Distorted Reflection - To everyone else I was simple. That was an error they all made. But they had already judged me. But they didn't know me... then again they never even tried to. All they did was make false assumptions.
People would only notice me if they needed something from me, but when they didn't... it was as if I didn't even exist. I wasn't invisible in the manner that no one could see me, but rather a person's gaze would slide over me.
I didn't have bright and unique features that caught attention, my eyes may have been unique compared to most, but stray strands of my dark hair would usually serve as a veil so that my white eyes were shielded. Nor did I didn't have a boisterous personality or a silent but strong aura that caught attention. I was quiet in the manner that no one would notice me.
I wasn't strong in the way that everyone would look at me to help in a battle, but neither was I that weak that most would defend me. I was talented in the juken style but I was nowhere as good as Neji, I could make medical ointments but those were nothing compared to the medical ninjutsu that Sakura could cast.
I didn't have a dark past that would make everyone pity me. My life was not as happy as most, but nor was it as tragic as some others. I had no special traits that were unique only to me because no matter how good I was at something, someone would always be better than me. I was just the soft-spoken, stammering Hyuga heiress.
"Hey Hinata-chan?" a loud voice called.
I paused and turned, a fake smile automatically coming on my face. "Good afternoon, Naruto-kun," I greeted, instantly knowing that Naruto had not decided to just random pay me a visit.
He gave a grin and scratched the back of his head as he spoke, "The old hag put my on guard duty tonight... but Sakura finally agreed to go on a date with me. I've asked around but-"
"I'll cover for you," I said softly, not wanting to hear him blabber on anymore.
He continued to speak for a while, before realizing I had already spoken, a grin then brightened his face before he dashed off after saying his thanks. He had forgotten about me already.
When I was younger, I had thought perhaps there might be a chance of us becoming more than friends. But as I grew, I knew I was hoping for the impossible. He had chased after Sakura for years, and she had finally accepted him. My existence had been erased from his mind.
I don't know the exact reason I offered to cover for him, but I felt sick of hearing him speak. I felt sick of his enthusiasm.
But because of that impulse to agree, I was going to spend the night on guard duty. It didn't really matter that I was going to be out all night in this chilly weather, but I just hope that I don't get stuck with a noisy person.
I was sick of people speaking so happily. Speaking as if there isn't a worry in the world.
I located my partner for sentry duty, half hidden in the higher branches of the trees nearby. At least he wasn't the type to talk. I was aware that he wouldn't be the type to talk, so I too remained silent and instead I leapt to my perch on the walls, choosing to ignore him.
Several minutes passes as the sun finished its descent before he finally spoke. "Hyuga, it isn't your day to do sentry duty," he stated, rather than question.
I gave a shrug in response, hoping he would end the conversation on that sole statement. To my contempt he took the hint and chose to ignore me. We continued the rest of the night in silence, and as the sun began its journey again I decided to make my leave.
"Later Uchiha-san," I called softly, leaping from my perch on the walls to land on the ground, to switch places with the replacements.
I returned home and fell into bed, to at least catch a couple hours to sleep before I had to leave for training.
If my family even noticed I was gone most of the night, they never asked. If my team even noticed I was looking sleep deprived, they too didn't ask.
That was the problem... I was always the reliable one. No one had to worry over me. But no one realized that worry is a sign that they actually care.
I was tired, both physically and mentally. Missions. I was sick of them.
All I ever had to tag was tag along like a good little pet, but even Akamaru got more to do that me. My only duty was to be a sentry, but there wasn't much need for that due to my teammates' talents. If there were ever a wall to destroy, it would always be someone else who would do that.
I was nothing but a shadow, a presence but not an identity. It wasn't my fault that I wasn't as loud as the next person... it wasn't my fault I was as mysterious. To everyone else I was simple. That was an error they all made. I wasn't that simple. I doubt they would have understood my feelings. I doubt they know what I have to go through every day.
But they had already judged me. I accepted the fact that they thought my skills as a kunoichi were simple, but I despised the fact that they thought they could understand my feelings.
They didn't know me. Then again they never tried.
Tonight I would be on sentry duty again. This is the second day in a row. Usually shinobis that are placed on this duty get the next day off, that was only if they were officially placed there.
But it wasn't officially my turn. I had offered to take over Shino's shift and he hadn't even questioned the reason why. I don't think if he even notices, or if he does he pretends not to.
But I liked it out here. It was quiet and my thoughts would not be interrupted. It may have been silent back at the compound, but the atmosphere was so heavy that you couldn't even relax. Here it was different.
I could be at peace here.
He was here again. Once again he remained in the trees, whilst I sat upon the high walls.
We ignored each other. We both took sanctuary in the night. It wasn't quiet but nor was it noisy, just a soft blur of sounds that I had started to accept as natural.
But like the first time, he broke it. "Here again? I'm quite sure it isn't your turn," he spoke arrogantly.
And like the first time, I shrugged and chose not to answer and we fell back into another lapse of silence that lasted until we changed shifts. Again I muttered a farewell and left, to catch a couple hours of sleep.
Again no one seemed to notice.
It surprised me when one person actually noticed. After a couple days of repeating the same process, it was clear that I could not survive with only a few hour sleeps each night.
"Aren't you going to do guard duty tonight?" my younger sister had asked.
I don't know why I was that surprised. Hanabi was the highly keen and observant type, utilising her byakugan whenever she wished to. I just gave a crooked smile, not keen on telling her the reason but then again I did not want to lie to her.
