The Chaos Theory
by Bullwinkle's Lady
"I can't wait until Hanabi meets her," Hinata whispered to him, during twelve seconds of privacy they found in the corner of the room. "If this doesn't warm her up, I don't know what will."
He didn't either.
His lips twitched at the thought of his obstinate sister-in-law.
The Hyuuga elders had called upon a gathering, as the birth of an heir required more celebration than the new parents could muster up themselves. Countless guests wandered about the Hyuuga house that afternoon, all drinking and searching for the newborn to oogle and critique.
Sasuke and Hinata looked up to notice several guests tottering their way. Hinata held the baby more closely against her.
"The mother's eyes. Very good," said someone as he approached and surveyed the infant.
"Thank you," said Hinata, for the lack of having anything better to say.
"She's beautiful Hinata!" said someone else.
"T-thank you so much."
"Congratulations you two."
"Hn – I mean – thanks."
Their faces fell blank as someone suddenly took the baby away from them.
The fact that he was the Hokage somehow bypassed them, in favor of their awareness of his general weirdness. As Hinata was pulled into a nonconsensual hug by some elder or the other, Sasuke remained without distraction, staring as the baby grew fretful in Kakashi's arms.
Finally, his wife was released, looking flustered and stricken.
"Lovely," Kakashi concluded, after observing the baby for what felt like a minute. "Good job." He handed her back over to her mother.
Hinata held her close. "Um, thank you."
Kakashi might have been smirking behind his mask. To him they were twelve-year-olds, fumbling to execute their first jutsu again. Parenthood was a scarce show of vulnerability, and Kakashi couldn't have been more pleased.
Just before the man could sling his arm around Sasuke's throat in an undignified embrace usually reserved for Naruto, Sasuke ducked off. He didn't know if he was leading Hinata, or following her, but soon found himself away from party, away from the chaos, the scrutiny, and everything else. Outside on the veranda, he took a deep breath of fresh air, before pausing to notice Hinata doing the same. They eyed each other.
Sasuke glanced back at the house to notice Hanabi exiting after them. She was still in her chunnin uniform. He hadn't noticed she had returned.
"You're back," Hinata beamed.
"Un," the blind Hyuuga responded.
"Come Hana, say hello to your niece," said Hinata.
Hanabi hesitated, then nodded. She began to tentatively approach where she felt their presence, but Hinata joined her halfway there. It was different from the way it had been in the house. It was quiet, airy, and with no sense of entrapment.
Hanabi felt her sister press a bundle to her arms. She held it gently, but Hinata continued to support it, like she didn't trust her nine fingers, and shaky hands. It was warm. Animate. Shifting groggily, the baby emanated an unusual chakra, unlike those Hanabi tended to sense around her. The baby's ki was firm, white, like that of any Hyuuga, but it was tangibly tainted. Despite having white eyes, the infant wasn't without her father's influence.
"Hello niece," said Hanabi flatly.
She knew Hinata took secret pleasure in her awkwardness. She allowed her to take the bundle back. "Congratulations."
A few feet away from them, Sasuke leaned against the railing. He observed the blood stains on Hanabi's clothes she couldn't see there herself. "How did your mission with Ino go?"
"I don't know," Hanabi said. "We got separated."
Maybe this was a test. It was so convoluted, even Kakashi couldn't have devised it. Naruto ran his fingers through his hair. He regretted agreeing to stand in for the man that afternoon.
It'll be good practice, the crooked Kage had claimed.
"Any word on Hyuuga Hanabi?" Naruto asked of the several ANBU standing around him in the office.
The operative to his right shook her head, no.
"You two – I want you to scour the forest until you find her. Start where you found the body."
An echo of "hai" and the two were off.
Naruto rubbed his head. "I want the rest of you to find the person responsible for this. Go," he said.
There were three more affirmations, and Naruto was left alone with his final charge who wasn't with the others. She was without a uniform or mask, and he diverted his gaze from her wet eyes.
"Sakura." Naruto stood from behind the desk. "I want you to come with me." He stalked out of the room, leaving her to trail after him.
Whether her presence was necessary for support or duty was left unclear. It was always unclear, and it frustrated her sometimes. He took advantage of their affiliation, using her and Sasuke as companions, when he should have known they were his subjects, his protectors, his soldiers. Didn't he see how everyone looked at him now?
