Your Guardian Angel
Chapter 1: Abandon
"When it's dark enough, you can see the stars." - Charles Austin Beard
She ran away.
The plan was already in motion. All she could do now was pray that this would work the way it was supposed to. There was nothing stopping her from rushing into the bitter night air. Nothing but fear, that is. Fear alone was enough to hold her back just as it had for so long… No, for too long. She wouldn't be hindered anymore. So, with a face turned to stone, she held her tears and ran without a second glance at what she was leaving behind.
This moment had been a long time coming. For as long as she could remember she'd been trying to match the skill level of other ninja in the village, a task which she never seemed to achieve. Not until recently, that is. However, despite her recent training and advancement of skill, she continued to put on a façade of weakness to the outside world. Believing her little act, her father's contempt towards her only increased, piling more destruction on top of their already damaged relationship. Then, to finish it off, there was the boy. He'd been gone for so long she was tired of waiting. She came to terms with the fact that he would never come for her anyway, and now there was nothing grounding her to this village.
All of this realization, pain, and rejection had been piling up on her shoulders for a long time, long enough to crush and mold her into someone unrecognizable. By the time she decided to leave for good, she was no longer the shy girl everyone grew up with.
No one but me. Nothing but this. This is who I am now. No one will stop me. This is what I'm doing and I will follow through. No tears, no fear, no pain, no nothing. Let me be whom I'm running for and leave behind all I'm running from. Don't look back. The things I'm leaving behind are part of who I was. I'm not her anymore.
It had been two years. The battles were fought what seemed like ages ago, but the stories of her comrades lived on. She heard tales of mass destruction ever since their return, but now the grounds were almost completely restored, leaving her little to follow as she ran on and on. Thankfully the stories of her comrades were so vivid in her memory, it was as if they had lives of their own. They told her where to go, so she carried on, following two things; pictures from second hand memories and instincts.
When she reached the waterfall she could almost picture the scene; two great, young ninja with hidden power battling against each other, both unleashed, both ready to fight to the death. Despite the strong image in her head, a battle of light versus darkness, she let no emotion pass through her as she ran past the falls, barely stopping to fill her canteen. The statues on either side of the falls remained broken, the only sure sign that she was heading in the right direction. This, however, was the last landmark and the stories faded, no longer able to aid her on her way. She now followed nothing but impulses.
From the outside, her chakra reserve never seemed to dwindle. Inside it was slipping quickly, draining from her and taking strength with it. She ignored the signs, still trying to get as far away as possible by any means necessary, even at the cost of damaging herself.
She never stopped, never turned back. She didn't sleep or eat. All she did was run. She didn't stop to think about how the Hyuuga clan would deal with her absence. She didn't stop to think what her friends would do, or who would come after her, if anyone did. All she did was move forward.
One foot in front of the other. Breathe. Move. This is my chance. This is what I want. I will not turn around. I'm out there somewhere, I just have to find me.
The exact amount of time that passed was unknown to her. Eventually, she reached a mountain where finally, she stopped. She felt, almost with relief, that there was nowhere else to go. Her water reserve had run out long before and as she stood observing the rock face, everything else she'd been holding on to seemed to drain with it. With the realization that there was nowhere else for her to run, exhaustion and hunger overtook her body. Her eyes rolled back in her head, her body shook uncontrollably for a few immeasurable seconds, and the girl collapsed into an unconscious heap on the ground.
He leaped from atop the mountain, his face like unbreakable stone. His daily escape was over and it was time to return to the darkness he called life. Soundlessly landing on the ground and preparing to enter the cavern, something in his peripheral vision caught his attention. He pulled a katana from his back, hoping, almost praying for an actual fight. Upon seeing the form of a motionless body, however, he returned his weapon to its sheath.
"Hn," the boy hummed as a smirk flashed across his thin lips. He flipped his fingers without a second thought, laying his hand on the stone before him. It opened obligingly at his touch and he plunged into darkness, the secret door closing behind him of its own accord, leaving the body sealed off on the outside. The moment the door fitted back into place, the torches lining the cold, stone walls ignited, casting a haunting orange glow on the barriers around him. Though every corridor looked the same as the last, the torches guided him through the endless labyrinth with ease.
After turning several corners he found himself far underground and a long way from the exit. His footsteps were the only sound in the deserted passage. They echoed off the walls eerily, yet to him the soft pad of footsteps was simply another familiar pattern in his life. When he came to the door he wanted, the boy flung it open without hesitating or even stopping to knock. The two men already occupying the room stopped talking immediately, their conversation rudely interrupted by the boy's entrance.
"As disrespectful as ever," the silver-haired man criticized, his glasses glinting in the torchlight.
The younger boy's eyes ominously flashed as he glared in the direction of the voice. "There's a body outside at the entrance," his deep voice informed the other two men coolly.
"And you left it? That's not like you," the third man observed, his voice the soft hiss of a snake.
The silver-haired man sniffed. "I see you're not going to be cooperative. I'll go take care of-"
"No," the snake-like man interrupted. "I want the boy to take care of it. Let him do it. It's simple and clean."
