The Lover's Tree

An 18 year old girl takes a vacation to America's oldest city, St. Augustine, where she meets a charming redhead. A local legend tells that if you kiss someone under that tree you'll be with them forever. So what happens when she kisses the redhead?

Chapter 1

Find My Love

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. Naruto is Kishimoto-san's and St. Augustine and all related places are real.

"...and to the left is the old Indian burial ground. Do you see that tree over there? The oak and the sable? Well they say that if you kiss someone under that tree, you'll be with that person for the rest of your life. But be careful who you kiss under that tree!" Oohs and aahs could be heard throughout the bright red sightseeing trolley, accompanied by the clicks and shutters of the tourists' cameras. Hinata Hyuuga was not one of these people, but her cousin, Neji Hyuuga, was certainly one of them.

"Hinata! Isn't this place neat, eh?" asked her 19 year old cousin over the noises of his camera clicking. Hinata nodded absentmindedly while she tucked a stray strand of midnight blue hair behind her ivory ear. She looked glumly at the couples walking alongside the road, hand-in-hand. Truthfully, Ms. Hyuuga wasn't enjoying her vacation to St. Augustine, Florida very much. She wanted nothing more than to spend winter break in their home in upstate New York. Her increasing annoyances at hearing her father boast about her little sister, Hanabi, and at her friends' constant chatter about their boyfriends, prompted Hinata to pack up her belongings and join her cousin on his historic trip to St. Augustine, Florida. The trolley chugged through the narrow streets of the historic district. Hinata watched and stared at the people the trolley rolled past by. People of different races and nationalities littered the narrow cobblestone paths. They flocked amongst the cafes, shops, and bistros that are housed by the old houses that stand there. After a few more lurching stops, the trolley became stuck in traffic and while looking around something caught Hinata's eye for once. A bright scarlet red color. Not on a car, banner, house, item or even plant, but on a head. She spotted a person with a whole head of shaggy, layered scarlet hair. The out-of-place hair matched its equally eccentric body. A pale face with a finely set jaw and a slim tapered nose was attached to the hair. Soft, thin pink lips and ears that were pierced multiple times. His eyes were lined thickly with kohl and the eyelids also. His forelocks that parted to the left revealed a scarlet tattoo. Ai. The Japanese kanji for Love was etched on his forehead. He was tall and lean; a slight slouch curved his stately posture. He wore a black turtleneck that suited the slightly chill January air and black skinnies to match. A violin was tucked beneath his chin and his shoulder and judging from the rapid movement of his fingers and the chopped movements of his arm and bow, Hinata guessed that he was in the middle of a fast solo. He stood in the side of the street; his violin case lay open at his feet. Passerby and his audience had dropped coins and bills onto the case. A sign was put next to his case saying,

"Money is not exactly an object that I solicit while playing music. I merely want your time and ears. (It'd be nice though if you'd like to drop some spare change and such...) Feel free to Request a ballad, song, or solo and if I know it I'll play it... If not come by tomorrow and be surprised. "

A small crowd was gathered around the redhead and Hinata could only gather that he was good. Most of his audience consisted of adolescent girls who probably found the redhead attractive. Hinata could not blame them. Although eccentric looking, the man was handsome. The trolley lurched to a stop and the bell dinged signaling a trolley stop. Hinata found herself stepping off the trolley and into the street. A vice like grip had caught her wrist and prevented her from full exiting the trolley. She turned to face her cousin who gripped her pale slender wrist with his long slender hand.

"Hinata! We're not done with the tour yet! We have to get off at the Ripley's museum!" Neji looked at her with pale nearly clear lilac eyes that mirrored her own. Hinata fidgeted. She wanted to see the redhead street performer, but she also did not want to disappoint her cousin. She resolved that she would probably never see the street performer again. So, she wiggled free of her cousin's grasp and stepped out fully into the cobblestone street. Neji watched her wide-eyed; his long chestnut hair had gotten loose from the elastic band that kept it in place and now blew loosely in the wind.

"Itoko, I would like to see something..." Hinata explained over the noise of the street. Neji's expression brightened and he smiled.

"Be careful, Hinata-san! I'll catch up with you later! Keep your phone with you and I'll call you every once in a while to check up on you!" he shouted over the street noise and the sound of the trolley moving away. Hinata smiled and began to make her way over to the street performer. As she drew nearer to the violinist, the sweet music began to fill the air. Hinata squeezed herself between some elderly couples so that she could stand nearer to the violinist. The violinist ended the song and the crowd along with Hinata applauded him. He stood straight and gestured at the audience.

"Any requests?" he asked in a deep rumbling voice that slid silkily over Hinata's senses. She blushed. Jaded teal orbs landed on Hinata. The redhead pointed his bow at Hinata.

"How about you pretty lady? Have you got a request?" Hinata reddened and shook her head no. The redhead smirked.

"Shame…" he tsked. A high pitched voice piped from the crowd.

"Viva La Vida!" Hinata turned to see an auburn haired girl with her friends. They were giggling and making gaga faces at the redhead. The redhead smirked and the girls burst into a fit of giggles. Hinata rolled her eyes. The redhead rosined his bow and then placed it near the bridge. He started off with the intro of the song but instead of continuing he played the melody of the song. Many who knew the song found their selves singing along, Hinata included. The redhead reached the chorus and joined the already singing crowd.

