Author: Owai PM
Hanabi, Sasuke, and coming clean. Neither of them do it very well. [SasuNejiSasu]Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Neji H. & Sasuke U. - Words: 2,080 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 2 - Published: 01-24-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3359593
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary; Hanabi, Sasuke, and coming clean. Neither of them do it very well.
The sound of a squeaky wheel jerked Hanabi out of the paralyzing glare she had fallen into, one directed at the white linoleum floor. The cart attached to the offending mechanism rolled on, unaware of her heightened state of irritation and the silence that it had broken.
She had been sitting there for what felt like hours–holding Hinata's spot–lax in her guard, but there all the same. It wasn't as if someone was going to steal the chair right from beneath her; if it hadn't been for the occasional passage of nurse or doctor, Hanabi would have thought she was alone in the hospital. Alone aside from Neji, of course–but he was as not-there as an extinct volcano, all promising slopes and jutting edges but without the heart to bring flame to life.
He'd been like that for almost four hours now. Hanabi wasn't an impatient person, but she had to use the bathroom, and Hinata had told her strictly to stay put.
The fact that Hinata had told her strictly to do anything had made Hanabi listen more than station or the fact that she was Hanabi's elder sister. She hadn't moved an inch from her seat outside Neji's door. No one found it fit to bother her.
Sighing for what she knew must have been the fifteenth time in the last hour, Hanabi straightened on her seat and looked down one of the long, sterile corridors. A florescent light at the end of the hall sputtered uncertainly before blasting into full light, illuminating the empty nurse's station and a few deserted wheelchairs.
She had never liked hospitals.
Odd, she thought, because they were somewhat similar to the Hyuuga Compound. Cold, sterile, devoid of emotion. Even those that visited seemed to leave personality at the door. They left words of sympathy in painted cards or wilting flowers, but none of them really liked to stay around. It was all ceremony. Even Hanabi was there against her will. But most things were like that. She'd learned to deal with lack of freedom from an early age—now it merely stagnated within her as opposed to making her noticeably uncomfortable.
It was one of the greater differences between she and Neji, of course, though she was feeling much more of that sickening cage now than she ever had.
The flutter of some kind of material (vinyl and coarse on the outskirts of her thoughts) brought Hanabi out of the gaze she had adopted. Uchiha Sasuke was nearly upon her by the time she looked up, though he wasn't moving particularly fast. Perhaps, Hanabi thought, people didn't like to stay in hospitals because they made you think of things that you would rather not. They took your attention away from your skill and thrust it upon another, no matter how receptive of said attention that other would be. Hanabi had the distinct feeling that Neji would have viewed her presence here with nothing more than apathy.
To Hanabi's distaste, the Uchiha sat down in the chair beside her, bandaged fingers working at the peel of a banana. She bristled briefly at the intrusion, eyes dissecting Sasuke's injured but clean appearance and taking great pleasure in the fact that he seemed to be having difficulties with the necessity of consuming his chosen food.
She sat back with the smug air of one who could, and would have been, more productive in a similar situation. The flood of self-appreciation staunched however, when Sasuke produced a knife and cut the banana to pieces with sure, even strokes.
He offered a piece, surely knowing she would not take it, and smirked when she did indeed refuse.
"Gold coins to a cat." He said with false humility. Hanabi felt irritation growing slowly with each syllable, but offered a sheltered, dry laugh to the proverb.
"I hardly think a banana a worthy comparison." Came her reply, effortless in delivery. Hanabi watched as Sasuke's eyes slid slowly to her face, one eyebrow raised in a manner that echoed chillingly of her cousin and made Hanabi feel tainted and uncomfortable.
"I wasn't talking about the banana." There was a vague but very specific motion of hand to forehead at that, as if giving suggestion of feigned politeness flavored with something much more malicious. Hanabi felt her blood run cold, confusion arresting her senses for a moment as Sasuke calmly took a bite of his banana. She had received the Bunke manji only a month earlier and her face already burned with shame.
She had never much liked Uchiha Sasuke.
She hadn't liked him when he had been a rookie and had ignored praise as one ignores flies, she hadn't liked him as an outcast, and had liked him least of all when Neji had been assigned his guard. Now that he and Neji were on the same ANBU squad, liking him had become a moot point. She had found, like everything else, that she would have to learn to live with him.
It wasn't as if he bothered to take the edge off, much. It didn't help that Neji seemed unbothered by–even in preference to –his presence. Not that she was jealous. It was just so much easier to know that the world wasn't off-balance when Neji was his normal, brooding self.
" Excuse me?" Hanabi finally efforted, trying to ignore the way Sasuke took obvious pleasure in her reaction. Perhaps not obvious, but more than noticeable to she, who had seen such crass delight numerous times on that face at her cousin's behalf. There, however, the range of expression was softened slightly. Here it was all violence and obsidian.
"An ape is an ape is an ape." The Uchiha flicked a piece of banana from his finger and looked noncommittal. "No matter what it wears."
