I promise I haven't given up on this story! Thank you all for the reviews, follows, faves etc!

Sorry for the delay! I've been working on several projects, plus it's that time again at school! Thank you for waiting! I am sorry for taking so long, but the story was at a weird place in my mind. Hopefully after this chapter, things will move along better…. Fingers crossed!

Sasuke flipped over onto his back and sighed for the umpteenth time that night. Even with the air-conditioning on in his room, his thin sheets felt uncomfortable and constricting. And it all solidified the glaring fact that once again, he couldn't sleep. Sasuke rose to sitting position, kicked the covers away from his legs and punched his pillow with a savage growl. He flopped back onto it, turning on his side and clamping his eyes shut.

'You threatened to harm your best friend,' the Voice in his head accused. Sasuke groaned, his eyes flying open to stare blankly at the ceiling of the darkened room. 'You're worthless. To have to go to such lengths just to get her attention… even though you're not worth her, still you press on,' the Voice went on, unrelenting and dispassionate. Sasuke felt a dense pressure building up in his chest.

Unable to stay in bed anymore, Sasuke flung the covers off himself and swung his feet to the floor. He hadn't slept much in the past two weeks, and when he had, it had been fitful and riddled with nightmares. He knew the cause. He should just leave well enough alone and let Hinata go, but he couldn't bring himself to. He was selfish, he knew, but he had to have her. He'd lose Naruto, for sure, but he had to have her.

Sasuke pressed his palms to his face and groaned at the throbbing pain in his cranium. His headache was back full force. It was a migraine, and he'd had it ever since the party when he'd confronted Hinata, and the exhaustion put together with his ebbing appetite were not helping one bit.

He couldn't stay here. He had to get away. Now.

Sasuke stood, weaving a little as he caught his balance, and cringing at the pain in his head. The memory of the bottle he kept in the fridge in his room taunted him. Teased him. Tempted him. A drink would help him so much right now, but Sasuke knew that if he started, he wouldn't stop, and that would be one more thing for Hinata to be disappointed about.

Pulling his chest of drawers open, Sasuke pulled out a pair of grey sweatpants and dragged them on. He pulled a dark blue vest over his bare torso and slipped his feet into some sporty flip flops. Grabbing his keys, the Uchiha slowly made his way downstairs and to his car.

The night air was cool and refreshing, and after Sasuke started up his car, he wound the windows down to feel the slight breeze ruffle his hair like a comforting caress. The thought alone made his chest ache with longing.

When was the last time that someone… When was the last time someone really touched him? When was the last time that he was simply held? Sasuke clenched his teeth, not allowing himself to go back in time and count the days, weeks, months or years since the last time he had affectionate contact with a female. And not the kind that was brought on because of his money. Sasuke pulled out of the garage and backed out onto the road. He was filled with self-loathing and disgust, but also that burning longing to… to just have her. He didn't think himself in love, because… because he'd pretty much just met her, but he was still filled with the drive to call her his. Sasuke wasn't even sure how to love someone. He didn't remember ever feeling truly loved, so he had nothing to compare what he felt against. There had been what he'd had with Sakura, but was that love?

They'd gotten along. She'd said she loved him, but to Sasuke, it had seemed like an obsession rather than love. She was the competitive type, and there had been lots of women attracted by his body and money. Now, lust, Sasuke understood. There had always been lust in abundance where he was concerned, even though Naruto and unwittingly rid him of even that, and he was just left with the gold-diggers.

Sasuke sucked in a breath and led his car down the Konoha streets, which were pretty much empty due to the time. His mind wandered… to his family, his friends or the lack thereof. His father was perpetually disappointed in him, his mother probably didn't remember his existence half the time, and Itachi was… well Itachi was in prison for murder. He'd always figured his older brother was diabolical but he hadn't really see that coming. In terms of family life, Sasuke couldn't really claim to have one. Even Naruto, who was an orphan, had a better family than Sasuke had. What with his mentors and well, the plethora of people the effervescent blonde inspired, Naruto didn't want for family.

Then there was the matter of friends. Sasuke didn't have any. Well, he used to have one, Naruto, but there was no way the blonde was still his friend after all this, so Sasuke was pretty much alone now. Naruto was really all he had, so why was he blowing this for a girl? It wasn't even that she wanted him but… but she hadn't even given him a chance. His chest squeezed uncomfortably again. He just wanted to have someone, so why couldn't someone, for once, want to have him?

He knew he was a disappointment, but did he deserve to be alone because of that? He would have thought that doing something like saving someone's life would maybe cause them to treat him a bit better but… but apparently not. So he'd turned to blackmail. Instead of just looking for someone else… Sasuke sighed and turned a corner. Sometimes he didn't know what to even do with himself. He didn't understand why it was so hard for him. He wasn't unattractive by any means, and he had the means to take care of a girl, but apparently he was found lacking by everyone… even himself. Being found lacking… Being a disappointment… that was probably the only thing he really knew how to do.

