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Once Strangers

Chapter Text

Sounds of whispering and hushed voices erupted in the small streets of the village as their hero walked alongside holding hands with the pink-haired kunoichi. The two laughed and looked like a lovely couple, warming the hearts of the villagers who anticipated their union as a couple. Walking towards the ramen restaurant that they frequently visited, they received many warm smiles and some glares from jealous women that hoped they could have won the heart of the village hero. Among the villagers walking the streets was Hinata alongside one of her closest friends, Kiba. He placed a hand on the small of her back, showing that he was there for her and understood that it hurt her to see her crush with the girl he had been alongside for the past decade.

“Hina, let’s go eat Korean with Shikamaru and Choji,” Kiba said quietly to the girl beside him as he lead her to a different direction. Initially they had planned on eating ramen together but he knew Hinata wouldn’t take it very well to see Naruto with Sakura in that way. She simply nodded in response and walked with him in the other direction.

Shortly they arrived at the restaurant and the boys tried to alleviate the tension they felt with conversation about stories of past missions and funny jokes. Hinata laughed and smiled along, she was good at hiding her true feelings. A little too good.

Kiba walked Hinata to her clan, “if you need anything I’ll be there okay? You can never bother me,” Kiba said as he walked off, Akamaru whimpering as he didn’t want to leave Hinata. Hinata smiled and waved before walking to her house and shutting herself in her room, letting the tears fall finally.

-

6 months later

Wedding bells rang throughout the village. Everyone gathered around the venue to watch the ceremony between two village heroes. Hinata sat in the white wooden chair in between Shino and Kiba, Akamaru rested his head in her lap. She patted his head and gave him light scratches as she found it comforting to maintain her composure. She found herself no longer wanting to be with Naruto, but still beating herself up over the fact that she wasn’t the one standing at the altar with him.

Watching them share a kiss as a married couple broke her. Watching the man she would do anything for, risking her own life for, love another woman, was enough to make her want to leave the village. She decided to suck it up but as they made their way to the reception area. She snuck away to a woodsy area to quickly compose herself so no one would notice that she was upset. She leaned against a tree, after shedding a few tears, she heard a bit of rustling to her right. She looked and saw the once rogue ninja standing there quietly. He looked so calm, so serene and content with life. In the most melancholy way she had ever seen a person. Was he in love with Sakura? She thought. He looked at her, they held eye contact for a brief moment, he simply nodded at her and looked up to the sky. She wanted to say something, to see if, just maybe, he felt the same way she did. But she couldn’t find the words to. She simply cleaned herself up and walked back to the reception.

Kiba ran up to her and looked relieved, “I thought you ran away,” he whisper yelled. Hinata giggled and told him that she simply went to go use the restroom. They talked amongst themselves and very quickly noticed that nearly everyone was in a relationship. Kiba tried to make sure that Hinata didn’t notice, but he knows she, of all people, isn’t blind.

Hinata looked around and noticed that Sasuke was nowhere to be found. “Kiba-kun, have you seen Sasuke?”
“Huh? No not in a long time, why?”
“I ran into him earlier”

Suddenly she heard a quick pace making its way toward her.
“Sasuke was here?” It was Naruto. Hinata felt herself skip a beat but held herself together.
“Y-yes, it was just after the ceremony, near the woods,” she replied.
“I must’ve just missed him then,” Naruto said as he sighed in defeat. “I invited him, I wasn’t sure he’d actually come,” he paused for a moment as if remembering something, “I’m glad I heard you, Hinata, I know that he was here to see me begin a happy adulthood, thank you for coming by the way. You’ve been a really good friend, Hinata!” Naruto said as he wrapped an arm around her and smiled a big Naruto smile.

Hinata felt herself want to go hide in a hole, ‘be calm,’ she told herself.
“Oh it’s no problem Naruto-kun, congratulations, I’m very happy for you,” she said and looked to her hands.

“You’re the best Hinata, don’t ever change!” He waved and ran back to his bride. She wasn’t sure what he meant by that but it made Kiba and Shino exchange a glance and change their heads. It blew them away that Naruto never realized Hinata's feelings for him.

