The library was his sanctuary, Sasuke figured one day.
Really, it wasn't as if he was anything even akin to a nerd. It wasn't. Of course, he was the resident genius and would probably be staying at the top of his class (would his Uchiha blood stand for anything less?) for a preferably long time, with Shikamaru Nara and Sakura Haruno following at a safe, affordable distance, of course. Nevertheless, Sasuke Uchiha was not a bookworm. He knew that. Sakura knew that. Naruto knew that. Hell, even Kakashi knew that.
(The library was still his sanctuary, admittedly.)
It wouldn't be a lie to say that, oftentimes, the three hours and thirty minutes spent inside the garagantuan building as an employee weren't sunshine and rainbows. He wasn't stupid, and he most definitely wasn't oblivious to how The Sarutobi Library seemed to be most popular during his working hours.
(Still his sanctuary.)
He didn't have to like the way older and younger women-slash-girls fluttered their eyelashes up at him with lips turned upwards in coy smiles. He didn't avert his eyes when they stretched their arms to retrieve a book high up on the shelf, purposely (and unnecessarily) exposing skin, but that didn't mean he felt any attraction towards them in that moment.
In fact, he wanted nothing more than drop the heavy pile of books in his arms and massage his temples, maybe with an occasional curse or two, without having to get fired.
Because the library was, after all, his sanctuary. And it would not do for him to get fired.
The mahogany book-shelfs made for excellent hiding places whenever the fangirls turned a little too crazy. The scent of fresh books, crisp pages and polished chairs was a relieving break from the overbearing smell of their perfumes. The 'silence please' board hung up in big, bold letters was a wonderful way to counter their ear-piercing squeals if they ever sneaked in, and the sight of them getting kicked out was more relaxing to his eyes than cool cucumber after a bad sunburn.
The library was Sasuke Uchiha's personal sanctuary. It was soft on his eyes. Dark brown furniture, walls painted a mustard brown, and a nice, plush, maroon-coloured carpet as the cherry on his sundae. He felt oddly at home in the presense of such warm, dark colours (maybe Naruto was right; and he was closet emo at heart.)
Sasuke Uchiha liked dark colors.
Sasuke Uchiha liked warm colours.
Sasuke Uchiha did not like the invasion of straw blonde into a group of said colours.
"I was wondering where I could find, ah, romance novels. Yes, romance novels," the blonde requested, with a strand of hair twirled around her finger.
"Last row, fourth bookshelf, top-left corner," he flatly answered, hoping (futilely, he knew) that she would leave him alone— and that he wasn't directing her towards the psychological thrillers' corner.
"But I've already looked there," she intervened, pretty blue eyes blinking up at him, and sneaked a glance at the nametag pinned to his shirt, "Sasuke-kun."
Heh, maybe it really is the psychological thrillers' corner.
"You wouldn't mind helping me look, I'm sure," the annoyingly-persistent girl continued, hunching up her shoulders, and Sasuke found himself almost blinded by the bright, bright smile aimed at him (and the intentions it carried— which weren't quite so bright, he feared.)
He closed his eyes for barely a second (the action had multiple reasons) and relaxed his shoulders. He opened them to the same sunny smile, and inwardly grimaced.
"Of course," he found himself replying to her through clenched teeth. She giggled, grabbed his arm, pulled him with strength he didn't expect a woman to possess, and for once, he felt the urge to display that desperate expression on his face openly. For once. And he hoped, as he was dragged off to the place he had pointed out minutes ago, that it wasn't humming he was hearing from her just then.
"Oh, look at that," she giggled again, as if sharing a private joke. "It looks like they were there after all. Sorry for causing you the trouble, Sasuke-kun. I'm Ino, by the way."
Screw you. As if l could find it in myself to give two shits about your name.
"No trouble. Which novel do you want?" Sasuke responded, inwardly reprimanding himself for being so abrupt with a paying customer, but God help him, he really couldn't restrain himself.
"'Red Threads,'" she replied, and he wondered if that sunny smile would ever falter.
Mind elsewhere, the Uchiha reached up to retrieve the leather-bound book, although still conscious of the girl standing inches from him, eyeing him like a hawk. In his peripheral vision, he caught the blonde suddenly turning her head to the sitting area, and he was somewhat surprised to see a true, honest smile cross her heavily-glossed lips. She subtly waved to someone at a distance, and the new-found, fond light in her baby-blue irises gave him reason to believe that someone had successfully managed to snag her attention away from him, if only for mere seconds. He was grateful, admittedly— but no less curious.
