Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
"Truth in Knowledge"
by Chronos Astral
Prologue - At Your Service
She needed to get away.
So she ran.
Hinata ran away.
It was all she was good for, she thought; all she could ever do, besides weep at her weakness -at her shame.
Her father was disappointed. Again. It was to be expected. Her form was tremulous, unsettled, as if the slightest gale would blow her away.
He mocked her. Again. It was to be expected. She was to be the pride of the Hyuuga, heiress of one of the most prestigious clans of Konoha, one day to take up the clan's mantle, uphold its principles, and be the exemplar of all its teachings. She would learn, eat, and sleep the Jyuuken to the point it would be as second-nature to her as breathing. It was also likely that she would eventually be arranged to wed a man of high standing to preserve the repute of her clan.
It was simply too much.
It was too much to expect from a twelve-year old, she tried vainly to convince herself. Heiress or not, bloodline or not, it was simply too much.
Like a flimsy tree in a hurricane, she gave away. She cried. She cried and ran.
The Hyuuga girl didn't know how long she'd been running, much less in which direction. The tears brimming from her pale white eyes made it nigh impossible to make out most of what was in front of her. Still, by the slight burning in her legs, she must have gotten far.
Rubbing the salty liquid from her eyes, she surveyed her surroundings. A forest, she deduced, trees lining in every direction. She wasn't worried. As feeble a fighter she was, Hinata knew enough as a ninja to retrace her steps.
Even so, a question lingered in her mind: Would she even have the courage to come back? Such a tantrum was unbecoming of Hyuuga, her father would likely say. A scolding was the best she could hope for; Hyuuga Hiashi had never once hit his own daughter. Then again, after that shameful display, who's to say that he wouldn't start now?
Quivering, Hinata thought it best to shake away such thoughts. She needed to clear her head and build up what little courage she could muster to face her father again.
A small grassy clearing greeted her from behind the foliage, a fairly large lake as its neighbor. Being drained physically and emotionally, she decided to rest in the inviting scenery while she gathered her wits. While she stepped into the clearing, she noticed a presence.
Lounging comfortably on the base of a large tree was a boy about her age, clad in a black long-sleeved turtleneck and pants, and a small black book in his hand, covering Hinata's view of his face aside from the sun-kissed blond hair that peeked from the top of the book. He gave no indication of noticing the girl's arrival as he sat unmoving with the book still glued to his face.
Hinata thought it best to leave the boy alone and opted to exit quietly.
A voice called out to her, startling her from her actions: "I do not mind company."
It was a monotone voice, void of emotion, yet retained a silky, almost seductive, quality that chilled her to the bone.
Hinata let out a surprised 'meep!' upon hearing the voice, her eyes darting towards the boy lying in the lush glade. He didn't appear to have moved from his spot; still as motionless as before, giving little evidence that he had spoken. She could have been mistaken, but the voice had definitely come from the boy's direction.
Before she could rationalize it as simply hearing things, the voice spoke again: "I said: I do not mind company."
This time, she was certain that it had come from him, noting the unnatural velvety nature of the boy's intonation in spite of its hollow baritone. With hesitance, Hinata entered the clearing, the various flowers, herbs, and other fauna catching her eye as she approached, carefully appraising the young boy that hadn't so much as lifted a finger from his place.
"You're tired," he stated, sounding more out of observation than care. He followed with a simple command: "Rest."
Hinata was surprised at the boy's concern, though mostly because he seemed to notice despite not having looked away from his reading material. Oddly, she couldn't bring herself to deny his offer, so she quietly muttered her gratitude. "Th-thank you..."
His head move slightly, barely a centimeter, mimicking the smallest of nods.
Still apprehensive of the boy's presence, Hinata seated herself by the edge of the lake a few meters away from him, her head turned away from him to respect his privacy. Her body burned with relief as she sat on the grass, both her physical and emotional exhaustion making themselves known once again.
A tired sigh escaped her lips before all lapsed into silence.
The girl had wanted to contemplate on her previous dilemma, thinking desperately of ways to apologize to her father for her behavior prior, but the thought of the blond stranger being there with her made her uncomfortable. Silently, she turned her head to regard him, the book in his hand no longer obstructing her view of his features from that angle.
He was handsome. Not like how her classmate, Sasuke, or her cousin, Neji, were; they utterly paled in comparison. His face was that of an elegant god; smooth and defined, no different from a woman's, but still masculine in quality, right down to his luscious lips and thin neck. Blond locks trailed smoothly over his flawless countenance and swayed gently with the breeze. A pair of stylish black glasses framed eyes of the finest crystal blue. Underneath his body-hugging turtleneck were thin, sinewy muscles on a lithe, trim figure. His most prominent features, however, were on the sides of his face; twin whisker-like marks akin to that of a wild animal.
