Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, nor any places, characters, things, nor ideas therein. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto, Shounen Jump, Viz Media, TV Tokyo, etc. I am writing this piece for entertainment purposes only, not monetary gain.

Summary: Uchiha Sasuke has never believed in love at first sight - until he pours hot coffee all over his true love on their first meeting. Welcome to his life. :Sasuke x Hinata:

Rating: T

Warnings: A couple of awkward situations, mentions of violence, romantic situations

Pairing(s): Sasuke/Hinata, sides of Itachi/Temari, Neji/Tenten, and Asuma/Kurenai

Sequel to: Perfection

Universe: Alternate

Part: 1/12

Special Thanks: goes out to Mama Jo, without whom I'd probably still be sitting here tearing out my hair trying to find the right title for this fic. Thank you!

Additional Special Thanks: goes out to Renoa Heartilly for the amazing cover for this fic! It so perfectly captures the spirit of the story - thank you so much for drawing it and allowing me to use it!

Author's Note: This fic is entirely unlike anything I've ever written before. While it still does have its fair share of serious scenes, this is the first humor-driven fic I've ever written before. I have to admit, it was great fun to write, and I was so sad when I typed The End. I've got it completely written, so I can promise steady updates for this fic alongside Light and Dark, until L&D is over, then I'll keep on with updates on the same day (Friday, for those of you in the States) for CC until it, too, is complete. But I wanted to post the first chapter on Valentine's Day, as a kind of special little treat for all of you. This is kind of a sequel to my ItaMari oneshot Perfection, but I don't think you have to read it to understand this one. Thank you so much for checking out this first chapter, and I hope you enjoy it!

*~Chapter I~*


The entirety of Uchiha Sasuke's experience in luck could be summed up in a single event:

He overslept on the first day of his new job.

Only his older brother's knock on the door and concerned voice saying, "Sasuke, don't you start your new job today?" woke Sasuke. By the time he'd hastily completed his morning routine and dressed, Uchiha Itachi was standing by the door of their condo, a cup of coffee in one hand, a box of tissues in the other. "Good luck, Sasuke."

Snatching the capped, disposable cup - which was so hot he could barely hold it - out of his brother's hand, Sasuke stuffed his feet into his shoes even as he reached for the door. "I hope you didn't breathe your cold germs into my coffee," he said only half in jest as he exited.

Itachi's sneeze chased him down the short hall to the elevator doors. "See if I wake you up again when you oversleep!" he called just as Sasuke stepped into the lift.

Wishing he'd taken the stairs, Sasuke glared at the ditigal readout on the elevator, watching the numbers tick down excrutiatingly slowly from the fifteenth floor to the first. Fortunately, no one else seemed to want to ride down, so it was a direct trip down to the lobby.

Turning sideways so he could slide through the doors before they completely opened, Sasuke raced across the mostly empty lobby and out into the bright spring morning. The sunshine and warm temperature felt far too cheerful, as if it were mocking Sasuke for running late.

Cursing under his breath, Sasuke twisted his way down the crowded sidewalks to the underground train station only three blocks away from his and Itachi's condo. He took the steps down two and three at a time, then fumbled his pass twice before he successfully swiped it and made it through the turnstile.

Another flat-out sprint got him onto the train right before the doors closed and it pulled out of the station. Letting out his breath on a long, tired sigh, Sasuke scanned for an empty seat as he took a gulp of his still-hot coffee, burning his tongue. The jolt of caffeine - and pain - to his system, in combination with the adrenaline still pumping through his veins, brought him fully awake.

Grasping one of the rings dangling from the ceiling with his free hand, he kept sipping his coffee while he waited for his stop to be announced. Each stop in between chafed at his already-limited reserve of patience; but he clenched his teeth and forced himself not to inflict his bad mood on his fellow travelers. He had no one to blame but himself for oversleeping.

Sasuke thought back to all those years at university. Through the late-night cram sessions, the two hours of sleep max and the constant pressure of having to be the best, he had never overslept. It had provided an extra impetus knowing he was at the university thanks to the hard work of his brother, and the good grace of the school itself, which had allowed Sasuke to do odd jobs around the campus in exchage for discounts on tuition.

He'd utterly focused on attaining his goals, determined not to waste the opportunities given him by his brother's work and the university's kindness. And then to oversleep on the very first day of his new job-! It made him feel guilty. Itachi had worked during the day and slowly taken online courses at night so Sasuke could go to university. He'd never failed at any of his endeavors - and he'd taken care of his little brother besides.

Sasuke felt a bit like he'd somehow thrown all his brother's hard work back in his face. He knew Itachi wouldn't see it that way, but still...

The train jolted as it took off from its most recent stop. Sasuke, lost in his own guilty thoughts which allowed his grip on the ceiling ring to relax, lost his balance - and his grip on his coffee cup.

