Summary: He was seated at the edge of the bed, pulling on a sock, when she decided to kiss him. SasuHina, arranged marriage. Prize-fic for fhclause for placing in The Distance contest.
Note: The theme was chosen by fhclause, and I had fun trying out something different with it. I didn't go over-the-top like I did with Ultimatum, but I'm really happy with the way this turned out. Also, a lot of this story is in past perfect tense, as the theme requires much more depth than I can seem to fit into a one-shot. Curse my inadequacies!
By Bullwinkle's Lady
Hinata awoke with a start.
Sprawled on the couch in her living room, she rubbed her eyes, wondering again just why she wasn't on missions.
It was her honeymoon – that week following her wedding in which all the villagers expected she and her husband were having sex.
She cringed at the concept.
But Sasuke was away on mission. He had convinced someone to give him their shift. The man disregarded social convention when it came to his ambitions. He wanted to qualify for the ANBU exams, but he was short on age, so he compensated with experience. It was the third day since he had left, and the day he was due to return. Hinata climbed to her feet and padded into the bathroom. She would clean herself up before Sasuke got home. Then she could pretend to be asleep and wouldn't have to suffer through that toxic silence they shared.
Hinata leaned over the sink and washed her face. Afterwards, she looked up at her tired reflection in the mirror.
She had foolishly fantasized that maybe, possibly, life wouldn't be so horrible, as Sasuke leaned down and kissed her on their wedding day.
It was strange. They didn't even know each other. But Sasuke's lips were warm, contrary to her suspicions.
Days passed, and Sasuke never kissed her thereafter. He didn't talk to her. He didn't even look at her.
Not that she liked him or anything, or was so vain she felt starved for attention after just a few days alone in their apartment.
Hinata buried her face in a towel.
And it wasn't as though she didn't try to communicate with him, on those times she mustered the energy and will. She greeted him when he came and went. She offered him tea some mornings – but it was like he didn't see her. She didn't want to be ignored until she faded.
Looking back, Hinata mused, all the girls around Sasuke had always been loud and boisterous, as if trying to stay afloat.
But she wasn't one of those girls.
She didn't want to try anymore. She wanted the independence he stole from her, and to get back to Kiba and Shino, training for her own advancement exams.
Hinata left the bathroom and slipped into her and Sasuke's bedroom, where their gazes never crossed and bodies never touched. There she replaced her pants with penguin-printed pajama bottoms, and her shirt with a tank top. She made no efforts to be attractive to him at night time. She was usually buried under the comforter by the time he came home.
Hinata returned to the living room just to turn off the lights. She paused when she saw the doorknob turn.
He was early.
Sasuke didn't seem to notice her as he entered the apartment. In return, she looked down, hearing his tidy steps – more lethargic than usual – and a persistent dripping noise. She raised her eyes.
"You're getting blood on the floor."
It wasn't a bid for attention or an expression of concern. It was...a complaint.
"Aa." Onyx eyes snapped to hers, then narrowed slightly, to finally squeeze shut in pain.
He looked away from her and continued his venture for the kitchen, where he would try to burn his gash closed, or slather it with butter for all she cared.
But for once, she found she had to intervene.
Strangely enough, he abided.
His back was turned to her, and his muscles, taut along his body. Hinata approached Sasuke and peered up at his face. Teeth grit, he drew sharp breaths. He was in a lot of pain.
"Hold on," she said, and hurried into the bathroom to find some bandages. She returned shortly after, and pulled up a chair from the corner of the room. She helped Sasuke sit down, wrapping her arm behind him. Her head ended up against his chest, her ear to his racing heart.
Pulling away once Sasuke was seated, Hinata knelt down before him and examined the wound. It was a gash on the side of his thigh. She tore part of his pants open to better inspect it.
Allowing his head to fall back, Sasuke closed his eyes. He didn't like women who catered to him.
But she didn't even seem to want to.
Hinata began to wrap the wound, but blood seeped through the bandages. He might have needed stitches, better yet, a medic, but neither idea was practical at that moment. Sasuke grunted in pain as she wrapped the bandages more tightly. Six, seven, eight revolutions, and finally the bleeding seemed to stop. She remained silent, but with her methodic task to occupy her.
Hinata climbed to her feet when she finished. She walked away as though nothing had happened, leaving him sitting there, in pain. She then climbed into bed and hugged her pillow.
Sasuke had abandoned her. Why did she feel so guilty for returning the gesture?
