In her blind spot.
Things Hanabi vows never to become:
Hanabi hates being repeated history, so she learns from her family's mistakes. Every time they err, she adds to this list.
Hanabi realizes that her father is considering her for Clan Head around the same time as Hinata stops being able to meet her eyes. It makes her so angry that he would dare pass over Hinata, that he would put this barrier of embarrassment between Hanabi and her sister.
The annoyance in Hiashi's voice when he tells her that she is good enough to train together with Hinata shocks her a little – usually he is so controlled – and kills any joy she would normally have felt at finally catching up to her sibling.
She follows him to their dojo where Hinata is waiting. They warm up and practice and Hiashi makes the occasional comment. Hanabi wants to do well, is concentrating so hard, that she misses how utterly miserable Hinata seems.
Hanabi is used to sparring with her father, so when Hiashi pairs off his daughters, she doesn't hold back. In less than a minute it is over, Hinata sprawls on the floor and Hanabi is panting only slightly, and that from the work out beforehand. Hiashi advances on his daughters, stopping a few feet from Hanabi. He proceeds in excruciating detail to pick out every last flaw in her performance, letting her know where a stronger opponent would have gotten through her defense. He turns and walks away stiffly, completely ignoring Hinata, who'd slowly picked herself off the floor and is standing with her head bowed. She steals an embarrassed glance at Hanabi, who meets her eyes ferociously.
"You didn't even try", Hanabi accuses.
Hinata cringes and Hanabi speaks again.
"You would've won if you'd tried", Hanabi insists, accentuating this phrase by grabbing hold of Hinata's arm. She is shocked into withdrawing her hand when Hinata jumps at the contact.
"Sorry….", Hinata whispers finally, hanging her head.
It is the most pathetic thing Hanabi has ever seen and it is all she can do to keep the tears burning her eyes from running down her face. She runs to her room and sobs, knowing that her life is changing, that she will have to prepare herself to run the Hyuuga clan, a task she has never even considered until now. She allows herself this moment of self-pity, promising silently that it will be the last time. Clan Head is a heavy burden, but she will do her duty, no matter what it might be.
The following day, Hiashi teaches them separately.
From then on, Hinata and Hanabi mostly avoid each other, which is easy, because Hinata avoids everyone except the healers. If Hinata wants to make things better by becoming a healer, Hanabi is more than happy to leave her to it.
The Byakugan is flawed; the 360-degree vision an ideal that few of the family reach. It is, however, a good bluster when fighting. Like a muscle, the jutsu must be practiced in order to stretch and maintain a greater angle of vision. Hiashi's sight is the nearest to perfection, with less than a .02 degree of blindness. He says that to see the part of oneself that is hidden, one must attain complete self-knowledge. A paradox, and a frustrating one.
Hanabi spends a certain amount of time in contemplation of this idea and often finds herself in front of a mirror, looking over her shoulder at the vulnerable area. She thinks that with how all seeing her family are, they are often blind about themselves. She doesn't like that she might have such a problem and so she welcomes any criticism, constantly judging and re-evaluating herself. She wonders if her shortcoming is as obvious as Neji's or Hinata's and it makes her slightly paranoid. Hanabi practices controlling her expressions in the mirror so that they won't give her away.
It occurs to her that she is overcompensating for a failing she may or may not even have but excuses it; the facial training will be useful whether she is to become a full-time ninja or a clan head. Still, she can't help but wonder if simply accepting her faults wouldn't be better. But then she looks at Neji, who has accepted his 'cursed fate' and Hinata who has accepted her inadequacy and decides that acceptance is helping neither of them. It's better to fight.
The blind spot is a source of worry, though, as it is most open to physical attacks, so Hanabi constantly works to make it smaller. She has an extra 'meditation session' where she doesn't actually meditate, but hides herself in a tree near some of the training fields, straining her eyes in all directions. She watches ninja train themselves, studying their techniques and coming up with ways to defeat them. She knows a lot more jutsu than Hiashi has taught her and the range of her chakra gets better daily.
Hanabi can see nearly 350 degrees around her body and her mind, but the perfect circle of vision keeps getting harder to attain.
Hanabi first hears Naruto's name from Hinata. Hanabi seeks her out after she starts classes at ninja academy, wanting to find out what it is like. Hinata is a little surprised by her sister's attention, but obliges with an account of the teachers and students. Her stuttering has gotten worse, but Hanabi pretends not to notice. It is an unfailingly nice account, which makes it seem like Hinata is defending her classmates. She is describing them by seating arrangement, but when she gets to Naruto, she can't think of anything to say about him. She blushes a little and finally comes up with: "…Naru-t-to-kun is very energetic and noisy. He n-never gives up." Hinata moves to the next person quickly.
