Author: therealesther PM
Kakashi wonders, as he uses his spare afternoon to go sit in the waiting area of the clinic where Sakura is training, whether he is going too far.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Kakashi H. & Sakura H. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 5,306 - Reviews: 75 - Favs: 111 - Follows: 69 - Updated: 01-26-09 - Published: 10-22-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4611549
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Pity.
It was a humid, cloudy spring day when Hyuuga Hinata went to the mission desk alone. She had her eye on a new calligraphy set of the highest quality, with a price tag to match, and didn't feel it was worth involving her whole team's effort to help fund her hobby. A short solo mission would be just the thing, she thought as she entered the mission room and approached the shinobi sitting behind the long desk.
The girl looked up at her over a pair of purple-framed spectacles.
"Can I help you?"
"I'd like a solo mission please," Hinata said loudly. It had taken a while to muster the courage to raise her voice in public, but constantly being asked to speak up or being made to repeat herself had trained her well.
"Yeah, I'm not deaf," the girl said snappily, as she began shuffling through the pile of scrolls in front of her. Hinata's cheeks burned with embarrassment, and she dug her hands into the pockets of her chuunin vest.
"Um, C rank please," she almost whispered.
"Speak up, can't you? Lipstick was it? You're in luck, we had a new batch just come in this morning."
Before Hinata could speak, a scroll marked with a peculiar crimson stamp was thrust across the table at her. Resigned, she reached for the mission, only to have it snatched up by a slender white hand.
A feminine voice spoke coldly from beside her.
"I'll take that one."
Hinata jumped with surprise and turned to see another kunoichi beside her. She had a brief glimpse of sky blue eyes and a beauty spot on one cheek, before the kunoichi moved forward and swiftly smacked the girl behind the desk on the head.
"Ow! Mika! What the hell are you doing?" The be-spectacled girl rubbed her head and glared up at the kunoichi in outrage.
"Saving your neck, you idiot," hissed the kunoichi, low. "Do you even realise you were giving a Hyuuga Main House member a Lipstick mission?"
The girl behind the desk gulped, her face turning a shade paler. "But Mika, she asked me for it! I swear!"
The kunoichi whirled to stare at Hinata, who stared back in utter confusion and apprehension.
"Is that true?"
"N-no, it's – I mean – That is, I think she didn't hear me properly. I asked f-for a C rank, and she, I, I guess I didn't speak clearly. I'm sorry." Hinata stumbled nervously over her words, her hands coming up to clench in her vest pockets.
The kunoichi named Mika seemed to relax slightly, and after a moment turned back to the girl behind the desk.
"Give her a C rank, quick."
With trembling hands, the girl dug into a box of scrolls on the desk, selected one seemingly at random, and passed it to Hinata as if it burned her.
Automatically, Hinata tucked the scroll into her vest pocket then stood, hesitating. She desperately wanted to leave the room and get out of this bewildering, awkward situation, but an overwhelming desire for clarification held her back.
"What – what is a Lipstick mission?" she asked, looking from the girl to the kunoichi. The pair exchanged glances, as if considering. Then the kunoichi called Mika slipped her own newly-acquired scroll into a pouch at her hip and started walking to the door.
"Just one more thing that separates the Hyuuga from the rest of us, Hyuuga-sama," without breaking stride, she threw the words over her shoulder as she disappeared down the corridor.
Hinata stared at the open doorway for a long moment. She looked back toward the desk, but the girl wearing spectacles was already on her feet, hurriedly shuffling a stack of folders.
"I have to be going, I have to get these to the archives department," she explained unconvincingly. She froze as Hinata took a few steps towards her, and spoke in a low voice.
"Please. If you can't tell me what it is, then can you at least tell me why a Hyuuga can't do one?"
The girl stood, staring down at the desk, biting her lip. Hinata gazed at her, unable to believe that the smart-alecky, snappy desk clerk persona had disappeared so quickly. She was about to give up and leave, when the girl took a deep breath and looked her in the eye for the first time.
"It's not that you can't. It's that you're not allowed to. It's to protect you, and by protecting you, secure the line of the Hyuuga Main House, which in turn, helps to strengthen the village."
Hinata couldn't believe her ears.
"Protect me? But I'm a chuunin! I – I mean," she blushed furiously, "Well, I know I'm not as strong as a lot of other kunoichi, but I do have the Byakugan, and, I train hard, so I kn-know I must be, I mean, I am getting stronger!"
The girl bit her lip again.
"Look, I'm sure you're strong. It's not that, ok? Just believe me. Now I really have to go. If you want to know more, why don't you ask your mother or someone? I can't tell you."
Hinata stiffened, but made no reply as the girl snatched up the stack of paper and folders and brushed past her, clearly wanting to get away as quickly as possible.
I can't ask my mother, she wanted to say. She's dead.
Two weeks later, Hinata was at the markets, waiting patiently as her new calligraphy set was wrapped in layers of thick rice paper, and bound up with lengths of tough string. She thanked the store owner and turned away, thinking with pleasurable anticipation of her new possession. Maybe she could write a poem on a silk scroll as a gift for Naruto…his birthday was coming up after all…she sighed dreamily, thinking of his cheerful laugh, his sky blue eyes…
Sky blue eyes.
Hinata gasped as her vision snapped into focus, fixing on a girl with blue eyes walking towards her. The girl had a beauty spot on her cheek. Not the girl, the kunoichi. The kunoichi named…
The kunoichi stopped dead, her eyes darting across the people in the crowded lane. When they landed on Hinata, they widened in surprise for a moment. A second later they narrowed, and she turned and began to walk in the opposite direction.
"Mika-san! Please wait!" Without stopping to reconsider, Hinata ran after the kunoichi, who abruptly turned off the busy lane and ducked into a small tea shop. Hinata followed her inside and paused for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting.
"Over here." Hinata jumped, startled and turned her eyes in the direction of the voice. The kunoichi named Mika was sitting at table in what seemed to be the darkest corner of the café. Now feeling uncertain, Hinata slowly walked to the table and sat in the opposite seat, clutching her calligraphy set on her lap.
"Why are you following me?" The kunoichi asked without preamble. For no reason, Hinata felt the blood rush to her face.
"Because, I wanted to know," she whispered, "What happened…"
The kunoichi regarded her in silence for a moment then smirked. "So I guess you found out what a lipstick mission is?"
Hinata couldn't meet the kunoichi's gaze. "Yes," she almost whispered, "My genin sensei told me about it."
"And she told you why you will never be allowed to do one?" Mika asked.
Hinata nodded silently.
"Because even though a good kunoichi takes every precaution possible, lipstick missions may still result in an unplanned pregnancy," the kunoichi sing-songed as if reciting from a textbook. Her voice switched back to its normal timbre, "And the Hyuuga Main House cannot risk the birth of mongrel bastards," she looked Hinata up and down, "Especially from the future clan head."
Hinata stared at the paper-wrapped box in her lap. After a moment, the kunoichi called Mika laughed softly.
"It wasn't so bad. I just slept with an old nobleman who had bad breath and a priceless amulet that needed stealing. What happened on your mission?"
Hinata opened her mouth, but couldn't force words out. She closed her mouth again.
"Well, I'd better get going," the kunoichi rose to her feet and brushed past Hinata, heading for the door. She stopped and glanced back at Hinata, who was staring helplessly after her.
"Don't look so tragic," the kunoichi said, "They're just doing it to protect you."
Then she was gone, lost in the bustling crowd.
AN: Thanks very much for all the encouragement I received from your lovely reviews. I really appreciate it. I'd love more feedback! Just one more to go.