Hi, guys! Does anyone still read this story? Just want to know if I still have an audience. (On a side note, happy new year!)
I know, I know, I'm super late and I apologise I don't think you want to hear my excuses. I managed to finish my honours year, and I will start PhD in Feb/March.

I spent ages on this chapter because I practically had to force it out. I didn't like how it flowed, and I know it's rather short... the next one should be longer to make up for it. Once again, ideas and feedback are always welcome! Not much humour in this chapter...

I also want to thank all you guys! Really! 49 reviews, 50 favourites, and 112 follows is amazing! You've made me really happy~

Thank you to my lovely reviewers! You guys keep me motivated~ Shout out to: Resya018, franny, justsukiya, aurora0914, KonnyakuJelly, farahb, qpenelope, Fher34, Guest (1), byzelo (for reviewing all 3 chapters!), Guest (2), Guest (3) (Sorry, no Hinata's PoV), mana66, and kandita! I'd give you all ANZAC biscuits, but I'm not sure how many of you would enjoy them.


He was 10 minutes early, sitting in his shiny black Mercedes outside the Hyuuga manor. The place was impressive, but it (obviously) didn't match up to the Uchiha household. Hopefully, none of the Hyuuga security guards would come up to him and ask him what he was doing loitering around the outside the house of Japan's biggest media company in a sleek black Mercedes (which could totally give the wrong impression because, hey, just his luck, right?).

His brother had invited him to lunch in the morning, but he had to decline in order to meet with Hinata. This of course prompted some teasing from Itachi ("you like her but she doesn't like you back" Itachi had practically sung out in that annoying tune), in which he ended the conversation like a mature person by eloquently telling his brother to 'shut up' and then made a 'tactical retreat' to the Hyuuga household. So what if he had a notebook? He flipped to the first page of the notebook and scowled. His brother's neat handwriting was on the bottom left corner of the page reading 'Good luck, my socially awkward brother. I know you're going to need it.'

Sasuke slammed the book closed and shoved it in the glove compartment. Curse Itachi! He muttered out a few choice words while turning his attention to the main gates and to his date.

His cell phone went off, startling him out of his thoughts. He quickly grabbed it upon seeing the name 'Hyuuga Hinata' flit across the screen.

"Uchiha-san?" Her voice was quiet and tentative.

"Hyuuga."

"Umm… are you h-here yet?"

"I'm waiting outside."

He heard her gasp. "I'm so s-sorry, Uchiha-san! I… umm… d-do you m-mind waiting a f-few minutes?"

"No."

"Umm… ok-kay… I'll t-try and hur-ry up…"

He pulled the phone away, amused that she had hung up on him without giving any notice. He chucked his phone on the dashboard holder and crossed his arms, thinking about the situation.

Come to think of it, what would his parents say if he ended up dating a Hyuuga? For some reason, their families were rivals of a sort even though they weren't in the same line of business. And, knowing how stuffy both of their families were, how would her parents take it?

If all went well, maybe he should show up for those stupid corporate dinners. Come to think of it, wasn't there one tomorrow? If she was going to that then he was most definitely going. After all, he wouldn't pass up the chance to see her in formal wear since it should be more flattering than the jackets she seemed to have a penchant for. That and he had to watch out for his older brother. Even if Itachi was kidding… god forbid if Hinata preferred his brother over him.

His phone buzzed and he picked it up, wondering if Hinata had forgotten something. He frowned upon seeing a text message from Naruto. He was just surprised that Naruto would be up this early (you know, if 1pm was considered early). Knowing Naruto, he was probably up until 5 in the morning playing some sort of dungeon crawler or having a movie marathon. Curious, he opened the message.

teme, goin 2 Rasengan. u wnt 2 come? Sakura n Sai r gonna b dere 2.

Why couldn't Naruto spell like a normal person? He sighed. It was kind of sad that he could read Naruto's messages with ease now.

