Wounded Doe

The darkness of the night had faded again. Itachi stared up at the sky from where he had been laying most of the night, watching the stars pass by. He didn't sleep much anymore, just enough that his eyes no longer burned with each blink. Instead he would lay there, staring. He rested the hunk of meat that was his slowly rotting body while discussing things with his shadow.

Despite what most would think darkness was not the time of day that he enjoyed the most. Night time was a strange time. It was easy to hide and easy to watch prey, but then it also posed the possibility of catching himself yearning.

When night comes people hide within their homes, they are warm, they consume food, they smile at each other and usually they go to sleep in someone's arms.

Despicable as his shadow might say it was Itachi often caught himself wondering what it was like…. The image of Hinata curled up and warm, the sound of her heartbeat, the feel of her blood pulsing under the skin inside her veins…

Strange, very strange.

Sighing the murderer rose, feeling the kinks in his muscles pop with a cruel insensitivity to pain and he rolled to look out onto the already busy street across from the hospital.

The city never truly slept. Cars were always passing, people awake when they could have been at home in the warmth. H wondered too why they didn't.

Straightening out the dark shirt he wore he leaned on the railing of the seven story roof he had stayed on all night, studying the comings and goings of the hospital workers and those who were ill. Curiosity had kept him there, even though Hinata and his dear brother had left. He would catch up to them soon enough anyway…. After all, it was coming to an end.

He could feel the tension starting, the tension that was strangely familiar, almost orgasmic.

He had been pulling and tugging and caressing the situation for so long, watching as the people woven into the tangle began to arch their backs in pain, began to cry out. It was about time that he gave it the final sharp tug. Maybe then he would feel the touch of Hinata's hand….

Maybe, if he worked things right.

From where he stood he could peer into the window of a very young woman's room. The light of the sun had poured into it and started to wake her from her fitful drugged sleep. Nurses came in and out, checking on her but she did not speak much. He pondered this. After all, she looked like Hinata and smelled like Hinata, albeit smaller. Yet her eyes did not burn the same way, they did not have that secret fire….

Like a rose he had nearly killed that flame inside the older sister, just to wait and watch come back brighter, bigger and stronger. Hanabi seemed incapable of that fire at all. He was disappointed.

But she would still be useful, somehow.

Smiling softly to himself he turned, the wind tossing his coat as he walked towards the staircase, the plan formulating in his mind with the precision of a mathematical equation. It wouldn't be long now, no. It wouldn't be long.


Hinata's gaze was steady, almost alarming with clarity as they stared at her old sensei cleaning a gun she had not thought he would use. Asuma seemed like such a languid peaceful sort of person… this seemed simply contrary.

Even more to the contrary was Sasuke, the muscles of his back tense and tightened so that she could see each defined stroke as he stirred his coffee, the ripple effect moving through the sinew. He had always looked like a panther to her and yet now he looked more and more like he might actually bite.

"So, Kakashi hasn't been in contact since the day before yesterday?" One of the other men muttered. Asuma simply shook his head. "Not a word from that man. But I heard last from him that he's got Neji with him. So it should be fine."

Hinata's gaze did not leave him for a long moment at the mention of her cousin, causing Asuma to look up at her for a moment and then away in shy response to her flat stare.

"Nothing from Itachi either?" She almost flinched at her own words, having never spoken the name out loud- having barely spoken at all since the day before.

The reaction from the men was surprising as well, all turned to look at her some curiously, the others in surprise and Sasuke with a frown of worry.

"No." Asuma replied, studying her as she stood to stir the eggs frying on the stove. "Nothing."

"Hm." She managed to reply, neck flushed a bright red from all their staring, hand trembling but only a little. The fever had receded to nothing and now she could think. The voices had faded and though there was still that nerve wrecking rock sitting in her gut she knew she had to pull herself together. Things were not as bad as they had seemed.

They were bad. Horrible, even. But not over yet, at least.

"W-would anyone like some e-eggs?" she finally stuttered, rubbing her face with one hand. The men had been eating nothing but toast and take out since she had been conscious, and knowing they were taking care of her had made her drag her bony painfully body out of bed that morning to attempt some sort of cooking.

It felt good to be in the kitchen anyway, the smells were familiar and even though eating did not look appetizing still she didn't want any of them to starve or eat junk.

"Certainly." Asuma grunted, followed by a chorus of similar animal noises from the others. Without being asked they began to clear their weaponry off the kitchen table, moving over to the dining room with all their gear.

Sasuke didn't move however, instead watching her in a familiar way as she opened the fridge door, pulling out bacon and margarine with her thin hands.

"How are you doing?" His voice finally broke the silence, making a slow shudder crawl down her back at the dark tones. Even in this chaos she couldn't ignore the sensuality that rolled off of him like perfume. She swallowed and glanced over her shoulder, face getting more pink with each thought.

