Chapter One

Travel


"What's this I hear about you shacking up with an Uchiha?"

Tilting her chin to keep her cell phone cradled to her ear, Hinata Hyuuga smiled affectionately as she she listened to her older cousin scold her about her choices in with whom she associated with. She continued to fold and pack her clothing as he spoke about responsible adult behavior and impressionable younger siblings.

"Well, hello to you too, Neji," she murmured with a soft laugh when he paused long enough for her to get a word in.

There was a sigh on the other end of the line and Hinata could almost picture the look of irritation on her cousin's handsome face. "Hello, Hinata," he said grudgingly. Then, "Answer me."

Finished folding her favorite lavender sweater, Hinata tucked it into her suitcase and adjusted her hand on the phone. "Well, that would depend," she replied, "on what the question was, exactly."

"Hinata," there was clear warning in his tone.

"Do you even read the e-mails I send you anymore?" she asked, settling herself onto the edge of her small bed. Absently she ran the palm of her free hand over the hand stitched quilt.

There was a pause as Neji mentally recalled dozens of emails he had recently read. Her cousin's memory was near photographic, and she could almost sense his triumph before he spoke. "I can't think of a single one mentioning you and any Uchiha," he stated, firm.

"Well, that's probably because there were none mention me and any Uchiha," she nodded although he couldn't see it. "But I did send you information regarding Temari and her wedding."

Another short, considering pause. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, since her fiance is Itachi Uchiha and its his family's winter estate where the wedding is being held, and that's where I will be this week...I'd say that answers your 'shacking' up question rather nicely."

"Hanabi didn't mention a wedding," Neji admitted reluctantly.

Hinata laughed quietly. "I don't imagine she got the chance," she gently scolded. "If I know you, you went off the handle at the mere mention of Uchiha."

"You know damn well I don't like the bastards. For a number of reasons. You have reason of your own, if I recall."

Hinata sighed, twisting a lock of her long dark hair around her finger. "Neji..."

"That selfish asshole ruined things for you."

Hinata puffed a breath against her bangs. "Neji, Sasuke had nothing to do with why Naruto and I didn't w-work out." She grimaced at the small stutter, one Neji surely picked up on. She'd overcome most of the nervous habits and ticks she'd carried with her nearly all of her life, but whenever she became emotional her stutter tended to act up.

"Bullshit," Neji spat the word. "Naruto put that spoiled brat above you and in the end he broke your heart."

"Naruto did what any friend would do," she defended. "And it was years ago, and we were kids. We've all grown and changed. Naruto is one of my best friends now."

"That doesn't change the fact that the Uchiha family is fu...is a mess."

"And ours isn't?" she shot back, immediately regretting it.

She heard Neji exhale, and this time the pause was heavier. After a few moments he cleared his throat. "Hinata, you know if you just talk to him-"

Not wanting to delve into the issue, Hinata switched topics. "I...I really appreciate the concern, Neji, about everything," she said sincerely, "but I need to get going. I will have my cell if you need to reach me."

"Hinata-"

"Bye, Neji." She thumbed the end button and tossed her phone onto her pillow with a sigh. She knew that Neji meant well, but sometimes he was so overprotective. In his mind she was forever that awkward twelve year old she used to be instead of the awkward twenty-one year old she was now.

With a quick glance at the silver alarm clock on her side table, she resumed packing. One week away from things would do her good, she mused; even if it was one week with the notorious Uchiha family.

When her good friend Temari had begun dating Itachi Uchiha, Hinata had known the relationship would eventually end one of two ways: in an epic break-up or in marriage. Two such strong personalities would either mesh or explode. She was very happy that it turned out to be the latter, and she was not at all surprised—as many people were—when the engagement had been announced a little less than a year ago. Temari never did anything half-way and she had fallen completely in love with Itachi.

From what Temari had told her, Itachi was 'absolutely incredible, Hina. Best thing since the dawn of man, I'm sure'. And Hinata believed her, because Itachi would have to treat Temari exceptionally well in order to escape the wrath of her brothers. Hinata had yet to meet Temari's siblings, but from what she'd been told, the youngest sounded a lot like Neji.

