Note: If I owned Naruto this shit would be canon.

Long live SasuHina.

Artichoke Heart

Chapter 1: Arrival

Earnest opalescent eyes searched dark black pools for truth, for answers. A lithe white hand clutched the doorframe and the other lingered on the doorknob. The man before her cast a long shadow over her figure, and he donned all black clothing complete with a black, high collared cloak. He eyed her disdainfully, condescendingly, despite being on her doorstep, in a forest just beyond the security of Fire Country's borders, where the former Hyuga heiress had found solitude and peace away from the nightmares that resided in her hometown.

In that sense, they must have been similar.

Despite her obvious discomfort, the man remained resolute in his stance, seemingly unwilling to be sent away.

She found her voice suddenly, and it quavered with shock. "S-Sasuke-kun, is that you?"

His onyx eyes narrowed at her. "You are... The Hyuga girl."

She realized then that they had never been formally introduced. She straightened her spine, managing to suppress the panic that was erupting within her. "I am Hinata."

He suddenly looked past her, seemingly to look within the small house. She shifted slightly in attempt to obscure his view, earning herself an annoyed glare.

"Why are you out here?" He questioned blankly, regarding her like a King would a peasant.

She shrunk underneath his intense gaze, though her voice was stronger than she showed: "I've lived here since the war ended."

"That doesn't answer my question," he returned tonelessly.

"It d-doesn't matter. What brings you here, so late at night...Sasuke-kun?"

There was a long pause. It seemed that he was considering her question, as though he himself were not entirely sure. Moments later, he spoke again, "I have completed my task."

Although her and the Uchiha had never been particularly close in their childhood, news of what had happened after his defection from Konoha was akin to legends. The one individual who could rival the hero of the shinobi world, the person who was considered the "other Hokage", was now nothing more than a wandering nomad, aimlessly traversing the lands on his own personal mission. It had managed to reach everyone in Konoha and perhaps beyond, to other villages. News of Sasuke's continued absence in Konoha after the war, news of his elder brother's heroism, but then nothing. Sasuke had never bothered to report back to the Seventh Hokage about his important mission, though he had amended his relationships with those that cared for him.

And despite being strangers, Sasuke had approached her, of all people, in the middle of the night.

She nodded slowly, warily apprehending his presence, "I...I don't know what you want from me, Sasuke-kun. It's late, and...if it's about your mission, you should report to Hokage-sama"—

"I don't intend on returning to Konoha."

She eyed him reproachfully, hand clutching the knob tighter. "Sasuke-kun"—

"Do you have a spare room?"

She blanched, looking at him with disbelief. "Excuse me?"

He frowned, looking past her again, seemingly impatient. "You heard me. I need a place to stay. I am no longer an enemy to Konoha."

"Konoha is"—

"No longer my home, though my alliance lies with the village. It was the path that my brother had chosen for me, and a path I will not stray from. However, I cannot return."

Hinata felt her stomach twist in her stomach, "Did you know I was here?"

Sasuke remained impassive. "Maybe."


A flurry of emotions washed over her. Memories of watching Team 7 from afar, wishing so badly to be close to Naruto and cherished as he did his teammates. She regarded the enigmatic man that stood before her.

They had more in common than she had realized.

Wordlessly, she took an automatic step backwards, relinquishing the hold she had on both the doorknob and the doorframe. She stepped aside, hands resigned at her sides as Sasuke entered her home.

He gracefully passed her. Her floors usually creaked beneath her weight, but he soundlessly removed his shoes and began to roam. The house consisted of little. Upon entering, an open concept kitchen was viewable with basic appliances. A small round dining table consisted of four chairs, separating the kitchen from the living room. A small sofa faced a small television set, separated a fair distance with an ovular coffee table in between. The walls were devoid of any sort of decoration. There was one small hallway consisting of four different doors.

"Ah... that's the laundry room," Hinata stopped him before he could explore the first room. There were three more doors. One, he found, led to a bathroom that was joined to the master bedroom. The other door led to a much smaller guest bedroom, consisting of nothing but a twin bed, a desk, and a chair. In the corner stood one quaint lamp.

He noticed that, although the house was small and sparsely furnished, not one speck of dust seemed to have collected on any particular surface, and the house smelled faintly of lavender and flowers.

Despite the feminine scents, there was nothing about the décor that suggested a woman inhabited the house by herself for so many years.

