Me: I'm a terrible person, I know. I should be updating my other stories, not embarking on new ones. But I was sitting in class today, and the whole time I was just thinking of getting home so I could write this. I'd love to hear your input, even if you aren't very happy with me.
"Alright, guys – we'll see if you can handle this. For your reports on ancient Mesopotamia, I'm going to let you pick your own partners!"
As soon as the last word had left the teacher's mouth, kids were jumping together, grabbing hands, running off to a corner of the room, as if they feared that at any minute their project partner would be snatched up by someone else.
Hinata, who had just finished copying down the instructions, looked up, and watched everyone pair off. She didn't mind that she wasn't being picked right away – she usually ended up with Kiba or Shino, or on the off chance that either Sakura or Ino was sick, the other would pick her.
Speaking of the dynamic duo...
"He's my partner!"
"Nuh-uh, I saw him first! Didn't I, Sasuke-kun?"
The Uchiha's only response was to calmly shrug them off, walk over to Hinata's desk, and yank her up, announcing to anyone who cared, "We're partners."
Sakura and Ino, still grasping the space that he had been occupying seconds ago, stared. Then turned to Hinata. Finally, after a moment of surveying her and deciding whether or not to hate her, they dropped their stances, shrugged, and linked arms, flouncing off to Ino's table to work.
Hinata, for her part, was incredibly confused. She did not know Sasuke well. She did not know Sasuke at all. Kiba was currently glaring at them, having been forced to pair off with Naruto, who was way less pleasant than Hinata. Hinata wanted to apologize, but Sasuke was already dragging her off to his usual table, on the other side of the room. Hinata stumbled after him, blushing and feeling extremely uncomfortable. She had never sat on this side of the room...it was strange. And it contained strangers.
Hinata did not do well with strangers.
Sasuke finally released his grip on her arm and sat down at the Blue Table, where he usually sat with Naruto and Sakura. Hinata stood for a second, before Sasuke shot her an annoyed look. She sat down immediately.
Sasuke promptly started outlining their project, writing it down on a piece of paper. "We're going to do ziggurats." He looked up, black eyes boring into hers. "Do you know what those are?" Hinata nodded, incredibly thankful that she actually did. Sasuke looked back down at his paper and resumed writing. "You're going to do the stuff about the shrines at the top. Got it?" Another intimidating glance, and Hinata once again nodded, trying not to feel overwhelmed. "I'm going to do the architecture and the builders." There was no room for discussion. Sasuke's word was apparently law.
Hinata once again weakly nodded.
She wasn't so sure she liked having project partners anymore.
On the day of presentations, Sasuke was immaculately prepared. He was an Uchiha, after all. Hinata had anticipated this, and had worked her hardest to make sure that her own part of the project was just as flawless.
They had a poster (courtesy of Hinata) and a PowerPoint (courtesy of Sasuke). In a desperate attempt to do something above and beyond, Hinata had even baked brownies in the shape of ziggurats. Everyone munched happily, and Sasuke and Hinata presented.
She was beyond nervous, but the night before, she had memorized her lines so well that during her part, she stuttered but once, and that was when her eyes accidentally landed on Naruto, and he gave her a thumbs-up, his mouth full of ziggurat-brownie. Sasuke presented in a professional monotone, sounding so adult and cool that all the girls were swooning by his third sentence.
After it was all over, everyone clapped politely (or more than politely, in Sakura and Ino's case) and Iruka-sensei congratulated them on a job well done.
It was the end of the day. Hinata packed up her things, smiling a bit as Kiba shouted "good job" at her from across the room. She was just zipping her backpack when she was approached by her partner.
He looked down at her contemplatively. "You were good," he said after a moment, nodding. Hinata flushed, and muttered a thank-you, and scurried out of the room.
When the next big project came around, Hinata was immediately snatched up by Naruto, who enthusiastically cited her last work as one of the reasons he wanted her for a partner. Blushing and smiling and stammering over the attention of her crush, she did not notice Sasuke's miniscule scowl from across the room, at the Blue Table.