Sand Trails Ch 29: Progression

Aah, another typical day in Suna. The crows were circling, the school-kids were not lingering, there appeared to be a dead body outside the school gates…

Waitaminute. Blinking, Temari nudged her little brother over with a foot. “Kankuro, what are you doing?”

Dying,” he moaned, face buried in the sand.

She blinked at him again. “Uh… Should I call the nurse?”

Instead of answering, Kankuro lifted a hand and pointed through the door. She followed the direction of his finger, and saw her other little brother hanging out with his favorite person. Pink hair. Tense shoulders. Scowl.

“Oh, Sakura.”

And the redhead was smiling. Well, Sakura inspired insanity in him, so that was nothing new. “Get up, Kankuro. It’s the last week of school. In fact, we don’t even have a week left. We have three days. You’re not going to die of a heart attack in that time.”

“… uhg.”

Meanwhile

Gaara smiled at Sakura. “Yes.”

“If I deck you, I’ll get in trouble,” the girl responded, “and that’s the only reason why I’m not putting you face first into the floor.” Her bright green eyes narrowed as his grin widened. Giving a low growl of frustration, Sakura turned and stalked through the doors. I don’t have time for this!

“But it won’t hurt you,” he insisted, following her towards her locker. “Think of it as a vacation. Even if, by some miracle, you do manage to get out of here by the end of summer like you plan… it won’t interfere with that.”

Swinging the metal cabinet open, Sakura ignored the way Gaara side-stepped to avoid getting her locker door to the face. It banged into Ukon’s locker instead. Idly, the young woman noted that the skirt chaser hadn’t been using his locker for months…

“Have you noticed that I love air conditioning, Gaara? That I am getting tired of finding sand everywhere? That I happen to enjoy frozen ice cream?” she asked as she shuffled books onto the aluminum shelves.

“Most of it will be at night or in an underground cave,” he retorted.

The locker door snapped closed. “How many days are we talking again?”

“Three. Kankuro talked me down from two weeks,” he explained.

Sakura was grumbling as she slung her bag over her shoulder. “You Suna people are insane. I’ll think about it… Argh! I can’t believe I’m actually… You know what? Go away.” The pinkette huffed and walked off muttering to herself.

Light green eyes watched her walk away. “I’ll see you later!” he called after a pause, and his shoulders slumped at her aggravated, half-hearted wave over her shoulder. She wasn’t going to go anywhere, he told himself firmly.

But a tiny voice whispered, How can you be so sure?

xXx

Standing by the school entrance, Hinata was giggling as she read through the various notes that were scrawled across both inside linings, several inner pages, and the fat silver marker that had dominated the back cover. Ino had attacked the glossy outside with gusto, claiming that she was acting in for Sakura not just herself.

Lead scratches, various colours of pen ink, a few other more modest markers, and a surprisingly elegant hand in ink brush. HAGS! Hinata!! Keep in touch! See you next year! Stay smart, don’t do anything stupid. Beat Hidan for me! Tell Aniki he needs to teach you how to skip rocks properly. Ramen’s on me next time! SHOPPING IS A MUST! Here’s my phone number—make sure you call! Find a BETTER boyfriend! FUCK YOU!! (Some notes weren’t just for her) Write! Call! Come over!

A few of the smaller, more hidden notes made her grin widen. When you’re ready, call us! We’ll help! Liquor stores have the best boxes. Ramen makes the best post-move food! I’ll bring snacks! Let me know if the building allows dogs! I’ve got a van! I have a TRUCK! Your MOTHER has the truck! Shut up! YOU shut up! NARUTO, I WILL SIC SAKURA ON YOU!! BRING IT!! Might I suggest moving insurance? I have a few paintings if you’re interested-or Hidan? SAAAAIII!!!

Ino’s silver marker evidently had a fine point tip as well. It nearly ripped through the thick paper in places.

A pair of hands landed on her shoulders, and tugged her back against a warm chest. “Hello, goddess. It’s fucking great to see that smile,” Hidan said, voice right in her ear. “Now what the hell’re ya giggling about?” He tried to peek into her book, but she closed it. “Awww.”

Laughing full-out now, the blue-haired girl turned and grinned up at him. “Kiss me first,” she stipulated, leaning up to brush her lips against his. “Then, maybe.”

“I suppose I have to obey,” he replied, grinning, and slid his arm around her waist. He used that to drag her right up against him, and proceeded to kiss her in the only proper way there was to kiss. That is to say, rather improperly indeed.

Closing her eyes and reveling in the feeling of his body against hers, Hinata ignored the whistles that erupted around them. She was still smiling when he finally let her go and cheerfully whacked him in the shoulder when he gave her an expectant look.