It led Sasuke to wonder how and why she had ended up there to begin with.

"What are your plans, Sasuke-kun?"

His gaze flickered to her form momentarily, and he spoke softly: "I've not made plans this far."

Hinata stiffened. He catatonically stepped into the guest room; wordlessly removing the small bag he carried to discard it to the floor. He sat on the bed, which squeaked softly as it absorbed his weight. He kept his gaze cast low, apparently waiting for her response. Hinata shifted uncomfortably, fingers twisting the fabric of her nightshirt.

"I know what that feels like," Hinata confessed gently, taking a small step forward so that she was in the guest room. Her gaze softened on him. She took a deep breath. "You can stay here...for as long as you need. I'm always by myself here. No one visits me, and I don't visit anyone. I have my own garden, and I grow my own vegetables. There's a small village that's fifteen kilometers away, and I go there for things I can't grow. There... isn't much here. I have electricity, and you can watch TV but I don't have a phone or a computer or anything...fancy like that."

Sasuke looked up to her, expression mildly enthralled. A faint smirked crossed his features, and he spoke, "I thought you weren't a talker."

"When you go for weeks not talking to anyone, you tend to want to socialize more, no m-matter who the company is."

He twitched when she stuttered, wondering how long it usually took for people to lose their speech impediments from their childhood.

"How can you afford to live here?"

Hinata smiled listlessly. "The rent is practically free, but I worked hard to make this small house livable. I have money saved up from my years as a Jonin in Konoha."

"Your clan no longer supports you?"

"No, they do not."

The mention of her family seemed to bother her, and this only made Sasuke want to pursue the subject more. Why would the most prestigious clan let the eldest daughter of the main branch live as an outcast? It was obvious, at least to Sasuke, that she was not the heiress. Either she had relinquished the position, or it had been taken from her. Either outcome was just as interesting. However, she had somehow been classified as a Jonin, and even had enough money saved up to retire in solitude, completely independent from her clan's wealth. The notion was impressive.

Sasuke watched as she continued to uncomfortably fiddle with her shirt, seemingly avoiding eye contact or wishing to end the conversation. Ultimately, she chose the latter, bowing her head awkwardly and bidding him goodnight. Without another word, she departed from the room, but not before shutting the door gently behind her.

Sasuke had simply stared after her.

The following morning, Hinata was awake by 7:15 a.m. She had been anxious, and resultantly received little to no rest. Hinata found herself pacing back and forth in her room, teeth nipping at the insides of her cheeks with worry—What did it mean that Sasuke was at her house, and what did it mean that she had offered her home for free to him, for as long as he needed?

It had been true that she lived frugally and comfortably, and his presence really would not have too much of an impact financially. Not only this, but Hinata had detested the isolation she had faced for so long, and yearned for a roommate, a friend.

But to have the Uchiha turn up with no notice, and to have accepted him so willingly, almost unconditionally, as a dependent in her life...

Her actions were questionable. They had never spoken to each other their entire lives, and suddenly she trusted that they could live alone together, even if just temporarily?

Hinata rubbed her eyes from where she sat in bed, though her doubts swirled within her, twisting in her stomach and weighing her down. Sasuke should not be with her. He should go back to Konoha. He could have stayed with Kakashi, with Sakura and Naruto...

She rubbed her temples, consoling the oncoming headache. No—if Sasuke had wanted to go back to Konoha, that is what he would have done. Yet she found him on her doorstep. And how or why he had stumbled upon her small, secluded home when some Konohans did not even know such a place existed, was a mystery.

Uchiha Sasuke had always been a mystery, yet not one she had ever thought to indulge. She had always preferred Naruto, whose intentions and goals were so obvious, because he made sure everyone knew.

But this man was Naruto's best friend. And if he was precious to Naruto, he was precious to her.

And that was all the reasoning she needed.

She unwillingly rolled out of bed, bare feet meeting the surface of the cold hardwood. Hinata rose to her full height, stretching her arms over her head. She shuffled towards the door that attached to the bathroom, but when she rattled the knob she found it had been locked. She frowned. Her first instinct was to activate her Byakugan, but instead, she opted to press her ear gently against the door.

The sound of rushing water was suddenly evident, then a yank of the shower curtains.

Breathing a sigh, Hinata withdrew her face from the door, crawling back into bed. She waited patiently for twenty minutes—the shower eventually silenced. Then, she heard the hallway door open then shut firmly.

