"Poison Veil" – By: Kiba Inubake

I hope you like chapter 6! It's more or less of a filler, but it develops Sasuke and Hinata's characters, and so I think it's appropriate. After all, it's necessary at this point in order to keep the balance of the story in line. Anyway, enjoy!

By the way, "jiken" translates to "event", and so I thought it was fitting for that moment at the restaurant. Just wanted to share that.

Chapter 6: "Jiken"

Soon enough, Squad 7 and Ranmaru reached the border of Kawa no Kuni. They followed a dirt path there, and not much scenery was about them. It was pretty much a wasteland, only it led to somewhere. Despite the road coming from the Land of Fire, the trail had been an utter eyesore a good portion of the way.

"All right, kiddos. We've made it in," Anko informed the group. "Now we just head a little more west, and we'll get there shortly."

"We're close, sensei," Hinata spoke up, her eye veins apparent from usage of the Byakugan. "By the looks of it, we could get there in about 15 minutes if we ran; it'll take us 2 hours if we walk."

The group looked amongst each other in decision. Shikamaru promptly spoke his mind, "I'm not waiting 2 hours when we could get there in 15 minutes. Let's run." And with that, he took off. He was almost sure they would follow, so he played the impatient card because he knew his group wouldn't let him run off that easily. Fooling people seemed to be easy for the Nara boy.

Sasuke had been observing his teammates recently, in an attempt to be able to read their minds and predict their actions. So naturally, he had realized what Shikamaru was doing. "Heh… Shikamaru's pretty clever…" Sasuke commented as the rest of the group took off after him. He then proceeded to dash down the dirt road.

Anko's group was nearing Katabami Kinzan. Hinata activated her Byakugan to get exact measurements. "…We're really close now, sensei. I see a river flowing down the side of a mountain. I'm not sure, but I think that's the goldmine." Hinata gave out a small cough.

"You all right, Hinata?" Sasuke asked. He didn't know why he asked her that; it just came out of him on impulse. He wondered why he was concerned.

With another cough, Hinata replied, "Oh… I-I'm fine… Please don't w-worry about m-me…" Following her stuttering was a third cough. "Well…I am a little thirsty, actually…"

"Hey, didn't we pass a restaurant a few minutes ago? I noticed some kind of place, but I didn't stop to check it out well," Sasuke mentioned. "Maybe we could get something there." His stomach growled as if on cue. Embarrassed, Sasuke admitted, "I…guess I wouldn't mind some food right about now, either…"

"What do you think, kiddo?" Anko turned to Ranmaru. "You wanna stop for some food?"

Ranmaru answered, "Um…okay, I suppose we could stop… You did help me get here, anyway…"

"Smart way to look at it, kid!" Anko said cheerfully.

'Was she planning to stop either way..?' Sasuke questioned.

Hinata used her Kekkei Genkai once more. She looked back in the direction they had come from. "I see that building… Ah, yes, one of the signs says "Curry of Life". It sounds good."

"Great, sounds like it'll make you feel better, too!" Anko commented. "This is too convenient…!" She said happily.

An elderly woman stared out the window. She turned and called to her assistant, "Karashi! It looks like we have some customers! Get the curry ready!"

"All right, I'll get on it…" A teenage boy replied lazily. He turned the stove on and poured ingredients into a big, stainless-steel pot. He stirred it around, and just as the curry was ready, the customers walked into the eatery.

"Hey there! Can we get five bowls of curry?" Anko greeted.

"Coming right up!" The elderly woman responded. "My name's Sanshou and this is Karashi." She pointed to the boy by the curry pot, who flashed a smile, and then started pouring spicy curry over white rice.

Karashi put the plates on a big platter and took it over to the table which their customers were seated at. He gave them their dishes while Sanshou handed them glasses of milk. "You'll need this," Sanshou said, referring to the milk. "It's really spicy!"

As Sanshou was turning around, she heard Hinata cough. "Are you sick, dearie? This curry should do just the trick to cure you," Sanshou said.

Hinata gave a sigh of relief. "That's great…" Although she was happy, she still spoke in her usual, impish voice. Sasuke noticed this and felt the need to speak up.

"Hinata? Why do you always sound like you're sad?" He asked her curiously.

Hinata looked into her curry. "Oh… Um… I c-can't really help that, S-Sasuke…" She answered through stutters. "It's not that I'm always sad; it's just…" Her voice trailed off into inaudible mumbling, and soon she was coughing again.

"Hinata, you should probably taste that curry right about now," Shikamaru advised.

"O-oh, right…" Hinata said quietly. She took a spoonful of curry and rice, brought it to her soft lips, took a bite…and surprisingly reacted normally. "It's delicious…!" She commented.

"Really?" Sasuke took a spoonful, but his reaction was much different. Instead, he was now clenching his throat, seemingly dying. Sweat dripped down his face as he collapsed to the floor, trying to maintain his consciousness. Shikamaru and Anko took a long stare at him, and pushed away their dishes subtly. Ranmaru, however, took a bite and seemed to enjoy it, like the Hyuga girl had. Anko and Shikamaru were now at a loss, stuck between what to do with their food.

"Uh…so, how much do we owe you?" Anko asked the two.

Karashi answered first. "You're our first guests in a while, so the first round's on the house."

"Wow, thanks!" Anko grinned gaily.

"So, should we help him out, or…?" Ranmaru took a long look at Sasuke, who looked like he was near death.

"A-ah…! I hadn't even noticed!" Hinata cried. She took her glass of milk and poured it down Sasuke's throat. Some dripped onto his shirt, but it was okay with him, because he was no longer in fear of premature demise by food. The rest of the group wondered how she didn't notice the second-most egotistical Genin of Konoha rolling on the floor from thirst.

"H…Hinata, thank you…" Sasuke said, almost in disbelief. He had never expected her to do something like this.

Hinata tried to hide a blush with her hair. "I-it was nothing…" She got off of him and sat back down, her hair still obscuring her face.

"So, should we get going, then?" Shikamaru brought up. –End of Chapter!

I hope you all like fluff, 'cause I do. ^^