No, banned from there too. Suigetsu and Karin broke the DDR machine.

Within seconds, he received a reply. gdamit, teme! ur spposd 2 hlp me get tckts!

Sasuke rolled his eyes. Where were all the vowels going? I'm not your prizewinner, dobe. Get it yourself.

He put the phone back on the dashboard and ignored Naruto's reply.

A knock on the window diverted his attention. He rolled down his window to see Hinata sporting… yet another overly large thin sweater (wasn't she warm in that?) in pale blue, and a pair of jeans. At least at the dinner she couldn't wear overly large sweaters… unless she wore a jacket over herself the entire time. Damn.

"Um… h-hey," Hinata said softly, raising her hand in greeting.

He gave his usual 'hn' in greeting, and both of them stared at each other for a few silent moments. "Are you going to get in or…?"

She let out a small 'eep' noise before quickly running around the car. His lips twitched slightly, and he resumed his usual poker face before she opened the door and seated herself in the passenger seat. She fastened the seatbelt and the busied herself with poking her index fingers together.

"… g-good afternoon, Uchiha-san…" she managed to get out with minimal stuttering. "Umm… d-do I g-get to know where w-we're g-going?"

"…botanical gardens… you like… plants, right?"

From the corner of his eye, he saw her raise her hand to her mouth in an attempt to stifle the giggle (which he heard anyway). What was so funny about that question? He started his car and pulled away from the curb.

"P-plants…! Umm… y-yes, I l-like plants." She giggled. "D-do you?"

At least she hadn't closed herself off. He was kind of expecting her to, thanks to the disastrous date yesterday. Now he had an agreement with his meddlesome friends – they wouldn't bother him for a week, and he'd hang out with them at whatever time the following week (which meant he was probably going to end up funding any outings, like the amusement park that the pair wouldn't shut up about in the last week of class, or an all-you-can-eat buffet because his friends were cheap-ass bastards).

"I don't mind."

With a small smile, she replied, "You're rath-ther thoughtfu-ful…"

"Good to know."

She let out a quiet laugh before staring out the window.

They lapsed into silence, with some sort of trashy pop song playing in the background (he blamed Naruto for that one; Naruto liked to listen to that sort of thing and he couldn't be bothered to change it since he gave Naruto rides often enough, and every time he changed it, his best friend would just change it back and complain about his 'taste in music' since he didn't understand classical music).

It was only after a couple of songs did Hinata speak up. "Umm… Uchiha-san… are you… g-going to the d-dinner tomorrow? I'm j-just wonder-dering!"

He pretended to debate it for a few minutes. Surely she knew that he didn't normally attend since, apparently, Itachi conversed with her on a number of occasions (in which his brother was only too happy to point out). "I'll be there."

"Eh?!"

"What?"

She raised her hands up in a placating manner. "I-I don't mean an-nything bad b-by it! I'm j-just sur-prised you're at-t-tending be-because you d-don't normal-ly… I'm so-sorry!"

"Don't apologise. There's no reason to," he replied calmly. That stutter was kind of annoying, especially when he knew she was fully capable of speaking without it.

"Yes! Umm… well, since to-tomorrow is the dinne-ner… I gu-guess we won't me-meet before then…?"

It was more of a confirmation rather than a question. He supposed it was because she wanted to take the whole day to prepare. Tch, women. "No, I guess not."

The conversation died right there. At least the music playing in the background made it a less awkward silence. Thankfully, it wasn't a long drive to the gardens.

He supposed the one good thing about the gardens was that hardly anyone around their age would be here, or so he hoped. Young people more or less congregated around the shopping districts or the common attractions. Hopefully they wouldn't be bothered by anyone here.

From the corner of his eye he noted, to his satisfaction, her eyes light up at the sight of the gardens. She gazed up at the sign for a moment before turning her attention back to him.

Bowing, she said, "Th-Thank you for tak-king me here, Uchi-chiha-san. I haven't been h-here in ye-years."

