Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi
Type: Alternate Universe/Romance
Being far up north in the oil field unfortunately had its downsides at times and today was proving to being one of those days. Since last night, no had been able to use the internet or their cell phones; with the current wind storm going on it had knocked out the main cell tower used in the area. Thankfully the land lines were still in use, but until the technicians arrived to fix the problem, then communication around site was going to be limited.
For Hinata, this loss wasn't going to affect her work at all; in fact it was a bit of a relief that she wouldn't be hearing her phone chime every time she got an email from head office. It almost felt freeing that she didn't have to look at her phone every ten minutes. However, without cell phone service, it meant she wouldn't be receiving any text messages from anyone either and that left her feel anxious. Yesterday she had been looking forward to Naruto contacting her and meeting him for supper so they could catch up, but now . . .
I almost felt relieved last night that he didn't text me . . . but at the same time I felt sad as well . . .
Last night after Kiba had dropped her off at camp, she hadn't gone to dinner but instead just grabbed a sandwich and drink from the lunch room before heading back to her personal room. She felt overwhelmed from both talking to Naruto and hearing Kiba's confession. At the time she just wanted to be alone, but also half hoped that Naruto would shoot her a text asking her to meet him. As the minutes and hours ticked by, it became apparent to her that no invitation was coming, but perhaps that had been for the best. She sat on her bed, her thoughts and emotions becoming like a roller coaster ride; looping up and down, turning sharply to one side and then another before starting all over again.
Kiba and Shino had been her best friends through middle school, high school, the apprenticeship and even right now she considered them the two people she was closest to. So to hear that one of them had had a crush on her for a while now was simply mind boggling, but also made her feel guilty as well for not noticing in the first place. Hinata had to think back hard, trying to remember if there was at any point Kiba had started to treat her differently; some clue that would lead her to think he saw her more than just a childhood friend. Friendly teasing, brief hugs and pats on the head were the only memories she could come up with; but perhaps that's the way he had wanted it.
"I'm not sure when it started.Second year electrical I think; that's when I at least remember starting to see you differently.I had no problem flirting and talking with other girls, but when it came to you . . . I always froze.I wish I could put the blame on you, but how on earth would you have ever known.I ever only spoke to you and touched you as a friend, when really I wanted to do more.I wanted to be brave like you."
Second year electrical . . . what had happened back then that made him see her in a different light? Hinata grabbed her phone off the desk and opened up her pictures; scrolling back to see if there were any clues. She started looking back at that spring when they had gone back to work. Pictures of them goofing off in the lunch trailer, group cable pulls and even games night back at camp . . . but there was nothing. April, May, June, all the way back to November. Sighing in frustration Hinata almost threw her phone down, but then something caught her eye; the large Christmas tree from that year's party. A sad smile spread across her face as she brought the phone closer.
That's right . . . Ino and Sakura took me shopping the day before the party. They told me it was an early birthday present and they suggested that I should dress a little more differently so Naruto would notice me. I thought maybe they were right and pretty much bought myself a completely new wardrobe and that blue velvet dress. I felt so self-conscious in it, but Ino and Sakura said I looked amazing with it on.
The day of the Christmas Party, Hinata had been invited to the hair salon to get her hair styled; Ino had even done her make-up. Once she had put the dress and high heels on, Hinata couldn't even recognize herself in the mirror. Every fibre of her being wanted to rip the bobby pins out, rub the make-up off, tear the dress off and go put on a business suit like she did every year. At one point she started to shake with anxiety, but thank her lucky stars Ino and Sakura had been there. They had enveloped her in a group hug and told her everything was going to be alright and that if it made her feel better, she could bring her suit along just in case she became too uncomfortable.
Walking into that party had been downright terrifying! Hinata was positive she was going to faint with all the stares she was getting, but when she saw him her nervousness suddenly went away. Naruto had been looking at her with an expression she had never seen before, and it made her heart flutter. With what little courage she had left, Hinata walked straight over to her crush and wished him a Merry Christmas. His blue eyes were wide and his cheeks a deeper red than hers; looking at her from top to bottom before he stuttered out a response. Naruto had then complimented how beautiful she looked and at that moment she could have died from sheer happiness.