Later that afternoon, Hinata made her way home alone, refusing Kiba’s attempts to walk her back; she wanted time to think alone. As she made her way to her room, she looked out of the balcony to see flashes of light from the neighboring clan. To see the once dark and gloomy streets, filled with street lights and some type of life gave her a heartwarming feeling. She supposed Sasuke was back in the village to stay and felt happy for him. She found herself watching him train as if it was a light show. She went to bed, still a bit sad about Naruto, but happy that her comrades were happy. So she felt a bit better about that.

Chapter Text

Admittedly Hinata spent a good amount of time focused on Sasuke, she supposed it was more admiration at the fact that he came back fully into the village. He put his training on hold for a bit. Confused, Hinata realized he was in the hospital for a bit. She was working at the hospital when he went to get a new arm. She was in the back helping with other nurses to formulate his painkillers, as they needed to be quite strong, she shivered at the thought of receiving a new arm.

Walking towards the break area she was stopped by Tsunade.

“Hinata, please take Sasuke his new formula for painkillers, it seems he needs a bit of a stronger dose,” he shook her head a bit and looked at Hinata expectantly.

Shaking her head quickly, Hinata responded, “of course, Lady Tsunade.”

“Wonderful! I thought it would be convenient for you since you live close by, it’s in the main lobby behind the desk just grab it from the receptionist on duty, his home address will be on the parcel. Thank you, Hinata.” Tsunade said as she smiled and walked back to her office.

Hinata went on to her lunch break and sat at a table, not too long after, Sakura and Ino came in and sat next to her.

“Hinata!” Ino came and sat by her friend quickly with a smile, “it feels like forever since I’ve seen you, it doesn’t help that Lady Tsunade is cutting part time hours a bit,” she sighed defeatedly. Hinata giggled at her friends knowing she wasn’t taking it too hard, she owns her family flower shop and really doesn’t NEED the hours at the hospital.

“Stop acting like you aren’t drowning in money, Ino,” Sakura said, half-jokingly and sat on the other side of Ino. The blonde simply rolled her eyes, knowingly. Her husband Sai had been doing very well with his art, winning awards and selling beautiful pieces.

“It’s nice to see you working so much, Hinata,” Sakura continued, “we need more passionate people like you, truthfully, Lady Tsunade’s been getting a bit fed up with some of the half-assed work around here.” Hinata smiled softly, every time the pair came up and sat with her she really was spending more time listening to them complain about things and sharing the village gossip.

“What have you been up to lately, Hinata?” Sakura asked. It had been a bit awkward at first, speaking with Sakura, but Hinata no longer felt upset or had any lingering feelings about Naruto, really, she was ready to move on.

“U-um, nothing really, I’ve just been spending a lot of time working and going on missions when they’re given to me.” Ino and Sakura shared a worried glance at each other.

“Have you considered trying to date anyone, Hina?” Ino asked, “You know, I was thinking that you and Kiba would make a great pair.” At that, Hinata shook her head furiously.

“Oh n-no, he’s way too much of a brother to me, I’ve never looked at him as more than that,” Hinata replied confidently.

“Hmmmm there’s gotta be someone you’re interested in, c’mon Hinata, spill the beans,” Ino kept trying to push for gossip that really wasn’t there. Hinata shook her head and smiled.

“Really there is no one, Ino-san, lately I’ve actually enjoyed the solo route and I’ve been very happy, I don’t want to push for anything, if I meet someone then great! But if not anytime soon it’s okay too,” Hinata smiled softly. Sakura looked very pleased with her response, Ino knew she was being truthful but still looked disappointed.

“Okay, but if you do meet someone we have to be the first to know, okay?” Ino said with a grin.

“Of course! You two would be the first for sure,” Hinata said happily.

“Okay but me before Sakura though, right?”
“No, she likes me more, dummy, I’d know before you.”
Ino gasped, “No! She’s not your favorite, right Hinata?!”

Hinata simply laughed and the other two began laughing as well. She was glad that she no longer felt hung up over Naruto and could hold a conversation with his wife.