“Okay, so you saw my book when it was about a third full,” she cracked open the book a finger’s breadth wide and thumbed through the barely visible pages. “Here, look at this one!” She held up the notes between Ino and Naruto. The last two lines were scrawled all over the picture of the basketball team.

There was a brief pause as his eyes flickered over the words, reading them. Then he smirked. “What, she expects Pinky to beat on him for her? She should do it herself. Would be more entertaining.” He grinned. It wasn’t meant as an insult toward Ino, though. Just his opinion.

Then his eyes slid down her, and up again. “Then again… maybe we could do something a little different…” His teeth flashed in the grin that followed.

Despite dating the pervert for months, Hinata still found herself blushing uncontrollably sometimes. Leaning forward, she hid her warm cheeks against his collar–the good side. “Do I want to know what you’re thinking?”

His laughter was soft, deep and reverberated through his chest. “Mmm… I was thinking about… you, me, ice cream. There’s a nice place just down the road from the café.” He paused for effect. “Why, what were you thinking, seriously?”

“Nothing!” Squeaking was mortifying. Hinata stayed right where she was, pressed up against a hot guy and hidden from view. One hand came up to lightly trail over the new scars; the stitches had come out a few days ago.

“Oh yeah?” he teased, and poked her in the side. “I don’t believe it. But don’t worry! I’m a nice guy!” He paused. “Well, to you.” His head shook. “But I’ll keep your secret, if you let me start walking so Kakuzu doesn’t leave us fucking behind again.” He pointed toward the parking lot, where Kakuzu was headed toward his vehicle.

Nodding quickly, she reluctantly backed away and tugged her bag up from the grass before jogging ahead to the car, all the while keeping her face averted from her amused boyfriend. Last time Kakuzu had left without them, Hidan had pulled her into the back seat of the bus and proceeded to molest her the entire way to his place. She wasn’t sure she could survive another trip like that.

Laughing, Hidan followed her to Kakuzu’s big black truck, waving as they approached. “Yo, fucker!”

“Shut the fuck up,” was the retort, then, “Hello Hinata.”

“Hi Kakuzu,” she replied with some relief. There! Transportation secured! Her blush had also calmed down and… or, it could not be attributed to her hasty entrance. “Did you get anything good out of the yearbook signing?” Because it was Kakuzu. He would make money out of anything.

Kakuzu gave her a smirk as she buckled in. “Two hundred bucks,” he replied.

“Ehhh?” Hidan gave him a disbelieving look. “How the fuck did you—No, know what? Never fucking mind. I don’t wanna know. Bastard.” He motioned for Hinata to get in before him, making a face.

Grumbling a little herself, Hinata frowned as she scooted in. “And I only procured a van and a truck for moving day.” She sighed. Competing for profit with Kakuzu was really pointless. “Though, Naruto says he’ll get ramen.” Well, he didn’t quite… but she could work around that.

“Great. Saves me the trouble of having to get our dinner for that night,” Kakuzu said, actually looking pretty happy for once.

The albino got in and gave his best friend a disgusted look. “You’re an ass. Drop us off at that ice cream place by the café, would you? I get paid today; I’ll give you the gas money later.”

“Hmph. You’d better,” Kakuzu said, starting the truck.  There was a beat of silence as he pulled out of the parking space, before shifting his focus to the next topic.  “That idiot Suigetsu’s still in town.”

Hidan blinked, and sneered.  “The fuck?  You’d think the asshat would have the brains to fucking leave.  Seriously!”

The money monger huffed and shot his best friend an annoyed look.  “Apparently, there are plans to move him.”

“He doesn’t have a choice,” Hinata murmured from the back seat. “The principal has banned Suigetsu from Konoha High. His father will probably be transferring him back to his previous school.”

“He deserves a whole fucking shit ton worse,” Hidan growled, crossing his arms as he sat back in his seat.  He glared out the window.

More silence.  Then, “I don’t know why you’re being such a fucking pussy,” Kakuzu said.  “You’ve gotten worse.”

“Fuck you, bitch,” Hidan retorted, but weirdly seemed to have relaxed.  He twisted around a bit to grin at Hinata.  “Heeyy, Goddess!  There was this one time in like sixth grade-”

Kakuzu made an evil sound under his breath.  “Shut your fucking mouth, Hidan, or I’m taking your tongue!”

The albino cackled and righted himself in his seat.  “Now who’s bein’ a pussy?”

Watching the two friends interact, Hinata smiled, completely content to have the back seat all to herself, mostly because there really wasn’t much room squeezed in behind the two front seats. Leaning forward, she propped an elbow up on the padded upholstery.