The rest of the evening was filled of drinks, laughter and dancing. Hinata smiled fondly at the video Shino had took of her and Naruto clumsily waltzing on the dance floor. She never did fully understand why he had asked her to dance; perhaps it had been a silly wager with Ino, but whatever the reason, Hinata knew that this was a night she would never forget. Closing her eyes she could still feel his hand on the small of her back and how close their bodies were as they moved across the floor; forever burned into the back of her mind.
Unfortunately after that, Naruto had gotten pulled into a drinking match with Sasuke and Ino. The three friends had gone head to head with shot after shot, not stopping until there was a winner. Naruto had put up a good fight, but was the first to drop out; running to the bathroom almost immediately. Sasuke soon followed suite, leaving Ino the undefeatable champion. Hinata let out a laugh, but then froze. The picture she had on her screen was of her and Sakura trying to get Ino to sit up straight and drink some water, however it was the person in the background that caught her attention. She had never noticed it before, but the expression on Kiba's face was one she had never seen before. He had a small sad smile on his face, but it was the way his eyes were looking at her . . .
Don't tell me that this is when he started to . . .
It didn't make sense . . . and yet it did at the same time. After that night, her confidence had rose dramatically. She felt better at work and at school; even in her personal life her father had told her he noticed a change in her drastically.
My confidence grew after that Christmas Party . . . slowly, but surely I became more assertive in myself. In fact, because of that night I was able to confess to Naruto almost two years later.
Right to left her finger swiped through the next two years of memories and only at this moment was she just catching some of Kiba's expressions that she wouldn't have looked at before. Now that she was paying attention, she saw the poor man looking longingly at her, but never showing his true feelings to her face. Once again Hinata felt tears slowly slip down her cheeks; putting the phone down beside her so she could wipe them away. Guilt and sadness wracked through her, she didn't know what to do about the situation at hand. She knew how he felt; to like someone so much and yet they never noticed you.
"You were always so shy Hinata and un-confident.I think that's one of the things that held me back the most; my interest in confident women.At times I wanted to help you with that, but I never did . . . I never fucking did!"
And yet he had helped her.
He would push me to talk to Naruto more. He'd leave his seat so Naruto would sit next to me and many times he would tell me where Naruto was studying so I could . . .
"Today however, your confidence shined through the room whether you realized it or not. Heck the moment you walked into that safety meeting Naruto would not stop looking at you.Then seeing you two talk and laughing just pissed me off even more.Not at you or at him, but at myself.For not taking the chance when it was there and instead I was a fucking coward!I'm mad with some of the things I've done in my life, especially up here.You've probably heard the rumors already from Sakura and Ino . . . some of them are true.I usually don't see it as a problem.Is it so wrong not wanting to be lonely up here?Not wanting to sleep in a cold bed and just feel wanted once in a while?I've made mistakes and I can see that you're not exactly thrilled with some of them.I mean just look at me. . . pathetic huh?I suppose what is even more pathetic is sleeping with that brunette last shift and it was your name I was crying out!"
Hey cheeks flared at his last statement. The only person she had ever thought of in that way as Naruto and truth be told she had yet to share a bed with anyone for that matter. While she didn't want to wait until marriage, Hinata at least wanted her first time to be with someone she cared for and loved. The fact that Kiba was able to sleep with anyone or rather with someone that looked like her didn't sit well. Did he really not care about who he shared a bed with?
Stop it . . . you know better than that . . . you know him better than that! He likes to play the ladies' man, but it's just for show; he's told you many times that he just enjoys the attention it gets him.
Hinata felt confused; her heart had always belonged to Naruto but, could she possibly have feelings for Kiba as well? She hugged her knees in close to her chest; her eyes glancing down at her phone again to check the time.
It's getting late . . . I should really go to bed . . .
Thankfully sleep found her quickly, but only for a short 5hrs. At 3am she found herself wide awake; dreams of both Kiba and Naruto would not leave her alone. Feeling emotionally drained and frustrated, Hinata did the only thing she could think of to help. Getting out of bed, she tossed on her work out clothes, running shoes and headed towards the camp gym. She needed a good long run to help clear her thoughts and stop the silly mind games she was playing with herself.