As he passed under a streetlight, Sasuke glanced outside and felt his heart give a heavy, painful thump. Was that Hinata? What was she doing on the road at this time of the night? He couldn't mistake her beautiful features for anyone else's even in the dark. He scanned the road ahead, looking for a clue as to why she would possibly be on the road at night and then his stomach fell.

This was Naruto's road. This was the place he usually came when he couldn't sleep… when he had an issue and needed a friend. He had no place here… and yet there he was. And there she was. She was on her way to Naruto's house, even though he'd threatened the blonde with bodily harm. He knew he'd most likely not chicken out on something he'd promised… which meant he couldn't allow her to see him.

Sasuke pulled the car over beside her and flung the door open. She looked over at him in surprise, which quickly changed to horror.

"Get in," he demanded, knowing he was glowering but not being able to help it.

Hinata felt shock course through her body at the sight of the villain in her own life story. Uchiha Sasuke. How he'd found out that she'd be going to Naruto's on the one night that she caved, she would probably never figure out. It had been two weeks since the party. Two weeks since she'd seen or spoken to Naruto, but the blonde had not given up on her. He called her every day, and texted her. He emailed and left messages. He even left notes. And every time Hinata saw them, her heart ached with longing, but she did not give in. Each message was like a reminder that he was alive and well, and if she ever so much as contacted him, that might change.

But his messages got more frantic and worried every day, and there was only so much a girl could take. So she'd put on her darkest clothing, snuck out the house and walked to Naruto's place. Or, she would have walked to Naruto's place had Sasuke not found her first.

"Get in," he rasped, his voice sounding like it hadn't been used in a while – and Hinata hated that she liked the huskiness a lot -, and his eyes blazing angrily. Hinata's first instinct was to make a run for it… but he was in a car. There would be no way she would get anywhere quick enough to evade him. She clenched her teeth and stared defiantly at him from the sidewalk, ignoring her fear of him for a moment.

"Get. In," he repeated, his voice darkening. Hinata wished she was Ino at this point. Her best friend was blissfully unaware, but was the type that would probably snark off in a situation like this. As it was, she was only herself, and smart comebacks weren't exactly popping into her brain at the moment. She settled for glowering back at him before reluctantly getting in the car. He reached across her and slammed the car door shut.

'As if I couldn't do it myself,' Hinata thought in annoyance, hating herself a little for liking the way he smelled. Kind of like… clean soap, some spicy deodorant, rain and… well that manly scent that was all Sasuke.

Sasuke settled back in his seat and just stared at her. His eyes travelled up and down her form. He wasn't even saying anything, just looking, with an unreadable expression in his dark eyes. Hinata felt her lips pursing tightly. She felt a bit uncomfortable under his stare, but she was too pissed off to let him know that, so she folded her arms and stared angrily back at him.

If she went for the dark haired, dark eyed, lithe types, her heart would be aflutter right now. However, blonde haired, blue-eyed bulkily muscled types were what got her going… and Naruto was the epitome of that look. He was cheerful, he made her laugh and her whole day was better after she was in contact with him. Sasuke, on the other hand, had a way of bringing this incredible, dense pressure along with him, and it was something Hinata wanted to escape.

As if sensing her distaste, Sasuke turned around and put the car in gear. Hinata stared longingly down the road as Sasuke spun the car around and began driving in the opposite direction. She decided that she was not going to say a single word. It was elementary, but she was going to give him the silent treatment. Ino said men hated that. To show her resolve, Hinata stared directly ahead and folded her arms over her chest. She was not pleased, and she was not going to hide it.

She was pissed. She had a right to be. He'd just technically kidnapped her. Sasuke clenched his teeth. This was hopeless, but he was confident that if she gave him a chance, she'd like him. If she gave him a chance, he wouldn't have to act like this. He wouldn't have to force her to like him. He gripped the steering wheel so hard the leather cover squeaked under the force of his grasp.

Sasuke snuck a glance her way. She was resolutely ignoring him. Her jaw was clenched, like his, but she was staring straight ahead. Her lips, too plump to ever become a firm line, were pressed tightly together, and she had both arms folded over her chest. Sasuke ached to say something. To apologize, or something, but… but now was not the time. Opposite to what an apology might sound like, Sasuke had no intention of halting his pursuit of her. He just needed her to see that he had his hat in the proverbial ring too. He was someone too, and even though he was far from worthy, he wanted her so badly.