The blonde plucked the book from his hands, and walked over to whoever it was she had been eyeing with nothing more than a short second glance behind her exposed shoulder at him. He raised a curious eyebrow at her retreating back. Whoever the anonymous attention-grabber was, she seemed truly happy to see him.
Sasuke craned his neck to sneak a glance behind the book shelf. His obsidian eyes widened at the sight that greeted him.
It was a girl.
In no one's presence but his own, he let out a speculative hum under his breath. Maybe the blonde was bi-sexual?
(Not that he could talk, Naruto would say, he was practically asexual himself.)
The girl (the other girl, his mind clarified) was rather simple-looking. Her features were delicate; large, pearl-like eyes, pale and silken-looking skin, soft pink lips, and a heart-shaped face partly shadowed by a wall of cascading, midnight-blue hair. She was simple-looking, his mind repeated, but her aura was anything but. The gentle blush brushing her cheeks looked as if it were ever-present, and it gave her a feel of innocence that teenage girls weren't really supposed to possess. The gentleness in her eyes seemed infinite, and Sasuke was sure it would cost her someday, but nevertheless, accompanied by such a shy, modest smile, it was sure to be welcomed in a world dominated by deceit and manipulation.
He wasn't really sure for long he watched her, as if she was a kitten amongst tigers, but figured it had been long enough if she'd already noticed him—
Her meek gaze landed on him from afar, and he strangely couldn't find it in himself to look away. Her blonde friend was still chattering away to her in hushed tones (it was a library, after all) and seemed clueless to how her friend was looking elsewhere. The Other Girl (as he had unconsciously named her) had lowered her book to her lap, and was gazing at him with curiosity, puzzlement, and a great deal of shyness.
Her lavender-tinted eyes darted between him and her friend (still chattering), before her lips lifted in an understanding smile (what exactly had she understood? he wondered vaguely.)
He turned his back to her, subtly glancing around for any employee that might have witnessed the wordless interaction. No one in sight, he relaxed, and pushed the thought of The Other Girl out of his mind. The library was nearing closing hours, after all, and it wouldn't do for him to lose focus. An hour later, the closing announcement echoed in the building just as the sky's bright blue was fading into a mixture of pink, red, and yellow.
Nimble fingers tapped his shoulder, and he turned around abruptly. Facing a pair of kind, white eyes, Sasuke knew he would have sucked in a sharp breath, had he any less self-control. The Other Girl pressed a crumpled piece of paper into his hand, bowed to him with a meek blush, and scurried away with the same rare, understanding smile.
The onyx-eyed Uchiha warily glanced at the paper, contemplating whether to bury it in his pocket or discard it in the trash-can. Slowly, he opened it and smoothed out the creased surface to decipher the hurried scribble.
"The Other Girl?" Sasuke heard the annoying voice of his best friend resounding from the kitchen of his condominium. "You named her The Other Girl? That's pathetic, man. It's pathetic."
"I'm not dignifying that with an answer, dobe," he replied indifferently, "and get the hell out of my kitchen."
"Look, it's not like I'm blowing it up or anything, okay—"
"I'm out of instant ramen."
Pause. The slam of a kitchen cupboard reached his keen ears.
"Should've said that sooner," Naruto grumbled, stepping into the living room. He plopped down on the cream-coloured sofa, feet up on the front table, and snatched the T.V. remote from Sasuke's loose hands. "Right, and about this Other Girl," he snickered here, "she gave you her number, yeah?"
"Yeah," he answered, snatching the remote back.
"Well? At least give me some details, would you?"
He turned to the blonde, saying, "What details?"
Naruto elbowed him in the side, wiggling his eyebrows in a way that made Sasuke's right eye twitch. Slyly, he said, "You know, her looks— hair, eyes, lip—"
Naruto struggled against the hand placed firmly against his mouth. Pulling it back when the blonde started attempting to bite it, Sasuke scowled and said, "Your mouth runs a fucking mile a minute."
"Protective already? You'll make a great boyfriend, Sasuke-kun," Naruto taunted, fluttering his eyelashes up at the Uchiha mockingly. "Bordering on stalker-ish, I bet."
"Shut up and get out of my house, freeloader. Silently."
