Hinata was unsure the first few times, but it became clear as to what he was doing after the third slip. Sasuke Uchiha was staring at her. He would take quick glances at her from time to time, sometimes when she was looking, sometimes when she wasn't, and it was driving her mad. It made it hard to concentrate on the lecture. Well, harder. There was always a distraction, it seemed, and when her eyes would drift toward Naruto—the primary distraction and the apple of her eye—that's when Sasuke would shoot her the most looks. That wasn't just something you could ignore.
It was discreet, though, obviously done without the intention of being caught. If it weren't for her abnormal eyesight she might not have even noticed. No one else seemed to. But to their credit, the only reason she became aware of it herself was because she happened to drop her eraser.
During break Iruka-sensei popped the lid on a fresh water bottle, parched from sending out detention slips and clean-up duty (mostly to Naruto), so the girls assumed their positions. Sasuke was a reasonably comfortable distance away from her, but not far enough for her to escape the circle of ripe perfumes and sharp scented shampoos. So many people so close . . . it made her uneasy. She'd chosen to sit at the back of the classroom for a reason.
Thank Kami they paid no attention to her. Sasuke, however attentive, kept them busy, but while they were ogling him, Naruto was ogling Sakura. Those drowning puppy eyes and heartbroken sighs—it hurt to watch. He always tried his best to get stronger, to better himself, to become somebody, and not just for anybody, but specifically for her. The part that Hinata loved most about him was also the part that caused her the most pain, and she didn't understand that at all. It would have been nice if he'd cast one glance her way. Just one. How could Sakura not care?
Only Ino Yamanaka was rivaled her persistence, and Hinata preferred to stay away from them both. It confused her when she saw Sasuke clenching his fists in annoyance or gritting his teeth, saying nothing, letting them to pester him raw. He never told them to go away. Well, sometimes he did, like on days when he was having a bad day. Like today.
His eyes scorched the desk in front of him, hands overlapped, supporting his chin. Babbling, babbling, babbling, and not just that, but the bantering; an assault from all sides, warring from polar hemispheres. At this point his earlobes were in danger of eating themselves.
"Sasuke, are you awake? HELLO!" Sakura waved a slender hand in his face, so close that the wind stroked the locks from his face. He flinched. Don't kill anybody he had to remind himself frequently. Save all homicidal inflictions for Itachi . . .
Sakura had pulled a chair beside his desk, dominating, territorial. She folded her elbows in front of him, constantly leaning in as if she couldn't get close enough, strangling his breathing room without knowing she was doing it. Sasuke's right eye flinched a little. Only Hinata noticed.
Ino, who was busy scowling at Sakura, especially didn't notice. "Leave him alone, Billboard Brow. He doesn't like you." She tossed her corn flowered hair over her shoulder to make a point. She had worn it out today, something she never does. Sakura, who always had her pink-candy hair flowing like petals against her back, must have inspired a change recently that made her do this. Or maybe it was inspired by Sasuke himself. He had been tense lately, agitated, scarier than usual, and for some otherworldy reason this intensified their attraction.
"Shut your trap, Ino, you ugly pig. Stop speaking for him—it's not impressive, it's pathetic." Ino pulled her chair up to Sasuke's desk as well, opposite to Sakura, and crossed her legs with an unladylike "hmph!"
"I do not look like a pig. You call me that because you're too stupid to come up with anything better. But I'll tell you one thing, pinky, you do have a HUGE forehead." She laughed to herself with a turn of her head, bloated with joy as a child would who'd just said something incredibly smart for their age. Sakura looked like she might rip the blond hair from her scalp. "Sakura," Sasuke finally spoke. He offered the most painful and forced smile Hinata had ever seen. "It's okay. You're forehead makes your eyes look bigger. It brings out the pretty green color." When Ino heard that her face turned red.
Sakura half fainted. The surrounding girls impaled her with looks of murder and disapproval, and from others that were further away, warranted only looks of bewilderment.