If she was annoyed she didn't say anything but instead left me to my own business.
"Tell me about yourself."
I don't know how the higher ups managed to convince of the jounins around our age group to attend this meeting. Stupid really. We are just forced to listen to the person in charge assume what our problems are.
Then again this isn't much different from real life. Assumptions that is.
"Ah y-yea. As you know, my name is Hyuga Hinata a-and um... I am in team eight... I have a younger sister, c-called Hanabi and..." I trailed off, disliking the stammers that betrayed me. I continued the rest of the session speaking in the same manner, continuing to wonder how other jounins would act.
Finally she gave the verdict. "As you speak, you tend to avoid anything that had to do with your personal feelings. I am getting the feeling that you are rather shy and you should open up more," she lectured me.
I kept the small unsure smile plastered on my lips, vaguely listening to the woman speak. She was just the like the rest of them. Making assumptions from the little information she was told.
She didn't know my true feelings, and then again she didn't do a great job in getting me to open up. She was just like the rest of them.
No one truly understood me, no one ever tried.
I was tired of listening and it was getting dark, so I took my leave, making my way to the gate rather than home.
"Did you have to see that woman too?" he asked, breaking the silence.
I turned to look at him, tucking stray strands of hair behind my ear as I did so. "What was her diagnosis?" I decided to ask in return.
He turned directly away, placing his hands into his pockets as he did so. "She reckons I need more ambitions in life," he said monotonously.
I hide a smile and didn't ask him anymore. Almost everyone knew his ambitions. Vengeance and power. But at least he had an ambition that he didn't attempt to hide.
My ambition? I don't think I really had any important ones and even if I did... I wasn't the type to share it.
The conversation ended there.
She passed me the scroll and I accepted it.
"You can read it now," she informed, watching me over her interlaced hands.
I gave a nod and opened the scroll, scanning through its contents before I looked up.
"This is a two-person mission. W-whom is to be my companion in this mission?" I asked uncertainly.
Her brown eyes narrowed as she observed me for a moment before she uttered two words.
I was to work with him?
Strange. Usually my missions were with some person that I had worked with before.
"Is there a problem?" Tsunade asked slowly, as if I was questioning her authority.
My eyes fell downcast as I mumbled a no.
"It's you," he stated, not even sounding surprise.
My shoulders slumped as I gave a nod in response. "Yea... didn't the Hokage-sama inform you that I was to be on the same mission as you?" I asked softly, risking a glance at him.
"No. She merely informed me that I was to be working with a Hyuga. On such a mission like this, I assumed it to be Hyuga Neji-san," he answered sharply.
I gave an absent nod before the words sunk into me and then I could feel an embarrassed flush spreading across my face. On such a mission like this? What was he implying by that? But before I could even question him, he adjusted his satchel and began walking towards the gates.
Assumptions. That's all people make.
"Good work on your mission," Tsunade said in a bored tone.
More like good work to Uchiha-san, after like just like every other mission I did very little. Nothing ever did change.
We both nodded and prepared to leave but she raised her hand to stop us.
"Ah hai? Hokage-sama?" I questioned.
"You two have sentry duty tonight, so you may take the day off tomorrow," Tsunade informed.
I gave a nod.
"I heard you and Sasuke-san went on a mission together," TenTen said, whilst she was waiting for Neji to come out.
"Yea," I agreed slowly, wondering what she was trying to get to.
"Apparently Neji said that you two have been on sentry duty together several times," TenTen continued before finally saying. "I think he likes you."
"That's a stupid idea," I said immediately.
"Apparently he tends to refuse going on missions with just a kunoichi. Yet he didn't see to mind that badly about going on a mission with you," TenTen slyly said, whirling a kunai around her fingers.
"Maybe it's because I'm not one of his fan girls," I countered, still appalled that TenTen could say something like that.
"But you got to admit that he is cute," TenTen insisted.
"Who is cute?" a masculine voice questioned.
TenTen looked surprised at Neji's sudden appearance. "No one," she insisted, dragging him out of the room, winking at me over my cousin's shoulders.
"I realized something," I spoke, breaking the tradition of him usually speaking first.
He looked at me from where he stood on the tree, but said nothing and instead waiting for me to speak.
"Before... you said that it couldn't be my turn to be on sentry duty again..." I began.
A scowl crossed his face, visible due to the moonlight, deepened before he spoke. "That was a month ago wasn't he?" he asked, inclining his head.
"Well yea... but I just realized. All those times ago... it couldn't all have been your turn to be on sentry duty. No person is given consecutive days to act as a sentry," I spoke.
"Is there a point you are trying to get to?" he asked coldly.
My voice died in my throat at the sheer cold edge in his voice. Instead I merely shook my head.
Get too close to the sun and you will only burn.
Although he wasn't warm, he was anything but.
We continued the rest of the night in silence. This was no carefree silence, but instead now it felt as if the air was pressing down all around me and attempting to subtly suffocate me.
"Hey Hinata-chan," Naruto greeted.
"Good afternoon," I answered in response.
He gave a distracted smile, and began talking aimless about something. I half listened to what he said, but what had caught my attention was that his eyes were fixated on something else, and my eyes allowed me to see what he was looking at without turning my head.
"Do you want to eat at Ichiraku later?" he finally asked, in a slightly louder tone.
"No thanks," I said politely, turning to walk away.
