Ah, yes, finally. This chapter is finally done. A one-shot for the first holiday of the year. Don't worry, this story is a multi-chapter series, and it's not an AU. It'a a ninja fic, supposedly right after the chapters where Sasuke fought Itachi (in chapter 384 and few after) took place.
I feel bad for not writing anything for the holidays, so I thought 'Why not write a small story with chapters written in place for each holiday?' Of course, after this one, you have to wait for February the 14th to read the next chapter. Valentine's Day is so overrated...
From how I'm planning this story to be, it's going to last for one year and it will be less than fifteen chapters. This fic is based on the theory/rumor of an eventual SasuHina in the manga. Check out 'SasuHina Beyond the Eyes' fanlisting site and their forums, and you'll be surprised how possible this pairing can be.
Disclaimer- I do not own Naruto. If I did, Sasuke and Hinata would have developed a faster relationship.
Chapter 1- New Year's Eve
"If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."
—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Konoha had not changed.
Everyone was still the same since I had last left.
Sulking, I sat silently against the trunk of the tree, sitting atop a sturdy tree branch while my eyes pierced its gaze throughout the nightfall of darkness. Despite wanting to drone out the pesky voices occupying the evening air, everyone was chatting excitedly, impatient to start the countdown for New Year's Eve.
The rookie nine (excluding me) and Team Gai were below me, amiably hanging out and bonding to their hearts' content. Typically, Naruto stuck close to Sakura, stealing all of her attention while telling her one of his favorite jokes. Sakura laughed along with her blonde teammate, a genuine smile embellishing her rosy cheeks.
Kiba engaged in friendly conversation with Neji and his female cousin while she fondly stroked Akamaru's thick, white fur. In response to her much appreciated affection, the dog eagerly tackled her to the ground and began licking her senseless. Giggles escaped her pinned form before Kiba was finally able to pull Akamaru off her.
Tenten and Lee looked to be arguing about whose skill was best; a weapon's mistress or a taijutsu expert? The argument could've turned into a deeply-heated spar if it wasn't for Gai intervening, exclaiming how youthful their pride lied in confidence to their individual strengths. Tenten sweatdropped where in turn Lee's eyes fired up in admiration of his sensei's compromising words.
Shino wasn't too far from the group, examining a few bugs on the tips of his fingers with keen interest and in result, drifted off into his own world. Shikamaru tried to take a nap on the wet, dewy grass while Ino lectured Chouji about how scarfing all the food on the picnic table could possibly lead him to a lethal heart attack.
Kakashi engrossed himself with his personal favorite hentai novel, sitting casually next to Kurenai who calmly drank her beverage while stroking the round bulge on her stomach. I learned fairly quick that she was pregnant with Asuma's child. Too bad the father's dead...
Amidst all this pleasantry and social gathering, I felt I did not belong here.
Was it possible to feel even more alienated in this village than before? It seemed like after I came back I couldn't look at anyone without having them avoid eye contact. As if the sight of the ex-missing-nin/traitor brought bitter feelings and shame. A fellow leaf ninja who had fled his country in order to train under the infamous likes of Orochimaru, the snake sannin who had sworn the destruction of Konoha and almost succeeded.
Couldn't blame them, though. Even I would grimace in disgust at the things I have done toward the path for revenge. The closest to emotions I felt now were remorse and detachment - the ire of hatred now diminishing to a miniscule flame of resentment.
In my opinion, I was better off dying alongside my detested brother. If it wasn't for Naruto dragging my ass back here, I'd have died in peace. Being able to fulfill my goal to wipe him off the world of the living for the sake of my dead clan was enough for me.
I never asked to be pursued. I never asked to be saved. I never asked to come back here, to be welcomed within open arms even though nobody did when I arrived.
And I definitely never asked to be forgiven.
So what's the point in me being here?
Snapped out of my miserable pondering, I inclined my head down at Neji's cousin who stood below the tree branch I sat on. Her lavender tinted eyes stared curiously up at me, the dim moonlight illuminating her pearl eyes to glow in the darkness.
If I remembered correctly, she was the one who healed me before Naruto came to cart my beaten body back home.
