A/N: Okay, sooo, over on hyugacest, someone mentioned not being able to see this pairing properly and was wondering where the devil its sudden popularity/existence even CAME from.

This fic does not answer that question, nor does it have any redeeming value beyond doubling as chapter 218 therapy for me and a cheer-up gift for Carrie.

"These Are the Facts"

It was a promise between their parents, made so long ago that both had forgotten.

And yet her father did not, and so she was brought to her husband when she turned thirteen. The explanations attached were brief, and she did not understand anything except the fact that there was a promise and she had no choice in the matter about keeping it. Her husband-to-be was less complacent in the matter, but her father had only to mention his parents and his resistance crumbled under his guilt.

Sasuke had always had that problem, though.

So Hinata Hyuuga was left on Sasuke Uchiha's doorstep with one small suitcase, a brand-new marriage license, and a frightened expression. Sasuke slept on the couch and said nothing to her. She sat in the armchair and tried not to tremble. In the middle of the night, he woke with a noise that might've been a sob from anyone else, and she pretended to be asleep while he stumbled to the bathroom and threw up.

By the time she woke up the next morning, he was gone. Breakfast was set out on the table, and there was a red bento box on the kitchen counter. When she opened it, she found that it was neatly packed with what appeared to be lunch. Somehow, she could not imagine Sasuke having forgotten to eat his own food- but he was clearly gone, which left her with the assumption that he had left it out for her, strange as that seemed.

Either way, she was running late, so she ate the breakfast, left the dishes in the sink to do when she got home, took the bento with a mental promise to apologize later- just in case- and ran out the door.

It took her less than a second to realize that she had no idea how to find the training grounds from here and the better part of three hours to actually find them, most of which she spent going in circles and on the brink of crying from a combination of stress, frustration, and worry, very little of which was actually related to the current situation.

By the time she got there, Kurenai and Kiba were half-frantic and Shino was beginning to look mildly concerned. This resulted in a very confusing conversation in which Hinata utterly failed to say a single word as Kurenai raged against her father for dragging her off without so much a word after all this time. Apparently she'd learned that much from the neighbors, but the Hyuuga themselves had refused to elaborate when she'd gone to them. Hinata wasn't surprised.

Training ended up being called off on account of furious teacher and Hinata's own still rather shell-shocked state. Kurenai took them all out to eat and spent the entire meal plotting violence against Hiashi for his fickle nature, and Hinata let them all think she'd moved back into the main house, mostly because it made more sense than the truth.

She was back by five, still carrying the bento, though she'd split its contents with Kiba and Akamaru later in the afternoon, both of who had enthusiastically extolled the virtues of its maker while assuming said maker to be a servant from the Main House. Sasuke was asleep in the armchair and looked like he'd been through a small war. There was dinner set out on the table, much in the same manner that breakfast had been, and her dishes from breakfast were done.

The apartment was so clean that it almost hurt.

Hinata ate and washed up. Sasuke never stirred, and she wondered- did he really sleep so deeply, or was he just ignoring her?

She lay down on the couch and tried to sleep too. It didn't work, and it took her a moment or two to realize that she was staring at him. Not in any way he'd have noticed, even if he'd been awake- she was facing the inside of the couch and looking at him with her family's eyes.

It occurred to her, for the first time, that they were related. Distantly, but somewhere in there they were relatives, they shared the same blood, came from the same places. Her father had mentioned it once . . . that the Uchiha were some manner of variant, some deviation of their bloodline. Some genetic hiccup that had turned out, to the main house's disgust, to be a dominant gene. She wasn't sure how long ago this had occurred, but . . .

Sasuke looked like their family. Just a bit, but . . .

Pale like them. Dark hair like them, graceful like them, beautiful like them. Hinata's self-esteem was shaky at best, but she knew genetic fact, and fact said that the Hyuuga were attractive people- even their ruin of an heir. And she wondered: how closely WERE they related? How recently did their families become estranged? As children, had their fathers played beside each other? Had they gone to each other's weddings, funerals?

She did not sleep for a long time.

Morning, and Sasuke was again already gone, and had again left breakfast on the table and lunch on the counter. This time, Hinata did not get lost on the way to practice, but Kurenai and the others fussed over her anyway. She promised them that she was all right and when they broke for lunch, found a note in her bento.

It was more than brief and said simply, "Bed."

Hinata stared at it a moment too long, and Kiba leaned over next to her, curious as to what had caught her attention and frowning at the handwriting, claiming he thought he'd seen it before. Hinata folded the note in half before Shino got a chance to see it- out of the group, he'd be the most likely to recall Sasuke's writing from the academy- and just shrugged when Kiba asked her what it meant.