"I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing

Roman Cavalry choirs are singing

Be my mirror, my sword and shield

My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain

Once you go there was never

Never an honest word

And that was when I ruled the world."

The redhead had a beautiful voice and Hinata found herself absolutely enchanted by it. The song finally ended and thunderous applause greeted the redhead. He bowed and many more made requests. Hinata's hands had crown lobster red from clapping so much. She sat down on a ledge near the redhead. She leaned her head against the wall as he played a somber serenade. Pretty soon Hinata found herself being lulled to sleep.

A deep voice permeated Hinata's consciousness. A small shake followed by another slowly brought Hinata back into the world. She opened her bleary eyes and found herself staring at cool teal orbs lined with kohl. She was shaken again and Hinata found herself staring at the redhead violinist. She sat up groggily and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The sun was already beginning to set and the people had already started eating dinner. Most of them were now inside the small bistros and restaurants scattered around the district. A loud click and a snap reached Hinata's ears. She turned to see the redhead storing his violin into the case. He shrugged on a thick leather jacket and rummaged through his pockets. Hinata reached into her pocket and pulled out her iPhone in its purple shell.

"65 missed calls? 20 voice mails? From Neji? Damn...".Hinata looked at her phone in fear. Neji was going to wring her neck when he saw her. She carefully dialed Neji's number only to reach his voicemail. She hung up after leaving a quick message and faced the redhead. He looked at her carefully.

"You fell asleep..." he pointed out. 'No duh, genius!' thought Hinata. The redhead tilted his head and regarded her carefully. Hinata reddened as she found herself subject to his scrutinizing gaze.

"Don't blush." He commanded while his eyes roamed over her figure. "The reddening of your face upsets the balance of colors in your appearance. If you're going to blush, just pink around the cheekbones a little."

Hinata looked at him bewildered. What the hell was he rambling on about? His large pale hand came up and slowly tucked her hair behind her ear.

"There you go…" he murmured in appreciation. The mere sentence sent shivers down the Hyuuga's spine. His hand retracted and fell back to his side. He blinked and turned around. He bent over slightly to pick up his violin case.

"You've got a ride?" asked the redhead. Hinata bit her lip.

"Ummmm... I don't know. M-my cousin I-isn't picking up his p-phone..." stuttered Hinata. The redhead surveyed her. He pulled out a lollipop from his pocket and began unwrapping it.

"Where are you staying?" he asked.

"At the Hilton- Wait... how'd you know I wasn't from here?" Hinata asked mildly suspicious. The redhead gestured at the bright red trolley sticker that was peeling from her lavender v-neck crew. A small oh exited Hinata's small pink lips. He smirked and put the lollipop between his lips. Hinata gestured at the lollipop. He removed it and said, "I'm trying to quit smoking... Nicotine gum pisses me off, so I suck on a lollipop every time I get the urge to smoke..."

Hinata smiled. He shrugged and motioned for her to follow him. Normally, Hinata wouldn't have followed but she felt like following the strange redhead.

"I'll take you to your hotel." He said. Hinata nodded and followed the redhead towards a red Yamaha. He picked up a helmet and handed it to Hinata. Hinata took it gingerly and watched as he strapped his violin case to the bike. He mounted the bike and waited for Hinata to follow. Hinata carefully strapped on the helmet and sat on the motorcycle. The redhead kicked off the stand and started the motor which caused Hinata to blindly grasp the sides of the motorcycle to keep from falling. She heard the chuckle of the redhead over the noise of the motor's rumbling. Hinata pursed her lips. His hands reached back and grabbed her arms. He took her arms and wrapped it around his waist and began driving the motorcycle. Hinata blushed but she found herself wrapping her arms around him tighter when he rounded a sharp corner. Hinata kept her eyes closed throughout the ride. Her hands found hard muscle and she blushed at the thought of what lay beneath his somber attire. Finally, the bike lurched to a stop and Hinata opened her eyes to see a white and blue Hilton sign. The redhead dismounted the bike and Hinata followed to do so. But as she was stepping off her knees wobbled and she fell forward. Instead of falling face first into the ground, she found herself caught in the redhead's arms. She blushed and removed herself from the redhead.

"Umm... Thank you for the ride..." she murmured. A slight 'hn' was the response. The redhead was about to mount his motorcycle when Hinata suddenly blurted out, "Would you like to come to my room?"

The redhead raised an eyebrow and Hinata reddened as she realized the meaning of what she said.

"I m-meant for c-coffee or s-something..." she sputtered. The redhead smirked and looked at his wristwatch.

"I'd love to," replied the redhead. "But I have to work in a few minutes."

"Oh"

"But I would gladly take a rain check. So tomorrow I'll show you St. Augustine not like the tour guides do, if you'd like." He offered. Hinata nodded. He smiled. "By the way, I'm Sabaku No Gaara, or just Gaara for short."

"I'm Hinata Hyuuga or you could just call me Hinata!" beamed Hinata. Gaara smiled.

"I'll pick you up around three tomorrow. I've got classes but I'll come by." He suggested. Hinata blushed and nodded.

"Room 106." She blurted. Gaara smirked and started his motorcycle.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Ms. Hyuuga." He sped on his way and Hinata watched him leave.

"See you tomorrow, Mr. Sabaku."

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