Ch.8 A Hope Rekindled
As Neji slowly walked through the gates of Konaha, he looked up towards the sky. Dark ominous clouds were forming; a powerful storm was brewing. It was going to be a bad day. Over the past three years, Neji had learned that the worst days of the year always looked like this, like the day she left him. Lowering his head he could see his old genin teammates walking towards him.
"Hey Neji, coming back from a mission?" Tenten asked him once he caught up to them. He nodded his head, staying silent.
"Yosh! So did we, let us celebrate together for finishing at the same time!" Lee cried loudly. Neji ignored him and Tenten sighed as she rolled her eyes. However the three continued on their way to the Hokage's office to report in, when suddenly a Hyuuga servant came rushed towards Neji. He scowled heavily.
"Neji-sama…she's…she's back. Hinata-sama is back!" the servant panted. Neji felt as if his heart stopped as his eyes widened.
"What!" the servant nodded his head.
"She's…at the compound…she's made uhh quite an entrance." The servant said hesitantly. Feeling he was hiding something, Neji was about to press him, when the servant cut him off. "And Hokage-sama is there…you need to get there…quick Neji-sama." The servant said cryptically. Without saying a word Neji was sprinting as fast as he could back home, something wasn't sitting right. Why would Tsunade be there? Lee and Tenten rushed to keep up with the ANBU captain.
Neji froze in his tracks at the scene before him. He didn't even have to activate the Byakugan to know that there was some sort of barrier made from a powerful chakra. He could see people standing around the compound trying to see what was going on. Pushing his way through the crowd, Neji made his way towards the front next Tsunade.
"What the hell is going on?" he demanded. But Tsunade just kept staring in front of her, whispering to herself.
"She certainly became much more powerful to be able to do this." She finally said loud enough for him to hear. "I can't even get in." Neji's dark scowl just deepened.
"Tsunade-sama, I really hate repeating myself." He said darkly.
"Well what the hell does it look like!" she turned to yell at him. "She's blocked off the entire compound and no one can get in…except for those she wants to let in." she informed him, trying to calm herself. Over the years Hinata was gone, Tsunade had tried to keep tabs on her, but because that gang was so small, only three members, it was a lot more difficult than before.
Neji turned to look at the barrier before him, feeling uncertain. And he hated feeling uncertainty. What the hell was going on in there? Was Hinata in there? Neji could feel a tug on his sleeve to find the same servant that had fetched him earlier.
"Neji-sama…Hinata-sama is in there…and so are all the Main House members." The servant informed him. Confusion entered Neji's eyes, just the Main House members? For the first time Neji looked at the people around him, they were all Branch House members.
"What?" he whispered.
"She freed us." The servant continued softly. Neji looked back at him, really perplexed by what he said. The servant, who had his forehead covered like any other Branch House member, removed the coverings from his head. Neji's eyes widened with shock to see the Branch House member's forehead clear. The seal was gone!
"She freed all of us, then told us to leave the compound. We did, then she did this." The servant explained. Neji quickly turned to look at the barrier once again, slowly lifting his hand. Would she let him in? Neji slowly reached out his hand towards the barrier, expecting to feel something. But instead, his hand past right through it. His eyes turned to look at Tsunade. She nodded her head.
"That barrier may stop people from coming in, but it doesn't stop noises from coming out." she said as Neji past his whole body through. "Neji…we've been hearing some horrifying screams coming from in there. Be careful." Tsunade warned him. He nodded his head and opened the door to the compound and stepped in quietly.
His heart raced and adrenalin was flowing through his veins, it seems he was now on a new mission. He slowly and softly walked through the darkened hallways, not hearing or seeing anyone. But then he smelled it; blood. He cautiously pulled a kunai out while he proceeded to follow his nose. Unfortunately it was leading him to a place with bad memories, the inner courtyard where he had brought Hinata back…three years ago.
