Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
"Take me with you."
Hinata's voice was soft and meek and desperate. Hinata clutched her bag closer to her body and studied his impassive face closely for some hint as to what he was thinking. Hinata knew - or rather hoped - that Sasuke felt something for her. He had to. After all this time - after all her confessions and after her actions . . . he had to.
A few seconds of silence passed between them with Sasuke's face smooth and cold.
"I can't." Sasuke finally said. His voice was the same as ever - it betrayed no emotion. It lacked feeling. Hinata - for the millionth time - felt her heart being crushed. How many times had she done this? Thrown herself at him only to be coldly turned away. Why had she even thought that tonight would be any different . . . that he might accept her and take her along? She had been foolish to ever think he would. Why did he need her? She is weak and stupid and emotional. He didn't need her at all.
But a small part of her couldn't accept it. She might not be useful to him strengthwise but as a medic-nin, no one could deny her worth. And besides, Sasuke's condition - or rather the condition Tsunade-sama had unintentionally put him in - was unique. Even a very skilled medic-nin would probably have issues treating it without the knowledge Hinata had gained through actually working with him and treating him for so long.
"I'm sorry. But I can't take you. You would be a liability." Sasuke explained. He was looking straight at her but she couldn't bear to look at him back for fear that she'd once again burst into tears. Hinata instead settled for looking at the ground.
It took her a few seconds to digest his words. Liability. Right - she would be a liability with her rather woeful abilities as a kunoichi. She had the Byakugan which would put her at a natural advantage against most enemies but she lacked most other qualities that even mediocre kunoichi had. She would be a liability. A burden. Like she was to everyone else in her life. Poor silly Hinata who needs someone to come and love her. To come be her friend. To come build up her self-esteem. Poor silly Hinata.
"A liability. I understand." Hinata replied quietly. She wondered if he could even hear her with her head bowed so low. A few more seconds of total silence followed her statement which meant that he had probably heard what she said.
"Thank you for everything." He said. His voice was the same as always but something about the way he said it made her feel that he was being sincere. Hinata looked up at him. And then he was gone. Again. She had done everything in her power to make him realize her feelings. She had done everything to be with him. All he had to do was say yes.
But he hadn't. And that was his choice to make.
Hinata awoke to the sound of someone thumping rather loudly on her door. She rolled over to check the alarm clock on her side table for the time - it was almost 3 in the afternoon. After Sasuke had left, she had gone back home - the guard was still out cold - and gone straight to bed. Sleep found her almost immediately.
Hinata sighed and wondered who it was. She had no desire to see or talk to anyone. All she wanted was to go back to bed and sleep off her pain and heartache. Or possibly eat it away . . . Hinata ran a small hand over her rumpled shirt and another through her unbrushed hair. She probably looked like hell right now.
"I'm coming." She called as she slowly made her way to the front door. When Hinata finally opened the door, she was surprised to see a frowning Ino. Without saying a word, Ino stepped inside and gave Hinata a big hug.
"He's gone, Hina." She murmured, still hugging Hinata tightly as if she was afraid to let go lest Hinata break into little pieces. Hinata awkwardly hugged Ino back - what could she say? That she already knew and was now wallowing in self-pity and sorrow?
But Ino didn't give Hinata a chance to say anything even after letting go.
"A guard was knocked unconscious. Said it was Sasuke. They searched all morning for him and they couldn't find him. The Hokage is furious and she's sent quite a few shinobi out to search for him - Kiba's gone along too. I tried calling you several times but you weren't picking up! At first I thought it was probably because you heard and didn't want to talk to anyone, but considering the fact that no one had seen you today, I figured you were tired or sick or something. I would've come over sooner but I wanted to see Kiba off." She explained hastily before launching at Hinata for another hug.
"Ino," Hinata began softly, "I know. I've known. Sasuke came by during the night."
Ino let go off Hinata to look her straight in the eye with a confused expression.
"He came by here?" She asked, confirming what Hinata had just told her.
"Yes," Hinata said slowly, trying to gather her thoughts and explain to Ino what happened, "he did. He came to say goodbye. He told me he was leaving."
Hinata couldn't decide whether or not to tell Ino that she had offered - or rather pleaded - to go with Sasuke. To become a missing-nin along with him with no hope of ever returning to her home, to Konoha. She had basically offered to betray her village to be with him. It was a shameful thing to admit. Almost as shameful as the fact that Sasuke had refused her offer. Ino was her best friend - she would understand. She would understand Hinata's feelings for Sasuke. Wouldn't Ino have done the same if it were Kiba leaving instead of Sasuke? But still, something stopped Hinata from saying anything about it.
"That's it? You didn't try to stop him?" Ino asked incredulously.
"I tried. He wanted to leave. He was never planning on staying. Konoha has nothing for him." Hinata replied. Konoha has nothing for him, she repeated her own words in her mind. It was true . . . she was nothing to him.
"That's not true, Hinata, and you know it. Please tell me you didn't allow him to go without a fight." Ino said.
"I tried." Hinata whispered. She was quickly getting tired off the subject and as much as she loved Ino, she really didn't want to be discussing Sasuke with her right now. She just wanted to go back to bed. She just needed some time for herself to think things through, to get over what had happened.
But apparently Ino knew her well enough to know that, too.
"I'm so sorry, Hinata. I really thought that . . . that, nevermind. I'll leave now. Just let me know if you need anything. I'll drop by tomorrow or the day after but you know you're welcome to call anytime or come over, right?" Ino said comfortingly. She gave Hinata another big hug before leaving.
