Disclaimer: Naruto is the intellectual property of Masashi Kishimoto, Shueisha, VIZ Media, et al. No money is being made from this story, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This ficlet was loosely inspired by the 6/20/2005 word #111 (deaf) on the 15minuteficlets livejournal community. It has been edited from the version on my livejournal.

Summary: Hanabi and Hinata. Clan Hyuuga eats its children.

Prison Keys

When Hanabi was nine years old, she realized that she hated her sister.

Hinata was the one who sang lullabies at night and smoothed healing creams over the cuts and bruises Father's training left on Hanabi's body. Hinata was the one who tugged quietly on Hanabi's sleeve and led her little sister out into the compound gardens to watch a butterfly struggle free from its chrysalis. Hinata was the one who stammered and trembled and drew all of Father's anger like a lightning rod, leaving Hanabi to bask in his chilly approval.

And Hinata was the one who decided Hanabi's fate for her. Hinata was the one who escaped from the iron ways of the Hyuuga and left Hanabi behind. Her quiet attempts to reach back across the gap did nothing but show Hanabi everything she could never have, because now Hanabi was the heir-apparent.

Hanabi's life was set in steel, beyond her power to choose a different path. She wasn't even sure she'd change things if she could, but she wanted a choice. She wanted control, if not of her own life, then of others' lives.

She made her first kill when she was thirteen, in a chuunin exam. She watched the boy with the Byakugan as he gurgled and drowned in his own blood, his breath hissing and bubbling as his lungs collapsed and his heart shut down. His chakra writhed wildly through his inner coils, pulsed, faded, and died. Tiny wisps seeped out with his last breath, to thin and vanish in the warm summer air.

Hanabi wondered if she could escape her life like that, if she could negate herself, blend into nothingness like breath melted into air.

The next time she killed, she cut the woman's throat after her palms struck chest, abdomen, and neck. Chakra strands coiled from the wound and wove into patterns, riding on invisible winds, until life left the woman's body. Their dance was beautiful.

Chakra ran like water through the human body, kept under pressure like water in a sealed pot. When Hanabi cracked the lid, steam coiled upward. When Hanabi cut the skin, chakra bled out.

She could see enough to know that killing tended to bother people, and to wonder why she felt nothing but fascination. Pressure, she decided. She kept herself under pressure and nothing could escape. She wondered what would happen if she ever lifted the lid off her emotions. What would bleed out? What patterns would she make?

Hanabi joined the Anbu assassination squad. Father objected, but by then Hinata was reinstated as heir-apparent, safely ensconced in the hospital as a medic-nin, and heavily pregnant with cousin Neji's child. Hinata reminded Father of this, and so Hanabi eventually got her way.

Hinata was still deciding Hanabi's fate for her. Hanabi didn't hate her anymore -- she was sealed too tightly to hate anything -- but she thought the tingling bubbles running through her veins would probably weave into rage if she let them out.

Hanabi liked assassination. She killed, and she let chakra and blood boil outward and scream her emotions for her. As long as she opened others, she could keep herself sealed. She could keep herself away from Konoha and from Hinata's knowing eyes.

"If a wound isn't lanced, eventually it poisons the whole body," Hinata said one evening when she met Hanabi in the compound gardens. She rocked her baby back and forth, back and forth, while Hanabi closed her eyes and stared through the back of her head at a spider weaving its deadly snare.

Hanabi shrugged. She didn't need Hinata to heal her. She didn't need her sister to decide her fate again.

Hanabi was a ninja. She opened people to death. Someday she'd miss her strike, and somebody would open her.


AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the fic worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.

Special Notice! Riko has remixed this story for Remix Redux VI. Her brilliant story, "Prison Keys (And of Course There Is No Key Remix)" gives Hinata's side of things. You can find it posted at: community . livejournal . com / remixredux08 / 28133 . html