When they had first began dating, Temari had asked Hinata what she knew of Itachi, and although the Uchiha family had lived in her hometown of Konoha for as long as she could remember and before, Hinata couldn't truthfully substantiate fact from fiction.

The Uchihas were a powerful name, nearly as old and as feared as the Hyuuga and surrounded by just as many rumors. Itachi was a few years her senior and he had been enrolled in private academies, unlike his younger brother Sasuke, who had instead opted for public schooling and attended Konoha Academy, same as she had.

Not that she knew Sasuke any better, really, she thought, zipping her suitcase. He had been the same year as her, but they had rarely associated. Even after she had begun dating Naruto, his best friend, Sasuke had never seemed interested in forming any sort of friendship, and that was okay with her. With his dark eyes and stoic expression and ability to be the best at everything that she so monumentally failed in, well, she could admit now that he had intimidated her.

But Naruto had adored him—still did as far as she knew—and so when Sasuke had become...distant, and restless, and unhappy with Konoha life, it had hurt Naruto and he had wanted to do anything and everything to keep Sasuke close. So, he'd devoted himself to Sasuke in that full-out-no-stopping-me way that Naruto did almost everything...and Hinata had stood on the sidelines.

Dates were canceled. "Sasuke wants to go out tonight, Hinata. You understand, don't you?"

Birthdays forgotten. "I'm sorry. It just slipped my mind. Sasuke and I were busy. I'll make it up to you, okay? Dinner next weekend, and not ramen; promise."

And then...eventually, she was simply forgotten, one excuse after another, "Hinata...I forgot...I'm sorry," until after a year and a half, sad and tired, Hinata had simply let Naruto go. No dramatic break-up. No tearful good-byes. Just a note tucked in his jacket and the promise to always be friends.

It had broken her heart more than anything that Naruto hadn't protested. He had, in fact, seemed relieved. But, she supposed, looking back now, that at the age of seventeen, relationships were complicated all around. Friendships, romances, family; didn't matter. It all was an emotional roller coaster. That didn't mean it hadn't hurt at the time, but she'd like to think she'd grown past that.

And they were friends still, she thought, satisfied. Really good friends. In fact, she wouldn't be at all surprised if she didn't get an invitation to another wedding before too much longer if what Kushina had hinted at over their luncheon last week was true.

And once again, Hinata was happy—genuinely, truly happy—for her friends. Of course, there was also a wee pat on the back she gave herself, as she had been the one to encourage Tenten to hire Uzumaki Security to install the alarms in their shop.

Thinking of such reminded Hinata to set the alarm system of her small house. She did so at the front door, her two bags of luggage at her feet. Neji hated the fact that she lived alone, and had encouraged an apartment if she was truly going to leave the family home, but Hinata preferred the solace and the quiet. She had lived all her life under the scrutiny of prying eyes, and she was uncomfortable enough without speculation and observation, even if it came from harmless neighbors.

Stepping outside onto her rain damp stoop to wait for the cab she'd called, Hinata inhaled a long breath and smiled. It was going to be a good week, she could feel it.


It was going to be a shit week, Sasuke Uchiha thought as he rolled onto his back and glared at the wan sunlight streaming in through the slats of the hotel blinds. Somewhere in the room, his cell phone continued to chirp annoyingly. He lifted his arm and gave the leather watch on his wrist a scowl. Six in the morning. Who the fuck woke up at six in the morning? Better yet, who the hell called anyone at six in the morning?

Grumbling a string of obscenities Sasuke leaned over the edge of the bed and fumbled for his discarded pants. He pulled his phone from the pocket and glanced at the glowing I.D. Itachi. Shit.

"I'm up," he answered sitting up and swinging his legs to the floor.

"Are you?" Itachi's voice sounded amused.

"Yes," Sasuke grumbled, hand carding his disheveled midnight hair.

