunt in public, but she just did…unconsciously. Her first reaction was to apologize for a reason she didn't know, only to be cut off by the sound of the whistle.

"Two members from team A, out!" Baki announced.

Everyone started moving again and she heard the clapping of hands. She turned around to find her team smiling at her, a sight she had never seen before.

"Wow! That was awesome, Hyuga-san!" one guy said and walked to her side.

"Yeah!" another agreed. "How'd you do that?" he asked, draping an arm around her shoulder.

Soon, she was surrounded by her teammates who applauded and praised her.

"We always thought you're…weak at sports" a girl said but Hinata knew she wanted to say she 'sucked' at sports rather than the term she had supplied.

"She's right" the other agreed. "What changed, Hinata-san?"

Hinata, who was a little overwhelmed by the attention, was about to reply but she was once again interrupted by their teacher.

"Team B, you may reinstate two members from your team" Baki said.

Meanwhile, the members from team A raised their hands in question. "Sir, how come two of our members got eliminated?" one of them said. "Hinata-san had only hit one."

A voice, not belonging to Baki, interjected, "The ball she had tossed was the same ball thrown by one of our members, which means, she had caught it and simply used it to hit another."

"Exactly" Baki said. "Well said, Uchiha Sasuke-san."

Squeals and cheers from the girls echoed, his name being chanted and worshipped like he was some kind of a god. He sent them a glare but the cheers only worsened and got louder.

Hinata stifled a giggle with a hand on her mouth. She just realized how powerless the Uchiha was when it comes to silencing his female fans. And that look on his face when he gave up glaring and tried to ignore them instead, he just looked like a small child scowling like that! Feeling another wave of laughter bubble up inside her, she clamped her mouth shut to keep from laughing out loud.

He was just too cute!

She froze.

Okay, she's probably tired from all the dodging and throwing that her mind took advantage and was feeding her some strange thoughts. Lightly shaking her head as if it would help clear her mind, she focused on the game.

In the end, team B turned out to be the winner. Team A blamed one of their members for bumping with Sasuke after the 'no line' rule was declared, causing the ball to hit them both, eliminating them and losing the game altogether.

They were hit by no other than Hinata.

Their P.E. class just finished and Hinata was in the restroom washing her face from dirt that may have clung to her during the activity.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror and a smile graced her lips, remembering how her teacher had praised her for showing progress in his class.

It wasn't that she was weak in sports, as everyone had thought. It was simply because she was too low in self-esteem that she ended up failing to do well in the area without her meaning to. She hadn't told anyone, knowing all too well they wouldn't believe her. She wouldn't believe herself either with the poor way she was performing…until today.

Her smile widened. She guessed she had the Uchiha to thank for what she was able to do today. If it wasn't for the practices he had let her execute, she would've remained in her shell and be ridiculed by their classmates once again.

Finishing up, she nodded in approval at her reflection and left the restroom. She slowly made her way to her classroom at the far end of the hallway and her eyes focused on the familiar figure standing outside, leaning casually against the wall. She wondered what the Uchiha was doing there, but she supposed if he was outside, then that meant their teacher for the next period had not arrived yet. Good, she's not yet late.

One of their classmates suddenly appeared from the door. She could faintly hear his voice calling the Uchiha's attention. They both went inside the classroom. Maybe he had a request or something? Sometimes, their classmates would ask help from him—especially now that the exams were near—mostly regarding a topic from a subject they don't understand. He willingly helped them…only if they were guys, of course. The girls from their class tried everything to let him teach them too. They failed miserably.

Now a room away to her classroom, she slightly quickened her pace.

"Hey, where are you going?!" an alarmed voice said from the room just beside her destination. "Sabaku-san!"

The door slid open and a tall figure suddenly emerged just as Hinata stepped forward. She had barely let out a gasp before she collided with the person she last wanted to see. Hands wrapped around her waist and tightened in strong grip, steadying her to keep from falling.

Her heart stopped, eyes widened, face drained of their color. If she had heard right—and she prayed to any god that was listening that she hadn't—this person holding her was…

He couldn't be…

Fear overtook her and her whole body tensed. The silence was eerie, unbearable. She couldn't bring herself to look up. This person wasn't…was it? Her fists clenched, feeling soft fabric underneath them. Confused, she raised her gaze to her hands and realized she was clinging to him. Tightly. She released her gripped, as if burned by the contact. But when she tried to step back and pull away, she found herself unable to. This person against her was still holding her by the waist.

No, no, no, no, no!, she thought in panic. Please! Please let it not be him!

"Are you alright?" he whispered to her ear.

How she wished she could just disappear. His voice…there's no mistaking it.

It was Gaara.

