27

It's been 27 disapproving glares since Kiba-kun and Naruto-kun went to follow Sasuke-san. Generally she tries to ignore the glares, but today she finds herself counting each one. Without the presence of the two confident boys, she feels weaker and more easily scared than usual. Still, she practices in the Hyuuga courtyard, working tirelessly on her stance and on her strikes and on her speed. All of her watching relatives know that she is the weak one, but they don't know that she is more determined than they could ever hope to be. Exhausted, she trips and falls, sprawled into the dust. She ignores how weak and useless she feels, and she pulls herself up, knowing she must be stronger when the boys return.

It's been twenty-sever disapproving glares since they left, and she wants to be stronger for when they will return home.

117

It's been 117 long-stemmed rose sales since Chouji and Shikamaru left, went running after Sasuke-kun. She can barely look at the red ones anymore. After all, she used to hope and dream that they could be a symbol of the love between herself and Sasuke-kun. Now, though, every red rose is the exact color of blood. What if her teammates came home covered in that red; what if they came back with bloody roses blooming over vital areas? When someone brings a new bunch of red roses up to the counter, she can barely keep from cringing, looking instead to the pink and yellow roses. They mean admiration and friendship, respectively, and right now she prefers those colors to blood red.

It's been one hundred seventeen long-stemmed roses since they left, and she's finally straightened out her priorities.

1437

It's been 1,437 bulls-eyes since Neji went to recover Sasuke and Lee tried to follow their group. Part of her can't stand the injustice of it all, not being chosen to join them. She wants to scream and yell that she belongs on that team, that she's stronger than most of those rookies. Deep inside of her is the real fear, that the group will come back and she'll be short one teammate. She's always been the one person who Neji trusted to watch his blind spot, and she's scared because she can't do a damn thing when they're out there and she's stuck in Konoha. However, she covers up the fear with misplaced anger and rips her fingers open on rough kunai hilts. Next time, she'll be strong enough that they won't dare not take her.

It's been one thousand four hundred thirty-seven bulls-eyes since they left, and she will become stronger so she can join them next time.

7207

It's been 7,207 seconds since Naruto left after Sasuke-kun, promising her that he would bring the other boy back. Part of her wants to run after him to help out and drag Sasuke-kun back. She can't though, and she knows it. Sasuke-kun, and maybe Naruto, too, need a place, a person to come home to. She knows that she'll be here, waiting. As much as she doesn't want it to be, this is her task, that she be the one who stays and never gives up hope that they will be together again. Until they are together again, it is her job, her task, to wait and wish, her unwavering hope a beacon that the both of them to come home to.

It's been seven thousand two hundred seven seconds since he followed him, and she knows she has nothing to do but hope and survive.