Disclaimer: Man. If I had a nickel for every time someone said that I owned Naruto…I'd be in debt…

Warning: This has a taste of religion in it. So if that offends you, there's a backspace button. Although I would prefer you don't click it. There is also a scene with abuse and curse words.


Chapter Recap:

"You don't have to worry about me. I'm just fine. I forgot to turn in the assignment, and he lectured me about it. 'Try more' this and 'rise to your potential' that. I've heard it all." Naruto attempted to brush off her comment, but what she said kind of bothered him. Why does she act like she cares? Why does Kakashi-sensei act like he cares? It doesn't make sense to him.

"But I am worried about you. I know that I have not known you long, but I feel as though if you found yourself in need of help, you could rely on me as a friend and-"she was cut off rather abruptly by an angered Naruto.

"You know what?" Naruto hissed.

"You're right. You DON'T know me, so do not presume that we are friends. And what is this about me needing help? Why are people insisting I need help? Do I have a sign on my back saying 'Please help me', or something?! I don't want your help, and I don't need it." He bit back harshly. Disregarding her feelings and stalking off into the direction of his class room.

"… and I feel that I am able to rely on you for help…" She finished quietly to herself as she watched Naruto's retreating back.

He didn't need a sign on his back to make it obvious that he needed help. Hinata just didn't know how to help him. She sighed sadly and walked away. Naruto was right in one thing that he had said. He may not want her help, but he was going to get it.


Behind This Mask

Chapter Ten: No Explanation

It had been three days since Kakashi-sensei had confronted him. Since he had snapped at Hinata. His mind was a mess. Not so unlike his body. Naruto couldn't help but ignore Iruka-sensei's worried glances. He had been sending those since he had spoken with Kakashi-sensei. No doubt the two were thinking up something. It just didn't make sense to Naruto how people were so willing to butt into his personal life. Kakashi-sensei. Hinata. Hell, even Iruka was indirectly butting in. He felt as though they were depriving him of what little privacy he had. It was as though he were trying and failing to cover himself. He just felt so exposed. As though there really seemed to be some kind of sign on his back with an audio option screaming 'Help Me!'. It wasn't like he hadn't ever come to school with bumps and bruises before. He had plenty a time courtesy of both Mizuki and the exacerbation of other kids.

Why does NOW seem like the best time to wedge themselves into his personal life?

Did the teachers feel as though they were fulfilling an obligation of sorts, some sort of Hippocratic Oath for teachers? Naruto mused. Do no harm and look upon His children as brothers?

His children. God Almighty, right? The one who created the Heavens and the Earth. Naruto had a hard time believing that. He remembered briefing through The Bible once when he was younger, looking for a savior in religion, a force stronger than Mizuki. He had read a passage and even after having long since cast away the idea of God helping him, he still remembered it.

"Be content with what you have, for God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." Naruto thought of the passage, it being the only passage he had memorized. How could he reach contentment with what he has? He doesn't even have anything. How can he believe that he hasn't been forsaken, or a better word being forgotten? He was sitting here wasn't he, with fresh wounds on his back from Mizuki's anger. That should be proof enough that God has left him. Right? He couldn't help the child-like idea as he closed his eyes and thought for a moment.

"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid" He thought. Taking a breath, he repeated it. "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid" He repeated this process three more times before opening his eyes. Nothing had changed. Iruka-sensei was still rambling on, but not before giving him a worried look from time to time, and his body still ached.

Naruto couldn't help but chuckle lightly. What had he expected? His world to reappear as it had once been? Waking up on a couch and seeing the smiling faces of both of his parents and telling them how he had had an awful dream and how they were, or rather weren't, in it like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz? That was just nonsense.

It had been as cruel a realization back then as it was now.

God didn't want him.

God seemed as foolish to believe as Santa. So what had Iruka and Kakashi-sensei so compelled to rush to his aid? It seemed to him like a load of crap. It's the bottom of the ninth and they only decide now that it's time to swing the bat?