At 3am the gym was deserted and no one to be seen. Hinata cranked the music up on her phone, plugged the ear buds in and set the treadmill at a good pace. Her eyes were focused on the wall ahead, but she let her mind go free; listening to the beat of the music as her feet ran.
After thirty minutes of running, Hinata finally felt better. Sweat dripping off her face, she moved to the corner of the room where the mats were set up for stretching. Pulling one off the hook, Hinata laid it down on the floor and began her usual stretching routine; deep breaths in and out as she rode onto the wave of her runners high. Opening her eyes, she stared at her reflection and just like that the questions she had been pondering were now clear as day.
I do like Kiba, but only as a friend. I've only ever seen and wanted him as a friend, nothing more. Perhaps . . . if Naruto completely rejects me, I could start to see him in a different light. However at this moment, right here and now . . . it is Naruto that I like. Kiba said he was looking at me during the safety meeting, so perhaps I do have a chance with him! I just . . . well not going to lie it kind of hurts that he didn't send me a text message last night. Maybe he was too tired after work, or maybe he was only joking? No . . . he was sincere when he told you that he wanted to have supper with you. So then why . . .
When she left the gym, that answer became clear by all the signs she had missed posted in the hallway and in the cafeteria area. Cell service was down and would be unavailable for at least three days, perhaps even more if the technicians were delayed by the snow storm.
And here she was now. Cooped up in her small office with the door closed once again.
While she had come to terms with her feelings for Kiba, she wasn't sure how to address her friend when he came back from days off. However at least she had time to ponder about it; it was only Thursday and Kiba would be arriving back to site on Monday. The more important question was how she was going to get a hold of Naruto. She knew he was on pad 12, but she had no reason to go out there to see him. Calling him on the land line was out of the question since the call would go directly to Shino and waiting for him by the front entrance seemed futile since so many people would be flooding in for supper there was a high chance she would miss him.
Hinata sighed in frustration as she put another file folder away in the cabinet and snapped when she heard someone knocking on her door, "What!?"
Realizing the rudeness her tone and how her choice of wording sounded, she rushed to the door to apologize, "I'm so sorry! You just caught me at a bad . . ."
She was met by a snow covered Sasuke, who's expression was so emotionless it seemed he didn't care in the slightest that she had just yelled him. In fact he didn't even say a word to her; only passing her a wet envelope and then walking out the door. Hinata stood there for a moment, not a hundred percent sure on how to react to this, but she was brought out of her stupor by Itachi.
"Ha Ha Ha! Ah, don't mind him, Hinata. That's just the way he always is! What did he bring you?"
Opening up the damp brown envelope revealed it was the current driving logs she needed to file from pad 12, but what caught her attention was a small letter that had her name on it.
"Ah, it's just the paperwork from his pad."
"Oh, well at least he was kind enough to knock and give it to you in person. When Karin was here he would just throw it under the door and walk away."
Smiling, Hinata nodded and retreated back into her office. Placing the paperwork on the desk she grabbed the letter with her name on it and slipped it into her pocket.
"I'm just going to run to the washroom if anyone is looking for me." Hinata announced as she left the trailer.
"Take your time and try not to get lost in that blizzard!"
Hinata quickly made her way towards the washroom trailers and was thankful to see the other stalls empty. Picking the last stall, she slipped inside before pulling the letter out.
I'm so sorry I couldn't get a hold of you last night, stupid cell service up here is only getting worse and worse I tell ya! Anyways I have to cut straight to the chase here before Sasuke leaves to bring you the driving logs from the pad. Let's meet tonight in the cafeteria at 7:45pm. That way we will miss the dinner rush and there won't be a lot of people since the kitchen closes at 8pm. Should be plenty of time for us to grab our food and catch up! See you then!
She smiled down at the letter; his chicken scratch writing just barely readable. However, it made her feel special that he had taken the time to write her. Just as she was feeling her heart flutter, it stopped suddenly upon hearing the door to the washroom open and the sound of footsteps entering. Silently she put the letter back in her pocket and flushed the toilet. Waiting a second, she exited the stall and headed towards the sink. The woman that had entered looked surprisingly similar to her, in fact for a split second Hinata was positive she was walking towards a mirror. However, this woman had stunning green eyes and was just a few inches shorter than her; she also saw that her maroon hoodie said Suna Scaffolding on it. Deciding to be polite, Hinata said a soft hello to the woman before putting her hands in the sink.
