Chapter One

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

A/N: Hello folks. My first SasuHina (kinda, my other fic, The Way of the Geisha, had traces of SasuHina in it). I wanted to make a slightly melancholy, after the war romance and here it is. Hope you like it.

A land void was causing him all this house trouble, is what the official told him.

After the earthquake that happened nearly two weeks ago, Sasuke decided that he was sick and tired of stepping onto the front lawn of his apartment complex and sinking up to his ankles. The official told him that the earthquake shifted around the soil and that now there were land voids or cavities under the apartment complex. The building was structurally unsound. The point of the matter was that he would have to eventually move.

Sasuke's mind was a few miles away sitting comfortably in the back balcony of his apartment, staring out at the peaceful garden and the view of the mountains. He didn't want to move, damn it!

Though his mind was far, his physical body was currently hurtling through the trees; his step on each tree branch after tree branch was light like the breeze. There was a slightly whistling wind doing an excellent job of masking any noise he might make. It was because of this slightly noisy wind that he didn't hear someone crying until he was almost upon them. He stopped and from his position atop a relatively spindly branch, he looked closer, peering through the thick foliage. It was almost dusk, but the summer sun was still burning brightly, affording him enough light to see that it was Hinata Hyuuga crying her eyes out as she stood atop a river.

Sasuke had only ever said 'hn' to Hinata Hyuuga in the last two years and couldn't see himself changing that now. He looked her over (as best as he could from his distance) and decided that she didn't look like she was in a life or death situation and thus, didn't need his help. Though, he couldn't help but be slightly amazed at her control. He knew that she was an excellent and worthy kunoichi, but still! The water was moving quite rapidly and the current was strong, yet she wasn't budging.

He was about to leave when he felt the spike in chakra and saw her turn around sharply to face him. She quickly wiped her eyes (and with it any traces that she had just activated her Byakugan) and slowly left the river to walk towards him.

"Sasuke-san," She said as she stopped in front the tree he was perched.


He jumped down, underestimating how close he would be to her and almost landed on her feet. Hinata politely took three steps back.

"Good form," He managed to say when the silence drew on for too long.

"Uhh, thank you."

"You always cry on raging rivers?"

Her eyes widened and she blushed and avoided his gaze. He guessed that he shouldn't have brought it up.

"What are you doing here? Don't you have Counsel meeting with the Hokage?"

Oh, so he's Hokage and not Naruto-kun, Sasuke idly thought.



Silence stretched again and Sasuke decided to throw her a conversational bone.

"I was heading back from training. I was going to get something to eat."

"Oh. Me too." She realized a second too late that he had already caught her decidedly not doing that. She blushed more after being caught in that lie, but he decided to ignore her.

"Know any good places? And do not mention any ramen stalls. I'm sick and tired of ramen." He muttered that last part and she gave a small indulgent smile that she tried to hide from him.

"Um, there's a place upstairs the bookstore on Temple street that serve really good, taste-like-home food."

"Is it quiet?"


Sasuke turned without warning and leapt up to the tree. Hinata was a bit surprised by his sudden departure. He turned back to look down at her.

"Aren't you coming?"


"Didn't you say you were going to get something to eat?"

"Um, when did I –" Noticing the miniscule smirk on his face, Hinata realized that he was teasing her about her earlier lie. Teasing! Sasuke Uchiha was capable of teasing and not arrogant taunting! To save face, she uttered, "Oh, yes, yes, of course. Coming."

She leapt up to the branch expecting him to move, but he moved a second too late with the effect being that for a moment they almost occupied the same space and they were practically nose to nose with each other. He took a backwards leap about a millisecond later, but by then it was too late. They had already invaded each other's personal space – twice in two minutes. Unknown to each other, they both silently remarked on how old they looked for twenty-five.

During their walk towards Temple Street, Hinata wondered why she didn't simply tell Sasuke that she was heading home to have dinner. It would have saved her face and she wouldn't be in this awkward situation. Now, now she had to follow through on her words if only so that she wouldn't look like a cowardly liar. But would it be so bad? It had to better than this. She could understand that conversation would be scarce when they were in the trees as he was ahead of her at all times. But now that they had arrived in the main town and had been walking for ten minutes now in absolute silence, Hinata wondered whether she should fake an epileptic fit just to get out of this incredibly uncomfortably awkward situation. She looked to him for social cues and realized that that in itself was a hopeless situation.

Maybe he'd just order take-away, she hoped and save both of them face.

The restaurant was indeed quiet, Sasuke noted. It was small too, which was excellent. He never was a people person and he doubted he'd ever become one. That was probably the biggest hitch in his I-want-to-become-Hokage plan.

Sasuke ordered some gyudon donbori, onigri and some orange juice. Hinata noted with great despair that he did not order it to-go. She ordered tonkatsu with apple juice and went to join him at the table in the corner.

They were the only patrons there.

He picked up his chopsticks and she followed suit, only taking a bite of a piece of cabbage after he took up a sliver of beef from his bowl.

"This is really good." He said after he'd swallowed.

"Mmhmm. The vegetables are always fresh too. I like that, for a fast food place."

"It's quite good," he repeated, "but not as good as your cooking."

Hinata looked up utterly surprised. Her chopsticks were still in her mouth saving her from letting her mouth hang open in shock. Sasuke noticed.

