"Broken But Healing"
'I hate fighting.'
It was such a basic thought, and yet completely out of place for someone like her.
Hyuuga Hinata dodged a whizzing kunai, thrown by someone ignorant of her abilities. Her breath bated as she whipped around and sealed all his tenketsu on his right arm, and while he was still gasping, his left. Grimly, she swept him off his feet and dragged him to a tree with nothing but a loop of wire.
Her eyes widened when she turned back to the fight, where her Chuunin team had finished the mission but was ambushed upon return. There weren't that many shinobi, but one was closing down on Kiba. His back was turned, and Hinata knew he couldn't possibly sense his enemy when he was battling furiously against another.
Almost before she knew what was happening, she'd cut a visible swatch through the clones someone called up, and made her way across to her team mate amidst a cloud of smoke. It was nothing to her eyes, and she peered past without worry to strike Kiba's enemy before he managed to introduce the dog boy to the bite of his sword. There was a look of surprise in Kiba's eyes, but she ignored it in favour of following the nin's retreat.
By the time she'd moved even one step he'd recovered all too quickly, and his strike about to severe her neck and separate her head from the rest of her body—
—something warm impacted with her side, sending her flying far enough to avoid the lethal blow. Without hesitation she moved swiftly behind the ninja and chopped a specific cluster of nerves, surrendering him to sleep for the moment.
"Hinata." Kiba's voice was disapproving as he appeared within the cloud of rapidly-disappearing bunshin; there were only three or four left by now, whereas, just a few moments before, the fake bodies filled the clearing. "You shouldn't put yourself in danger."
"But, Kiba-kun." Hinata began, but was forced to stop as she defended against one of the real ninja, before he was looped back by Akamaru.
His tone was unusually sharp, "I don't care if you had gathered chakra to defend yourself." Her eyes widened when she realised he'd guessed exactly what he was going to say. Perhaps noticing her expression, he softened his words, "Look, you should really be more careful. You can help heal us if either Shino and I get hurt, but it won't happen vice-versa. You're invaluable to our team. Don't take risks that you can't handle."
She winced as his words became an unmeaning insult, but the boy did not notice. He threw himself into the fray, and soon the remaining three shinobi, out of the team of five who'd attacked them, were tied up, one spitting vulgar phrases that made Hinata blush.
But she was more focused on her team mates. The three Chuunin, comprised of the bug-user Aburame Shino, dog-type-jutsu-user Inuzuka Kiba, and herself, were still working together as a squad since they specialised in the same area. The fact that they'd been on the same Genin squad was just an added bonus. They would be on the same for some time more: neither Kiba nor Shino were harmed seriously.
"No injuries?" said Kiba. "I sort of hoped to have a cute nurse looking after me, you know. . ."
A blush decorated her face. "Um . . . I think so, Kiba-kun. No, neither of you are injured, of course."
She couldn't help but think it was a miracle that they were still alive if they were forced to cover her all the time, and save her from rampaging ninja. Hinata shuddered as she glanced at the blood dripping off one of the captured, and unconscious, shinobi's legs. If her team mates hadn't been there, she would be a pool of nothing but the crimson liquid . . . conveniently forgetting that she'd been ready to defend herself.
Kiba said, "We got two ninja dead this time, and three left to tell the tale. It's a new record for us." He smiled tiredly, "I suppose, since no one's really injured or unwell, we can get back to Konoha and say that we took down a five-man squad. And that two of them were killed. Yeah. A new record."
Shino stayed silent. He probably didn't feel like talking, just as he always seemed.
Meanwhile, Hinata couldn't help but feel sad that their triumphs were marked by the number of people dead, or the number of people captured. Her family was right. If she displayed these types of thoughts, they would turn to mercy. And mercy was weak.
She needed to be protected. She was weak.
She stayed silent all along their route back but no one noticed—Hyuuga Hinata was always quiet.
1. Following the Heart
Something ripples before her, silvery surface blurry to her eyes. Strange. She has more-than-normal eyesight. To the normal person, of course; her family thinks -(knows)- her eyes are weak. Perhaps it is because this place is a study in contrasts, light and dark at the same place, at the same time, with no explanation why.
It is a dream. This type of place cannot exist in reality.
She has never felt like this in a dream before. Her dreams have always been blurry and surreal, where up and down and down up, and clouds of nothing chase themselves until they fade into the distance. Is it an illusion? How can a dream be so steady, if still kind of pale and incoherent to every glare she throws, trying to get passed the misty veil over her eyes? But it is not mist; not water either; certainly not ice. . .
Is it a Genjutsu?
Her hands move -(fumble)- into a ram seal, and she shouts in the clearest voice she can manage through the beating of her heart, "Kai!"
