Riptide

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A little thing I was inspired to write last night, and I wrote it at work today in about an hour. Based entirely off the thought of how Hinata would react to killing a man for the first time. Age, time, location unknown, more than likely after 247 although there are no spoilers whatsoever.

Comments and criticisms always welcome.

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There's blood on her hands and a man at her feet.

Hinata's eyes widen in horror as she tries to step back, away, needing to run but rooted to her spot. Her hands shake, she shakes, and she can't stop looking, staring at him, at her red hands. A kunai lies buried in his throat, through the side where she caught him as he jumped her, his larger hands trying to strangle her, to break her thin, bird-like neck. Now his hands are still, frozen like claws trying to dig through the earth, to pull him along, away from the pain, from her, from anything and everything that ties him to this world.

He hadn't died fast, because she had missed her intended spot, her aim thrown off by confusion and fear and pure inexperience. The kunai meant for his jugular instead hit him in the side of the neck, towards the back, pinching and breaking nerves and lodging itself in his spinal cord. He had fallen away from her, breath gurgling in his throat as she gasped and threw herself from him, her blank eyes wide in shock, her once-white hands held before her mouth as she watched him struggle to stand, watched him fall and try to pull himself along the ground.

Away from her.

His muscles had given out within seconds, though, and, while his body could still twitch, it could not move to pull itself any longer. And so he had stayed where he lay, limbs twitching sporadically as she had watched on, helpless, wanting to close her eyes but unable to do so.

She knows of death, of course. No shinobi can be free of it, and while she isn't good at being a shinobi, no one can deny she is one. Hinata always knew it was just a matter of time before death finally found itself delivered by her, graceful white hands sullied and stained, innocent eyes forever marred.

So she stays by his body, long since gone still and cold, and stares down at it, as unable to move as he is, this man with no name. She idly wonders what it could have been. Did he have family, friends, a lover? She can't see his face because it's pressed up against the dirt, but she imagines he has brown unkempt hair and red tattoos on his cheeks and a feral grin. And he's smirking up at her because she said something he found silly, once again, and he just laughs even more when she blushes.

But no, that's not right, really he has cool eyes and a knowing smirk hidden behind the collar of his jacket. And he watches her without really looking, almost as good at that as she is, and she knows she's safe around him because he won't let anything happen to his two friends.

Faces of those she knows and cares for, faces of those she barely knows but has seen and acknowledged flash atop the dead man's, and she can feel the tears trickling down her cheeks and the sobs echoing quietly in the stillness, but she doesn't stop, doesn't want to stop, and so she lets the sick parade go on.

His hair is dark and close-cut to his head, and his eyes are wide and open and so loving and caring, ready to accept anyone and anything and help anyone out. And while she doesn't know this face that well, she knows he's kind and will always give a helping hand to someone else.

Wild, dark red hair, red like blood atop a pale face and cold eyes, and a tattoo for everything he's not stands out along his forehead. He looks at her, just watching, always always watching, and he terrifies her but intrigues her because how could anyone live without emotion the way he does? It hurts, to know there are those so alone that they can't even smile.

And his hair is dark again, but now it's long, fallen out of the tie she always sees it in, lying around him like black water. His eyes stare out at her, as blank as her own, but there's something in them she's afraid of. Is he condemning her, forgiving her? She can't know because he doesn't know either, and she doubts either of them ever will.

But worst of all is his shock of bright blond hair, darker now due to the dirt and blood, but still so recognizable to her. Still so fun and happy, held back by a broken forehead protector. And his eyes… Eyes that are always alternating between carefree and hurt, happy and determined. But he smiles at her, tells her she's someone he can like, that's she's more than just some creepy girl.

And she sobs again, holding her face in her hands until she remembers how red they are, how very red, and suddenly she's screaming and throwing herself backwards, clawing at the ground to get the redness off, off, but nothing works. Her skin itches and pulls and hurts but she doesn't care, she just wants the red off, wants it back in the man lying on the ground with her kunai in his neck, wants to be back home in her garden where death comes swift and regular with the winter, but where she knows it is not final.

For the first time she wishes people were like flowers, and that they can come back to life when their spring arrives, and that she doesn't bring death but only winter, only a long sleep and not permanent darkness.

Her hands are still red, growing more so as she rips the skin on rocks hidden just beneath the soil, on roots that won't be dislodged from their damp home. But she doesn't stop because maybe this is what she needs to make her hands clean again, maybe if she dirties them enough she can wash away the blood with something else.

And so Neji finds her, rushing to her side and holding her, grabbing her wrists in his hand, and his hands are large, just like the man's, and she tries to pull away because she doesn't want to touch him, doesn't want him touching her because he's dead and she's killed him and she doesn't know that she can handle it anymore.

But his hands on her wrists are gentle, even though they're strong enough to still her, and he's saying her name, calling to her and finally she hears him. He calls her name again, just to make sure, and she turns her face to look at him, unblinking eyes locking with his, and he sighs and pulls her to him, and she closes her eyes and lets herself collapse against him because he's familiar and somewhat safe, and he's all she has right now.

Neji waits a moment, feeling the girl still against him and finds himself glad she's managed to stop most of the shuddering. He gives the corpse on the ground a disdainful look, makes sure Hinata is asleep, and reaches down to wrench the kunai from his neck. It's lodged in tight, and he eyes the younger girl, surprise evident on his face before he schools his expression and turns to leave.

He has an extra kunai somewhere; he can just let her have it. Something tells him she won't want that one anymore, anyway.

Shino and Kiba find him minutes later, but he ignores the nasty look the Inuzuka gives him and instead carries on towards the village, pale and trembling charge still held in his arms.