A bitter expression sketched its way onto the tan features of Naruto Uzumaki. His lip turned up in irritation. "I really can't stand that guy." He muttered ominously. Naruto's cerulean eyes narrowed in contempt.
"How many times are you going to say that? That's your tenth time." Sasuke glared.
Naruto huffed. "And I'll continue saying it! Just look at him, leaning against the wall, looking all cool-like. I can't—"
"You can't stand him." Sasuke finished for him. "I get it. And quite frankly I'm getting tired of hearing it. So what if he's close to the princess. He's not harming her. So shut up about it already." He snapped.
The blond pouted, deciding to ignore the Uchiha. His blue eyes observed Renji closely until he turned away.
"Renji Abarai, you are wanted in the Lord's quarters."
Renji turned, giving a curt nod to the older man. "I'm on my way now." He said.
It's been two months since he has started his job. In addition, it has been two rough months. The younger guards Naruto and Sasuke have been following him around every day. As aggravating as it to be followed, Renji tried his best to ignore it. But that changed when he caught the blond one following him to the bathroom. Not only did this anger him, but crept him out as well. Renji shivered in disgust. "Perverted weirdo…" He muttered.
Turning down the corridors, Renji stopped as he spotted Hinata conversing with Hanataro. The nervous male was quite comical. From what he heard from the other guards, Hanataro was fun to tease. He couldn't help but to smirk as he watched the awkward male trip over his foot. "Clumsy dummy," he mumbled. His brown eyes focused on the woman helping Hanataro to his feet. He couldn't help but to observe her from afar.
"Have a thing for the princess, do ya'?" A voice whispered in amusement.
Renji jumped. "Wh-What?"
The blond woman smirked. "I know you aren't deaf. She is rather pretty isn't she?"
"Tch, I wouldn't know. Excuse me, but the Lord has requested for me and I'm already late." He pushed past the shorter female, ignoring her sly smile. Approaching the headquarters, Renji looked over his shoulder to see the same woman. "I see you've become a stalker now." He hissed.
She shrugged. "I'm merely curious of you. By the way, I'm Ino. Ino Yamanaka, Hinata's best friend." Her blue eyes stared at Renji, shining brightly. "I've heard about you from Hinata. She has really taken a liking to you." Ino teased. Her long blond hair swayed as she walked beside him. Though she already had someone she is interested in, Ino couldn't help but to notice how attractive Renji is. A blush adorns her fair skinned cheeks.
"H-How do you know something like that?" Renji stuttered.
"Well I am her best friend. She tells me everything. You better get going before Hiashi-sama punishes you." Ino walked away, waving her hand in the air. "See you later, red pineapple."
Renji's brow twitched in annoyance. Shaking his head, he straightened his posture. "My Lord, I am here as you requested. Forgive my lateness." He spoke clearly to the paper thin sliding door.
"You may enter."
He slide the door opened, bowing immediately as he entered. "My Lord," he said respectfully.
Hiashi nodded. "From my understanding, you are very skillful in martial arts. Is that correct?"
"Yes sir, I am. I've practiced for most of my life training in the art." Renji confirmed.
"I see…" Hiashi took a sip from his tea cup. "My daughter wants to go into town to buy a few things. I want you to be her escort. Please make sure nothing happens. There are criminals out there who would do anything to try to harm her. She is worth a lot of money. If anything happens to my daughter, you will be punished severely." He spoke gravely.
"Yes sir, I will give my life to protect the princess." Renji said.
"Very well, you are excused now. Hinata is waiting for you at the front gate."
Hinata sighed. Lifting her head up gazing at the clear blue sky, she waited silently for the assigned guard. Hopefully her father chose someone she is familiar with. There have been times her father assigned guards to escort her that she wasn't acquainted with, which led to awkwardness.
"Did I keep you waiting?"
That gruff voice, Hinata would know it from anywhere. Smiling politely, Hinata shook her head. "No, I just arrived only moments ago." The two passed through the large gates in silence. "I wouldn't have expected you to escort me." She said.
Renji raised his brow. "Oh? Did I disappoint you by showing up?"
She shook her head. "N-No! That's not what I meant. It's just that my father normally chooses someone who I don't associate with."
"Ah, I'm glad he chose me. It gives me a chance to hang out with you alone without your annoying friends spying on us." He grinned.
