Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes


Title: My Stepbrother Sasuke
Summary: In the summer before Hinata's senior year, her father and Mikoto Uchiha are getting married. Hell for Hinata - the flower girl - and Sasuke - the ringbearer. Things prove, as usual, much more complicated. SasuHina.
Rating: T of course.
Author: HeavenlyHuntress

Chapter One

Married.

My father is. Getting. Married. I feel as if he's being forced into this thing.

Hence,

Marriage-(noun) act of discontentment. Past tense; divorce.

It's too late now. I couldn't stop him if I'd wanted to.

He was hopelessly in love, rushing into it puppy dog eyes love, and allowing me to get stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I've been living with my mom for the past ten years - I was six when they divorced - and I visit my father over the summer.

Last year he was so excited to see me he took me to McDonald's.

It's no small wonder I didn't send him a Father's Day present.

XXXXXX

"You're so lucky to be going," Ino sighed, stretching across the bed. She was painting pink over her navy blue toenails. The resulting hue was an electrifying dark purple.

"Rephrase that sentence so it's grammatically correct," I shot back.

Opposite from me stood Sakura, who was trying on my huge hat. It looked ridiculous on her small, neat hair. On mine, the hat fit like it was made for me. Ever since I turned twelve, my hair had grown both larger and more...poofier.

"You're still lucky," Ino wailed again, flinging her feet up to the light to admire her toes. "My mom won't let me travel anywhere beyond my own street! Stupid, stupid!" In emphasis she brought her fist down. It defied gravity; that the open bottle of nail polish didn't topple over.

"You don't go to a marriage, though - "

"Guys - inhale, use your gills, or whatever you do to obtain oxygen. It's just a summer. We'll see each other next year in twelfth grade." TenTen worked on screwing the cap back on the nail polish bottle.

When done, she neatly threw it into my open suitcase. It was more than eight feet away.

It was Sakura who put placed her arms around my shoulder and told me to relax.

"Besides, how bad can a wedding be?"

If only she knew.

If only we knew - if only I knew.

XXXXX

I bade a tearful goodbye with Sakura, a solemn handshake from TenTen (seriously!), and a hug from (and more wails) Ino.

My mom took pictures of us. Sakura and I were loudly crying, our eyes too swollen to see. Ino was holding back tears. TenTen was assuming her usual poker face, but underneath the tomboy facade was sadness.

What will become of us? I wondered, desperately, as I shut the door behind my friends.

XXXXX

The flight was uneventful save for the bald man beside me who slept on and off. Every time he awoke his arms reached out, and every time, he groped my knee. I couldn't do anything but grit my teeth. The middle class seats were too crowded to move my legs.

I arrived at the airport in a whirlwind of two carry one bags, horribly scuffed hair, and a sore right knee.

The attendant bumped into me and I crashed into two goth looking teenage boys.

"Ah- uh - sorry - sorry - " I always stuttered when I wasn't with my friends. I hurried along, ignoring their snickers.

Finally I emerged from the long line with a sad, downtrodden ego.

The fluorescent lights were way too bright on my sensitive eyes. I searched the massive sea of faces, wishing for a familiar one. I stood alone, away from the crowds of people.

No, that wasn't a great idea. I was short for fifteen, about 5'6. At least, short compared to classmates. As I tried to crane my head I found it impossible to discern one body from another.

And I was too timorous to try and push my way through.

So I waited.

Presently the throngs of people thinned out and I hurried over to my father.

Hiashi was standing fully straight, his back never showing weakness. He looked older than fifty five, yet he was only forty nine. As usual, his rather long, neat hair was brushed back, accentuating his wise - at least, I thought they looked wise - eyes and wrinkles.

He was with a slightly shorter woman with short dark hair and a homely figure. From the way her hands were held I could tell she was nervous.

I walked up to them, showing my teeth like a good little girl. "Hi, Dad. Hi...?"

"Mikoto," she offered, turning slightly.

Kioko wasn't beautiful. At most she was pretty. My eyes detected the way her face kept turning to my father's. Their hands were linked.

She wasn't family. But she was...she had...made my father happy...

"Hi, Mikoto."

Her dark hair bounced as she smiled widely. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Um...you, too..."

My father said no more as I carried the luggage to his car.

XXXXXX

It turned out, apparently, that my father had moved in with Mikoto. He'd moved all his belongings from the old, comfortable mansion of the Hyuuga home and transferred it into a new, immense house with new furniture.

So much for following old traditions.

"Listen," Mikoto practically sang. "I've got so much wedding arrangements to make! Here - " She trailed off with a confused look on her face.

"Hinata."

" - Oh, yes, Hinata...I'll take your luggage; to your new room!"

"Bloody brilliant," I attempted a British accent.

When my father shot me a death glare - mess this up for me and I'll hunt you down - I swallowed and looked down. It wasn't like me to be a smart-ass.

"Oh," called down Mikoto once more. I was getting to really hate her voice. "I have a son, too. Hanabi has already met him. I hope you two can be...friends..."

Her words dropped like bricks in the soft silence. "He's the same age as you. Sixteen. Senior this fall."