Hanabi doesn't acknowledge the fairly blatant admission of Hinata's crush. She wonders what Hinata will do about it. She also finds out who Naruto is and makes sure to watch him practicing. This becomes more difficult than she'd planned because she has to evade Hinata, who is doing the same thing.
After a few stealth sessions, she comes to the conclusion that he is all wrong for the Hyuuga, no matter how important he is to Hinata. Besides being hated by nearly everyone in the village – and Hanabi is still unsure as to the reasons for this – he is indeed noisy, and brash, and emotional beyond bearing; the closest Hanabi has ever seen to an anti-Hyuuga, which is no doubt why Hinata likes him. As an orphan, he wouldn't properly understand the clan and all he ever eats is ramen.
Fortunately, Hinata doesn't seem likely to act upon her feelings, so Hanabi leaves her to her stalking.
Much later, Naruto makes another appearance in Hanabi's life as Neji's opponent in the chuunin exams, which Hiashi takes her to see. Hinata is sitting somewhere else, probably with her dog-boy teammate, so she can cheer for Naruto without their father knowing. Hanabi doesn't blame her. She is inclined to cheer for Naruto herself, what with how Neji nearly killed Hinata in their last fight. One of them should have stepped down, but Hanabi is not convinced as to which. She wants to hurt them both.
Then she has to sit through Neji's 'destiny is against me' speech where he gives away a mangled version of little known clan knowledge and decides she'd like to hurt him more. Naruto does it for her and she cheers him on inwardly.
The juin jutsu isn't only meant to protect the main house members. Hanabi thinks of how bound she is to the house and village, even after learning ninja skills. It is a clan and no one is free from obligations. Although she thinks that her father could have protected Hinata fine without activating his twin's curse seal – being punished for thoughts is absurd – she pities Neji's stupidity. Besides being too proud to find out exactly how his father died, he hasn't realized how lucky he is to be able to leave and not worry about getting hunted down by assassins who want to take his eyes. Hanabi still doesn't understand how Hinata – who has already been hunted by assassins – was allowed to go and join a three-person team. She supposes their father was desperate for her to learn and finally realized Hinata couldn't learn from him. Hanabi thinks she might like to join a team someday and wonders how she will work Hiashi around to the idea.
Hanabi spends the invasion finding and guarding Hinata and dog-boy – complete with dog – in the stands; none of them will wake up, even with 'cancel', which worries her in her recently-recovered sister, but is merely annoying in her teammate's case. Afterwards, when all the Hyuugas are home and everyone is safe, there seems to be a new order. Hanabi is apprehensive. Her suspicions are confirmed when Neji is given her time-slot for training with Hiashi. She is more than slightly resentful as she still has much to learn from him. Hinata is also on better terms with both her father and cousin, which Hanabi supposes she is happy about.
The problem is, Hanabi is used to being thought of as the potential heir and she can feel the weight of the responsibilities she's taken upon herself slipping away. She wonders if she's expected to go back to being the younger daughter, or to… like Neji. She respects him, although more for being a skilled fighter than as a person, but they've never really spoken; he's ignored her since his father died, an unpleasant incident that Hanabi barely remembers.
Hinata has more fight to her too, which Hanabi has been wishing for for years. But she watches Hiashi talk to Hinata about politics and strategy and the clan and everything that he'd once discussed with her, and can't help but feel jealous.
She's gotten used to being more or less an only child, but now her siblings are reclaiming their territory.
Hanabi goes to her room to meditate but can't because her thoughts keep returning to Naruto. She should never have let Hinata follow him around unsupervised. Naruto was Hinata's inspiration for standing up to Neji, which had almost got her killed. Naruto was the one who pushed Neji into being a decent human being (although too late! Why couldn't he have done it before Neji and Hinata's fight?), and that's ended with Hiashi's expectation that everything will now be "just fine" and giving up her training spot. Hanabi is sure that Neji has delusions of having the seal removed and taking over the clan, too – which Naruto planted. He is tacky and loud and obnoxious, and all of his outwardly wonderful intentions (or accidents, more like) are wrecking her life and now she can't even meditate.
