Author's Notes: You review, I respond. Courtesy to avid reviewers, an avid authoress posts a second update within days.
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Dedication: hewhoistomriddle. Excellent fanfic writer, although I understand she's disappeared from this corner of the internet. Check her out if you have the time.
Whilst Time Turns
Chapter Four: The Butterfly Effect
The Uchihas had lived lives swathed in concrete and brick.
While the Hyuuga Compound struck a dramatic silhouette in wood and paper screens, for the Uchiha, wood and paper burnt far too easily for their practical tastes. The Uchiha had ruthlessly valued utility above all else, and so they built their houses out of solid materials, like stone and cement. While the Hyuuga had scoffed at their ugly utilitarianism, the Uchiha Compound had kept its inhabitants warm in the winter and protected in summer wars. Even after all the blood had washed away, the Compound had continued to stand, waiting.
Shikamaru had been in this part of town only a handful of times. Most of those times had been toward the end of the war, when over half of Konahagakure had been reduced the rubble. Back then, the run down complex had served as a hasty solution to the injured and homeless. Shikamaru always had difficulty finding calm in such misery. Although the gray buildings were now empty of the pathetic and helpless, Shikamaru found it as unsettling as ever.
Hinata seemed completely unaffected by her surroundings. She weaved through the buildings with a quiet confidence, and Shikamaru could do little more than blindly follow. The buildings all looked too similar for him to pick out landmarks, and although he was sure he could learn to find his way, Shikamaru didn't particularly want to. This wasn't the kind of place he wanted to to be familiar with.
Unfortunately, something like instinct told him that whether he wanted to or not, he'll find himself in these halls often enough.
Eventually, Shikamaru began to hear the familiar sound of body hitting wood, and after one last turn, Shikamaru wasn't surprised to find himself standing in a training ground. It was the usual training area with all its usual accessories of dummies and targets, no more remarkable than any other training ground, except for the fact there was a certain Uchiha Sasuke standing at the center of it.
Hinata said something that might have been a greeting. Shikamaru wasn't paying attention. He was staring at the round face, the small body, and the short hair of the man-turned-boy who had brought the shinobi world to its knees, Shikamaru knew those black eyes. Those eyes could eat a world.
"You," Shikamaru hissed.
Sasuke's eyes glittered.
Later, Shikamaru would say it was instinctual. But whatever the reason, suddenly there was chakra and then there were shadows. As far as Nara Shikamaru, Jounin Commander of the great Konahagakure, all alliances had died with the last Hokage.
"No!" Hinata cried, but Shikamaru was already gone. Hinata watched helplessly as Shikamaru dashed away, his whole body leaning forward as he surged toward Sasuke. Hinata was tempted to follow, but the maniacal gleam in Sasuke's eye told the cynical woman in her child body to stand back.
Although he was tired and his chakra was still grumpy from the stupid, stupid Genin exam, Shikamaru twisted formed a familiar set of hand seals. Shikamaru's pink, fleshy little-boy hand became enveloped in shadow, and although Sasuke ducked, Shikamaru's hand sliced through cotton shirt and flesh. Sasuke's face was blank as a gash the size of his finger appeared on his right arm, and without a change of expression, he rolled to his feet and slammed his bloody right hand into Shikamaru's chin, forcing Shikamaru's neck to whiplash. Before Shikamaru could reorient himself, Sasuke stepped forwards and swiftly kneed Shikamaru's stomach.
Shikamaru doubled over with a muffled curse. Sasuke danced forward again, but was forced to back away when Shikamaru sliced the air with a gleaming sharp edge.
"Shouldn't we be obedient Academy students like the 'Hokage-sama' told us to be?" Shikamaru sneered. His chin dripped with blood, none of it his own. Sasuke, favoring his dripping right arm, growled.
"Get a hold of yourself, Nara," Sasuke said lowly, the back of his left hand just barely deflecting Shikamaru's sharp elbow in time. Too late, he saw Shikamaru's hands forming a yet another set of hand seals. Caught between Shikamaru's body and his own shadow, Sasuke was too slow, too ungainly, too young to dodge the second black claw that ripped into his back.
"Stop!" Hinata cried.
Blood splattered onto the ground. Except for a choked gasp, Sasuke refused to react to the pain. He moved forward and did a little jump, kneeing Shikamaru in the stomach yet again. Shikamaru was forced to step back. Sasuke took the chance to pivot away from the dangerous, flickering shadow. Now standing to Shikamaru's right, Sasuke's leg snapped up for a perfect round house kick. Unfortunately, Sasuke's mind still thought of distance in terms relative to a longer arm and longer leg, so when his foot slammed into Shikamaru's kidney, most of the contact came not from the front of arch of his feet but through his toes.
"Fuck off," Shikamaru hissed as he staggered back. Sasuke limped back as well.
