I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.
Hyuuga Hinata had her first dinner with Uchiha Sasuke when they were eight years old. Back then, they didn't know that in ten years' time, they would be standing awkwardly in his kitchen at one in the morning, waiting for water to boil. No one could blame them.
There were rings of dried coffee stains on the marble counter. Hinata caught herself absently grazing at them and quickly withdrew her hand, feeling guilty. Half a dozen branch house members had spent hours filing and painting her nails to give her these pale, perfect crescents, and here she was undoing all their work because she didn't know how to face him.
"Naruto left these last time he stayed over," Sasuke muttered by way of conversation. The sound of a closing cupboard door and barely detectable footsteps preceded two cups of ramen sliding into Hinata's view. "Which one do you want?"
"I-I don't mind. You can choose."
"Just pick one." He wasn't annoyed, but she knew what that low tone in his voice meant. He wasn't in the mood for this.
She wasn't either, so rather than flustering over having already upset him, Hinata reached out and took a cup without looking. "Thank you," she said quietly. He grunted.
Waiting for the water was excruciating. Hinata didn't realise she had been fidgeting with her cup until Sasuke began to rip open his. Only then did she notice that she had left him with shrimp flavour.
"Would you like to swap?"
He raised an eyebrow. "You don't like beef?" he asked.
After a beat of hesitation, she shook her head.
His dark eyes flickered to her face and remained there for a while. Hinata fixed her own eyes on the counter. There was only one person from the Uchiha clan whose gaze did not intimidate Hinata, and it wasn't Uchiha Sasuke.
The long-awaited shriek of the kettle rescued her. Sasuke looked away. Hinata watched him pour steaming water into his cup. "You always ate everything when you were over for dinner," he said, surprising her. "My mother could never tell if you disliked any of the dishes."
"Mikoto-san is a great cook," Hinata began.
"She asked me to watch you and find out once," he continued, accustomed to ignoring her habit of diverting the spotlight back to others. "You didn't make it easy for me. The only thing I could report back was that you definitely liked meat." He snorted half-heartedly. "You're as bad a liar as Naruto."
The familiar heat of reddening cheeks flushed beneath her skin. Hinata fought to keep it down. She was embarrassed. Hiashi had made sure that she would not disgrace the Hyuuga by being a picky eater. It seemed that she hadn't failed that, at least, even if it was coming back to bite her.
Hinata held her cup out for Sasuke to pour water into, thanking him with a nod. Carefully, she said, "You don't like seafood. So I thought…"
His brow twitched. For some reason, he didn't like that she had noticed. "Just eat," he muttered, and turned away to take his noodles to the table.
Hinata closed her mouth. She wasn't going to question him again. She learnt quickly, and if acting like she knew him bothered Sasuke, she didn't plan on doing it ever again. Especially not tonight – today – after suffering through hours of pretence. They were only here, eating Naruto's ramen, because neither of them had been able to stomach the ceremony or the lavish meals.
Hinata found herself pausing in the middle of snapping her chopsticks. Naruto. He'd tracked her down before the ceremony, using some farfetched excuse about Neji needing help with his hair to chase her attendants from the room. It was completely against tradition and Hinata had been worried that her father would change his mind about letting the blonde attend – on top of fretting over the prospect of Naruto seeing her in makeup and an expensive white kimono, her hair in elaborate plaits.
He whistled when he saw her, making her blush all the way to her scalp. "You are way too pretty for that bastard, Hinata-chan!"
Hinata was trained in the language of the perfect heiress. If she had to, she could navigate her way through dangerous waves of politics and leave the room without offending a single person – but at that moment, she didn't know what she could say to Naruto. So she stayed quiet and because he was Naruto, he cheerfully filled in for her.
After casting exaggerated glances around the empty room, he leaned in and whispered, "Kiba and I came up with a killer plan. We'll bust you out of this. Swap clothes with me."
He was so close that she could smell the cologne Sakura had made him wear. He looked uncomfortable in his suit and Hinata was sorry he'd had to get into one. She knew he was here for Sasuke, not her, but she couldn't help but feel guiltily glad that he had come to cheer her up.
"Naruto-kun, changing clothes means you'll have to walk down the aisle with my father."
Naruto pulled a face and grimaced, "Only for you."
