A/N: Wowza, wowza, wowza. Is this a chapter on time for once? Who'd have thunk? And you didn't have to wait a whole month to get it either! I feel like I'm on a roll lately. But that might just be because I've had a lot of free time. I'm also currently debating if I want to continue with college, or follow the route of a few of my friends and just work for a while, get some actual money into my bank account and then attempt to gain an education. However, I think I'll stick with the education part because that's where my future is. My future is in books, which educate people, even if they're fictional. So yeah.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter! I got a review from a very lovely guest reviewer who said I was really good at pulling on Sasuke's heartstrings whenever Hinata came into view, so I figured, we'll run with that. But Hanabi will still play a somewhat major role in hooking these two up because, let's face it, these two lovebirds are not exactly the coolest of birds. And Neji will be the hawk that literally circles them, looking for a chance to tear Sasuke limp from limp for teaching Hinata. In other words, it'll be hella fun, so hold onto your hats!
Chapter Six: The Camera Doesn't Pretend Very Well
Naruto told him he was allowed to take the class no more than one hundred meters away from school campus without explicit permission from him. Technically, the field was one-hundred and twenty meters away from the Academy, but it was the closest place that he could think of for his students to get some decent shots. It was a gorgeous day – the sky was blue, the air was fresh, and the water in the little creek was clear. It was picturesque. There was no way in hell his students would be able to fuck up a simple project like this.
He watched the twenty uniformed teenagers amble around the high grass, holding their cameras and glancing around at the openness. For a moment, his mind flashed back to his days doing shit like this professionally. When he would drag a model onto a set, maybe even a naturally picturesque scene like this, dressed in some kind of bizarre outfit that was supposed to give the photo some depth, some meaning to the environment – maybe she would just be naked, baring her body to her creator, Mother Earth – and snapping hundreds of shots, trying to find something that felt right. Those times, when he was usually high off his ass, trembling with barely concealed mania, his mind filled with so many jumbled ideas, half of which he would never dream of doing in a sober state, had felt like the times when he was a true artist. Maybe the critics believed he was, but he was starting to see that it was all a bunch of bullshit and he should get this idea of grandeur out of his head real fucking quick.
Hanabi walked up to him, and everyone noticed her not-so-pleasant expression. She stopped a few feet before him, folded her arms across her chest and stood with her feet shoulder-width apart, arching an eyebrow. "Okay, as nice as it is to not be sitting on my ass, what's going on, Uchiha-sensei?"
He glanced at her, checking the settings on his own camera and wondering if it was something he should also include in the lecture. "Does your father know you swear like a sailor?"
"My father believes me to be a well-rounded young woman with high credentials. Whether or not my mouth is foul is my own damn business." She flicked her head, and her hair draped itself carefully behind her shoulder. In the sunlight, he could now tell that it was a deep, dark brown, and his mind immediately began to wonder if Hinata's was the same shade. By her pale skin and soft eyes, it didn't appear that she got out into the sun too much, but now he wanted to see her standing beneath it, maybe on a beach, her bare feet covered in sand, dressed in a thin yukata, maybe even without an obi, a salty breeze blowing her hair out to sea...
Hanabi frowned. "Are you gonna answer my question or not?"
"Look, Hyuga-chan, I'm going to start the lesson. But just give your classmates a few minutes to enjoy the fresh air, okay?" When she rolled her eyes, he sighed. "Fine. If everyone could gather around me, please."
Once he was sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, he cleared his throat and held aloft his camera, immediately capturing their attention. If there was one thing he was grateful for, it was that his students knew that he took no bullshit, and that meant shut up and listen when the lesson started. "So, we've spent the past two weeks discussing the different types of photography, right? Who can name some for me?"
A hand shot up, a smart girl short, bobbed hair with glasses. He pointed to her and she immediately replied with, "Commercial photography."
"Good. Some more." He kept pointing to students as they fired off answers.
"Black and white!"
"We're doing a scenic photo shoot," Hanabi stated when he pointed to her. She gestured around her, vaguely capturing the entirety of the field. "You brought us out here so we could do our own scenic shots."
Sasuke shot her a look. "Okay, Hyuga-chan. Would you like to teach this lesson since you seemed to know so much about it?"