Maybe if I were still twelve, I would have turned beet red and agreed. But now at eighteen, I had cast away such false dreams. I know that that he wasn't asking me to lunch out of friendship, or possible romance. The only reason he had asked me out then was because he was attempting to make Sakura jealous.
Did he not know that I could see what he was looking at? Did he not know I already heard about Sakura breaking up with him? Did even he misjudge me?
"I heard Naruto asked you out!" she said bitterly.
"Good afternoon to you Sakura-san," I greeted politely, not even reacting to what she just said.
Her green eyes flashed with anger before she swung her fist at my face. I let the attack land, turning my head so I didn't absorb the full impact, but even so I stumbled back.
As her arm dropped to her side, I straightened and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. "I do not see why that would bother you, as unless I heard incorrectly, you had broken up with him."
"He only asked you because you are the only person desperate enough to go out with him!" she spat spitefully, running her trembling hands through her short pink hair.
I surveyed her for a moment before I spoke. "I seem to recall that you were the one that went out with Naruto-kun. Personally I declined his offer to eat at Ichiraku."
Her face flushed with anger and it was then that I decided several things. The first was that she did not look as pretty with cold green eyes and a face that matched the colour of her hair. The second being that I didn't like her so much anymore.
"Are you... are you trying to imply something? Hyuga bitch!" Sakura shrilled.
My first instinct was telling me to land a good strike on her, but really... first instincts aren't exactly well thought decisions. Instead I merely observed her in a precaution if she decided to attack again.
"No, no, of course not Sakura-san," I said, and even in my ears my politeness was starting to sound fake.
Well if it sounded fake to my ears, it surely sounded fake to her and she made no attempt to hide her thoughts. "You... you are so fake. Pretending to be so innocent. I'll let everyone know what you truly are!" she threatened, before storming off.
"Hinata!" a feminine voice yelled.
I paused, sighing heavily. Yelling... that was never good. "Good afternoon, Ino-san," I greeted wearily, bracing myself was what to come.
Her blue eyes flashed with anger before she spoke. "What the hell did you say to Sakura? I saw her crying, and I finally managed to get out of her that you spoke to her last," she accused.
My eyes slide over her face and to Sakura who lingered in the background. My eyes caught the triumphant gleam in her jade eyes. "Is that so?" I asked, oddly calm.
"I honestly thought you weren't the type of person that was a bitch. Obviously I was wrong!" Ino snapped, hands curling into fists.
"Are you going to strike me too?" I asked softly, disappearing as she swung her hand at me.
I didn't know why I didn't defend myself. Maybe it was because I knew that Ino wouldn't believe me. She and Sakura were childhood best friends, and she would obviously believe Sakura over me.
But now because I didn't take any action to initially clear the lies Sakura had spawned, many of the people I knew were beginning to look at me warily when they thought I didn't see them.
I had done nothing wrong. But now Sakura had turned some people against me.
But this... but this proved something to do.
No one truly knew me. They would easily change their thoughts of me because they heard a crying girl say so. They had no reason to doubt her, since I made no attempt to defend myself. I was just an emotionless, cruel and withdrawn Hyuga... just like the rest of my family.
"Did you say something harsh to Sakura?" he asked, his voice almost covered up by the patter of the rain.
"Why don't you go ask Sakura?" I snapped, my patience wearing thin.
"And listen to her shriek on and attempt to throw herself on me?" Sasuke asked dryly. "I'll take my chances asking you."
"What do you want to hear? That Naruto asked me to eat with him sometime, and I went to taunt Sakura about that?" I asked, lips turning up into a bitter smile, wincing as I did so.
"I doubt that. Though why did she attack you?" he asked.
"What makes you think that she punched me?" I questioned, gritting my teeth.
He smirked, "I didn't."
"It doesn't matter."
"What I don't understand is that why don't you try to tell the truth of what truly happened?" he asked, leaping to land beside me.
"Like they would believe me over a girl that's crying," I said uncaringly.
"You are crying now," he said softly.
A frown crossed my face as I turned towards him. "Don't be ridiculous, it's only the rain," I said firmly.
"Onee-san. Shouldn't you be going to train with your team?" my younger sister asked, standing at the doorway.
I looked up at her before my gaze dropped back down to the scrolls I was studying. "Not today," I answered.
She entered my room, a crease appearing in her forehead as she glanced at the scrolls in front of me. "Haven't you already learnt those techniques?" Hanabi asked curiously.
I gave a half smile, "I haven't mastered them properly though."
An uncertain look crossed her pale eyes before she spoke. "You should be clearing up the rumours that pink haired bitch spread, rather than mastering techniques you already perfected," she said softly.
My eyes widened at the harsh words she used. "Hanabi!" I exclaimed in protest.
A determined look crossed her face, "That's what she is, and those people who actually believed her are idiots," she said firmly before leaving the room.
She was only fourteen years old... yet she had more sense than me.
I rolled up the scrolls and got to my feet, preparing myself to leave for training.
"You came," Shino stated.
I gave a smile. "Sorry I was late," I apologized.
"We didn't think you would come... after you know," Kiba shrugged.
I felt my smile die to be replaced with a frown. "You didn't think some rumour was going to keep me away did you?" I asked in a colder tone.
"Of course not," Kurenai said calmly, crimson eyes glaring in case anyone was going to question her authority.
"Of course not," Kiba repeated, slinging his arm over my shoulder. "As if our Hinata would say something like that to Sakura, and even if you did, she must have deserved it," he said brightly.