I writhed in pain, unable to move any of my limbs. Slowly tilting my head, I peered at Itachi lying as a dirty, dead heap on the cold stone floor, body caked in dry blood and his ashen grey, charcoal eyes clouded blank and lifeless. Air came shallow to my lungs. Facing the ceiling, I eventually slowed my breathing and sighed. So quiet... Nobody's here to save me. I was… by myself. So… this was what a complete revenge led to. A hollow and empty fulfillment. What's there left for me to…? Entirely drained of my chakra, and my senses muddled because of the overwhelming weariness, I was surprised to feel gentle hands touch my numb body. The stranger immediately took care of my injuries, cleaning the blood off, and made me hiss through gritted teeth from the stinging pain of the disinfectant being applied to my open wounds. Wounding my pride to think this, I didn't mind that the person took care of me, and nursed me back to health. At least… someone cared. Suddenly, I felt soft, small womanly hands cup my face to pull it toward the other side. Gradually focusing on my savior, I gasped when I saw mother staring right back at me, her unmistakable navy blue hair draping her slim shoulders. Tentatively, she took out an ointment cup from her pocket, and scooped some of the herbal medicine in her hands. Smiling slightly to reassure me, she carefully applied the cream to my face and cleaned off the scratches marring my cheeks. These tiny cuts were nothing serious, but she still took the time to heal them anyway… I smiled faintly, wistfully… from the nostalgic feel of her loving hands. Weakly raising my hand to touch the side of her long bangs, I was convinced for a moment my mother was alive, and breathing in front of me.
I writhed in pain, unable to move any of my limbs. Slowly tilting my head, I peered at Itachi lying as a dirty, dead heap on the cold stone floor, body caked in dry blood and his ashen grey, charcoal eyes clouded blank and lifeless.
Air came shallow to my lungs. Facing the ceiling, I eventually slowed my breathing and sighed. So quiet...
Nobody's here to save me. I was… by myself.
So… this was what a complete revenge led to. A hollow and empty fulfillment. What's there left for me to…?
Entirely drained of my chakra, and my senses muddled because of the overwhelming weariness, I was surprised to feel gentle hands touch my numb body. The stranger immediately took care of my injuries, cleaning the blood off, and made me hiss through gritted teeth from the stinging pain of the disinfectant being applied to my open wounds.
Wounding my pride to think this, I didn't mind that the person took care of me, and nursed me back to health. At least… someone cared.
Suddenly, I felt soft, small womanly hands cup my face to pull it toward the other side. Gradually focusing on my savior, I gasped when I saw mother staring right back at me, her unmistakable navy blue hair draping her slim shoulders.
Tentatively, she took out an ointment cup from her pocket, and scooped some of the herbal medicine in her hands. Smiling slightly to reassure me, she carefully applied the cream to my face and cleaned off the scratches marring my cheeks. These tiny cuts were nothing serious, but she still took the time to heal them anyway…
I smiled faintly, wistfully… from the nostalgic feel of her loving hands. Weakly raising my hand to touch the side of her long bangs, I was convinced for a moment my mother was alive, and breathing in front of me.
Mikoto's lips curled in sadness, her white iris eyes gazed at me in sympathy. Wait, white eyes? Since when…
"Sorry. I'm not…"
Blinking rapidly, and frowning deeply, I realized this wasn't mother. This woman who looked to be her twin didn't possess motherly, black eyes, but bright and shining moon eyes.
"Hinata-chan!" Her eyes widened in recognition, and turned to regard the familiar blonde teammate of mine jogging in our direction, a grin of many emotions alighting his whiskered face.
"Naruto-kun—." My eyebrows furrowed in realization. Wait, this wasn't my past. I was still alive, but barely in midst of present day reality. "He's awake, and I j-just finished healing him..."
I couldn't stay conscious. Too many thoughts, and doubts burdened my mind, and I slipped into the darkness once again.
"Are you f-feeling better?"
"…Hn." I scoffed, and turned away from the timid girl. However, I missed the relieved smile on her pale cheeks.
"S-sakura-san and Naruto-kun were beginning to feel w-worried."
"…" My idiotic teammates always worried too much. I wasn't worth the concern… "So?"
"B-but I… I told them you needed t-time alone to adjust..." A chuckle died in my throat. So that's why they hadn't been bothering me often as of late...
My ears then picked up the faint movement of her feet nervously squashing a spot of grass while she fiddled with her baggy sleeves, unsure of how to keep up the flow of conversation.
Although feeling somewhat awkward to her company, I shifted my body to lie on my stomach, slumping lazily on the tree branch while resting my chin atop my folded arms. I gazed down at her petite form as she finally looked up to find me staring. Fidgeting under my look, her eyes darted downwards to the ground.
"Ano... um..." At a loss for what to say, she leaned her body against the tree, and stifled a giggle from my cat-like posture. "Does… the village bore you?"
"Aa…" I sighed, then added, "Nothing's different."
"Is it g-good or bad?"
"…neither. I don't really care." She hummed, pondering while I remained silent, internally grateful she's not a noisy fangirl.