If she could only see that he didn't really want to hurt her. If she could only give him a chance. Sasuke tore his gaze from her, hating the way her eyes, glossy from unshed tears, tore at his heart. He hated the way her eyelashes caught the glare from the street-lights they passed. He hated the way he felt terrible for wanting her to be his. Why was everything so hard?

Sasuke pulled back into the garage of his bachelor pad and parked the car. He switched it off, desperate to get out and away from her very loud silence. He locked his door and ran around the car to open her door for her. He yanked the door open, watching her warily. She glared up at him from her seat, but refused to budge. One of her dark brows rose slowly as she stared him down. That look. He never thought she had it in her, and it made his stomach roil nervously.

"Hinata…" he groaned, motioning at the inside of the house with his head and eyes. That perfect eyebrow stayed raised, and then she gracefully made her exodus from the car. Sasuke shut the door behind her, took her elbow, and led her inside the house. He struggled not to think about the heavy, stinging, acidic burn in his chest when she shrugged away from his touch. He curled his fingers into a fist and tucked it closer to his own body. The burn inside him was unrelenting.

He swallowed through a thick, tight throat and resisted the urge to scrub at his chest with the heel of his palm. Knowing she couldn't see his expression, Sasuke stared longingly at the back of her head as he moved towards the stairs leading from the garage and to the little room that joined the kitchen to the living area of the bachelor pad.

Why was she so far out of his reach? He could marry her, but would he really marry her? Would she ever really be his? Sasuke felt his brows pull together and his mouth turn down at the corner. Right now, any semblance of happiness seemed unattainable. He was a disappointment, right? A failure. He was a liar, a cheat and someone who would hurt his only friend to get what he wanted. Maybe he didn't deserve to be happy. Since he was going to fail anyway, and he was already deep in this shit, he might as well go through with it, right?

Sasuke was lost in his thoughts pretty much, but as soon as he slammed the door behind him, Hinata erupted.

"What is your problem?" she yelled. Yes, yelled. Sweet, flowery Hinata yelled. At him. Sasuke felt liked he'd just dropped from the rear end of a cow. He didn't answer, but hardened himself in preparation for what could possibly come next.

"Do you have any concept of human behavior?" she went on, pale grey eyes filled with loathing. "You can't just force someone to do what you want!"

"I've been doing pretty well so far," Sasuke returned, smirking even though his insides felt like a rotting black pit. Hinata's lip curled back in disgust.

"If I wasn't afraid for Naruto's safety… because I have a feeling you're low enough that you'd make good on your threat," Hinata spat, her meaning clear. She wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for his threat. Why did she think he threatened her in the first place? Suddenly, Sasuke was pissed off. As if Naruto was perfect. He came damn close, but he wasn't!

"Why do you love him so much anyway?" he found himself growling back at her. His fingers fisted at his sides, and his breathing went uneven as he tried to keep himself under control. He just felt like smashing something; ripping something apart.

"I thought that would be obvious to a snake like you, Sasuke," Hinata said, her pale gaze intense, boring into him with the force of a power drill. "Apart from his looks, he's cheerful. He makes anyone smile. He's gentle, and caring, even if he's a bit rough around the edges…"

"You mean simple-minded," Sasuke cut in, hating the ache at the base of his throat. Hinata scowled at him.

"He is not simple minded. You are. You can't even pick up on the simplest of suggestions, else you would have noticed that I'm not interested in you! It's like… you can't… the fact that you would betray your friend for a woman that wasn't the least bit interested in you is… frankly, disgusting! Naruto would never have done something like that to you. He's your best friend, but obviously, you aren't his," Hinata defended, and accused at the same time. Sasuke felt his mouth go dry. She detested him.

"Since you seem to know us both so well, go on. Sing his praises and I'll reveal his faults," Sasuke said through gritted teeth. He was bluffing. Naruto's faults were few and far between, especially in the realm of things like relationships. He was the type that would be crude and random, but everything he gave would come from the heart with good wishes and intentions behind it. The same could not be said for Sasuke.

Hinata obliged him. He'd heard it all before. But then she said something he could actually find issue with.

"… and he saved my life!"

Sasuke held up a hand and chuckled bitterly.

"No, I have to stop you there. I saved your life. I heard you whimpering in the alley. I was the one that convinced Naruto that you weren't a mangy street mutt or a freaking rat. And when he carted you off like the knight in shining armour, I was the one busting asses with my hands," Sasuke growled, stalking closer to her, until his face was mere inches from hers. They were both glaring at each other. "And you were so entranced by him that you didn't even hear when he admitted that I did all the work," Sasuke snarled.