As reserved as she was, even she was not immune to the effects of hormones, especially at her age. Sure, Uchiha Sasuke provided a good bit of eyecandy, but the self-proclaimed avenger's dark and brooding personality didn't really appeal to Hinata. She'd had enough of that coming from her cousin, Neji.
So focused was she on the boy's features that she had realized too late that he was staring back.
Knowledge. Wisdom. Power.
That's what she saw.
Those twin pools of azure beheld a void of utter and infinite power, unlike any she could even imagine. They retained little emotion; cold as a frigid berg and empty as the vast night sky. Their depths were an unfathomable abyss, perpetually stretching with the knowledge of a thousand lifetimes.
It was beautiful. Alluring. Frightening. Seductive.
It made her blush, gasp, then turn away.
"I-I'm s-s-sorry!" she squeaked skittishly, shamefully hiding her red hot blush in her hands. "I-I didn't m-mean to stare! P-please forgive m-me!"
"There is no need to apologize," the boy stated, remaining calm despite the girl's impending nervous breakdown.
This only served to embarrass Hinata even more as she proceeded to mumble incoherently, some of the words vaguely resembling apologies being thrown one after another in an almost inhuman succession. It was because of this, ninja training be damned, that she had been unprepared for the hand that had gently clasped her shoulder.
Startled, she swiveled her head towards the hand, her eyes traveling up the offending appendage to the boy's arm, and finally his face.
Too close. Much, much, too close.
"Your breathing is erratic," came his monotonous statement, his attention having entirely left his book and now focused on the hyperventilating girl. The whiskered blond gave a small squeeze on her shoulder in an attempt to placate her. "Please, calm down."
Unfortunately, his actions only put the poor girl into further hysterics as his closeness allowed his breath to wash down onto her face, tickling her cheeks and neck with a pleasant warmth. The godly features of his eminent visage grew more prominent with the ruler-length distance between them, further accentuating the allure of his voluptuous lips.
She was going to faint.
That is, until she gazed at his eyes again.
It was as if they had bound her very soul.
His voice seemed to echo, as if it were an immaculate command from the very heavens. Once again, the immense power in his eyes and tone made itself present, dominating her will and mind.
Hinata couldn't disobey.
"Slow your breathe."
She acceded, holding back her lungs and decelerating her heart to a normal rate. The chaotic fog in her mind started to settle, but the blush on her cheeks remained.
The boy seemed partially satisfied if his loosening grip was any indication. He backed away from her then trained his eyes back on to his book as if the entire thing hadn't happened. "Do you feel better now?"
Hinata snapped out of her trance, looking confused for a brief moment. She found the strength to sit up on her own again and mumbled her gratitude. "Y-yes... Thank you..."
He gave no reply, and the awkward silence returned with a vengeance.
To her surprise, the timid Hinata was the one that wanted to break it.
"U-umm..." she started, trying to grab his attention while thinking of something to say. "M-may I know your name...?"
The boy looked up from his book to regard her once more, his scrutiny making her doubt her resolve.
"Uzumaki Naruto," the boy now known as Naruto answered, bowing his head once again. "May I ask for your name?"
The question had surprised Hinata. It had been the first time the boy had shown any semblance of interest in her. "H-Hyuuga Hinata..."
Naruto bowed his head. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Hyuuga-sama."
"O-oh no. The pleasure is mine, Uzumaki-san," she returned the bow with a timid one of her own, humbled and embarrassed to be addressed so highly by a stranger (a rather handsome one at that). "And you don't need to call me Hyuuga-sama. Just call me Hinata."
She realized a tad bit late the implications of what she'd said.
"Very well, Hinata-sama," Naruto raised his head, bespectacled eyes of melancholic azure again boring into her own lavender white. "Then you may address me as Naruto if you so wish."
The shy girl attempted to avoid the boy's eyes, blushing madly all the while at how intimate their conversation seemed, especially at how close they were now seated from one another. "Alright, N-Naruto-san."
Naruto gave another nod, his attention returning to his book.
Hinata looked quizzically at the text he seemed so enamored with. "Umm... W-what is that you're reading?"
He presented the book before her. It was the size of a textbook with a hard black cover. Its front was blank except for the title which was written in white alien letters that she couldn't quite decipher.
Naruto traced the words with his finger and translated: "Omniscientia."
Her curiosity piquing, Hinata asked: "What is it about?"
"Everything," he said casually.
Hinata was anything but convinced. "E-everything?"
"Everything," he repeated with naught a sliver of falseness in his tone. "Do you doubt me?"
"N-no! I-I mean..." Thinking that she had offended the bespectacled blond, she grasped for an explanation. "What I meant was... that... um... It just sounds a bit... d-dubious, don't you think?"
"Does it?" Naruto blinked and peered at the book, pushing his glasses up to better regard it. "I don't see how."