"You should, I-I mean… Naruto-kun looks a lot happier now th-that you're here. Sakura-san, too." Idly glancing at the two enjoying each other's presence, it didn't look like it to me. What had those two been doing while I was away for three years? I grimaced when I realized the transparent stab in my heart was jealousy.
"E-ever since you came back… all they talk about is you. I'm… slightly e-envious."
I scoffed. "Don't be." Slowly, I was growing aware that I ignored everyone else's presence all except for one: Hinata. Why her though? It confused me.
She's strange, I admit that. Her most obvious aspect was she's not a fangirl. She didn't throw her undying love at me, or desired my attention, or was obsessed with expressing lovey-dovey words in hopes to capture my cold, and icy heart.
Hinata's reserved, shy, modest, withdrawn, soft-spoken, and compassionate. A true model of what a girl should be. Why couldn't others be like her?
I was also aware she had a crush on the dobe. Of all the girls throwing themselves at my feet, why was it the only sane one loved Naruto and didn't look twice in my direction? Damnit, jealousy again...
While absorbed in my pondering, Hinata watched with curiosity at my lack-of-response-and-awareness face. She struggled internally with a thought on her mind, continuingly poking her fingers together and looking away until mustering up the courage to regard me with her glass-colored eyes.
"...c-can I sit with you...?"
"What?" She quickly caught herself, and blushed a healthy color of red.
"If you don't mind, t-that is. I understand that y-you like being by yourself a lot..." Huh, wonder why she wasn't with the rest of the group. Why keep a solitude-seeking teenager company when he preferred to avoid interaction with people?
"Why are you here?" She jumped from my firm tone, as she nervously twiddled with her fingers again. Thank Kami I developed an even longer attention span over the three years to tolerate her prolonged pause.
"You looked lonely... a-and that's not good... f-for anyone! Or t-the holidays..." Hinata whimpered from unease, embarrassed of her sudden outburst to try and piece together her words before they became too fragmented. My lips curved in amusement. Her subtle annoyances were kind of funny. I could watch her all day fumbling in her attempts to speak, and I would be distracted from boredom.
Then, she chewed on her lip, and folded her hands behind her back. "I'll keep i-it a secret."
"What secret?" I narrowed my eyes on her. What did she know about me?
"Your smile." Then, she blushed as if her answer wasn't explanatory enough. However, I knew very well what she meant because she was the only one who witnessed me so vulnerable to the human eye. Vulnerable enough to hallucinate she was mother...
I exhaled a breath to mask the light tinge on my cheeks. "Whatever." It's no big deal, anyway. She could do whatever she felt like. I wouldn't care.
"Can you..." She suddenly raised her arm toward me, and I stared at it, lost and temporarily confused. What did she want me to do? "P-pull me up t-to sit with you...?"
I completely forgot about her request earlier. I guess… it wouldn't hurt. "Sure..." I was about to reach down and grasp her hand before somebody called her name.
"Hinata!" Quickly, I withdrawn my hand, deterred to interact with her any farther. Disheartened, Hinata dropped her arm and turned to notice Kiba vigorously waving his arm in our direction, gesturing for her to come over. "Come on. It's five minutes till midnight. Join us for the countdown!"
Hesitating, she glanced toward me and softly asked if it's okay for her to leave. I scoffed, and closed my eyes. "Go. I won't care." Leave like the rest of them, because they listened to me without noticing what I really felt.
"W-why don't you come with me, t-then? It w-would be nice..."
I couldn't believe she asked me that before anyone else. Not even Naruto and Sakura stopped by to force me to join them, yet. Did they really believe I was a hopeless cause? Opening my eyes, the two friends of mine were too immersed in admiring the starry night to look like they could bother with me. My heart bristled, and I found that sensation very uncomfortable. The feeling of abandonment…
I was also surprised Hinata didn't leave yet to meet her team whom were still calling for her to come over.
She continued to wait for me, unintentionally beguiling me to submit to her request. Who could ignore those glittering, jewel eyes of hers?
Sighing, I picked myself up, and jumped down beside her. Jamming my hands into my pants' pockets, I started walking casually ahead of her to the group as she caught up to stride beside me. A small smile lifted her lips, but the warmth radiating from her eyes expressed enough of her joy to reach my heart.
Mom was exactly the same. Whenever I would drop my stubborn, childish acts to do what she wanted, she would reward me with that modest smile I loved seeing the most. What she always wanted was never big, nor complex. They were small, and insignificant. But to her, it was all that mattered to make her feel happy.
I saw a lot of my mom in Hinata... yet through time, I learned that they were distinctly different.
