Chapter 1- Giving Up
"You must. There is no other solution."
"There must be another person."
"Hiashi, only she can do this. I understand that you were intending to punish her by sending her into exile for handing her title over to her cousin, Neji. Consider this as punishment."
Hiashi's hands curled into fists that rested in his lap. His white glare wanted to bear down on the Hokage, but he was in no position to do such a thing. "I will NOT have an Uchiha in my house, and will not have my daughter baby-sit a traitor."
Tsunade sighed in irritation. There was no way Hiashi could back down especially when the council elders had ordered this. No matter how much he protested it, Hiashi would have to accept it. And he knew this.
Bowing his head in a sign of defeat, he nodded reluctantly. "I will prepare things." He stood and when he slid the door open, Hinata stood there. "Hinata! Have you been listening the entire time?"
A blush of embarrassment crossed her face, and she nodded shyly. But the Hyuuga girl turned to the Godaime and said in a soft polite tone, "Uchiha-san…he is staying at the Hyuuga compound?" Tsunade was silent for a moment, an idea slowly forming. She raised her eyes to meet Hiashi's eyes, and she spoke with firmness.
"I have a compromise that might suit your wants, Hiashi. Uchiha Sasuke will only need to stay at the Hyuuga compound for one mouth, to make sure that he can be trusted. After that one month, if Hinata feels that he can be trusted, he will be allowed to move into the Uchiha Manor."
Hiashi's mind went into contemplation and he considered the options. It would only be for one month, fortunately, since originally it would have been for a long while. And Hinata would be punished for giving up her claims as heir. He had reached his decision.
"Then I accept." He heard Hinata's sigh of disappointment but he didn't care. He knew that she didn't want to watch over a traitor…and he wondered a bit why this traitor decided to come back. The Kyuubi kid brought him back, and claimed that the last Uchiha came willingly.
Tsunade smiled in success. She was glad that Sasuke could be watched over by Konoha's most prestigious clan, the clan with the Byakugan. He would be watched constantly for any suspicious moves by those powerful eyes. Especially the eyes of perhaps their strongest member. She didn't understand why that member gave up her title as heir. Such a waste.
"Here. Please follow me," Hinata softly spoke to the tall looming figure of the "traitor." His presence made her slightly nervous, and she avoided looking him in the eye. As they walked, many of the girls on the streets had their eyes on Sasuke, and most of those girls giggled. Hinata didn't blame them. Sasuke had grown over the past few years. His dark pure black hair gleamed in the bright sunlight, and his pale white skin contrasted with his dark empty eyes. Tints of red shone in those eyes that, in Hinata's opinion, looked sad and…broken.
Sasuke didn't say anything, making Hinata even more nervous. She still thought this was a bad idea. She reached out for his bag of meager belongings (ninja equipment) to carry when his hand snatched out and roughly grabbed her own hand. His bloody eyes bore down on her, and she pulled her hand back immediately. "G-gomen…" her practically inaudible voice said, and if he heard it, he showed no sign.
As they walked in silence, Hinata forced herself to not think about the pressure emanating from the boy behind her. It felt as if the walk lasted 3 hours even though the compound was only 15 minutes from the Hokage's office.
When they finally reached the main entrance to the compound, Hinata was ready to jump and run in, leaving Sasuke behind. But, fortunately, she was able to compose herself to the point where she didn't have to. Still…she could feel Sasuke's cold stare on the back of her neck.
Leading him inside, they walked past several hallways and were "fortunate" enough to run into Neji and Hanabi. "Hinata-sa-" Neji cried but then stopped when his eyes fell upon the shadowy figure behind her. "Uchiha!" he growled.
"Nee-chan!" Hanabi cried too. And when she saw Sasuke, her eyes narrowed and her voice coldly sounded, "You are taking care of a traitor now? Nee-chan, you didn't have to do this if you just accepted your title!"
Hinata smiled, and said calmly, "Hanabi…I would be a terrible leader, and besides…Neji-nii will be a much better leader. It's about time there is change in this clan's stupid traditions. I wanted a branch member to take matters, one that I trusted."
Neji stared at her blankly unsure of what to say. Hanabi was also dumbfounded.
Although he didn't show it, Sasuke was surprised. Hinata, the girl who was once so weak, had been acknowledged by her father to be heir, but she took that moment to turn that chance down. It was obviously written on the faces of Neji and Hanabi.
"Ano…Uchiha-san?" That quiet voice of hers shook Sasuke awake from his thoughts, and he realized that he was staring at Hinata. A faint blush was spreading over her soft smooth face, and she hurriedly said, "Ano…umm…let me show you to your room."
She turned into a hallway and he followed, leaving Neji and Hanabi behind. They came to a door on the left side and Hinata slid it open to reveal a medium-sized room long with a bed covered with white sheets, and a dresser sat along the wall beside a desk with a chair. Sasuke never thought he'd get a room with more than a bed, and well…the furniture didn't seem cheap either.
