When the darkness comes, will you be beside me?

The gravel beneath her dress shoes crunched as she made her way up to the entrance of the Uchiha residence. Slender fingers curled nervously over the clutch of her school bag as she rang the door bell once. Pale, silver eyes studied the exterior structure of her neighbor's home-a white building worn with age after seventeen years. Despite its faded-looking walls, the building itself was still in fine shape. It hadn't changed that much.

But with age, most things eventually began to diminish…

She rubbed gently at her eyes, her vision blurring for about a second before returning back to normal. She blinked twice and rang the doorbell again, rocking back and forth on her heels as her pleated skirt swished with each movement.

The door to the residence slowly creaked open. Hinata stood still and waited.

Clad in his school uniform, the boy stepped out.

186 centimeters, and the boy was still growing. Hinata was afraid to see how tall he could really get.

"G-Good morning, Sasuke," the timid girl greeted.

Her next-door neighbor for fifteen years straight regarded her with a "Hn," before proceeding to step down from the front steps of his home. "Let's go or we'll be late," he threw over his shoulder before deciding to walk ahead of her.

The Hyuuga stared after him for a short moment before returning to her senses and realizing that he was about to leave her behind.

"Oh, w-wait for me!" she called to the retreating figure of his back as she ran after him.

Catching up to the young man was no simple task, what with his long legs and all, but she'd managed, slightly breathless as she fell into step beside him. Tucking a silky lock of hair behind her ear, Hinata opened her mouth for some small talk. "Ano, d-did you finish yesterday's homework?"

"Yeah," was his short reply as he continued walking, slouched a bit forward with his hands in the pocket of his slacks. His profile from the side was lovely as usual. In fact, he was lovely from any angle with his milky-white skin and slanted dark eyes. His usually spiked hair was down today, reaching the nape of his slender and pale neck. Hinata noticed that he'd been wearing his hair down a lot lately, almost as though he could care less about his appearance these days. Not that she minded of course. In fact, she preferred this look more. It was…refreshing to say the least. She would never tell him this though. How he presented himself wasn't any of her business.

"Why do you ask?" he suddenly questioned, surprising her that he'd chosen to speak again. He never had been talkative, but these days, he'd barely uttered a word to her as well. She was elated with the thought of being able to have a somewhat normal conversation with him once again.

"A-Ah! Well, I just thought that you might've forgotten. And…had that been the case, I w-would've let you copy mine."

He scoffed. "Do I look like that blonde idiot to you?"

Hinata held back her laughter, letting loose a few giggles or two. The image comparison had been funny. "No, I…I suppose not," she chuckled.

The Uchiha frowned. "Exactly."

The two continued their walk in silence, both reluctant to say anything else.

After declining a friend's invitation for lunch, Hinata snagged her cloth-wrapped bento and headed for the emergency staircase on the third floor.

Pale eyes scanned the seemingly empty rooftop, her gaze wandering as she searched for him.

Where is he?

"Up here," he answered as if reading her thoughts. The Hyuuga spun around to look up and see her dark-haired neighbor staring down at her. The backdrop of the blue sky behind him was absolutely beautiful. And it was due to this that she couldn't help but stare in awe at him. "You coming up or what?" he snapped in annoyance.

"Ah, y-yes." Using the ladder to climb up to where he sat at, Hinata joined him, setting the bento between the both of them as they sat there peacefully, enjoying the scenery. The black cat, as she imagined him, took to lying down on his back with his arms folded behind his head. Dark bangs fell over his closed eyes as he kept to himself quietly, his breathing soft.

Hinata fidgeted in silence, clasping and unclasping her fingers as she reached out nervously to gently tap the young man beside her. "Um, are you hungry?" she asked, the look on her face hopeful.

"No," Sasuke gently answered. "I'm just…tired."

"O-Oh." She lowered her head, a bit sad. Aside from not conversing with her as much, he had also not partaken in the boxed lunches she made especially for him. In the fifteen years she'd known him, she knew almost everything about him, from his favorite things to his dislikes. And today, like any other day, she'd made his favorite tomato and lettuce salad. And as of late, he didn't want to eat. Again. That made it the ninth time within the past two weeks.

It was just as she'd thought. He was probably…annoyed.

Maybe I should've waited before telling him about…that. She paused, mid-thought, before continuing to herself. No, no, that time was as good as any other. If I'd told him any later, then he definitely would've been angrier than he is now.