When he finally reached the inner courtyard, the sight before him made him almost gag. The bodies of the Main House member were so terribly mutilated; he couldn't even tell who they were exactly. Blood soaked the floor and covered the walls. The stench of it filled his nose and made his eyes water. But he noticed in the middle of the courtyard stood a lone figure, staring at Hiashi and Hanabi on the other side. The figure wore the typical Akatsuki outfit; the long black coat with red clouds and a pointed hat covering the head. He was standing behind the lone figure; he could see Hiashi's pale and slightly green face and Hanabi's scowl. Crying could be heard in the background, the crying of a baby. Hearing it, Neji's body became numb of any feeling, his ears searching out the source of the crying. But was interrupted when Hanabi spotting him.
"Ahh Neji…you finally decided to show…look at who's back?" Hanabi said with a smile. His eyes turned back to the lone figure and watched at they turned towards him. He could see the front of the cloak was soaked in blood; a small crimson hand poked out and started to undo the cloak. White eyes pierced his as he stood transfixed, he could hear his heart pounding in his ears.
Suddenly the cloak went flying into the air quickly followed by the hat, Neji almost fell to his knees as he stared at the woman before him. Her hair was long and dark as the midnight sky, her ivory eyes held no feeling, her serene face looking cold. She was wearing a tiny black top that only covered her breasts, but wore a fish net top that covered her whole torso and blended in with the form-fitting black capri's she wore. She was dressed as an assassin, and had the look of one as well.
"Neji." She whispered his name softly. All the air rushed out of his lungs when he heard her sweet voice…a voice he thought he would never hear again.
"Hinata." He breathed quietly. Her cold eyes softened slightly as she slowly walked towards him. With every step she took his breath hitched higher. The last time he saw her, she was so very thin and looked like if he had gotten to her any later, she would have died. Now, her body was no longer skinny, instead, the outfit she wore showed off the strong muscles of her body. She stopped mere inches from him, her face tilted up to look at him, to hold his gaze. Since when did Hinata hold his gaze? Usually it was the other way around.
"You didn't forget about me." It was more of a statement than a question that she had said softly. She lifted a pale hand to his face and gently cupped his cheek. Neji's heart slammed in his chest at feeling her touch again. He closed his eyes and held her hand to his face.
"I could never forget you." he told her, opening his eyes once again. A small sad smile formed on her lips as she reached up and gently took off his head protector and the other coverings on his head. With her eyes on his seal she whispered quickly under her breath while her hands worked like lightening. He closed his eyes, was she here to kill him? Whatever she wanted to do him was fine by him. Then he could feel her cool hand lightly touch his forehead.
"Hey what the hell are you doing!" he could hear Hanabi in the background. His forehead was feeling warm, almost hot, but not painful. The feeling however, quickly vanished. He opened his eyes slowly to see Hinata bringing her arm back down to her side.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to free you." she softly said to him, his eyes searched hers, but found nothing. She was so different now; she hid her feelings just as well if not better than him. He couldn't read any emotions from her face; it saddened him, what happened to her?
"Neji…I suggest you leave." Hinata warned him softly. He frowned as he cupped her cheeks with his hands.
"I'm not going to leave you." he told her firmly. He watched her close her eyes and breath deeply, as she gently held his wrists. When she opened her eyes again, he saw it, what he was looking for earlier. A small glimmer of love, though it quickly faded.
"I would rather you remember me as I once was…and not how I am now." She told him, sighing sadly as she pulled his hands away from her face. "If you do not leave now, I'm going to destroy the happy memories of me that you hold dear."
"I am not leaving you." he said shaking his head with stubbornness. Hinata looked away and started to turn back towards her father and sister.
"I cannot make you go, but I warned you." she told him before getting back down to business. Hanabi had her jaw clenched and her hands fisted as she watched the two. When she saw Hinata slowly turned back to her, Hanabi smiled.
"Neji…since you decided to stay…make yourself useful." Hanabi said loudly. "Your job is to protect the heir, which is me, and Hinata plans to kill me. Stop her." Hanabi ordered him. Neji's hands fisted tightly at his side as he stared at her with his loathing of her in his eyes.