No. That is simply unexplainable. Naruto must have inadvertently planted a seed of reason within both the teachers and Hinata.

"Hinata…" Naruto thought sadly.

He had been so harsh to her. If she hated him, he wouldn't blame her. In fact, this probably worked out better for the both of them. This way, she wouldn't have to be around him and he wouldn't have to feel the guilt of bringing someone down. He had just been so angry when she said what she had. He had felt his patience running thin even before Kakashi-sensei had finished talking with him.

But he had never really lost his patience with anyone before. Well of course he had, but Hinata would have to be the first in a long time. He vaguely remembered the last time that his patience was tested and had failed at being kept in check. Mizuki had unleashed pain something near barbaric on him. He couldn't go to school for a week. That was an interesting excuse to come up with when his teachers asked him where he had been before throwing stacks of homework into his shaking, weak arms.

That had taught him to keep his anger under control. He still felt the emotion, he just had it on a short leash and a muzzle wrapped tightly around its mouth, lest someone get bit.

But this girl whom he barely really knew managed to cut the leash and remove the muzzle. She may have gotten bit, but she was able to weave through his barriers and force his emotions out.

It was as though she could find that one spot in Naruto that activated his heart, which triggered his blasted emotions. The girl's presence seemed to have a domino effect inside his body. He would see her, and talk to her. That was something simple in it of itself, but the results seemed to either have him confess something, or lash out at her. It just didn't make sense to him, and it seemed like that wasn't going to change anytime soon.

It was much easier to make this out to be her fault. He hadn't asked for her help, or anyone else's. He didn't want their help. That's what he had said to Hinata, but in truth, he felt undeserving of their help. What exactly had he done to deserve it? He had not only rudely brushed off his teacher's well-meaning conversation, but had even yelled at Hinata. And it had been a few days since either incident was confronted, the latter of the two persons not being as hard to avoid as the former.

After he had yelled at Hinata, it seemed as though the girl had disappeared. Not in the sense that she had literally up and left, but like she just wasn't there all the way. He hadn't heard her speak so much as a word since he had lost his temper.

It was like her mind was occupied, and every time Naruto looked into her moon colored eyes, they stared back at him, mixing somewhere between pleading, confusion and other emotions. Naruto couldn't help but feel a little sense of guilt at adding onto her quiet demeanor, but it wasn't as though she weren't at fault either. She had ambushed him, just a simple as that. Well, at least he had felt ambushed. But that was part of the problem he was having with this girl, now wasn't it? The whole feeling thing, or more so the lack of control on his feelings.

It was almost hilarious. It was both compelling and annoying as to how this girl could awaken such emotions that he had buried so deep. His mind was riddled with thoughts of Hinata. Someone he didn't know all too well, but felt like he wanted to. And it had been so long since he had felt like wanting to do something. Most of what he does is what Mizuki wants.

Naruto shifted in his seat uncomfortably at that thought, the movement sending harsh tremors of pain to go through his body. The night of Kakashi's talk and remained all too clear in his head. He ignored Iruka's lesson and dove into his memory.

---

Naruto sat in his room, silently hoping that tonight was one of those nights where Mizuki would simply pass out from his intoxication before using him as his outlet. Naturally, Naruto was wrong to hold that hope.

"Downstairs. NOW." Was all Naruto heard from the man before he rose quickly and went down stairs. Obviously Mizuki was talking to him. He had made to the last step just in time to receive a punch in the chest by Mizuki, effectively relieving him of his breath.

He had gasped slightly, having been caught off guard, and stumbled down the final step.

"What took you so long?!" Mizuki's inebriated voice roared before kicking Naruto in the back. Naruto simply clenched his jaw as the barrage of kicks to his back continued, arching it inward to get as far away from the pain as possible.