--

At the end of her shift, Hinata walked over to the receptionist desk and asked the woman to give her Sasuke’s medication before she left for the night. Taking it, she said her goodbyes to her coworkers and began walking towards the direction their districts.

She felt a bit nervous about seeing the Uchiha, she had actually never been to the district and it made her a bit nervous to go. She knew his personality a bit and how cold he could be, so she mentally prepared herself for the moment she would knock on his door.

She made it to the district and marvelled at the buildings and how beautiful it looked, someone must have come to do a bit of cleanup. The street lights were on and it looked like an actual livable area. It made her sad to know that Sasuke was alone here. She made her way to his house and saw that a single light was on in the room just by the door. Was he waiting on his medicine?

Hinata walked up and knocked on his door three times. She saw a shadow rise from what she assumed has a futon on the floor and make its way to the door. She felt her nerves rise and she tried her best to remain calm and just breathe. The door began to open and she met eyes with Sasuke. He looked down at her and suddenly she felt tiny, his eyes were blacker than the night sky above her and she felt like he was looking straight into her soul. Snapping back into reality and quickly remembered her manners and bowed and greeted the Uchiha.

“Good Evening, Sasuke-kun,” she straightened back up and reached into her bag for the prescription. “Lady Tsunade requested that I bring you your new dose of painkillers, I hope you’re not in too much pain.” She looked up at the man in front of her.

“Good evening,” he looked at the bag she was holding and extending his good hand out to receive it, “is the amount to take the same as the other?”

Hinata had never heard Sasuke speak so much in her life, his voice was so deep.
“No, this dosage is a bit different. This one is once in the morning with breakfast and again at night with dinner, Lady Tsunade stressed the importance of eating with the pills.”

“Hn,” Sasuke gave a small nod and looked curiously at the medicine.
“Thank you,” Sasuke said and looked at the woman in front of him, was this the shy Hyuuga from his childhood? “Remind me of your name?”

Hinata looked at him, a bit dumbfounded, he was being… nice? Polite? Asking about her? She only knew him as cold and distant… though she knew very little of him.

“H-Hinata, Hyuuga Hinata,” she said and looked at him, they held eye contact for a moment, she was the first to look away, she felt her face heat up. “I should go now, I hope the new formula works better for you,” she said her goodbyes and as she straightened her back, she met eyes again with the Uchiha, her face flushed, but she didn’t look away this time, she felt a, sort of, welcoming vibe from him.

“Hn, goodnight, Hinata Hyuuga,” he said and turned to enter his home again. She turned around as well, but she knew he was still looking at her as she walked away. It was strange. Should she be worried? What was his reason for responding the way he did?

Sasuke Uchiha didn’t quite understand either.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3:

A month had passed since Hinata’s last encounter with the Uchiha, she didn’t seem to understand why, but she spent a lot of time thinking about him. It was nothing like a crush or infatuation, more like… curiosity. It felt like a challenge talking to him; not being able to tell what his true emotions were, is that why Sakura used to have a crush on him? Then Hinata began thinking about how things would have gone had he returned to the village sooner. Would he had married Sakura if she hadn’t had so much alone time with Naruto? Sitting back up she shook her head furiously and rolled her eyes at herself. She really had no need to keep worrying and overthinking the past, it would cause nothing but an unnecessary relapse of emotions.

Standing up, Hinata gathered her things and made her way to the Hokage tower, Kakashi had summoned her to his office earlier that morning before she had to make her way to work at the hospital. A new mission, she supposed.

She made her way up the stairs at the Hokage’s tower, and knocked at his office door.
“Come in.”
Hinata entered the room and met eyes with someone she had not expected to see that day, or really at all anytime soon.

“Good morning, Hinata, I summoned you to speak about a mission that requires your assistance,” Kakashi said, looking more serious than usual.

Hinata felt awkward, in a room with two serious and well… unreadable men. She saw the man she had been thinking of for the past month, shift beside her to listen more closely to the orders of the Hokage.