Raising her right hand, Hinata covered her eyes, parting her fingers slightly to peek up at the bright sky. White puffs of cotton slowly drifted about lazily as sparrows quickly flew by, their small wings beating rapidly at the afternoon spring air. A small smile made its way onto her face.

Ah, it really is beautiful.

If she could've Hinata would've loved to stare up at the sky forever.

However, she immediately snapped out of her momentary daydream the second she felt ice-cold fingers covering her own. Blushing, she whipped her head around, only to come face-to-face with the expressionless Uchiha who was now sitting up. His dark eyes bore silently into her own as he slid his hand near her thin wrist, only to gently grip it.


The spring breeze was soft as it whispered and lovingly caressed the both of them. Her gaze fell from his lovely face to the warm fingertips of his icy-grip. It wasn't painful though. In fact, it didn't hurt at all. Sasuke didn't look it, but she knew that he was a gentle person. And most of all, she knew that he was always, always gentle, whenever it was just the two of them.

"It's not true, right?"

Despite the close proximity of their faces, Hinata didn't move back, nor did she push him away. She allowed his grip to remain in place because she wanted it to.

She wanted to be as close to her most beloved person as possible.

"Are you really-?"

Before he could finish, the bell suddenly rang, signaling the end of their short lunch break. Calmly, he closed his eyes. "Actually…never mind," he muttered. Her heart sinking, Hinata watched as Sasuke immediately stood up to leave, the view of his back disappearing once again.

"Oh my, Hinata-san, you're even prettier in person." The elegant woman sitting across from her in a beautifully simple, yet obviously expensive kimono regarded her kindly. Her graying brown hair was pulled up tightly into a formal and somewhat traditional bun.

The omiai took place in a tea ceremony hall with five members. The matchmaker, Hinata and her father, and then her fiancé-to-be and his mother. All was serenely quiet as everyone sipped lightly at the tea Hinata had prepared herself. She was no master at the tea ceremony, but her skills were beyond average at the best.

Hinata, clad in her spring-green kimono returned her compliment with equal sincerity. "Thank you, but you are much more beautiful compared to a simple girl such as myself, *Haruka-obasan." (A/N: A polite way of saying *auntie.) She lowered herself at a 50 degree angle, palms flat against the surface of the tatami flooring.

The woman's voice was pleasant as she laughed. "Shuu-chan, I really like this girl. Why not marry her?"

Her bold words startled both Hinata and her father. The matchmaker as well seemed quite at a loss for words.

Beside the woman sat a handsome young man with light-brown hair and dark-brown eyes. Upon first glance, Hinata could see right away that he was a serious, yet awkward person. His awkwardness was only made even more apparent as he blushed a horrible shade of red while apologizing to Hiashi, but to Hinata in particular.

"Please forgive my mother," he bowed. His ears were red with shame. "In spite of how she looks, she lacks the necessary manners most would find appropriate for a woman of her age."

His mother visibly frowned in his direction. "Shuuhei, you are aware of the fact that I can hear you, aren't you?"

"Mother, if all you plan to do is embarrass me, then it would probably be best if you just went back home."

"You-! How dare you speak to your mother that way?" Haruka fumed. Removing the geta from beneath her feet, Hinata watched in horror as she whacked her husband-to-be hard across the head. The two began arguing; with Shuuhei making threats to call his father and have her taken home for childish behavior. It was a surprising, yet comedic sight to see.

Turning to her father, Hinata watched as all he did was sigh.

"Well, he seems energetic enough."

"Oneechan, it's time to eat!"

Glancing up from her homework to the person standing by her doorway, Hinata quietly closed her textbook shut, picking it up to place it among the several other books occupying the shelf above her desk. "I'm coming," she murmured more to herself than to the younger girl pouting at her.

"Oneechan, what's wrong with you? You've been gloomy ever since you came back from your omiai. Ah, how was it by the way?"

Realizing that her depression was showing more than she'd expected, Hinata quickly apologized. "Ah, I'm sorry, Hanabi. I'm just…I'm just not feeling too well."

Her sister suddenly gasped and rushed forward, taking Hinata's face into her smaller hands. "Oneechan, does it hurt? Do your eyes-?"

"No, it's not that," Hinata sighed. "I just…I don't know what to do anymore."