It was good that at least my sister and my team still believed me. I just wish I could say the same for everyone else... but I know that would just be a lie.
"Hinata-san," the Hokage greeted.
I gave an uncertain smile, recalling that Sakura was her student.
"There's a mission. It takes about a week and I think it would be beneficial for you to leave Konoha until things settle down a bit." Tsunade started.
"Until things settle down?" I echoed, suppressing the anger in my voice.
Tsunade's face was filled with sympathy, "You know... the issue between Sakura and you-"
I cut her off. "Oh so I am to leave so I can get over my supposed hatred for Sakura huh? Give the poor innocent girl a break huh!" I snapped.
"Hinata-" Tsunade begun.
I am sick of tired of this. But I never thought the Hokage would have been the type to openly show favouritism.
"You want me to leave? Fine!" I spat spitefully, snatching the scroll over her and leaving the room, slamming the door behind me.
I'll leave all right.
"A mission?" Hanabi asked softly, eyeing my half packed bag.
I gave a nod and tossed a roll of bandaged into the bag. "I'll be gone for a while," I spoke.
"How long?" my younger sister asked.
"Perhaps a week," I answered, continuing to pack.
"Take care of yourself Onee-san," she spoke in her usual soft voice.
"Yea..." I murmured.
"What are you doing here?" I queried, eyeing him warily.
"Didn't the hokage inform you?" he asked dryly.
"If I was informed, do you think I would have wasting five seconds of my life asking you that question?" I countered in an equally dry tone.
"I was sent because the hokage felt that she ought to send someone with you in case you tried something funny. But she needed someone that was strong enough to easily restrain you, who also wouldn't hesitate to knock you over the head and drag you back to Konoha, and also someone who wouldn't kill you either," he stated.
"Are you sure it isn't the other way around?" I asked harshly.
They didn't trust me.
True I had initially considered the idea of running off. But that was a first impulse, and that was easily disregarded. I can't believe that they would actually think that I would do something so foolish?
This confirmed what I always knew. They didn't know me.
All they saw was a distorted reflection of who I really was.
Why is it that the supposedly easy missions always end up to be... not so easy.
"Heads," I called in warning, kicking the back of his knee so he stumbled.
After waiting a moment, he straightened and glared at the kunai that had imbedded into the wall, at the exact height his head was at a moment ago.
"Kaiten," I sighed, releasing chakra from my tenkutsu before I spun, reflected several projectiles.
There was a shifting of sand as Sasuke shot forward, catching one of the attackers by the collar of their shirt. His hand reached into his back pouch, ignoring the fact that the other shinobis had all taken aim on him.
Withdrawing his passport, he opened it and showed it to his attacker. "Uchiha Sasuke. Jounin of Konoha. Here to discuss the details of the upcoming chuunin exam," he stated calmly, releasing the shinobi of sand and stepping away.
"I apologise, Uchiha-sama. It just so happened that there was an attacker a couple days ago," the shinobi apologized, before realizing that Sasuke was already striding away.
I looked at the back of Sasuke and then to the confused guard, before I took out my passport. "Hyuga Hinata-" I begun but the shinobi had already waved me away.
I didn't have the presence of power that commanded attention.
I was not built for the sun. Regardless of the fact that my surname meant sunlight, whoever picked that name was seriously mistaken. We were not built for the sun, with out pale skin and dark hair... unless the Hyugas originally had dark skin and light hair, which I highly doubt.
"Not used to the heat huh?" Temari asked, taking in the sight of my flushed cheeks.
"It... it isn't too bad," I lied.
She gave a nod and continued discussing the details of the chunin exam. Her words faded in and out of the background as I fought to keep my concentration.
A glance out of the corner of my eyes told me that Sasuke seemed unaffected by the heat. Either that or he did a good job at hiding it.
What gave the Godaime the idea to sent a person obviously not built for the sun to this place. Heck, she must have been really desperate to get rid of me. Probably even hoping that I would shrivel up and die here, so that way I wouldn't bother her precious little student.
Why am I even thinking of "that pink haired bitch" as my sister oh so lovingly dubbed her.
It was too hot.
"Are you alright Hyuga-san?" Temari asked in concern.
I vaguely heard those words and I felt myself nod before my vision darkened.
It was too hot.
Wait. Wasn't I at the meeting with Temari-san? What happened next? My eyes snapped open as I sat up, vaguely aware of a slightly damp cloth dropping from my forehead onto my lap.
"You fainted," a voice informed me.
It was then that I noticed him sitting in a chair opposite me, a scroll in his hands. He looked up and continued to speak. "Apparently its quite common for outsiders that are not used to the heat."
"O-oh..." I said in a soft voice.
"It's beyond me what drug the hokage must have been taking when she thought to send a person of your complexion to this place," he stated.
"You are just as pale as me," I accused, putting the damp cloth onto the armrest of the couch.
"True. But I wasn't wearing an insanely warm jacket," he said calmly.
I glanced self-consciously at myself, noticing that the jacket I usually wore over my training shirt was absent. "Where is my jacket?" I asked, after a quick glance around the room did not locate it.
"It's in your bag," he answered, making a vague gesture.
I nodded in response.
Pale skinned, dark haired. Sun. Not the greatest combination.
I am almost willing to forgive Sakura about making up rumours about me than be here.
