~Not So Subtle Differences~

Chapter 1

Timeline: AU, a few years after Shippuuden, Hinata and the Rookie Nine are all around 19, Itachi is in his mid 20's. Non-massacre. Peaceful times in Konoha and the ninja world.

Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing some wonderful characters for a while.

Evening came and went, and still no Naruto, he had stood her up again. A small sigh escaped her as she was beginning to realize he wasn't exactly the most dependable of boyfriends. He often forgot about their dates, and when he was in training mode he would forget she even existed for days on end.

Staring down at her soggy ramen noodles she smiled a little to herself when she thought back to a few months ago when he had finally began to notice her. It had been like a dream come true, all of the years of waiting patiently had finally paid off. Out of all of the girls in Konaha, he had chosen her to become his girlfriend.

The first few dates with him she had felt like she was walking on air. To be able to spend time with him and actually talk to him without passing out was something she had always longed for greatly. After a few dates, he had asked her to become his girlfriend.

At first it had been all so lovely, Hinata would sit there for hours as they walked together and she would listen to his stories and his plans for the future. Shaking her head, she sighed to herself slightly as the thought passed through her mind that he had never asked her what her dreams for the future were.

Frowning to herself, Hinata realized she was being unfair to him. He was her boyfriend after all and she was a lot quieter than he was. It was only natural that he would do most of the talking whenever they were together.

It didn't matter that he didn't even know she had just started training to become a medical ninja, or that her father was considering retiring in the next few years, and making her the head of her clan. In her mind, there were other things more important in a relationship, like companionship and loyalty. And to her, there was no one more loyal than Naruto. She felt very privileged he considered her to be one of his precious people.

Feeling a little bit better, Hinata stood up, and paid the bill along with a large tip on the table.

"Naruto stood you up again?" Old man Ichiraku said teasing her with a knowing grin on his face as he handed her change to her.

Smiling back weakly at him, Hinata nodded and put her wallet away in her pocket.

Looking up at the sky, Hinata saw there was still a little daylight left outside, she decided to spend the evening at the library and get some studying done before she attended her medic training class in the morning.

As she walked to the library, she thought how she was one of the few jonin's the Hokage had selected to learn how to become a medic. Because of her superior chakra control and her Byakugan, the Hokage thought Hinata would be a perfect candidate to learn the skills necessary to become a healer.

Tapping her pencil aimlessly on the book she was reading, it dawned on her she had been staring at the same page for several minutes now, and still didn't understand it. A slight frown creased her brow knowing the basic principles behind healing were something she needed to understand fully, or she would never be able to reach her goal of becoming a battlefield medic.

After a few more minutes of staring at the same page, she finally had to give up and admit defeat, her mind just wasn't on studying tonight. She was just about ready to leave when a shadow fell over her. Looking up, she almost gasped when she saw who was standing near her table.

A slight blush tinged her cheeks as she stared up at the stern face of arguably Konoha's most brilliant shinobi, and the genius of his clan.

Uchiha Itachi.

She was surprised that he even deigned to talk to her, even though she had met him on several occasions at clan functions. They were only acquaintances, and slight ones at that.

"Hyuuga-san," he greeted her with a polite nod.

"Uchiha-san," Hinata replied with equal courtesy as she shyly offered a seat to him at her table. Years of extreme social discipline helped her steady her nerves when he sat down next to her.

"May I?" He asked her coolly as he reached over and slid the book she was reading over by him, and began reading it.

As he read, Hinata felt slightly mortified that he had noticed she had been having difficulty understanding the chapter she was reading. Straightening her back slightly, she prepared herself for the inevitable condescending tone that she was sure would come out of his mouth. After all, whenever her genius cousin ever explained anything to her, he usually made her feel like an idiot as he did it.

After only a few short minutes of reading through the pages he looked over at her patiently. "What areas are giving you problems?" He asked her quietly, his facial expression was carefully neutral.

Hinata searched his face for a moment and saw no ulterior motive or even a hint of condescension in his expression; he seemed genuine in his desire to help her.

Looking down at the book in front of both of them, Hinata relaxed slightly, now that she knew he wasn't trying to mock her or make her feel like an idiot.

Still, considering whom it was that was helping her, she couldn't help but feel nervous around him. It wasn't every day she had an actual bona fide genius helping her with training. Her hands were only a little shaky when she pointed to an area in the book.

"I-I am having a little difficulty with the concept of exactly how much chakra to apply when it comes to wounds such as these," she said with only a slight tremor in her voice as she pointed to the pictures in the book.

The Uchiha glanced at the pictures for only a moment before he answered her. "Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to your question," he explained to her as he looked at her with calm eyes. "Figuring out the amount of chakra to use in each situation can only come through trial and error."

His words gave her a sense of relief, with patience she would be able to understand all of this medical stuff. She had just been trying to learn all of it too quickly without going over all of the basics first.

Grateful for his help, Hinata smiled warmly in his direction. "Arigato Uchiha-san."

At the warmth of her smile and tone of voice, he instinctively withdrew from her. "It was no problem, Hyuuga-san," he replied coolly polite as he stood up to leave her.

Hinata had a slight frown on her face as she watched him walk away from her. She couldn't help but notice his reaction to her when she smiled at him. It dawned her that he was probably afraid she was suddenly going to turn into one of those rabid fan girls that were always after him and his brother.

She smiled to herself as she thought of Naruto, and knew she wasn't ready to break up with him and join the Uchiha's fan club just yet. Besides, Uchiha Itachi was too far out her league; in fact he was out of everyone's league.

Looking over at the library door he had just exited, Hinata thought it was kind of sad that he was so cautious with people. For a moment while he was with her, she had thought that he was almost kind.

Shaking her head she smiled ruefully at her foolish thoughts, knowing that Uchiha Itachi was not known to be kind. He had a well deserved reputation for being brutally efficient and deadly on the battlefield. In the shinobi world he was almost legendary and there was talk that he was being considered to become the next Hokage after Tsunade retired, along with Naruto.

The thought of Naruto becoming Hokage made her shudder a little. It wasn't because she thought he was weak, in fact Hinata knew he was very strong as he had been trained by Lord Jiraiya himself. It was because of his sheer inability to handle social situations without making some sort of social gaff that made her nervous. Naruto was practically obtuse when it came to learning how to behave properly.

Hinata smiled knowingly to herself and hoped that was where she would come in to help him. When he became Hokage she would be there to help smooth out the rough edges and help keep him out of trouble. It made feel good that she had something valuable to offer to Naruto as he obviously needed her help in that area.

Someone as self reliant and polished as Uchiha Itachi, would never need anything from someone like her.

A little while later, while walking home, she sensed someone was following her and she quietly activated her Byakugan.

Surprised, her eyes opened slightly as she saw the Uchiha was following her almost casually. As she walked toward the gate of her clan compound, she smiled softly to herself thinking it was kind of nice of him to make sure she made it home safely. Especially when the Uchiha compound was clear on the other side of town.

Author's Note: I have had this plot in my head for a while now. I need a break from all of the angst of my other stories. Too much death, angst, pain etc. I am really excited to write a story without having to follow the manga super closely. This is completely AU, where the Uchiha family is alive and well. There will be some Naruhina but only a little bit, mostly it will be Itahina.

(Edited: 7/5/15) Almost up to 192,000 hits on this story, thanks so much to everyone who has read it!