Chapter 1: The Branch of the Main

A/N: (About the title of the series) The Hyuuga power lies within the Byakugen, which allows them to see virtually anything within a 360 degree range (which is, uh, everything). Though the Byakugen can see everything, there are always things that go unnoticed, and that is the matters of the heart. Hinata is easily overlooked, or put down as uninteresting save for her role as Naruto's unrequited love interest, or weak because of her lack of confidence. She is an ideal candidate for noticing the things that other people do not see, both with and without her Byakugen; since she's part of the background, she is at an advantage for observing the people about her.

(About the chapter) Everyone assumes that Hiashi doesn't like Hinata and considers her weak. I remember watching the episode where Hiashi and Hinata are training in front of Neji and Hizashi. Though the context was tragic, I thought it was cute how Hiashi sparred with Hinata and how he sprang in front of her to protect her. I'm convinced that Hiashi loves Hinata deeply; he just doesn't know how to show it.

oOo

It was a game. Despite his harsh criticism and reprimands, stopping her every so often to correct her form, she loved playing with Tou-san.

She would run at him, palms raised, mustering the courage to strike at him. She giggled as he would weave and dodge her blows, not even lifting his arms. Afraid that he would hit her, Tou-san always hid his hands in his sleeves, choosing instead to flap them over her head during training. It was training in his eyes. It was a game to her.

For Hiashi it was training for not only his daughter, the frail sapling that had sprung from him, but for himself as well. If he was a good father, Hinata would be unscathed but still stronger, still more skilled, and would learn to walk in pride and confidence, fitting her title. If he was a good leader, it would reflect on how others saw Hinata, and the confidence she brought to others, assured of her reliability and strength. All his mistakes, downfalls and greatest achievements would be reflected in this branch of himself. He would look down at his little one as she ducked and parried his sleeves, striking at his legs with such tiny hands that held no strength – and he would be scared.

Scared that she would get hurt. Frightened that she would fail. Saddened that one day, those hands of hers would strike – not in playful sparring, but with killer intent towards others. And she would no longer giggle and laugh at the sound of his robes flapping. Because Hiashi knew her before she knew herself. He knew that she had no idea of what was in store for her. That her frailty and innocence would shatter.

Hinata! So like her mother, so gentle and playful. Hinata. Whose spirit would soon be broken in, wiping away his lively daughter, leaving her a shy, unconfident girl who was constantly afraid. Hinata. He was afraid for her, and somehow thought that if he hid his hands, the rest of the world would too, and she would never be touched, that she would only hear the flap of heavy cotton in her ears instead of feeling the piercing bite of a blow. Hiashi wondered when Hinata would cease to view their sessions as playtime and start to dread them, and ultimately, dread him. Watching her duck and dart beneath his arms about and around him reminded him of the birds flitting to and fro between young branches that swayed in the wind. It's training, he told himself, training for her to grow up… she can't always play games. But she's just a child…

She thought it was all a game. She didn't mind how tired or hurt she got, because she was spending time with Tou-san. He looked so funny, darting around her despite his size. He looked down at her like a big tree, and she was reminded of running around a tree trunk. Tou-san was tall and straight – he would bend to no one and he was invincible. Hinata knew that Tou-san knew that she always held back when striking him. What he didn't know was that she was afraid of hurting him if she hit him with all her might.

She loved Tou-san's robes. She could tell which was Kaa-san or Tou-san from their steps and the sound. Kaa-san was a light soft slither, but Tou-san was a heavy crisp flap. When she would walk with him outside the compound, she would hold onto his robe, burying her face in it from time to time not out of fear, or shyness like others presumed, but to enjoy the heavy soft fabric and to smell home when she was tired, letting him know that she was ready to head back. Tou-san was afraid that he might hit her, so he always kept his hands in his sleeves. So his hands were always mysterious, and she would examine her hand in his as they walked together, marveling at how big and strong it was. Whenever he touched her head, or pushed her behind him in a protective stance, she felt safe. Because with Tou-san between her and the world, his Byakugen could see everything, everything that could scare her, and anything that could make her happy.

She walks by the dojo, hearing his voice sternly correcting Hanabi. Hanabi, little sister, so very different from her and Kaa-san, so like Tou-san. Hanabi with the cold eyes and determined scowl. Hanabi… the one that would replace her. But she knows why, she knows that Tou-san is afraid for her and scared that she'll get hurt, or that she doesn't want to live this way. She smiles and peeks in. Tou-san is not gentle with Hanabi, nor does Hanabi think this is a game, which in turn, refuses to let her body relax. She is too stiff and cannot flow in the jyuuken; she lacks the natural flexibility Hinata has and cannot roll in instinctual response. Tou-san does not hide his hands, showing Hinata his intent, letting Hanabi see the power and malice that has taken lives away; hands he would never show her.

Tou-san… she thinks as she walks away. You don't have to try to protect me. I too, have my Byakugen. The power that allowed her to see everything that could hurt her, and anything that could make her happy. Hinata knew that Tou-san was only trying to spare her the rigorous structured life of a heir. For that, she had been training especially hard, so to allay his worries, to assure him that she would be heir, that she could do it. They thought she wanted Hiashi's acknowledgement, but she knew she already had it and much more. She just wanted his blessing for the fate that she was choosing, the fate he was trying to shield her from.

Hiashi smiled at her as she wearily gathered her belongings to head back home from a long night of training. She had grown without any of his help. And she had created her own technique! He would trail her after her training sessions to make sure she was safe. He was relieved, after seeing her splash in the water to perfect her technique, that it was still a game to her.