Damn. I must be delusional for the heat. Forget about that thought. Like I will forgive her for what she did. Unless she actually sincerely asks for forgiveness. But I highly doubt that, she's a very proud person.
I am definitely not going to be the one that apologizes to her. Just because I act all nice, doesn't mean I am the type to forgive when I am not the one that was wrong.
It wasn't like I accepted Naruto's offer and went to taunt her about her. Like I would stoop to that level.
I'm a Hyuga. Despite the fact I may not be as strong as the others, I still got my pride.
Stupid pride really. But nonetheless... pride.
"How was Suna?" Kiba asked, scratching absently at the red markings on his face.
"Warm. Did anything interesting happen whilst I was gone?" I spoke.
"Apparently Sakura asked Chouji out randomly... and um... she and Ino ended up arguing with each other. I don't know the finer details... since I wasn't keen to be close to those two," Kiba admitted, scratching the back of his head.
I gave a sidelong glance at Shino to see him nod slightly to confirm the story.
"I thought Ino liked Chouji but never asked him out..." I hesitantly voiced my thought.
"REALLY?" Kiba exclaimed, a little too loud for my likings. "That would explain why she got angry when Sakura asked him out," Kiba cackled gleefully.
I don't see why he is amused and I didn't hesitate in telling so. He brushed it off as usual, claiming I was too kind for my own good.
Perhaps he was right. But that was just a habit of mine.
"Hinata!" a feminine voice yelled out.
I paused, sighing softly. Yelling... that was never good. "Good afternoon, Ino-san," I greeted wearily, feeling an odd sense of deja vu.
This time there was no anger in her blue eyes, but instead guilt. "I'm sorry for what I said to you last time. I should have realized that you weren't the type to do something like that," she apologized, looking slightly distracted.
"It doesn't matter," I said dismissingly.
"It does," Ino insisted.
"Well you know what? It doesn't matter to me. It wasn't your fault because I am sure if you didn't spread that rumour around, someone else would have. Both ways Tsunade would find out and insist I go on a mission to a stupid hot village," I said in a rather calm manner.
"But... there's one thing I don't understand," she began, her voice faltering. "Why didn't you defend yourself?"
"Because I didn't think it would be necessary to defend myself. I didn't think that people would actually think me capable of doing something like that," I answered.
"Yea... yea well I am truly sorry Hinata," she said solemnly.
I smiled at her in response before we parted ways.
"Did you say something to Haruno again?" he asked in a slightly amused tone.
"What gives you that idea?" I asked, not feeling amused at all.
"She was wailing... more than usual that is," Sasuke commented.
"She and Ino got into a disagreement. Though I fail to see why she is upset."
That is... apart from that the fact that this was another ploy of hers to get sympathy and attention.
He gave a shrug and leapt from where to stand on the tree to land beside me. "So why do you continue to come out here?" he asked, his hands resting in the pockets of his pants.
"I could ask you the same," I countered softly, warily because I recalled what happened last time.
His eyes shifted to my face as he remained silent for a moment. "There is no reason I should tell you," he said arrogantly.
I felt a flare of anger at his statement. He expects me to answer him when he doesn't answer me! "I could say the same," I said coldly.
His eyes narrowed visibly with anger before he turned away from me, walking further along the walls.
Away from me.
He wasn't here.
Why should I care? I came out here because I could be at peace here.
But it didn't feel the same. Everything looked and seemed the same however. The night was still dark, the only natural light coming from the stars and the half crescent moon. The crickets were still chirping in the background.
But something was different. I didn't feel the sense of calm that I usually did.
Was it because he wasn't here?
Come to think of it, he had been on sentry duty with me most of the time. Was his presence what I liked and not this actual place?
That's a stupid idea. I didn't like him.
I never felt a surge of warmth that I used to feel when I was around Naruto. When I was around him, I felt wary, fearing he would snap... but at the same time I felt understanding and I felt safe.
Maybe it was because he was one of the first people to truly understand me. Maybe I am just thinking too much.
It doesn't matter. I can't like him. He's too different and I don't want to be in a one sided love ever again.
At the end of the day, the only person hurt is the one foolish enough to love.
My conclusion was to avoid him. It wasn't as if he was going to find me, but for my sake I would prefer not to run into him, accident or not.
I was quite certain I had no such feelings for him, but still I would be safe.
I would avoid sentry duty. Yes... that ought to do.
Anyway I couldn't like him. He was so... cold. Nor did he ever seem to express his expressions must, unless it was distaste, annoyance or heaven forbid... his strange sense of humour.
So it surprised me when he suddenly came into my sight.
"Good afternoon Uchiha-san," I greeted automatically.
He glanced at me, red eyes narrowing. "Are you going to be on sentry duty tonight?" he asked sharply.
"I don't think so," I answered.
"Well come won't you? I can't tolerate the others... they are too noisy," he stated.
I looked directly at his eyes, slightly surprised to see the dark markings in his red eyes beginning to spin slowly... was he aware that his sharingan was doing that? "I'll think about it," I said, merely to put him off my back.
He gave a nod and disappeared just as suddenly as he appeared.
Yes or no.
Why was this such a difficult choice? My initial answer was no... yet why do my footsteps continue to trace the path to the gates... and why does my mind keep going back to that question?
Was it because he asked me to come?
It wasn't that he asked me... it was how he asked me. His sharingan was activated and it was rotating around.
What did that mean?
Our clan speaks often of the Uchiha's bloodline limit. The traits of the sharingan are that it can memorize jutsus and allow the user to copy them, predict movements, hypnosis, genjutsu... that was it.