"Says he who eats a banana." Hanabi shot back, feeling the Byakugan prick at the edges of her vision (all white and black and anger where there should be only calm. She had never seen Neji respond so hastily to Sasuke's caustic barbs, and wished for even a fraction of his poise and rationality when dealing with the Uchiha.) "You're saying—"
"I'm saying," Sasuke started; he was leaning forward casually now, a lithe cat in pursuit of prey, "that you don't deserve to wear a mark of pain when it's nothing but a farce, a casual nod to placate and further demean Bunke members who have actually had to bear the ache you wear so openly on your forehead."
His words shocked her, not with intensity, but with irony. She looked for any sign of upset at the blatant showcase of Sasuke's mindfulness to a cause that was not his own, but had difficulty recognizing anything outside of her own shock.
As stupefaction subsided into anger however, Hanabi realized that she should not be so surprised. She remembered clearly Sasuke's presence the summer before. It had been an exceptionally hot month, and despite Neji's duties as the Uchiha's guard (culminating at that point, as the final trial regarding Sasuke's status had been set for the end of September) he still found himself in vigorous training with Hiashi, a promise made more out of guilt than desire to make amends—something even Hanabi could see. Gaining the upper hand against Hiashi had been more of a pastime than an actual event in those days, but the clan head had never activated the manji in retaliation before that day.
It was like watching a crane falling mid-flight: perfection in torment. Angels couldn't have writhed more beautifully in the pits of Hell.
Hanabi attributed the reaction to an unconscious response to growing unrest within the branch houses. She wasn't even sure that her father had meant to do it. His expression had been unreadable.
There were three Bunke members present at the time; each had shown varying degrees of anger. Hinata had looked on the verge of tears. Sasuke had needed to be restrained. A hold that he had easily broken out of, be it for whatever reason.
She had no idea what he would have done, had he reached Hiashi. But he was going for Neji instead.
It had been odd. The feminine side of her would have liked to believe that it was tender, but neither of them were that. Neji had simply staggered up, leaning heavily on Sasuke's shoulder, and somehow managed to stop the Uchiha from going through with whatever dark thoughts had made him take a heavy step toward the Hyuuga clan head.
That was that.
Often, Hanabi had wondered why Neji had never taken a lover. There were more than enough answers to that question found in the village on the lips of the gossips, but they all seemed rather indulgent. Relationships were work; they took time. Ninja of Neji's level didn't have much of that. He preferred solitude. He was too jaded. And of course, Hanabi's favorite: Neji didn't want to inflict his broken spirit on someone else. One had to admit that that was funny.
She was pretty sure that Uchiha Sasuke had scared all potentials off, though, in some way, shape or form. Even if it was unconscious. Maybe he didn't know it yet, but Hanabi was usually right about these things. She wondered if Neji knew, if he cared.
In this case, though–in the case of the manji and how (ironic as it was) Hanabi didn't deserve it...Sasuke was right. It stung and burned and ached in all the wrong ways (pride, as usual, wanted everything), but there was no denying the truth. At least no denying it valiantly. Hanabi shifted, an uncomfortable movement that her father had attempted to train out of her at an early age, but one that she had learned from Hinata (who, she noted, had not yet come to save her from this fate) and saw fit to keep. She felt chastised.
"Tch." Came Sasuke's voice again, "You can't even show proper shame."
Hanabi wondered if Sasuke knew that he was doing this for Neji, or if he just thought it was his duty as usual to be a bastard like this to everyone. From what she'd seen of both, it was difficult to tell; sometimes denial was so beautifully crafted that one didn't even realize they were in it. Like a perfect genjutsu. Normally, she wouldn't have taken any of it. But it was hard to be aloof now, when she'd been called out like a bandit in the night.
There was always the human disease though. Self-preservation extended to pride.
"What about your shame?" Her throat felt a little bit heavy, and Hanabi knew that somehow, in some way, neither of them should be doing this with Neji where he was, how he was, but she couldn't stop. It hurt too much. "I don't see it showing on your face with Neji in that hospital bed. I don't see you asking for forgiveness."
The truth was, though, that they were both showing their guilt in the same way. They both were here, as much as neither of them wanted to be. Hanabi hated irony.
She knew she'd scored a hit when a stricken light flashed through Sasuke's eyes and he stood, all coiled muscles and fire beneath a strange restraint.
"Don't pretend to know what happened."
His reaction disappointed her. She had expected some defense of action, of the mission...some form of great anger. Something tangible, but he gave her...nothing.
"Neji makes his own decisions. It had nothing to do with me." She was startled at that, but his body language gave it all away. Eyes blank and staring at nothing, fists clenched and voice hard. Hanabi sat back in her seat and let out a sigh, eyes closing softly as her body relaxed in truth. Everyone had their own brand of denial.
"Maybe if you keep saying that...you'll convince yourself."
Sasuke sneered before disappearing into Neji's room.
"Tch. Don't count on it."