"I don't suppose you're a Hyuuga are you?"
Hinata was a little surprised by this and looked up at the mirror to see the other woman staring at her.
"I am actually. How did you know?"
The woman smiled, "I've met Neji a few times before and you two look very similar. Are you his sister by chance?"
Hinata couldn't help but giggle; it was a common mistake that people made. "No, but we are family. He's my cousin."
"Oh, I see I see. So do you work at the head office and are you on site for a special meeting?"
"Actually no, I'm just here for a shift or two to help out with some office work and then I'll be heading back to the main office at Hyuuga Power." Hinata dried off her hands. "I'm assuming you're with Suna Scaffolding?"
"Your assumption would be correct." The woman held out her hand, "I'm the project manager actually. Nice to meet you, my name is Naomi."
Hinata extended her hand as well, "I'm Hinata. Nice to meet you too."
"I do know a few people on the Hyuuga Electric crew; mostly it's Gaara and Kakashi I deal with. However, I have gotten to know Naruto and Kiba quite well actually. Are you friends with them?"
Hinata stiffened slightly, "Well, yes actually. Kiba is a long-time friend and Naruto I've known since we first started the apprenticeship."
Naomi nodded. "I see. Truth be told I didn't know them very well until last shift. There was a retirement party going on at the local bar; I'm sure you know the one, and I got to talking to those two. Men sure are talkative when they've had too much to drink."
Warning lights were suddenly going off in Hinata's head. Naomi was speaking but she didn't hear a word of what the other brunette was saying. Pieces were falling together before her eyes as it finally dawned on her who exactly this woman might be.
Don't tell me that this is the woman that Kiba . . .
"I will say this though, if you are ever looking for a good roll in the sheets I highly suggest Kiba; that man just has this touch that leaves your skin feeling like it's on fire. However if you want someone a little more gentle then go with Naruto, he is one hell of a kisser."
Hinata wasn't sure what kind of expression was currently on her face, but her brain seemed to have stopped working and she couldn't move.
"Ah, I'm sorry. I was blabbering away there; just a little girl talk you know? Anyways, you have a good day and I'll probably see you later."
Naomi smiled and walked into the bathroom stall.
At the end of the day, around 75% of the day shift workers would head into the cafeteria for supper; dropping their bags off by the door hooks and everyone would hurry fast to get supper as soon as possible. Around 5% would simply go to the lunch room, grab a cold supper there and then bring it back to their room to eat. 10% usually would run back to their rooms to change into work out gear so they could hit the gym first and then eat afterwards. The remaining 5% would head back to their rooms, shower and play on their phones or computers till around 7:30pm when the cafeteria would be quiet. Hinata found that she fell into the category of either grabbing a cold lunch from the lunch room or waiting until later when there wasn't as many people.
Hinata had immediately gone to her room as soon as she had gotten back to camp, stripped off her clothes and jumped in the shower. Hot water poured down her body and she hummed approvingly feeling its effects warm her cold toes and hands from walking outside.
Thank goodness I wasn't working outside like most of the guys. I remember sometimes having to take long showers just so I could feel my toes again.
After a few moments of just letting the water cascade down her curvy frame, Hinata grabbed her shampoo and began her normal shower routine. As she scrubbed the soap into her hair, she couldn't help but think back to her run in with Naomi.
She definitely knew who I was. However I'm not sure if she is aware that I kind of knew about her and Kiba sleeping together. Does she think we're a couple? I mean . . . he did say that when he was with her he called my name out. If she thinks we are a couple, then she's assuming I'm going to be mad at him and create drama within the company? But if she doesn't think we are . . . then what was the point in telling me? To make me jealous? To create unwanted drama?
Hinata dipped her hair back into the falling water, letting it rinse the soap suds from her scalp.
And what about Naruto? She said he was a good kisser . . . so does that mean that the two of them have slept together as well? Was it just a one night stand or . . .
Pale violet eyes slowly opened to stare at the shower wall. A twinge of jealousy ran through her at the thought of someone else kissing and being with Naruto like that. It didn't surprise her that Naruto had already slept with someone, but it just didn't sit right with her that he had been with the same woman as Kiba.