Hypnosis. I had heard Sakura speak about Kakashi's fight with one of the seven swordsmen. He used his sharingan to subconsciously suggest actions or thoughts to the opponent.
Is that what Uchiha-san did? Attempt to cast hypnosis on me.
I shook my head as I triggered my own bloodline limit. Instantly my surroundings became clearer, and I could see the faint tendrils of chakra that still hung around me. It was all clear now.
Deactivating my advanced bloodline, I formed a hand seal and muttered "Kai."
I would still go to sentry duty. I would find out the reason he tried to coerce me into coming.
But how dare he. How dare that Uchiha try such a petite trick on a Hyuga?
It is even more shameful that I didn't realize it at first.
"Hinata," he greeted, standing high atop the walls.
I leapt up and joined him in an instant. "What is it Uchiha?" I asked roughly, before I noticed the satchel upon his bag that looked oddly full.
He remained silent, dark eyes daring me to question me.
"What are you doing on sentry duty? Do you not have a mission to go to?" I asked sharply.
He gave a dry laugh.
Something wasn't right... and his forehead protector was not in sight. It wasn't on its usual place on his forehead, nor was it around his neck, arm and it did not serve as a belt.
"Where is your forehead protector?" I asked curtly.
He reached into his pocket, and I tensed automatically, but I didn't relax as he withdrew his forehead protector. He extended his hand and dropped his forehead protector, and a moment later I heard a metallic cling as it hit the road below.
It was then I took action, forming a series of hand seals for a binding jutsu.
His figure wavered and disappeared, and a split second later two arms lightly embraced me, awkwardly but not personally. Although it was more than enough to make me pause in the middle of my jutsu.
"I am going to search for Itachi and I shall attempt to take revenge for my clan. If I should succeed I shall return," he whispered to me, before stepping back.
Forgetting the binding jutsu, I struck him with the trademark fighting style of my family, only to watch him dissolve into smoke. He appeared on the walls of the gate, further away from me.
"Tell the Hokage and let her decide what to do," he continued calmly, his own chakra flooding out and wrapping around him. "Take care of yourself," he added in, before his chakra consumed him and he disappeared.
I was torn between activating my Byakugan and going after him, or informing the Hokage-sama.
Duty came first.
"Hokage-sama," I called out sharply, barging into room.
"The Hokage is in a meeting," Shizune informed me rising from her seat, confusion in her dark eyes. "What are you doing here, heiress of Hyuga... the guards were informed to let no one in," she frowned.
I didn't waste time in formalities. "The Hokage is busy? Then I shall wait for her to return. What information I hold is quite important and for her ears only," I decided.
Shizune gave a weary sigh and walked pass me. "I shall call out her of the meeting. She should be more than pleased for an excuse to get out of it," she offered.
"Thank-you... Shizune-sama," I said slowly, sinking into the chair that she was sitting in before.
Tsunade entered the room a couple minutes later, carefully closing the door before sitting behind her desk. "What is it?" she demanded, getting directly to the point.
"Uchiha Sasuke had left Konoha. We were both at sentry duty less than ten minutes ago and he informed me that he is now attempting to seek and kill Uchiha Itachi," I said in a neutral tone, dropping his discarded forehead protector on the table.
Surprise was evident in Tsunade's face. "Sasuke's gone to get vengeance?" she asked is disbelief.
I gave a curt nod, willing my facial features to remain blank
"Do you believe he is telling the truth?" Tsunade asked, running her hand through her blonde hair.
"I did not have my bloodline activated and nor did I see his facial features, so I could not gauge whether what he was saying is the truth or a lie," I said calmly.
When duty calls I will disregard what my heart tells me and follow protocol. My opinions are not wanted and I must only state the facts. Visible emotions will only get in the way and must not be shown.
I may not be the best kunoichi when it comes to fighting, healing or strategizing. But when it comes to protocol, that was something I long mastered as both a Hyuga and a kunoichi.
In truth I was worried and waiting for Tsunade's decision but she was behind those doors. I continued to veil my emotions merely because those guards I previous knocked out were not standing guard and eyeing me warily.
It was their fault for not moving out of the way in the first place. I had no time to convince them to let me pass. A single chakra filled strike each was more than enough convincing to let me pass. Or more rather, convincing to let them pass out.
It doesn't matter. It's not like they would do much. As far as they were concerned, I am still a Hyuga and the information I provided to the hokage was important enough.
Perhaps half an hour later, the doors opened and I was allowed to enter.
"If anyone asks, tell them you heard that Uchiha Sasuke was sent on a high ranked solo mission. Those will be the only facts you will share," Tsunade ordered.
"As the Hokage wishes," I nodded sharply before leaving.
It felt odd that he was gone, and everyone was acting so normal.
They didn't know the truth and it was for the better. The hokage-sama would not have her precious Naruto and Sakura fretting over their teammate. It was for the best.
But it was a lie.
Just one more lie to the pile. Just a fresh layer of paint on the mask. I continue to pretend to be something else. I suppose it was easier. To give a fake smile and simply agree.
If I try to act different, they would be all concerned and ask what is the matter with me. They will give me time by myself until I return to what they call normal. They wouldn't accept me as changed.
It doesn't matter.
He was gone. Probably dead. But the hokage wished to keep that a secret. No. She expected me to keep that a secret.
But that was my duty.