"Umm…my room is right next door if you need anything, and the bathroom is right across the hall. Umm…later, I can go buy things you need like extra clothes or…things." She stopped talking hoping to hear a response in so long. But when the avenger said nothing, she sighed quietly, and stepped out of the room.
Hinata was practically caught off guard by the sudden use of her name, and by the surprising sound of his voice. It was a smooth baritone, and different from what she had originally imagined. Besides, it was the first time she ever heard him speak.
"Maybe later. I'm tired right now," Sasuke said. Hinata nodded dumbly, and slid the door to give him his privacy.
Hinata plopped back down on her own bed with a sigh of relief. Thank Kami that's over! Her mind wandered over to Sasuke however. His voice…when she heard it, it echoed sadness and regret. But why? She knew he came back willingly because he had finally killed his brother, the hated Itachi. Did Sasuke learn something about Itachi that made him regret killing him? Hinata had always wondered why Itachi let Sasuke alone live. But she couldn't give it any more thought, and her eyes slowly drooped to sleep.
The market was busy today, mainly because of the many sales going around. They stopped by a couple of shops and bought shorts and some plain T-shirts for Sasuke. They continued walking, and Hinata felt that she was beginning to get used to his stoic presence. He still didn't talk very much except for a couple words here and there. But now thought about it, in the past, 3 years ago, his presence was more hostile, more intense. Now, 3 years later, his presence was lonely, lost, and broken. It was like he had completely given up.
Suddenly, she felt him yank her to the shadows between 2 tall buildings, and she could only let out a squeak before Sasuke covered her mouth roughly. He hissed into her ear, "Don't move or make a sound. Just wait." Terrified, she felt she had no other choice. Her ear strained to hear, when she finally heard 2 familiar voices.
"Sakura-chan! Why did you have to run so fast?!" It was Naruto.
There was a silence until Sakura answered. "I'm sorry, Naruto. It's just…I thought I saw Sasuke-kun."
Hinata applied her Byakugan to see Naruto place an arm around Sakura's shoulders affectionately. Her heart seemed to tear as Sakura rested her head against his chest. There goes any chance Hinata had with Naruto.
When they had left her field of vision, and when Sasuke felt that it was safe to go, he released his hold on Hinata, and they stepped out of the shadows. He noticed that Hinata seemed sad, and remembered that she once had a crush on Naruto. Does she still like the dobe? But for a moment, that thought faltered when he saw her smile at him. "Ready to go home, Uchiha-san?" He blinked, and then saw that smile was exactly real. But it seemed she was used to smiling like that.
He grunted a single word, "Yes." He was really glad that Naruto and Sakura were gone. He didn't want to deal with them. At least not just yet.
"Kyaa!" The punching bag was snapped off its chains that held it to the ceiling. Hinata, dripping in sweat, panted and grabbed a towel to wipe off the sweat. She had thought Sasuke would want to train, but surprisingly, he didn't. Hinata felt that she had been right when she thought he had given up. But, she herself needed training, and since she had to keep constant watch on Sasuke, she asked him to accompany her to train. He didn't seem to object very much, and she tried not to think about him watching her right at that moment.
His eyes turned to meet hers for a moment before looking away. She had learned that this was a sign that he was giving her his attention. "I'm sorry for making you come out here. Would you like to go back now? I just finished…" Her voice trailed off when he stood up and walked forward to the punching bag that lied dead on the floor. "Do you still have energy for a spar?" The question surprised her, and she nodded, placing her towel down.
Sasuke stood there, not getting in a fighting stance or anything. Hinata, however stood in the traditional Hyuuga stance, and began calculating. Sasuke was probably stronger than her in jutsu and physical strength. Especially since he had trained with Orochimaru. Strategies flew through her mind, and Sasuke noticed the change in her.
She rushed forward at him with alarming speed, her Byakugan however not activated. He jumped back further, but found that she had appeared behind him. Sasuke avoided a powerful palm thrust and sent one of his fists at her face, but she was on the ground beneath him, and attempted to sweep his legs from under him. He jumped back, somersaulted in mid air, and landed with perfect balance.
The Uchiha boy tried not to smirk, and succeeded. Hinata was completely different when she fought, and it seemed that he had underestimated her. Perhaps she was even more of a challenge in comparison with Naruto. He wouldn't hold back on this match.
He smacked the wrist of her incoming palm and slammed his knee into her stomach. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she gritted her teeth tightly together stubbornly and pushed his knee away, and tried to kick at his head. He ducked and was under her the same way she was in before. Instinctively, she jabbed a finger into his shoulder causing him to falter.
After an intense exchange of blows, Sasuke was sweating a bit, and Hinata was heavily panting. Sasuke's body felt slightly numb due to Hinata blocking most of his tenketsu. Hinata felt pretty bruised. In a final move, Sasuke brought Hinata down to the ground, with his arm around her neck. He smiled for the first time she had seen him. "I win."
Hinata smiled, and in a sudden change, she was back to her normal shy self. "Thank you for the spar, Uchiha-san." She felt happy because she felt that she saw his smile. It made her feel as if he was slowly opening up to her.