A Mirror for the Sun
Thanks to Celia, a.k.a. the awesome-est beta reader ever!
Summary: At nineteen, Hyuuga Hinata was an accomplished medical researcher. At twenty, Hyuuga Neji was a successful ANBU assassin. When teamed up, he effectively hardens her. But what happens when she becomes his weakness? Neji x Hina
edit 29 April 2010: apparently all my scene breaks are not working, so just a small edit to all the chapters to insert line breaks.
Here, here now--don't cry
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet
Be a good soldier
-Tori Amos, Mother
"We're losing him!" Kiba shouted at her.
Hinata gritted her teeth in response, pushing her byakugan—and her body—to the limit as she chased after their target, chakra collecting dangerously in her calloused hands. Beads of perspiration slid down her face, mixing with the night rain and thoroughly soaking her. Ignoring the slight discomfort, she forced chakra to the soles of her feet to steady herself through the slippery forest floor.
"We won't," Hinata promised him. "We won't!"
Shino nodded his assent and quickened his sprint as well.
"Orders are orders," Shino interrupted shortly. The mission had been long and difficult, and Kiba's constant griping had been getting on his nerves.
Hinata forced her legs to go faster. Branches slashed painfully into her face and bare arms.
Suddenly the target disappeared.
"DAMNIT!" She heard Kiba roar, futilely sniffing the air. "I CAN'T FUCKING SMELL HIM—
"Right there!" Hinata pointed, scavenging the area with byakugan, dashing towards a generally unremarkable area. "Three o'clock—fifteen hundred meters—weak Genjutsu—
"Release!" Shino barked, holding two fingers up. His genjutsu dispelled, the target scrambled clumsily to escape.
"I'm on it," he said as he sent a myriad of bugs towards the target. His kikai buzzed excitedly and swarmed around the target. The captured ninja squirmed, desperately trying to escape. Team 8 walked to their imprisoned target.
"There's no point in resisting." Hinata's quiet voice was nearly drowned out against the pitter-patter of the falling rain.
"What d'you want from me?" the ninja cried, his voice oddly high-pitched. Hinata frowned and exchanged glances with her teammates; something wasn't quite right…
"You know too much," Shino answered finally. It was the least he could do for someone whose life he had significantly shortened.
She deactivated her byakugan, and although she no longer possessed superior sight, she could all too clearly see the fright in the captive's eyes.
"I don't know anything, honest, oh God, please…" he blubbered. Tears leaked down his face.
He was young, she noted as she watched him quiver uncontrollably. He couldn't have been more than 10. Though Hinata was more than familiar with the cold fact that ninja often began practicing at young ages, she couldn't help but think, I was a genin when he was born.
He is a target, She reminded herself. Nothing more, nothing less. Do your duty.
Hinata hardened herself. "Ogiwara Takatoshi," she said monotonously. "You are now—
"How do you know my name?" he exclaimed, his fear so strong it was almost tangible.
"Shut up, kid," Kiba said, looking at him wearily.
"Ogiwara Takatoshi," she repeated. "You are now a prisoner—
"How do you know my name?" he shrieked wildly. The kikai bound him tighter, giving the child no space to move. "HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME?"
"Just knock him out, Hinata," Kiba said uneasily above the repeated screams. "This is kinda cruel."
"We are ninja. It is not in our nature to be kind," came Shino's low voice.
"Whatever the case, we're obligated to recite his rights."
"Or lack thereof! No prisoner has any real rights," scoffed Kiba.
Both her teammates were right, but Hinata's humanity won out as she listened to the sheer panic of a child who just acknowledged the cold reality of his mortality.
"He can have his rights read out to him when he wakes up," she quickly inserted before Kiba and Shino engaged in a political debate on the treatment of prisoners.
Hinata infused chakra into her fingers and headed towards the boy, twigs and leaves crunching underneath the weight of each step. His screams stopped and his eyes widened as he looked at her glowing fingers.
"Wa—wa—wait," he begged hoarsely. Fat tears rolled down his face, mixing with the night rain. "Don't kill me. Please! Don't kill me. Oh, God, please, I'm only twelve, I don't wanna die—
She'd heard enough. White eyes clashed against his wild black before she gently tapped his head and knocked him out.
Hinata pushed her dripping hair out of her face and expressionlessly turned to her companions.
This is wrong.
Mmn, go away.
I can't hear you.
Hinata groaned, praying that whoever was at the door would go away if ignored. She grabbed the clock at her bedside table and squinted.
She returned to Konoha not four hours ago after two days of solid travelling. Hinata pulled the covers over her head and attempted to go back to sleep—whoever was at the door could freaking wait.