"Do it, or I'll have to…" she trailed off. Neji knew what she was referring to, but he had refused her before and was more than willing to go through that again than to hurt Hinata.
"Neji no longer has to take orders from you." Hinata informed her sister.
"What!" Hanabi shot out while anger filled her.
"I removed the seal, you cannot hurt him any longer." Hinata stated. Hanabi snarled as she tried to activate Neji's seal, only to find that nothing was happening to him. Neji touched his forehead and looked at Hinata; she really did remove his seal.
"Impossible!" Hanabi yelled.
"No…just highly unlikely, but not impossible." Hiashi spoke up, his eyes on his oldest daughter. Then his eyes moved to his youngest. "If it's possible to put a seal on someone, it's possible to take it off." Hanabi screamed with frustration and she walked into the courtyard.
"YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED, YOU'RE STILL WEAK! I WILL NEVER LOSE TO YOU!" suddenly the crying that Neji had heard before filled the courtyard. He could feel his blood turn cold, realizing where it was coming from. Hanabi smile, hearing it as well.
"You here that?" she asked her sister as she pointed to a body on the ground, in it's mutilated arms, it covered a small baby. "That's Tadashi…my son…Neji's son." She said tauntingly.
Hinata silently turned her head to look at the crying baby boy. Neji's heart pounded furiously in his chest as he watched Hinata walk over to his eightieth month old son. He had no choice, Hiashi and the council were breathing down his neck about a grandchild and with his constant rebellion against Hanabi and her frequent activation of his seal…he could only hold out against them for so long.
He didn't want the child and apparently neither did Hanabi. Rejecting the boy as soon as he was born, the boy was put into Neji's care. He didn't want to look at him, he didn't want to hold him, he didn't want him period. But Hiashi had told him to hold his son, and he couldn't very well outright refuse him.
Neji stared down at the baby in his arms, studying the features; it looked like a mixture of him and Hanabi. The baby blinked his big white eyes, staring back at Neji. Then he smiled. Neji's heart suddenly squeezed painfully in his chest; it was a smile as sweet and innocent as Hinata's. Neji gulped as his eyes softened slightly. He never wanted the baby in the first place…but somehow, along the way, he had grown on him. His smiles and laughter reminding him of Hinata.
Neji watched as Hinata bent down and gently picked up his son. Holding him close to her body, Hinata gently rocked him, slowly his cries faded away. Neji could remember a time when he use to imagine a family with her, holding their children the way she was right now. How he wished with his whole heart that the baby in her arms was hers. Hanabi smirked as she watched her sister rock her son to sleep.
"You see Hinata, you haven't changed one bit."
Hinata looked down at the sleeping baby in her arms. She took could remember a time when she would daydream about the family she wanted to have with Neji. She could almost imagine that this baby was hers…almost. She turned to look at Neji and could see the love he had for his son in his eyes. The last thing she came her to do was to hurt Neji, but it seemed that there was no way she could complete the mission she set out to do, without hurting him. She allowed her sadness and regrets to reach her eyes for Neji to read. She could see the confusion in his.
"I'm sorry Neji…I hope some day you can forgive me." Hinata said, Neji shook his head not believing what she was implying. Hinata turned back to Hanabi and once again her eyes and expression were blank.
"You're right Hanabi." Hinata agreed with her sister. Hanabi smiled, a smug look on her face. "It is amazing how a person can change…when they are filled with hate." Hinata finished with a cold hard voice. She held her hand over the baby's face and suddenly thrust a large and powerful amount of chakra through his brain, killing him instantly. Hanabi's smugness vanished as she stared at Hinata with shock. Neji fell to his knees and shut his eyes tightly but the image of Hinata killing his son continued to flash across his mind.
"What?" Hanabi breathed. Hinata's icy glare made a shiver go down Hanabi's back as she tossed the baby's body to her.
"Your son is dead…and you're next." Hinata said in a quiet and menacing voice. The fact that Hanabi was actually scared enraged her to no end, and instead of catching the small body tossed at her, she just swatted it away as if it were an annoying fly.