Laughing softly, she lowered her eyes, wishing she could make herself tell him that she was, from the bottom of her heart, truly happy to hear those words. But it had never been in her place to have these feelings for him, and even now she was overdue to give them up. She couldn't be selfish.
So instead, she looked up at his clear, blue eyes and smiled. He stared back at her, his kind expression regretful. "If you don't want to marry Sasuke," he said solemnly, "I won't let anyone make you. We'll help you guys."
Hinata shook her head, still smiling, and gestured at the scrunched up obi at his waist. "May I fix your hakama?"
He let her, staring over her head in defeat. As she straightened his jacket, he murmured, "We knew you two would go along with it. You can't escape, can you?" Naruto of all people would understand what it was like to be trapped in a fate he had no control of. Some things could not be changed. They were all born into their lives. Denying hers meant that Hinata wished never to have been born, never to have met Naruto, Kiba, Shino or Kurenai-sensei. She couldn't do that even if it killed her.
Before Naruto left the room, he held out his pinky. Hinata cocked her head. "Come on, I'll make a promise with you," he said, his voice regaining its usual cheer. He grabbed her hand. "Listen to me, Hinata. I know Sasuke isn't easy to get along with but trust me – he'll take care of you. Believe it, okay?"
He'd looked so sincere, worried that she had to be convinced. Didn't he know that she had even believed him when he stood on Iruka-sensei's desk and announced that mice had seven legs and bathed in sake? Didn't he know that she had and would always believe him? How could he not?
"Don't look like that."
A tear escaped her eyelashes as pale pupils widened in shock. It slid down her face and trembled for a second before falling into her cooling ramen. She had to stare at those obsidian eyes for several moments before remembering where she was. As soon as she did, she hastily wiped her eyes in mortification. "S-Sorry, I…"
She was crying in front of Uchiha Sasuke. The worst part was she didn't even know why.
Sasuke looked uncomfortable but he did push the tissue box across the table. He waited until she had dried her eyes – which didn't take long. Over the years, Hinata had shed most of her weaknesses and armoured the rest. It took a moment like the current one to crack her composure.
"I'm sorry," she said again, after a deep, calming breath. Sasuke just nodded, shoulders stiff. Hinata tried to make her presence as small as possible while she ate. Their first trial was simply looking each other in the eye, and she was singlehandedly making it impossible.
She pursed her lip when Sasuke got up to take his empty cup to the sink. The sound of running water was loud in the silent apartment.
"I prepared the bed for you," he said. "There are blankets on the top shelf if you get cold in the middle of the night."
Hinata opened her mouth.
"Don't try to change my mind. I'm not letting a girl sleep on the couch."
His voice held a familiar tinge of childish stubbornness that she remembered from all those years ago. They were both the same, heirs who'd had their futures laid out for them from the moment they took up their clan's name. The only comfort of being unable to choose their happiness was knowing what awaited them.
How had even that tiny luxury failed them?
Hinata laid her chopsticks down, swallowing a lump in her throat. She felt she had to say something, right now, before their scars sealed up and scabbed and robbed her of the courage to reopen them. "Sasuke. I… I'm sorry things turned out this way," she said in a murmur that was only slightly better than a whisper.
He collected her cup and washed up without saying a word. Only when he was done did he answer in a strange voice, "Me too."
Hinata looked uncertainly over her shoulder. "Pardon?"
"I'm sorry too." He wiped his hands. Their eyes met. "Sorry that I'm not Itachi."
A/N: Yes, a drabble fic! The difference between this and my NaruSaku drabble fic is that this one is solely based in one universe, around the same 'story'. And the difference between this and a regular multichapter fic? Obviously that I have a wonderful excuse to write scenes while ignoring plot, haha. There will be some plot but not a lot. If some of the drabbles are confusing it's because I'm withholding information for future ones.
I'll try to keep the drabbles in chronological order but really, don't expect anything but a whole bunch of SasuHina - just don't expect good SasuHina because it's my first time writing them. Come to think of it, I'm tragic at writing Sasuke in general... What am I getting into? Please don't be afraid to tell me if you think any characters are being OOC. I always take these feedbacks to heart!
As always, there will be updates on my writing blog (link in my profile) - yes, it died for a bit but I can explain! And also as always, I hope you enjoy this new fic!