Hinata lay there for what felt like an hour before she felt Sasuke lie beside her. Finally, she fell asleep.
Her husband remained conscious, however, his jaw clenched, and eyes focused on the ceiling.
He didn't mind settling down some day with anyone, or someone – like Hinata. He just wasn't ready yet. Girls were – distracting. Especially the ones like her. Their marriage had been premature.
But she was fine.
He slowly turned to face her. He could see her through the darkness, probably not as well as she could have, but he managed.
He observed her stubborn brow, her too-long hair, and her slender throat. He reached out and traced the gentle artery there, and could count the pulsations.
She didn't like him.
He kind of liked it.
After her honeymoon ended, Hinata resumed training. On her way back from a B-class mission with Kiba and Shino, their group stumbled upon a jounin unit led by Naruto. Sasuke was there as well. His leg had been healed, but now he had long cuts across forearms. Was he always so reckless?
"Oh – hey!" said Naruto. He was looking right at her.
Hinata felt heat rise to her face.
"Naruto," Kiba greeted, grinning back.
Logic would suggest she and Sasuke acknowledged each other. They did no such thing. Reluctantly, she walked to him where he stood just passed his best friend's shoulder.
"Are you guys heading back to Konoha?" Kiba asked.
Sasuke grimaced as Hinata took his arm to examine the injury. She didn't see the way his expression relaxed. Veins blossomed on her temples. None of his blood vessels were torn. He would be fine.
She didn't know when she had established this authority over him. She allowed herself to touch him to tend to his injuries, even if he didn't want her to. But he never stopped her.
Was she just looking for an excuse to make a connection?
"We were, but we just got word from Baa-chan. She wants us to intercept a missing nin a few kilometers from here," Naruto was saying, and trailed off.
Hinata could feel the others watching her. Both she and Sasuke were private people. Together, their marriage was impossible to decipher. No one had seen them in public together since the wedding.
Not releasing Sasuke's arm, Hinata looked back at their comrades.
"You guys like to join us?" Naruto hastily revived the conversation. "S-class," he added, wiggling his eyebrows tauntingly.
Kibe laughed. "Yeah right."
"No," said Shino flatly.
Team eight was decidedly exhausted.
But chunnin weren't usually allowed S-class missions. Hinata entertained the concept of joining the jounin.
"You don't need us, do you, dobe?" Hinata blinked as Sasuke spoke. "Hinata and I have other obligations."
That's when she remembered. Her family was expecting them for dinner that evening. She hadn't really cared enough about it to take the invitation seriously. Her father was famously intrusive, and avoiding him was second nature.
But Sasuke was compulsive and organized. He knew nothing about her relationship with her family, and it certainly didn't apply to him. Maybe this had been her father's intention.
But to suggest Sasuke was good for her was a gross exaggeration.
Naruto seemed surprised. Sasuke wasn't one to step out. The blonde opened and closed his mouth. "I – um – sure, you guys can go." The haggard man offered a grin, but it quickly became a scowl as Sasuke turned his back. "Shit, now who's gonna do all the work," Naruto mumbled under his breath.
Hinata gasped as she was jerked away from the scene, still gripping Sasuke's arm. She allowed herself to be dragged off, Naruto glowering in their wake.
They got back to the village within the hour, and to their apartment minutes after that.
They hastily cleaned themselves up, and with none of the wariness and composure that usually saturated the environment. Sandals were kicked off in the living room, vests strewn on the bedroom floor. Hinata grabbed her clothes and slipped into the bathroom just as Sasuke pulled off his shirt.
But she had gotten a glimpse – not that she'd wanted it or anything. Sasuke had a slim, muscled physique. He wasn't rugged like Naruto, or burly like Kiba. But he was just as handsome.
Hinata pulled on a white halter dress and left her hair loose. She returned to the bedroom where Sasuke was already dressed in a black kimono. He was seated at the edge of the bed, pulling on a sock, when she decided to kiss him.
Swallowing her nerves, she walked up to him, grasped his shoulders, and pressed her lips to his. She squeezed her eyes shut, unaware that his were open wide.
Then she pulled away, blushing profusely. Sasuke stared at her with a look of shock on his face. She glanced away, twiddling her thumbs.
"You look nice." Hinata said.
She didn't imagine he was breathing.
"I like your k-kimono."
Hinata walked off to do her makeup.
Two passive people didn't make a constructive alliance.
Sometimes one just had to push.
He wasn't used to body washes, tampons, and little pink razors. Sasuke paused and stared at the bottle of body wax in his hand.