Granted I'm not upset with them . . . heck if they were both drunk and at the same party I'm betting my next pay cheque that neither of them know they were with the same woman that night. She seems like the aggressive type and knowing how those two get when they've had too much alcohol . . . I doubt either of them would have been able to say no to her.
Hinata sighed. She had seen it many times before. Guys sleeping with the same girl and then causing fights and problems within the company as they argued who got to sleep with her next. Was that what Naomi was trying to do? Or was there a different side to the story?
No matter how flat you make something, there is always two sides. Perhaps Naomi is trying to create drama . . . or perhaps after being hurt when sleeping with Kiba she went to someone else who wouldn't call out my name. The possibilities are just endless here . . .
Grabbing her conditioner next, Hinata slowly massaged it into her long hair.
While it does hurt me a little bit that Naruto might have slept with her . . . it really is none of my business. We are not a couple and therefore what Naomi said should not matter to me. So why do I feel so nervous about going to have supper with Naruto? Is it fear from what happened last time? Or maybe he just really has no interest in me . . . I know Kiba said he was staring at me during the safety meeting, but maybe he was mistaken. If Naruto was interested in me, would he not have called or at least sent a text message these past few years?
While letting the conditioner set in her hair, Hinata reached over for the body wash and lathered herself up.
When I didn't return to Konoha Energy that year, Kiba and Shino were the only ones I really kept in touch with. Sakura and Ino would send me texts the odd time, but aside from that . . .
She sighed again before stepping fully into the water, letting the conditioner and body soap rinse off her body. This supper with Naruto was most likely him just being nice and wanting to catch up with her; it did not mean he had any interest in her in a romantic way. Or was she wrong?
I really don't know what to think . . . we are meeting at a time when there is fewer people around. But that could mean anything!
Hinata turned the knob off on the shower and stepped out to dry off.
The hallways almost seemed spooky with how empty they were at this time, but personally Hinata liked how quiet it was. As she reached the cafeteria, Hinata pulled out her badge and swiped it before walking in. Most found it a pain that you had to swipe your badge before going to eat, but Hinata understood the reasoning behind it. Konoha Energy wanted to keep track of how many people ate every day and plus they wanted to make sure no one was sneaking away early from work.
Her eyes darted about the nearly empty cafeteria, trying to see if she could spot Naruto anywhere. Near the far wall at one of the booths, someone suddenly stood up and waved at her. Waving back, she pointed towards the buffet style food line; indicating she was going to grab her supper first before joining him. Naruto gave her thumbs up before sitting back down in his seat.
Like most camp meals, all you had to grab was a tray, walk up to the cooks behind the counter and point out in the buffet line of what you wanted. Then at the end they would give you your plate full of food where you could then grab your utensils and many choices of beverages. Each night was different and usually a special theme; like Taco Tuesday, Wings Wednesday, Fish and Chips Friday and Steak Sunday. With it being a Thursday, the meal choice was pretty basic with a few meat options, vegetables and rice. Also, in the middle of the cafeteria was that night's desert choice; which usually consisted of some kind of cake or hot desert like apple pie. Hinata asked for a boring meal of Chicken, veggies and rice, but chose to skip the desert as she walked over to pour herself a glass of water before heading over to the booth Naruto had picked out. As she walked closer and closer towards him, it was amazing how much different he looked without his messy blonde hair. However his facial features and trademark smile were still the same as ever.
"I almost didn't recognize you there."
Naruto laughed and stood up, "I know right? I've only had it cut for about a week now and it's still really weird. However, I learned my lesson to never make a bet with Ino again over a football game."
Hinata placed down her food tray on the table and before she could say or do anything, Naruto was in front of her and enveloped her into a big bear hug.
She froze. Of all the things she was expecting during this get together, a hug was not one of them.
Before she could even react, Naruto released her and took a step back, "Thanks so much for meeting with me. I'm assuming Sasuke gave you my note without anyone noticing?"
Hinata stared at him for a brief moment, her cheeks tinted a deep red, "Uh, oh yes! He slipped it in with the other paperwork. He didn't even say a word to me though, but Itachi said that was normal for him."
Naruto laughed and sat back down, "Yeah that sounds like him. So how are you? What have you been doing?"