"I'm kidding, dude, I'm kidding!" Naruto guffawed, slinging an arm around his shoulder. "Listen, seriously, it's not everyday you get a chance like this. I say, dig out that paper and call her, like, now."
"And I say get your arm off of me before I break it."
"Hey, I'm just a guy trying to help out his best friend. Free advice; take it or leave it, bastard."
"I'll think about it if you leave. Fair deal."
"Psh, fine. I have a date anyway," Naruto gave in, childishly sticking out his tongue. He jumped up with his usual cheer, energetically walking towards the door.
"What'd you do? Bribe her?" Sasuke called out. He smirked when his self-proclaimed best friend shot him a dark glower just before slamming the door shut and leaving him in tranquil silence.
Obsidian eyes strayed to the faded jeans he had worn to work, thrown over the edge of his living room couch. Briefly, he considered calling her, if only to inform her that he held no interest; she looked like a fairly nice girl, he owed her at least that much. Although that would be a bit cruel, he figured, it was better than leaving her hanging. When she had handed him her number, she'd looked more than just a little smitten, and perhaps he would be doing her a favour. On second thought, she was somewhat cute, in a childish, innocent sort of way. Maybe one date wouldn't hurt? If she turned out to be as insane as his deranged fangirls, he could always stand her up, and one would honestly feel no guilt at the action if his significant other was out to assault him the moment they happened to be alone.
In a minute and a half, Sasuke Uchiha found a crumpled piece of paper in his right hand, and a Blackberry Torch in his left.
One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Four rings—
"Hello," a feminine voice greeted from the other side of the line. Strange. He didn't think her voice would be quite so girly— "Ino Yamanaka speaking. Who is this?"
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): Srsly? U called the wrong girl? Fuck, i gotta tell sakura this! :'D
03-1143-0713: Prepare to be castrated Naruto. In public.
Sasuke Uchiha was not in a jolly mood.
He was surprised (and suspicious) that he had yet to receive a warning from his boss about snapping at customers left and right. He had already driven three men and one old lady out of the library without having them touch any reading material at all. By the end of the day, Sasuke wasn't surprised to see that most of the customers of Sarutobi Library were actively staying away from him and his dark, homicidal aura. And he very much liked it that way, thank you.
And, unexpectedly, Sasuke Uchiha had the urge to jump when, all of a sudden, a tap on his shoulder interrupted his brooding.
(And was it him, or did that tap feel strangely familiar?)
"Um, excuse me," a meek (and not girly) voice addressed him. "Could you please point me in the direction of the psychological thrillers?"
She had a knack for surprising him, he'd thought at the back of his mind.
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): ASK HER OUT
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): ASK HER OUT DAMMIT
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): DO IT NOW—
(Switch off? Yes No)
"Thank you," The Other Girl murmured in the silence of the library, carefully taking the book he had been holding out to her. "I've been looking for it for quite a while now."
He merely nodded.
"U-um," she suddenly called out to him. Her stammer and tomato-red face betrayed her discomfort, and Sasuke refrained from allowing a faint smirk to grace his lips. Her eyes were darting between his face and the carpeted floor, until they finally settled for gazing firmly at the book she was clutching to her chest. Spared further embarrassment, she stuttered, "I... uh, I-Ino-san told me that— that you had called her yesterday..."
"I did," he said flatly.
"And, well, sh-she said that you... hung up on her—"
Her face reddened, and she swallowed, not sure what to say for the next few seconds. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, before she breathed in deeply and squeezed her doe eyes shut.
When she opened them again, the determination was unmistakable.
"I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but... but I had assumed that you were... attracted to her, Uchiha-san. I wanted to help, and I'm not offended or anything, honestly, but I'd just like to ask why—"
"You thought I was attracted to her?"
His incredulity must have seeped into his expression, or perhaps it was his tone of voice; either way, it caused the blush painting her alabaster cheeks to deepen, before an expression of utmost horror overcame her expressive features. For a moment, Sasuke almost believed that he might have actually felt guilty.
"W-wasn't it the obvious thing to believe?" she squeaked.
The tightening of his lips alarmed her, and she fired away an explanation that he honestly couldn't give a damn about.
"W-well, it's just that I— I mean, I saw you staring— l-looking, looking at her, at Ino-san, I mean, and I just thought that... because, you know, she was talking about you too and—" she sighed. Pausing, the girl bowed deeply and said, "I'm very sorry. I completely misunderstood and did something unnecessary. I'm very, very sorry, Uchiha-san. If there's anything I can do—"
"You can stop ranting, for one."