"I..." While his answers were strange and only left more questions begging to be asked, Hinata didn't know what to say in response. "N-never mind."
"Then-" He shut his book close and laid it on his lap giving Hinata his full attention. "If I may impose you with a question: What brings you here?"
It was somewhat disconcerting -and yet, flattering- to know that someone that seemed so unconcerned with everything around him was genuinely interested in her. It certainly helped that he was ungodly attractive.
Before she could dwell on this, the question registered in her mind and she recalled how she'd stumbled into this place. "O-oh no!"
She stood up abruptly, her body quaking with trepidation as she remembered the events that led up to this moment.
Her father would kill her.
If not that, the Main House would have the Cage Seal imprinted on her.
While admittedly neither of the two were likely to happen (though she wouldn't put it past the Hyuuga council), staying there any longer and delaying her inevitable punishment might not serve her chances too well.
"I'm sorry! I-I have to go!" she managed to squeak out, panic surging through her as she frantically searched for the path that she had come from.
Naruto stood along with her, his calm demeanor retained in contrast to the fretful twittering of the young Hyuuga heiress. "Will you be coming back?"
"I-" The question caught her off-guard. It seemed to suggest that he was looking forward to seeing her again.
"I don't think I can come back here..." That was assuming that she'd only be grounded for a very long while. She didn't want to think of the other more grim alternatives.
"Because of your father, correct?"
For a moment, she was a bit puzzled as to how he knew of her predicament, but then again, the Hyuuga clan were famous (or infamous, to some) for their strict upbringing and her being the daughter of the Hyuuga head would certainly make her no exception to the rule. Hyuuga Hiashi's reputation as a stern disciplinary often preceded him.
Still, she kept silent, hoping that the boy wouldn't take her sudden leave as disliking him. In fact, she had hoped to visit him again some time. Given the current circumstances, however, this would perhaps be the only time in a long time that she'd get to see him.
It was disheartening.
"If you would permit, I can assist you,"
Hinata turned back towards him, interested in his proposition, but otherwise convinced it wouldn't liberate her from her father's wrath. "Y-yes?"
"I can placate your father from administering punishment upon you," he paused to let his offer sink in. "All that I ask in return is that you come here again tomorrow."
"Y-you want me to c-come back?" It was at this point that Hinata had lost count of how many times she'd blushed that day.
He merely nodded, not ashamed of his admittance or in the least aware of what he was hinting at. "Yes, if possible. Do you accept?"
If ducking your head in embarrassment trying in vain to hide the incredible red flush on your face were an affirmative, Naruto took it as one.
The blond opened his black book and skimmed knowingly through the pages, stopping at his precise target. He reached into the book and withdrew an open envelope far too wide to have perfectly fit between the book's pages.
'Storage seals?' Hinata thought, wondering if the boy were knowledgeable in ninja arts, even if his lack of a ninja headband alluded otherwise.
With a pen and a sheet of paper he had also taken from within his book, he wrote a few lines and sealed the paper inside the envelope. He then offered it to Hinata. "Take this to your father. If he asks, you can tell him that I sent it."
Tentatively, she accepted the letter, curiosity picking at her as to its hidden contents.
"Be sure to hand it to him directly. Let no one else know of it."
This brought up a new level of speculation. Such secrecy seemed quite suspicious.
"I-it's... not going to h-hurt him... is it?" As severe an authoritarian as her father was, he still showed scarce instances of subtle fatherly compassion. He was still her father, after all.
He stared at her, as if her concern for her father was odd considering the way he treated her. "You have my word that no harm will befall him."
His tone remained baritone as he voiced his promise, but his brilliant eyes betrayed his absolute conviction to stay true to his word. That was enough for Hinata. "Um... Thank you... N-Naruto-san..."
He gave a bow, one akin to a servant in reverence of his master. "You're very welcome, Hinata-sama."
Her face colored to a familiar shade of red. "Y-yes. I-I'll be going now... Goodbye..."
She began her trek back home, strongly resembling a tomato, with the letter clutched securely close to her. As she thought of her father waiting for her return, the sense of looming dread grew larger with each step, but so did her sincere hope that whatever the letter contained, it would spare her the rod.
For, even in the small time they spent with one another, Hinata truly did want to see the strange boy again.
Insubordinate. Rebellious. Undisciplined.
Those were about the only words that registered in Hiashi's mind as the Hyuuga council went on their religious spiel to berate his apparent mishandling of his daughter. The rest of the lecture was mostly just thinly veiled threats to relinquish him of his position as head if Hinata continues to show no progress.
As if they could.
Truthfully, they don't even have the power to try. It was common knowledge that the collection of Hyuuga elders were only proficient at waggling their tongues threateningly to give the illusion that they were in charge. It worked a lot of the time.