Hinata smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry about them. They don't mean to be so…"
"Annoying? Nah, I've grown used to it now. But that blond one is strange. I don't know how you can stand him." He shoved his hands into his pockets, frowning at the thought of Naruto.
Hinata chuckled. "If you grow up with someone like him, you get used to it."
"I suppose you're right." Renji shrugged. Eyeing their surrounds, he couldn't help but to notice all of the attention Hinata is receiving. If he weren't walking beside her, surely a mop would have crowded around the princess. Luckily Renji is here to protect her. Turning his focus down, Hinata seemed to be ignoring the stares. Maybe she's used to it.
Suddenly a group of kids approached them, staring up at Hinata with a gleam in their tiny eyes. Just as Renji was getting ready to shoo them away, one of them spoke.
"Are you really the princess?" The small girl asked. Her short brown hair is pulled in a low ponytail. Her clothes her dirty and appear to be baggy on her body. The other children are the same. They are most likely homeless.
Hinata knelt down in front of the tan girl. "Yes I am. And who might you be?" She asked kindly.
"I'm Mai!" She shouted cheerfully.
"And I'm Sousuke, princess Hinata." The other boy voiced cheerfully.
The tallest—and most likely the oldest—of the group pointed to himself and spoke. "I'm Haru. Mai and Sousuke are my siblings. They really admire you. We've heard many good things about you." He chimed.
Hinata smiled softly. "It's nice to meet you all. I'm glad to hear that." Her eyes glossed in sadness. The poverty outside the palace is really bad, especially for the children. There are hundreds of abandoned children running around throughout town. It breaks her heart to see them. Most of the time the homeless children break into a life of crime to protect themselves or even worst…die from hunger.
"It's nice to meet you too princess!" Mai and Sousuke grinned, showing their missing teeth.
The princess reached into her obi pulling out a bag. Opening the bag, she stared at the gold coins inside thoughtfully. The money was really to go towards a gift for Naruto's birthday. It's the only reason she wanted to go into town, to buy him a gift. Hinata grabbed Haru's hands, placing the bag into her palms. "Here, you can use this to buy some food and clothes for you and your younger siblings. Please accept it as a gift."
Renji's eyes widened. "U-Um, are you sure you wanna' do that?"
Hinata nodded. "Of course I'm sure."
The children's eyes glimmered in awe, tears in the corner of their eyes. "Th-Thank you so much, princess! We'll never forget this. We'll be forever in your debt." Haru bowed.
"Don't worry about that. Just keep it safe and hidden. You three have a nice day." Hinata stood to her feet, waving at the three and she and Renji passed them. Once they were out of ear reach Hinata tilted her head. "What's wrong?" She asked Renji innocently.
He blushed. "W-Well, I didn't think you were so selfless. Those kids could have been scamming you. You know, pretending to be poor." Renji stated.
"I highly doubt they were. But if so, it wouldn't upset me. These lands here are stricken with destitution. It saddens me. I live the life of luxury, while others have to suffer. I'd do anything to help if I can." She said, her eyes appeared distant and thoughtful.
Renji smiled warmly. "You never cease to surprise me. I really admire you."
Hinata blushed, looking away. "It's really nothing…"
"It's something wonderful, is what it is. So what's this place I'm escorting you to?" He looked around the vicinity.
"Since I've given my money to those children, I suppose back to the palace now." She sighed.
Renji groaned. He was hoping to spend more alone time with her. There is no way he is going to go back now into that stuffy and strict place now. Leaning down, he smiled suggestively at Hinata. "Instead of going back, how about we hang out?"
"E-Eh?" Hinata stared.
"Come on, we'll have fun. Besides, I know you want to get out of that place just as much as I do. Don't you get bored being in the palace all day? I bet you rarely get to cut loose and have fun." He said.
Hinata bit her lip. She knew that it was true. After all, being pampered throughout the day isn't at all comforting like someone would imagine it to be. To get away, even if it were just for a few minutes, this would be her chance to feel…normal. Twiddling her index fingers, she smiled shyly. "S-Sure, I suppose it would be alright."
Renji grinned. "For a minute there, I didn't think you would agree. Shall we go, milady?" He extended his hand towards her.