Three things happened in rapid succession. He heard a distinctly feminine gasp of shock and pain; his styrofoam cup and plastic lid hit the floor at his feet - sans the expected accompanying splash of liquid; and Sasuke caught his balance with his hands on the wall, arms on either side of the face of one of the most beautiful women he'd ever seen in his entire life.

For a few shocking, time-slowing, world-vanishing moments, Sasuke could only stare into two eyes as wide and pale as the moon as his mind went completely, utterly, and stupidly blank.

Hyuuga Hinata thought all the signs pointed to her having a really good day. She was fresh off a weekend spent with her younger sister shopping, giggling, and catching up; her cousin and his wife had called the night before to tell her about their impending parenthood; and her day so far appeared to be shaping up to be smooth and sunny.

...Until a stranger on the train spilled his cup of coffee all over her brand-new business suit.

The first thing she registered was the wetness down her front, followed only a beat later by the painful heat of the liquid seeping through her silk blouse. Dimly, she heard a styrofoam cup clatter at her feet, as the impact of two hands on the wall behind her head brought her attention up to the two wide, dark-as-midnight eyes staring down into her pale ones.

And in one spectacular move which undid every bit of good over the weekend, she squeaked, "Hot!"

The pale face hovering in front of hers went bright red. A moment later the strange man choked out an embarrassed-sounding, "What?"

Hinata's mind rewound and replayed what she'd just said. Though she'd been talking about the coffee, she realized he must have taken it in an entirely different, unintended way. Judging by the half-shocked, half-mortified expression on his face, he thought she meant him rather than the coffee.

If only the train window would open up and just suck her out. She'd rather die that way than from embarrassment...

"Coffee," Hinata whispered shakily, resisting the urge to pull the soaked fabric away from her body.

The dark eyebrows only a few centimeters from her own scrunched (in a very attractive way, her traitorous mind whispered). "What was that?"

"Your coffee," Hinata repeated, a little louder. "It was hot." Something to which her sodden blouse and the undoubtedly bright red skin beneath would attest. Fortunately, only the former was visible.

"Oh!" He jerked back slightly as if he were the one covered in hot coffee, allowing her to see past him to the many, many pairs of eyes glued to the fascinating happenings going on in front of them.

Why did the train have to be so crowded? Didn't these people have other places to be? Hinata's face burned as much as her chest. She wished she could melt into a little puddle of embarrassed goo and just slosh her way out the crack at the bottom of the door.

"I'm so sorry." Kneeling in front of her, the guy picked up his (now empty) coffee cup before looking up at her. The tips of his ears were bright red, just like the color already spread across his pale cheekbones. "I start my new job today, and I overslept and am running late, my brother has a cold, and it's just been a really bad day..." He trailed off, as if realizing he'd just overshared.

Trying to ignore the eyes focused on her (or, more specifically, the mortifyingly dark stain on the front of her formerly white blouse), Hinata clenched her hands into fists to keep her index fingers from mashing together. "I was late on my first day, too." Only by three minutes, but he didn't need to know that. The poor man looked like he could use a reassuring word or two.

Plus, she had spilled a cup of tea on her boss her second day at work. She thought she'd keep that fact to herself, though, at least for now.

Relief washed across the handsome stranger's face. "Oh, good." He stopped, arrested halfway through the motion of standing. "Well, not good that you were late, just good that - I'm not the only one - to ever be late..." Again he trailed off, looking embarrassed.

Was it just her, or was this the most awkward conversation ever? Hinata should be used to such things by now, given her track history (the caption under her yearbook picture even said "most easily embarrassed girl"), but the fact she was having such a conversation with a stranger (and a very good-looking one, at that) made the situation feel ten times worse.

And it wasn't even her fault!

"I know what you mean." There she went again, bailing out the man who'd dumped his hot coffee down her front.

As if recognizing her valiant efforts, as well as their inevitable personal cost, the man dug into his pocket and withdrew a well-worn leather wallet. "I'll pay for dry cleaning," he said. "Seriously, I'm sorry. You're not hurt, right?"

It seemed a little late for him to be asking that question, but Hinata thought it better late than never. Besides, he didn't seem uncaring, just a little nervous. Perhaps even slightly scatterbrained. "No, not at all." Just embarrassed. And burned in a place I'd rather not mention to you.

Withdrawing some money, he thrust the bills at her. "Here, this should cover the cost."

Reaching up, Hinata folded the man's (long, strong) fingers over the bills and politely pushed them back in his direction. "I'm fine," she repeated. "Really." He's just starting his new job today. I don't want him to have to use a chunk of what he's got to live on until his very first paycheck to pay for my drycleaning!

Once again his eyebrows scrunched, giving him an irritated look this time. "The incident was entirely my fault. If you don't take the money, I'm going to tuck it in your pocket before you get off the train, and good luck ever tracking me down to give it back." He smiled, looking distinctly smug now.