He responded with a noncommittal grunt and gestured for them to enter. She complied and the two of them entered.

Sasuke was content with letting Hinata lead the way as he had never been in the botanical gardens and didn't really have much interest in it. Sure, the plants were nice to look at, he supposed, but it wasn't something that he would spend more than a few moments looking at before he was on his way. What was so interesting about flowers, leaves, and dirt?

Apparently there was some sort of appeal since Hinata was wandering from plant to plant, talking to herself. Her comments ranged from 'Oh, they have them here?' to 'These are gorgeous. I need to get some'. Amused at her ramblings, he trailed after her as they made their way through the rainbow carpets and towering giants. It was good to know that she appeared to be enjoying herself, but it was like he wasn't even there.

It was as if she'd read his mind. She tilted her head to look back at him. "Umm… S-Sorry, Uchiha-san. I just… um… d-do you… I m-mean, are you hav-ving f-fun?" Her expression turned into a slight wince as if asking an Uchiha if he was having fun was an accident (he knew what fun was, he just had a very different view of fun than his friends).

Shrugging, he fell in step with her. "So why do you like plants?"

"My m-mother and I used to g-garden," she replied without looking at him. "I suppose my m-mother's l-love of garden-ning rubbed off on me."

Right, he'd heard from someone in his family that the Hyuuga matriarch had passed away some years back. "I don't suppose your family is too happy with you tending to plants in the dirt, are they?"

"Not really, but otou-san d-doesn't care so long as I d-do wh-whatev-ver he requires…" She bent down to inspect some red flowers, tentatively reaching out to touch the petals.

He paused, unsure as to what to say because what could he say to that? He too had a father that only cared about whether or not he dealt with his responsibilities, although his mother was a bit too invested in his social life, or lack thereof (apparently being banned from arcades or hanging out at ramen places wasn't considered a 'social life'). Instead, he offered her his hand to help her back up again. "Think of it as a freedom, because we probably won't get much when we come of age."

Hinata stared at him for a moment, stunned, before she turned her attention to his hand. "That's true. When I take over the company, I won't have much time to garden. And thank you, Uchiha-kun." She grasped his hand and waited for him to pull her up. After a couple of seconds of him just holding her hand, she looked up at him, confused.

"You didn't stutter." And she changed from –san to –kun… He pulled her up.

When he saw comprehension dawn on her, he immediately regretted mentioning her stuttering. "I… umm… it c-comes and g-goes… I also w-want to thank y-you for that. I nev-ver thought of it th-that way."

She looked down and he followed her gaze to their still joined hands. He quickly dropped her hand, figuring she was uncomfortable. After a small, fake cough, he said, "Don't mention it."

His comment earned him a small smile before she looked back down at the flowers. At least things were a lot less hectic than the previous day and that she was still willing to spend time with him. He was pretty sure that if it were anyone else, they wouldn't have given him the time of day.

"Hinata-chan?!"

Irritated at the intrusion because that sounded like a young, female voice, Sasuke turned to look at whoever the hell was interrupting them. He certainly didn't recognise the three people walking towards them. From the corner of his eye, he saw Hinata stand up to peer over at the speaker.

"Hinata-chan! It is you! I haven't seen you in years! You're so pretty now."

"T-Temari-san?" She looked between the blonde and the two guys accompanying her. "What are you th-three doing in Tokyo?"

Temari grinned at the look on her face. "We've got a meeting with the Uchiha Corporation." Temari arched an eyebrow at Hinata. "And who's this?"

Hinata brushed some dirt off the bottom of her sweater. "Umm… This is Uchiha Sasuke-kun," she said as she gestured at him. "Uchiha-kun, this is Sabaku Temari-san and her two brothers, Gaara-kun and Kankurou-san." She gestured at the red-head and brunette respectively. "I'm sure you two are acquainted with each other's families…"

Sasuke eyed the trio warily while inclining his head in greeting. He knew of the Sabaku family that owned the largest supplement company in Japan. He was not privy to the meeting between his family and theirs, however, as he wasn't the heir to the business. Still… why was Hinata addressing the younger male with –kun?