"I asked you a question damnit!" Mizuki yelled, wildly swinging his hand and back-handing Naruto in the face.

Not this game again. Naruto thought helplessly.

Does he want me to respond? No. No. No. His mind kept telling him. Just shut up and he'll leave you alone.

"Are you listening to me?!" Mizuki asked, his voice still holding its previous fury.

He snatched Naruto by his golden locks and violently jerked him into his direction.

"So help me God, if you continue to disobey my orders, there WILL be hell to pay!" He hissed into Naruto's ear.

Does he REALLY want me to respond?! Yes. Yes. Yes. His mind quickly shifted teams as its need for self preservation kicked in.

Naruto was surprised when his mouth remained closed.

There was a silence that seemed like it went on for longer then it really did.

"You are really trying my patience." Mizuki hissed once more as he released his grip on Naruto's hair and slapped him across the face two more times.

"Speak!" He yelled like a child that had lost a game and delivered a kick to the boy again.

Naruto remained silent.

"Speak, I said!" He shouted as he alternated between punches, kicks, and slaps.

Naruto remained just as tight-lipped as before. He didn't even understand why, but he still wasn't going to say anything.

"You refuse to say anything, am I right?" Mizuki asked in an eerily calm voice as he gently sat down on the nearest couch. He looked straight into Naruto's eyes, causing the boy's breath to catch in his throat. The blood dripping down his mouth and the ache in his ribs and stomach went unnoticed as Naruto looked at the man, wanting to tear his eyes away so very badly.

"Don't look at me like that. You look like a yelping little puppy." Mizuki had said before a sadistic grin found his way to his face. Naruto remained on the floor, staring at Mizuki.

"I can come to terms with the fact that my little boy is growing up." Mizuki said with the mock sadness of a father before leaving the room.

Naruto looked at the spot where Mizuki had been. He couldn't tell if this were a good or bad thing that he was no longer present. He doubted himself quickly. Why hadn't he just given into his game like last time? He attempted to rise to his feet but was surprised by how weak his arms felt. Before he could finish though, Mizuki returned to the room with something behind his back.

"Since you feel like you're so grown that you don't have to listen to me anymore, I figured we could make a compromise. Since you can't speak like an obedient little puppy," Mizuki started, a sick grin reaching his face.

"I'll make you scream like a dog." Mizuki finished with a chilling sort of pleasure in his voice.

This had caused Naruto to look up in fright. He couldn't help it. And he was not looking forward to what was coming after Mizuki revealed the object behind his back.

A fireplace poker. He didn't even know that there was a fireplace in the house and now he was going to become fairly intimate with the thing. All because he decided to keep his mouth shut. Mizuki's games were always a no-win situation, no matter which route he took. He looked up at Mizuki's eyes as the man stepped forward to begin Naruto's punishment.

Naruto had lost consciousness within twenty minutes.

---

He had made sure to dress his wounds with the stuff that he had 'borrowed' from nurse Tsunade, but the pain still remained as a reminder of how much Mizuki really does own him.

He knows that this explains, in addition, to the reasons his teacher was staring at him right now. He knows that it explains one of the reasons that Kakashi and Iruka sent him those same worried glances these past few days. He just doesn't know why Hinata casts him similar looks. She wasn't bound by some teacher version of the Hippocratic Oath or pity, or whatever it is that most likely caused him to be the front page of the newspaper that is both Kakashi and Iruka-sensei's minds. It wasn't like he wanted the help. It's just as he had said to Hinata. He didn't want it. Right? It was self-explanatory. And yet whenever their eyes met, for whatever reason, she would look at him with those eyes. With that look.

What were in those eyes? Confusion? Silent pleading? He had seen traces of so many things, both determination and self doubt. Such contrasting emotions reflected in her eyes. It was unexplainable, what he saw in her eyes the few moments they looked at each other since his outburst. It was one of those things that simply couldn't be explained.