Amused, he stared at the rapidly deepening red.
"And you can stop apologizing."
She clamped her small, slender hands on her mouth, screwing her eyes shut in embarrassment.
"Thanks to your friend and her amazing anger-management, I have to pay the dry cleaners' an early visit because she splashed coffee on my shirt."
Oh, dear me. Why did he just say that?
"I'm so sorry, Uchiha-san. If you don't mind, I could go with you. I do want to make it up to you, honestly."
Ah, yes. That's why.
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): Im never letting u live this down dude. Ur first date, at the dry cleaners
03-8774-8776 (Sakura): Sasuke-kun, whats this I hear about ur first date? D=
03-1143-0713: I don't need 51 messages in my inbox you two. Shut up.
03-1143-0713: And it's not my first date.
She was wearing faded-grey pants and a white, button-up shirt. Coupled together with a pair of white converse shoes, the look suited her unexpectedly well, especially when she tied her hair back in a modest low ponytail. He was glad to see that her face wasn't powdered white, and her feet weren't adorning six-inch heels which made the women on his arm seem taller than he was.
"Shall we go?" her voice brought him back to the present, and he found himself thinking that it was neither too low, nor too high. It was rather comforting, if he had to choose a word.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, he realised that she smelled faintly of lilacs. A soothing scent, it was. He rather liked it.
"What's your name?" he asked, knowing that she had told him before, but he was too far gone to really register it at the time.
Hinata. The name didn't really suit her. It sounded too bright, too sunny. She was more like the moon, he guessed. Darker, softer, gentler. Abtractedly, he thought that she somewhat resembled him, and then dismissed the thought abruptly with a faint frown. He was not at all gentle, not at all soft, not at all kind, like she seemed to be. And then he silently wondered— how come darkness was the only thing left?
(And why was a near-stranger making him question himself anyway? It was laughable.)
The moment he pushed the door open, the smell of detergents and freshly-washed clothes immediately assaulted his nose, and he felt slightly annoyed that the scent of lilacs had been drowned out so quickly. He gestured to Hinata, speechlessly asking her to step forward. A few steps into the building, however, and he heard her gasp of surprise, despite the whirring noise of the washing machines.
"Ino-san," he heard her murmur to herself.
And when he caught sight of the straw-blonde high ponytail, and the twinkling baby-blue orbs, and the ever-familiar peach lip-gloss, Sasuke Uchiha resisted the urge to hightail out of cleaners' faster than a bat out of hell. Maybe if he grabbed a hold of her elbow and inconspiciously steered her away—
03-4552-3459 (Shikamaru Nara): Hey. Heard from Naruto u went to the dry cleaners for ur date. Congrats.
03-1143-0713: Now is really not the time, Nara.
"Ino-san, I didn't expect to see you here," Hinata smiled one of her typically-earnest, understanding smiles.
"I didn't expect to see you here either, Hinata," Ino answered. Sasuke stiffened when she turned her sharp, suspicious gaze on him. "And I really didn't expect to see Sasuke-kun."
"Yes, well, we're just here to give one of his shirts for dry-cleaning, you see."
"Oh? How come you two..." she left the question hanging in the air.
"It was... a mistake on my part, I suppose. I wanted to make it up to him," Hinata replied, shuffling her feet and poking her index fingers together. With a soft, exasperated smile, she looked up at her friend with a reprimanding gaze, "Ino-san, you really didn't have to spill coffee on him, you know. I admit that I was ultimately at fault, but that was unnecessary."
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): Alryt, since u havent replied to ANY of my 23 txts, im just gonna assume that u r now in some deep deep shit
"Coffee?" Ino's pretty features contorted into an expression of bewilderment and confusion; the kind which made Sasuke feel like shooting some poor soul and hanging himself afterwards.
"What are you talking about? I haven't even met Sasuke-kun after that time in Sarutobi Library, Hinata."
"Is... something the matter?" Ino tentatively asked.
"We should really be going," Sasuke smoothly interrupted the not-silence, placing a hand on Hinata's back to turn the shell-shocked girl around.
"Wh-what about the dry-cleaning?" Ino inquired, puzzled.
"Don't worry, I'll send you the bill."
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): Shit hit the fan yet?
03-1143-0713: Fuck off.