With a smirk, Temari asked, "Are you two dating?"

Before he could reply, Hinata choked and stared at her friend. "N-N-No!" she exclaimed as she waved her hands about in a negative gesture, her face colouring to what he saw as an unhealthy shade of red.

"We're just friends," he said calmly. For now, unfortunately.

Gaara's voice was a quiet baritone. "Hinata, how do you know…" There was a pause. "Uchiha."

He narrowed his eyes slightly at the very deliberate intonation in that question. He glanced at his companion only to see her look between the two of them, confused. "Umm… we… we were in a couple of classes together this year." A pause. "We're f-friends." She looked nervously at him. "I went to the same primary school as Gaara-kun. I… used to live in Kanagawa."

Sasuke was a bit confused at that. He and Neji had gone to the same school for all their life, and Neji had said he was under the care of Hiashi, so wouldn't that mean the two of them should have been brought up together? Neji had never mentioned the heiress until she had attended their high school halfway through year 10. "But you moved to Tokyo…?"

She shrugged a bit awkwardly. "Fam-mily matters." Looking a bit hopefully towards her friends, she asked, "How long will you be here for?"

"Another three days," Kankurou replied. "We've gotta attend the party Senju-sama is throwing, then the meeting is the following day, and then we get a day off." He counted off the days with his fingers.

Where he ended up having to mask his scowl, Hinata's face lit up. "You're attending Senju-sama's party as well?"

"Yes, we're all going," Gaara replied.

Temari sidled up to her youngest brother. "Ehh, what's this Gaara? I thought-!" She was abruptly cut off by an elbow to her left side. "Son of a-"

Gaara shot a pointed look at both his siblings. "We're all going," he repeated.

Hinata, predictably, was oblivious to this, but Sasuke was not. He glared at Gaara, who returned his expression with equal distaste. He did not like that guy. Not at all.

"Umm… can I get your numbers? We never got to exchange contact info before, you know…" Hinata asked quietly as she pulled out her phone.

Sasuke watched as the four of them exchanged contact information, Gaara the last one to do so. Gaara ended up engaging Hinata in a conversation, much to his displeasure. Unfortunately, Temari ended up talking to him.

"Are you going to Senju-sama's dinner party as well, Uchiha-kun?"

If he wasn't going before, he sure as hell would be going now. "Naturally," he replied, his tone clipped.

Temari huffed as if insulted. Good, maybe she would cut the small talk.

"We should get going," Kankurou said as he looked down at his phone. "Baki's waiting outside."

"Hmph. Seeya, Uchiha." Temari waved her hand and walked back over to Hinata. "See you tomorrow, Hinata-chan!"

Hinata bowed politely. "Yes, see you three tomorrow. It was nice being able to see you again after so long."

Great, now he had to deal with those three tomorrow. His jaw clenched in irritation as he watched the Sabaku siblings say their goodbyes and head off.

"I'm s-sorry ab-bout that…" Hinata bowed her head in apology. "I… umm… haven't s-seen them in s-six y-years…" She fidgeted with the edge of her sweater.

"Hn." He surveyed the surrounding area. "So," he said as he inclined his head towards the plants off to the right, "What are those?"

Startled, Hinata glanced over in the direction he indicated, seeing the violet flowers neatly lined up in rows. "Those are hyaci-cinths. And th-the ones next to them a-are begonias." She pointed at the light pink flowers.

He made an affirmative noise and resumed walking down the path they were taking before they were interrupted. "And the orange ones?"

She rushed to catch up with him, finally falling in step. "Err… those are orch-chids. Umm… they're used in t-tradition-nal m-medicine and umm… vanilla pods come fr-from the vanilla orchid."

