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[11 out of 15]
Lee was a true gentleman at heart. All his spoutings about the springtime of youth and gloriousness of chivalry? He lived them out to the fullest. Nevermind his bowlcut and googly eyes, underneath that weird green exterior was a knight in shining armor. So when he got hit by a speeding car while helping an old lady with groceries cross a street, no one was surprised. They were all horrified to hear it, yes, but…not surprised.
He was in a coma for a few days, but the doctors had optimistic projections about his recovery. His friends visited him in shifts to make sure he was never alone, the hospital room slowly filling with get-well flowers and balloons. Facets of their personality shone through the junk they left behind, too – a shōgi board from Shikamaru's visit, the dozens of green cranes Neji and Tenten had stayed up all night folding, empty ramen cups Naruto and Chōji had left behind, a biology textbook Sakura had forgotten to take with her. The nurse considered cleaning up, but ultimately decided against it – the patient looked almost more peaceful amid the clutter.
It just so happened that when it was Hinata's turn to watch over him, and Sasuke covertly stayed behind to keep her company, that Lee decided to wake up.
"…you're worrying for nothing, Hinata."
A deep voice, Lee thought, eyes cracking open. It was one of his youthful rivals, Sasuke!
"I just don't want you getting hurt like Lee did, Sasuke!"
"Don't assume I can't take care of myself."
"You're twisting my words. Why can't you stop being so defensive for once and see that I care about you – "
Hinata's voice broke off. Lee opened his eyes and sure enough, Sasuke had silenced her with a kiss. She was eagerly responding, reaching up to grasp his dark hair and pull him down to her.
"Yoshhhhhhh!" cried Lee, overflowing with exuberance at their youthful romance. He punched out blindly to express his joyous enthusiasm.
Something cracked. Sasuke and Hinata broke apart to look over in alarm.
Later, Sasuke and Hinata were forced to explain to their friends that Lee would be in the hospital for another week because he had broken a few more fingers in the process of getting too excited.
[12 out of 15]
Hinata had never been a particularly confident person. Though she had come a long way since her days of being unable to speak without stuttering and considering herself useless in her father's eyes, she still sometimes struggled to see her worth as a person. Surrounded by bold personalities like Ino, Sakura, and Tenten, she assumed that no one would ever notice her quiet, unassuming self.
Then Sasuke came along and upended all her doubts.
It was weird and unexpected but did make sense, in a way. They were both private, unobtrusive people who understood each other's father complexes well. They didn't find silence awkward. He was strong where she wasn't and she was kind where he found it too difficult to express himself. He was painfully, but constructively blunt, and she made him feel bad when he was rude to others.
Still, Hinata had never believed in that stuff about seeing stars when you kissed the person you were meant to be with. But one day in the wintertime it happened, like a scene out of a movie, dispelling all her misgivings.
"You're cold, aren't you," she observed.
Sasuke was only wearing a jacket and blue earmuffs (Hinata couldn't stop staring – he looked so darn cute). His hands were stuck in his pockets; he had stubbornly refused to let her hold his hand while they waited in the courtyard. "No, I'm not."
Hinata giggled, herself wearing several layers, a pair of gloves, and a thick scarf. "Admit it, you would kill for my scarf."
He eyed the pink, fluffy object, knitted by her aging grandmother back home. "Think again, Hinata."
"You are cold," said Hinata happily, blinking snowflakes from her eyelashes. "So the great Uchiha Sasuke isn't invincible after all."
"Fine," her boyfriend admitted, breath coalescing in glittering clouds before him. "I underdressed. A little."
"A little!" Hinata laughed, cheeks rosy in the cold, and Sasuke couldn't help himself. He leaned down and pulled her towards him in a soul-stopping kiss.
Fireworks went off in Hinata's mind. Her legs sagged and she grasped at his arms, letting out a whimper. She was highly aware of his fingers dragging through her hair, the meeting of their skin and his warmth.
For the sake of oxygen they broke the kiss, foreheads still touching. "That's better," Sasuke pronounced, smirking and twining a lock of her hair between his fingers, his other cold hand resting on her cheek.
And, Hinata thought dazedly, I think…I love him.
"Sasuke – " she started to say.
"Oiiii, bastard! Hinata!"
They broke apart as Naruto came pounding through the snowdrifts, dressed in a bright orange puffy jacket and a ridiculous fur cap and waving like a madman. Sakura trailed after him with a cup of steaming hot chocolate in her mittened hands and a look of long-suffering on her face.
Naruto skidded to a halt in front of them. "Ready to go, you two?"
Hinata nodded, not yet ready to speak.
Naruto eyed Sasuke. "Haha, you look cold."
"Let's go," muttered Sasuke, boots crunching in the snow as he walked away.
[13 out of 15]
Kurenai liked her job, running discussions. As an assistant professor, she probably could teach her own lecture, but she liked discussion – it let her get to know students beyond their faces and brought her new insights every day. With people like Inuzuka Kiba, for example, she would never have guessed from just looking at him that he had a genuine passion for environmentalism. People like Hyuuga Hinata, who were too shy to ask questions in lecture, blossomed in the smaller group settings.
