Thank you everyone for their reviews! Lots of encouraging ones (and really brought about a smile on my face) and other real blunt ones (to the point where it made me delayed posting this chapter). Sigh, thanks DemonHeat for telling me otherwise :) and all of you other lovely people who will continue to read my fanfictions.
Chapter 4: I'm Not Going to Fall for It
She was a web designer.
Naruto was amazed, although he shouldn't have been. If he'd given a moment's thought, he would have realised that sitting at home with only the dog for company while she waited to see if she was pregnant wouldn't be enough for her. Hinata was too bright, far too bright and full of imagination and life and restless invention.
She did take up the offer of being a clothing designer for Kurenai, the star-studded celebrity. Naruto mused at his next thought, Hinata eventually designed her own clothing line with the tag name 'Parade'. He smiled with pride. That accomplished, he must have been crazy to imagine she would then settle down to wait for maternity to catch up with her,
Not Hinata. Of course she needed something to do.
But to do it n secret, without sharing it with him – that hurt, Naruto thought with surprise. He wondered when things had started to go wrong, and realised with shock that he hadn't even noticed that they had until now, when he'd thought about it and remembered what it used to be like between them.
Things had gone wrong, though, or she wouldn't be here now, hundreds of miles from home, making him tea before she thew him out on his ear.
Well, tough. He wasn't going, not till this was sorted out. A quick glance at the window looked like the weather was playing right into his hands.
Naruto stood up and swished the little curtains shut at the single window, blocking out the view of the snowflakes that were starting to whirl against the glass. In an hour, with any luck, it would be falling too thick and fast to allow him to venture out, so he'd have to stay.
They might be snowed in for days…
Naruto felt his body stir. He'd missed her. It had been a couple of weeks since he'd seen her last, and a little making up would be fun. Hiding a smile of satisfaction, he settled back in the chair, picked up the mug of tea she pushed towards him and prepared to wait her out.
It infuriated her when he did that.
Sitting there with his tea propped on his belt buckle, a patient look on his face, and said nothing. Of all the things he did that got her mad, this was the worst. But she promised herself she wouldn't rise.
Not this time.
Picking up her own tea, she changed the subject from her to him. "How was New York?" she asked as if they were sitting in their own kitchen and she hadn't just walked out on him.
He didn't twitch an eyebrow, to his credit, but then he was a very successful businessman and used to hiding his reactions.
"Cold, dull. I miss you."
If only that were true, Hinata thought sadly, remembering the times he'd gone away at first and how glad she'd been to have him back – how eagerly she welcomed him. But recently…
"How's Sai?" she asked, enquiring after the New York Partner who handled most of the North American business, and refusing to rise to the bait.
"All right. He asked how you were."
"And what did you tell him?"
Naruto smiled, a slight hitch of one side of his mouth, not really a smile so much as a grimace. "I told him you were fine," he said softly.
Hinata looked away. Naruto was too good at boardroom games. She sighed and sipped her tea, wishing he would go away and knowing full well he wouldn't, not at least without a promise from her to come home – a promise she couldn't make.
"When did you get back?" she asked, wondering about his jet lag and if he'd had any sleep.
"Yesterday afternoon. I was home just after four." The unspoken reproach hung in the air and irritated her into retaliation.
"I didn't know you were coming back yesterday."
"No, of course not," he said, and then continued with mild reproach. "Not that you were there to take my call- "
"I don't have to be there twenty-four hours a day," she reminded him sharply, and his eyebrow quirked up in response.
"Of course you don't," he said soothingly. "But you know my mobile number, and I do think that you could perhaps have done more than leave a note before you walked out on our relationship."
There was no attempt now to hide the reproach, his voice hardening and showing for the first time.
Hinata folded her arms, her cup of tea still in her hands. "I didn't walk out on our relationship, I just wanted a little space," she reminded him.
"I would have given you space if you'd asked for it. You could have said so. You know you only have to ask for anything."
"Maybe I didn't want to ask. Maybe I'm sick of asking for everything."
"Sick of sharing?"
"We don't share," Hinata told him flatly. "We hardly share anything anymore. I'm amazed you noticed I wasn't there – "
"Don't be ridiculous, of course I noticed."
"Yes, you would have had to pour your own drink, make your own supper." Hinata added. "Poor little lamb."
Naruto growled under his breath, and she buried her nose in her mug and ignored him.
"You could've said something, discussed it with me," he went on.
"And have you brushed it aside? Or trivalise it? Patronise me with another of your "you don't want to do that" lectures? I didn't want that Naruto. I wanted to think – to have time to work out in my mind just how I feel about us before it's too late."
"Too late for what?"
"Before we become locked together irretrievably into parenthood. I want to be sure I want your baby before I conceive, and at the moment I'm not sure. Not sure at all."
"I take it you're not pregnant again," he said cautiously, putting her hackles up.
"No, I'm not damn well pregnant. I don't get pregnant, remember?"
"And the business?" Naruto said smoothly, moving on without drawing a breath. "How long have you been running that? A year? Eighteen months?"
"Nearly a year."
"A year. You've been running it for a year – successfully and yet you didn't mention it," Naruto's tone bordered on accusation. However, Hinata had. She had. Over and over again, she'd nearly told him, but it had never seemed like the right time.
"You're always too busy, or away, or we're entertaining guests. There's never been a good time," she told him. "We never have time to talk."
"In a year?"
Hinata sighed shortly. "Naruto, you've been away – and when you've been home – " All he'd done was try and get her pregnant. But she couldn't say that, so she shrugged and shook her head and gave up. Not Naruto though. He didn't give up.
Naruto settled back and folded his arms and gave her a level look. "I'm not too busy now. You want to talk about it, tell me about it now. I've got nothing else to do."
"Yes, you have. You're going." She stood up, taking his cup and tipping the contents into the sink.
That brow arched again. "I don't think so."
"It is. Look out of the window. I'm going nowhere."
Hinata opened the curtain and pressed her face to the glass, but all she could see was swirling white. She muttered unintelligibly and stormed to the door, yanking it open. As she did, an arctic wind and a blast of snow drove her back into the house. She slammed the door with difficulty and turned to lean on it, frustration threatened to overwhelm her.
There was no way he could drive through that.
Naruto was looking at her with a knowing smirk.
"Alright, you can stay," she said grudgingly. Whatever was wrong with their relationship, she didn't hate him that much to throw him out to his death. Even so, she's bent on setting the boundaries. "You will have to sleep in the sitting room. You aren't sharing with me."
Naruto gave a soft snort. "Don't be silly," he reasoned. "We're married. We've slept together for five years. What difference can one more night make?"
Plenty to me, Hinata thought, knowing her own weakness for his charm and knowing quite well that he'd turn it up full to get her back, if that was what he wanted. It was too dangerous to let him near.
"Either you sleep in the sitting room, or you go," she said, firmly, avoiding answering his question.
"Fine," he said, and Hinata did a mental double-take. It wasn't like him to back down so uncharacteristically fast – if at all! He settled back into the chair and folded his arms.
"Any more tea?" His eyes were wide and innocent, but Hinata knew better.
There was nothing innocent about Naruto – never had been, never would be. He could be ruthless with his charm, and at the moment it was targeted right at her.
I'm not going to fall for it.
Hinata was determined not to.
Yay! I'll be updated a bit slowly because of university, work and social meetings. But I promise to work on it :)