But nothing changes. The stillness is as steady and eerie as ever. The air stays the same not-grey matter, a mixture of black and white that does not make grey.
Then the rippling catches her eye once more. She is looking into a smooth mirror now, and she knows, without touching it, that the surface is as cold as ice despite the way it acted before. The accessory is expensive and -(strangely)- elegantly framed with gold. It towers before her like a wave on the verge of striking and bringing impending doom to her waiting eyes and twitching fingers. It really says something about her that she thinks immediately of horror when her face is cast.
Her reflection is somehow different, but her mind is so fuzzy it is difficult to tell through the mist that covers her eyes -(just like in training, isn't it?)- if the person -(creature)- before her is really she. The shadow is roughly her height with the same dark hair that brushes her shoulders and pearl orbs that stareout almost fearfully, but she cannot tell if the subtle movements are her own.
The reflection is a study in contrasts, and that is strangely unlike her. A body split into two different -(opposite)- tones, and even as she thinks that they are merely dissimilar and not black-and-white strange, she realises that the hues are discoloured grey, the differences are startling in the hazy atmosphere. One side is a cloud, a pale, greyish white, and her clothes cut in a style that she recognises as a traditional -(old)- kimono, with an underlying black that is there. The other is a chiselled face of blank chalk, with the same blurred shade for clothing, but the garments are made for fighting. Even so an opal gleams smugly from a silver sleeve, and something green mars her forehead.
She thinks she knows too well what it is. Gingerly, carefully, she reaches for the reflection, hesitating as it draws closer to the phantom -(too solid)- reflection provided by the slippery surface.
But she cannot bring herself to touch it until doubt arises from her mind, urging her to find if the reflection is really her own. With a suddenly streak of half-courage, half-fear, her fingers collides with the coolness of silvered glass. . .
To slip through it?
The silver liquid-mist pulls and tugs at her hand until she obliges and plunges her limbs through the -(icy)- cool screen, and suddenly, the hazy veil over her gaze lifts until she can see her surroundings with clear, trembling eyes. But something pulls her glance back to her front, where the mirror is pulsing. She tries to pull back, but the grip is cold and rigid and unmoving, and she cannot move away!
Her eyes are riveted in fear now at the symbol slowly appearing awash from the mirror. Her surroundings have faded into darkness -(an icy void where nothing exists and nothing can exist)- and now there is nothing but the dull mirror where her reflection is blurred to show shadowy figures in the background from the light that is gradually rising from her.
Her pale hand glows with an eerie and ethereal light, and suddenly the -(non-existent)- shadows around her have fallen silent to watch with awe as the pure white streams off her figure. Now the form before her unveils to show someone faceless yet familiar all the same. She knows him -(her?)- from the sweep of smooth, raven hair and the pearl eyes that glare until she wishes to cringe and become something invisible to all-seeing eyes.
There must be light somewhere in the darkness which will guide her away from this spectre of all she fears and yet reveres.
(You must be the light which will guide)
She looks around in shock before her gaze is drawn back. The glass is completely reflective now, and the person depicted is her, but the divide between left and white is gone, as is that horrible green mark. But what does it mean?
(One faces the future with one's past)
Does it mean that she is to be kidnapped? No, somehow she knows it isn't. She has to leave. But she needs to leave by none but her own hand in the matter. But she still cannot see why it is so. She, Hyuuga Hinata, is nothing but a mediocre Chuunin with nothing to her name but the Hyuuga pride and a weak Byakugan. What has she to offer? Again, the voice that is not there answers..
And then the darkness rises up and gags her and drags her down.
It might have taken more than a small amount of time for her to start heeding her dream, but for an incident that occurs that very afternoon.
Every day after her training, Hinata sits quiet and contemplative upon an outdoor porch overlooking the training yard where circles of dust rise at every trod of graceful figures -(everyone else is so poised without clumsy feet)- who spar under a hot sun and sterile heat. When the dust settles after a long day she leaves, if only because the ghosts of shadows which come out are the ones which haunt her as much as the verbal spars in which she trembles a coward's defeat.
It is within the boundaries of the tall, stone walls of the fort -(prison)- when she notices that she is not alone. Someone as quiet as she but with a presence that is undeniably solid and calm to the extend of being an icy statue. The Hyuuga heiress, only hanging on by a thread to her claim, turns to look at her sister, five years her junior.
"Hanabi." She says, trying to keep her voice steady.
The other girl stays silent for a long moment. She stares at Hinata with all-encompassing eyes that drive her towards the ground even while the older girl tries desperately to avoid the soft iron in her gaze, almost of rebuke, and very much of apathy.
"Onee-san." She says finally. She has already dropped the 'sama' because no one thinks Hinata worthy of inheriting the title. "What brings you here?" her lips turn up in an almost cruel smirk. "You should be training your Byakugan, not dreaming. There is no room for dreamers."