“About the move… Do we even need help from my friends?” she asked, looking more at Kakuzu than Hidan. “I mean, you have a truck and so does Kisame. Itachi has his car.” She blinked. “I’m the only one without a car…”

“Hidan doesn’t have one,” Kakuzu offered, shrugging. “But no, we probably don’t. I was mostly planning on using this thing,” he patted the wheel to indicate the truck they were in, “Kisame’s truck and Deidara’s truck if we need them. It should be pretty easy.”

Fully content with the world, Hinata rested her chin on her interlaced fingers. “Any idea if the place will be clean when we get there?” Naruto had told her a few horror stories earlier at lunch. About tenants who didn’t care about the damage deposit.

“Yes,” Kakuzu said, looking at her and shrugging. “I checked already. It’s decently cared for, new paint job, no lead. I made sure.”

Hidan snorted. Of course the money-monger had. “Geez, fuck, a week?”

“Yes. A week.”

“Seems like forever,” Hidan replied, looking a bit dazed at the thought. “I’m moving in with a girl. And she’s my fucking girlfriend.”

There was a soft sigh from the back. “I’ll one up you. I’m moving out of the family complex.” Hinata looked out the window. “And they don’t know yet.”

The albino made a dismayed sound, even as Kakuzu chuckled, gave his friend a thumbs down, and said, “Owned.”

“Fuck you, bitch.”

“Suck yourself, cunt.”

xXx

“Goodbye, Chichiue.”

“Hinata!”

Bowing quickly, the former heiress dismissed herself from her father’s presence and walked out of the family dining room.

She was barely down the hall towards her room when quick footsteps sounded in the hall behind her. Gulping, Hinata turned to see Hiashi stalking up to her, hands fists at his sides. “Chichiue?”

Her father was intimidating enough when he was sitting or talking or anything really. But when he was standing, fuming, eyes narrowed and looming, like he was right then, he was downright terrifying.

“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded harshly. “Announcing that nonsense over dinner?”

“I’m leaving.” Hinata bit her lip and forced herself to meet his eyes. “I’m moving out.”

She could see the moment observations and minor facts slid into place in her father’s mind. It wasn’t that he was unobservant, it was that this really was unexpected. No Hyuuga moved out on their own.

“Your job.” Hiashi frowned down at her. “The cleaning you’ve been doing. The extra time spent with Hanabi. Your impromptu cooking lessons with the cook. Your continued avoidance of Neji.”

Hinata’s quick shake of the head cut him off. “I’m not avoiding him, he’s avoiding me,” she clarified quietly, but did not deny the rest.

“Your request to formally keep your mother’s combs.”

Mother of pearl, jade, and small bright sapphires. The two decorative combs that were only part of her departed mother’s tiny treasure trove. Hinata nodded. She had been keeping them for years, yet was never sure they were truly hers.

“You are planning on leaving tomorrow morning,” her frowning father said, weight shifting to his heels, strong hands rising to clasp at his front.

“Yes.” And it will not change no matter what—

Hiashi nodded. “I would have appreciated the grace and respect afforded me, had you given me more notice before hand. However… Hinata?”

Blinking the sudden moisture from her eyes, the heiress took a deep breath and smiled up at him. “Ye-es?”

A fleeting motion at the corners of his mouth almost made the man seem to smile, but it was gone as she blinked once more. “However,” he continued, “I will not stop you from leaving us. I wish you good luck and good fortune, as you are my daughter and you are your mother’s child. I trust that should any issues arise that you need assistance, you will contact me?” Hiashi barely acknowledged her stuttering reply. “Good. And musume?”

Reeling from the sudden barrage of emotion, Hinata met his eyes. “Chichiue?”

The older man’s eyes bored into hers. “You will visit.”

“Yes, Chichiue.”

Because, really, what else could she say to that?

xXx

Afternoon sunlight shone through the tall windows and lit the front foyer. Dust motes hung drifting in the air. Far away in the kitchen, the air conditioner clicked off.

Her bag sat, discarded on the tile floor. She still had her sandals on. Shaking fingers traced over the return address on the plain white envelope. It was so light. A single sheet of paper at most.

Sakura bit her lip, pulled in a deep breath through her nose, and ripped open the seal.

“Haruno Sakura… We are pleased to notify… your application has been accepted…”

Her squeal could be heard throughout the house.

xXx

“… you’re shittin’ me,” Hidan said after Hinata had given them the news later that night. She, Hidan, Kakuzu and Kisame were all hanging out in the Zombie Den, doing a few last-minute packing-related errands. Over pizza. And soda.