"I would love to do that, but as you can see, we're all stuck here," Shikamaru retorted, unfazed by his broken toes.
"Stop this!" Hinata demanded. She didn't scream. Hyuuga Clan Heads didn't scream.
The boys, the men ignored her. Shikamaru's shadow again reached out to grab Sasuke, who barely sidestepped in time. But before Shikamaru could take the upper hand, the shadow vanished. Shikamaru visibly shuddered as chakra depletion hit him hard.
Hinata almost relaxed. For a moment it looked as if Sasuke would back off, but then she saw his hands begin to lock together. Her raged shout wasn't enough to cut his concentration. Chidori was not meant for twelve year old bodies, especially twelve year old Academy students, but Sasuke did not care. He forced his slippery red fingers to flash and lock. Almost immediately, nausea washed over him as the jutsu took, demanding more chakra than he had.
Sasuke's twenty year old mind triumphed over his twelve year old body. Chidori flared to life, and Sasuke raised his crackling hands.
Hinata darted. Within seven swift steps, her fingertips were at Sasuke's elbows and wrists. The lightning chakra fizzled and died. Sasuke slumped and then stiffened again as his body came under foreign control from yet another shadow jutsu.
"Shikamaru-san," Hinata pleaded. She moved to stand in between the two bloody, drained boys.
"Get out of the way, Hinata-san," Shikamaru snarled, revealing blood-coated teeth.
"Only if you stop this foolishness," Hinata snapped. Despite her harsh words, her eyes were worried as she scanned Shikamaru's body. All this excessive chakra usage was threatening to inflict permanent harm on his immature charka coil. Although he wasn't visibly bleeding like Sasuke, Shikamaru had sustained severe injuries as well. His organs were definitely bruised, if not slightly ruptured.
If Sasuke had been at full strength, they definitely would have burst.
"Tell your boy toy to shove off first."
Sasuke's eyes flashed. Hinata stiffened. Despite the sudden fury that clawed at her chest, Hinata was still fresh and calm enough to keep her anger cool.
Hinata grabbed Shikamaru's hand. Shikamaru, still preoccupied with maintaining the shadow jutsu, could do little more than jerk at her tight grip helplessly. Hinata slid her hand up to the crook of his arm. The slow, considering way her fingers pinched his elbow was a dark promise she could and would easily shatter his joints.
"Shikamaru-san," Hinata said softly.
Shikamaru reluctantly released the jutsu. Hinata immediately slammed her palms into his shoulders, forcing her chakra to overload his system and paralyze his arms. It was messy and unskilled, but in her ungainly body, Hinata didn't trust herself to accurately seal the tenketsu points around his fragile neck. Behind her, Sasuke keeled onto the ground, clutching at his arm as his vision spun from both chakra and blood loss.
Shikamaru swayed and cursed. Hinata didn't even blink.
"You called me Hyuuga-sama in the Hokage's office."
Hinata stared at his tightening jaw. "You remember."
"Of course I remember. Just like I remember who's the traitor here," Shikamaru snapped as he glared bitterly at Sasuke.
"I thought we all agree to put that behind us," Hinata said.
"That was Naruto and Sakura's decision, not mine." He took a deep breath. "You have no jurisdiction over me, Hyuuga-sama."
Hinata looked impassively at the former Jonin Commander.
Shikamaru gave a hoarse, humor-less chuckle. "This fucking genjutsu-"
"It's not a genjutsu," Sasuke suddenly snapped. Although pain wracked down his back and side, his mind was made of harder, scarred stuff. He forced himself to focus as
"It's not a genjutsu," Sasuke suddenly snapped. Although pain wracked down his back and side, his mind was made of harder, scarred stuff. He forced himself to focus as Shikamaru gave another ugly, horrible laugh.
"Not only a traitor, but an insane one at that," he said, his voice dripping with contempt. Sasuke shrugged.
"After all these years, you people couldn't come up with something better?" Sasuke said scathingly. Hinata bristled and turned her head just slightly so he could see her disapproving glare.
"He's right, Shikamaru-san," Hinata said, turning back to face Shikamaru. She ignored the glare Sasuke had leveled at the back of her head. It wasn't half as annoying as the look of pity in Shikamaru's eyes.
"Hyuuga-sama, of course this is a genjutsu," Shikamaru said, oddly, maniacally gentle.
Hinata's eyes narrowed. "I haven't found a genjutsu that could withstand the Byagukan."
"There's always a first. Besides, what else could it be?"
Hinata hesitated. "Well, that—"
"See? Surely you don't expect that all of this is real."
"There's more logical basis to that then calling it a genjutsu," Hinata pointed out.
