Bah, I'm furious. I've been trying to update for three days, and yeah you know the deal. Sorry :( Let me just say, this is my most difficult chapter. I know it took a long time to update, but I rewrote this at least seven times. I tried a lot of different things, but they just didn't fit. Now, I give you lucky number eight, which I feel is the best way I could've written this. I'm so pleased with the amount of feedback and reviews I got. I had a few negative comments and a flame or two, but that's life, right? Thanks to all of the criticism I got that helped me improve. My new fic will be out in a week or less. Thanks again, everyone :D
Just a little about this last chapter. The plain font means its in present time, Italics are flashbacks, and you all should remember what bold italic means ;D (wink, wink)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. But I'm really sad this fic is over, you know?
Chapter Fourteen: My Name (Epilogue)
It was a dark, starry night; Hinata's favorite kind of night. The steering wheel felt foreign in her thin, slender fingers. With unparalleled grace and agility, she swiftly maneuvered through the lanes, dodging the oncoming cars. She watched with pure delight as the speed-o-meter continued to rise.
She threw her head gently back, letting the winds carry away her troubles and worries.
"May the heavens welcome him
with open arms as he makes
his ascent towards the skies.
Rest in Peace Uchiha Sasuke
Beloved son and brother."
From the corner of her eye, she could see Naruto's wild yellow hair flickering in the fierce wind. He stared at her proudly from the backseat, sporting a satisfied grin.
"…Is this fate? Is this what nii-san meant?"
It was nights like this, vacant and slow, where her thoughts would wander down roads that were better left untouched. Where the footsteps that had been buried away with a fresh layer of snow would once again emerge as she ventured into the neglected paths. She could still remember her words, from that day.
"Am I…always going to be like this? Just a burden? …All my life, I just wanted to be normal; maybe have a friend or two, if I was lucky."
Taking her eyes off of the road, she sadly patted the cold, empty passenger seat.
"I thought that this time, maybe I could do the right thing. Maybe for once I could save everyone. Or myself at you…but you always have to play the heroics, don't you?"
From the rear view mirror she could see Neji's long, silken hair whipping around uncontrollably. He laughed, at the expense of a very disgruntled Kiba and Tenten who were spitting out mouthfuls of his hair every so often.
"I just didn't want to hold you back."
If only Gaara and Shino hadn't gone with Kakashi to house hunt. Then they could've been together; their family. What was left of it, any way.
"Now look what I've done. Sasuke, why did you have to come? Why couldn't you stay, like I meant for you to? I wanted to die, Sasuke! I didn't care! As long as I could save you! But you always have to be the hero! Why couldn't you let me die! For you! Why did you come!?"
She slammed down the brakes as the traffic signal turned red.
"…Why did you have to die?"
It was warm that Sunday afternoon. She hadn't changed out of that blood-stained dress, and the Gardenia bloom in her hair was wilted. Indifferent to her muddled appearance, she had continued to grasp the fine mahogany casket in her hands in fear that it would blow away with the heavy winds.
Naruto especially had been hit hard by the tragedy. That day, he tried to do what he could to console her.
"Cheer up, Hinata. That snake bastard is finally dead; no one will ever bother you again. You're safe."
Her weariness showed in the blue, wrinkly bags under her washed-out eyes. She sighed hopelessly. "What good is it to me if Orochimaru is dead?" Her head inclined towards the coffin. Naruto looked around cautiously before leaning in to whisper in her ears.
"I didn't want to fill you with false hope or anything like that, but…do you know why we burned down Orochimaru's coven?"
Distantly, Hinata shook her head. "No, I don't."
"Well, they say the only way to kill a vampire for certain is to sever them into hundreds of pieces, then burn them."
"SSHh! Well, that's for certain. What happens if we don't burn the body? What if we gave the body a proper burial? What happens then?" There was excitement reverberating in his steadily growing voice.
Hinata's eyes widened as she turned to face Naruto for the first time. "You…you don't mean!"
His bright eyes shined; his mouth stretched into a crafty smile. "Yeah, that's exactly what I mean."
Eight heads formed into a circle around the freshly dug soil and bowed simultaneously. They joined hands as Kakashi began to read from his ancient manuscripts. Each shed tears that rained onto the ground; with hope that someday life would sprout from the barren soil.