She folded her arms, shrugging. "Well, it's true."
Rolling his eyes, he returned his attention back to the group. "Yes, we are doing a scenic photoshoot. These are generally pretty easy to do, at least, I don't believe they take a lot of effort. However, there are a lot of ways you can fuc –you can mess them up. It's all about your subject for the photograph. Remember what I told you about subject... Hyuga-chan?"
Hanabi glared at him, dutifully replying with, "The subject of your photograph should be a concrete idea. This subject doesn't always have to be a person or object – it can be a place or a color. As long as the viewer can see it, and understand that it is the focus of the entire photograph."
He nodded, smirking at her glower. "Very good, Hyuga-chan. I suppose you aren't here just to get on my nerves. So, today, I want all of you to pick a subject for your photo. I don't care what you use, be it a person, like one of your fellow students, or an object, like a piece of litter that has been left behind, or even a cloud in the sky. Pick something to be your photo's subject, and take as many pictures as you can of it. Do it far away, do it up close, get as many angles as you can. Then pick three of your favorites. Tonight, I want you to print them out, and bring them to class with you tomorrow." He quickly ran over how to find the optimal settings for outdoor photography before waving a hand and dismissing them. "Go."
As the students scampered away, Hanabi stared at him. "Neji-niisan did some research on you, Uchiha-sensei."
Sasuke blinked, turning to face her with an arched eyebrow. "Okay."
"He says that with what he found, he ought to report you." She bowed her head, fiddling with her little digital camera.
He stared her down, his jaw clenching as he spoke through his teeth. "First of all, tell 'Neji-niisan' to get off my fucking back. I don't know who he thinks he is, but he has no right to judge me this way. Second of all – why are you telling me this?"
Hanabi looked at him through her lashes, and for a second, he had a flash of Hinata standing in front of him, doing the same. The way Hanabi curled in on herself, her shoulders sloped, her head bowed, the way she nervously fiddled with her fingers, and watched him from such a low angle reminded him of Hinata and it was almost – touching to see how related they were. He supposed it was something he should have expected, being that they were close siblings, but they just barely resembled each other. Hanabi had inherited the same big, hooded eyes as Hinata had, but she was built differently than her sister. She resembled Neji more than she did Hinata.
Clearing her throat, she glanced around the field, trying to appear nonchalant as she spoke. "Well, onee-san keeps mentioning you. And there was an incident, a while back, where the men onee-san was into weren't very... reputable. So Neji-niisan is extra cautious about her now. He hasn't told her what he knows, and the only reason I know is because he happened to leave his laptop open so that I could see what he had researched. You know, for being a somewhat famous guy, it's hard to find stuff about you."
Sasuke sighed loudly, running a hand through his hair as he kept his eyes on the students, slowly turning in place to make sure no one was trying to run off and ditch class. "I paid some people to make it that way. I... didn't want my drug use to get in the way of my life after all the bullshit that had happened. It's kind of necessary for me to mention on my resume though." He jammed his hands into the pockets of his faded jeans, which were only made to look that way. They were actually designer and cost more than what was reasonable, but he had bought them anyway. "I lived an extravagant life – the headlines I made then would make it hard for me to live normally now."
Hanabi kicked at a rock with her shoe, before bending down to look at it. "You should know that I'm rooting for you, sensei."
"Rooting for me how? And for what?"
She lifted her camera to her eye, snapping off a few shots of the misplaced rock, her voice soft. "I think onee-san really enjoys your company."
"I should hope so. Sitting across from each other would make it really awkward if not otherwise."
She looked up at him, her glare having no heat. "I meant she enjoys your company besides just working. She says you're fun to talk to." Hanabi stood and walked toward a patch of wild flowers near the creek, gurgling happily. "I'll tell Neji-niisan to mind his own business, but I honestly don't think I can keep him away for very long. I think you'll have to deal with him eventually."
Hinata sighed, setting her textbook and paperwork on her down desk a soft thud. "It's been such a long day."