"I'm fifteen," I answered stiffly. Just to clarify her mistake, I added quietly, "I'm not sixteen. He's not the...same age as me."

At that moment I caught another glimpse of my father's face. It held warning.

I looked away, my feelings too complicated to disentangle. Presently I heard his footsteps going upstairs.

He hadn't even said "I'm glad you're back."

XXXXXX

A short while later I heard someone come in. With paranoia I shot a look over my shoulder.

"Hinata!" Hanabi cheered exuberantly, her arms held out. She hugged me like a sister would; for the moment I felt warm and loved for.

"How're you doing, big sis? I haven't seen you since last summer!" Hanabi lived with my father. She was short and thin, with glossy dark hair and big, childlike eyes.

"I'm good, I guess. Good as can be." I smiled, glad to focus my feelings to happiness.

" I can't believe you're back! I have so much to tell you!" Her eyes were shining. "I can't wait for the wedding! I can't wait! It's going to be fun - Mikoto's so nice! Ad did you see Sasuke? He looks sooo hot. But he's like a silent tombstone."

"Hm?" I sat back and let her do the talking.

"He never says anything. It's like someone ducktaped his mouth. I'll call him Silent Sasuke for the rest of my life!"

I nodded. Hanabi was much more social than I was, even though she was just twelve.

"I can't believe you're back," she smiled. And then her eyes lit up. "Did you see those fall fashions? Aren't the shoes adorable? Like, I love the ones with the silver buckles, though they're sort of tacky - waaay tacky. But then again, the blue flats are cute, too aren't they? And what about the spring green type? Is it your type? - What do you think about them?"

She eyed my shoes brightly.

Sneakers.

"Oh."

She spent the rest of the time deciding what shoes I would wear for the rest of my life.

She had...changed.

XXXXXXX

My room was ginormous. It had a queen-sized royal blue bed - with canopy - and a soft, tickle-your-toes type of rug. The dresser was light brown and the lamp was a creamy white.

A walk-in, sleep-in, -live-in closet stood in the far end of the room, the two doors open, inviting me in.

I loved this room already.

But as I picked up the comforter and squeezed it in my arms, there was a strong feeling of discontentment. The room was a hoax, just a little something to inveigle me into liking the marriage.

Liking Mikoto and her son.

Although it hurt to admit - because the room was my dream room, everything I'd wanted it to be - I was not grateful.

I was not thankful.

I pushed away the comforter and wandered around the open hallway. My father and Mikoto were in the upstairs office, talking in low voices. I heard the words "she'll get used to it."

Hanabi had told me she was in a summer camp for dancing. She must have been practicing in her room right now. I heard soft music from the room directly across from mine.

I heard a low male voice, singing from the radio. Strange. Hanabi really had changed. She had loved classical music, only classical.

I swung open the door and peeked in. "Hana - "

I froze, gripping the brass doorknob tightly in my hand.

"You should knock."

The male voice had not been from the radio. Dimly I remembered Mikoto's words - "Sasuke, my son."

I usually did not think twice about what people were wearing, but now - He had on a black jacket, black pants. If I could see his toes I would have thought they had black polish.

He turned around.

He had black eyes - red, tinted by the light, most likely - an unpenetrable countenance, and jet black hair.

"I - I'm sorry; I thought this room - was - " I didn't bother to explain any further. It didn't appear he was listening. If he was, he gave no indication of doing so. Taking a tight, if not sweaty, grip on the doorknob, I turned away and pushed the door closed.

XXXXXX

The dinner was steaming hot, piping hot, if anyone used that word anymore, and it looked delicious.

The food melted in my mouth, crumbling into light savoryness.

I could not cook - and my mother didn't, either. It was always take-out. I was used to seeing her calling nervously into the telephone for delivery. On lucky days it was pizza. Unlucky days, some exotic food no one ever liked.

All along the dinner I saw my father smile in the corner of his mouth at Mikoto. It was like they held their own, secret sign language.

I would have pushed away my chair and bolted upstairs if I was not frozen in place.

Sickening.

My father never - Hiashi never - displayed "Public signs of affection".

He loved this woman. He did.

He had never said "I'm glad you're back." To me.

Hanabi chattered away rambunctiously, and Mikoto laughed and smiled, showing very white teeth. It was like she was part of the family already. I was a stranger to this - this group of people. I didn't know them.

I wanted to push away my chair - even better, take my bowl and slam it into the table. Of course, I didn't. I ate quietly, unnoticeably, swallowing the tender meal of chicken and peas whole.

"Is that all, Hinata? Are you sure you don't need any more? Girls like you need to grow."

I smiled back. "No, it's fine. Thanks."

Mikoto laughed. "How's my cooking? I hope it's not that bad."

It was like something in me snapped. There was a beast scraping in the palce where my heart used to be - I felt it explode with anger. I forced it down.

"It's awesome."

Behind the sink I pretended to rub my eyes while my tears poured down.

I was so weak. I cried too much. It was not a big deal; her cooking was extraordinary - my mother's was not - it shouldn't have mattered.

"I - I'll go upstairs n-now." I ran as fast as I could, to the bathroom, and locked myself inside, and I cried.


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