"About what?"

Hinata sighed again. If only Hanabi were a bit older. But as of now, she didn't really have anyone to talk to. Well, anyone that would understand her that is.

"Hm, it's nothing." She gently ushered her sister out the door. "I'm sorry, but do you think you could tell otousan and Neji niisan that I won't be eating tonight?"

"Huh? Aren't you hungry?" Hanabi asked confused.

Hinata smiled. "No, I had a very big lunch today."

"No way! It's not true is it? Are you really getting married next year, Hinata?"

A pair of jade-green eyes blinked rapidly at her in excitement as well as disbelief. Her friend, Sakura was pretty as usual in the school uniform, with its sailor collar and navy-pleated skirt. Short pink hair lightly brushed at the Hyuuga's face as Sakura leaned in closer, keeping their conversation quiet.

From what Hinata knew, she must've gotten word of it from Tenten, who Neji had probably told. Her cousin chose only to disclose such secrets to those close to him. And Tenten certainly qualified, but she also had a rather big mouth. Hinata still liked her though. Nothing would change that.

But there it was again. That word 'married.' Her chest tightened just thinking about it. She didn't want to. She had never wanted to, but Sasuke…Sasuke was…

Hinata forced another smile, afraid that if she didn't, her mask would soon slip. "Yes, it is."

She watched as Sakura only stared at her with an open mouth. "And…you want to?"

"I…I don't mind."

But you do.

"He's quite handsome."

That kind of thing doesn't matter.

"H-He's also a Todai graduate."

You could care less.

"I've o-only met him once, but he s-seems like a kind person."


"My f-father says that if I marry him, my future will b-be secured."

He isn't-

"And that way, I-I won't be a b-burden to anyone else."

-the one you want.

The door to the classroom rattled slightly as it slid open, and on the other side stood Sasuke.

Her face flushing a deep and shameful red, Hinata averted her gaze, only listening as the young man walked in to take his respectful seat behind her.

Burying her face into her hands, Hinata could only wish deeply from the bottom of her heart for herself to disappear into thin air.

That day, the two walked home together, with Sasuke in the lead as usual. The Uchiha was as quiet as always; only speaking whenever he found it suited him best. Hinata had always found him difficult to keep up with during the years she'd known him, but she had somehow managed.

Hinata hesitatingly raised her hand, a motion to reach out to him, but pulled back. She wanted to tug childishly at the back of his shirt as she usually did, but these days, she found it harder to do so. He was distant, not in the physical sense alone, but in mind as well. It almost seemed as though he was uncomfortable around her, but tolerated her presence for a reason she didn't like.

That reason blurred her vision momentarily once again, as she struggled to keep her balance. But to her horror, Sasuke had glanced over his shoulder and saw her, only rushing forward to help as many others usually did. His reaction was a normal one, and she knew that, but what Hinata hated was how vulnerable his actions made her feel.

He held her carefully by her forearms, using his body as support for her to lean against. Hinata was dizzy, but for two completely different reasons. One she absolutely loathed, and the other, who at the moment was holding her in something that closely resembled a semi-embrace.

The second her eyesight returned back to normal, Hinata pulled herself away to look up at him.

And just as she'd expected, it was there. That look of fear, anger, and pain were all there on the Uchiha's face. His grip on her slightly trembled as he held onto her. Feeling him tremble like that, Hinata could only stand there as sharp fingers dug into the very core of her beating heart. The blood that rushed to her head was unexpectedly hot as beads of sweat formed on her pale forehead. Her constrained heart continued to beat-no, pound relentlessly at her tightening chest. Her breathing began to escape in short and quick pants as she clutched the front of Sasuke's shirt with shaking fingers, afraid that if she released him, he would disappear.

It all happened too quickly as she suddenly pushed him away, something Hinata thought she would never do. But she had. And she did. The Uchiha looked as stunned as she did. He, like her, had not expected it.

"Sasuke, it's…its fine now." She kept her head lowered, afraid to see what kind of expression he would make. "What I told you…it's true. And you probably already heard about it from family, but…that's true as well." Her voice shook as she forced out her next words. "But…y'know what, Sasuke? You don't have to worry about me anymore. Otousan, Neji nii-san, and Hanabi too. Once I get married, the only person who will take care of me is Shuuhei-san."