"You BITCH! I can still beat you!" Hanabi yelled.
"Prove it." Hinata taunted.
Hanabi angrily rushed towards her with a series of lightening fast attacks, each of which Hinata was easily dodging. Pissed that she couldn't land a single punch or kick, Hanabi pulled out a kunai as she twisted, jumped and parried. Hinata easily blocked her attacks and quickly landed a punch on her chest. Hanabi went flying to the other side of the courtyard as she clutched her chest in pain. Her muscles contracted as she suddenly coughed up blood. Panting and wiping the blood from her mouth, Hanabi slowly got back up to her feet and this time activated her Byakugan.
Hinata just stared at her unfazed, after three years of training with Itachi, a fight with her sister wouldn't even break a sweat. She watched as Hanabi moved into a familiar stance, Hinata shook her head inwardly as she pulled a kunai out. She would kill Hanabi exactly the way she had killed the others. Hanabi rushed forward fast, but Hinata was faster as she made a long cut across her arm. Crying out in pain and frustration, Hanabi tried frantically to keep up with Hinata's pace, but was failing miserably. And every time she was too slow, Hinata would cut her deeply with the kunai in her hand. Soon enough, Hanabi was standing before Hinata panting for breath and covered in blood. There were gashes all over her body and she could feel her chakra draining quickly. She knew she couldn't win this battle and knew death had finally come for her.
"Damn you…" Hanabi breathed raggedly, "kill me already!" she yelled. Hinata looked at her, her eyes still as cold and hard as ever.
"You didn't tell Kabuto that he could have killed me and still experimented on the Byakugan." Hinata stated. Hanabi's eyes widened with shock and fear at what she said. "The least you could have done was granted me death…but no, you made me suffer for eight long years."
"No, Hinata I…I…" Hanabi pleaded, terribly frightened of the murderous look in her sister's eyes.
"And now…death is too good for you." Hinata said softly as she advanced on Hanabi, now ready to make her suffer just as she had suffered.
Hanabi suddenly lashed out at her, as she tried to stop Hinata, but Hinata just grabbed her wrist tightly, quickly pulling out a longer blade and relieving her sister of her right hand. Hanabi screamed with pain as she held her bloody arm to herself. Hinata slowly walked around her and then roughly snatched Hanabi's hair and pulled her to her.
"Let me demonstrate how they could have experimented." Hinata whispered into her ear, as she proceeded to torture her. Hiashi and Neji turned their heads away, trying desperately not to look at the gruesome sight they made and to try and block Hanabi's screams of pain.
With what seemed like hours later, Hanabi's cries were silent as a bloodied body lay still at Hinata's feet. With her hands still dripping with Hanabi's blood, Hinata turned to Hiashi. Her eyes showing that she had no mercy for him either. But he silently stood up and walked towards his daughter. On his way he stopped and bent to pick up his grandson's body. Walking to her, he stopped only a few feet from her.
"So do you plan on opposing me?" Hinata asked him. Holding his grandson tightly in his arms, Hiashi looked down at his daughter with sad regretful eyes.
"No…I know I must pay for my mistakes." He told her. She nodded her head once. Hiashi lowered to his knees, now looking up at his daughter.
"Hinata…I just wanted to let you know, I never wanted this to happen. When I appointed you as heir, that's what I wanted. I knew you would be strong enough to create the changes needed in our family. I wanted you to be happy…with Neji. But when you were gone, I had no choice but to make Hanabi heir, though I did not want to. I could see the greed in her eyes, her ambitious nature, her bitterness. I thought that Neji's influence would change her. When that didn't work, I thought maybe motherhood would change her." Hiashi's gaze lowered to his dead grandson.
"I am the true cause for all yours and Neji's pain, and I am sorry. I never wanted this to happen, I only wanted you two to happily be together and lead our family." He finished softly. Hinata stared down at her father, not moving, for many minutes. He looked back up at her with surprise when he saw her wipe her bloodied hands on her black pants.