03-6510-6691 (Dobe): Hahahaha xD
Sasuke closed his onyx eyes, sipping his strawberry smoothie with a calm, composed exterior. Hinata, sitting across from him in the dainty, homely cafe, sat rigid in her seat.
"You should finish the juice while it's cold, Hyuuga."
"I would like to know, Uchiha-san," she began cautiously. "Why I was lied to about a dirtied shirt, of all things. Forgive me, but it's rather offending."
"Do you have the right to talk about offense, Hyuuga, when you've tried to set me up with someone I don't even like?"
"That was an honest mistake. Truthfully speaking, I would let this go if you could convince me that this was an honest mistake too."
"I don't think I'm obligated to convince anyone of anything."
Hinata stared at him with lips pulled into a thin line. She gathered her purse and cell phone from the table, stood up, and quietly said, "Good day, Uchiha-san."
Swallowing his pride, he said, "Please."
He marvelled at the softening of her eyes. She really was kind.
"Please go out with me."
Surprisingly, the words came from her, not from him, even though they were at the tip of his tongue.
Her hair was sliding down her shoulders as she bowed, hands placed on her knees and shoulders hunched. When she raised her head, however, he was surprised to see not a hint of red on her cheeks— but his keen eyes saw the subtle trembling of her lips, and the inward wavering of her eyes.
"Okay," he heard himself say without really thinking, and only feeling.
Glistening eyes widened, and full lips parted in surprise.
"What, you asked me to go out with you knowing I would refuse?"
"W-well, no, but..." she paused, poking her fingers together, "but... it is surprising. You've only met me yesterday. Why would you...?"
And there was the million-dollar question. This, Sasuke figured, was the part where he should be sweating bullets.
"You smell nice."
Opalescent eyes blinked at him owlishly. "I... see."
"No. I mean, you smell like lilacs," he blurted out. "Wait. Wait— that didn't come out right."
Sasuke twitched, saying indignantly, "I don't like it when I confess to people and they laugh at me, Hyuuga."
"I'm not laughing at you," she defended between peals of laughter (he wouldn't really mind making a fool out of himself if—) "Your attempts at declaring your unconditional love to me are very heart-warming, Sasuke-san."
"I'm not declaring my unconditional love to anyone. Ever."
03-8774-8776 (Sakura): Lilacs? I love you and everything Sasuke-kun, but if u ever tell me i smell like cherry blossoms, ill probably do unmentionable things 2 u. And not the good kind.
"And consequently, I profess my unconditional and irrevocable love to the love and light of my life, Hinata Hyuuga, for the rest of our days, and... probably even after that. Yeah."
Behind the table-cum-stage, he barely registered Naruto's boisterous laughter, Sakura's disguising coughs, Chouji's loud guffaws, Shikamaru's disbelieving mumbles, Kiba's chortles, and Ino's triumphant expressions of glee.
03-4890-4731 (Itachi): Sasuke, mother has prepared dinner. She wants to know when you'll come home.
03-1143-0713: Nt nw itachi im profesing my undying love 2 the love o my li
03-4890-4731 (Itachi): Are you drunk, little brother?
03-1143-0713: shut up leme concentatre k? i wanna tell my fiance tht i luv her
03-4890-4731 (Itachi): ...I didn't know you were engaged to be married, Sasuke.
03-1143-0713: Yea. tell dad 2 start preapring
03-4890-4731 (Itachi): Yes. I should do that, shouldn't I?
03-4890-4731 (Itachi): By the way, when you come home, bring some fast food on the way, father just trashed the dining table. Chinese would be nice.
"Do you, Hinata Hyuuga, take this man, Sasuke Uchiha, to be your lawfully-wedded husband?"
"And do you, Sasuke Uchiha, take this woman, Hinata Hyuuga, to be your lawfully-wedded wife?"
"I now pronounce you husband and wife—"
The echoing voice of the priest and the applause of the audience paused abruptly, interrupted by the shrill ring of a mobile phone. Numerous people buried their hands in the pockets of their slacks and their purses in search of their phones, but the culprit, surprisingly, emerged from the pocket of the groom.
03-4876-9130 (Ino Yamanaka): Msg from ur wife:Love you 3
03-1143-0713: She borrowed your phone?
03-4876-9130 (Ino Yamanaka): Ahan. I bet ur smiling like a dork inside
03-1143-0713: Tell her she's fantastic. And I love her too.
03-4876-9130 (Ino Yamanaka): Tell her urself, u dork -.-