-If you were not signed in at the time that you reviewed for the past few chapters please check my profile (I read somewhere that we're not allowed to respond to reviews or something…

Anyway that's where my thank you love letters will be. (if you are variestimeni please read too. Your PMs are disabled.

-Please read AN at the bottom


Chapter Nine

At exactly one forty six pm Hinata knocked on Itachi's front door and then took a moment admire the architecture. An opportunity that she hadn't had before, neither the setting sun nor the flickering of street lamps didn't cast the house off in very flattering light. Her lavender eyes scanned the beautiful arched windows and searched them for any signs of life.

Was he home?

She stepped back up to the front door and knocked just a little harder this time.

He did say ten hours right?

Hinata glanced at her watch and shifted the bouquet of daisies in her arms. It was exactly ten hours from when she paid the man her late night visit, give or take a few seconds. Was it possible to be too punctual? She knocked on the door again and stood back. She watched the great oak, as if all the will power she possessed would make Itachi come and open it. It was silly but what else did she have to do? She had cleared the rest of the week to spend it convincing Itachi to marry her if she needed to.

So the five foot four woman stood before the towering door and leveled her most menacing glare at it, bidding it to do her will.

"Hinata-chan?" The unmistakable baritone of her fiance's voice called out for her.

Having him spontaneously appear out of thin air worked too.

The Hyuuga's cheeks flushed at the thought of being caught in a glaring contest with a door, but she quickly remembered where she was and held out the flowers in her arms. After all, a first date wasn't a good first date without flowers.

"Itachi-kun," She greeted him with a low bow, she kept her arms outstretched in front of her as she struggled to keep them up under the weight of the rather large bouquet. "These are for you." She refused to look up at him as he accepted her proffered gift. The blush on her face would have intensified and then proceeded to burn her to death.

She was sure of it

"Daisies."

"Daisies. The card you sent me said that you liked them." The blushing brunette straightened her back and snuck a peak at the man, taking a closer look at his attire. His long sleeved shirt was a loose fit but the fabric clung to his biceps in such a way that it hinted at what lay beneath them. His sweat shorts cut off at the knees, displaying masculine legs with well shaped calves. His breath came out in smoked puffs in the cold January air, the afternoon sun doing nothing to warm the air.

Itachi sort of stared at them for a moment before saying a soft "Thank you." He held the bouquet like a football and opened his front door to get himself and his companion out of the frigid winter air.

"Exercising? She asked as she timidly followed him into his home. Wide eyes soaked in the sparsely decorated hallway. Her hip narrowly missed the table in the middle of the hallway and her hands splayed themselves across the table top instinctively trying to catch her balance. The vase shook violently from the sudden force of her weight before careening over the edge of the table and falling to the floor.

It all happened so fast. Before she could even think to react, Itachi was already on the move. He was nothing but a blur, the next thing her mind registered was Itachi calmly setting the vase back in its place. Not a strand of hair on his head out of place.

"It happens all the time," Itachi said calmly before she could apologize. "I took the day off of work when I remembered that you would be coming by." Without missing a beat he took Hinata's jacket and neatly hung it onto a hanger with effortless grace before placing it in the hall closet. He picked up his water bottle in a fluid movement and then made his way into the kitchen, Hinata followed three paces behind.

"Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be a bother." The petite woman said softly, more to herself than to him. Making a dedicated man such as himself take time off from work surely wasn't the right way to start this sideways courtship.

Maybe she should have gotten him something to put the flowers in, she thought as she watched him take out a big cup and fill it with water for the flowers. She hid a smile as he carefully arranged them and set them aside at the breakfast bar.

"It's not a problem. I've been told I spend too much time at work." He pulled out a seat for her right next to the flowers, before floating around the kitchen to prepare tea. "Have you had lunch yet?"

"I was hoping that you and I could…" Hinata hated the uncertainty in her voice. She had to be strong, she had to show him that she was serious about this, sounding the way she was was not going to help her case. "There's a pizza place around the block, would you like to go there?" Her pale eyes watched Itachi's form as he poured the hot water, and waited for a response. Nothing in his body language indicated what he was thinking. He didn't pause once in his movements. He continued on like Hinata, the woman who couldn't face him two days in a row wasn't asking him out on a date ten hours after she had seen him earlier that morning.

"That would be nice." No inflections in his voice, nothing. If anything his voice was more monotonous. "I'm going to take a quick shower and we'll be on our way."

Itachi placed the steaming mug down in front of her, "Would you like a snack?"

Hinata shook her head, she sat there in awe of his poise. Not a single drop had spilled over the rim of the cup. It had taken her years of practice to achieve that much balance, granted she was a clumsy child, but he made it seem just so effortless.

