Pairing: slight one-sided NaruHina / NaruSaku
Pairing: slight one-sided NaruHina / NaruSaku
Comments: First attempt at writing a Naruto fic, and first fanfic written in a long time. A 'future' fic too at that - and one which is long, strange, and hard to swallow. Some OOCness. In short: Dark Hinata. Poor Neji. Oneshot.
A/N: This has also been posted on Livejournal under a different username
It was Iruka-sensei who first noticed that something was wrong. Hyuuga Hiro, the shy Hgyuuga heir, was absent for the third day running and there was no note, no explanation for his absence. When he went to the Hyuuga complex but got no answer, Iruka was alarmed enough to ask the Hokage to investigate, especially since it surfaced that no Hyuuga had been seen for the past days.
They found all the missing Hyuuga in the compound. Men, women and children were all dead.
People shivered and whispered as the spectre of the Uchiha massacre rose again. But this was nothing like it. There was no evidence of fighting, no bodies strewn over each other. Not a drop of blood had been spilt. They all lay peacefully in their beds or at their posts, as though their spirits had flown during their sleep. A perplexed Tsunade, brought out of her retirement to help in the autopsies, examined them after Sakura had finished and confirmed what her former pupil had reported. All of them were perfectly healthy, apart from the fact that they were dead.
There were no Hyuuga left alive aside from those who had been away on missions. The Hokage sent out envoys to ask them to hurry back. It was his duty to tell Hyuuga Neji and Hyuuga Hinata that they were the last two of the greatest family of shinobi.
Neji could not rest. He tossed and turned on his makeshift bed, as he thought about the past few hours. The thought that someone had wiped out his clan in a single night and left no mark was incredible, and if Neji acknowledged the nagging voice at the back of his head, terrifying. Questions raced through his head as he racked his brains about who the unknown murderer could be. No one Neji knew could possibly have done something so tremendous, and yet there was no other explanation, save a supernatural one which Neji repudiated. He clenched his fists tightly as he swore that somehow he would find out who it had been, and would make him pay.
He did not love his clan's traditions, nor did he love those who had bound him with the curse seal, but this was a matter of honour and pride. No one could take away what Hyuuga Neji saw as his.
He trod silently, passing like a ghost through places he had known as child. The bodies had all been removed, and one could almost believe that it had all been a dream, that all were asleep safely within the walls of their homes. But Neji could feel the emptiness penetrating his bones. There was no one left.
He had been unable to sleep, and he was drawn towards the only place he had ever thought of as home. Evading the guards the Hokage had placed at the doors of the compound had been easy; after all, he was Hyuuga (and the Hyuuga genius, no less!) and knew every nook and cranny of the place.
Neji wandered restlessly through the alleys with his byakugan activated, perhaps hoping that in this silence he would pick up on something which they had missed in the preliminary investigations. As he let his gaze fall on the main house, he paused. There was a shinobi there, with familiar charka coils. Frowning, Neji made his way towards wondering why she had come to the compound that night.
'Neji-niisan.' Hinata acknowledged him as he walked towards her, but did not turn round. She was standing in her garden, staring at the neat rows of herbs and flowers which had flourished under her care. Gardening was something Hinata excelled in – indeed, she was quite renowned for the various medications and ointments she developed. The more years passed, the more time she spent away from people, locked away in her shed or in the hospital laboratories, where she could spend hours with her concoctions. The family had tolerated that. After all, a branch family member was almost expected to do something as demeaning as make ointments.
'What are you doing here, Hinata?'
She gestured towards the garden. 'It's beautiful isn't it?' she said softly.
Neji did not reply. The garden, bathed in the moonlight looked eerie, not beautiful, and Hinata, with her pale skin and dressed in a white yukata, looked ethereal. Indeed, she looked more like one of the dead than a living being. Neji shivered, and thought that perhaps, it had not been such a good idea to visit the compound. Too many ghosts lingered there already.
'You shouldn't be here, Hinata.'
'I wanted to plant more roses this season,' she said wistfully. 'But there's no time for that anymore.'
It was not the kind of comment he had expected. Tears, wails and hysterics he could have understood and tolerated with scathing scorn, but this calm Hinata, quietly talking about her garden, he did not. He took her arm, almost pitying this cousin of his.
'Please come away Hinata. You should…' His voice trailed away as she turned to look at him. Her face was paler than ever as her hands played nervously with the hem of her yukata.