Though flustered, the other man agreed with a silent nod, directing a smirk at the boy who was now perched on a small step surrounding the base of the stone room. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, the lenses flashing again. The teenager's eyes sparked, the fire light from the torches dancing threateningly within them. For a split second they seemed to shine red, but the color diminished in a blink, as if it had never happened at all. He fought the urge to activate his Kekkei Genkai; the other man could be taken down in two seconds, but he wouldn't risk it. He refused to let his emotions take control of him. This was part of his training. Without a word or hint of feeling he rose from the ground and left the room as two pairs of eyes watched his retreat.
Once back in the abandoned halls, he decided that carrying out his order couldn't wait. He made the familiar trek that would lead him to the sun. When the rock spread before him, he stepped into the light and stood hovering above the body. It hadn't moved an inch since he left it earlier and the boy began to wonder just how long it had been there.
The boy examined the body carefully, circling it like a vulture might circle its prey. It was a girl. Her hair was the color of midnight set against pale ivory skin that was slowly turning red in the high afternoon sun. Her choppy bangs just brushed the top of her thick, black eyelashes that seemed to suggest wide eyes, like those of a child. He noticed her chest didn't move and wondered if she was already dead. He grimly thought that perhaps the sun had baked her dehydrated body. Kneeling beside her, his ear next to her mouth, he heard the slight whistle of breath that hinted otherwise.
Standing straight up he drew his weapon again, ready to draw blood. The fact that there would be no fight involved did dull his anticipation. It was just too easy. Nonetheless his mind raced with excitement. The order had been given and now had to be carried out. He had no choice. Ready to do the deed, he placed the katana against her neck but hesitated when he heard the clank of metal against metal. Shifting aside a strand of hair with the tip of his blade he paused. There, on her neck…
In that split second of hesitation the girl's eyes shot open. White-purple like marble and glazed from sleep and hunger, her eyes bore into him. Her body motionless, her expression unreadable. Not quite blank, but impassive, as if the blade at her neck had no affect on her at all. His katana never wavered from its position as he stared back, black meeting white.
Slowly he slipped his sword onto her skin and dragged the metal across her neck, the cold blade so surprisingly intense in the desert heat it sent a ripple through her body. He made sure not to puncture her skin, but drew out the process, his eyes never leaving hers. The girl's eyes, however, moved down to look at the blade. She followed it up to the handle, over his arm, then back to his eyes. By the time they returned, the blade no longer threatened her life. Yet she still didn't move. He couldn't decide if it was out of fear that she did so, or if her body was holding her back, pain standing in her way.
Looking closer, the boy realized he didn't recognize her; she didn't look like anyone he had gone to the academy with, though she did look to be about his age. He couldn't be sure, though, for he had paid attention to very few of his classmates and had spent the better part of the last two years trying to forget everything in his past life. Anyone he saw now would be aged two years. The aging, coupled with his inattentiveness, would make anyone but a select few nearly unrecognizable. Despite the fact that he couldn't identify her, the forehead protector around her neck gave her away. She couldn't deny it if he asked.
"Hn… Konoha, huh?" At the sound of his voice she winced involuntarily. Was it the hardness of his speech or the name of the place from which she came? The latter option he especially could sympathize with. A shadow of recognition passed over her face, but it was quickly masked. Had she already identified the boy who now held to the balance of her life in his hands? She closed her eyes for a long moment in response to his question. They stared at each other for a length of time before, looking him in the eyes, her cracked lips moved wordlessly. He was beginning to get annoyed; she didn't move, she didn't speak, and she didn't seem to show emotion except that one little flicker when he had spoken. There was just… Nothing.
"Stand up," he ordered in the same cold tone. She did as she was told without objection. He thought she would shake as she did so, or even remain on the ground, unable to stand at all. However, she stood fluidly, like moving through water. Once up he saw that her hair fell lightly around her face and reached midway down her back. The sun was behind her and seemed to create a halo of light around her silhouette.
"What's your name?" he asked, looking directly into her marble eyes. She remained silent, still a blank canvas. "I said, what's your name? Tell me." He didn't raise his voice but the tone changed. It now held a threat, a sound of authority. Her eyes flashed quickly to his hand where the boy's grip tightened on the handle of his blade. When she still didn't respond he raised it, the tip touching under her chin. She lifted her head, as any one would, and closed her eyes.
The boy closed his eyes, too, and lowered the metal, taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh of frustration. When his eyelids peeled back to once again reveal his onyx orbs, there she was, looking right at him. But this time there was something in her eyes… It was the look one might give someone if they were apologizing. He wasn't sure why she was looking at him like that, or what she was apologizing for. What a strange girl this one was.
"Hn." He was tired of this. As his hands brought his sword into the air, her eyes never wavered from his. Even though it shouldn't have, it made him uneasy to think that she would lock eyes with her murderer as he brought death down upon her. Both of them expected the katana to swing around, cutting into flesh, over in a flash. Surprisingly enough for both of them, he placed the blade into its spot on his back.
The boy turned his back on her and repeated the familiar movements of his fingers, placing his hand on the rock and walking in. She followed without being asked. Through never-ending corridors and around countless corners he led her by torchlight until they reached a door. Like the last time he went through it, he opened it without knocking and she followed.