For Hiashi, it just gave him a migraine. In fact, he was surprised that the old fogies' jaws haven't fallen off from all that talking.
Although, for all their inaneness, they still had the power to give him a hard time. So, occasionally, he has to listen to what they say.
Like wait for his wayward daughter outside of the complex.
'For over three hours... Nearing dusk... Where is she!?'
He just didn't understand why his eldest daughter had to be so... difficult! Hanabi didn't have any problems with the traditional teaching methods. It was the same with him and his father before him, and the same for his father's father. Generations of Hyuuga were raised to be proud and powerful warriors, tradition and ideals held true in the name of their noble clan. Why did Hinata, his own daughter, have to be the one exception? He suspected it had to with her being so close to her mother -God bless her soul.
Nevertheless, the girl was going to get a strict scolding followed with a long grounding, one or two months would suffice. It should help her focus on her training and have her rethink her attitude.
"Hiashi-sama," started a Hyuuga branch member as he approached. "Hinata-sama has arrived."
"Leave us be. I want to have a word with her."
As the branch member left, Hiashi schooled his face into a stern expression, expecting his daughter to arrive soon. He saw her go past the compound gates, looking apprehensive, holding something he couldn't quite see. She caught sight of him and withdrew her face, her pace going slower as she approached him.
Hinata stopped, fear clearly written in her body language, but her attention centered on him. Hiashi spied the object in her hands; a letter. "From whom is that letter from?"
Hesitantly, she showed the letter, offering it to him. "F-from Uzumaki N-Naruto, chichi-ue*. He wanted me t-to give it to you."
Hiashi made a hasty grab for the envelope. Hinata squeaked in surprise, but the Hyuuga head ignored her, inspecting the letter with intense scrutiny. He cautiously tore open the seal and peeked into its contents, making certain that no one else could see it.
He cleared his throat and said with as much trained calmness as he could muster: "Hinata,"
"Y-yes, chichi-ue?" She noticed the sudden change in her father's demeanor, making her wonder even more as to what the letter contained.
"You're free to go."
"But w-what about-?"
"It's fine. All is forgiven."
They were silent a while, Hinata waiting with bated breath should her father suddenly change his mind. It didn't seem likely. He was still fixated with whatever was written in the letter.
"Th-then I'll be going..."
She excused herself, noting that Hiashi stayed where he was, still set on the letter.
'What did he put in there...?'
Hiashi locked his office door, then unlocked and locked it again, just to be sure.
It eased his heart to know that there were wards set to make sure that use of the Byakugan was limited in the compound. They've been placed so that the activation of their clan's kekkei genkai within the compound, the training grounds excluded, would sound an alarm throughout the the complex, because the only suitable reason for anyone to use the Byakugan within their walls was in case there was an intruder.
The real reason it was placed was mostly to hinder temptations of voyeurism, but none of the Hyuuga council were willing to admit that.
The Hyuuga head surveyed his office, securing all the curtains and windows and inspecting the walls for any visibility to the outside. Satisfied, he retrieved the letter from within his robes, exposing the note inside.
Pictures of him, printed in black and white. They depicted him inside of his office, first withdrawing a small booklet from underneath his desk then reading it to his leisure. Icha Icha Tactics, his one perverse weakness. It would ruin him -by Kami, it would ruin him.
He could see it now: Hyuuga Hiashi. Closet pervert.
Underneath the pictures was a note, written by the little blond brat himself.
Treat her well.
Standing a ways away from the Hyuuga compound, overlooking the collection of homes was the blond boy in question, standing atop a tree branch with his book in hand. With trained eyes, he spied the Hyuuga girl through a barely concealed window. She looked confused, but glad, and that was enough for Naruto.
He gave a bow and whispered to himself:
"At your service, Hinata-sama."
And at once, he vanished.
*chichi-ue - Father
Hey everyone. I'm back.
I must say, I'm surprised people still read my fics, much less continue to add them to their alerts/favorites. I'm flattered, really, that a lot of you enjoy my work.
For those of you that are waiting on me to update my other fics, you're going to have to wait. Rest assured, they're not discontinued. I've just been having some problems that needed settling at home and amidst the stress I happened to lose my muse. Hopefully this little thing that I've written would help me get back in the groove.
If you haven't already figured it out, this fic is a slight AU with Hinata not having met Naruto in her younger years. I'm sure you have a number of questions, but I assure you that they'll be answered as the story progresses. I'm also trying out a slightly different writing style. Let me know what you think of it.
Lastly, I feel that with all the hecticness back here, I would appreciate it if anyone would be willing to help beta my stories, maybe throw some ideas back and forth and all that. I don't really need one, but it would be very helpful considering that I need some time to get my muse to return to me.
Thanks for reading, fellows, and don't forget to review!