Naruto reached one of the rooms along the hall, stopping before it. Sakura followed suit. The blonde raised his hand to the knob, and hesitated.
Sakura grasped his arm, betraying her sentiments.
Naruto opened the door and walked inside. Sakura followed, and closed the door behind them.
She lingered by the entrance, and watched as Naruto approached Neji's turned back.
The windows were open, full of the air they all needed. Sakura drifted towards one of them, afraid she might be sick. Tears began to roll freely down her cheeks.
They were in a medical room, walls lined with various articles of medical equipment. None of it would do any good. In the center of the room, where Neji stood, was a hospital bed, upon which Ino lay, paling, stiffening, bruises blossoming on her body as her blood cooled and circulation ceased. From her mission? From her assault? Sakura wouldn't know until the autopsy. She prayed Naruto wouldn't make her do it. He said she was the best.
...was one of her oldest friends – one of her closest friends. Sakura was used to her lively. She wasn't used to her dead.
A stab wound? It didn't make sense. Medics didn't die so easily.
From where she was by the window, she could see that Neji's face was blank, as though he too hadn't come to fully grasp the situation. But he was breathing heavily, with a dangerous, and building, apprehension. He was still in his ANBU uniform, covered in cuts and scratches from his latest mission. His long hair hung about his shoulders, and his mask, from his belt.
His byakugan was activated, as if scrutinizing his wife's absence of chakra.
There were several rogues on playing field that evening. Which of them would they have to keep their eyes on?
"Neji," Naruto spoke, his voice full of a pain that made her cry harder. She smothered her sobs with her gloved hands. It was selfish to be so overwhelmed. Ino was Neji's loss before she was hers.
Sakura blinked when the door suddenly banged open. She and Naruto looked up, but Neji barely seemed to notice.
One of the ANBU operatives had returned. Naruto silently urged him away from Neji, not far from where Sakura stood by the window, and she listened on.
"What is it?" Naruto whispered with a severity that was unnatural for him.
"Hyuuga Hanabi has been located."
Naruto paled. "Is she-"
"She's fine. She's at the Hyuuga house, and isn't aware of what happened. Apparently she and Yamanaka were separated at some point during the mission."
Naruto furrowed his eyebrows. "Separated?" Another thing that... "...doesn't make sense..."
He failed to notice the look of comprehension that dawned on Sakura's face, or see her lift her foot to the windowsill. He only noticed the absence of jasmine in the air, and spun to the window seconds belated. Naruto ran it, but stopped himself from leaping through. "Shit, go after her," he hissed, pointing outside into the growing darkness. He glanced at Neji, who's chakra was teeming by then. He couldn't be left alone at such a time.
The operative nodded, and disappeared through the window. Naruto clenched his fists and stared after him, knowing his cause was already lost. The operative wasn't going to be able to keep up.
Long tendrils of hair tickled his throat. They hadn't been intimate for a long time. He wondered if this served as substitution. His hand held her lower back as she leaned against him, kissing him, continually, sufficiently, more than he deserved, as his enthusiasm waned alongside his energy. She tried to share her chakra the way she had once before, unintentionally, in the throes of lovely sin. They had given pause to their antics, as they breathed and stared at one another. If she learned to regulate it she could use it to her advantage.
His eyes were crimson beyond their sinking lids.
But there was a fallacy in his purpose. He had neglected to realize that Hinata had not shared her chakra that one night, but he had stolen hers. That the strange exchange was an attribute of his abilities, and not hers.
In their latest efforts to recreate the circumstance – intervals of concentration and distraction, focus and arousal, wakefulness and weakness – Sasuke had somehow managed to do the reverse, not that he knew it yet. He gave his chakra to her instead of taking it. Hinata drank and drank as his eyes darkened to black.
There was a sudden crashing sound from the living room, followed by the baby crying in the next room, roused from her sleep by the noise. Their contact breaking, Hinata looked up. Sasuke's hand fell away from her. She looked back down at her husband, to notice he was unmoving. She could already tell something had gone wrong, or differently in their efforts. She could feel his chakra coursing through her, leaving her body keen and restless. "Sasuke," she whispered.
He shifted slightly, and trembled, but his eyelids refused to lift. He challenged his fatigue. It was like he couldn't awake from a dream.
There was the sound of something breaking downstairs, like ceramic or glass. The sound of the baby crying increased in volume.