[With Hinata]

Hinata stared blankly through her teacher, each word of her lesson passing right between her ears. Her mind was wrapped around more important matters at current. She thought back to what Naruto had said.

"I don't want your help, and I don't need it."

The words played in her memory just as harshly as he had spit them out. It wasn't as though Hinata could really disagree with Naruto. She was sticking her head in something she obviously wasn't supposed to. And besides, she had only known Naruto for a little while. She had been avoiding him almost just as long as she had known him, which would make it a week now.

But she felt so connected to him somehow. It was unexplainable. From the moment she had seen his cerulean eyes staring at her on her first day at this school, she felt this tightness gripping at her heart and threatening to never let go. His eyes. They are indeed the window to ones' soul. Looking away from him when he had turned his back on her just before class had felt painful. She just couldn't explain it.

She had felt this way once before, just before her mother had left. She remembered her father's face as her mother had looked him straight in the eyes with nothing but loathing and hatred. How badly she had wanted her to stay. She remembered pulling her mother's hand back, a gesture that seemed so childish and futile now. Her mother simply looked at her and gave a weary smile before giving her a hug.

---

"But I don't understand. Why do you need to leave?" A younger voice of Hinata asked pulling on the hem of her mother's skirt with her other hand.

"Hinata. I know that you don't understand right now, but you will once you get older." Her mother's sad voice responded, lightly pulling at her child's fingers in an attempt to release her grip.

"I don't want to understand when I'm older. I want to understand now. Please mother, explain it to me!" A younger Hinata's eyes were welling up with tears before cascading down her delicate, child-like cheeks.

"Please momma. I don't want you to go." She pleaded, tightening the grip that she had on her mother's skirt.

"Sometimes Hinata, things just can't be explained. You have to understand that. You may not understand now, but eventually, with time, you will." Her mother's choked reply came as she tugged harder at her child's fingers.

She enveloped Hinata into a hug, letting her tears escape as she grasped onto her child like a life-line.

"Yes momma." Hinata's hesitantly replied.

With that, her mother rose to her feet and walked toward the door. She looked back at Hinata only once, to make sure she wasn't following and closed the door behind her.

---

She missed her mother so much. She loved her. She hated her. She needed her right now. To tell her what she should do, to help her, to tell her why she had to leave. To help her father…

"Hyuuga-san?" Her teacher's voice rang over her thoughts, commanding her attention. Hinata looked at her teacher.

"I don't mean to distract you from your daydreaming, unless my class has bored you into a state where you need to pretend you're somewhere else. I would much prefer it if you kept your eyes up front." She quipped with passive-aggressive sharpness. The class naturally looked at her with mild curiosity.

She felt the heat rising to her face as she nodded her head in understanding, staring forward until the teacher's eyes lowered in contemplative approval before turning her back to the students to continue her lesson.

Hinata's mind couldn't help but wander. The situation with Naruto seemed to take precedent over her school work right now. But why? It slightly frustrated her, but it also brought up some strange feeling of rebellion. Naruto didn't want her to help, but she did want to help. She could remember the emotion that had bounced in Naruto's eyes that day.

She's not going to deny it. She had been avoiding Naruto since their falling out three days ago.

"Three days." Hinata thought, forgetting her teacher's wishes and letting her mind wander. "Those three days have felt like forever." She thought.

They most they had done since Naruto's declaration was share brief moments of eye contact. It was neither awkward nor comfortable.

He must have had his guard down. His eyes had been more and more revealing every time they looked at each other.

They showed how tired he truly was. Tired and in pain. It was these looks that gave her a slight inclination as to why she believed she cared so deeply. They showed more than his cheery face let on. She took notice to the uncomfortable was he would shift in his chairs, or the sudden wince as he was roughly nudged by another student in the hallway.

She couldn't say exactly what was wrong with him. She had heard from other students, who were attempting to make her feel welcome by starting conversations with her, describe Naruto as either a moron or an idiot, or use him as the butt of a joke. She found she didn't like either thing.