She tried to speak, but she couldn't find her voice. So she nodded, a little too stiff than she had intended. He released her from his grip and she almost sighed in relief. She gladly stepped back, determined to place a safe distance between them, all the while keeping her head down, not wanting to look at his face. The face of the cause of her tears each night, the cause of who she is now.

She just wished he wouldn't recognize her. She wasn't prepared in facing him yet. As Hinata.

Footsteps from inside Gaara's classroom sounded near the door. "Gaara-kun, class rep's panicking with your ditching—" the female voice abruptly stopped at the sight that greeted her outside the classroom.

Hinata, refusing to raise her head, watched the shoes of the female step closer beside Gaara.

"This girl—"

"Sari," Gaara interrupted.

Hinata bit back a gasp, her chest tightened at the name.

"Go back inside" he said.

Momentarily forgetting Hinata, Sari pouted at her boyfriend. "No way, I'm coming with you."

"Don't be stubborn" he said in a tone Hinata couldn't recognize. But if she were to guess, his tone demanded the end of their short conversation.

Sari sighed in submission. "Fine" she said and turned towards the classroom. But before she could disappear behind the wall of the room, she gave Hinata one final glance, her brown eyes slightly narrowing.

Hinata felt her gaze on her. For a second, she thought Sari would comment something about her. She was glad she was wrong, watching Sari's shoes completely disappear from her sight. When she heard some shuffling, her eyes darted back to Gaara and she was relieved to see him turn and walk away.

She remained glued to her spot, wanting to make sure he was completely gone. After a few more moments, she released a sigh, her body slumped forward and her knees buckled. She quickly pressed her hand against the wall for support. Her other hand went to her chest, feeling the erratic beating of her heart against her palm.

As if in a daze, she began her walk to her classroom, her mind refusing to think of anything else than what had just occurred.

Gaara was…different. Different from when she was still with him. The Gaara she knew was stoic, but not particularly kind with her. He wasn't cruel, either. Just enough. But the Gaara she had just encountered was rather….impatient.

"You looked like you have seen a ghost"

She jumped. Her head snapped up to find onyx eyes blankly staring at her. The Uchiha had his arms crossed over his chest while he leaned against the wall just beside the sliding door to their room.

When had he…? She hadn't heard the door open at all.

"Hyuga" he called, making her look at him in question. "You look paler than usual." If only she wasn't too distracted, she would be able to hear the hint of concern laced in his voice.

She averted her gazed to the ground. The memory of facing Gaara still replayed in her mind.

"Are you alright?"

Her hands went up to cover her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut. His voice; lips close to her ear, his touch; arms around her waist, the feeling of him against her…moments ago Gaara was so close to her. If only she had just clung to him…

She shook her head violently. Tears pricked at the corner of her eyes. She didn't want to admit it. Yet, she couldn't deny it.

She had missed him.

She just hadn't realized how much until now.

He watched her, uncertain of what to do. She was trembling; her hands were gripping each side of her head, her lips were pursed into a thin line, her eyes were shut and he could see the small sparkle of tears at the corners. He'd never seen her like this before. What happened? To turn her into this state standing before him?

Her trembling worsened and a sob escaped her lips. It didn't take long before tears slid down her cheeks. Her hands went to cover her face while she submitted to her crying, her shoulders shaking with each sob she let out.

And he stood, frozen in place. What was he to do when she's like this? Not once had he ever been placed in a situation such as this. He avoided girls as much as he could, so he knew so little when it came to their issues. What should he do? It was awkward to just stand there and look at her like she was just another show from a television.

He eyed her small frame in hesitation. If she had appeared weak to him before, at this current time, she looked more vulnerable than anything he had ever seen.

He sighed in defeat. This is why girls are annoying. They're too much work. He brought his hand up around her shoulder. With a gentle tug, he pulled her closer and allowed her to cry against him. He wasn't one who's fond of close contacts like the situation he's in now, but he'll let it go this time.

He watched her hands slide down from her face only to feel them wrap around his back, gripping the fabric of his blazer. She pressed her face against his shoulder and continued to weep. He stilled in her hold, her reaction catching him off guard. He's really not used to this holding or touching.

He forced himself to take a deep breath. She's just too upset to realize what she's actually doing, he reasoned out to himself. Taking a few more calming breaths, he found himself relaxing against her. And soon, his mind had failed to register that his hand was already stroking her hair while the other rested around her slim waist.

Her sobs had died down. Her mind's still hazy and tired from the pressure she had just experienced. She wasn't sure what just happened. She couldn't recall what occurred right when she cried. Too exhausted to try and remember, for the time being, she relinquished to the warmth that surrounded her, leaning against it.