It wasn't fair.

"I'll be just a few minutes." He said, "Please make yourself at home." He gave a quick nod and then he was gone.

Hinata took in a deep breath and slowly let it out.

There was just something about that man, he had such a big presence. It was hard to explain, he wasn't a very talkative man and he didn't do anything to deliberately make the people around him feel uncomfortable.

But he was just so perfect

Yeah, that was it. He was perfection personified.

He was everything you would want in a man, really she was lucky that things turned out the way they did. He had impeccable manners, polite to a fault and he was intelligent with chivalry that she was convinced was extinct in this day and age.

Hinata grabbed her mug and decided to wait in the living room. She looked around the room, observant eyes took in the sparse furnishings. Like the last time she was there, there was barely anything of decorative value. The couch was big and comfortable, it matched the love seat adjacent to it. No doubt expensive. The stylish overhead lights hung from the ceiling by the walls at an angle, so that the light would ricochet off the white wall. They were actually quite pretty. The coffee table, much like everything else in the room was a stylish black, it was made of heavy marble with elaborate pictures inscribed with silver and gold ink. His wide flat screen TV was directly across from where she was sitting, but it looked dusty. Those were the only items in the room. She wondered how much time he didn't spend in the room to accumulate the fine layer of dust on some of the furniture.

He had spent a pretty penny and it spoke volumes about his person. He wasn't an ostentatious individual, though he had no problem spending money to buy quality items. He just liked to keep things simple, much like herself.

They were compatible.

Hinata bit her lip and berated herself. Really that was just stupid, you couldn't judge whether or not you were compatible with someone just by their living room.

That was her hopeful side breaking out.

She put her mug down and ran her hand along the black leather she was sitting on. It was so soft and she felt herself sinking into the seat, every muscle in her body relaxing.

In all its barrenness the room had an odd comforting feel to it.

"Sorry, that took so long." Itachi reappeared before her, dressed in a pair of dark loose fitting jeans and a black t-shirt that stretched taut across his chest and at his biceps. She looked at him with renewed interest, she had never seen him in casual wear before. Every chance they met it was either after work or during. It was a pity, he was such a sight in jeans.

Hinata bowed her head and let her bangs shadow her face so that he wouldn't be able to see the blush on her face. Itachi looked very nice in tailored suits, but she had to admit him in a pair of jeans and a nice fitting shirt made him look just as sinful, if not more.

"It didn't take long at all." The blushing woman said as she kept her head low.

Itachi grabbed the mug from the coffee table and disappeared into the kitchen for a brief moment.

"Shall we?"

"Yes, we shall." He helped her into her peacoat before donning his own peacoat, a dark grey that made his eyes pop. "Can we walk? It's not too far and the weather is nice." Hinata requested, she pulled her cashmere gloves from her pocket and slid them on, relishing in their soft texture.

The handsome man nodded, he said nothing about the nice weather being near sub-zero degree temperatures. Instead he opened the door and gestured for her to go first.

Always the gentleman.

It was hard not to wonder if Uchiha Itachi marrying her would be a waste of a perfectly good man. He could do better, so why had he agreed to this shenanigan?

The couple walked in companionable silence, each lost in his or her own thoughts. Their breaths came out in puffs of smoke. Hinata snuck peeks at the back of his head as he walked ahead at a leisurely place, but never looked at him for too long. What if he turned around and caught her? Then she'd have to start conversation and she had no idea what to talk about.

"Sasuke loves snow." Itachi broke the silence. "When he was younger he used to sneak out and try to sleep in it."

Somehow she couldn't picture the man who swore to do anything to prevent their holy union, as anything but a devil spawn. But she supposed they had to start somewhere.

"He used to be cute."

She giggled. That could have been the case, after all Sasuke wasn't too bad on the eyes.

Still a devil spawn though

"Not so much anymore, but he has his moments." Itachi stopped at the crosswalk and turned to wait for his fiancée, who followed three steps behind him. "I expect you to fix that." He said when she was a little more than arms width away from him.

Hinata froze as though she'd been slapped. She heard that plenty from her father but somehow when those words came out of his mouth they hurt more. "I-I'm sorry?"

"If we're to be married, you'll be my equal. I won't have you following three steps behind me." He held out his hand, his warm eyes beckoning for her to take it.

Her mind was reeling as she comprehended what he had just said. He saw her as an equal. That was the last thing she had expected him to say. She hesitantly took his hand, his warmth seeped through the fabrics of both their gloves and she was filled with a foreign emotion.

Was this what it felt like to belong to someone?