After a few more minutes of incessant knocking, Hinata grimly realized her prayers would go unheeded and groggily, she called, "I'm coming!"
She stretched and winced, feeling the effects of the mission in every cell of her body. Trying her best to ignore the unwelcome pain, Hinata threw on a large grey sweatshirt and headed towards the door of her small apartment with killer intent. She was normally a very kind and patient person, but nearly all her friends knew—and when she lived at the Hyuuga mansion even her father knew—not to interrupt her sleep after a long, tiring mission, or prepare to face the deadly consequences.
She crossed the area of her living room in three steps and threw open the door. Her glare disappeared as she looked up at her visitor in surprise.
Hinata fidgeted in her too-short bed shorts and sweatshirt.
"Hokage-sama requires our immediate presence." He handed her a summon scroll from his specialized ANBU vest. Hinata stared at it blankly. Tsunade-sama knew she had just returned--why the immediate summon?
The bags underneath Hinata's eyes never felt so heavy. "But…why?" she uttered, glancing longingly at the bedroom behind her.
Neji's eyes flickered over to the bedroom. "I imagine Hokage-sama will address that question when we arrive."
Hinata barely held back an annoyed glare at her cousin's evasiveness. Finally she sighed in defeat. "Just give me five minutes."
Exactly five minutes later--time is important for shinobi--Neji and a semi-freshened Hinata left for the Hokage's office.
"Hinata-sama, you have a root stuck in your hair."
Hinata reddened. She hadn't bothered to look in the mirror or to brush her hair, nor had she showered after the mission. She quickly ran her fingers through her hair and found a dirt clumped root. As gracefully as she could, she brushed the rest of her hair, half-expecting to find more plant material. She didn't even want to know what her impeccable cousin thought of her.
Mortified with embarrassment, Hinata whispered, "Thank you."
The rest of the walk there was relatively quiet, as was expected between the two Hyuuga; Hinata was naturally quiet and Neji hated small talk. As the red faded from her face, Hinata glanced at her stoic cousin, who had steadily become more withdrawn since his inauguration into the ANBU. She wanted to ask him so much--Why he thought they had to come together, why he thought Tsunade-sama wanted her right after a mission, why he had become so withdrawn his teammates had even started asking her what he was up to…
Hinata gathered her courage and opened her mouth, but one look into his cold eyes stopped her. She looked down and sighed softly. Coward.
"Is there something you wish to say, Hinata-sama?"
"No, Neji-nii-san," Hinata responded quietly, averting her glance. She was a terrible liar. "Nothing at all."
Neji looked at her and Hinata knew he could see through her lie. She played with her fingers until she could feel the weight of his glance disappear.
Hinata endured the uncomfortable silence by simply thinking of how much she would like to sleep. Two days of solid traveling with minimal breaks and having to carrying Ogiwara--who presented a more emotional burden than physical--wore Hinata out and she would not be surprised if she passed out in the Hokage's office.
She felt a burst of cold wind. Shocked out of her thoughts, Hinata looked around at her surroundings. Were they already at the Hokage's building? She turned to see Neji talking to the blushing receptionist, who, with glazed eyes and a wide smile, indicated to Neji that he should go upstairs to the office, that Tsunade-sama was expecting them. Her cousin turned to her. "Let's go, Hinata-sama."
The 5th Hokage of Konoha paced angrily in her office, alternating between glaring at Ibiki, who was sitting almost nervously in one chair, and Danzou, who sat peacefully in the other.
"I don't see why this has to be done now," Danzou drawled. "Or even at all. Let the prisoner rot."
Tsunade clenched her teeth tightly. I want to punch that impertinent bastard in the face. Just one hit will finish him…
"Because," she ground out, "if Hyuuga Hinata cannot perform her jutsu on the child now he will be irrevocably damaged. It is not in Konoha's practice to murder innocent children."
"He was a potential threat to Konoha. You should not be so sensitive, as Hokage of Konoha."
Livid at the man's daring, Tsunade pounded her fist through the nearest wall. A nearby nurse on the other side of the broken wall sighed imperceptibly at the hole and she went to call the hospital handiman--a job created almost the day Tsunade was inaugurated into office. "Based on who's evidence did you send three of my best reconnaissance scouts?" Tsunade hissed.
Danzou tutted at the noise she was creating. Tch. Women. "My own, of course, Hokage-sama."
"He was a harmless ninja, a child--
"No ninja is completely harmless!"
Tsunade could not argue with Danzou on that point, but her anger was still too fresh; she could not believe he dared to order Team 8 to unofficially capture a child--who posed no real threat to Konoha--and then ordered Ibiki to torture the child for information he never really had--and then insulted her. She wanted to rip his balls out.