She calmed herself to take in deep breaths, but it was no good. She felt close to the point of not being able to breathe at all. Her heart continued to tighten whenever she spoke, but she continued anyways, knowing that dragging the entire thing out any longer would only make her go insane.

"Because…once I lose my eyesight,"

This pain…

"I'll be nothing but a burden…right?"

It's just too much.

A sort of tense silence fell between the two as they stood opposite one another. One or two people passed by, eyeing the pair before disappearing around the corner. Other than that, they were completely alone on the open neighborhood street.

Hinata waited. If anything, she wanted to speak to Sasuke properly one last time, if not for old time's sake, but her selfishness as well.

"When…" the Uchiha began in a low and quiet voice.

She raised her head to meet his startlingly angry gaze. His dark eyes were practically smoldering as he bit on the bottom of his lip.

"WHEN HAVE I EVER SAID THAT YOU WERE A BURDEN TO ME YOU STUPID GIRL?!" His voice was loud as it echoed off the tall houses of their neighborhood.

"How did you think I felt? Knowing that you won't be able to see in a few years, did you honestly think that something like that would keep me away from you?"

Hinata could only stare at him, speechless.

"But here you are, acting like everything's okay, acting like you're not scared at all. What am I supposed to do, pretend that nothing's wrong? You want me look the other way and pretend that I don't care?"

Breathless with anger, the Uchiha raked a hand through his slightly damp bangs. He was sweating. She'd never seen him so worked up before.

"And to make matters worse, I not only had to hear about your engagement from another person, but from you too."

Her heart was beating with the intensity ten times that of a drum. She suddenly started to feel dizzy again, but for a completely different reason this time.

"Don't you understand?" he asked.

Sasuke shortened the distance even more between the two as he moved forward, taking her heart-shaped face into his larger hands. With one thumb, he traced the outlines of her eyes, lips, and ears.

His voice, softer than she had ever heard it, spoke for her alone.

"You could go blind, mute, or deaf for all I care, because even if you died, I still wouldn't want anyone but you."

All of the resistance she'd built up till now, all of the willpower she'd put in to keep from crying, fell apart with just those words. Words she'd always wanted to hear from her most beloved.

"Ne, Neji niisan, is oneechan really not going to marry that handsome Todai oniisan after all?"

Neji glanced at the young girl sitting beside him with a mountain of photo albums spread before her. Hanabi had picked out every album containing photos of Hinata from her days in primary school up junior high. But with every photo, a boy stood silently by his younger cousin, his icy-demeanor the same, even now.

"I'm afraid not," Neji replied, sipping calmly at his freshly brewed green tea. "Though I'm not surprised, it's just like her to reject a profitable marriage."

Hanabi reached for a rice cracker and stuffed it into her mouth. After chewing and swallowing, she cleared her throat with a cup of tea as well before speaking. "Yeah, but I'm actually kind of glad she rejected him. I don't think oneechan would've been happy with that guy at all."

The older Hyuuga reflected on the younger girl's words for a moment for shortly replying, "I suppose you're right. Though she doesn't look it, she's more rebellious than she lets on. Her taste in men, especially," he frowned.

"But they make a good couple, don't you think?" Hanabi grinned. "I love the way oneechan looks the most whenever she's with *Tonari-san from next door. (A/N: *Neighbor, basically Mr. Neighbor.) "She always looks so happy."

Neji's frowned deepened. "Well, I guess your right about that as well," he muttered. "Though I can't say that I really approve."

"You're just being stubborn!" Hanabi rolled her eyes. Closing the photo albums shut, Hanabi stacked them carefully and placed them back in their respectable locations on the bookshelf.

From one album fell a photo she'd taken out to examine earlier. Picking it up, Hanabi couldn't help but smile once again at the heart-warming snapshot. It was an elementary graduation photo of her older sister with the rest of her class.

Beside her stood a boy with dark hair and eyes.

And out of everyone in the entire class, he chose to look at her only.


A/N: Hmm, kind of wrote this one on a whim. I was inspired by a manga oneshot I read recently. If you can guess which one it is, then you're a winner!

I tried to keep everyone in character as much as possible, but I think that broke the second Sasuke lost his cool. Sorry 'bout that!

I'll be updating Sasuke Oniichan soon. Just give me more time, please?

Anyways, hope this satisfied a few SasukexHinata junkies.