I'm to be your author for the next few months; it's a pleasure to meet you. You are here to enjoy the sequel to Stronger. If you have not read Stronger and wish to read Softer, I suggest you go back and find the first fic, for the second will make no sense at all without it.
Warning: Softer is rated M, I will be rating each chapter as I see fit, and warning before any particularly explicit scenes that aren't absolutely necessary for the plotline.
Also, I would like to add that Softer is a very different fic from Stronger and will contain no fillers with very little, if any, fluff. Expect grit and sand in your eye instead.
Read and Review please!
Summary: Their lives were put on hold, a happiness interuptted. Hinata must find the stregnth she gained the year before, survive for the sake of the only person who ever believed in her. Sasuke must find the softness within him to reach a higher level of power, her life depends on it. Softer, does not mean weaker.
Location: Akatsuki Head Quarters, specific location unknown
The impact of the water droplets against solid rock was loud… so loud. Each impact was throwing out pain like fire across her mind, burning away any realization of where she was, what she was, who she was, where she was from in the first place. None of that made any sense, none of that ever made any sense, not when you were listening to something that sounded like the sky was falling, over and over, a consistent pattern never to stop.
A moan escaped her, deep in her dry throat, her lips parted, coated in blood and cracked, aching as she strained to sit up slowly.
The cell was made of rough stone, it was uneven and slick, as if the pressure of it's own weight were squeezing the water from it, pores of it spilling it's contents.
There was no light, only the flickering dancing shadows cast from the flame that burned outside of her cell, the torch that was hanging from the wall making the images move, making the girl in the cell wonder briefly if she was hallucinating the snickering black shadows or not.
She blinked again, slowly, trying to figure out how she was sitting. Her arms felt like they were covered in ants or spiders, their little legs moving up and down her flesh. Slowly, groggily she strained to move her neck, each muscle screaming as she let it roll onto her shoulder so she could look up at her wrists, shackled to the wall, her weight hanging heavily on them. There were welts there, and blood, more blood, crusted and almost dry, breaking away in dry crusty bits to fall on her face as she shifted on her knees to lessen the strain, flinching as more pain came to haunt her.
Her throat was dry, her tongue feeling much like sandpaper in her mouth, thick and swollen. She didn't even acknowledge the hunger, knowing she would heave up whatever she was fed, disgusted by it's coarseness, her body would reject it and her neck would ache with the effort of vomiting over her swollen tongue.
She would be covered in her own fluids again, more blood spilling as she strained against the chains that bound her, her hair spilling into her own vomit as she wretched, and the guards would look at her coldly, silent, taking in her misery hungrily, as if it fed them, their health depending on her pain.
It had happened before, she knew it would happen again and so she never complained about the food.
It was the water… the water she wanted to complain about, but she couldn't, her lips were too cracked and painful to part and cry for help, for anything.
The moment hands had pressed the cup to her lips and forced her to swallow in large painful mouthfuls the bitter tasting thing she had flinched, gagged, tried to work herself to vomit the concoction, tasting herbs that reminded her of vague poison and sake. It was a hallucogen, something that would eventually force her body into an addictive state that knew nothing between reality and the dream world.
Her body had rejected it, spilled out the liquid along with bile and desperately needed water, but she had kept her sanity, at least a little of it.
Her rebellious act had been rewarded with beatings, hard fists to her face and body as she hung from the roof from her wrists, unable to scream because of the cloth stuffed into her face and the blindfold over her eyes. The blows came from nowhere and from everything, she knew not who was the one that whispered soft sickening words of perversion in her ear as a whip was swung to slice her flesh.
She didn't ever recognize their voices later, after coming back from what seemed like the very depths of hell she would be put back in her cell by silent beings that didn't speak and her blindfold would be removed in her sleep.
There were no faces, she knew no one, and no one ever reacted to her own words, the shadows that passed by her cell never turning as she screamed for their attention.
A nightmare, that was what it was, a long, endless dark nightmare.
In the silence that followed the beatings she would lay, listening to her own wheezing, the only sound aside from the rats scurrying from one side of her cell to the other. She would pray, to someone, or something for it to end, for her to wake.
Oka-san had said something once, not to her but a servant when she hadn't realized she was watching, she had said. "Be careful when you pray, you do not know who will answer."
…Her daughter learned that lesson the hard way.
Footsteps, soft quiet steps. She leaned her cheek against the ground, breathing in the damp smell of mildew that rose from the dirt and grit, almost feeling each impact as each step was taken.