"You cooked for Naruto when you were married to him, didn't you?" She nodded dumbly to his question. He couldn't help but notice the very subtle change in her eyes – shrewder, waiting to shut him down in case he brought up any questions about what happened between her and the blonde idiot. "Well, I've tasted the food and – " Sasuke cut off abruptly when he saw her countenance fall from surprise to mild disappointment? He wasn't sure of her expression. "He ate the food that you cooked for him; but he also shared when I visited."

"Oh. I thought…" She trailed off and bit into a piece of breaded pork cutlet to hide the fact that she left her sentence hanging.

"Thank you," She said belatedly and he gave her a slightly questioning eyebrow pop. Almost forty-five seconds had passed since they had said anything and he forgot what they were talking about. She elaborated, "I'm glad that you liked my food."

"Actually, I was surprised that you would not only know how to cook, but that you could cook so well."


"You look pampered and spoilt."

Hinata was slightly offended and decided not to tell him that he was the one that was spoilt and he didn't just look it. Instead, all she said was,

"That's not true."

"I never said it was. I only said that that's the way you appear. You also look sheltered," he said quickly before she could object and the conversation could devolve into an argument. He wasn't in the mood for arguments. He had enough of that from Naruto. "You look like you wouldn't even know where the kitchen was in your house."

"Do you?" She muttered into her juice, but he heard her and smiled slightly.

"No, I don't cook."

"Aa," He smiled a little more now, but she missed it as she was focussed on her food again. She was subtle in her jabs. He missed subtle lately.

Conversation lagged again, but this time it was Hinata that broke the ice. She crunched loudly on her ice cubes, forcing him to look up at her and then she cleared her throat and said,

"It started as a hobby; cooking, that is. I really like baking too. It's just one of my many hobbies like pressing flowers, dancing and homeopathy. Do you have any?"

Sasuke blinked at her blankly and Hinata felt like an idiot. After she had made up her mind to start a conversation and even planned out her little speech of interesting factoids about herself, he just sat there like she just said the stupidest thing. He couldn't even pretend to be polite! Her face slowly reddened, more from shame than anger.

"I don't have any hobbies." Sasuke responded after a few beats of seeing her angrily stab at the pork. "I don't see the purpose of them."

Hinata looked up at him, her eyebrows knotted in confusion. Sasuke cruelly thought that with her white eyes that gave her a slightly vacant look, plus the look of confusion – she looked a bit mentally slow.

"It's…it's to relax you, entertain you." She said slowly. "Don't you ever get bored?"

"All the time. That's why I…" He trailed off, making a lazy gesticulation about their current situation. He didn't know how to explain that their entire current situation of dining together was based on his acute boredom. Well, he knew how to say it, but he preferred not to since judging from her look of recognition, she already realized what he was going to say. She was smart to the subtle cues, this one.

"Why are you so bored? You're so involved in politics. I mean, you might not be Hokage, but you're the Hokage's right hand advisor. Does politics not hold your interests?"

"I don't know. The problem is I'm not so much bored as maybe empty…I don't really know how to explain it."

"Oh," And she went back to eating her food. Sasuke didn't know what to say to that. Usually the other person would politely insist that he try to explain how he felt, but Hinata didn't seem to care. She was never particularly interested in him. She was married to Naruto for three years, divorced from him almost two years and still Hinata had barely given Sasuke anything but polite and scant attention. She intrigued him and he didn't realize that until right at this moment – twenty-five years into their knowing each other.

They sat there for a while not saying anything. The only sound that could be heard was their utensils knocking against their bowls.

"It's probably because you don't have a good home or a wife. You have an apartment, but no home." Hinata said quietly. "I mean, you have a good job and you're quite possibly one of the greatest shinobi in the world and you have an apartment and it's –"

"It's shitty," He said for her. She looked at him in muted confusion. "It was heavily damaged by the earthquake. It's sinking into the ground." He explained.

"Oh. That's really unfortunate. Well, the Uchiha compound was damaged a lot from since the days of the war, but maybe you could –"

"I don't want to live there."

"Okay. Maybe you need to find a home, not a house. It could be the next step in your life. Maybe you could build one or restore one. It could be your hobby."

She smiled at him slightly, quite proud of her suggestion. Sasuke continued with his meal, missing her downtrodden expression after her idea was wordlessly rejected. They ate in silence for the rest of the meal. Sasuke paid when they were finished. Hinata insisted that she pay for her share. In the end he relented.

When she was handing him his exact change into his outstretched hand, making sure not to actually let her fingers touch his, Sasuke randomly said,

"A home doesn't sound so bad."

Hinata blinked at him for five seconds before recognition hit. She just barely managed to not roll her eyes. And people say she had delayed responses. He took over ten minutes to bring up his response!

Hinata didn't bother to respond. She didn't know what to say anyway. They parted ways with no fan fare whatsoever, no promise to see each other another time.

A home.

When she entered into hers, the Hyuuga compound, she felt a weird sensation in her chest as she shut the door of her bedroom behind her. What was the next step in her life, she wondered. Her home, her old home with Naruto – she shut her eyes tightly and bit her bottom lip hard when her mind uttered the name – her home with him was broken.

What was the next step in her life? The thing was that Sasuke couldn't explain why he felt empty, but he didn't need to. She knew exactly how he felt.

A/N: So, what did you think? Review please!