Mostly everyone eyed me strangely when I neared the group with Hinata. I stared at them in disinterest since they weren't the reason for me being here on such a late notice.
"Oi! Sasuke-teme?" I sighed in annoyance of Naruto plus Sakura's dubious faces. "Is it just me or are you finally deciding to live amongst the rest of us?" I half-heartedly glared at Naruto who seemed to think it a miracle for me to be standing here.
"D-don't say that, Naruto-kun." Surprisingly, Hinata was stepping up in my defense. She blushed from the sudden attention she was receiving from Naruto, who looked utterly bewildered from her words. "H-he has f-feelings, too..."
"That will be the day when Sasuke-teme falls in love!" Naruto laughed loudly, his quirky trademark of a foxy grin dominating his scarred cheeks as he flung an arm over my broad shoulders. Once again, I was annoyed he's invading my personal space without asking. "For now, I have to keep thinking he's gay."
"Get your hands off me, you baka." I harshly shoved his head down to the ground, and he began whining and grumbling obscenities under his breath. I huffed before calmly placing an acknowledging hand on Hinata's head, which I missed the flush coloring her face. "If you have to know, Hinata can control herself a lot better than you can when it comes to keeping your hands off me, dobe. Sometimes I think you're the gay one."
"Don't you try comparing me to sweet, little Hinata! She's got nothing to do with your gayness and my perverted ways, so stop trying to taint her mind." I would love to wipe that smirk right off that ugly, whiskered face of his. An angry tick appeared on my head before Sakura and Ino simultaneously punched the blonde in their heated moment of rage.
"Don't you dare insult Sasuke-kun like that!" Should I feel grateful that my pink-haired teammate stepped up to hurt Naruto before I could? If she hadn't of interfered, I would've successfully killed the guy without holding back my 'brotherly love' for my moronic best friend.
Suddenly, I felt a foreboding chill run pass my spine. I felt a couple of murderous glares thrown my way, and it had a lot to do with the fact I was touching Neji's beloved cousin, and Shino and Kiba's precious teammate. Swiftly stealing my hand back, I crossed my arms and waited for the evening to end.
Soon, everyone gathered around and smiled at each other knowingly, before starting the countdown from sixty. The closer they neared to reaching the last number, the more excited everyone got into releasing the eagerly anticipated, zealous chant.
"It's Sasuke." I stated gruffly.
"S-sasuke..." Hinata breathed. The informality tasted strange on her tongue. "...why aren't you c-counting with us?"
"Why aren't you?" I glanced at her, mildly amused that she didn't retort. Hinata flushed in embarrassment and I averted my eyes back to the sky.
"...FIVE... FOUR... THREE... TWO... ONE—!"
...better cover my ears.
"HAPPY NEW YEARS!" Nearly everyone threw their arms in the air, and laughed together while gazing wondrously at the booming, sparkling fireworks. The starry night was decorated with dazzling flames zigzagging everywhere, blending in with the twinkling stars. This really didn't faze me, though.
Hinata, however, was the opposite. She gasped in amazement, reveling in the breathtaking spectacle of the sparks dancing in all directions. I shrugged, not really so moved from the utter beauty of the evening. I was beginning to wonder why I came here in the first place, when I felt a timid hand tug on my long sleeve, trying to grab my attention.
Languidly, I looked at Hinata to see her smiling kindly at me. "H-happy New Year's..."
A soft 'hn' in response, and I snorted, not in the 'holiday spirit' to say the same. But I did find something else I could say, something that wasn't out-of-character and it was my definition of a holiday phrase.
"...thanks." I mumbled and she smiled wider. Her cheeks crinkling with a bright blush painted across her face while her eyes twinkled from immeasurable glee.
I almost choked at the look she gave to me alone.
Didn't even know what she's so happy about. I simply acknowledged her, that's it. However, I later learned that acknowledgment was the very thing that made her happiest. Especially when it came from me, because my compliments were so rare; it was like trying to find a diamond in the middle of a freakin', Goddamn ocean.
And whenever she found that said diamond, Hinata would cherish it close to her heart.
Yep, this story will take 1 year to finish. It's put to the side for me to keep up with the holidays. If you'd like, you're welcome to read my other SasuHina AU fic while waiting for the next chapters.
If you like Friendship and all those reality life lessons, than you'll probably like it. My Sasuke character in that story would feel weird at one point because this is the real world we're talking about. No massacre of a whole clan or a murderous brother, but Sasuke's personality is still under development. I'll post the ninth chapter real soon. I only need to finish writing the last scene.
R & R! I would love to read your reviews.