“Sasuke, some of the elders are a bit,” Kakashi shifted a bit before looking at Sasuke again, “uneasy with you returning to the clan. They understand that you helped save us, but their trust is still not fully there and they don’t take my word for it. Not that they ever have with anything else in the past.” He said that last part with a bit of annoyance in his tone.

“Tch.”

Sasuke looked away, but showed no signs of disrespecting the Hokage. Hinata shifted uncomfortably, biting his lower lip out of nerves. Kakashi then cleared his throat.

“There is a small village, about two nights away, I need both of you to go and investigate the disappearance of children. I would assume that you,” he looked at Hinata, “would be quite helpful in locating the children and then Sasuke, I would like you to take the culprits to the authorities of the village, they do know that I’m sending you and are expecting you both in two to three days, please meet at the gate and make your way there tonight.”

“Yes, sir,” Hinata said and bowed, Sasuke simply nodded and turned to walk out.
“Oh and Sasuke, please take it easy with your arm, I know it’s only been a few weeks that you’ve received it.” Kakashi said, genuinely concerned for his old student. He simply nodded and left, Hinata following a few steps behind. Hinata only walked behind him a few steps before breaking off and going to the direction of the hospital. She was not using her byakugan, but she felt Sasuke’s presence still behind her. She felt a bit anxious but said nothing and continued on her way to the hospital.

Walking in, she subconsciously held the door for the person behind her, forgetting that it was Sasuke. He held the door and she felt her face flush, ‘it’s only Sasuke,’ she thought to herself. She very quickly composed herself and made her way to the breakroom to put her things away in her box and punch in. As she walked out, she passed the waiting area and saw Sasuke sitting in a chair by the corner. She kept her eyes forward and stood by the desk, checking over her tasks and patients for the day, she couldn’t help but look for who would be seeing Sasuke. Soon she found his name under Sakura’s list of patients and sighed in relief.
A nurse made her way to the waiting area, “Uchiha Sasuke?”

Hinata saw Sasuke get up and walk toward the nurse who then led him to a patient’s office. A few moments passed as Hinata looked at her assignments for the rest of the day and was greeted by Sakura.

 

“Hinata!” Sakura waved and walked up to the desk.
“It’s good to see you, Sakura,” Hinata responded warmly.
“Did you see that Sasuke was going to be taken care of by me? It’s exciting!” Sakura seemed extremely enthusiastic about Sasuke being her patient. It left Hinata a bit puzzled. Sakura seemed to notice and giggled.
“Don’t think of it like that, Hina! It’s okay to look and not touch, besides, I’m over Sasuke and his mysteriousness, really it was exhausting, I can’t believe I let myself follow him around like a lost puppy for so long.” Hinata and Sakura laughed in understanding.
“I’ll see you at lunch though, gotta see what this man needs!” Sakura grabbed a clipboard and walked off to Sasukes assigned room.

“Hinata-san,” Tsunade walked up to her and said she spoke to the Hokage and has already rescheduled Hinata’s patients for the afternoon.
“I went ahead and gave your afternoon appointments to Ino-san, Kakashi asked me to let you know that it may be a bit longer than expected that you will be on the mission, it seems the group who is wanted is on the move. It’s extremely important that you both leave at sundown.”

“Of course, Tsunade-sama,” Hinata bowed, “thank you for giving me more time to prepare.”

--

Hinata finished her tasks at 2pm and then went straight home. She fixed up two bento boxes, she noticed on Sasuke's hospital reports that he doesn’t exactly eat protein heavy food often. That worried her as she’d seen him work his body the way that he does. It made her feel a bit like she was still at the academy, girls would try and make bento boxes for Sasuke all the time and he would reject them always. She hoped he would accept hers as they would be traveling for days and it’s also not like she had a crush on him, she thought.

Hinata went to the bathroom and showered before heading out later that afternoon. It wouldn’t hurt being there a bit before sundown so she packed her little satchel with the final things and grabbed the bentos before heading out.

“Hinata!” Hanabi ran up to her and hugged her from behind.
“As much as you say you love us you tend to forget to say bye,” Hanabi giggled. Their father standing at the doorway with his signature stern face.
“Return safety,” he said before walking back inside.
Hinata and her father made efforts to mend their relationship after she proved herself to him after the war.