Hinata climbed out of bed, grabbing a light robe and wrapping it around herself. She hurried through the corridor, down the stairs, to the living room, and upon a scene that startled her.
The front door had been thrown open, viciously enough to tear chunks of woods from its frame. Their unexpected guest was none other than Haruno Sakura, looking more livid than Hinata had ever seen her. Across from her was Hanabi, who looked so feeble in comparison. Her sister was tense, but stood her ground.
Before Hinata could inquire on Sakura's disposition, the pink-haired kunochi launched herself at Hanabi.
Hanabi held up one of her arms defensively, and it smashed like bark under the impact of Sakura's fist. She cried out in pain, dropping the disfigured limb. Another cuff caught Hanabi's torso, and there was the cracking noise of her ribs breaking. Hinata's breath caught in her throat. She stared on in shock, almost expecting to awake.
But the reality of it relented, and hit her hard, demanding that she act.
Sakura flipped backwards, distancing herself from her opponent, if just to survey the damage. She wore a disgusting smile, dripping mirth. It wasn't like her. What was wrong with her!?
The younger Hyuuga was fighting down breaths of air. Her good hand fumbled for her weapons holster.
Again, Sakura started for Hanabi.
"What are you doing!" Hinata protested. "Stop it!"
Sakura threw her weight behind a flying kick that would easily break the younger girl.
Hinata ran forward, desperate to intervene. She wasn't close enough, or fast enough. Wouldn't be strong enough. She wouldn't be able to protect Hanabi just as she hadn't before. "Don't-!"
Hinata stopped in her tracks when Sakura's assault connected, but not with her sister. Her wet cheeks were momentarily forgotten.
In front of Hanabi appeared Sasuke, his dark hair hanging in his eyes. Sakura's strike hit his raised forearm, and it didn't break under the impact like Hanabi's had. Hinata stared at his lengthened canines – subtle fangs she wasn't familiar with. She felt a dark aura surrounding him, heard his ragged breathing, and watched his muscles tremble as he resisted captivation.
In an instant she couldn't have caught without doujutsu, Sasuke spun and struck Sakura from the air. His raised leg the only evidence of the attack, the medic was thrown violently into the opposite wall, fracturing the stone, and leaving long cracks upon it that extended as high as the ceiling.
Grunting in pain, she collapsed to the ground in a heap. Hinata was stunned that she somehow remained conscious. Limbs shaking, Sakura struggled to all fours. She choked and coughed up specks of blood. Such an attack would have killed another.
Hinata's eyes shifted back to her husband. His fangs had shrank, and dark chakra, diminished. Any indication of his slip had disappeared. He took a step back, clutching the side of his neck. There were lines under his eyes. He must have been struggling just to stand.
Hinata closed their distance and held onto his free arm, the two subtly guarding the wheezing Hanabi.
"What the hell are you doing?" Sasuke seethed to his comrade. Hinata had never seen him regard Sakura with such disgust. They watched as the medic struggled to recover.
Sakura finally looked up. The madness had faded from her eyes, in its place, all her vulnerabilities. "She killed Ino," she stated shakily, then began to cough again.
Killed? Hinata blinked. She must have...misheard. That couldn't be right. Ino was a high-ranking ANBU operative. She was strong. Hanabi was just...
Hinata pulled herself from the safety of Sasuke's arm. She turned to her sister, who was still busily wheezing, all but interested in the matter at hand, just interested in getting air into her lungs.
She didn't even bother to deny it.
When Sasuke awoke again, the room was bright with sunlight, and his shirt was wet with Hinata's tears. His hand idly slid up her back, then down it. Back and forth.
"Where's the baby?" Sasuke inquired.
"Sleeping," said Hinata, her voice muffled in his chest.
"Un..." He mused on how his priorities had shifted. The two fell into a hollow silence. His waking didn't sooth her, just aggravated her distress. He continued to place idle strokes along her spine, and it trembled as she began to sob.
"I'm sorry," Sasuke muttered, staring at the ceiling. He didn't know how to feel about any of it. Memories of his own malicious past began to surface – the civilians he'd slaughtered, the shinobi he had killed on Orochimaru's behalf. And then on his own. He didn't know when, but his apathy had become enjoyment. It was unfair not to empathize with Hanabi.