She hesitantly accepted his hand. His hand is exceptionally smoother than what she had expected. A blush crept across her cheeks, turning her head away from the male. Though it's not her first time holding hands with the opposite gender, it is her first time feeling this flustered at the contact. Renji is just as she had expected. He's different. For the past two months her life turned upside down at his arrival. She found herself happy to have lunch with him every day and to gaze at the stars at night. Renji has become her friend. But not only that, she found herself falling for him. And she's falling hard.
Her lavender eyes trailed to Renji. He appeared to be scouting the area for safe measures. You'll never know if a mugger would decide to make an appearance while the princess is around.
"Hey, look a dango vender. Would you like some?" Renji asked.
Hinata tilted her head to the side. "Dango? I've heard of those from Naruto-kun before. But I've never had one before." She said thoughtfully.
Renji's eyes widened. "What? You've never had a dango before? This is the craziest thing I've ever heard! You've gotta' try one." He dragged her towards the stand. "Trust me, you'll love them. They're really sweet and tasty!" He grinned.
She couldn't help but to giggle at his tone. He sounded like an excited child.
As they both reached the stand, Renji paid for two dango's, handing one to Hinata, keeping the other for himself. His hazel eyes paid close attention to her curious expression. "Well go on and taste it. It's not gonna' bite you know." He chuckled.
Hinata blushed from embarrassment. Nodding, she took a bite. Her hues widened at the sweet taste. "Mm, this re-really is good!" She exclaimed.
Renji smirked knowingly. "See, I told you that they're good."
"Hey, there is the princess."
"So the rumors are true…she's secretly dating the palace guards."
"She's always seen with a different man."
"What a disgrace. Surely her father must be disappointed in her."
"I knew she was just playing the innocent role. She's nothing but a common whore."
Hinata flinched. Generally she is well-liked by the townsmen, but there are some who despise her. It hurt her to know that this is what they really think of her.
The red haired male trembled in rage. "How dare you people speak down on the princess like this! She's is the most respected woman in this country. Not only that, she's kind, generous, loving and caring. Just imagine if Lord Hyuuga were to hear this. He'll have all of your heads removed. "Renji smirked pleasingly at the reactions he received. "But it's not Lord Hyuuga you'll have to worry about. I'm far much scarier than that old man." He chuckled darkly, cracking his knuckles. "Now apologize to the princess!"
"Please accept our deepest apology princess." The group said in unison, quickly running away.
"Tch, annoying idiots," Renji grunted.
Hinata stared in awe. "Y-You didn't have to do that Renji…"
"I wanted to. People like that disgust me. Besides I didn't stick up for you just because you're the princes…" Renji leaned forward, his hues glued to Hinata's, a warm smile gracing his features, "I did it because you're my friend." He said.
Hinata blushed at the closeness. "Th-Thank you, Renji."
Renji smirked. "It's nothing. Come with me, I want to take you somewhere."
"Where are we going?" Hinata sputtered, as Renji pulled her through the crowd.
He looked over his shoulder, winking. "It's a surprise."
The princess eyes widened. "It's…beautiful…" She gaped. The two were surrounded by a bed floor filled white lilies. It's absolutely magnificent sight. If it's one thing Hinata loves, its flowers. Her lavender irises glimmered, admiring all of the stunning plants.
Renji smiled, rubbing his chin. "I knew you'd like it. I spotted it on my way to your country with Kisuke"
"Thank you for bringing me here, Renji." She smiled shyly.
"It's nothing I wouldn't do for the princess." He blushed, coughing lightly. Renji couldn't help but to watch Hinata. Her beauty is like none other. For months he has been watching Hinata, all the while being teased for his crush on her by other guards. But Renji didn't care. He has fallen for the girl…and he has fallen hard. Her lips look so tempting. Just one kiss…just one…
"Renji, what are you doing?" Hinata asked alarmed.
Renji snapped out of his daze, realizing he was nearly inches away from her face. What was he doing? Had he been in a deep trance that he didn't realize what he was doing? Clearing his throat, he looked away. "Sorry, I thought you had something on your face." He mumbled, embarrassed.
"We should really be heading back now. Come on." Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he turned away. A frown embedded on his face. He really doesn't want to go through that again. He needs self-restraint when it comes to the innocent princess. The feel of a delicate finger linking with his own, caused the male to look down. There was a dark blush on her pale features. She's a shy girl, so there is no doubt it took all of her might just to do this.
Squeezing his pinky against hers, Renji offered her a soft smile. One day he'll have to work up the courage to finally confess to her.