"If I were in a better mood, I wouldn't mind discussing rational assumptions. However, I am not in that kind of mood so once again, Hyuuga-sama, if you would move aside—"
Hinata's slap echoed loudly in the clearing. Shikamaru raised an eyebrow and turned his head to spit out a mouthful of blood.
"If you keep instigating these stupid fights, I will seal you."
"Save your domination fantasy for the likes of the Uchiha," Shikamaru sneered.
"You should thank me. I kept you from killing your wife, bastard," Sasuke muttered. Shikamaru's eyes flashed.
He lunged forward. Hinata, shorter and a little bit better adjusted to her body than the two boys, braced herself and then drove her shoulder into his body. Shikamaru faltered, giving enough time for Hinata to crouch and sweep his legs out from beneath him.
Hinata quickly placed her knee over Shikamaru's sternum. At the tiniest pressure she could knock the wind out of him. She laid her hands over his shoulders and closed all of his tenketsu, leaving his arms fully paralyzed
"Don't you dare talk about my wife. That thing was not Ino. Ino is dead and don't you dare think you can tell me otherwise," Shikamaru spat.
"Shikamaru-san, calm down," Hinata urged.
"I saw her die!"
His shout rang and echoed. Hinata winced and hoped no one would overhear. Sasuke said nothing.
"Ino was my friend too," Hinata whispered. The silence was heavy and painful. They'd done such a good job on holding it all together these past few years, but their minds were tired and being rubbed raw by this torturously familiar and yet unfamiliar world.
"Crazy as this may sound, I'm going to treat all of this as if it were real," Hinata finally said. "Which means—"
"What? You think this is some kind of re-do?"
"Yes." Behind her, Sasuke jumped. Hinata had hinted as much, but it was another thing to say it.
"You're insane," Shikamaru hissed. Hinata sighed gently but kept her gaze hard.
"Maybe," she agreed softly. "But that's the only thing I can do now. And so as I was saying, while you don't have to necessarily join me in this assumption, do know that if you keep distorting the natural process of events, you'll ruin everything."
"Even if this were real, nothing will change. It'll be the same thing, all over again," Shikamaru said tiredly.
"You're wrong," Hinata said viciously and dug her knee in rather forcefully. Shikamaru closed his eyes and looked away, revealing none of the pain that rippled across his chest.
"Hyuuga, that's enough." Sasuke laid a bloody hand on Hinata's shoulder.
Hinata let go. She stood and in a gesture that seemed rather at odds with the serious surroundings, brushed the front of her pants. "Never mind. We need to get you two the hospital." She tried to help Shikamaru up, but he slapped her hand away.
"Save it," Shikamaru snapped. He rose and then swayed on his feet. When he tried to take a step away, he collapsed on the ground again.
Sasuke darkly chuckled. "I don't think you're going anywhere."
"Hush," Hinata murmured. She turned to look clinically at Sasuke. "There's no way I can carry both of you to the hospital. We're going to have to call for help. Again."
"Now that Naruto's passed, we'll have to reassign the Genin cells," Iruka said happily. Despite his wounds—Mizuki, that traitorous bastard—he couldn't help but be cheered by Naruto's success. Naruto had always been the underdog and he deserved this break.
"Indeed," the Hokage murmured thoughtfully around his warm pipe. "By the way—what is this?"
Iruka glanced at the document and sighed. "That's another health report, Hokage-sama, regarding Uchiha Sasuke and Nara Shikamaru."
"Apparently they continued their dispute after hours."
"Did Hyuuga Hinata happened to be involved as well?" inquired the Hokage.
"Unfortunately, yes," Iruka replied. He glanced at the Hokage and tried to gauge the man's reaction, but the Hokage was inscrutable in his old age and vast power.
"About those Genin cells…" The Hokage squinted at the flow chart for a long moment, before he swirled his inky brush in swift, neat penmanship. Iruka politely waited for the Hokage to lean back into his chair before leaning forward to look.
"Hokage-sama!" Iruka gasped.
"Yes, Iruka-san?" the Hokage asked amicably.
"Oh, I know their parents were very famous, but I think this takes precedence. Given the surnames of those involved, it would be very problematic if those brats continue to hold onto their petty rivalries."
"But assigning Hatake-san!" Iruka protested.
"It's about high time Kakashi started teaching. He's been avoiding it for far too many years already. And besides…there is no one better equipped for teaching Uchiha Sasuke."
"I stand by my decision, Iruka. And if anyone has problems, just send them to me," Sarutobi chuckled. "I'll be more than happy to sit down for a little chat."
"Don't worry, Iruka. I have a feeling that Naruto will do well with his team. Although, regarding Kakashi, I think you do have a valid point… he'll take a little bit more persuading. Call him in for me, would you?"
"Good morning. I brought you a change of clothes."