'I killed them Neji-niisan.'
I killed them Neji-niisan.
Neji simply stared. The suggestion that Hinata, the shy mouse who could barely look you in the eye, the kunoichi who had been passed over for heir because she was so weak, could have destroyed her clan, was ludicrous, none the less because she was accusing herself. He almost laughed, and yet this was no laughing matter; it was pitiful, if not tragic, that Hinata believed that she had killed them all.
"You don't believe me." She said this in a resigned tone, and Neji tried to find an appropriate answer to give – have you lost your mind? and you're too weak to have killed anyone didn't ring as quite the right things to say and even less, you can't get that close to the main family to have done anything.
As if reading his thoughts, Hinata touched her forehead, where the curse-seal marred her pale skin. Unlike the rest, she never bothered to hide it. Neji never knew whether to be angry or humbled by this gesture of hers; he chose to ignore it instead.
'I had many reasons to do it, Neji-niisan. Why do you think I didn't?'
He couldn't remember when Hinata had stopped stuttering. It was one of those changes which had happened when he hadn't been looking and he was surprised by a sudden feeling of protectiveness for this cousin of his. He did not hate her as he once did; they were now simply distant and their paths rarely met. Neji hadn't been there for much of her life, but he was with her now, and had to look after her and bring her to her senses.
'I find it hard to believe that you would have harmed Hiro-sama, Hinata,' he said calmly.
'It's true, I did love Hiro,' she said softly, so softly that he had to bend down to catch this confession of love for her nephew. 'I loved him very much. But Hanabi blamed me for making him weak.'
It was true.
Everyone knew the anger and disappointment that Hanabi and Hiashi had in the heir, who was as weak, if not weaker, than Hinata had been. Hanabi, always on the lookout for someone else to blame, had lashed out at her sister for having made the boy feeble. Hinata had nursed and brought up the boy – Hanabi had no interest in him until he was able to hold a kunai and activate his byakugan- so by default, her sister reasoned that it was Hinata's fault that her son was a failure.
Hinata shivered suddenly and wrapped her thin arms round herself. 'He blamed me too, Neji. I… he… they made his life miserable.' She lifted her eyes, wide, tragic and broken and he listened, unable to deny what she said. 'I couldn't let him live my life,' she whispered. 'I couldn't let history repeat itself. So I killed him too, because it was the only way I could save him.'
Neji was now becoming seriously worried. This insistence that she had killed them made him wish that he could take her to hospital, perhaps to Tsunade-sama who would be discrete and understand that it was only Hinata's overactive sense of guilt which was speaking. He remembered one piece of advice Gai had given him – when speaking to madmen and fools, never tell them they're wrong. His cousin was no fool, but he truly believed she was teetering on the verge of madness.
He took her hand, so small and fragile in his, and drew her towards him. He would humour her for now, and take her out of the courtyard before anyone heard her ravings and drew wrong conclusions. After all, she was his responsibility.
'Let's go for a walk, Hinata,' he told her, leading her away from her garden. 'It's too cold for you to stand around.'
'It doesn't really matter now,' she said vaguely, 'I'll be colder when I'm dead.'
'You won't die, anytime soon, Hinata,' Neji said, rather impatiently. She smiled, as though humouring a small child and suddenly Neji wanted to be out of the place and the oppressive atmosphere which seemed to surround her. This was not the cousin he had always known, the one he had hated, loved and then ignored. This was a new, almost terrifying, Hinata, and Neji wanted to get away from her.
He walked slightly faster with Hinata walking obediently near him, when she stumbled. Neji caught her by the arm and steadied her without speaking. He turned away, meaning to keep on walking, when he felt her tug at his sleeve. He paused and waited, but did not meet her eyes. It would be too easy for her to read the look in them.
'You don't believe me,' she said again her voice rising. 'You think I don't have enough reason to have wanted them all dead, but I do.'
Neji looked around uneasily. It would be all too easy for someone to overhear them talking. 'Hinata…'
'No, you must understand,' she said agitatedly. 'I must make you understand why, Neji. Otherwise you won't believe me.'