“Sorry Hanabi love, I’ve just been a bit out of it these past days. I guess the missions worrying me a bit,” Hinata was more nervous about Sasuke but she wouldn’t tell Hanabi that.

“Hmm, well be safe okay! I don’t wanna see you come back with a single scratch okay?” Hinata nodded with a silly smile and they laughed.
“And don’t get too cozy with the Uchiha, hehe,” Hanabi winked at her oldest sister. Hinata couldn’t hide her slight blush.
“Don’t be ridiculous Hanabi! I barely know him,” Hinata tried to act natural but wasn’t sure how natural she would be if she wasn’t nervous talking about Sasuke.
Hanabi shook her head, “whatever you saaaaay,” she giggled and ran up to the door, waving her sister off.

Hinata shook her head and she walked away. She decided she would sit at the bench just at the gate of the village to wait for Sasuke. As she walked up she held her breath unintentionally.

White, almost lavender-like eyes met with a mismatched set just a few steps ahead. The sun had about an hour left to set.

Chapter Text

“Sasuke-san, I didn’t expect to see you so early,” Hinata tried to speak first as it seemed that Sasuke would stay silent if he had the choice. Hinata didn’t like silence with company.

“I should say the same, did you eat? We shouldn’t leave on empty stomachs.” Hinata was shocked, she had never heard so many words come from his mouth at the same time. He began before she could respond.
“If you don’t want to eat you can wait here and I won’t take too long.” Hinata walked up, yeah, she ate before coming but she wanted to join him.

“Lead the way Sasuke-San,” she looked up and smiled at him. “Hn,” and he walked to the direction of a small diner.

They were greeted by a young girl as they entered. It was cozy with warm lighting, Hinata loved it. They were seated at a two-person table and both ordered green tea.

“I’ve never been here before, Sasuke-san, it’s so… cozy,” she gave a small smile. He looked away as quickly as he looked at her, “it’s inexpensive and they’re fast.” The waitress came back with their drinks and they both ordered a small plate each. “Ah, the usual, I should've guessed,” the waitress giggled and walked to the kitchen. Hinata looked at Sasuke and he already knew what she was thinking, “I don’t cook often, so I come here a lot.”

They soon got their food and began to eat. The sun began to set and they both shared a glance at one another before returning their gazes back to the sunset. Hinata felt warm, and while they sat together, sharing a meal, she knew she had nothing to worry about on their mission.

—-

They made their way out of the diner and walked towards the village gates.

“We’ll make our way to the next village and stay there for the night, after that we should only have to stay the night at one more village before we arrive to the location,” Sasuke said before he jumped into a nearby tree. Hinata followed and they ran for a few hours with a few small breaks in between. Side by side with Sasuke, Hinata felt free, she felt no judgement from him, nothing that made her feel belittled. With him, he made her feel like she was a worthy ninja.

Soon they arrived at the next village and entered a small hotel. “I’ll ask if they have any rooms available,” “okay, Sasuke-san.” Sasuke made his way to the front desk and spoke to the man at the front desk. The hotel smelled warm with a bit of cinnamon and citrus, she looked over and saw Sasuke with a set of keys. She followed him upstairs to their room. Two futons and robes lay on the floor. They took off their extra gear and Hinata changed into the hotel robes in the bathroom. She came back to see Sasuke already in his futon on his side.

“There weren’t anymore rooms available, so we had to share this one,” Saskue said, it sounded as if he wanted to add more but cut himself off. Hinata blinked a few times, was this an apology? She thought. She quietly giggled, “it’s not a problem, good night Sasuke-San.” She gave him a warm smile, she knew he couldn’t see it, but it was a habit. She wrapped herself in the futon and began to fall asleep. Just before she fell into sleep she heard his voice. “Goodnight, Hinata.”

—-

The sun peeked through the room curtains and both the ninjas stirred awake. Hinata sat up and stretched before getting up and fixing the bed. Sasuke took a little longer and still looked very tired. They both got their things together and went to the desk to check out.

