Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, forreal.

Hinata Hyuga was running faster than she ever had before. She seemed to be bleeding from every part of her body. Blood ran down her arms, her legs, her cheeks and her neck, her forehead…. She did not know how many hours had passed since she had been jumped; all she knew was that she had to get away. Far away.

What felt like an eternity before, she had decided to take a walk at sunset, which she realized now must have been the biggest mistake of her life. She had wanted to be alone, so she had taken the least traveled path in Konoha. Surely no one would interrupt her thoughts there.

What had she been thinking about so deeply you ask? Her life, basically. She felt… worthless. She couldn't fight for her clan, a clan that practically hated her, and she couldn't tell Naruto how she felt about him, because she was just too shy. She tried so hard at everything she did, but she knew that she was only disappointing her friends. She knew because of the way they looked at her so pityingly whenever she asked for help. She knew because of the defeat in their eyes when they actually did try to help, and she failed. It felt like all she could do was cry, and she was so sick of crying.

So, she had gone for a walk. At sunset. To watch the light fade away and the stars come into the sky one by one. She had walked further from home than she had realized, and just as she had started her way back, two men had jumped her. They ganged up on her, and it didn't matter how loud she screamed, because there was no one near enough to hear it. She had struggled as hard as she could, but her defenses were already weak enough, then with hopelessness so deeply etched into her soul, she felt like all the fight had drained out of her.

The men had raped her.

She was scared.

Hinata was breathing hard, running fast on bare feet. Most of her clothes had been ripped off of her; what was left was barely enough to cover everything that needed to be covered. She ran and ran, not aware that there were still warm tears streaming down her face. She realized that her mind wasn't working right at the moment. All she could think about was running, getting away.

She had finally managed to escape those two men. She had squirmed away from them, ran, and hadn't looked back since. Now she was cold and bloody. They had hit her, beaten her, kicked her… among too many other things. Her mind shied away from the memories of it. Never once had she thought that such a thing could happen to her. But it had. And now not only was she alone, but she was lost in the woods, beaten, violated, and totally exhausted.

Hinata kept tripping over things like roots and rocks, but somehow she managed to keep her balance, despite how tired she was, and how broken she felt. Finally, she tripped one last time, and fell face down in the dirt, sobbing harder than she could ever remember doing before. She wasn't sure how long she lay there, but suddenly she heard some rustling in the woods around her. Her sobbing ceased in an instant. She held her breath.

Were those two men back to rape her again? Had they managed to follow her? Her mind was spinning out of control but she fought to keep it all inside. Then, for a moment, the noises stopped. Slowly, she sat up, just praying that the men were gone.

Someone had jumped from a tree, and abruptly landed directly in front of her. Hinata screamed and shot off like a bullet into the surrounding trees. She stumbled more than she had before, with adrenaline pumping in her veins and her heart beating so loud that her entire body throbbed in pain. Someone was definitely chasing her now, and it didn't take long for them to catch her. Strong arms wrapped around her, keeping her own arms pinned tightly to her sides. She struggled a bit, but most of her strength had already been stolen away. The person who had a hold of her lifted her so that her feet were dangling an inch or so above the ground. She kicked hard, but the man - she was sure it was a man - was able to take it.

"Let go of me!" she screamed, her voice weak and shaken. "Let go! Let go of me!"

The man was trying to calm her. "Shhh! Stop screaming!"



She had kicked her last kick. She was so tired. She just couldn't struggle anymore. Hinata's entire body went limp, and she gave in; slumped forward and crying in the man's arms.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said calmly.

In surprise, Hinata realized that the voice was more of a boy's rather than a man's. "You're-you're not?" she choked. She struggled a bit more, and this time, he let her go. She spun to get a good look at him, and found herself face-to-face with none other than Sasuke Uchiha.

They blinked at each other for a moment, then Sasuke broke the silence. "You're of the Hyuga clan. Hinata?"

She nodded, and her voice shook again when she spoke, but this time from relief. "Yes," she answered.

"What happened to you?" He eyed her up and down, and it was then that Hinata remembered how scantly she was covered.

Cheeks red, she crossed her arms over her chest and swallowed hard. She didn't answer him, but for one single instant, she had the irrational thought that he might try to do things to her like those men had.... If something so totally mind-blowing could happen to her in such a short time, so easily, then Hinata thought, anything could happen. Could she trust Sasuke? ...it seemed she didn't really have a choice. Still, she tried not to cringe away from him. He was her only hope... maybe if she could stay near him, she would be safe.

"Did you get into a fight?" he demanded, and his voice sounded disbelieving to her ears.

"N-no…" she said weakly, staring down at her dirty feet. He didn't ask anymore questions, so she went on, feeling the need to explain. Her voice was quiet, but she didn't doubt that he could hear her. "T-two men grabbed me, and they… they did something awful…."

Sasuke took in a sharp breath and she noticed him tense. "You were... you were raped?"

Hinata let out a small sob. "Yes," she cried, and the tears were flowing again.

Awkwardly, Sasuke put a hesitant hand on her shoulder, as if to offer some small comfort, and without really thinking about what she was doing, Hinata sank against him. Reflecting back on that moment later on, she could remember crying so hard against his chest, not even caring if he thought she was weak or pitied her. He had put his arms around her and patted her reluctantly on the back.

When finally Hinata calmed down enough and her sobs had stopped, he grabbed her, and pulled her away from him. "Come on," he said, pulling her along. "Let's get you back to the village… to Tsunade."