She takes a deep breath and realizes that in her heart, maybe she is blaming Naruto unfairly for fixing her family, and that is ridiculous because she wanted it fixed. Now the only one who is unhappy, really, is her. She remembers her thought about the three-man team and decides determinedly that no matter what, Hiashi is going to let her go to the Academy.
He agrees reluctantly, after much persuasion (and finally tears, which surprises her in its effectiveness), on the condition that Hinata and Hanabi never leave the village on missions at the same time.
Now Naruto has indirectly given her the chance to make something of herself away from the clan, and Hanabi thinks that it's a good thing she's never met him face to face, because she would probably punch him for all his do-gooder meddling.
After studying with her father for so long, school is ridiculously easy. Hanabi takes a placement test that puts her in the graduating class, but she is already so far beyond the course material that it is laughable. To challenge herself, she aims to be second in her class, no matter what. Exact percentages are difficult to achieve, but by the end of the year she has accomplished her goal. Hiashi looks at her oddly over her report cards and tells her to work harder.
She continues to learn by studying whatever scrolls she can find, but concentrates mostly on a task she finds more valid for the future. Whether it is Hinata or she who takes over the clan, they will want to have good relations within the village. Hinata is so shy that she could use whatever help Hanabi can give. Hanabi starts with her classmates, cultivating students with the potential to be strong ninjas and other clan-members. She is not exactly the most socially outgoing of people – and most of her peers are intimidated by her white eyes at first – but she develops the ability to not offend anyone unintentionally. She has no real close friends, but very many acquaintances, and this is how she likes it.
She graduates when the season is up and is placed on a team. Her teammates are boring and childish and her sensei sighs at her whenever he thinks she's being too serious - she starts being extra serious on purpose just to annoy him - but she treats them with the respect she gives her family anyways. If it ever comes up, her first priority would be to her clan, but it never becomes an issue, except for when Hanabi has to refuse missions when Hinata is already gone.
Two chuunin exams go by, and Neji and most of Hinata's year have passed. Hanabi learns some things, gets stronger, and pushes her vision until it reaches 359 degrees. Although she forfeits the third fight in the final round of testing to Hinata, she passes the chuunin exam on her first go. Hinata passes as well (even without Naruto there to cheer her on), and Hiashi hides it well, but is so proud that he can barely talk to them.
Hanabi thinks it seemed a little too easy and that the impending war has the Rokudaime pushing as many ninja up the ranks as possible.
She falls in love with a boy, but pushes him away because he's not a ninja and not a clan member, and her father will never allow it. Then she makes Jounin and the war happens and he dies right before it's over and she wasn't there and she feels indescribably hollow and useless. She goes home and tells Hiashi, who doesn't even know she was in love, that she is joining ANBU. He refuses, straight out, and Hanabi throws a temper tantrum for the first time since she was two and stalks off of the compound. On the way out, she runs into Naruto for the first time. He is standing in a doorway, probably waiting for Neji, and looking more than a little out of place as he is trying not to make any noise – and then he sees Hanabi verging on him. His eyes widen and he shrinks into the frame. For some reason it makes her even angrier. She stops in front of him and stares him down. Her fists are curling into balls and she is nearly shuddering with the effort of keeping them at her sides. Hesitatingly, he asks, "Um… is everything… okay?" Hanabi loses it.
"NO!" she screams. She punches him hard in the shoulder and growls, pushing past him. She already feels better. Inside, she can hear Naruto complaining to Neji about how scary his cousin is. ("She punched me!" And Neji is shocked: "Hinata punched you?" And then even more shocked: "Hanabi punched you?" And then becomes an overprotective older cousin: "What did you do?")
Hanabi is laughing by the time she makes it out the back of the Hyuuga complex, and then the enormity of the situation hits her and she's leaning up against the fence and bawling. She is surprised that it's Neji who comes out to find her – they still aren't close – but when he kneels down tentatively beside her, she latches on to him and sobs into his shoulder. Somewhere between the pain of her crying-induced headache and Neji's slightly embarrassed back rubbing, Hanabi takes a moment to reflect that Naruto is still (indirectly) fixing her. She finally thinks she understands what Hinata and Neji saw in Naruto so long ago and she knows he will be an amazing Hokage. Even though her Byakugan is not activated, when Neji's hand brushes over the blind spot on her back, she feels like she can see it perfectly.
Thanks to Jen (cyan, I believe, on fanfic dot net) for beta-ing. :sends her cookies with her ink: er. maybe.