Title: Deep As You Go
Prompt: 91) The only causes of regret are laziness, outbursts of temper, hurting others, prejudice, jealousy and envy. --Germaine Greer.
Summary: They were never close. Hanabi didn't think much of it until her sister started trying to change that.
Author Notes: Thanks to thegiantkiller and wildestallyn for the beta! Set at some point during the time skip. I don't own Naruto or any of the characters from Naruto. Kishimoto does. This was done for the Femgenficathon on Livejournal.
"What are you drawing?"
Hanabi jumped, her pen scratching across the page, and ruining her work, and turned to scowl at her sister. "I was doing an assignment for Father." She gave her paper a mournful look before sighing and turning to a new page. Her sister didn't take the hint.
Leaning against the balcony, Hinata smiled at her. Hanabi fought the urge to roll her eyes. How was she supposed to get anything done with someone staring at her? "Was there something else?" she asked without even looking up from her paper. Her voice, a pale imitation of Father's frost, made Hinata frown slightly.
"I just thought that I'd see how you were."
This made Hanabi frown and she turned to look up at her older sister. She turned that over in her head for a long moment before asking, really, the only question she could ask. "Why?"
Hinata was silent for so long that Hanabi had shrugged and gone back to painstakingly drawing the positions of everything that could be used as cover in-case of an attack. The drawing was irritating enough without having her sister talking at her - she wasn't that great at it and needed to concentrate.
"Hmm." Hanabi glanced sidelong at her sister. "I suppose because I've been thinking."
Waiting to see if her sister was going to continue, Hanabi considered the trees on the left side of the yard before beginning to sketch them in. There wasn't much that she could say to that. When it became obvious that that nothing more was going to be offered without some sort of response, Hanabi leaned over and poked her sister with the pen. "And?" she asked leadingly, "you were thinking...?"
Hinata ran her fingers up her arms, a nervous gesture Hanabi hadn't seen before. "Do you mind if I sit down?"
Yes, Hanabi wanted to tell her, I do mind and I wish you'd go. Out loud, though, with a careless shrug, all she said was, "Suit yourself." She fiddled with her pen as Hinata got settled, back against the balcony wall facing the house.
"I was thinking," Hinata paused as if to arrange her thoughts, "about regrets."
Hanabi frowned thoughtfully, as she shaded in another rock on her picture. "What kind of regrets?" And why are you talking to me about it? Hinata seemed to hear the part left unsaid because she smiled slightly and fiddled with the hair brushing just below her shoulders.
"I know that you don't think much of me." Her voice was just a little sad. "About both my ability and myself as a person."
Hanabi remained silent, though she was increasingly confused. What she'd said was true - she was subpar to the standards of the Hyuuga Heir, and it wasn't as if that wasn't a common opinion. And Hanabi wouldn't be arrogant to say that she had more talent (if less experience, thanks to their five year gap in age) so she didn't see what Hinata was going on about.
"I don't blame you for your opinion." Hinata told her, and Hanabi fought the urge to snap at her. Then her sister smiled at her so gently and said, "I was just thinking that it would be a truly regrettable if I died, and I didn't know my sister at all. All through laziness."
Laziness? Hanabi mouthed the word behind the curtain her hair formed. She wouldn't call it laziness, but rather an extreme avoidance on both their parts.
Hinata continued on, as if now that she'd started she couldn't stop, "So I began thinking about what I did know about you and came up with nothing that your classmates wouldn't have known before. About your skill, and intelligence and how you look so much like Mother and that you're favored to take over the family when you come of age."
"And where did all of this thinking lead you?" Hanabi asked, partly irritated and bemused. Where was her shy, odd sister and who was this stranger talking to her with such quiet intensity? When had that happened? And how had she missed it? She'd known that since Hinata had passed the Chuunin Exam a few months ago that she'd been getting more confident but...
"Can I borrow your sketchbook a moment?" Hinata asked her instead. Hanabi handed it over silently seeing no reason to start a fight with someone she didn't but should have known. Her sister pulled a pen out of a pocket and flipped to a new page, keeping the book tilted away from Hanabi so she couldn't see. As she drew she talked. "I thought it was awful that I didn't know any thing about my little sister that everybody else didn't know, and I thought, ...I thought that maybe she was in the same place."
Hanabi blinked, "What, about me not knowing you?" She had a feeling that she knew where this was going and it filled her with dread - she didn't want to know her sister.
Her sister didn't seem to notice the sudden chill that had enveloped Hanabi. "I decided that I wanted to get to know you better. Deep as you go and all that."
Hanabi stood up abruptly, shaking and not knowing why, and strode to the door. She was getting out of this conversation Right Now. "I've got better things to do." She left her sketchbook behind.
She found it that night on her bed-stand. Apprehensively she opened it to where Hinata had been drawing and started badly enough that she nearly dropped it. Done in black ink, it was a picture of herself gazing out over their Mother's garden. Her sister had even managed to make it look like sunlight fell across her face. It was beautiful.
This was another thing she hadn't known that her sister could do. Of course, it was not anything that Father would approve of the Heir being good at, but Hanabi thought as she studied the picture that it was still something. She set the book carefully on her bed and noticed that there was a note sticking out from the bottom.
Tugging it out, she unfolded the small piece of paper. It didn't say much, but Hanabi quickly shoved it away from her and began her bedtime preparations. She didn't know then that the question would keep her up half the night in its simplicity.
What is your favorite color?
During the next day she made herself as busy as possible and avoided her sister whenever she could make it look like she wasn't avoiding her. The very last thing she needed was Father taking her to task for behavior unfitting a Hyuuga.