Neji rubbed at his eyes wearily. He felt dizzy and tired, more tired that he should have felt. He could only blame it on the strain of the past few hours. The quicker he got his cousin to Tsunade-sama the better. 'Hinata, please…'
'I had a child,' she said her eyes meeting his. Neji stared at his cousin incredulously. She could not be serious. And yet, Neji, who could spot a liar from fifty paces, could not find any trace of a lie in his cousin's features. Hinata smiled faintly at the look on his face. 'Its quite true you know,' she said gently.
'I…' Neji swallowed. He was past trying to make sense of this revelation, and was starting to wish he had simply walked the other way. Play along with her, the voice in his head told him, humour her and let her talk. 'Who was the father?'
Her lips trembled slightly. 'Na-Naruto-kun,' she told him, a faint blush colouring her wan skin.
'Was in love with Sa-Sakura?' Neji shrugged his shoulders, as his cousin smiled mirthlessly. 'I know, Neji. He was drunk and made love to me and I believed that perhaps it-it was so-something more than…' Her voice trailed away, and Neji wondered at why women fell for the same thing every time. It was an old tale, and one which would continue to happen in every story of scorned love and love unnoticed.
'How long did it last?' He had never heard that Naruto and Hinata had been together, but he could easily believe that they had kept it secret to prevent it from reaching any Hyuuga ears.
Hinata let out a thin laugh, which sounded more like a wounded cry. 'Not even the night. Not after he called me Sa-Sa-Sakura while he fu-fucked me.' Neji stood rooted to the spot. The bitterness in her voice was unmistakable. Hinata was quiet, deferential, and accepted any blow which came her way but she was never bitter. He looked at his cousin, fingers fumbling with the sleeves of her yukata, her most precious dream shattered, and he wished he could beat Naruto to a pulp for what he had done to one of his family.
Hinata's voice broke into his thoughts. 'Hanabi noticed I was pregnant. I wove a genjutsu round myself, but she noticed. She always noticed everything. She told Father too.' She now talked hurriedly, unwilling to dwell on memories that were far from painless. 'I planned to run away, to take my baby somewhere else, but they didn't let me leave, she said I'd be a missing nin and that I'd bring more shame to the family.' She swallowed and continued. 'Hanabi made me stay with her until my… my baby was born. I fainted when...She said it was stillborn and… and that no one had to know about it.'
A faint memory rose at the back of his mind, of coming back from a mission to hear rumours that perhaps Hinata was being reinstated into the main branch again, she had moved into a room in Hanabi's quarters. But nothing had come out of it, only a quieter Hinata, who went back into her rooms soon after the gossip and resumed her duties without a word. Neji had never asked about it. It was not his way to pry.
That flicker of indecision must have shown in his face, for Hinata nodded before she continued. 'I work in a hospital and I knew my baby was healthy.' She glanced briefly at Neji. Her voice was steady now, with no hint of the previous tremor. 'And I am a Hyuuga, and know the ways to kill silently.'
The full significance of her words weighed down on Neji.
He looked at his younger cousin, and wished he could repudiate what she had just told him with the same certainty as before. But he couldn't, because he was a Hyuuga, and knew what lengths could be reached for the sake of the clan's purity. Hanabi, ruthless and set in the ways of her clan would not have hesitated to remove what brought shame to the family. And if the child did not have what would have made it Hyuuga…
'It didn't have the Hyuga eyes, Neji,' Hinata said softly. 'It was even more worthless than its mother.'
Neji struggled find words to tell her that he was sorry, sorry that she had been alone, sorry that she had lost everything, sorry that the Hyuuga was what it was, but he had never been good with words. He could only wonder at how he had never seen Hinata cry.
'It doesn't matter now. After all, I'm soon going to die and see my child again.' Her voice broke into his thoughts and he frowned.
'There is no reason for you to die, Hinata.'
'I drank some of it.'
'Some of what?'
Her brow creased with consternation. 'The poison I used to kill them, of course. How else would I have managed it?'
Neji stared. 'You… what?'
'I would never have succeeded in killing them like Uchiha Itachi did.' She seemed faintly amused at the thought. 'I am not strong enough, as you well know, Neji-niisan.'
'There was no trace of poison in the system.' He had read the reports. Sakura had left no stone unturned. Every known poison had been tested for, and all results were negative.
'Of course not. It disintegrates after five hours in the bloodstream.' Hinata was silent for a while, while Neji tried to gather his thoughts. 'I am not a good ninja but… I have some affinity with herbs and medicine. I made a new poison.'