As soon as the door shut, Hinata headed right back to her bedroom to sleep.
Hinata knew that she would - eventually - have to go back to the hospital. She had already taken two weeks off. Technically, she could afford to never go back to work and instead sit around her house all day moping. But she knew it wasn't a plausible idea. She was a good medic-nin and the hospital did need her. It would be selfish to never go back. And she also realized that on an emotional level, it would probably be unhealthy for her not to go back soon too.
But that didn't make her feel any better about the prospect. Ino - who had taken to calling her twice a day - had been pushing her since last week to go back to work, stating that it would make her feel "so much better" to get back into her old routine. To do what she loved.
And she knew it probably would . . . being a medic-nin had always made her happy. It had always felt like her calling in life. When she healed people, she felt like her purpose in life was being fulfilled. Like she was useful. And she was sure that she would always feel like that about her profession.
But as much as Hinata recognized that going back to work would be good for her, for her mental health, she couldn't physically bring herself to do it. Because no matter how many patients she healed and how great healing them would make her feel, the hospital would always remind her of Sasuke. It was, after all, the hospital and her role as a medic-nin that had brought Sasuke to her. She would've never fallen in love with him had Tsunade-sama never ordered his chakra-draining.
It was stupid. Stupid to stop doing what she loved because it reminded her of him but she couldn't help it. It would hurt her as much as it would help. Could she risk that? Could she risk being reminded of him every single day? Couldn't she handle that?
Hinata wasn't sure and that's why she was avoiding the hospital. She wasn't mentally or emotionally ready to make that decision. She wasn't ready to go back for fear that it would remind her of Sasuke but at the same time, she wasn't ready to let go off the job she had loved so dearly and been so good at for so long. The hospital had provided her with so much. It had been a constant in her life. At some points, it had been her life. She was lost as to what to do.
Tsunade-sama had been exceedingly nice to her so far. She didn't know the exact details of why Hinata was not coming to work - only that it was for personal reasons - but Hinata had an inkling that Tsunade did have some clue. And it was a relief to Hinata that Tsunade-sama had told her to take her own time and come back whenever she wanted to. That there would always be a job for her at the hospital no matter what.
Hinata was snapped out of her thoughts by the phone ringing. On the third ring, Hinata picked it up and was unsurprised to find Ino on the other end.
"Hey, what's going on?" Ino greeted her.
"Um, not too much. Thinking." Hinata replied.
"Oh, well, I just was calling to -- what, wait?" Ino stopped mid-sentence. Hinata could hear Kiba's voice in back and she assumed Kiba had said something to Ino.
"Oh, alright. Right now? I'm kind of on the phone, Kiba. Fine, fine. Let me just tell Hinata, okay?" She said to him. "Hey Hinata, do you mind if I call you back this evening? Kiba's got this random urge to train, like, right now. Apparently, Shino's on a mission and he's got no one to spar with. And honestly, I have no desire to spar with him because I have an appointment at the hair salon, but I guess I'll have to cancel."
Hinata was listening to Ino's whining - a frequent occurance - when an idea struck her.
"Ino . . . ano, if you would really like to make that appointment, I could, maybe spar with Kiba? I mean, I'm kind of rusty, but still . . . " Hinata trailed off, waiting to hear Ino's reaction. Hinata expected Ino to start laughing - Hinata had trained or sparred in quite a while - but instead she was met with silence on Ino's end.
"Well," Ino began slowly, as if thinking through something, "that's actually a great option. I mean, you are one of Kiba's former teammates, so why not? I'm sure he wouldn't mind. But I mean - are you sure you're up to it?" Ino finished uncertainly.
Hinata thought about it for a second. She had no idea why a spar sounded so good right now - she guessed it had something to do with all the frustration pent up inside of her - but she really did want to train with Kiba. It sounded like . . . fun.
And at any rate, she hadn't gone out of the house in days. Some fresh air would probably make her feel a little bit better.
"You're sure about this?" Kiba asked for the millionth time. Hinata nodded. She knew that Kiba thought of her as a little sister and would therefore feel bad about sparring with her in her current mental situation. That was probably why Kiba even left Akamaru at home. But the thing was, she really wanted to fight. She wanted to get rid of all the frustration and depression and sorrow in her body and she couldn't think of a better way than fighting a good fight.
Sure, her shinobi skills were a tad rusty but she still used her Byakugan quite often even as a medic-nin, so at least that was one skill she wasn't out of practice with. Kiba still looked unsure.
"Kiba-kun, I'm fine, I promise. It'll be like old times, when we were teammates." Hinata said. At last, Kiba finally seemed convinced and he took his stance. Hinata took hers. Without another second passing, Kiba lunged at her, starting the fight. And surprisingly, she was able to dodge him. Maybe her shinobi skills weren't as rusty as she previously assumed . . .
Author's Note: This is the longest chapter I've ever written (literally -- by word count, this is the largest chapter in the story!). And I wrote it between the hours of 11pm and 1am. It's now 1:17am and I'd better get to sleep. Hopefully, this chapter was good (even though I wrote it while being deliriously sleepy). Like always, let me know what you guys think about this chapter and your theories for what will happen next. Oh and I redid my profile completely with some extra info (about where to go to check that I'm still breathing if I haven't updated in forever, etc.) so if you check it out, it'll make me super happy:)