Absolutely furious, she growled, "You have no jurisdiction whatsoever over my ninja, you never have, and you never will. From now on you will be shadowed, and you will report for an evaluation once a week. You will report every single mission you assign--even the ANBU missions. If you fail to report one mission, you will be removed from office, forcibly if needed. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"
Danzou resentfully glared at Tsunade with his good eye. Tsunade glared right back, her anger increasing exponentially just by looking at the man.
There was a knock at the door. "Come in!" she barked. "This is not over, Danzou."
"Of course, Tsunade-sama," he hissed in the most disrespectful tone he could muster. Tsunade gritted her teeth, wishing with all her might that it would be politically okay to punch the ANBU direction through the window of her 10-story office.
The door opened with a creak, and Hyuuga Neji entered, followed by Hyuuga Hinata, who threw an unsurprised glance at the very large hole in the wall adjacent to the door. Hinata had trained with the Hokage on more than several occasions and was very familiar with the Fifth's temper.
Tsunade forced herself to calm down.
"You're finally here," she snapped. "Genma!" she barked.
Without a sound, Genma appeared. "Yes, Tsunade-sama?"
"Retrieve prisoner number 77589 immediately!"
And, with just as much sound--or lack thereof--Genma disappeared, right into thin air.
All Hinata's annoyance at being summoned vanished as she saw the terrible mood Tsunade was in. Although Hinata had witnessed Tsunade's anger quite often, it extinguished quickly and rarely did Hinata see Tsunade in such an enraged state. The Hokage's face was flushed with anger, her fists clenched tightly, and her breathing slightly labored. As Hinata looked from Danzou's irritated façade to Tsunade's red face, twisted in fury, Hinata's heart sank. No doubt she would be punished for accepting the mission Danzou assigned.
Tsunade turned to Hinata and she readied herself to bear the brunt of the Hokage's anger.
"Oh, get that look off your face, Hinata. I won't punish you for accepting the mission; but from now on you are to refuse any mission that man--" here Tsunade pointed a finely manicured finger at Danzou--"will give you unless I expressly approve it."
Hinata did not dare glance at Danzou. "Yes, Tsunade-sama."
At that moment Genma brought over prisoner 77589 and Hinata gasped, recognizing the bloodied and bruised face--although barely. Neji remained stoic, more than familiar with the torture methods his commander employed upon prisoners.
"Ogiwara Takatoshi," she breathed, as the young boy's body quivered, even unconsciously. As her eyes scanned the child's face, beaten so terribly it was almost unrecognizable, Hinata was reminded that she really loathed her job sometimes.
"Hinata," Tsunade's rushed voice came, "if you cannot perform your jutsu on him he will never return to his unharmed state. You must do it now."
"This second?" Hinata asked incredulously. "Tsunade-sama, I mean no disrespect, but I have very little chakra left--
"It is vital, Hinata, if you want to save the child."
Neji stood by the door, doubtful and confused. What can Hinata-sama do that Hokage-sama herself cannot not fix?
"I see," Hinata sighed. "How much is enough?"
"I would say three years."
What the hell is going on?
"Yes, Hokage-sama." Neji watched as Hinata kneeled by the body. She formed the seals to activate byakugan, and his interest peaked more than ever. From the corner of his eye, he could see the commander interestedly lean forward, his eyes glittering. Neji frowned slightly; though he was not particularly close to his cousin, the last thing he could have wanted was for the infamously cruel Danzou to take an interest in her.
Neji's attention turned to Hinata as she gathered chakra in her palms, and he watched as she molded a sizeable chunk of her glowing chakra to gradually become denser and sharper. The chakra split into several slim needles, and, panting, Hinata increased the power of her byakugan. The veins near her eyes elevated more, she focused on the head of the prisoner. She lined up the chakra needles neatly and, to Neji's infinite disbelief, shot them directly into the child's head. Immediately the child stopped quivering, and Hinata fainted, right on top of him.
Neji went to Hinata's side and pulled her limp body off what he assumed was the corpse. "You ordered her to kill him," he said accusingly to the Hokage.
"No, idiot," his commander interrupted. Neji ignored the name-calling--Danzou had a habit of alternating between calling him a girl's name and just calling him any general insult--but instead, Neji found himself deeply disturbed with the excitement in Danzou's voice. "Can you not tell what has just occurred?"
"Neji." The Hokage's firm voice commanded his attention.
Neji's eyes widened uncharacteristically, putting together the pieces. There was no way Hinata-sama could--it was impossible--nearly unheard of…
Tsunade confirmed his theory.
"Hinata has just erased the past three years of this child's memory."
I hope you like it. I've had this little piece in my mind for a while, and I wanted to get it out. So please review and tell me if you like it! : )