"I would hope so, considering you should have been on the road an hour ago if you want to get here in time for tonight's dinner."

Double shit.

"I'll make it."

"This is important."

"I said I'll be there." Sasuke snapped the phone shut.

Fifteen minutes later he was showered and on the road. It was only for his older brother that he put in such effort, anyone else would have been told to fuck off. Sasuke Uchiha did what he wanted, when he wanted, but for Itachi, he'd do almost anything.

His brother had been the only real steady presence in his life. Even when away at fancy boarding schools and private academies, Itachi had always managed to make time to write or call. Vacations were rare—as Itachi was pushed to the limits—but when he did find himself with days off, he would find his way to Sasuke.

Sasuke, for the most part, had been too young and jealous to appreciate the effort, but as he got older and Itachi was around less, he began to value what time he did get with his brother and their bond had strengthened. Which made the distance and time away that much more difficult on Sasuke.

It was during his teenage years that Sasuke became...discontent with most everything. The pressure of his family, his flock of fangirls that always wanted something from him, and not having anyone around to connect with. Naruto had tried, he'd give the idiot that much credit, but there was very little about Sasuke that Naruto could really relate to.

Naruto's home was a happy one, and although an only child—lonely in itself—he was doted on by his parents and adored by most of the people around him. Sasuke's parents couldn't care less if he was happy, sad, or even in the room. Itachi was the prodigy—Sasuke was the accident.

Something his parents never quite let him forget.

He raked his finger through his hair, still damp from his shower, and cut off that train of thought. He never did well with introspection.

He really wasn't relishing the idea of seeing them again, or spending any amount of time with the snooty ass people that Itachi associated with, much less an entire week, but he'd go for Itachi. He'd stand beside him and watch as he got married—something Sasuke never thought he'd see happen, as Itachi was almost as jaded as him when it came to wmen—and then he'd leave. Maybe extend his vacation a week or two to get the bullshit out of his system.

He knew the questions he'd face from his family. Now that Itachi had settled down all eyes would be on him and he cringed. He could already hear the scrape of gold-diggers at his door. He hated weddings for this very reason. Women at these things were nuts.

Some days, Sasuke genuinely wondered if there was a sane one among the species.


"Wh-what do you mean canceled?" Hinata leaned forward, her brow furrowed as the ticket attendant repeated himself.

"I'm sorry, but due to some mechanical issues your flight has been canceled. I can, of course, book you on the next available..." he keyed something, scanning his monitor, "which is the 426. It departs in about twelve hours."

"Anything connecting?" she tried.

The clerk typed in a few more things and shook his head. "I'm afraid not."

Hinata let out a breath, stirring her long bangs. That would be too late to make the dinner scheduled for tonight, but at least she'd get there. She would call Temari and let her know.


"What do you mean canceled?" Temari demanded.

"Apparently there's some mechanical difficulties," Hinata told her.

"Drunk pilot," Temari interjected, sullen. "Hina, you've got to be here. You're my Maid of Honor. I can't sit at that table, surrounded by those pompous assholes without you." Hinata heard a low voice in the background—Itachi she assumed—followed by, "Oh, hush, you know it's true. What? Really? You think he would? Hold on a sec, okay?" Fabric rustled and Temari's voice became muffled, then a moment later she was back, sounding chipper. "Hinata, just stay right there. Don't book another flight. We'll have someone pick you up."

"Oh, I don't want anyone to go out of their way," Hinata began.

"First off, it's not out of his way, he's already on the road and he has to pass Konoha to get here. Secondly, it's my darn wedding week, and I want you here. Like now," she laughed. "So, just sit tight and Sasuke will be there to get you." Click.

"Wait, wait..." Hinata stared at her silent phone. Sasuke? As in Sasuke Uchiha? Great.


"You want me to what?"

"Just swing by the airport in Konoha and pick up a friend of Temari's."

Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Explain to me why, if she's at the airport, I need to pick her up. Last I heard they had planes there. She can board one."