Sasuke groggily opened his eyes. It was the first time in ages since he'd managed to get a full night's rest. Despite feeling more refreshed than he'd felt in years, the clean white hospital sheets and the sun merrily pouring in through the window disoriented him. After all, it was the rainy season, and the war—
"Shikamaru's mother came to pick him up yesterday. Since you didn't exactly have a guardian, they figured they might as well let you spend the night. You slept like a log from what I hear." Sasuke turned to see a girl with round cheeks and even rounder white eyes sitting on a stool next to his bed. Although she looked different, the polite but dry tone was all Hyuuga Hinata. Sasuke almost felt like going back to sleep when his rather recent memory caught up with him.
"The medics healed it, although I can't say they're pleased to see you twice in one day. The blood loss was a slight problem. I think they left you some pills for that."
"I don't know how you do it," Sasuke muttered as he gingerly sat up. He felt slightly sore, but judging from the thin bandages, it must have been nothing serious.
Hinata's face darkened. "The clothes are on the table. I have to go. Knowing Shikamaru, he probably decided to skip out on the Genin assignations. See you at the Academy."
"And don't forget to wear your forehead protector. You are a loyal shinobi—for now at least."
"Is that a threat, Hyuuga?" Sasuke asked, his voice muffled as he pulled the clean shirt over his head.
The door wordlessly clicked closed.
The classroom was thrumming with expectation. While the scions from more established shinobi families tried their best to fake casual calm, the first-generation candidates were beside themselves. Stories, fears and hopes flew back and forth. The feeling that they were on the precipice of something great was an intoxicating thrill for the children. Even if they'd really known what was to come, they probably would have all foolishly, drunkenly persisted on walking down that self-destructive path.
"Oi, teme! Guess what? I'm a Genin too! Bow down before the future Hokage!"
It was so difficult meeting those honest blue eyes. Paired with a rather embarrassing memory*, Sasuke could find no reason not to stand up and simply walk away.
"Hey, I'm talking to you!" Naruto demanded from his perch on Sasuke's ex-table.
"Stop bothering Sasuke-kun!" "Seriously Naruto, don't squat on the table…"
Hinata laughed underneath her breath as she watched Sakura join the crowd in scolding Naruto. Older, wiser, and more jaded, Hinata couldn't help but find some dark humor in the situation.
'Funny how fate turned out,' she thought rather bitterly as she tiredly closed her eyes. She had stayed up late accompanying Shikamaru and Sasuke to the hospital, and then it'd been a headache and a half trying to explain her lateness to the Hyuuga Head. She still had difficulty stomaching the living existence of her father, but she was more than willing to shove that title on someone else's head.
Hinata opened her eyes. But even without her sight, she could have recognized that voice anywhere.
"Kiba-kun!" she exclaimed.
Kiba flushed. Although he had known Hyuuga Hinata since they were both toddlers, in his mind she was always a rather stuffy, boring girl. He was woefully unprepared for the warm, friendly smile that lit up her face and made her eyes shine. When did Hyuuga Hinata suddenly become this cute? And didn't she always address him as Inuzaka-san? Not that he was going to correct her.
"Hey," he said awkwardly. He scrambled for words, but luckily for the poor boy, before the silence could grow into one of those awkward moments, Iruka walked into the room.
"If I can have your attention!"
For once, the whole class descended into silence immediately. Iruka took one last glance at his beautiful, hopeful students before he looked down at the list. He'd memorized it over the course of one long stressful night, but he found comfort in staring at the ink. It made it easier to say goodbye.
As Iruka rattled off the team assignations, Haruno Sakura twisted her handkerchief nervously. Her hands were clammy with sweat and she suddenly wondered whether or not her forehead protector looked tacky on her hair. She'd spent a whole night wondering how to wear it. Ino looked effortlessly cool and casual with her hitaite wrapped around her waist.
"Team Seven. Uchiha Sasuke—" Like every other girl in the room, Sakura shot forward in her seat. She held her breath.
Please, please, please.
She never wanted something so much.
"—and Hyuuga Hinata. Please wait for your instructor at Classroom 204."
Sakura slumped. Not only did Hyuuga Hinata have an bloodline worthy for the textbooks, she had Sasuke-kun on her team as well! Life wasn't fair.
Not too far from Sakura, Ino gaped. Never mind how unladylike it was—she had been told from childhood that she would be in the same team as Shikamaru and Chouji. Her father had even given her an earring** yesterday night to remind her of her promise. What on earth was going on?
"Team Eight. Inuzuka Kiba, Aburame Shino, and Haruno Sakura."
Sakura shuddered. Not only was she stuck with a boy that perpetually smelled of wet fur, she was also on the same team as the bug boy. As if things couldn't get any worse! Sakura was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she didn't hear the sound of a chair clattering to the floor. Perhaps if she had, she would have turned around and seen Hinata's face—maybe then she wouldn't have felt so jealous.
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*refers to the infamous kiss