With her hands dried and as clean as she could make them, her hands lifted to gently touch her father's face. Hiashi closed his eyes as she moved one hand over his forehead, like she did with the baby. But right before she thrust her chakra through his skull, Hiashi smiled slightly hearing her whispered words; "I forgive you Tou-san."
Hinata caught her father's lifeless body and gently laid him onto his back making sure the baby was tucked safely into his arms. Turning to Neji she could see him starting to stand on his trembling feet. Her eyes showed no feelings or emotions as she watched him get up.
"I told you, you should have left." She said softly, sadly.
Suddenly the Branch House members, who were trying desperately to get in and see what was going on inside the compound, were now able to pass through her barrier. Walking cautiously to the inner courtyard where they found Hinata and Neji standing in the middle of bloodied bodies. They didn't enter the courtyard, instead staying along the outskirts, scared and frightened by what they saw. Hinata looked around to see all of them as she stretched out her arms and her voice carried to every living person's ears.
"Look and remember what you see here." She said loudly, clearly. "This is what happens when families are divided by hatred. Look and remember, for this shall be the fate of our family if we are divided once again into a Branch House and a Main House. Live as one family, as one clan. For if I find that our family has divided once again, you can trust that I will come back and finish what I started today. And believe that next time, I shall kill every last Hyuuga." Hinata could hear that gasps of fear and she could she see the people quickly turn around and leave. And soon, once again, she was alone with Neji.
Neji walked towards her on shaky legs as she bent down to pick up her cloak and hat. His eyes were hesitant and wary as he slowly reached out towards her. Seeing the motion out the corner of her eye, Hinata flinched away from his touch.
"Don't touch me." She whispered fiercely.
"Hinata." He breathed her name, but she turned her back on him.
"Don't look at me." She said, she knew what she had done. She knew and accepted it, she understood if he hated her or even feared her. But knowing and understanding isn't the same as seeing hatred or fear in his eyes.
"Hinata don't turn away from me." Neji said firmly. He was scared, scared that he had lost her forever. Scared that his Hinata no longer existed and instead only this killing machine lived. She didn't turn back towards him, but she didn't walk away either. "Hinata…I…" he didn't know what he wanted to say or what he wanted to ask.
"I am not the woman you once loved Neji." Hinata stated softly. "I am nothing but hatred now, the woman you loved died three years ago." Neji could feel tears slowly come to his eyes.
"But…" what could he say? She was right; the Hinata he loved would never have done this. He finally had her again, and now he had to let her go. She was no longer the woman he loved. This time Hinata did turn to him, to see his eyes staring at the ground, defeated. Their love had conquered time, and probably could have conquered hate, but their love could not conquer death. This time it was she who gently took his chin between her fingers and lifted his face to see hers.
"I'm sorry," she whispered softly to him, "but if I still had a heart…it would still be yours." Neji frowned slightly as her eyes conveyed her pain, her suffering, her sadness, and emptiness. She leaned up and lightly brushed her lips with his, before disappearing in a puff of smoke. The next thing he knew Tsunade and everyone else rushed towards him.
"What happened? The barrier suddenly disappeared, where is Hinata?" Tsunade asked him urgently.
"She's…gone." He said, as if he was in a trance. Tsunade sighed as she looked around and took in the massacre that Hinata had committed.
"Tsunade-sama…what do we do with Hinata?" she heard someone ask her.
"Rank her as an S-ranked Missing Shinobi." Tsunade said sadly. She turned to walk back towards her office, all these people were dead. There was nothing she could do for them. Suddenly Neji gripped her shoulder, she turned to look at him with a confused look.
"Tsunade-sama…I have to go." he told her solemnly. "I lost her twice, and I'll be damned if I loose her a third time." Tsunade looked at Neji incredulous, and then nodded her head. Neji then too, disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"Shizune?" Tsunade called.
"Yes, Tsunade-sama?" Shizune asked.
"I want you to make an official document. Hyuuga Neji and Hyuuga Hinata are dead." She said softly.
"What!" Shizune asked perplexed.