"Her flight was canceled and the next available isn't for several hours."

"And this is my problem, how?"

"Because it's important to my wife-to-be, and therefore, important to me, and seeing as how you're not only my brother, but my Best Man, it's up to you to make sure things go smoothly."

Sasuke sighed and gave the hands-free device a glower. "Fine."

"And wipe that look off your face. It's a happy occasion."

"How-?"

"See you in a few hours, Sasuke."

It was a few moments later that Sasuke realized he didn't even know who he was picking up. The idea of driving for another six hours with some annoying, clingy, chatterbox female was enough to have him nearly slamming his forehead into his steering wheel.

Maybe he'd get lucky and she'd be a mute.


Outside the main entrance of the airport Sasuke spotted a woman in a long coat pacing a few steps back and forth in front of her luggage. She appeared to be waiting for someone, so he took it as a safe bet this was Temari's stranded friend.

As he got closer he had the niggling sensation of familiarity. Of course, if she lived in Konoha, there was a good chance he'd met her before, and she was more than likely one of the many girls that had stalked him in his youth. That alone soured his expression.

She glanced up just then, and Sasuke's steps slowed a bit. He did know her, he realized. Dark hair, so black it gleamed a purple sheen, was pulled back from a pale face with even paler eyes. A trademark of her family, if he recalled correctly. So light in color they appeared almost white. A Hyuuga. Naruto's Hyuuga, once upon a time.

What the hell was her name again?

"You Temari's friend?" he asked when he was closer, deciding she'd either tell him her name or he'd think of it eventually.

She blinked at him, her ridiculously long lashes fanning rosy cheeks. She was constantly blushing and stuttering, he remembered. Especially around her idiot boyfriend, who would always laugh and tell her: "You're so cute, Hinata." And make her turn even redder.

That was her name. Hinata.

She was a vague shadow in his memory and he was surprised to realize he couldn't recall anything significant about her at all. He brushed it off as her being irrelevant. To him, most people had been back then. Hell, most people were now.

Only a select few actually mattered to him.

"Well?" he prodded when she hadn't answered and continued to stare at him. Crap, maybe she was mute.

"Uhm , oh, sorry. Yes, I am." Shaking herself, Hinata reached down and grabbed the handles of her luggage. "Thank you," she murmured, "for picking me up."

Sasuke nodded and reached out to take one of the bags from her.

"It's all right," she declined. "I can manage."

"Suit yourself," he shrugged. "Come on, my car's over here."

Obediently, Hinata followed Sasuke across the parking lot. He angled her a look over his shoulder. "There's no smoking in my car, no eating, no drinking, and I won't listen to any crap music."

Startled by the abrupt list of rules, she simply nodded. "Oh, okay."

"I don't need a backseat driver, nor do I need conversation," he continued. "I don't want to reminisce about Konoha or anyone in it. In fact, I really just want to get the hell out of this town, so the faster we can go, the better."

Again, Hinata could only nod.

"I don't care if you have to pee, you can hold it until we get to there."

"I-I don't," she mumbled.

"What?" He turned and arched a brow at her.

"H-Have to pee." She poked her thumb back towards the entrance. "I went."

He stared at her for a moment. "That's great." He turned back around.

Mortified, Hinata focused her gaze on the ground, her face heating up so much her ears burned. It was school all over again, where she was awkward and fumbling and he was so much better at everything. She sighed quietly. It was going to be a long ride.


AN: My first real foray into the Naruto fandom. SasuHina is my OTP, and I know it's not everyone's. Just remember, there's a back button if you need to use it. :) Just a few notes... this is a modern day AU, meaning that some of the events and situations of the manga are completely ignored. I will, however, make every attempt to keep the characters 'in character' in these new circumstances. Also, since I fail at honorifics I don't plan on using them. I really hope you like this story, and I am planning to update it regularly until finished. Sidenote: for those reading 'Splintered Dreams' that story is still in-progress and has not been abandoned. I promise. 3

Thank you for reading. I appreciate it!