She got in early that night, and to an empty apartment, but dinner was on the table anyway. She ate it and went to the bedroom, undressed, and sat on the end of the bed, all without letting herself think. It would not do to dwell on things that were a spouse's duty; that made her uncomfortable.

She still stiffened in fright when she heard the front door open and clenched her hands together nervously. But Sasuke never took a step towards the bedroom, and when she finally used Byakugan to see why he was taking so long, she found him asleep on the sofa.

He woke up before her again. The note in her bento said "Mission," and was folded around a key to the apartment. There were three uncooked omelets in the refrigerator, three packed lunches, and three covered dinners. Instructions for final preparation of the breakfasts and dinners were taped on each individual meal and written in Sasuke's precise, neat hand and language so technical that she felt as if she were programming a surveillance system.

Hinata ate them all and was not sure why she did not feel lonelier.

She did not see him again for three days, which for obvious reasons did not come as a surprise. The day he came back, she left breakfast on the table and a blue bento box on the counter. After training, she overheard Sakura wailing to Ino that Sasuke had come to practice that afternoon with a different lunch from usual and which was not at ALL up to his usual cooking standards, which apparently meant that some harlot had shanghaied and raped him, and then brainwashed him into liking her cooking and craving her no doubt hideous body with some demented jutsu.

Hinata wasn't sure if she should take the time to hide or just run for her life.

She was saved the trouble of deciding when Naruto showed up and Sakura and Ino decided that she would make the best (and most willing) distraction.

The problem with this theory was that it was right, because it reminded Hinata that she was married. Actually honest-to-God tied-the-knot married. And that meant . . . that meant that Naruto would never look at her the way she'd always looked at him, that meant that Naruto could never . . .

She had started to cry, which had provided so much more than the necessary distraction that it had ended up distracting Ino and Sakura too. And then Ino made the mistake of offering to take her home, and she only cried harder. Because how could she tell them? It would hurt Sakura and hurt Ino and Naruto would misunderstand and . . .

In the end, they just took her to the nearest park and bought dinner from a vendor. Afterwards, she went home by herself (and it was so strange to call Sasuke's home her own, so strange) and found Sasuke at the kitchen table, asleep over a scroll of techniques. She knew he'd wake up if she moved him and settled for draping a blanket over his shoulders instead.

Hinata could not resent him. He hadn't wanted this either, after all, and he had resisted more than she had dared to.

At the same time, though, it would have been so easy to blame him . . .

Instead, she filled the blue bento box up for him and then went to the bedroom and slept in the middle of the bed. Morning brought the red bento box, breakfast on the table, and no sign of Sasuke. Hinata did her own dishes before she went to practice and felt vaguely useless for the rest of the day.

She was home before him, but only a minute or two. Sasuke showed up before she even had time to finish taking off her sandals and, without a word, went to the kitchen to make dinner. Hinata followed and helped as best she could, though she was unsure of exactly what he was making. As such, the resulting meal was slightly peculiar, but he did not complain and she never would.

He did the dishes. She put them away. Then they finally looked at each other.

Hinata started to cry again. Sasuke dug out a box of tissues for her, made hot chocolate, and then retreated to the couch while she sat at the table with a mug of it and sniffled. Boys don't deal well with crying girls: this is a fact of life.

When Hinata was done crying, she put away the tissues and washed out her mug. Then she sat on the other end of the couch and watched him without actually looking at him. After a little while, he said, "I'll take care of you." Unspoken: I won't let you die.

It occurred to Hinata, distractedly, how important family must be to a person who had lost theirs so unfairly and with such violence, whose only surviving relative only looks at them with complete apathy- hers, of course, had rejected her as well, but not in the same way. How hard would someone try, if they felt, "this is my only chance at having that feeling again."

She was silent for a moment, but finally replied softly, "W-wake me up when you g-g-get u-up from n-now on? I'll h-help with b-b- breakfast."

Another fact of life: precious people don't always agree to be who they're supposed to be.

Later they would have problems. Later they would suffer. Hinata would cry again. Sasuke would not come home from training. There would be problems, disagreements that Hinata would be too afraid to argue about but that Sasuke would need to. But eventually her bed would become their bed. Eventually she would understand him and would know that he understood her in turn, and they would have children with strange eyes and no real pain in their childhoods despite their parents' fumbling attempts at figuring out how to make a proper family work. People would and would not die. Things would and would not change.

At that moment, though, Hinata could still taste Sasuke's chocolate in her mouth and had decided that tomorrow she was going to give her teammates her new address.

Fact of life: nothing ever really goes as expected.

Fact of life: this is not the end of the world.


. : anyone can love anyone : .