They were getting stronger; she knew they were coming closer. Slowly she opened her eyes, feeling the heavy coating of sleep that covered her lashes crack as she blinked repeatedly to keep the dust of it from her eyes, red and swollen from straining not to cry for hours on end.
Somehow she was starting to think she would look and feel better if she just let herself sob to death, however that was something she wouldn't allow.
He would come for her, she knew he would.
Sasuke would come.
As if to mock her, the door of her cell opened and a dark shadow stood in the light of the flickering torch, his face hidden by the darkness that swallowed him. A high neck covered most of his face either way, but that didn't matter.
She could see the glittering red orbs that were his eyes as he studied the broken bleeding figure of her on the ground, looking at him through locks of ebony dark hair stained with mirk she had no name for.
"Hime-sama." A smooth voice stated, deep like the very depths of the ocean and just as cold. The reaction in her gut was a burning fire, her muscles clenching tighter and tighter until she was curled into fetal position, looking up at him from the ground, the Hinata that was her very core retreating to hide deeper in her mind. Running away, straining to keep herself safe, she had to be sure, had to be sure that she was there when Sasuke came. Itachi couldn't break her. So in silence she hid herself, layers of memories and pain and dazed unresponsiveness piled on top of each other to shield her. Only instinct remained, a fear that made her freeze and stare at him silently, animalistic eyes fixated first on his face.Don't! Go away! Go AWAY!!
He walked towards her, ignoring her silent screams, stopping a few inches away. He loomed above her, a thousand feet high, his power over her complete and absolute, but she could see he did not wish to get his beautiful black cloak dirty with her filth, the red clouds were so pretty….
Her eyes looked dazedly on the image. She had not seen any other color but black and brown for what seemed like an eternity…
"She's not responding." A gruff voice behind him almost laughed. "Useless. She's not even a shadow of what we faced not long ago."
"I did not think her so easily broken." Itachi admitted reluctantly, studying the glazed gaze of the Hyuuga before him, staring at the cloud on his cloak, seemingly gone. She was not particularly threatened by his presence, nor was she angry and spiteful.
This was not amusing at all.
Jaw clenching he turned around, walking out of the cell after Kisame, letting the shark slam the door forcefully.
"Orochimaru went further than I expected with her. It appears her mind is broken." Itachi murmured smoothly, as if talking about a particularly dull business project that had gone wrong.
"I needed her to be alive."
"Well she's breathing." Kisame grunted. "What more do you want?"
"She's gone, there's no mind there."
"Did you look inside?" the shark asked, bored with the conversation, it made no sense to speak of such a petty thing. The girl was breathing, that was all they needed. A dunk in cold water and some clean clothes she would look just as she did, albeit a little thin and bruised.
"I didn't have to." Itachi responded thinly, glancing half calm at his partner. "She's not there."
Kisame only shrugged, unconcerned. "So…what now?"
"Orochimaru." Itachi replied, as if it were obvious, heading up rough wooden planks that were supposed to represent steps, making a point not to touch the muddy walls until the reached a landing that turned the steps into cool alabaster and the walls marble white and smooth.
Slowly they moved up until they reached the first floor, opening the door to step into a foyer of black metal, white marble and glass. Pillars rose in a semi circle facing the double doors that were the entrance opposite of the staircase that led up to a surrounding balcony. Chandeliers of crystal hung above them, dark in the giant rafters.
As if on cue the double doors across from them opened and a young woman stepped in, dark haired, the curling mane of ebony black contrasting with her white face and red as blood lips, huge green eyes expressive as they caught sight of Itachi and Kisame.
"Itachi." She said smoothly, sensuality rolling out of her in waves as she walked towards them slowly, hips swaying to a rhythm.
"She's not responding even to my presence." Itachi stated softly, unconcerned with the show of snakes that glided over her skin and moved to wrap around her arms came up.
"Oh? That's a shame, I told my men to be careful not to destroy that precious little mind you wanted so much." The woman continued, her voice marring in and out with that of a male. She looked up at him, licking her lips, her tongue abnormally long and dark purple.
Itachi did not reply, but watched silently, sharingan rotating slowly for half a moment before locking down, his gaze returning to ebony black.
"I need her mind." There was an underlining demand there. Orochimaru let out a bored sigh, pushing hair from the smooth face of his knew host body.