"Hyuuga Neji had received a mission to bring back the S-ranked Missing Shinobi, Hyuuga Hinata. They fought and both died in battle." Tsunade said, looking at the sky as it started to rain.
"They had been through so much." Tsunade said quietly, "After all they've been through, I think they deserve to finally be together."
It had been a week since he left Konaha and he still couldn't find her. He felt like he searched everywhere, and there wasn't a trace of her. He finally arrived at the outskirts of a small village, hoping to find her here. It was the village they were at when they had discovered their love for one another. Neji sighed as he looked down from a cliff to stare at the small village. Then walking to a stream, he went to wash his face and clear his thoughts, when he noticed something moving behind the waterfall not far from him. Curious and hopeful, he suddenly appeared behind the falls…and in front of Hinata. She gasped as she covered her mouth and her eyes were wide with shock.
"What are you doing here!" she cried with a surprised and angry voice.
"I told you I'm not the woman you love anymore!" she yelled. "Don't you understand that! I murdered our family! I killed your son!" she screamed at him. Neji just stood there, impassive, then reached out towards her.
"No." she shot as she moved away from him. But was caught off guard by the quickness of his hand as he snatched her wrist and pulled her to him. He was only too happy to see her cheeks redden at their close contact.
"You're right Hinata…the woman I love, would have never done that." He agreed with her.
"There you see!" she said as she tried the pull away from his grasp. Neji only tightened his hold while his other arm wrapped around her waist and brought her up against his body.
"But if you were full of hatred and only hatred, you would not have shown any kind of mercy." He told her softly. Hinata shook her head as she half-heartedly struggled to get away from him.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't." she stated, looking away from him. Neji lowered his face to her ear as he whispered to her.
"You did. You showed mercy to my son and to your father by the way you took their lives. You freed the Branch House." Hinata gasped at what he said, and he could feel her body start to tremble against his.
"T-that's only because…" she hesitated.
"That's only because the Hinata I love is still a part of you. Deep down inside." He said as he softly kissed her cheek.
"No! She's gone! She's dead!" Hinata cried as she resumed her struggle against his hold.
"No she isn't." Neji said firmly. "Hinata I know. I know that right now you're lost in your hatred. That you're drowning in darkness and you think that there is no way out. That the things you did were so horrible, that there's no possible way you can be saved. That forgiveness and redemption is beyond your reach." Hinata stopped her struggling as she looked up at him. Tears that she hadn't allowed herself started to fall in three years suddenly came to her eyes.
"How…how do you know that?" she whispered. Neji's eyes softened as he leaned forward to kiss her forehead, then her nose, then her cheeks, till finally his lips were before hers. He could feel her warm breath against his cheek.
"Because that's how I felt, before you taught me otherwise." He said softly before capturing her quivering mouth with his. He kissed her deeply, passionately, and full of the love he still held for her.
"Hinata…you were the light that drove away my darkness, your love is what saved me. You forgave me and redeemed me." He said, when he finally pulled away from her lips. He lifted his hand and wiped her tears away, seeing the Hinata he fell in love with, struggling to be free. The Hinata that was still apart of her.
"Let me be the light that drives away your darkness. Let my love…our love…save you." new tears sprung forth from her eyes as she slowly nodded. And a genuine smile graced her lips for the first time in eleven years. She had once taught him to never give up hope. And now it was his turn to teach her that happy endings do exist, that love can endure, and that a lost hope can always be found once again.
AN: It's over! I hope everyone enjoyed it. I know this chappie was WAY OOC but I thought that maybe you guys would expect that, especially from the last chappie. I hope no one was surprised and I hope you guys liked the ending I had. It know it's kinda a girly ending, but I couldn't help myself. I just had to have a somewhat happy ending. Thank you all so much for the reviews that I received for this story. If it weren't for you guys I never would have finished this story. I know it's short, but I can't seem to write long stories. Maybe one day in the future I will. But until then. Oh that reminds me, I'm thinking about doing a sequel but I need ideas. What would you guys like for a sequel, if you want one? Let me know, k. Anyways, thanks again for those who reviewed for me all the way through. Bye for now.