"If you wanted to hold my hand you could have just said so." The handsome man attached to her hand deadpanned. Breaking into the, for once, comfortable silence that had settled between them.

Was he teasing her? She thought as he tugged gently on her hand letting her know that the light had changed.

How was she supposed to respond to that?

"You were obviously more eager," She said shyly. "I had it planned for later on today." She continued walking as though she had just commented on the weather.

The short brunette let out a small "eep" when she felt snow explode on her jacket. She whipped her head to the side to find Itachi bouncing a small snow ball in his free hand.

How did he manage to make a snowball with just one hand?

"How did you-" The snowball hit the sleeve of her free hand and exploded into powder.

"Magic," He replied with a cheeky grin.

Hinata quickly grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it at him. He let go of her hand to dodge it and scooped up some snow of his own to toss back at her.

"Is this where you planned to take my hand?" the nimble man asked standing a good distance away from her.

Hinata shook her head. "Nope, I believe this is where you planned to take my hand. You did start it." She said feeling unusually bold. "I suspect you did it so that you'd have an excuse to warm my hands."

The Hyuuga stopped in her tracks when Itachi threw his head back and let out a laugh. She never thought she'd witness anything so beautiful.

.


.

She had looked like she wanted to dig a hole and climb into it when she first arrived at his house. He patted himself on a job well done on getting her to open up.

He was so nervous. Here they were outside of work. He didn't have any meetings to interrupt, no urgent phone calls. Nope, it was just him and her and that was he had wanted for so long. But it was one of those things that you never thought you'd actually get.

He had nothing to hide behind, but then again.

Neither did she

When he laughed it was in earnest. She was just so full of surprises with wit that kept him on his toes and he loved it.

"Do your hands need warming now?" Itachi asked doing his best to fight down his blush.

"Just one," She replied. He hid a giddy grin as he took her hand. It felt nice being able to do things like this with her.

She was going to be his for the rest of their lives, he could live with that.

"What do you want to do after we get pizza?" He asked as they approached the pizzeria.

"What is there to do that's walking distance?" She nodded her thanks as he opened the door for her and looked around for an open booth.

"More food and a billiards place." Itachi watched as her eyes took in the restaurant. It wasn't anything unusual but the place had such a homey feel that he just knew he'd be frequenting the place. He breathed in the scent of fresh pizza and sighed.

He loved that smell. It was a shame he didn't come here more often.

"I think we order at the counter," the pretty brunette said softly. She flashed him a stunning smile that left him weak in the knees and went ahead. "Have a seat." She called to him over her shoulder.

He would have listened if his mother hadn't beat into him the rules of being a gentleman.

Rule number three: Never let the woman pay

"I got it," he said as he walked up behind her. He reached into his breast pocket for his wallet but stopped when she laid her bare hand on his.

It was so soft.

"It's already paid for." She said with a smile.

How had she paid so quickly? It didn't make sense. At that moment he felt less like a man than he ever had in his life and he vowed right then and there that he'd do everything in his power to not feel that way again.

Even if it meant pick-pocketing her so that she wouldn't be able to pay.

"You did say that I was to 'woo' you." Her lavender eyes sparkled in mirth, and he found that he couldn't hold a grudge when she looked like that.

"I think we should change the rules a little since we are no longer working under that contract."

"You're right there is no contract. I just want you to marry me." She took the tray of food and walked past him as he stood there digesting her words.

His heart thumped so hard in his ribcage that he thought it was going to jump out of his chest. It wasn't fair that she could throw those words around without knowing what kind of effect it had on him.

He sat across from her and was pleasantly surprised that she had ordered two sausage slices for him.

His favorite

"How did you-"

"Magic," She responded, her cheeky expression was no doubt just like the one he had on his face when he told her the same thing not too long ago.

He flicked his bangs out of his eyes, but kept his eyes trained on her. "Did you look me up online again?"

A dark flush spread across her cheeks, contrasting with her pale complexion. "I did." She replied avoiding his gaze.

"Are you ever going to tell me what you found?"

His companion stuck a forkful of ziti from her ziti slice into her mouth and pointed at it to indicate that she wouldn't talk with a full mouth. Her ancestors would be spinning in their graves if she had. He took a bite of his own slice, happy that it tasted as good as it looked. He was rather famished, he had run for a little over an hour before he ran into Hinata and his hearty breakfast was long since digested.

Itachi watched as Hinata kept her mouth occupied to keep from answering his question. Her hair wasn't tied back today and it fell over her shoulders in what to him resembled a waterfall.

A black waterfall

He wanted to reach out and touch it. It was only his unrivaled self-control that kept him from doing just that.