"I'll see what I can do." He muttered. "She's alive still, is that not enough?"
Itachi closed his eyes, seeking patience. "We had an agreement."
Orochimaru licked his lips again, leaving saliva covering the supple red skin. "I recall."
"In order to complete our bargain, I require her mind to be intact. Breaking Sasuke's mind is easier when I have her." Itachi repeated slowly, something he had obviously explained before. "Once his mind breaks, you may do what you want with his body."
"I'll go see what I can do." Orochimaru crooned, turning to head the way they had come, the snakes moving slowly to a dance, eyes locked on the two shinobi in black cloaks.
No more needed to be said, the girl would come back…
Kicking and screaming, and probably sobbing, but she would come back.
Location: Kohona, Hokage Clinic, Intensive Care
Darkness swam in dark pools of ink and oil in his line of vision, reflecting oddly colored lights that came from nowhere, dark shadowed images of a small face he loved too much and tears making his brow furrow into a frown.
He had failed someone again, the pain that was familiar in his chest had doubled, tightening across his heart like a slave's collar, hindering his breathing.
A small voice inside of him that sounded very much like himself was tugging at the hand of his soul, pulling him back into the darkness.
"Don't go! Don't go out there… the world is out there!"
He stared down at the child, realizing that it was himself, small seven year old Sasuke, wide eyed and tearful, begging for him to stay.
"I have to, something calls me." His voice resonated, making ripples in the reality of the dream world he was in.
Little Sasuke let go, slowly…hands shaking, tears streaming down his face, making a part of the older Sasuke feel shame at his own weakness.
"Pain is out there."
But he still left.
With a gasp like a man breaking the surface of water he lurched up, breathing in sharply, straining to rip the medical mask off his face to drag in air, straining to return to sanity, the lights were too bright sending lightening bolts of pain into his head like knives.
"Sasuke! Sasuke stop!" A familiar voice cried. His brain jump started, taking in the thousand and one signals, the stimulation to his senses making him dizzy, a migraine beginning to take hold starting at the base of his neck.
"Shit, get him to stop moving!" Another familiar voice, deeper. His ears strained, mind reeling with all the information being stuffed into it.
He tried to open his eyes again to find the light a thousand times worse than the first time he had tried.
Hands were suddenly there, pushing him down forcefully, against soft sheets and cables. Something was beeping frantically in the background.
"Sasuke!" He opened his eyes, feeling the soft breath of someone near his face. She was blocking the light, oh thank all the gods.
Pink hair and green eyes stared at him, blinking rapidly, a worried frown there between her brows, marring the delicate features he recognized slowly.
"Don't move, please don't move."
"I can't breathe." He stated, and she moved slightly, her hands loosening their grip on his body.
"You were having a panic attack." Her voice was wobbly, lips trembling, the huge green eyes staring at him filling with tears rapidly. "S-sasuke…"
"You idiot." Naruto grunted as he stepped up beside her, looking down at him with a frown of his own. "How are you feeling?"
He didn't want to think about that, everything was a pile of throbbing pain, even his brain hurt.
"Where am I?"
"Tsunade-sama's hospital, the intensive care ward." Sakura whispered, hand up to her face, wiping away tears. "She had a lot of trouble stabilizing you."
Sasuke was silent, staring up at the roof, black eyes dazed.
Stabalizing? What happened-?
"Hinata!" he gasped suddenly, sitting up sharply again. Naruto forced him back down forcefully, struggling against the surprising strength of the wounded shinobi. "Stop moving, goddamnit, you bloody idiot!" He growled, closing his eyes tightly. "You were almost dead, the poison they used was like that of Sasori of the Red Sand." He shouted, holding him down. "Tsunade and Sakura almost lost you!"
"Hinata. Hinata, Naruto." He stared, panting heavily as his heart began to speed up again. "Where-"
"Sasuke." Sakura interrupted, pressing in on him suddenly, putting a hand on his shoulder, eyes searching his.
"You-you've been in a coma for three weeks…"
If there was ever a sensation worse than falling from the sky, the feeling that overcame him was it.
This was the Softer Teaser. This story is a HinataxSasuke romance.
Also, I have not watched further than episode 216 on Naruto and I haven't read much of the manga, so I'm going to be fiddling with the information I have, if you guys have any tidbit of interesting information for me from the show or manga that you guys might think is good for me to know, please PM so I will have a look at it.
Thank you very much for reading! Leave a message!