“That’s a pretty girl you got there,” the man at the desk said eyeing Hinata. His gaze was less than discreet, Hinata just looked away.
“What’s her name?” Sasuke looked at Hinata and back at the man, “Hina,-“ before Sasuke could finish, the man beckoned for Hinata to come to the desk. She didn’t know how to react and looked at Sasuke. “She’s my fiancé,” he handed the man the keys to the room and put his arm around Hinata's shoulders as he made his way out the door with her.

“I just didn’t want him to keep bothering you,” Sasuke said as he made his way in front of her.

“N-no, I really appreciate it, I had no idea what to do,” Hinata said, blushing. Sasuke looked at her for a moment and looked away again, “just don’t let a stranger take advantage of your kindness,” he paused as if thinking then motioned for her to follow him back to the forest to head on their way again. After about 2 hours, they decided to eat and rest for a bit.

“There’s a river nearby, let’s go catch some fish?” Hinata suggested and Sasuke got up. They got to a decently sized river and sasuke caught two fish. Sasuke started a fire with his jutsu and they sat together for the time it took to cook the fish.

Hinata stoke many glances at the man next to her. She was sure he noticed, but he was so handsome and she couldn’t help herself. She thought for a moment and remembered Naruto and the feelings she had for him. She wanted to be with him for so long. She recalled the night she found out about their marriage, she shuddered and forced herself not to dwell on the past. She was over Naruto, and was ready to find interest in other people. It was easy to see Sasuke and feel a certain way, she dice fed not to let herself dwell on it before she got her feelings hurt.

“Food’s ready,” Sasuke handed her her fish and they began eating. After, they travelled many miles until the sun began to set again. They were half a day from arriving so they decided to rest now. As they made their way into the village, Sasuke reminded Hinata that they need to look as normal as possible as this village did not seem to be well versed in the ideas of Konoha and other villages with ninjas. He reached into his satchel and pulled out a poncho similar to his own.
“Put this on,” Hinata took the poncho and slipped it over her body. It was a bit large for her but she was glad it kept her warm. “Thank you, Sasuke-kun,” she smiled and then returned her gaze ahead. Sasuke did not answer, she didn’t expect him to. She kept looking forward and he found that he was not able to remove his gaze from her. The moon reflected off of the only exposed skin and gave her an angel-like aura, he has never viewed any woman in this way before in his life and that’s when he realized he was a doomed man.

For the first time, Sasuke felt his heart ache for another person. And he had no idea what to make of it, or do about it.

Chapter Text

The pair began to enter the next village, in this one, there were no shinobi so Sasuke and Hinata needed to blend in as best as they could. Hinata felt warm in Sasuke’s extra poncho, it was lined on the inside with fleece and she wondered if it was a winter one that he carried extra with him. She blushed as she realized the poncho smelled of Sasuke, musk and manly. She shook her head in attempts to rid her mind of the thought, she wouldn’t let herself become attracted to him… she couldn’t.

Hinata looked up at Sasuke and felt her face heat up, she had to be kidding herself, he’s very emotionally disconnected, there’s no way he would even reciprocate anyway, she thought. Hinata decided she wouldn’t let any feelings develop. But even she knew that was something out of her control. As they walked through the village they passed a few night vendors and small twenty-four hour shops until they reached another small hotel. She had no idea how much money they were given for this mission as Sasuke was the one who held onto the money but she trusted his ability to budget it well.

They entered a humble hotel with a sweet old man at the front desk. He told them that he was able to give them seperate rooms each for only a little more than a shared room. They took that option and made their way upstairs and into a hallway that had a few rooms, theirs just being right next to each other. They hadn’t shared many words since they ate earlier that day but it was surprisingly never awkward. She had just separated from Sasuke about to speak to him but was caught off guard by him being the first to speak to her.

“Goodnight,” it seemed as if he wanted to say her name but decided against it. She looked at him a bit surprised for a moment before she smiled softly at him.
“Goodnight, Sasuke-kun,” she felt herself blush and scurried to her room almost dropping her key in the process. And she swore she heard his attempt to stifle a laugh. But there was no way he was laughing because of her, she thought.