"Even if he'd done all the work he'd have included you," Hinata defended. Didn't she see? Did she hate him so much she didn't even want to acknowledge what he'd done for? "Naruto is sweet, kind, honest, good-hearted and has good intentions toward everyone, and you are the opposite," Hinata went on, scowling. "You're selfish, opportunistic and sour."

"Have you ever seen Naruto's bad side yet? Have you ever seen him angry? He is a beast when angered, and…" Sasuke tried to input. He was grasping at straws. He wasn't even sure why he was trying anymore, when he was destined to fail. Hinata cut him off.

"He told me about that before, and I'm positive that you stand more of a chance of facing his wrath than I do," the dark haired female said, a resolute expression on her face. Sasuke felt the depressing heaviness that had been circling him hungrily for weeks now nip his heels. "I was his precious person, he called me his treasure, and you've been trying to steal that from him."

The pain in his chest was too intense. The jealousy was burning him up from the inside and Sasuke couldn't take it anymore. He felt cursed. Damned to sit in the shadow of someone for the rest of his life. First it was Itachi, and now it was Naruto. He just couldn't seem to catch a break. Why wasn't it easier than this?

The oppressive darkness seemed to swallow him, and before he drowned in it, he did the only thing he could; communicating the only way he knew how.

Hinata watched something break in Sasuke. She saw something in him just fall apart. The shield before his eyes fell away. His shoulders fell, and his breathing grew raspy. His gaze bore into hers, and then it was like she was in hell.

There was so much pain. It was like everything was broken; smashed apart. There was no hope. No joy. No cheer. Just suffocating pain and desperation. She wanted to scream. She wanted to struggle and break free, but it was like she was transfixed. Her heart was beating overtime in her chest, and the cardiac muscle ached unnaturally. She felt fear like she'd never felt before rise up inside her. Sasuke was like a vacuum, ready to suck anything positive out of anyone he could get his clutches on, which could explain why he'd affiliated himself with Naruto, who was like a never ending source of cheer. But she wasn't Naruto. She needed someone like Naruto too. If Sasuke got his clutches into her, she'd simply wilt.

Their faces were so close she could feel his breath on the skin between her nose and mouth. She couldn't look away from those pained black eyes. And then he was so close she could feel his body trembling without him even touching her.

… And then his lips were on hers.

The firm planes of his mouth crushed against her softer lips. His mouth moved against hers harshly, not even seeking entry. His lips parted over hers and he wetly kissed her closed mouth. He wasn't even asking her permission. And his gaze bored into hers with an empty hurting blankness. He didn't let up. The kiss didn't soften. It was like he was kissing her and wasn't requesting her participation at all. It was the strangest, most complicated kiss Hinata had ever been given in all her twenty-four years, but strangely enough, she didn't feel disgusted.

Neither of them had closed their eyes, but had maintained eye contact the entire time.

Tension was building up within Hinata, and it wasn't the sexual kind. It was tight and strange and it felt like it would break her chest. Behind her eyes felt dense and heavy and it was like there was a pressure pressing against the interior walls of her skull.

Then something in her broke.

She parted her lips.

… And the entire nature of the kiss changed.

Almost immediately, Sasuke's lips softened against hers, sliding perfectly to meld together with hers. Hinata watched his eyelids grow heavy, then gracefully slide shut, until his dark lashes fanned out over his upper cheeks. His head tilted to one side for a better angle, and his hands came up to frame her neck.

There was a low keening moan from the depths of his chest, and then he was kissing her for all he was worth. There was such an intense hunger and desperation, Hinata could barely think anything else. She still didn't feel revolted.

His tongue slid against hers, then his arms were around her and he was clutching her to him as if she could save him. One hand moved up her back to rake fingers through her hair. Hinata could feel his heart thundering through his chest. It was going so fast she almost worried for him.

There were emotions relayed in this kiss that were so eloquent, Hinata doubted Sasuke would be able to put them in words. She certainly couldn't. There was a layer to him that went deeper than she'd seen. Something deeper than what she'd even thought possible of him. Something deeper than what Naruto had. Hinata wasn't sure if Naruto was even capable of these emotions.

Sasuke pulled away almost reluctantly, his hands fluttering around her face. His eyes slowly opened, the dark orbs peering into her grey ones. There was a warmth in them she'd previously assumed him incapable of. It was only a small bit, but it was there. She watched the shutter slide back over them, locking what she'd just seen away. She watched him pull his shell back around him, covering himself and shielding himself from her. And then he spoke, his voice husky and rough.

"I'm the one that saved you. I'll always save you if you're mine. I'll be good to you... if you just... Hinata, just give me a chance."

…. So… What did you think? Okay, so I'm sorry there isn't any Naruto in this chapter, but I couldn't seem to find the perfect place for him to go. Once again, sorry for the wait!

Do review!