Sasuke glanced up from the quizzes he should have had graded two days ago to see Hinata rub her neck, grimacing. She was dressed in a slate-blue cardigan over a lace-trimmed camisole, her silky hair left down with only a black clip to keep it out of her eyes. She dressed so simply in blouses and slacks, and yet every time he looked at her, not even a model in the latest haute couture could hold his attention. He had spent half his morning imagining running his fingers through those dark strands, trying to determine if her hair was a deep brown like her sister's. After a moment of mindlessly watching her, he eventually spit out, "Every day is a long day. I'm constantly wanting to be in bed asleep."
She dragged her fingers through her hair, gently tugging at the knots that had accumulated by the end of the day, her soft pale eyes crinkling in the corners with her smile. The urge to tunnel his fingers through her hair grew stronger the longer he watched. "Sleeping seems to be all you do, Uchiha-san."
"I eat occasionally," he shrugged, dragging his gaze back to the answer sheet front of him. The words swam before his eyes, his attention now focused solely on the woman before him. God, when had he become so pathetic? "Oh, and I take pictures of cool stuff."
She laughed gently, tucking the hem of her pencil skirt beneath her knees and carefully seating herself in the swivel chair. "I wish I could be as carefree as you are. But TenTen-chan would never allow me to sleep any later than noon."
He paused in his grading, once again lifting his eyes to hers. "Why does TenTen give a damn about your sleeping patterns?"
"TenTen-chan is my roommate," she replied, smiling warmly. "She is also dating my cousin, Neji-niisan."
"Were you at least roommates with her before she and Neji got together? Because that seems super awkward to walk in on your cousin and your friend making out on your sofa, like, 'Hey, future-sister-in-law, what would you like to eat tonight? Or should we just order out?'" He propped his chin in his hand, arching an eyebrow as she flushed and giggled. "Or even just walking into your place, and seeing your cousin leaving and thinking, 'They just had sex.'"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Shikamaru asked, finally turning away from his own paperwork to look at Sasuke with a mildly annoyed expression. "Did I just hear the word 'sex'? In the teacher's lounge no less?"
"And what if you did, Nara?" Sasuke shot back, arching an eyebrow, daring the man to do something to him. Hinata giggled softly across from him. "What are you gonna do about it? Reprimand me like a student? Oh, I'm so scared of you, Nara-sensei."
"Let me grade in peace, dammit."
Sasuke smirked as Shikamaru rolled his eyes, turning away finally. "Yeah, I knew you weren't gonna do anything."
Hinata picked up a purple pen, the corners of her mouth trembling as she tried to contain her smile. "I don't think Nara-san has a mean bone in his body. I hear students rather enjoy chatting with him."
"Yeah, but they still make me do paperwork," Shikamaru grumbled, shooting a look toward them. "Oh, before I forget to mention it, Ino wants to get all the teachers together again, for some kind of barbeque at her place, this Sunday. I don't know what she wants, but I usually go along for the free food."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Didn't we get in trouble for the last 'get-together' she threw?"
"Yeah, but this time, there won't be beer involved."
Hinata began sorting through her papers, her fingers nimbly skimming over the pages. "I would like to go, if that's alright." She glanced up to Sasuke, and her smile made his stomach warm, then twist. "What about you, Uchiha-san?"
He could feel Shikamaru's gaze on him, knew the man was thinking about Sasuke couldn't possibly say no to the resident sweetheart. And goddammit, he was right. "Sure, I haven't had any unsupervised conversation in awhile." He looked away from Hinata's beaming smile, because it felt too much like he were looking directly into the sun.
A/N: Awwww, Sasuke, you're so damn precious! Look at you fawning over the woman of your dreams! Hurry up and kiss her already! Oh, wait... I'm the one writing the story, aren't I? Maybe they'll kiss some time soon, hmm? We're already 6 chapters in, so some love should start coming through. I like this slow progression. Maybe Sasuke will trip over his feet in front of Hinata, stutter like a dweeb and she'll call him adorable. I've done that shit before. Oh man, when he blushed... Anyway, I basically live in an anime and all y'all is jealous of me.
Like always, my lovely darlings, please review after you've read the chapter! I want to know your thoughts, your opinions, your greatest desires for this story! I want to know how I can improve! And, please, tell me what other anime I should write fanfiction for! I've been writing too much Naruto - I need to mix it up a bit? What other manga/anime/book/series would you like to see me explore? I honestly don't mind your suggestions. Keep your dreams close ~ A Dreamer Always