I shall obey it.
I heard Sakura ask Ino if she had seen Sasuke.
Ino looked irritated. It was as if Sakura had already forgotten what she had done to Ino. But Ino hadn't. When Ino continued to ignore her, Sakura grew angry but at the end it was Chouji who stepped in and glared at Sakura.
Chouji who usually had just kind eyes, in that instant, he looked so furious that even Sakura backed off. It surprised me. Can people change that easily? Or more rather. Can they be accepted as changed?
Ino didn't react, just put her hand on his arm to pacify him and then the two left.
Had I been anyone else, I would have pitied Sakura. Two times now her beloved Sasuke ran away. Two times she had been left heart broken. But I wasn't anyone else. With my clan's eyes I saw the more of the picture than the others did.
She was a fool. Clinging to Sasuke even though he hadn't shown any interest in her. Acting all depressed when he left. She was weak. Even now, despite the fact she had almost perfect chakra control, skilled medical ninjutsu and physical strength. When it came to emotions she was more readable than a book.
When Sasuke left, she had such an empty look in her green eyes it made me annoyed. How could she display such emotions of weakness... not even making an attempt to hide it.
No... Sakura was contempt to let anyone see her emotions. Perhaps she wanted attention. It is beyond me.
I wonder how she would react that Sasuke had run off again... and this time he would probably be dead.
But it is against the order of the hokage if I tell. I don't fear punishment... not because I know she can't to do much to a daughter of a noble clan. But it is because last time... Naruto went on a search party and endangered the lives of those close to me.
Kiba was seriously injured... and Neji, he almost died.
It was all Sakura's fault. She had made Naruto promise to bring Sasuke back... and then that had happened.
I don't want a repeat of what happened.
I avoided going on sentry duty, so everything seemed back to normal. Almost.
I could still see Sakura mopping around, but I learned to ignore that picture. I suppose Ino and I repaired our friendship to a certain extent anyway.
Almost everything was back to what it used to be.
I admit, I was rather used to his presence so when he was gone... it felt different. But I certainly wasn't going to mop over it. I'm not going to be that weak.
Now I got more time to spare. I may as well get back to the techniques of the clan I already perfected. What was the point of what? Little really.
But it gave me something to do. Better than sitting around and doing nothing.
Because if I just sat around, I would probably be wondering about him. Has he found his brother. Has he killed him. Or did he fail and is he dead.
I admit, there have been times when I just activate my byakugan and search. But I have found nothing.
What can I expect. He won't be that easy to be found.
Knowing him, he wouldn't be found.
Then again no one was truly searching for him.
It has been six months since he left. True some people are suspicious, but there have been many high ranked solo missions that have gone for a duration longer than this.
But even the hokage is worried. I can sense it. He has been gone too long, and not even she knows if he is dead or alive. No one knows... except for Uchiha Sasuke himself.
Once in a while, on the nights I am assigned sentry duty, as a way to pass the time and forget my surroundings... I try to search for him. I know it is pointless, because it is difficult to recognize chakra signatures by sight alone... but it gives me something to do and gets rid of the emptiness of the surroundings.
The comrade I have on sentry duty doesn't question what I do. I suppose they believe I am searching for people nearby. It doesn't matter. As long as I achieve silence and they leave me alone.
I don't mean to act anti-social but out here I have no desire to speak to anyone. Not out here. Because here I had an excuse to search... regardless of the fact that it was pointless. It was just a way to settle my thoughts and it was an excuse to use my advanced bloodline limit.
I wasn't really searching for him, because I know I would not be able to find him.
It was just another ordinary day. I was at the marketplace with my team when I heard Naruto cry out. That was regarded as ordinary, he was always so loud and Kiba was the first to look to see what it was.
"He's back," Kiba grinned, revealing his canines, and Akamaru gave a deep bark. Shino merely adjusted his shades but otherwise said nothing.
Uchiha Sasuke was back. Battered and bruised, he looked worse for wear, his clothes scrapped and dirty and his hair seemed too long. But he was alive.
I felt oddly calm as I saw him. A slight curiosity if nothing else. Had he killed Itachi? Now would not be the time to ask him anyway. As far as everyone else was concerned, he went on a long high ranked mission.
Kiba crossed over immediately, and Shino and I trailed after, not as eager.
"Sasuke," Kiba nodded in greeting, scratching the markings on his face absently.
"Uchiha," Shino murmured whilst I said a quick Uchiha-san in greeting.
Sasuke gave a weary nod in return, eyeing the talkative Naruto as if he was an annoying fly.
"Geez you leave for six month on some high ranked mission and you don't even tell us," Naruto complained. "Did you know how much Sakura was bothering me about it!"
I felt a touch of surprise at Naruto's tone. He wasn't so soft towards Sakura anymore by the sounds of that. But it doesn't matter.
"Ne, you better go the hokage's tower to see the old hag first and then you better get yourself cleaned up," Naruto decided, slapping Sasuke on the back, not even noticing him wincing.
Sasuke gave a nod in return.
"Ne Kiba, want to spar?" Naruto asked eagerly.
Kiba was about to nod but he glanced towards Shino and myself. "You can go Kiba-kun, we are already finished training anyway," I offered helpfully.
Kiba gave a nod and he, Akamaru and Naruto disappeared.
"Let's go Hinata," Shino decided, giving Sasuke a nod before leaving.
I followed Shino.
So he was back.