"F-f-fine." She finally mustered, annoyed with herself for reverting back to that stuttering frightened high school girl that had irritated him so much. Methodically she cracked eggs into the pan, stacking the empty shells beside her in a cup.

"When is the last time you ate anything?" the question was unexpected and she blinked, looking over at him with a frown. "Y-yesterday….why?"

"When?"

Her frown deepened, looking at his completely blank expression with suspicion. "…When?" she echoed. "Why?"

"What did you eat?" he continued with slow precision, as unassuming and ingressive as an Uchiha could ever be.

Hinata bit her lip in thought, both in an attempt to figure out his scheme and trying to remember. "Something… I don't remember. W-w-why are you-?"

"You didn't eat anything, Hinata." Sasuke grunted irritably, finally letting the slight emotion tsunami out of him in a wave. The girl froze. "T-that's not true! I-"

"You left the plate from dinner at the table. And in the morning I heard you in the bathroom after breakfast." He sighed, studying her. "It's nearly been three days. How are you even able to get up?"

Hinata's eyes stared at him, huge in her face and panicked. Had it really been three days? She counted backwards, losing track as the confusion started from the fever and the breakdown. Three days?

"I… I thought I had eaten… I t-t-tried to remember…." She searched through the kitchen, attempting to come up with a memory of eating something and having kept it down, but finding none.

No wonder her body hurt.

"I made some jello, yesterday." Sasuke muttered softly, standing up. "Try that first, if you can keep it down without it being too heavy there is also fruit and tofu in the fridge for a smoothie. You need some protein before you pass out."

His hands were suddenly there, taking the spatula from her grip, beginning to stir the eggs so they wouldn't burn.

"And sit down."

Hinata did so, immediately as ordered. Watching in fascination as he put the little cubes of jello in a bowl in front of her and some sliced strawberries with crème.

When was the last time someone had taken care of her…? He didn't seem disturbed by her utter silence or the stunned look on her face, but moved on to put the bacon to fry, scooping the scrambled eggs onto a serving plate carefully.

"S-s-sasuke?" she watched as he turned, keeping a close eye on the frying bacon anyway, face inquisitive.

"Hm?"

"Arigatou…" she mumbled, stuffing a cube of jello in her mouth before her face turned red.

Sasuke blinked mildly at her, watching her chew methodically and then swallow, taking another green cube to follow the process.

He said nothing, only smiled weakly and continued cooking.


The nurse sniffed, her irritated wound tight expression would be plastered all over the magazine covers and news paper articles the next day. The reporters had been surprisingly persistent, trying to get a look at the puny version of the fallen artist. It was always more interesting to watch someone fall from the adoring grace of society than watching them climb up there.

Still, the nurse found it aggravating and after warning them that if they didn't move and get out of the hall she would call security she followed through with the tray of food for the Hyuuga and another shot of morphine to make the broken rib she had endured more painless.

The detectives had all gone, and though at the back of the hall there was a hubbub of police officers she thought this whole situation was silly. The girl had been attacked, but no doubt the offender had enough of a brain so as to not try something in the hospital! Surely. They were all ranting about his genius and yet going through such horrible precautions. They were disturbing all of her patients and making a racket on a regular basis.

But still, her duty was to take care of everyone and this little one had endured enough. Face taut with indignation she pushed through the reporters, glared at the police men and went into the room backwards, closing the door on the crowd's face.

"Well." She tsked, shaking her head. "I'm very sorry Miss Hyuuga, the crowd has yet to leave I'm afraid." She turned, and froze.

The bed was empty, a little pile of white sheets and a squished pillow. Behind it was the window, flung open into the brightness of the new day, the cold air flooding the room with the beck and call of winter.

Heart pounding the nurse scrambled over to the other side of the bed, hoping against hope that the girl was on the floor, only to find the ground sparkling white and bare.

Gasping she ran to the window, gripping the edge of the glass with white knuckled hands. "Oh my God…." Her voice was suddenly less wound tight and more high pitched and panicked. "Oh my God…. Doctor!"

She grabbed the note pinned to the window with tape, ripping it off and spinning around to sprint out of the room, crashing into the bodies of reporters and policemen alike.

"Call the police! She's gone!"

The crowd erupted, camera flashes exploding after the nurse as she sprinted down the hall towards the nurse station to use the phone, to call the detective, someone, anyone.

"He took her! He took her! Hanabi is gone!"


The phone ringing made the surprisingly cheerful breakfast at Kakashi's house suddenly quiet down. Around the kitchen table was the most backwards misfit group of men and a single petite girl that there ever was.

Asuma frowned thoughtfully, chewing on his customary toothpick as he stared at the cell phone beside him.