Itachi had things that he needed to do, and Deidara was out-of-town for a few hours—something about some fireworks contact in Kumo—so it was just the four of them. Which was just fine, as most of the packing was done already.

The sole female present shook her head from her prone position on the floor. The carpet had been vacuumed several times already, so she had no complaints. It was the only place she could collapse on and not feel guilty for taking up space.

“He… he just gave me his blessings in the hall and then,” Hinata carded fingers through her loose hair and stared at the ceiling, “and then Dad just walked back to finish his dessert.” It was unbelievable. And… incredibly awesome at the same time.

Snorting, Kakuzu pushed the box he’d been going through away from him. He was also seated on the floor, by Hidan, who sat on the couch. “Well, I suppose that eliminates the possible need to sneak your things out in the middle of the night.” At her look, he merely blinked calmly at her. “What?”

Giggling, Hinata sat up grinning. “Hanabi was all set to help too! She had these ideas where she would start sleep walking or decide to try to cook in the middle of the night. Put sleeping pills in the dinner food. Cause a fire.” She shook her head. “It’s a good thing my sister doesn’t have money or else she’d be buying firecrackers from Deidara.”

The resident money monger perked. “Oh?”

“Don’t even think about it,” Hidan snapped, prodding the back of Kakuzu’s head. He turned slightly, angling himself to look over the back of the couch and down the hall. He could just see the half-open door of the bathroom, where the blue guy could be heard clunking around. “Kisame? The fuck are you doing in there?”

There was a rather hefty thud, a few colourful curses, and Sharky poked his head out into the hall. “Is there a reason why there’s a small hamster ball jammed under the P-trap? I swear, it’s made of fibreglass or some shit.”

“Fuck if I know,” Hidan said, and climbed over the back of the couch to go look.

Kakuzu scoffed. “I believe that would be Deidara’s fault. Make him pay for it.” He gave Hinata a grin.

‘A hampster?’ she mouthed at him, surprised. She tried to imagine a tiny pet furball barrelling down the hallways and getting stuck on the carpets. Hinata started laughing.

The albino paused halfway down the hall and looked back at the siren’s call echoing toward him from the living room. “Daaammnn.” He smirked, shook his head and looked toward the bathroom again. Kisame was giving him a grin. “What the fuck are you lookin’ at me like that for?” he demanded.

The grin grew to show more teeth. Dark eyes darted between Hidan and the girl who was currently giggling into the floor. “Entertainment,” Kisame smirked and rolled to his feet. “You take a look. I’m getting more pizza.”

Flipping him off, Hidan walked by as Kisame stepped out of the bathroom, and hunkered down to stare under the sink, scowling. “Holy shit, I think there’s a body still in the fucker!” he yelped, and cackled.

“Uhg,” Kakuzu said. “Get rid of it!”

Choking, Hinata gasped as she got the giggles under control. “That’s disgusting!” She turned to look at Hidan’s roommate. “How could you not notice something rotting?” Though… neither had she, which meant the corpse has been there long enough to… Ewwww.

As if to confirm her fears, Hidan added, “It’s all bone! Kisame, why the fuck didn’t you notice?” The silence was answer enough. “Ah, fuck, I just got played.”

Thumping down onto the couch beside the other large teenager, Kisame grinned as he reached for the food. “Pet store. Fish tank decorations,” he explained. “For some reason skeletons are popular.”

“Thank god,” Hinata said, then threw a balled up napkin at his head as he laughed.

Hidan came out a beat later and threw the hamster ball at the blue boy, scowling. “Fucking hell. You’re a dick, Kisame. A dick.”

There was a scoff as his best friend rose. “Pot and kettle,” Kakuzu intoned apathetically. He grabbed a roll of paper towels, a bottle of cleaner and a scrubby. “I’m going to go sanitize the bathroom.” That said, he stalked down the hall, shoving the albino over the back of the couch as they crossed paths.

“Fucking—ASS!”

Amused pearly eyes regarded the wine-red ones–upside down and three inches away. “You’re cute,” Hinata told him. And kissed his nose. Kisame broke out laughing again.

The expression on his face looked like it wasn’t sure whether to settle into indignant or puppy love, and seemed to compromise into a smirk. “I have my moments,” he retorted, and rolled over to kick Kisame in the head.

Sharky continued to chuckle even as he rubbed his ear. “Ow,” he observed cheerfully. “Maybe in a few more months with Itachi, you’ll be able to hit as hard as Konan.”

There was a full minute of silence, as Hidan took that one in, and then grinned. “Yes please.”

xXx

Chapter 28 | Table of Contents | Chapter 30

A/N: YES! Sakura is COMING HOME!

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