One of her most diligent students was the Uchiha boy. All her students had their lapses in concentration, letting their attention drift to their cellphones or laptops or music devices. But Sasuke never had any of those things out; he always had a focus that Kurenai found almost unsettling in its absoluteness.
But (as you may have guessed) one day that changed.
It was cold outside, so Kurenai had jacked up the heater in the room. Unfortunately, coupled with the lateness of the class, that meant that her students were dozing off left to right.
"Can anyone tell me ways in which neoliberalism would suggest solutions for the issue of human rights violations in other states? Anyone?"
Kurenai surveyed the classroom, feeling a little like yawning herself. Her red eyes fixed on Sasuke, typically her go-to guy to answer a question.
She blinked. How unusual. The young man had his phone out and was trying to surreptitiously text under his desk. Quite badly, at that.
"Uchiha, are you…texting?"
Sasuke stopped, and slowly looked at her. "Yes," he said, in a way that made Kurenai feel like she was the one in trouble.
"Could…you answer the question, please?" she asked weakly.
"Well," sighed Sasuke, retracting his cellphone, "neoliberals would say that institutions like the UN would be helpful in humanitarian interventions, especially because of Chapter VII of its charter…"
After class ended, students cleared out of the room. Sasuke took his time packing up, and was the last one left in the classroom.
Before he could get up and leave, Kurenai came over (she had to know why he was texting!) and asked carefully, "You're…doing all right, Uchiha?"
Sasuke gave her an odd look. "I'm fine."
"None of your immediate relatives just died? Father's business gone bankrupt?"
"…No," Sasuke said plainly.
The door opened, and a girl stuck her head in, looking around. Her eyes alighted on Kurenai.
"Oh, hi, Ms. Yuuhi!"
Kurenai's eyebrows rose. "Hinata, good to see you!"
Hinata smiled at her and looked over to Sasuke. "Um, I brought you the coffee you asked for…"
Sasuke went over to her and accepted the white cup, muttering questions about how many sugars she had put in and whether she had added creamer. Hinata answered each of his queries patiently, refusing his proffered four hundred yen, and smiled softly when he thanked her.
Ding. A lightbulb went off in Kurenai's head as she watched all this.
Uchiha Sasuke had finally gotten a girlfriend! Kakashi hadn't been lying after all!
"Bye, you two! Nice seeing you, Hinata!" she said hastily, and sped off to the bar the teachers frequented so she could gossip.
Sasuke shook his head. "You two know each other?"
Hinata nodded, cradling her own latte. "She was one of my favorite high school teachers."
"…When I was texting you in class, she thought it was because my family had died."
Hinata laughed. "That's because you never text anyone, ever!"
"Well," he said simply, "you're my exception."
[14 out of 15]
Sasuke was, contrary to popular belief, a very uncomplicated person. Because he didn't talk a lot, girls thought he was mysterious and cool. But here were the three things he typically thought about:
He was quite comfortable with this existence – after all, he had done well for the last nineteen or so years of his life, only thinking about those three things.
But Hinata complicated…everything. She brought him food, so he didn't have to think about that. She studied with him and they helped each other with homework, so he didn't have to think about that either. And because of this, he had tons of free time to think about other things – mainly, Hinata. Ironically, that made the third thing – sleeping - much more difficult to do.
For ages Sasuke debated what to do about this. The school year ended and he spent most of summer with the group, hanging out and still getting little sleep. He registered for his classes and accepted the apartment his brother had rented him as a gift. And by the time the school year rolled around again, he figured out what to do.
"I think I'll declare political science after all," Hinata was saying, sipping tea with that subtle grace she was so unconscious of. "I like economics, but it's just not as interesting as poli sci to me."
Sasuke stared down at his plate of food, nodding every now and then.
"My father is telling me that it's a waste of time, but I want to major in what I enjoy learning about. Do you think it's a bad idea? – Sasuke?"
Sasuke picked up a gyoza with his chopsticks and stuck it in her mouth, effectively silencing her. "Hinata, move in with me."
Hinata blinked, chewed, and swallowed. "Okay."
He leaned back in his chair, satisfied.
And just like he thought, it was much easier to sleep with her next to him.
[15 out of 15…6 years later]
Naruto sat down and arranged himself so he was cross-legged on the floor. He looked expectantly at Sasuke, who was sitting across from him on the other side of the low table. "Well? What's up, bastard? What was so important you couldn't ask me over the phone?"
Hinata came over, depositing a china blue teapot on the table. She expertly poured both young men a cup of tea.
"Thanks, Hinata!" Naruto took a big gulp and almost fell over. "Ohgod that's hot. What are you doing here, anyway?"
Sasuke picked up his cup of tea and rolled his eyes. "She lives here, Naruto."
Then Naruto, open-mouthed, watched as Hinata kissed Sasuke's cheek, murmuring that she had to return to the kitchen to attend to the food. He saw the matching rings on their left ring fingers, the feminine touches around the apartment – high heels next to the door, flowers on the bookshelf, lace curtains over the windows – and the faint smile on Sasuke's face.
A lightbulb slowly, slowly flickered to life in Naruto's head.
"Be my best man, idiot."
Oh goodness that was fun.