The table was covered in foods. Toast, bacon, eggs, strong coffee and sliced fruit. The men were starving for a home made meal and though it was simple, and almost entirely done by Sasuke rather than Hinata it was still good enough.

However, the feeding frenzy slowed and then stopped on the third vibrating ring of Asuma's phone, including Hinata with a spoonful of Jello halfway to her mouth.

Sniffing softly the older man took the phone and picked up, pressing it to his ear quietly. "Hello?"

Kakashi's voice echoed through the device though the words were indistinct. Asuma's expression however said enough to have everyone push their plates away slowly, forgetting about seconds.

"Mhm." The man grunted, standing and walking away.

Some of the others reached behind them for their weaponry, strapping them into holsters and then around their bodies calmly.

Hinata watched them, half listening to Asuma's muffled voice from the other room. Suddenly the Jello was threatening to come back up again.

Gritting her teeth she stood, collecting plates and cups slowly, just for the sake of having something to do. Sasuke on the other hand did not move, studying through the wall where Asuma paced in the dining room, muttering endlessly.

"Do you have things to pack from your house?" Sasuke asked suddenly, making her stop, frowning slightly. "We may have to relocate today."

Relocate.

She swallowed, and straightened, an armful of dishes in hand. "No… I don't have anything."

One firm nod from him and she felt her heart sink a little lower.

"Fine. Yeah." Asuma grunted as he entered the room again, hanging up without a goodbye.

He stopped, finding himself facing several expectant faces. Biting his lip more than his toothpick he nodded at the men. "You two are heading out. Sasuke and I are staying with Hinata. Call Kakashi and get instructions from him. He'll be late, since Neji and him were out looking for a location."

The men stood without word, pulling out cell phones as they went, heading to the door. Sasuke and Hinata both started, standing. "What happened?" Sasuke snapped, hands leaning on the table.

Asuma didn't answer, though his eyes flickered to Hinata briefly, connecting like a kick to the stomach.

The dishes clattered to the table, shattering on impact, making the two men jump in surprise, Sasuke dragging Hinata away from the shattering glass.

"Hanabi!" Hinata cried, ignoring Sasuke picking her up from behind to get her bare feet away from the dangerous tiles. "Asuma-san! Where's Hanabi!?"

Asuma swallowed, startled that she could figure it out so quickly. How had she done it?

"Hinata-"

"Iie!" Hinata's soft voice was shockingly loud as she began to struggle in Sasuke's arms, squirming like a kitten impatient to be loosed. "No! Tell me where she is! Where's my baby sister? Where is she?!"

Asuma rubbed his face roughly.

"ASUMA!" Sasuke shouted suddenly, making the entire tirade suddenly stop as though paused. His dark eyes stared past Hinata's equally dark hair at the sensei, accusing and demanding at once. "Where is Hanabi?"

The sensei breathed in slowly, looking from him to the young woman breathing hard in his arms, eyes wide, face horribly apprehensive.

"….He….he left a note…" His voice was quiet, but loud enough for Hinata to hear it as though it were a church bell, shattering her world.

"No…"

"He came through the window in her hospital room."

"No….No…."

"Kakashi and the others are after him already-"

"No!" Hinata's whimper made him stop, watching her suddenly go limp in Sasuke's arms, sliding down to the floor in a puddle of shivering tears. "No…. my sister… my baby sister…."

"…that monster has my sister…"

Sasuke trembled as badly as she, holding her tight, heart pounding in his veins so loudly it blasted through the reality he was facing.

"When?"

Asuma sighed. "This morning…. He can't be far."

"The note." Hinata gasped, gripping Sasuke's arm tightly in one hand. "What did the note say?"

Asuma shook his head. "I can't tell you that-"

"Tell me what the note said!" Her sudden shriek made the entire house seem to shiver and Sasuke held her more tightly, ignoring the feel of her nails digging into his arm, little bloody droplets sliding along the pale skin.

Asuma stared at her, jaw tight, unable to hold her flaming gaze before looking away at the floor.

"It said something about… the game ending in blood..."

The air slid out of her like a cold breeze, the warmth from her body leaving with it, draining the color from her face and the fire from her gaze until she was a still hardly breathing trembling creature in Sasuke's arms.

"Why….?" The little sound was similar to that of a doe, wounded and down struggling in the wilderness at the mercy of a hunter, rifle ready to end it's life.

Sasuke looked up through the dark strands of his hair at Asuma, the glare forceful enough to send the teacher back a half step, jaw clenching reflexively.

They all knew why.

Sasuke was no longer Itachi's focus… no, now the goal in his twisted scheme was someone else.

A someone with pale lavender eyes and a teary smile…

----


yeah....

i dunno what to say....

life happened?

leave me some love, ne?

-inky