He brought up a valid point, curse the man. She tried hard to mask a rising irritation of her own. "Hyuuga Hinata." She accompanied her name with what she hoped was a friendly, disarming smile that held no hint of deviousness.

One of his eyebrows went up while the other one went down. "What?" The word kept popping up a lot in their conversation, Hinata noticed.

"My name. Hyuuga Hinata. What's yours?" If she knew his name, she could look him up if he did manage to sneak the money into her pocket. If she were really lucky, she would distract him and make him forget giving it to her in the first place.

"Uchiha Sasuke." His head dipped briefly. "Nice to meet you, despite the circumstances."

She doubted he'd think the same thing if he were the one with hot coffee down the front of his shirt. Hinata made a noncommital sound of agreement and dug through her handbag. Perhaps it was a little late for tissues, but if she could mop up at least some of the damage, maybe it wouldn't look too bad when she got to work.

The train stopped yet again. Several people disembarked, looking disappointed at missing the rest of the drama. Hinata silently prayed the new people getting onto the train wouldn't notice everyone else's fixation and focus on her, too.

When the seat next to Hinata's opened up, and no one else seemed interested in taking it, Sasuke sat down next to her. "So where do you work, Hyuuga-san?" His arm brushed hers briefly; Hinata curled away from him, focusing on digging deeper into her bag as she debated whether or not to answer.

Apparently Sasuke intended to make up for his faux pas by being overly friendly. Or perhaps he was a stalker in disguise - stranger things, she supposed, had happened. "Downtown," she replied vaguely. Better safe than sorry, as her cousin Neji always told her.

Sasuke tilted his head slightly. "You look like the office type."

That brought Hinata's attention out of her bag and away from her fruitless search for tissues. "'Office type'?" She couldn't decide whether to be offended or not.

He flinched slightly, probably more at her affronted tone than the squeak at the end of the second word. "Sorry. That didn't come out right." He rubbed the back of his neck, his ears turning slightly red again. "I've got nothing against people who work in offices. My brother and future sister-in-law work in an office. It's not bad, not at all. I'm just someone who prefers being up and moving."

Even though she wasn't interested in knowing, Hinata asked the obvious question if only because their conversation seemed to be making the rest of the passengers lose interest in them. "And what is it you do, Uchiha-san?"

A small smile tilted up one corner of his mouth; Hinata felt her breath momentarily catch in her chest. "I'm a veterinarian."

Hinata's mind unwillingly flashed back to his fingers against hers earlier - long, strong, but somehow gentle, too. She could easily imagine him soothing an injured animal or giving a caring pat to a dog who'd just behaved excellently during his exam. "I love animals." The words popped out without permission.

"Me too. Especially snakes." Sasuke's smile widened.

Hinata's vanished. "Snakes?" Having grown up just outside Tokyo on her father's lavish estate, she'd seen her fair share of the creatures. Enough, anyway, to know she didn't like them.

At all. They completely creeped her out, with their flickering tongues and beady eyes.

The train slowed, and the voice over the intercom announced the downtown stop. Snatching up her purse, Hinata scrambled toward the door, deciding she'd rather put this snake-loving coffee-spiller behind her. Especially if he did turn out to be a stalker.

Sasuke stepped up behind and slightly to her left. "I'm sorry again, Hyuuga-san."

"It's all right, Uchiha-san," Hinata replied. "I hope your day gets better." Then, to her relief, the doors swished open, and she was able to lose herself in the crowd at the train station.

When she entered the ladies room at work after first explaining the incident on the train to her very understanding boss, Hinata found a very familiar wad of bills in her jacket pocket.

It seemed she'd be seeing Uchiha Sasuke again - much sooner than she'd wanted.

*~To Be Continued~*

Author's Ending Notes: Though I have over 140 posted fics (and more which have never even seen the light of day) under my belt, I've never written anything like Coffee Connections before. It does have its fair share of serious scenes - I'm most comfortable and familiar with the serious, after all - but this is the first humor-driven fic I've ever written before. Though I was nervous going into it, this fic was great fun to write, and I was so sad when I typed The End. Since I've written this entire fic, and it's with my beta getting read over for grammar mistakes and the like, I can promise steady updates for this fic alongside Light and Dark, until L&D is over, then I'll keep on with updates on the same day (Friday, for those of you in the States) for CC until it, too, is complete (since there are only 9 more chapters for L&D, and 12 chapters total in CC). But I wanted to post the first chapter on Valentine's Day, as a kind of special little treat for all of you. This is kind of a sequel to my ItaMari oneshot Perfection, but I don't think you have to read it to understand this one - there are a couple of references, but they're pretty self-explanatory, I think - though I would like it if you did. Thank you so much for checking out this first chapter, I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you again for next week's update!