'He's doing it again' Hinata thought. She really didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish by saying things like that. He didn't like Sakura or Ino. Naruto, who had been watching the exchange unhappily, bounded from his seat and appeared next to Sakura. He grabbed her by the hand and said in his brightest voice, "I think you're ten times prettier than what that Sasuke-bastard thinks! And you smell nice!" He grinned that happy grin at his, full of confidence, full of energy. Hinata's heart hurt.
Sakura shoved his hand away viciously. "I didn't give you permission to touch me, you idiot! Nobody was talking to you." This somehow hurt Hinata even more. Her chest burned whenever she watched Sakura treat Naruto like a stray dog. He deserved better than that. If Hinata was his girlfriend she'd have done anything to make him happy . . .
"Sakuraa!" Naruto whined.
"No, go away! You are SO annoying!"
"Go with your boyfriend, Billboard Brow," spat Ino. "You shouldn't be so mean to him when he's the best you can do." Naruto bent his head down, laughing awkwardly. He rubbed the back of his head shamefully, shoulders drooping forward, smile twitching, until the façade crumbled apart and he frowned.
Hinata shook with anger. That wasn't fair. Being mad at Sakura didn't give Ino the right to lash out at Naruto like that. In that moment it didn't matter that he liked Sakura, maybe even loved her, or anything. "Naruto is nice! He's never done anything to you. What right do you have to talk about him like that? Sakura has no idea how lucky she is to have someone as kind as Naruto who wants to be her friend. You're just as bad as she is."
No stutter at all. Everyone was taken aback, but no one more than Hinata herself. Sasuke turned to her with the same look of incredulity, which really brought home the full force of terror. Sasuke was never surprised by anything. It was so much worse than Sakura and Ino, who were apparently speechless, and Naruto who was just dumbfounded. No one ever stands up for him. Was it that much of a shock? Or were they more surprised that it came from her?
The sound of the bell dismissed the need to explain herself. It sliced through the awkwardness quickly and effectively (lunch is a powerful thing) and Hinata had the sense to jump to the opportunity. Ino and Sakura clamped hands around Sasuke's arms, mindlessly flitting into another argument. It was a great relief to Hinata, but that didn't mean she couldn't still feel his eyes boring into her back as she left.
She went to the roof for lunch. After what she had just done, being in the same room as Naruto was unbearable. Being alone gave her time to think, to recollect herself and analyze, and when she did the only thing she could think was "What just happened?" She purposely sat in the back of the class so that she never had to talk to anyone. It was torture whenever Iruka called on her for answers, whether she or not them or not, and today had been no different. So why? No . . . that bit of rational thought had played no part in the outburst. The only thing she had been thinking about was Naruto. When Hinata realized that, a jittery satisfaction tumbled through her. She actually came to his defense. She stuck up for him when no one else did, when she had always wanted to, and was that anything to feel bad about?
Blood filled her cheeks as she unwrapped her bento: four small rice balls, dumplings, fried rice and chocolate cookies. A lot of food. She never ate all of it; it was impossible. Yet she always packed a great deal, everyday sitting by herself and staring at Naruto anxiously, whom she noticed would only eat a rice ball or nothing. He didn't have parents and he certainly couldn't cook, so it was expected that he never packed a decent lunch. If Iruka wasn't looking out for him he'd probably never eat anything (they couldn't serve ramen every day).
She had tried to summon up the courage to share her food with him, but the end result was always the same. It would happen one day, wouldn't it? And when it did, she even imagined confessing that she'd packed extra just for him. The fantasy that painted sent her gliding. Just as she snapped a pair of chopsticks apart the door to the roof slammed open and they dropped into the bento. End of fantasy. "Eep!"
It was Sasuke. He stalked his way along the roof, clearly annoyed and . . . dangerous. He spun his head in her direction when she shifted, downright startled, but when he saw that it was only her he immediately relaxed. His shoulders dropped with a sigh. He walked over to her, calm, breath-taking against the shadows cast by the sun. His bangs were so long that he had to keep his hand suspended over his eyes; that way the breeze did not sweep them into his face. "What are you doing here?" he asked coolly. He was standing a little close. Uneasy. The lady killer, Sasuke Uchiha. Here.