Tsunade fixed Hinata up, leaving the Hyuga girl covered in bandages and funny smelling medicine. Then, the woman sat her down and the two of them had a very long talk, which was awkward for Hinata, being such a shy girl and all. The sun was rising when Tsunade sent someone to fetch Hiashi, Hinata's father, and the woman offered Hinata a hospital bed to nap on while they waited, but the girl refused. She wanted to be wide awake when her father got there; she wondered if he had even been worried about her at all, seeing as she had been out all night. She could have died, and he wouldn't have known it. Nor would he have cared.

"Why are you even bothering?" she heard her own, tiny voice ask.

"What?" Tsunade said in surprise.

"My father doesn't care about me… when he gets here, he'll only be angry."

Tsunade put a hand on Hinata's arm and said, "I'm sure that's not true."

"You don't know him like I do." And even though she felt she had already cried every tear that it was possible to cry, fresh ones managed to flow down her cheeks.

It was then that Hiashi stepped in.

He did look angry at first. He was quiet for a while, but after taking one glance at him, Hinata simply stared at the floor. "I apologize that my daughter has been trouble for the Hokage," she heard her father say respectfully.

"No trouble at all Hiashi." Tsunade's voice sounded a bit cold.

"Has she gotten into a fight?" Hinata scoffed quietly. Of course, her father would be glad if she had gotten into a fight.

"No," Tsunade replied stiffly.

"Ah. So she was beaten I presume? Such a weak girl." He walked past the Hokage and stood directly in front of Hinata, who only continued to stare at the floor. His voice was harsh and firm when he spoke. "You should learn to defend yourself. What kind of Hyuga are you? Did you even get a single hit on the ones who attacked you?"

Unable to hold back, Hinata slumped forward, holding herself, and crying silently. Her father scoffed. She had tried to warn the Hokage that he would only be angry. He didn't even ask where she had been all night. She knew it; he hadn't been worried a single bit.

"Your daughter was raped tonight, Hiashi." Tsunade's voice was like steel; cold and hard. She said the words with obvious authority, nearly snarling at him.

Hinata looked up in surprise. The girl's tear-filled eyes flickered from the Hokage to her own father. What was even more of a shock to her, was when Hiashi's face drained of blood, and he stared down at her with his mouth half open. Not able to bare the weight of his stare, she looked away again.

"Is this true?" he demanded of the woman. He sounded incredulous.

"I think the one you should be asking, is Hinata," Tsunade said in her best Hokage voice.

Hiashi seemed at a loss for words, and even though she was not looking at him, Hinata could still feel him staring down at her.

Hiashi had been acting differently towards Hinata ever since that day. He seemed to be struggling with a bit of an internal dispute. While he was still hard on Hinata, she could see something like pity or regret in his eyes, and his voice was never so harsh as usual. Hinata stayed quieter than ever, avoiding other members of the clan as much as she could. Word had spread throughout the Hyugas of what had happened to her that night; most of them were even harder than her father, saying that she should not have let herself get raped, a few others were sympathetic. In any case, they all seemed to want to talk about it, and that was the last thing she wanted to do.

Hinata sighed as she stared up at the Uchiha mansion, thinking about how none of her clan would ever expect to find her here. Sasuke had probably already told all of Konoha about what had happened that night, but Hinata was still grateful that he had been there, and now she wanted to thank him.

It was a nice warm day. The sun was shining brightly, flitting in and out of the clouds. There were dark shadows on the ground from the clouds above, and the wind had a nice little breeze blowing, so it wasn't hot at all. Hinata had learned to really appreciate days like these since the incident in the woods; that night, she had really thought that she was going to die. And even if her life was still horrible, she was grateful to be alive. She was glad that what few thoughts she had had before of suicide were now gone forever.

Another sigh when she reached his doorstep - it had been no easy task; Sasuke kept traps and things in his yard which she had somehow managed to avoid. At least now he knew she was here, anyway. She knocked on the door, and waited. It was at least ten minutes before Sasuke answered, but she knew that he was home and didn't mind waiting, so she just stood there. His expression was as stone when he opened the door. Her eyes flickered up to him and she blushed. Since her experience, most of her shyness had faded away, but still, bits and pieces of it crept up on her from time to time.

Sasuke acknowledged her with a slight tilt of his head, and asked her to "please, come in." She stepped into the cool house, glancing up at the high ceiling. The front room was larger than she had expected it to be, which was pretty large considering that this was a mansion and all. She didn't stop to gawk at it though, as she followed him to what must have been the kitchen. He offered her tea, and she refused, but he fixed her a cup anyway. They sat at the table together, in silence.

Hinata thought to herself how strange it was to be sitting in Sasuke Uchiha's mansion, drinking tea with him at his kitchen table. Before, she could never have imagined her doing something like this. She allowed herself a small smile.

"I don't want to stay long," she said quietly. She had planned out everything that she was going to say, and had it all memorized, so she didn't stutter, but it still came out sounding a bit weak. Hinata took a deep breath, and continued. "I w-wanted to thank you." She silently cursed herself for stuttering. She sighed and started over, speaking a bit louder than she normally would have. "I wanted to thank you for helping me that night, and taking me back to the village, and to the Hokage. I'm not sure what would have happened if you hadn't been there."

Instead of saying things such as he had only stumbled upon her by accident, or that it had been no big deal, Sasuke merely accepted her thanks and continued to sip his tea. The silence, Hinata was surprised to find, wasn't awkward between them at all. Actually, it was kind of nice to be in a place with someone who didn't question her or berate her… it was pleasant to just sit in the quiet with one another, in a place where none of her clan would expect her to be.

After their tea cups were both empty, Hinata decided to leave, thanking Sasuke again for letting her into his home and offering her drink. He accepted her thanks again, and she left feeling strangely refreshed. Sasuke stood in the doorway of the mansion and watched her go.