Title: Sleep Walking

Author: Killaurey

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Mentions of death.

Prompt: 33) It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality. - Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), English novelist and essayist.

Summary: Hinata is lost in her own mind. Ino goes to find her.

Author Notes: Future-fic. Post-mission!fic. Done for femgenficathon on LJ. Prompt used. I don't own Naruto or any of the characters from Naruto. Kishimoto does. Thanks to the amazing rushin_doll for the beta!


Picture this:

White walls. Sturdy hospital bed. Starched white blankets. Daffodils on a side table. Tiled flooring. Get well letters scattered around. A small window.

Birds chirp outside that window.

Picture this:

A girl lying on the bed. Long blue hair fanned out on a pillow. Eyes closed. Her breathing steady but shallow.

Picture this:

A girl slumped in a chair. Long blonde hair tumbling over the back to just miss touching the floor. Eyes closed. Breathing steady but shallow. Beads of sweat on her brow.

Know this:

They are unaware of the world around them. It is the inside world that keeps their attention.


It's like being inside a hollowed out egg. Curving, sloping inward walls, the floor, nothing straight about it at all. Two girls stand two feet apart. One is tall, leggy and intent. One is shorter, bustier and blank. Both are floating a few inches off the floor, off the bottom of this egg.

Ino snaps her fingers in front of Hinata's empty face. She gets no response. Ino calls her name. No response.

Ino slaps Hinata. Still no response.

"All right," she says, and her voice echoes in the room. In Hinata's mind. That's where they stand, right here, right now. "We'll do this the hard way. This will be a five-split intervention. Start time is 16:07, October 8th. End time, currently unknown."

Hinata never reacts. This time, Ino hasn't expected her to.

A spear glows to life in Ino's hand. That's the great thing about being in someone's mind and in control. Everything is how you want it.

"This won't hurt a bit," she says, and stabs Hinata.

Hinata shatters, like a stained glass window, and disperses. Disappears.

And five doors open up around Ino. She nods, once. A blink, and then there's five of her.

They each take a door.


Fire.

The landscape is red, fiery and ominous. The sky a deeper, more threatening shade. There is nothing that would serve as a hiding place. The ground rolls, shifts, breathes under her feet.

Ino isn't bothered. She's seen worse even if this is a new tragedy, seeing it in her friend.

Fire burns.

She walks, her direction set by the tugging in her heart. Towards Hinata. Ino can observe and interact with the environment. The change is up to the one whose world this is. Hinata must want it to change in order for anything to take effect permanently.

In order for her to wake up.

Hours, or days, or months and years could be passing right now. There isn't anything she can do but keep walking.

When she finds Hinata, it's not the proud and strong kunoichi that she finds. Not the one that goes around these days with her chin steady and her eyes calm. It's a far younger Hinata. Wide white eyes, hair with a pink ribbon keeping it away from her face.

Five, at most.

Sitting on the red ground that continues to breathe underfoot. Ino kneels in front of the little girl.

"Good morning, Hinata-chan."

Hinata blinks at her. "Is it morning?"

"It could be," Ino says, settling herself a little more comfortably on the floor. "It's a bit hard to tell right now though."

The little girl looks up at the sky then down at her fingers. "The sky's all red."

"It is," Ino replies. "Did you make it that way? It's a pretty colour."

"She wanted it," Hinata explains, patting the breathing ground. "Because she wants to wake up and the sky wasn't right for her."

Ino tilts her head up to study the sky. "Do you like this sky?"

Hinata stays silent.

Ino's lips curve very slightly. "Do you know what she wants to do when she wakes?"

The breathing under her is slowly changing. Less the breathing of sleep and more that of someone waking. Listening. Ino doesn't let any alarm sing through her at all. She would only scare Hinata.

The little girl shakes her head.

"Burn everything," Ino says simply. "She is fire. Rage and hurt and lashing out."

Hinata stays silent.

Ino leans forward to gather the unresisting little girl in her arms. "You have every right to be angry," Ino says, pressing a kiss to Hinata's hair. "But if you let it consume you, you'll never be the same. Do you want to lose yourself?"