From the conversations that she had with Naruto, he seemed pretty well educated. Not to mention his grace on an eloquent instrument such as the piano. Characteristics such as those does not an idiot make.

She had confessed to a girl in one of her classes by the name of Sakura that Naruto seemed like a bright, talented, and likeable boy.

She had laughed in her face.

Hinata told her about how beautifully he played the piano, trying in vain for her to see that Naruto was undeserving of her rude laughter. She had told her that he played with the grace of Beethoven and sounded as though it were made up on the spot, but was so poetic.

She had laughed even harder.

She had told her to stay away from Naruto, and despite her warning, Hinata still felt drawn to the boy.

She hadn't known him all that long, but she couldn't help but feel close. She so desperately wanted to know him. The real him. Not just the one that he shows to people. She wants to know the Naruto that plays the piano so gracefully and speaks with wise articulation. She wants to know the Naruto with the eyes that seem to reflect his soul.

She felt like she should be embarrassed, wanting to know a boy so badly, for she wasn't one to simply have a head over heels crush on someone she only recently met. And it wasn't like that when she looked at Naruto. It felt deeper. More like a connection than a crush. Or a connection stronger than a crush. It's those thoughts that make her blush.

Those quick glances she would share with Naruto brought about such contradicting emotions that the best word she could describe them as was foreign. She was racked with the feeling of being insecure and determined. Determination to help him, irregardless of her lack of knowledge as to where he needed help, and insecure mixed with self-doubt because she was unsure of her ability to help him in said area. She was in want of an explanation as to how she could help Naruto. Weather she got it or not really matter anyhow.

It wasn't as though she were used to having things explained to her. Since her mother had left her and her father, she was stuck playing the obedient daughter for her father. The man made every decision without so much as consulting her about it.

Moving and enrolling in this school being an example.

Wouldn't want her to leave like her mother, so he decides control is the only way to prevent that.

After her mother was gone, he had turned into a man void of anything that even slightly resembled emotion. She didn't feel as though she could speak with him about anything without him waving a dismissive hand and telling her he was too busy with work to worry about her problems. She rarely exchanged words with the man that had replaced her father. She felt like her mom could fix this and was also mostly to blame. It was hard to pick out which was dominant.

That's why she hated thinking about how her mother had heartlessly cast her and her father aside without so much as an explanation as to why her sudden departure. Her mother hadn't even given her words of reassurance such as "Don't worry honey, I'll be back" or anything.

She had felt abandoned. With her father acting as an emotional chasm, eyes that showed those rare moments of raw emotion such as Naruto's was not lost on her.

She was honest when she said that she would find a way to help Naruto.

She didn't know if it would help him or hurt him in the process, probably both.

In the midst of a difficult decision, one may just get hurt. And Hinata had decided to help Naruto. He might not like it and, as he said, not want it. He will most likely not understand why she is trying to help him in any way. But some things don't need an explanation.


--

A/N:

Hello there loyal readers. This is a pretty big deal I know. Two updates within the same season?! No. Don't look out your window, this ISN'T the sign of the apocalypse. My father went to bed early, so I borrowed his computer. :) Thank you all for the lovely reviews. They are indeed greatly appreciated. This is the first fan fiction that I ever wrote, so it is very good to hear positive feedback. As you could tell, this is more of an aftermath chapter. In my opinion, I think that I did a good job with making it longer. You got Naruto's and Hinata's feelings on their fight. I think I did an okay job with this. I don't think I have spelling errors, and if I do, hopefully not many. Feel free to throw out criticism. R&R Flames are NOT welcome! Just kidding. Any kind of critique is great! Good catch there P5yCH0 heh. Until another time. Oh! That reminds me. If you like this fan fiction, I have one that I kind of started about Kyouya from Ouran High School Host Club. So if that interests you, click my name and read.