Hinata seemed happy enough to talk about her beloved plants and he obliged, not usually the one to initiate conversation. Her voice was soothing, and she seemed fairly relaxed when talking about the flowers since her stuttering slowly decreased as they continued along the path. Soon enough, he had managed to get to a point where Hinata didn't stutter at all when talking to him. He was inwardly relieved that his decision to go to the botanical gardens was a good one. While he didn't particularly care about the flowers themselves, he paid attention to Hinata, attempting to figure out what her favourite flower was. So far he hadn't been able to discern it since she seemed genuinely happy about all of them.

For the most part, he was surprised at how much she knew about flowers, especially the ones with medicinal value. Maybe it was one of her hobbies? He did ask her and she shyly told him that dabbling with salves and herbal medicines was indeed one of her hobbies. He mentally noted that point down for later.

Of course, she did reciprocate the question, which then lead to a few other simple get-to-know-you questions, like what do you like to eat? What was your favourite subject? Favourite colour? How many siblings do you have? What are they like?

He had no idea she had a younger sister, five years younger. He thought she was an only child. Hinata made her sound like such an angel, and made Neji sound like such a saint. Knowing that Neji was anything but a saint, he took her words with a grain of salt in regards to her sister. Listening to her talk about her family was nice. It was the most he'd ever heard from her and she always had a fond smile whenever she mentioned her cousin or her sister.

He was enjoying his time with her and forgot about the time, at least until his phone went off. Recognising the ringtone he had given his brother, he sighed and excused himself. Hinata, being Hinata, had gestured the 'okay'.

"What do you want, aniki?" Why were there so many goddamn interruptions?

"You know, we have a dinner with Madara-ojisan in forty-five minutes."

Shit. He had completely forgotten. After cursing and gritting out a rough 'thank you', he hung up and pocketed his phone. "Lost track of time and forgot I have to attend a dinner at six…"

Her mouth formed an 'o' shape before she nodded in understanding. "That's fine. I umm…" She blushed. "Hope I haven't b-bored you with m-my ramb-blings."

He raised an eyebrow at the return of her stutter. He definitely preferred it when she didn't. "I wasn't bored."

Hinata gave him a small, but warm smile. He could feel a little heat in his cheeks and forced himself to calm down. "I g-guess you're in a r-rush. Umm… I need to b-buy a couple of things fr-from the store, s-so you can head ba-back home. Hanabi-chan should still be in th-the area. I can g-give her a call."

"Are you sure? I can drop you off."

She waved her hands. "No, it's okay. You umm… don't have much t-time, right? One of our c-cousins is dr-driving Hanabi-chan around anyway, so it's n-not a problem. I c-can call them r-right now if it m-makes you feel better."

He nodded and waited for her. Why did he have to have a dinner with Madara today out of all days? His uncle had such bad timing (he pointedly ignored the fact that he basically set himself up for this week long ordeal).

"Ko-san will be h-here in ten min-nutes."

Nodding, he gestured towards the direction of the exit. "Shall we go?"

He was unsurprised to see the silver limousine already waiting in the carpark for her (because, seriously, who else would have a limo at the botanical gardens at this hour?). A man with the same eyes as Hinata stood at the door.

"Hinata-sama. Hanabi-sama is still at The Emporium. She asked you to choose dinner." He bowed at both of them before facing him. "Uchiha-san, thank you for looking after Hinata-sama."

Sasuke nodded in acknowledgement. "Guess I'll see you tomorrow," he said to his companion.

"My sister…" Hinata shook her head before looking at him. "Umm… yes, I'll s-see you tom-morrow at th-the p-party." She bowed before walking over to Ko, who opened the door for her.

As the car drove away, he saw her wave, if a bit timidly, and he returned the gesture before walking over to his own car. While he started up the Mercedes, his thoughts wandered to the party Tsunade was throwing tomorrow.

Maybe it was time to ask his brother for some advice.


A/N: Does anyone want to see Sasuke give Hinata flowers in a cliche way? :D