The only difference between them was that she had killed someone known and loved, a woman of privilege and power. Did that make the girl any worse than he had been?
He didn't know. He mulled it over in his mind. What was the main difference between Hanabi and himself?
Naruto, he realized.
Naruto, Sakura, Hinata...his daughter. His capacity for relationships. But that wasn't just it. His capacity for...
He tried to pinpoint it.
Sasuke sighed when Hinata pulled away from him, taking with her much of the warmth their bodies shared. She curled on her side to face the opposite wall, refusing to reveal her wet face and raw cheeks. She didn't speak of her sister, or Ino, or any of the prior day's events. She just made a single remark that struck a chord.
"You'll be returning to missions soon."
He bumped into Naruto just outside of the Hokage's office. They met eyes, but neither knew what to say.
"Is Anko around?" said Sasuke, with a borderline awkwardness. Both of them knew she was a higher authority than Kakashi, even if the Kage didn't know it himself.
"She's gone," said Naruto, his voice uncharacteristically cool.
Sasuke furrowed his eyebrows. The absence of Anko's influence could prove to make his task more difficult. He started for the office door, but Naruto caught his arm.
"Don't tell me you've had a sudden change of heart?"
There was a sinister edge to his voice, betraying his bias for Sakura's welfare like he always did. Sakura over him. It was a curious shift in the dynamics between the three.
"Isn't it what you wanted? For me to stay in the village? I'll be here for you-" –Hinata. Her sister. His child. "-and Sakura."
A feral anger crossed Naruto's face, but it disappeared just as quickly. What was he mad about? Sakura was resilient. She always got back up. It was funny how Naruto never complained any of the six times Sakura had broken his nose.
"Is she okay?" Sasuke deadpanned, finally addressing the matter at hand.
Naruto froze, then reddened, as though the Uchiha had asked him something extremely personal. "What? Teme! H-how should I know?" Eyes shooting downwards, Naruto began to compulsively shuffle the papers he was holding.
Sasuke's cheek twitched. He decided to refrain from commenting, and instead took the opportunity to walk into the office.
He was reminded of why he liked Naruto. Even on the darkest of days...
Behind the desk, Kakashi was solemn. He didn't bother looking up from his own paperwork. "Yo."
It was a greeting he'd heard a thousand times before, one he and his former teammates occasionally used themselves. He had even heard Hanabi use it the other day. Had she picked it up from him or the scarecrow? She was a teenager, ridden with teenage tendencies and impressionability, just as he had been not long ago. He had never been imprisoned for his crimes. He'd had the strange benefit of being Naruto's best friend.
"I want the vacancy in the Interrogation Force," said Sasuke. He knew Kakashi wanted him for the job, or at least he had a few days ago. He was the only one left qualified for the position.
"You obviously have an ulterior motive," Kakashi mentioned. He continued whatever he was writing. Sasuke said nothing.
Finally, the Kage looked up at him with his one, humorless eye.
Sasuke stared at him for a moment, before turning and leaving the room. He was stunned by how easily he'd stolen Ino's reign. He had taken the position she he been groomed for over years. The woman hadn't been dead a week.
Naruto was waiting for him in the corridor just as he expected. Sasuke ignored as the blonde eyed him. He leaned on the wall for just a moment, closed his eyes, and inhaled. He hadn't realized how Ino's death had affected him until that moment.
"What did he say?" Naruto wanted to know.
"What do you think?"
There was a pause. "Che. Kakashi's easy."
Sasuke said nothing.
"Wait until I'm Hokage. You'll be mopping the floors." Naruto chuckled darkly to himself.
Sasuke sighed. "What's the difference between her and me?"
Naruto knew who he was talking about. Sasuke lifted his eyes to see his response.
Naruto pressed his mouth. Scratched his whiskered cheek. "You have remorse."
Sasuke was caught off. He felt a little offended. "No I don't," he disagreed. He had stopped using the cursed seal, but that wasn't in remorse. It was in pain and disgust. The seal had become emotional mutilation. Through it, he felt his humanity fading, and desperately clung to whatever was left.
He blinked, and wondered if that was Naruto's point.
"Yes you do," said the blonde, shaking his head as though the matter had already been settled without his participation. But he regarded Sasuke, sympathizing with his rationale. "Give us a reason to trust Hanabi again."
Now that he had access to her, maybe he could.