Sitting down across from him, Hinata began to tell her tale of the last three years; going into residential and commercial work for almost two years, challenging the Masters Exam and then finally with where she was at the main office with Hyuuga Power.
"Hanabi is the one going to be taking over the company, but father has said that eventually I will be beside her as second in command. Which I'm perfectly fine with! Right now I'm just enjoying being lower on the totem pole with helping the different departments and going out in the field the odd time to test transformers or do maintenance on them."
As Hinata finished her story, she noticed that neither she nor Naruto had really touched any of their food, in fact he had looked at her the entire time she spoke; a soft smile on his face.
"Wow, that's amazing Hinata! Good for you! You really are moving up in your career as an electrician and technician. More so than I can say for myself . . ."
"Don't say that! I heard from Sakura that they've offered you positions as Field Foreman and even Konoha Energy has as well! I mean if that isn't . . ."
"Huh, is that what she said. . ."
Hinata paused. Naruto lowered his gaze and he was staring at his untouched food, his fork playing with the cold mashed potatoes.
"I mean . . . it is true. I have been offered many positions with Hyuuga Electric and Konoha Energy . . . but I just don't feel like I've earned it." Naruto pushed his plate out of the way, his elbows now on the table with his hands clasped in front of him, "Some of these guys who have been up here longer than me are still at the bottom, and yet not even a year after getting my Journeyman ticket I was offered the lead hand position. I took that one without any second thoughts, but then soon after that it was Field Foreman and then Maintenance Operator with Konoha Energy. I can't tell if it's because of my hard work or because they want Minato's son to work for them.
"I've told you many times about my dad and how sometimes I just feel like I'm in his shadow all the time. He's one of the top mechanical operators with Konoha Energy and I know that's the only reason Hyuuga Electric hired me in the first place was because I was his son. I almost wish he wasn't so successful so that I could have made my own path in life, but . . ."
Hinata interrupted him by grabbing onto his hands with her own. He stopped speaking and was now looking at her with a sad, curious expression. She pulled his fingers apart from being clenched together and instead held them in her smaller hands before speaking.
"I . . . I know exactly how you feel. My uncle being the CEO of the company, I was able to get on board and I didn't even have to submit a resume. At first I felt like I was just using my father and uncles positions, but I learned that that wasn't entirely true. Naruto, even though both our fathers are successful they taught us the meaning of hard work. We weren't pampered or given everything on a silver platter! While it may be true that's how we first got into becoming electricians, we still worked as hard as everyone else up here. Long hour shifts, different weather conditions and anything else they threw our way we conquered. If something got to hard you never ran back to your father to complain! You took the challenge and completed it head on. Of course the higher ups are going to notice that! The way you overcome obstacles not just with work but in life too, you're a natural leader. I know for a fact that if you did take up their offers everyone would be proud and excited for you!"
Naruto's eyes were wide and he was staring at her with an awed expression.
"Sometimes, we also need to take advantage of what we have in life too. I knew being able to join another company to try residential and commercial experience wasn't going to be easy; usually they don't hire electricians that only have industrial experience. So I made sure they knew whose daughter I was just so I could get my foot in the door. Once I did that, I was able to show them all I had to offer and ended up surprising the hell out of them. At first they treated me like a child, but once they saw that I was no push over and that I wasn't riding on the coattails of my father they started to respect me and show me the ropes more.
"I guess what I'm trying to say is, you are amazing Naruto! And don't let anyone else tell you otherwise! If you want to be a Lead Hand and love the position then just keep doing what you're doing! But if you're holding back because you don't think you've earned it, then let me be the first one to say that you have earned it and that you should aim for the top!"
When Hinata finished, she realized she was leaned over the table and clasping onto Naruto's hands so hard that her finger nails were probably digging into his skin. Feeling she had stepped over the line, Hinata released his hands and opened her mouth to apologize.
"I . . ."
"Heh, ha. Ha ha."
Hinata looked at Naruto, who was now holding his face in his hands and laughing softly.
"God I'm such an idiot . . ."
Naruto uncovered his face and looked at her as if he just realized the meaning of life; a huge smile on his face.
"How do you always do that? Say the right things just when people need to hear it the most? You did that all the time when we were in school and at work together. I miss those days so much . . . I've missed you."