As she prepared herself for bed she opened her window for a moment to let in some fresh air. She sighed happily as she stuck her head out and leaned against the sill on her shoulders and closed her eyes. Suddenly she felt another presence. She looked to her right and saw Sasuke looking out of his window as well, he was looking at the stars and she swore he looked like the most beautiful man alive. How could someone so… heartless? No, not heartless, but she couldn’t put her finger on the right word. For a moment she wished he was normal, capable of emotion, and capable of falling in love. But she realized that Sasuke was Sasuke and there was no way she would change the way he is for anything. And then she realized that she couldn’t help the feeling growing in her heart.

She went back in her room and closed the window, it was a bit chilly so she put the poncho back on and decided it could make for a good extra layer while she slept. She thought about life and Sasuke for a bit before feeling tired. She knew her feelings were unrequited, but she couldn’t help it. Could she really possibly be so easily able to develop feelings for people? Though she never fell for anyone else in her life after Naruto, then after meeting and knowing Sasuke she developed feelings again. She sighed exasperatedly, she couldn’t let herself fall for another man who could not share her feelings. She felt sad, but she knew better. Not too long after, she felt herself begin to drift off.

The following morning she awoke and met Sasuke in the small lobby downstairs. He nodded at her and she gave him a small smile. She needed to keep her focus on the mission. They walked out after saying goodbye to the man and decided to stop for a meal at a small restaurant.

“I know there’s rivers nearby, but I would prefer not to hunt for food at the moment if I have the option,” Sasuke said but he looked at her this time, as if looking for her approval.

“Of course, this would be better right now, I’m feeling hungry pretty early today anyway,” she smiled but didn’t look back at him. He held his gaze a bit longer but then turned to face the direction of the restaurant again. They walked in and were greeted by a young woman. She looked about their age and kept her eyes only on Sasuke. He asked for a table for two and she led them to a table near the front, probably so she could see Sasuke from afar, but not too far. They sat and ordered their drinks and looked at the menus.

“Why so quiet now, Hyuga?” Sasuke asked, not looking up from his menu.
“Uhh, w-well I-I’m not sure what to t-talk about w-with you S-Sasuke-kun, I would hate t-to annoy you,” Hinata cursed herself internally, she thought she could have better control of her stuttering.

“Surprisingly, you’re probably the only one that doesn’t,” he stated before putting down his menu.

Hinata was about to answer before the waitress returned asking if they were ready, they both ordered and before the young woman left she looked at Sasuke and asked him if he was seeing someone. He looked a bit surprised, in his own way. And then his face turned a bit, weird? He looked at her and said, “do you not see that I’m here with someone now?” She looked at Hinata and back at Sasuke, she was taken aback by his response and she turned red.

“Ah, yes… my apologies, I’ll be back with your food,” she speed-walked to the back and she seemed to have stayed back there for a while. He shook his head and took a sip of his tea. He looked at Hinata. “That, is what annoys me.” Hinata shrugged and responded, “are you not interested in a relationship then? She seemed nice enough,” Hinata said, a bit forward for her regular self. He didn’t make a different expression , but kept looking at her.

“If I’m sitting at the table with a woman, it seems that I would be seeing them, no? She’s forward, yes, which is good, but not like that, imagine if we were seeing each other Hinata, wouldn’t you be taken aback as well?” She looked at him and was shocked. What did he just say? ‘Imagine if we were seeing each other Hinata’? She felt her face heat up, this was so out of character for Sasuke, she felt weird.

“Never mind that, Hyuga, the food is here.” And sure enough the waitress hastily placed their food on the table and told them to let her know if they needed anything else. They ate silently but Hinata was having a heart attack inside, what was Sasuke getting at, she thought. They made their way back into the woods to travel once more. Hinata didn’t understand Sasuke, she was still waiting for him to blow up at her or yell or be mean, but he hadn’t done anything near that, but he was good at making her feel violently uncomfortable, and she couldn’t tell if that was better or worse.

Ignoring that for the moment, she followed him through the trees as they made their way to their destination.