There is another long pause, this time on Hinata's side as the older girl fumbles with her fingers before her in a sort of shield that she is too conscious to put up and too afraid to lower. Her feet are on the edge of shuffling and drawing up more of the dust until she must stay until nightfall to watch as the specks glimmer like gold against a blue sky. "I . . . I try to find something I can accelerate at to be of value on my team because there are other ways and other forms of battling."
"There are people who think the Hyuuga are perfect warriors." Hanabi points out, the look in her light eyes unreadable. It is as blank as what Hinata saw in her dream the night before, and her face is not dissimilar to the chiselled, neutral features the half-person -(because half is all she can say the creature is)- sports.
Hinata tries to think of something to say, but the words she blurts out are not from her mind. "The Hyuuga clan has not changed for so long it has no r-room but for the people who fit the meld. Perhaps the meld is a little too r-rusted with time to see what should be done. It is a shame that many of the former casts have been thrown away to places from where . . . they can only retrieve the broken pieces with a f-fight."
The younger girl stares some more, her pale eyes narrowing in suspicion. "What makes you think that anyone wishes to claim it?" she tilts her head. "Why do you stay somewhere which clearly does not require your support. Better yet, why do you stay if you do not think our system is right?"
And suddenly, Hinata realises exactly what the dream was about. Is about, because in dreaming the subconscious tells what the -(cowardly)- owner cannot say in reality. In dreaming, the hidden is revealed and connections made from previously gibberish matters that plague one's mind. In dreaming the deeper truth is revealed if one wishes to look past the veil of illusions and desires that come with a mind and freedom of speech and thought.
"Because someone has to do so."
She ignores Hanabi's surprised eyes when she leaves her under the afternoon sun.
When she approaches her father's room at dusk the guard merely glances at her for a moment before admitting her through the doors. Underneath the cool exterior Hinata is sure she can sense anticipation twinge in his pale eyes as he frowns slightly, his expression carefully neutral as if he is being judged for his act.
The room is purposely -(deathly)- silent as she enters. Two blank gazes stare her down and Hinata needs to fight to keep from shifting in her full shinobi gear that is completely packed. Her stay in the Hyuuga manor will be concluded for some time but for one inevitable affair which arises whenever one wishes to pack and make her own life, while one is the heiress. She needs to face this last obstacle, something of a test, she assumes.
"Hinata." Hyuuga Hiashi acknowledges calmly, sitting regally at his chair. Beside him, Hanabi is equally placid, an ideal Hyuuga heiress, her face calmly composed and quietly majestic.
For a moment Hinata wishes to back down, as she has always done in the past due to timid tendencies lingering from years and years of being melded -(unsuccessfully, because no successful Hyuuga is shy)- into the strict regulations and ideals any Hyuuga, much less the supposed heiress, must embrace. But her -(ironic)- kindness is what steels her spine, and her ambition and hopes surface to battle against her fear.
She reminds herself what rides on her decisions, the choices which are hers. She forces her mouth to move. "I m-must speak to you in private, O-otou-sama." For she can never bring herself to speak to his stiff, stoic man who has her love despite that, in genial and informal terms.
Hiashi raises a thick eyebrow that gives him -(not)- a concerned air to counter his stark authority.
He is waiting for her to continue talking, completely disregarding what she wishes -(needs)- him to be. He is everything but a good father; a creator who spends his time turning his children into clones. It is this traitorous thought that burns her cheeks into a blush and which gives her the will to do the surprising act she decides to do in front of a pair of orbs that stare thoughtfully at her red face.
Carefully controlling her movements, she adds a burst of speed to re-appear behind Hanabi for but a split-second before pressing a cluster of nerves in the same fashion she took care of a ninja outside Konoha on her previous mission. Within moments Hanabi is slumped in her arms, too slow to block Hinata's moves despite being a genius, while Hiashi watches with the same all-encompassing eyes that only Hinata does not possess.
Time seems to stop. She fears retribution for her act, as her sister falls in an arc—should she have done so?
"Hinata." He says again when she has carefully placed her sister onto a futon, her eyes darting fearfully at him before backing down, "What do you need to talk about?"
When she tells him of leaving and how much she needs it, and how much she wishes to do so, he stares at her with only a little surprise in the set of his jaw and none in his sad eyes. There is no lecture, and there is no chide. He asks simply, "Why should I let you leave?"
Her answer is not quite as simple. "Because I must do what I have to in order to fulfil my . . . duties. There are shadows lurking away from home, and whether those shadows hide deep chasms or a wealth of treasure I will face them at some time. Don't you agree, Otou-sama?"