He wiped his mouth and took a sip of his soda, delighted that at least the information she found online about him was factual.

"How about we go shoot pool? Every ball I sink you tell me something and every ball you sink you get to ask me a question."

"Pool?"

"Sure why not, it's just a couple of blocks away." Itachi wiped his fingers on his napkin and watched her. "It's either that or more food." Of course he didn't mention that he could just go home and get his car but where would the fun be in that?

She scrunched her nose up a little as she considered it. It made him wonder if she knew what pool was.

"It's a deal," His fiancée beamed.

.


.

He wanted to bang his head against the wall. But kept his hands in his pocket and leaned his back against the cold cement slathered onto the wall. He kept his posture rigid to prevent himself from giving into his self-destructive thoughts. He needed all the brain cells he had to make this work, losing even a precious few would not be advantageous. Instead he tried to think up other great conversation starters.

How she got to be so good at pool would be good one. Dark eyes followed the movement on the green table, she was on a roll.

He shouldn't have bothered picking a cue.

Always the gentleman, he let her break.

Ladies first, after all

But she pocketed a ball on her break followed by three more and it didn't look as though she was stopping.

"Boxers or briefs?"

"Commando," He deadpanned.

"Hm," the brunette said thoughtfully. "I should probably let the website know."

He watched the four ball in all its purple glory roll into the far left pocket.

"What's the most you've ever done with someone?" The Uchiha couldn't help but smile at the innocent blush on her cheeks as she asked the question. Unsurprisingly she avoided his gaze as she waited for an answer.

"With a man or a woman?" he gave a mental cheer when the cue ball bounced off the table and rolled to his feet.

"I-I'm sorry?" Her face turned an even darker red and he couldn't help but wonder if blood was circulating to the rest of her body.

Itachi pretended to think about it before picking up the ball at his feet and made his way to the pool table. "Everything," the handsome whispered into her ear as he passed her.

"Have you been lying to me this whole time?"

"Ah-ah, it's my turn." He grinned as he positioned his cue ball at the break side and made a power shot. He didn't bother checking to make sure that ball went in, it was a done deal. He moved onto the eleven ball and made quick work of it. "Speak."

"You love sweets," She said fascinated. "and you hate the color red."

Itachi nodded. "Continue." He sliced the fifteen ball and pocketed two balls this time, in a combo that had taken him a week to master.

He felt his stomach warm at the sound of her giggle. "You dated a man named Deidara for a bit but your homosexual lover Kisame killed him in a fit of passionate fury."

"Passionate fury?" He stood up straight, absolutely refusing to waste a turn while he was distracted. He turned his gaze onto her and felt like smiling at the sight of her, she was almost keeled over trying to contain her laughter.

"Yes, he was absolutely smitten with you. When you found out about his horrible deed you killed yourself because Deidara was actually the one you loved."

Itachi raised an eyebrow. "Pervert."

"Pervert?"

"You read yaoi fanfics about me." Itachi mumbled a little disturbed. He cleared the remaining three balls. "Far left." He pointed with his stick at the far left pocket and then lined it up with the eight ball.

"How do you know about them?" He ignored the insinuation that he would read up on stories of himself in homosexual relationships. Sure it was possible, that is if he weren't so unbelievable straight that thought of even coming within personal boundaries with another man made him a little more than fidgety.

A little closer to outright panicking, really.

He watched his fiancée caught up in another fit of giggles as he made the shot. "You owe me four more, no more yaoi stories."

Hinata leaned her cue stick against the wall and began ticking off the facts she read online. "You love oolong tea, and rain. You dislike the summer and you never learned to ice skate." She helped him get the balls out of the pockets.

"Are they all true?"

"Maybe," Itachi shrugged, effectively bringing their casual well oiled conversation to a screeching halt. The two stood face to face awkwardly, unsure of what to do.

"Would you like to get a drink? Hinata asked tentatively. "Non-alcoholic of course!"

That's a shame, I could really use a beer. He thought as she vanished from sight.

.


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AN: I know this chapter is late! I'm so sorry. I didn't realize how little time I would have to write it. . But to make up for it I made this chapter as long as I could (until i had writers block). I'll be done with classes in a little bit and I'll have a few days break before I start on my free labor days so I'll try to post my next chapter up soon. (I absolutely refuse to promise you guys anything…I don't want to disappoint)

AN2: You may have noticed there are a few gaps in the chapters, I am in the process of rewriting the first few chapters. I had a friend look it over and he mentioned that there were many parts that needed elaborating so I will be doing that. I'll repost the chapters as soon as I am done editing all of them. So when that happens please take the time to reread it and let me know what you think (pretty please with a mango on top?)