"Thank you for telling me that; I was really starting to doubt myself there. Sakura and Sasuke would tell me similar things, but just the way you worded it . . . I feel so much better and open minded. Almost as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Thank you!"
Hinata smiled, "Don't mention it."
A comfortable silence fell over them for a minute as they both examined their cold, untouched food. The kitchen was now closed and no chance of getting another plate of hot food. Hinata almost suggested they grab something instead from the lunch room, but when she turned back to look at Naruto he was looking at her sadly, biting his lip.
"Hinata . . . truth be told while I did invite you hear to catch up and talk with you, there's something . . . I also felt that I really needed to apologize to you. We were so close with work and school, yet the moment you didn't come back up here to work I just feel like I abandoned you. I didn't call you, send a text message, heck I didn't come to see you in person at all. I still talk with Neji now and then so I'm sure he could have helped me meet up with you, but I never did. So for that, I'm truly sorry.
"There were many times I was going to call you, especially on your birthday . . . but I always chickened out. I just felt like I would be bothering you and didn't want to be a nuisance. Granted though, not contacting you at all makes me seem like a selfish asshole who only used you during school. Which couldn't be further from the truth! I know this is a lame ass excuse but . . ." Naruto took a deep breath and reached across the table to hold one of her hands, "It took me a while, but I finally realized what you were trying to tell me that night at the campus bar."
A blush crept across Hinata's face again, her eyes glancing down at his hand holding hers and then back up to his piercing blue eyes. She could tell at this moment he was being honest and sincere, but she felt a twinge of fear run through her when he brought up that night at the bar. She had always told herself that he didn't remember that night at all and that it was something they would never ever talk about again.
"I can't deny that I was drunk off my ass, and truthfully I only remember bits and pieces here and there. However I do remember you asking to talk to me privately and us going outside to speak."
"Naruto . . ."
"Please, just let me get this off my chest. I should have known better and understood what it is you were trying to tell me. I can be real dense sometimes, especially when it comes to girls. That night you told me your feelings and unintentionally I stomped all over heart without a care in the world. I'm sorry about the way I responded to your confession and I felt guilty that it was because of me you didn't come back to work up here. Not that I blame you; I mean if someone had said those words to me, I sure as hell wouldn't want to be near them. Hinata, I . . ."
"Oh there you are Naruto! Geez man we've been looking all over for you!"
Hinata and Naruto froze, both their heads simultaneously turning to see Konohamaru and three other apprentice electricians walking towards them. She pulled her hand away from his out of embarrassment and kept her eyes down at the table.
"God damn it, are you freaking kidding me . . ." hissed Naruto under his breath; only loud enough for Hinata to hear him. "What is it Kono? I told you I was busy tonight!"
The third year apprentice genuinely looked confused at Naruto's reaction and it looked like he was going to say something sarcastic to his lead hand. That is until he saw who was sitting at the same table as Naruto and suddenly a light clicked on in his head, "Ah . . . oh sorry man. I didn't know you were . . . we'll just go! Come on guys."
However the three other apprentices weren't listening; two of them started to bug Naruto about being on a date while the third approached Hinata and held out his hand, "Hi there, I'm Udon Ise, nice to meet you."
Hinata smiled shyly and shook his hand, "Nice to meet you too."
"So sorry to interrupt, usually Naruto plays basketball with us Thursday evenings, but when he said he was busy we thought that meant he was having a Pool match against Sasuke again. When he wasn't there, we had no idea what was going on."
She nodded understandingly. He really is popular up here.
"I-It's okay. It's getting late and I should probably be heading to bed anyways."
Hinata attempted to hide her red cheeks and fumbled with her tray while trying to get to her feet.
"No, please wait Hinata! I . . .geezus, do you guys mind?! I'm trying to have a conversation here!" Naruto growled at the apprentices.
"Geez man, we're sorry. You should have told us you were just trying to get laid tonight and we wouldn't have bothered you."
Both Naruto's and her face turned beet red, however while she kept her head down in embarrassment, his expression was just on the brink of rage, "One more word out of you Haku and I swear to god I will put you on heat trace for the next three shifts! Can you please just give us some privacy? I promise I'll play basketball with you guys tomorrow!"
"You know, you don't have to be rude man. We were just . . ."