When her mind later started working again, she was slowly returned to her senses. She finally felt and recognized the arm around her. Someone was holding her, caressing her hair nonetheless. Fully alert, she pushed herself away from the stranger none too gently.

The familiar pair of the Uchiha's eyes looked back at her in surprise, like he was just snapped out of a trance.

Her own pale eyes were wide with shock and incredulity. Uchiha-san was…holding me? He held me while I cried? B-But…why…? Him, of all people…

"Are you done crying?" he said, crossing his arms. His expression was back to the usual impatient one. "Tch. Great…my jacket's soaked" he muttered in annoyance, eyeing the soaked area in his shoulder.

She gasped. "I'm s-sorry…"

He glanced at her. "Never mind that" he said. "What happened?"

She tensed, instantly remembering Gaara. "I-It's nothing—"

"The hell it is" he cut off.

Her eyes searched the ground, as if she could find an answer there. "I…" she breathed, "I don't want to talk about it."

He stared at her for a second before conceding, "Fine."

Silence took over them afterwards, until she remembered something. "Isn't the teacher here yet?"

"She left a while ago, leaving us to self-study instead."

She blinked in confusion. How come she hadn't seen the teacher when she was already near the classroom? Then, it came to her that maybe the teacher had arrived around the time she and Gaara bumped with each other, so she wasn't able to see her come in. "I see" she said in reply. "Why were you outside, Uchiha-san?"

It took him a moment to answer, "I wanted to ask you something."

She looked at him in surprise. "Y-You were waiting for me?"

"Don't flatter yourself" he scoffed. "It's obvious I wanted time alone from those girls. I could've asked you inside the room if I wanted."

Then, you should have said so from the start, she thought. How mean! Making me misunderstand…

"What's with that look?" he said, eyeing her cautiously.

She averted her gaze from him. "Nothing. What did you want to ask me?"

He shoved his hands in his pockets and raised a brow at her, noticing how she quickly changed the subject. Deciding to ignore it, he proceeded to ask her. "What was that during P.E. class?" he said. "Here I thought you're the worst person to ever do sports."

She visibly cringed at his insult. Well, at least he was being honest…unlike the others. "I d-don't understand what you're trying to ask, Uchiha-san."

"What happened back there, Hyuga? What made you suddenly that good?" he said. He hated to admit it, but he was itching to know the answer. All along he had thought that she was only good in academics, but now she was good in sports, too? As much as he didn't like another competition with the same person, he couldn't help but feel proud of her. He didn't understand why. Somehow, he was glad to know that the Hyuga had grown some confidence under his guidance. Thinking of it like that had fed his ego.

"I…I studied m-martial arts, at my father's insistence" she said.

He almost showed his surprise. "Martial arts?" he echoed. "Since when?"

"Ever since I learned how to walk" she said with a sigh. "It's required in my family. So, every member is well-trained and formidable."

He snorted. "No wonder it's rumored your family's stubborn."

She let out a laugh. "That too" she said. "Most of my family could be…well…full of themselves."

"It's good to know you're admitting it" he said with a smirk. "So? What more am I missing?" Not that it's any of his business. He just hated any more surprises.

She smiled. "What more do you want to know?"

He thought for a moment. "How far are you in your rank?"

At this, she looked away, a pink blush tinting her cheeks. "I hold the brown belt."

He froze. Brown belters are second to third in rank before black, red or white belters. Which means…He stared at the girl in front of him. Such a frail-looking girl could be so, for the lack of a better word, skillful.

Come to think of it, she was able to outrun him the last time her picture got blown away by the wind and they raced to get it. He cursed himself. How did he not realize the possibility? Someone who's supposed to be weak in sports couldn't run faster than someone who's been athletic since young. Not unless it involved adrenaline rush.

Nevertheless, the Hyuga's too unpredictable.

He had to be more careful the next time…or he'll definitely lose.

It really was her.

The girl rumored to be a new student was Hinata.

Jade eyes narrowed at the path ahead. Their encounter had been yesterday, right after he decided to ditch the next class. They bumped into each other and she almost fell. So he held her, but immediately felt her tense. He had smelled her hair, her scent remained the same. At that moment, she seemed to have caught up what happened and tried to pull away.

It was then he took notice of his own grip around her. He had been momentarily surprised he had forgotten, but he soon released her. Then, Sari just had to disturb them. Right after he sent her off, he decided he'd also leave before the teacher arrived. So, he turned and walked away. He gave her one last glance over his shoulder and couldn't help but feel disappointed.

Not once did she look at him.

Footsteps headed towards him snapped him back to the present. But he didn't spare the person a glance, knowing all too well who it was.