After reciting a few prayers, the circle disbanded. Hinata waited until Kakashi left to pull Naruto aside. "We gave him a proper burial and we read the prayers from the manuscripts. When is this all going to happen?" She knew how rude and pushy she sounded, but in all honesty she didn't care. She was desperate for a chance.
Naruto shook his head. "Not so loud! Look, Hinata, he's not a daisy; he won't pop back up from the soil or anything anytime soon. Look, this is all very…complicated. I remember talking to Kakashi about this, like, a hundred years ago and even he isn't too sure of it." He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes with a serious look on his face. "Hinata, I don't know when it will happen…could be years. Hell, decades even. Who's to say it won't even take centuries!"
"The thing is…well, I-we've never tried this before…there are no guarantees."
Hinata closed her eyes in determination. "Anything, Naruto. I owe him that much."
"What I'm really asking you is…
"…will you wait?"
For an eternity?
Hinata understood the hidden question, and had been prepared to answer it since day one. There was no fear in her voice as she firmly answered his question:
And then something happened. She couldn't explain why, but it like a puppeteer tugging on her head. A magnetism snapped her head to her left, and then time itself dissolved around her.
A shuttle drove by her, and through the window she caught a glimpse of opalescent pale skin and silky ebony hair that was alarmingly reminiscent. Even from far away, she could see them; those beautiful black eyes. The same eyes that held onto hers.
Ignoring the honks and many profanities that were launched in her direction, she slammed on the accelerator and made a huge, illegal turn.
It was like she was tiptoeing as she stalked the speeding bus. With mounting speed, she continued to chase that bus, trying fervently to peer into that small window.
They were flooring it now. Hinata didn't have to turn around to see her friends all grinning like madmen. Naruto whooped with enthusiasm. She felt the same manic grin spreading across her own face as she melted in between the cars. Hinata slammed into the nearby cars and started to drive alongside the bus. It was probably a bad idea to go in the wrong direction in a one way lane, but that was the least of her concerns at the moment.
Her eyes were shifting to a new focus now. She was still locked with those nostalgic coal eyes. Did he know? Did he remember? She didn't know. What she did know: she had to find out.
But as he inched closer to the window, pushing people away unconsciously with his rock solid body, she was certain he felt something. However small, or hazy his knowledge was, was insignificant. She enhanced her vision, peering closer into those heart wrenching eyes.
He was already jumping into the front seat and manning the wheel. "Way ahead of you."
The enhanced muscles in her ankles responded to the wide arc he made, keeping her from tumbling out of the wide open window.
It was pure madness; there were three police cars behind them, and Hinata could vaguely hear the sound of helicopters a few miles away. But she disregarded it all. She poked her head out the passenger window and slowly, shakily, reached out to the bus. Her fingers gently grazed the window, where his jaunt face was tightly pressed against.
Stifling a cry of joy, she traced the contours of his face, his, forehead, his chin with the tip of her finger, wishing it was his cold skin she was tracing instead of this thick glass.
One of his pale, ivory hands pressed against the glass, tracing hers. His eyes widened at the coldness of them. The next thing Hinata heard was screaming as the shards from the now broken window fluttered through the air. There wasn't a single trace of hesitation in him as he leaned down towards her, locking his fingers with hers.
Those same, cold hands. The hands she never dreamed of letting go.
The other shuttle passengers flocked around him until there stood a massive crowd; some even snapped photos of the attractive couple in this tender moment.
How long they stood there, hovering out of their vehicles, clasping hands, was forgotten. She grasped both of his hands tightly; she felt him tighten his hold.
Louder than the police sirens, the cheering crowds, or the deafening helicopters was the beating of their hearts (if they could).
The word she always dreamed of hearing, not in her ears, but in the deepest realm of her heart.
And then it was over. The solid concrete wall tore their hands apart, severing them. His bus trailed into a tunnel, disappearing from her vision.
She did not cry, did not scream, did not regret. She smiled, a beautiful serene smile, for she could already visualize the pricking of his nose as he sniffed for her flowery aroma. The path that it traveled. The path that lead back to her: