Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.


Uchiha Sasuke was an avenger. He had been grooming himself for such a role ever since he had seen his parents' bloody corpses on the floor of his home. He studied the art of being a ninja carefully and thoroughly, and trained himself constantly. His life revolved around becoming the best ninja possible.

Because of his relentless pursuit of his goal, he became the best in his year at the Academy, earning him the title "Number One Rookie Ninja". He didn't much care for this title, other than the fact that it proved he was the best among his peers. But that wasn't good enough for Sasuke. He wanted to be strong enough to kill his brother, and he knew that compared to Itachi he was still woefully weak. He had been frustrated and angry when assigned with Naruto and Sakura, knowing that they would hold him back. How was he supposed to improve when he had to stop training in order to save Naruto from another mishap? How was he supposed to improve with Sakura pestering him every five minutes?

To combat this, he turned his team mates into training exercises. Staying alert enough to catch Naruto before he did something stupid or thinking quickly enough to save Naruto after he did something stupid. Avoiding Sakura (and all his other fangirls) became exercises in evasive manoeuvres.

In the end, however, Sasuke was still human. Despite his best efforts to remain cool and aloof, his team mates managed to worm their way past his walls, albeit only slightly. Naruto became the closest thing Sasuke had to a 'friend' (the word felt foreign to him, so he avoided using it whenever possible). Sakura was less than that. He could tolerate her well enough, and he supposed (VERY deep down) that he cared about her in some fashion. He would be able to tolerate her better if she weren't so annoying. She chased after him like every other girl in the village, and didn't seem to get the idea that he just didn't care. If she got over him and acted like a normal human being, he might give her the same 'almost-not-quite-friend' status as Naruto. Maybe.

But it was pointless to wish for Sakura to give him up. Like every girl in the village, she seemed convinced that if she just persisted long enough, he would suddenly realize how much he loved her and they'd live happily ever after. Yeah right. Sasuke wasn't interested in happily ever after, and he certainly wasn't interested in any girl.

Except maybe one.

He didn't have a crush on her, which would be stupid. She merely intrigued him. He liked to watch her for some reason. He wasn't romantically attached to her - after all, she wasn't that pretty, and was a pathetic excuse for a ninja, weaker than Naruto and Sakura combined.

He had never really noticed her before, giving her only a passing thought. It wasn't until he overheard Ino and Sakura talking about her crush on Naruto that he suddenly noticed her, and not in a good way.

At first, he was disbelieving. How could any girl like that idiot, let alone the shy Hyuuga heiress? He had trouble seeing it. Out of curiosity he began to observe her, and discovered that it was true. He hadn't noticed before because, unlike his fangirls, Hyuuga Hinata did not squeal and glomp the object of her affections. Instead, she became quiet, unable to speak straight sentences (although, upon reflection, she seemed unable to speak straight sentences at all). She would draw into herself whenever her crush walked by, as if afraid that Naruto would notice her, and then watch him with red stained cheeks, her eyes expressing a hope that he would. She seemed to want to be noticed and overlooked at the same time. It was confusing.

Sasuke mused over dead-last's ability to attract the interest of the quietest girl in Konoha. He was a little envious - not because he liked her or anything - but because she was QUIET about it.

He would see her around the village, sometimes at the places Naruto hung out. When Naruto had dragged him to Ichiraku's one afternoon, she had been there. She was poking her fingers together, and looked to the ground as she stuttered out a quiet greeting, which Naruto didn't hear. Sasuke watched as her face fell, her cheeks still red, hands falling to her sides. The sight bothered him for some reason, and he quickly pushed past her into the ramen bar.

He saw her occasionally with her team mates, walking down Konoha's streets. Kiba was usually boasting loudly about some inane thing, he reminded Sasuke greatly of Naruto. Shino and Hinata walked quietly behind him or beside him, depending on how boisterous the Inuzuka boy was being. Hinata's hand always seemed to reach for Kiba's mutt every so often to scratch it behind the ears. It would bark happily, and she would giggle softly. It appeared that she was fond of the dog.

He saw her in the evenings, training. He never meant to. It was just that he trained in the evenings well, and he was bound to run into her. She would throw punches at a tree trunk until she collapsed to the ground, exhausted. He saw her sweat mingle with her tears, and heard her soft "I'm not weak" repeated over and over again. She really was pathetic. He would leave when the strange urge to go over to her became impossible to ignore.

At some point, Sasuke began to realize how much time he spent thinking about her. He decided that he should just forget about her. It was dangerous, thinking too much about one person. He stepped up his training, and forced himself to ignore the unreasonable desire to watch the Hyuuga heiress. He focused on training, on his anger and hatred for his brother, pushing every other feeling aside. Anger and hatred would help him in his quest, other feelings were useless.

So he ignored the pain of loneliness that struck him at night, ignored the slight amusement he got from seeing Sakura beating the crap out of Naruto, and he especially ignored that warm, shaky feeling in the pit of his stomach whenever Hyuuga Hinata happened to glance at him with her white eyes.