He does not reply, and Hinata does not think to ask why his face was happy at her first sentence and yet is now set in surprise and apathy once more come the second part of her answer. Deeper, Hinata can see for the first time the weariness that a blank gaze hides all too well, the tears which are masked with indifference required from the Hyuuga Head.
She does not ask, and so she does not hear that the treasures seem much less luminous when covered with experience and blood.
White eyes sweep the room with -(due)- worry. The Hokage is sitting upright, her almond-shaped eyes looking thoughtfully at Hinata, her face perfectly neutral. It is the type of face Hinata has been confronted with all too many times, and her shishou is no different. Tsunade-sama is her teacher, and has been for years, tutoring her in the arts of medicine although she had to sneak out and hide in the shadows to attend every lesson.
However, to Hinata's surprise, a half-finished pile of paperwork lies in front of the Godaime, who is still clutching a pen in her firm grip. As if noticing her stare, Tsunade glances down at the writing covering half of the top sheet. "Don't get used to it. I should shove it off to Shizune, but she's got enough as it is. Besides, Sakura's doing the next bunch when she gets in here. And I, um, lost a bet, so while I have to do this I know nothing's going to go wrong for a while."
The Hyuuga nods, but does not answer for a long moment.
"What is it?" Tsunade asks, placing down her pen and threading her fingers together in front of her. She leans forward in anticipation, as if she can sense what Hinata is to say will change the -(loose)- fabric of one of her student's lives. "I'm sure I didn't arrange a lesson tonight, and you did not ask for one either. Are you here for a mission? You don't have to, since you've just returned from an A-Rank . . . which you shouldn't have done as a Chuunin apart from your father pressing down for more difficult missions."
There is tension in the air that Hinata does not like, but she cannot bring herself to talk ill of her father. She tries to buy time, smoothing down her shinobi gear as her mind whirls, straying to heights as she seeks to conjure words that are simply not there in the crevasses of her frozen mind. Her father has scolded her many times for this trait, when she cannot pass the -(iron-cast)- gates born of tempered shyness. "Um. . ."
Tsunade's eyes widen slightly in thought. "It isn't your father, is it? Are you here to request a mission?"
"Um. . . s-sort of, Tsunade-sama." Because she has not studied long enough to approach more familiar terms. She still addresses her Hokage in the way a servant addresses her mistress if only as she is a servant -(slave)- to the leader of the village, a tool, and nothing more. But tools do not form -(unruly)- opinions, nor do they ask for leave, and Hinata is prepared to do so.
"Well?" Now the amber eyes narrow, her gaze intense and completely intent on her.
She bites back a stutter and a mutter, gathers all the courage and -(too-heavy)- weight of duty she possesses as inspiration. She says reverently, "Godaime-sama, I wish to. . . um . . . leave Konoha for a certain period of time for travel. Like a . . ." she searches for words once more in the dusty recollections she possesses of history, from the tedious lectures in the academy which always seemed to take place on a hot, sunny day, with the sun a blazing ball in the sky, ". . . A training mission."
"And why would you want that?" Tsunade asks, and Hinata can tell with training through the years what the subtle motions of the Hokage's body parts depict as a -(ageless)- picture in whole. Tsunade is everything she is not, -(appropriately)- confident, strong and beautiful, carrying authority with every gesture that she makes, even while she covers up confusion as she is doing now. The Godaime is curious, and Hinata does not know if she should tell her.
Pale eyes avoid the sharp gaze of wooden brown as she turns to gaze at the baby pinks and bedtime lavenders gracing the sky. She chews her lower lip and decides to tell -(part of)- the truth. "I need to get stronger," she says, still not meeting the older woman's eyes in a purposeful attempt to stay calmly poised as she is supposed to at all times, "And while I'm not really looking for power I think there are things I'll find when alone without my blanket. I've always been protected by—"
Tsunade interrupts sharply with biting words, "Do you believe you are able to survive out in the wild? You're only fourteen . . ."
Hinata finally summons enough courage to slide her eyes over to meet deep brown. "But I am a shinobi, and an adult, please Tsunade-sama. . ."
"Fine." It surprises Hinata that the Godaime needs only a little pushing to agree. The head medic gazes meaningfully into her eyes. "You will be given a string of lower B-Rank and C-Rank missions to complete. I expect you back within the allotted time of five years."
Hinata nods. As she is about to head out, the Hokage speaks once more.
"Don't let your journey be where your story leads you, but where you take your story."
The gates loom up in front of her, and even though there is a whole village of loved ones behind her, she cannot think of anything but leaving.
It will be years till we meet again Konoha. I'll be changed, maybe just slightly, but changed. Who knows what else will be?
To be continued . . .
A/N: R & R
I have decided to replace the chapters. Please tell me what you think. Any chapter with this sort of format means it has been replaced