Hours spent in the garden and in the hospital laboratories. Her research on plants and herbs and the vials in her workroom. It… it made sense. Neji stared at this timid cousin of his, and doubted his senses. She had destroyed a whole clan? She? Hinata? Neji felt cold, colder than the night air warranted.
'I got the idea from one of Father's techniques, you know,' Her voice took on a dreamy tone 'The poison acts on the heart, which works slower, and slower, and finally stops. It's the same when you sleep, only this time you never wake up. It was hard to find the exact ingredients and the right quantities.' She brushed a strand of hair from her face. 'It was easy after that. It's a good thing we have a separate water system than the rest of Konoha. I wouldn't have liked to hurt any innocent people.'
Neji made a choking sound, and Hinata looked at him in faint surprise. He struggled to keep his composure, but calm, cold Neji was closer to being hysterical than he had ever been in his life. She wanted to harm no innocents, but destroyed an entire clan? 'What about the children? Weren't they innocent?'
She leaned on a tree and looked out into the courtyard. 'They would have grown up to be Hyuuga. I saved them from their fate.' Her eyes had a faraway look in them and when she spoke, it was not to him. 'There is no more Hyuuga, now,' she said softly.
Her words chilled him and suddenly it seemed to him that he and she were no more, only spirits lingering beyond their time. Neji closed his eyes and struggled to ignore the feeling of dread her words had instilled in him. He was worn out, exhausted, and that was why her words were getting to him. He was no spirit, but a living, breathing, human being. 'You and I are still alive, Hinata,' he pointed out.
'But not for long, Neji-niisan.'
'I did not take any of the water, Hinata.'
'But you drank the tea I made, did you not?'
He froze. A cold fist clenched his heart and he heard the blood pounding in his ears. No, he wanted to tell her. NO. But remembered someone pressing a cup of tea in his hands the day before, and he had drunk it without thinking. He searched her eyes for the least hint of doubt, for a hope that it was not so.
'Sumimasen, Neji-kun,' she said, as she bowed her head apologetically, as though she had made him a cup of tea which had not turned out quite right.
The image of the dozens of corpses laid out neatly in the morgue, rose in front of him, and he saw himself as another of those cold, dead bodies in the autopsy room. He felt bile rising up his throat and nearly gagged. No. No. This couldn't be happening to him. 'I… I don't want to die,' he croaked out, his treacherous voice failing him when he most wished it to be steady.
'I wish it could have been different. But I couldn't let anyone live Neji. I couldn't.' She looked at him earnestly. 'The Hyuuga had become corrupt. There is no love between us, and only strength and byakugan count. I couldn't let another generation...' She trembled and swayed slightly, her face growing paler. 'I… perhaps it is the only good thing I have ever done Neji-niisan.' She fell on her knees in front of him, gasping slightly. Her lips were of a purplish hue, and as she raised her eyes towards him, he could see that they were turning glassy. She was fading fast, and with her, the only hope of his salvation.
'Hinata, Hinata please, tell me what I have to do!' He knelt near his cousin, and grasped her shoulders, willing her to speak, to save his life. She smiled gently at him. I'm sorry, she mouthed as touched his cheek with her cold fingers, before her eyes grew blank and her hand fell lifeless to the ground.
Neji looked at her and knew with a frightening certainty that he was going to die. Never had he wanted more to fight against destiny, as tiredness overwhelmed him, and charka seeped out of his limbs. He tried to rise, but found that he could not move. Neji wanted to curse his cousin and her madness, scream at the injustice of the world, hate his clan's damned traditions, but none of this would help. He was dying and there was nothing to be done.
As his head struck the ground, he found himself face to face with Hinata, meek, unhappy Hinata, who had everything taken away from her, weak, little Hinata, who had destroyed the strongest clan, sweet, gentle Hinata who was never meant to be a shinobi, but a loving wife and mother. He lifted a trembling hand to touch her face, before his strength left him and he could no longer move.
As his vision dimmed and darkness enveloped him, he could only see a dark haired girl with unhappy eyes and blood trickling down her face, struggling to stand...
Have I changed a little bit, Naruto-kun?
Thank you for reading; reviews are more than welcome. Just one thing - I like comments and suggestions, but flaming is pointless. I'm aware that the chances of Hinata murdering her clan are close to zero, but what's fanfiction for, if not to give free reign to our imagination?