Fortunately her sister didn't seem anymore inclined to another public talk but, Hanabi discovered on the second day after, that didn't mean that she wasn't still pursuing the idea of 'getting to know her'. She found another note tucked in the pocket of her light jacket.
What is your ambition?
She stuffed the note back in her pocket and resolved not to think about it.
What is your favorite food?
What do you dislike?
What kind of music do you enjoy?
What are your hobbies?
Hanabi glared at the latest note she had found, folded in her pillowcase, and wondered what she had done to deserve such unrelenting... inanity . What did her sister care about any of this? None of it mattered, and the questions were making it hard for her to sleep - though she didn't know why.
They were stupid questions and Father was starting to look askance at her as her performances during practise suffered slightly.
Why, Hanabi wanted to demand, are you bothering me? Unfortunately, Hinata was avoiding her now, apparently content with the turmoil she was causing with nothing more than short sentences on worn pieces of paper.
Folding the notes she tucked them into the deepest drawer of her desk, unsure even to herself why she hadn't just thrown them out, and went to brush her teeth.
That night Hanabi woke to the sound of tolling bells, and sat up stiffly in bed as she tried to tell what was going on. The bells were meant to sound if intruders had entered the compound and Father had told her that if that ever happened she wasn't to use the Byakugan. Her fingers itched to perform the seal and she to distract herself from disobeying Father she quickly shoved her feet into slippers, grabbed a kunai and cracked her door open a notch.
Cautiously she peered out at the hall, and wondered what the target objective of the intruders was this time. The last time had been before she was born, when a Cloud Country Shinobi had attempted to kidnap her sister. This time, she was the youngest in the compound.
A chill went down her spine as Hanabi realized that unless the intruders were after forbidden scrolls and family knowledge, she was the most likely the target. Checking once more that no one was hiding in the hall she shut the door gently and quickly changed into clothes she could fight in.
Darting to the door, she checked for any signs of activity and, slipped out into the hall. Goosebumps travelled up her arms and Hanabi had to strangle her nervousness, as she headed away from the sounds of battle. It was disconcerting for her to realize that being top of her class wasn't going to mean much against these enemies.
Only a formidable opponent could have managed to break in and keep the family busy for so long and she... hadn't even graduated yet. If it came to a fight she would be out matched. Turning a corner Hanabi paused, had she heard something? In the distance she could still hear fighting going on but she had thought that there had been...
She was shoved hard into the wall and watched, horrified, as her sister took the blow meant for her, and still stood, Byakugan activated, with the enemy's hand shoved right through her right shoulder. Hanabi thought that she never seen her sister look so brave in her life.
"Hanabi," Hinata's voice held an edge of command that she hadn't heard before, "get to the Sanctuary."
She stood shakily, "But - "
"Go." Her sister shifted so that she couldn't see much at all of the enemy, "Get somewhere safe. Go! "
Hanabi went, with one last look over her shoulder at a girl who was fighting with everything she had to protect a sister she didn't even know.
How long she sat in the tight dark of Sanctuary - where they kept everything too important to be on display - she didn't know, and she didn't dare light a lamp for fear of causing a fire. Sounds were so muffled by the heavy walls that she didn't even know if the fighting was still going on.
Rather than think too hard about the intruders, Hanabi found herself dwelling on the notes from Hinata. She still didn't see the point in why her sister wanted to know such frivolous information. She frowned. Maybe the fact that it was unimportant was the why of it.
That didn't make that much sense, but Hanabi was starting to think that maybe it didn't have to make sense.
She sighed. When she got out of here, then Hanabi knew what she'd be doing.
She blinked up at the sound of Father's voice. He looked tired and one side of his robe was stained with blood. She stood up, "Yes, Father."
He gestured for her to come up, "It's over. Those surviving have been taken into custody by the ANBU."
Once she was up the stairs and out of the Sanctuary he sealed it again - it was set so that Hyuuga blood was needed to get in and out - and herded her in the direction of the infirmary.
"I'm not hurt," she told him, "Hinata protected me." It was felt odd to be proud of that; normally the shame of being unable to keep herself from harm would have stilled her tongue, but not right now.
"So that is how she was injured," her father mused.
Hanabi tripped over her feet. "She didn't tell you? Why not? Is she okay?"
"The doctors have said that she'll be fine, though it was touch and go for awhile. She just hasn't woken up yet."
She sighed in relief, feeling oddly close to tears. "Why'd she have to do that? Just for me."
Her father gave her an inscrutable look before placing his hand on her head comfortingly. "She is a Hyuuga," he told her simply. "That is all the reason that was needed."
Somehow, that made Hanabi feel a little better.
Hanabi was busy writing in a notebook when Hinata finally woke. She'd been waiting by her bedside for hours and Father had told her she was to record her version of what had happened.
"What are you doing?" Hinata's voice was tired but she seemed pleased to see Hanabi.
Putting aside her work she moved to fetch her sister some water. "I'm working on another assignment from Father."
Sipping the water, Hinata looked her over. "You're not hurt at all?"
"No, I'm fine." She didn't tell her about the bruise on her arm from being shoved into the wall. Hanabi sat down on the edge of Hinata's bed. "I was waiting for you to wake up."
Her sister looked at her. Hanabi supposed that it was close to the same expression she had worn when Hinata had told her that she'd wanted to talk. "Not that I'm unhappy about that... but why?"
Rather than answering that question, Hanabi answered the all questions that she'd never answered before. "My favorite color is teal. I like classical music..."
As Hanabi had realized, sometimes you didn't have to understand. Sometimes, to go forward without regrets you just had to stop thinking and start doing. And besides, Hanabi rather thought that Hinata's smile made it worth not understanding the why.