Barefoot Arias

by Ebony

Written for Junsui Kegasu's bday! Oh, and I thought I'd make it clear I didn't give Hinata much of a stutter because she's quite a bit older in this fic. That's all. Enjoy.


Pale fingers hovered above the arrangement of black and white keys, soundlessly rehearsing their movements almost like clockwork; she had known them for so long it had become involuntarily innate. And it wasn't hard for Hinata to slip back into her old pattern of things when she was in that room, or any room at all of her father's house at all, really. It was just like any other summer that she came home, with a thick and damp sort of air surrounding the house, and pale evening light drifting in the frosted windows of the small sunroom to fall over the piano and onto her body, creating dark ripples of shadow as she moved.

She paused, giving herself time for one breath (just a moment saved for hesitation), before her fingers plunged down into the keys and melody erupted from inside the piano…

"I thought I'd find you out here."

… and crashed as her fingers slipped, splaying over the keys like the spindly legs of a deer before she overcame her surprise and darted her hands back into her lap to hide them in the dark fabric of her dress.

"Oh, come on," Temari said, giving a sharp yet lopsided smile as she stepped out of the doorway, wineglass in hand. "It's just me."

The door fell shut behind her, and the jumbled noise echoing through the hallway came to an abrupt stop (although you could still hear it through the walls, if you listen hard enough).

"Hey," said Hinata simply in greeting, watching Temari saunter over to one of the windows and peer out into the garden. A bright red dress had been draped over her figure, accenting curves and bringing a shameless blush to her tomboyish features. Undeniably pretty, in a way. Not that Temari relied on her appearance for anything; with one glance at her, you could tell she didn't really care about those sort of things, and Hinata knew it well.

"Hey yourself," Temari responded, taking a greedy sip of wine from the glass. "Damn, your Dad still knows how to throw these party things, doesn't he?"

"I guess."

"Rich people love being rich with each other," she commented snidely. "Rich people love being richer than other rich people more, though. I still don't know why my Dad continues to come to these… he hates this town's guts. He'll probably complain about this party all the way home tomorrow. Stupid old fart. It's no wonder Gaara and Kankurou refuse to come… course, Kankurou would just make an ass of himself and Gaara would sulk in the corner, or chain-smoke outside and glare at things. Do you smoke? No, you don't smoke, why am I even asking you that, I–"



Hinata smiled a little, leaning forwards to rest her elbows on the edge of the piano.

"You're drunk again, aren't you?"

Temari tilted back her head to expose her throat to moonlight as she laughed, her shoulder shaking with the exaggerated and uncontrolled motion.

"Of course! How the Hell else would I survive these things?" Temari shook her head, catching the trail ends of the laugh as they bubbled out of her. "Sober, I probably couldn't even last as long as you did out there. You're so freaking patient with those spoiled brats! And that cousin of yours is still no fun at all!"


"Are you really going to stay here all summer long?"

Hinata looked up at her, puzzled at first, as if she'd never taken the time to ask herself such a question. Her lips – left pale and unpainted – separated as she tried for words, nervous (and restless) fingers pushing a piece of chin-length hair behind her ear.

"Yes… I always do," she answered, jumping a little as she heard Temari's glass clatter sharply as the blonde all but slammed it down onto the piano. At one glance of Temari's determined stride – strengthened by inebriation – she scuttled over so there was room for her on the old piano bench. It groaned, weak beneath the strain. After she'd left home the year before, her father had moved the old piano into the sunroom for storage, and it seems no one had touched it since. It was as unwanted here as the boxes stacked out it, full of old things that no longer served any purpose, but everyone had been to lazy to throw away.

"So what?" remarked Temari as she plopped herself down on the bench. "You're twenty now, Hinata! You've got freedom! Look, I know you worked your ass off all year at university – I don't even have to ask to know that – so why punish yourself by spending your entire summer here?"

"I…" Hinata turned her face away from Temari's, her shoulders beginning to slump a little. "It's been that way… forever. I've spent every summer since I was born in this house."

Another hint of a coy smile showed at her lips as one of her hands rose once more to the keys of the piano, pressing in tentatively to release a rivulet of melody.

"Must get lonely," Temari mused.

Hinata shrugged, an attempt of nonchalance that didn't quite seem convincing.

"A little. But I've got the piano. And a lot of people I used to knew come back to town for a bit, so I see them…" she said.

"But still."

"I don't mind," Hinata said quickly, one of her fingers hitting a broken key (both winced at the clashing sounds). "I like it here."

"Hinata…." Temari sighed, reaching again for her wineglass, which was almost empty by this point. They both knew it would be. Sometimes it felt a little sickening, to play out the same scene so many times in so many ways and yet know the ending would always wind up the same.

It had been like that for years. Whenever Hiashi would decide to have one of his big get-togethers, Temari would be dragged along by her father. The first time she could really remember, she'd been nine, and had pestered her father for an hour of boredom before he'd sent her off to find other children to play with. And imagine Temari's delight when she'd found a small, dark-haired girl in a flowered dress crouched behind a large potted plant sitting on the front porch, knees drawn to her chest as if she were trying to make herself small enough to disappear.

'Finally,' she'd thought. 'Someone who wants to get away from here as badly as I do.'

Hinata had been shy, of course, ridiculously so, but it hadn't taken Temari long to draw the girl out a little. When they got older they would sometimes meet for coffee, but due to the distance between where they lived, the majority of the contact they had was through Hiashi's parties. Though Hinata still disliked them, and tried to blend into the wallpaper as much as possible, she began to look forward to them a little bit. But no matter how much Temari could get her to laugh, or drink, or when they were younger, how high up a tree she would climb, there was always a bit of hesitance between them that kept a safe distance open between them.

Sifting through her memories restlessly, Temari held up her wineglass and watched light refract as it shot through the dark red liquid.

"Let's go outside."


Temari held the glass out to Hinata, pressing it into the young woman's lithe hand before she stood, slipping out of her shoes (a look of relief passed over her features as she freed herself from them, knowing there were small blisters forming on her ankles already).

"Finish that for me," she said of the drink, "I've had way too much. And then let's go out into the garden; it's too warm tonight not to enjoy it!"

The blonde strode barefoot over to the door on the other side of them room that led out into the large backyard that came with the mansion, glancing back over her shoulder to Hinata, who remained staring at the keyboard with the wineglass in her hand.

"Come on," Temari insisted. "You can sit at the piano all you want once I'm gone, but right now I want you to take a walk with me. Just a short walk."

Hinata's fingers tightened a little on the stem of the goblet…

"Please, Hinata."

…and she raised it to her lips, savouring the smooth feel of glass against her bottom lip as she took a small sip, then a second and a third, and then the wine was gone. It left a bitter aftertaste in her mouth, but she ignored, it and placed the now empty glass on top of the piano (a little dusty from lack of use).

"Alright," she said, nodding, though she kept her eyes on the ground as she slipped out of her own modest sandals and abandoned them beside Temari's. "Let's go."

No sooner were the words out of her mouth that Temari grabbed her wrist (warm fingers wrapping around), pulling her forwards out of the sunroom and into the large garden. It was a beautiful place, though Hinata knew that Hiashi hardly ever used it. Hanabi was always out and about with her friends – Hinata knew she was hardly ever home, so she doubted her little sister came out there often. It was the same with the piano. Hanabi had been great at it – much better than Hinata, admittedly – but she hated the instrument with a passion Hinata couldn't understand.

Laughing giddily – a cross between a lush and an enchanted child – Temari pulled Hinata along a dirt path, staring wide-eyed at their surroundings. Golden light from the windows lit up the grass near the house, casting long and skinny shadows of the girls out over the flowers. Further out, a few fruit trees had their leaves dusted with moonlight as a soft summer breeze shook them, pale and shimmering colours popping out in the slender shape of a petal or leaf among the tangle of darkness that clung to everything else. The summer air was thick and cool against their skin, but pleasantly so.

Hinata inhaled deeply as Temari traipsed along, trying to keep up with the moment. They weren't just two girls in a garden; they were two girls becoming part of the garden as it embraced them. The sounds of the party faded a little more with each step they took, until they were running, not to get away from it but because they could and they wanted to. Hinata heard Temari laughing again from a short distance ahead of her (they'd separated some time ago, though the exact time of it was blurred in her mind), and hurried to catch up, smiling in her breathlessness.

"See?" Temari asked, waving her over. "Aren't you glad you came out here with me?"

She spun about on her tiptoes, grabbing Hinata's hands before she'd had time to answer and whirling her thrice around – careless and girlish and free – before her drunken state got the better of her and they tumbled to the ground, entwined. Temari's back was pressed against the gentle-bladed grass that covered the earth, heavy-lidded eyes staring up at the star-littered sky, not bothered by the weight of Hinata upon her.

"S-sorry…" Hinata mumbled, suddenly retreating into herself as she scrambled to remove herself from atop Temari, but the blonde's arms reached up to keep her there, insistent once more in their hold.

"For what?" inquired Temari, pressing one hand into the dark fabric covering Hinata's back. But the Hyuuga just shook her head a little, casting her eyes away as if to dismiss the question. It was just the force of an old habit she could never really rid herself of, that was all.

"Are you really going to stay here all summer, Hinata?"


"But you wouldn't be happy here, would you? You never have been…."

Startled again, Hinata pressed both elbows into the ground on either side of Temari's sides in attempt to push herself up and away, but was kept there still. Staring up at the girl without doubt or hesitation in the least, Temari trailed one hand up Hinata's spine until her fingertips reached the nape of Hinata's neck and brushed against the dark, feathery hairs resting there. The shrunken space between them was almost suffocating.

"I…." Hinata tried to speak but her throat had gone painfully dry, the words all dried up in her chest and crumbled into pieces she couldn't gather into sense. She stared at Temari's collarbones instead.

"Don't try lying to me," Temari said gently. "Because I won't believe it, and it won't do you any good. I've known you too long to be fooled, Hinata… Yeah, you got into uni and you moved out of your Daddy's mansion, but you're still holding so much of yourself back by that image of yourself; that little girl whose Dad doesn't think she's good enough, and who no one really talks to in school… you have to get yourself away from that. You're more than that. Look at me, Hinata."

Temari's fingers grazed Hinata's cheek, coaxing her head slowly upwards until their eyes met, and Temari couldn't help but smile.

"Take a chance with me," she whispered. "Not just this. I want you to move in with me for the summer. If you hate it, you can always come back here, no harm done… Just think about it, okay? I'll be in town all weekend, so there's plenty of time."


Temari cut her off again. "Think about it for me, okay?"

"Okay," Hinata answered, albeit a little reluctant.

"Thank you." Temari moved her hand back into the black lengths of Hinata's hair, guiding the young woman's head down until Hinata's cheek pressed against the top of her breast, heartbeat thudding into her flesh through Temari's, the press of skin to skin filling her with warmth. It was maddening and wonderful at the same time.

Hinata closed her eyes.

"I miss you, you know?" she heard Temari saying. "I never thought I'd really miss anybody, but I find myself missing people anyways. And sometimes I get frustrated thinking about you, because you're so different from me… I'm not scared of taking chances; actually, I'm more afraid not to. I need to constantly be risking myself, making sure I don't stay in one place long enough to get attached.

"But we're similar like that. You don't take chances to stop yourself from getting hurt, am I right? And I take them to do the same…. Fuck, I'm drunk, aren't I?"

She smiled at the laugh Hinata let escape, pitches clear in the clear night air.

"You are," the Hyuuga responded casually, gingerly laying her hands on Temari's shoulders.

"I want to stop running," Temari mumbled to her. "I want to start living…."

She felt a warm breath rush over her chest as Hinata exhaled deeply, and pulled her a little closer…

"Let's stay out here a while longer," the dark-haired girl said, "and I'll think about it."

…to close all the spaces between them, letting them lie there like children, pressed together on the garden floor.