A/N: This is SO unlike my other stories lately -- it bothers me! Bah! Somehow I still love it though. ~~ I had intended for this to be more mature (I had a title in mind: "Like I Love You"), but somehow this hunk of cheese came out. Bah! Once again. Enjoy though. I think it may be Chedder.
Pairing(s): SasuHina, mild NaruSaku
A/N 2: It may not actually be that cheesy. I just have high standards. HIGH standards.
She regretted to admit it, but Hinata was spoiled.
As soon as Naruto began to (finally) completely ignore her, she realized that she had a quiet little problem -- practically silent in her outward demeanor, but loud and obnoxious in her mind, the sort of annoying that made her cringe, flinch, and squeeze her eyes shut in the same few seconds. It was more like a second voice in her head, chanting and chanting, and so unlike her real self that she wondered if she would need a therapist soon, lest her cousin or father find out she's been hearing voices in her head. The thought frightened her.
Along with this problem came a flip of feelings, and a new companion. She had long since grown out of her blushing-then-fainting phase that seemed to be triggered by her favorite person, and instead came a stronger habit of looking off into the distance, biting her lip, and acting like she was uninterested until someone came to speak with her. It was more an unconscious habit than anything. But sadly, it seemed to have loosened whatever ties she had built with her blond interest, causing him to, instead of getting caught in her eyes that darted between him and the ground like before, take his eyes off of Hinata and into a certain pink-haired kunoichi's general direction.
In the middle of a sparring session with Team 7, he suddenly dragged Sakura off to the Ramen shop after Hinata had showed up to say hello and proceeded to gaze off into the distance, blank-faced except for the lip between her canines. Kakashi had run off, calling off their training until another time, and Sai followed soon after. Hinata had sighed, wishing Naruto would have stayed and thinking she had been left utterly alone… until Sasuke coughed and her eyes jumped to his with alarm.
"I…" she began, quietly. "I'm sorry. I didn't… notice you were there. Um… I- I'll leave you alone, then. Excuse me."
"I wasn't kicking you out of the grounds," he said, a deeper vibrato than she had expected, but there was no mistaking a left over tone of immaturity and sarcasm behind it. "But since you seemed so quick to assume, I'll assume it's you who wants to be left alone." With a flick of the wrist that resembled a wave, he started off in the direction of his home.
"No, I-" she said, louder than before, hand slightly outstretched towards him. She questioned herself.
Sasuke turned back to her, amusement in his features.
She blushed faintly. "Urm… you mistake me. I do not wish to be alone."
He stared at her with an unreadable expression for a long moment. She squirmed.
"You," he began, a matter-of-fact look on his face, "are a princess. You know that?"
She bit her lip.
"That means you're spoiled. I don't care if you're the Hyuuga heiress."
She looked him in the eye. "I know that."
"You're agreeing with me that you are spoiled? That you have almost everyone fooled?"
"To an extent… yes…" she said, softer. "I don't try to fool anyone."
"That doesn't matter." His eyes were not cold, but his tone was; and that inadvertently led her to believe that his intent was not to insult, but to merely understand her in his own way.
"Alright," she whispered, calmly.
After another eternity-like moment, he smirked and motioned for her to follow him.
She wished he would have told her where he was leading her.
After that, he didn't speak so much to her. There just seemed to be moments springing up between them that would force them into exchanging their loneliness for each other's company over the next few weeks. She did most of the talking, much to her dismay, but she did not take for granted the few times they actually had a mutual conversation. Sometimes, but few and far between, he would shove a moment of pregnant silence into her face before taking it and turning it into another observance about herself that really should have insulted her but didn't.
"Why do I not insult you?" he asked in one moment spent on a bench by the Hokage Mountain.
"Was that your intent by calling me needy?" she asked back, quieter than him; always quieter than him.
"That is why," she said, wishing he would just stop questioning things. And he still didn't talk enough.
"Hn," he grunted, scrutinizing her. "So then why are you so tense?"
She sighed. "No reason." She wished she would have told him why.
She found her problem becoming worse and worse the more time she spent with Sasuke. The second voice just seemed to get louder, and louder still. It stressed her out, making her tense all the time, until even the maids at the Hyuuga house began to suggest she see a massage therapist, or visited the hot spring; but Hinata knew that her problem would not leave her until she exploded.
That thought alone made her fists clench and her back ache.
Sasuke led her to the training grounds one day.
"You're shaking," he said, quieter than usual -- she assumed it was his way of showing concern.
"Yes. I am."
"Stop it!" she said suddenly, tone risen and eyes shut tight.
"What?" He actually showed the confusion on his face.
"Stop questioning everything! Can I not just say what I want to say, and do whatever I want to do, without having to explain myself?" She refused to look at him, frightened by the words that tumbled out of her mouth. "Whenever you do speak, you question or scrutinize me. Otherwise it's constant, tense, thick… silence!"
Sasuke was silent for another moment, in which Hinata did not stop shaking. She was astonished at herself, and speechless at the same time.
"You're wrong," he said. "And I was, too. You're not spoiled, or selfish, or needy. Your problem is just that nothing is ever enough for you. You're annoyed by the fact that nothing's perfect. Ever since Naruto ditched you, you've wanted better. And you expect me to be that much better than what you've come to know." Her posture wavered. "But in reality you just want another Naruto. A Naruto that spends time with you like I've been doing."
After a few excruciatingly long minutes, Hinata stopped shaking, and spoke, "You are mistaken, again." She swallowed. "I don't want another… Naruto. I just want…"
He had hit the nail on the head -- or, as Hinata had felt it, slammed a mallet onto her own head until she was buried beneath the ground and bleeding a substance that could not have been blood, but felt more like acid. It felt horrible, to have the worst part of her open and read, the text a bleeding scarlet.
"You want a replacement."
Hinata stood, and she walked home. She left Sasuke behind her, wishing she hadn't.
The next day, she went looking for him in a haze, wondering why it was so important to her that she find him. She felt trapped, within her own mind, but she was free of a second voice, and it was enough of a balance that she felt dazed.
She found him on top of the Ninja Academy after an hour, sitting and doing nothing else.
"Do you want me to be the replacement?" he asked, acknowledging her presence. This, of all things, felt like an insult to her.
"No," she said, and sat on her knees behind him.
"Just someone better."
She blushed. "Not someone. …You are better."
She could feel him smirk in the air. "So now you're saying you want me."
She placed a hand lightly at the top of his back.
"That's not right, you know," he said, but his tone suggested he couldn't care less about what he was saying, "to want someone just because they're better than your last fix."
"But you are humoring me…."
"And now you think that I want you?" She could really taste his cocky smirk in his aura. It made her want to laugh, but she was blushing too much.
"You did call me a princess… that day."
"But am I enough for a princess?"
"No, but… I do not… care anymore."
"Doesn't my interrogating you bother you?"
She shook her head, knowing he could sense it.
He chuckled. She felt like they were twelve again, in an odd way. "You want me to believe that you just changed overnight?"
She didn't answer.
"Whatever," he said, and turned to sit facing her (he was smirking).
She smiled at him, her hand having moved to his shoulder when he turned. "I suppose you are spoiling me, with letting this …."
"I never intended for you being spoiled to come out as an insult, anyways."
Then, he leaned his forehead to hers.
She knew he should have kissed her, and silently wished he would have. It would have made the moment perfect. But it was his own way of kissing her, for now… she supposed -- maybe it wasn't right, but it was enough.
She wasn't spoiled to have him.
It was just enough.