Before anyone could say anything more, Naruto suddenly stood up, grabbed her by the hand and started to drag her out of the cafeteria without saying a word.
Hinata looked behind her as two of the apprentices looked downright confused, but she could see Konohamaru and Udon picking up their left behind food trays off the table to put them away. Almost tripping over her own feet, she turned her head frontward to look at the man practically dragging her out of the cafeteria. A few people gave her a questioning stare and it looked like they were about to intervene. She gave them all a small wave, letting them know that she was fine and that they didn't need to get involved. Hinata quickened her pace so that Naruto wasn't pulling on her hand as much and was thankful once again that the hallways were pretty much empty except for the odd person sitting on one of couches.
Nartuo continued to walk forward, not looking back at her once. She was starting to wonder where they were going, until he pulled her towards hallway B. With his free hand, he quickly pulled out his room card and scanned it so they could enter the hallway. They walked the complete length of the hallway, passing by all the rooms until they reached the very end which lead to small exit room that had a door leading you outside in case of emergencies and a stairway leading up to the 2nd floor. As soon as the door closed behind them, Naruto finally let go of her hand.
He stood in front of her with his hands on his hips, letting out an irritable sigh before taking a few steps away from her, looking out the window of the emergency exit door. Granted it was pitch black outside so the only thing he was really looking at was his own reflection. For a while there was a long silence between them and Hinata was unsure of what to say. Did she re-start the conversation on where they left off?
"I'm really sorry about that. I just didn't want our conversation to end there and with there being no real way to get a hold of you later on I just . . . I don't know, I panicked. Sorry for dragging you all the way here. No one ever uses this stairwell, and I knew we could at least get some privacy here."
Naruto kept his back to her, continuing to look out the window. However Hinata soon realized he was using the window as a mirror to look at her through the reflection. His expression was a mix between frustration and uneasiness. She wasn't sure what he wanted to talk about now, and a big part of her just wanted to leave and retreat back to her room, but another part of her told her to stay and listen. Hinata tried to think of something say, however it suddenly sank in exactly where they were.
I am probably less than 20 steps away from Naruto's room . . .
Even though Haku had said it as a joke, the thought of being together with Naruto like that made her cheeks instantly blush.
Is he suggesting that we . . . no no no! Naruto isn't that kind of guy! He just brought you here to talk, that's it! But would I . . . would I refuse if that's what he wanted? He could have just let me leave in the cafeteria, but instead he took me here so no one would interrupt us again. Does that mean he . . . likes me? Is that what he wants to tell me?
Before Hinata could ponder more on the subject, Naruto suddenly turned around and gently put his hands on her small shoulders; his face bright red as he looked down at her.
"What I wanted to say was, Hinata I . . ."
The door to the exit area opened.
Hinata stepped back and Naruto released her, "Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me! Seriously?!"
Sasuke stood by the door, his face unapologetic as he looked back and forth between the frustrated couple. "Ah here you are."
"No shit Sherlock! What do you want?"
Ignoring Naruto, the black haired electrician turned to her, "Sorry to bother you Hinata, but Gaara is looking for you. He needs to talk to you right away at the main entrance."
Hinata glanced down at her watch.
It's almost 9:30pm, it must be urgent if he wants to talk to me this late in the evening.
"Can't it wait until morning?" asked Naruto, clearly still frustrated at being interrupted.
Sasuke raised his hands, "Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just passing on the memo."
Before Naruto could argue anymore, Hinata agreed that she would meet up with Gaara right away. She could tell Naruto didn't want her to leave yet and truth be told she didn't want to go either.
"I will come watch you guys play basketball tomorrow and then we can talk some more if you like. But right now, if Gaara wants to see me this late at night it must be important."
He sighed, looking down at his watch as well to see the time. "Yeah your right. I'll talk to you tomorrow Hinata after we're done playing basketball. Have a good night."
"You too. You have a goodnight as well, Sasuke."
Sasuke gave her a nod of acknowledgment before she left the exit area and headed towards the main entrance. She made sure not to diddy-daddle and marched straight to where the project manager was waiting.
"Oh there you are Hinata!" said Gaara, giving her an apologetic look as she approached him, "I'm so sorry to call you out this late, but I have a huge favor to ask."
To Be Continued . . . .