Although I still did not know if he had succeeding or not. I suppose I would have to ask him later... now was not an option. From what I was told, at the news of his return, his fan girls had not given him a moment's place.
Curiosity continued to bother me, but there was little else I could do but ignore it. It doesn't matter, I could wait.
I had time.
But I wonder, now that he was back. Would I take to sentry duty again? I don't think so. To be in his presence again, it would just be too different. Back then we barely knew each, barely had any reason to speak thus so we both remained silent most of the time.
But now I feel as if the situation has changed.
The Hokage had requested my presence. No doubt for a mission. So it surprised me to see Uchiha Sasuke.
Had I interrupted? Before I could leave, she beckoned me in and gestured to a seat.
"Hinata," she greeted.
"Hokage-sama," I answered automatically.
"First of all, I would like to thank you in keeping your silence about the issue to do with him," she began sweetly, her tone turning sour at the last word.
I glanced at Sasuke but he didn't even react. I suppose that Tsunade must have already vent most of her rage out the other day.
"Now, I would like to ask for your opinion on a certain subject," she continued. "Do you believe I should punish Sasuke for running off without permission?" she asked in a serious tone, brown eyes flickering from my face to his.
I felt confusion but I masked it. "Such decisions should be addressed to someone...else," I ended lamely.
"I am aware of that. But I am merely asking for your opinion... as a kunoichi of Konoha," Tsunade chose her words carefully.
"Oh, but I do not know the full story to this incident so I surely cannot make a decision as it would be biased," I answered calmly.
Tsunade's forehead creased slightly but she dismissed the both of us.
"That was stupid," Sasuke remarked bitterly.
I gave a shrug. "More strange that stupid."
He frowned. "If she wants to punish me, then she can just do that. It's not like anyone is going to question her judgment."
I said nothing.
"What happened... whilst I was gone?" Sasuke asked in a softer tone.
"Nothing really changed... nothing really happened. Everyone believed you were away on some mission. I think something happened between Naruto and Sakura... he doesn't seem as caring towards her. I'm not sure though," I answered slowly.
"Sakura's a bitch," Sasuke scowled, a touch of anger flaring in his eyes.
"She's a fellow shinobi of Konoha. She's one of us," I answered immediately, feeling slightly surprised that I was defending her.
He remained silent.
Finally I asked the question I was meaning to ask. "Did you..." I begun but he cut me off.
"...Yea. He's dead," Sasuke cut me off softly.
I gave a nod, unable to pick any words to say.
So he was dead. Itachi was dead.
I wondered how Sasuke felt. Seeking revenge for his family was his purpose in life. Now that he had done so... he must have felt like there was no purpose in his life.
At least... that is how I would have felt. Even though he was walking beside me, it felt as if we were so far away. I should try to speak to him.
"Are you alright?" I asked softly, unsure of his reaction.
"I already had my wounds tended to," he answered automatically.
"Not that... as in mentally," I hesitantly said.
I was treading into dangerous and forbidden territory. I know... but I have to ask.
He gave a sigh. "I don't know. I achieved an ambition in my life. I should have happy..."
"But you're not," I finished for him.
"But I'm not," he agreed.
"You'll be alright in time," I said, not liking how empty he seemed.
"How can you be sure?" he asked, dark eyes seeming so empty. His eyes looked so familiar.
I couldn't find any words to answer that question, so instead I just blurted out the first sensible thing that came to my head. "Hey come to sentry duty tonight, just like we used to huh?" I asked, darting away before I could hear his answer.
I've come to realize it now.
He was truly misunderstood.
Everyone saw a distorted reflection of him.
All they saw was the strong figure he appeared to be. They didn't see beyond that. It was shameful... that I had been mostly blind to it until now.
I of all people should have been looking harder.. because people always judged me as something else... and now I was making the same foolish mistake.
Because he was strong, no one worried about him. Because he acted cold, not many showed true signs of caring. Few spoke to him as an just a normal person.
How long had he been suffering?
How long had I been blind to it?
"Hey Sasuke?" I called out, hesitating slightly at the sound of me just saying his given name.
"Yea?" he said softly before his seat on the wall.
I leapt up to join him and sat down beside him. "How was the... mission? Six months huh? That's pretty long. I don't believe I've ever been gone for so long," I know I was blabbing, but I was attempting to make conversation.
He gave a shrug. "Spent most of the time asking around. Tracked him down. Fought him. Killed him," he said simply.
I attempted to give a sigh of annoyance, "Ne... you make it sound so simply as easy. Like it truly was," I exclaimed loudly. "I mean come on, I've tried searching for people and it isn't easy, and I've got the byakugan. Killing him couldn't have been that easy, must have been exhausting... heck exhausting wouldn't have fit it I mean-" he cut off my rambling.
"You can stop that. I'm fine," he said calmly.
"Stop what-" I begun but gave up, knowing he had already seen through me.
"It's kind of you to act like this, but I don't need it. I'm fine," he insisted.
"But I'm glad... I'm glad you are alright," I said in my normal soft tone. "I'll tell you something though?" I questioned.
"What's that?" he asked, not unkindly.
"I like coming out here cause you are here... your presence is calming in a way," I admitted, not looking at him.
His arm came around my shoulders. "Same here," he answered calmly, staring off into the darkness.
We would be alright.
A/N: This was written when I was fourteen.
2006-04-16 - Distorted Reflection published.
2011-02-13 - Slight update to replace line breaks. To this day this is still my favourite.