Quickly shoving it back into the bathroom cabinet, he shuffled away, stuffing his hands into his pockets. His quest for toothpaste surrendered, he decided he would just use baking soda or something.
He didn't understand the benefits of the arrangement. She was just a sloppy roommate who hogged the blankets and clogged his shower drain – every fucking day – with her long...long hair.
Sasuke quickly snuffed this train of thought.
And she was beginning to go along with it, like she thought they were really married or something. Technically, they were, and even socially – but certainly not on any other level.
Hinata was getting cocky. Regularly she caught him off guard and pecked his lips, at which point he froze, and she pulled away, carrying on with whatever she'd been doing. And each time was like she pressed a reset button in his mind. He had to reprogram himself just to figure out where he was.
She did it after dinner by his parent's house one night. She offered to help his mother with dishes as was customary and polite. Just before she rose, she leaned over and kissed him as parting. He felt his eyelids begin to lower.
The kiss seemed to end just as quickly as it had begun. Hinata stood and walked off with his parents staring, both who looked as though they'd been slapped in the face.
Itachi simply sipped his drink.
But no one was as baffled as Sasuke was. Their marriage was nothing more than an alliance between their clans.
And she was conniving.
Why was he playing into her game?
Sasuke again lost his train of thought when he noticed he was holding a pair of purple panties. Quickly stuffing them back into the dresser, he renounced his search for socks. He'd go without.
Hinata returned from mission the next day, hunched slightly. It wasn't anything serious. She had gotten hit hard, and might have broken some ribs. She stopped in the living room and held onto the wall, clutching her abdomen and deeply breathing.
Finding a medical ninja that month was a lost cause. One was kept on shift at the hospital for only the perilous injuries, while the rest were assisting with the war in the Lightening country.
"You should lie down."
Hinata heard him enter the apartment behind her. He must have been returning from training.
She felt too weak to argue. "Okay," she managed.
Taking a few more deep breaths, she trudged into their bedroom. Resenting what she would have to do next, she carefully reclined, grunting in pain. She couldn't bother with removing her dusty clothes or her chunnin uniform. Moving hurt. It was better to stay still. Her eyes half-lidded, she stared at the ceiling.
Minutes later, she heard Sasuke enter the room. She closed her eyes as he changed his clothes, then watched him climb onto the bed beside her. He curled on his side, his back turned to her.
"I wasn't here when you got back from your last mission," Hinata mumbled.
"Aa," said Sasuke, his voice muffled in his pillow.
"Was it nice in Kumo?"
That was all. Hinata felt her eyelids grow heavy. She didn't know when she fell asleep, but when she came to, the sun was just rising, and it's light, piercing the room. Sasuke was no longer beside her.
"Is it just her ribs?"
"Check her back. She was hunching."
She turned her face away from the window to notice Sakura standing above her, hands hovering over her chest. The pink-haired medic was in uniform. She was probably on her way out of the village.
How funny that Sasuke had managed to find her. Hinata was consumed in an unnatural warmth. She felt her eyelids droop.
"Better?" someone asked.
She drifted off again.
That afternoon she awoke with a start, sitting upright and noticing she was alone. For once, she found that she was disappointed. Looking down, Hinata touched her ribs. So it hadn't been a dream.
Weeks later, when she passed her jounin exam, Hinata, Kiba, and Shino trudged out of the stadium, looking especially haggard that afternoon. Their scratched faces, however, lit up, when they were greeted with cheers, yowls, and wolf-whistles. Their over-enthusiastic supporters pounced on them, but Hinata dodged.
She flew passed many pairs of open arms and into his, which actually weren't even open. Hands pocketed, he stood away from the crowd, and would have been left unnoticed by any other than a Hyuuga.
Wrapping her arms around Sasuke's torso, she rested her face against his chest. She had really taken a liking of him, and no one understood why, him included. She could hear his heart beat, and sense the variations from its sluggish norm. She liked that she made him edgy, so didn't expect him to take her chin, lift her face, and kiss her the way he did, right there in the outskirts of the crowd. More deeply than her pesky pecks, longer than she thought she could hold her breath. He held her waist and kept her in place, though she didn't think she could have moved had she tried.
When he pulled away, nipping her bottom lip in a super-inappropriate way, Hinata staggered off and didn't look at him again. Blushing and sweating, she stammered her way through a few conversations. From the corner of her vision, Sasuke replaced his hands in his pockets and walked off.