"U-um . . . eating lunch." Sasuke stared at her bento. "I see. Stupid question." She couldn't believe it when he sat down next to her. It was enough of a shock that he hadn't left as soon as he discovered she was here. Why on earth did he sit down? And he was so close! Almost touching her shoulder, but he didn't seem to mind in the slightest. In fact, he didn't even seem to notice. "You eat like a pig, huh?" His dark eyes trailed the many tiers up and down.
"Wh—! Ah, no . . . I just . . . u-um . . ." Oh crap. She couldn't tell him that it was because of Naruto. No way. Especially after what happened in class. Sasuke plucked a rice ball from her bento and took a bite. "Mind if I take some? I skipped breakfast this morning and didn't pack a lunch."
Hinata gave her permission with a nod. Really, she didn't mind. There was no way she could eat all of it by herself, and she hated letting things go to waste. So she took the extra pair of chopsticks from her bento, the ones she'd been saving for Naruto, and handed them to Sasuke. "W-why don't you just eat the school's lunch?" she found herself asking. Panic knotted inside of her (she didn't realize how it sounded until it was out) and she hoped he didn't take offense.
"No way," he replied irritably, snapping the chopsticks apart. He plucked a dumpling. "Those creatures are in there. I don't want them following me anymore. I can't stand it. I can't go home either, because that's the first place they'd look." Ah, so the irritation wasn't for her. He stuffed the dumpling hungrily into his mouth, already reaching for another one. "Besides, this is really good. Did you make it?"
Hinata looked down, feigning indecisiveness about what to eat. Her answer was a squeak. "Yes." Her cheeks went hot. Compliments. No matter who they were from, they always sparked the same reactions. It just wasn't something she was used to.
"Impressive. I didn't think the elites of the Hyuga Clan knew how to cook. Especially for themselves." With a mouth half stuffed with fried rice, he was already working on a rice ball. Hinata suppressed a smile when he bit down satisfyingly. 'Who eats like a pig?' This wasn't anything at all like the cordial lunch she'd imagined with Naruto. With an unexpected air of comfort she plucked a dumpling for herself and started eating.
Neither of them said a word for the rest of lunch. In the end Hinata had only eaten one dumpling and two chocolate cookies. Sasuke had devoured the rest. Again, she didn't mind. She was so small, so it didn't take much to fill her stomach. Cooking was fun for her; it reminded her of her mother.
Sasuke offered his thanks when he got to his feet. "Y-you're welcome," she stuttered. The bento was packed away quickly, so she mimicked his actions in preparation to leave. Sasuke led the way quietly, reaching the door far before she did. She had stopped to brush the debris from her jacket, and when she looked up, was shocked to find Sasuke standing at the open door looking at her.
"Come," he said. "We'll be late for class." Hinata obeyed. She allowed him to take the lead once more when she was through, and as she followed, staring thoughtfully at his back, she began breaking down his character. Easier said than done. Nothing she analyzed could ease the confusion.
He was a dark person. That's what she'd always thought of him. How could it be that after one little lunch together she was already thinking otherwise? He sure was quiet . . . but then so was she. If he liked playing with girls' emotions, it was because he was either bored or annoyed. Mostly annoyed. It would explain his behavior toward Sakura and Ino, and he was alone a lot. Then again, so was she. But why was he always staring at her? Today couldn't have been the only day . . .
Of course. It made a world of sense. They were blank as unused canvases, no emotion, no definition—abnormal. Strange they were, possessed only by the Hyuga clan, and how many Hyugas went to their school? Two. Her and Neji-niisan, who was one grade above her and located in an entirely different part of the school.
'And he only ate lunch with me because he was hungry.' Yes, everything made sense now. Maybe Sasuke Uchiha wasn't so confusing. She was a little relieved with the conclusions she'd come up with. They suited him. After all, it's not like he'd eaten lunch with her because he liked her or anything laughably ridiculous like that.