He had forgotten to unlock the door that led to her room.

Withholding a suffering sigh, Hinata shuffled outside the bedroom and emerged into the hallway, and entered the bathroom from there.

Once she had finished washing up, she shuffled into the kitchen to find a very comfortable Uchiha at her dinner table. He donned nothing but loose, grey cotton sweatpants and a towel draped around his shoulders. His hair was longer than she remembered, and hung in wet spikes around his head. He had made himself coffee.

Uchiha Sasuke was at her dining table drinking coffee.

The very notion was bizarre. And unsettling.

Hinata flushed pink as her eyes cascaded over his shirtless form, and she immediately tore her gaze away, busying herself with pouring a cup of coffee for herself.

"Good morning," he muttered brusquely, watching her impassively as she sat across from him, her own coffee in hand and red-faced.

"Good morning," she greeted back awkwardly. His skin was almost as fair as hers, and he was covered with scars, some gashes alarmingly larger than others. "Do you...have clothes?"

He seemed to have noticed her fixation on his chest, and allowed himself a smirk. "I have some."

"You're covered in scars."

Sasuke was taken aback that she had been so bold to speak her mind. But there were many things about the woman before him that did not resemble the vapid girl he recalled from the past. "Isn't everyone?"

She was not, though she said nothing. She recalled the many times she had seen male ninjas shirtless—almost all of them had scars, though not this many. She wondered vaguely if she were supposed to bear scars, as a representation of her bravery and suffering. Perhaps it had something to do with her being the former heiress, or perhaps it was due to her weakness.

"Do you ever return to Konoha, Hinata?"

She shivered at the way he spoke her name. "No. I haven't since I have moved here."


A pause. After a few moments of consideration, she answered: "My reasons for not going home, are similar to yours. I just... don't belong there."

Sasuke gave slight nod, approving her answer. "Ah."

"Do you ever talk to Naruto-kun, or Sakura-san?"

For a moment, he actually bore an expression on his usually vacant features. "I haven't seen either of them since the war ended." He paused briefly, then met her eyes, "You and Naruto never got together, then."

Hinata blanched, wondering if the pain she felt showed on her face. She never possessed the stony demeanor that Hyugas were notorious for. She had a tendency to show everything she felt. Not because she meant to, but because she had no such ability to hide how she felt.

Sasuke knew he had stricken a cord the moment her face contorted to reveal devastation, despair, and even self-loathing.

"No," she said slowly, then added carefully, "Though... he and Sakura-san have had their first child."

She had said it in attempt to get a rise out of the Uchiha. However, the man across from her merely scoffed, leaning back in his chair, appearing slightly amused. "Good."


"You never... returned Sakura-san's feelings?" Hinata could not help the surprise in her tone, eyeing him with dismay.

He shook his head. "What was different about her?"

Hinata's jaw slackened slightly, and she clutched her coffee cup. It had been years, but Hinata could recall that Sakura had grown beautiful, with her natural pink hair and large emerald eyes framed by thick lashes. She was taller than most girls, with a more athletic build. She was confident, smart, and she was strong—strong enough to be denoted as Tsunade's successor. It was true that Sasuke had his pick of any girl in the village, but Hinata was sure that Sasuke was not blind enough to realize that Sakura was different.

Sasuke read her like a book. "It doesn't matter what she had to offer me. I knew I had first pick, and I didn't want her."

First pick.

Sakura had always been Naruto's first pick.

At least she was someone's.

"It's true," Hinata said sadly, sipping at her coffee cup to chase down the lump forming in her throat. "It doesn't matter now, anyway."

Sasuke continued to stare at her, but Hinata ignored him. After her cup had been drained of its contents she stood, wafting towards the fridge. She withdrew eggs, whole-wheat toast, and bacon. She felt Sasuke's eyes on her, and she glanced towards him.

"I always cook breakfast. You're okay with bacon and eggs, right?"

He nodded.

She turned on the stove, withdrawing some pans from the cupboards. She began frying the bacon first, but then came the matter of the eggs.

"How do you like your eggs, Sasuke-kun?"

She did not miss the faint smile that flickered across his lips.

"My nii-san... always made them sunny side up."

To be continued

Note: I promised my sister an epic, so she's getting one! Reviews are greatly appreciated, and I promise this story will have fast updates.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!