"What are you thinking, Gaara-kun?" Sari said once she stood beside him, leaning against the wall just across their classroom.

He didn't bother answering.

Sari was unfazed by this and continued, "It's already the end of class, in case you haven't noticed. So, let's go?"

"Sari," he called.


His eyes landed on a certain indigo-haired girl in a distance. "Last time, you told me about a new girl." He looked at the guys talking to Hinata. He recognized some as her classmates. The others, however, looked like seniors. This surprised him. Since when do the seniors come to their side of the building?

"What about her?" Sari asked, and then paused. "Wait, I wanted to ask you about that too. Wasn't she the girl from yesterday? What were you doing with her?" A hint of jealousy could be heard in her voice.

But Gaara paid it no mind, too focused on the scene before him. He ignored her question and said, "Who is she?"

"I don't know" she quickly said, sounding irritated. "What were you doing with her?" she repeated.

Again, he ignored her question. "You don't know her?" he said and for the first time since their conversation started, he looked back at her. "I do."

Sari's eyes widened. If she had never known Gaara to be so serious, she would've thought he was kidding.

And, as if to prove his point, he walked away from her and towards a girl she had just recognized to be the subject of their discussion.

Gaara took his time, slowly moving forward while his eyes never left Hinata. She had her back turned to him, too engrossed in her conversation with the others. Upon reaching a hearing distance, it was then the other guys saw him walking towards them. He noticed their postures stiffen and he almost let out a chuckle. Idiots…They probably thought he would try and whisk Hinata away from them, given their past relationship. But no, he wouldn't do such a thing.

He was always the one who ended his relationships. And whenever that happened, his girlfriends continued to chase after him, whether or not he's still single. He guessed he got used to it that he wasn't able to prepare himself when Hinata had left him be. He was shocked, to say the least. He had always thought girls acted the same when they're heart-broken. That was why he was disappointed with Hinata, because he expected her to do the same as his previous girlfriends. Instead, she became like she was now, almost too happy for his liking.

His mind flashed him an image of her and Uchiha Sasuke outside the school yard. She was smiling and laughing. Then, the image flickered to her bowing her head in front of him like she couldn't bear to just spare him a glance.

His fists clenched. No, he won't allow this. He wanted Hinata to acknowledge his presence. He wanted her to look at him.

He stopped just a few feet from her. The guys she was talking with must've informed her of him for she turned around and stared at him with wide eyes.

His lips formed a small smile. "Hinata" he softly called.

She gasped.

"What?!" Sari's voice sounded behind him. Soon, she appeared at his side, her expression mirroring Hinata's. "Gaara-kun, you mean she's…she's Hyuga Hinata?!" Her eyes darted to Hinata's lavender-tinted ones and she drew a sharp breath, her question already answered. "Y-Y-You…!"

Panic rose inside Hinata. Gaara knew! He recognized her! She could feel her heart beat erratically against her ribcage. What should she do now? How would she be able to handle this?

Her shaky gaze fixed on the ground. She couldn't talk. She was afraid, afraid that if she would, all those days she had practiced would go down the drain and her stuttering would return. What could she do? Gaara and Sari were standing in front of her. How should she react?

I…I couldn't do anything. Her eyes squeezed shut. I-I'm scared…


"What do you want?"

Her eyes opened and her head snapped up. Someone's back was blocking her view of Gaara. Uchiha-san!

"Uchiha Sasuke…?" Sari breathed. Her brown eyes, filled with confusion, darted from Gaara to the raven-haired guy blankly staring at them.

"I have no business with you, Uchiha" Gaara said. "Move aside."

Sasuke looked over his shoulder to the Hyuga. She stared back at him with wide, terrified eyes. His eyes shifted to her clenched fists resting at her sides, taking notice of them shaking. His eyes narrowed and he turned back to the redhead. "What do you want with Hinata?"

Hinata gasped at her name that left his lips. U-Uchiha-san just called me…Hinata? He had never called her like that. It was always 'Hyuga'.

Gaara also appeared surprised, but didn't comment on it. "If you really must know, I just want to say hello to my ex-girlfriend" he said monotonously.

But Sasuke didn't budge. Instead, he shot him a glare. "That's the last thing she needed" he said. When he finally moved, what he did next made everyone speechless.

He clasped Hinata's hand in his.

"Stay away from my girlfriend, Sabaku" he sneered.

And then, he and Hinata left.

A/N: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Notice that I took some of your ideas from the Q&A that we did and applied it here. Credits to you, dear readers! This is proof that I loved everyone's ideas! Also, this chapter's longer than the others to compensate for the late update. I'm sure you wouldn't want to kill me now. Admit it. You liked the end, right? Hehehe