Hinata shakes her head. "She wants to wake up though."

Ino holds up a glowing crystal. "Let her wake up," she says, voice carefully measured. "Wake, but not take over. Be the one in control. Do not let it consume you. Stay yourself."

Hinata reaches for the crystal then stops, her eyes serious as she looks up at Ino. "You'll be here? You'll help?"

And this is why trust is so essential in her work. Ino smiles. "I'll be here."

The little girl lifts the crystal and the being under them wakes up. The world goes up in flames and neither of them screams.

Fire purifies.

-x-

Mirrors.

The landscape is a mirrored maze. The sky more mirrors. It's claustrophobic. No place to escape the constant altering views of her own image. The ground is slippery, shimmery, only a step away from being turned into a mirror like the rest of the world.

Ino isn't bothered. She's been in worse, even if this is new, having a friend so badly afflicted.

Mirrors distort.

She walks, her direction set by the tugging in her heart. Towards Hinata. Ino will observe and interact with the environment. The change is up to the one whose world this is. Hinata must want it to change in order for anything to take effect permanently.

In order for her to wake up.

Hours, or days, or months and years could be passing right now. There isn't anything she can do but keep walking.

When she finds Hinata, it's not the proud and strong kunoichi that she finds. Not the one that goes around these days with her chin steady and her eyes calm. It's a younger Hinata, with her hair up in pigtails, painstakingly neat as she studies her image in a mirror.

Eight, at most.

Twisting and turning as she looks at herself. The ground sparkles. Ino stands behind the young girl.

"Good morning, Hinata-chan."

Hinata blinks at her, not turning around. "It's not morning."

"It could be," Ino says, smiling slightly. "It's a bit hard to tell right now though."

The young girl looks up at the sky then back at the mirror. "There's nothing but mirrors here."

"That's true," Ino replies. "Did you make it that way? It's fun, isn't it?"

"She wanted it," Hinata explains, taking a step and pressing her cheek against the mirror. "Because she wants to wake up and the world wasn't right for her."

Ino tilts her head and glances around at the mirror maze. "Do you like this place?"

Hinata stays silent.

Ino's lips curve very slightly. "Do you know what she wants to do when she wakes?"

The sparkling under her is slowly changing. Less temperate, the glow is becoming fiercer, stronger, as if the one they're talking about is awake. Listening. Ino doesn't let any alarm sing through her at all. She would only scare Hinata.

The young girl shakes her head.

"Distort everything," Ino says simply. "She is image-inverted. Insecurity personified. What she will rule will be nothing like reality."

Hinata stays silent.

Ino leans forward to gather the unresisting young girl in her arms. "You have every right to be upset about your failure," Ino says, pressing a kiss to Hinata's hair. "But if you let it consume you, you'll never be the same. Do you want to lose yourself?"

Hinata shakes her head. "She wants to wake up though."

Ino holds up a glowing crystal. It shimmers in the mirror. "Let her wake up," she says, voice carefully measured. "Wake, but not take over. Be the one in control. Do not let it consume you. You are wonderful."

Hinata reaches for the crystal then stops, her eyes serious as she looks up at Ino. "You'll be here? You'll explain?"

And this is why trust is so essential in her work. Ino smiles. "I'll be here."

The young girl lifts the crystal and the being under them wakes up. The world shatters as a hundred million mirrors break at once, burying them in a blizzard of shards and neither of them screams.

Mirrors reflect.

-x-

Ice.

The landscape is white-blue, cold and ominous. The sky a blue so wintry that it's painful to look up at it. There is nothing that would serve as a hiding place. The ground rolls, shifts, moans under her feet.

Ino isn't bothered. She's seen worse even if this is a new tragedy, seeing it in her friend.

Ice freezes.

She walks, her direction set by the tugging in her heart. Towards Hinata. Ino observes and interacts with the environment. Change is up to the one whose world this is. Hinata must want it in order for anything to take effect permanently.

In order for her to wake up.

Hours, or days, or months and years could be passing right now. There isn't anything she can do but keep walking.

When she finds Hinata, it's not the proud and strong kunoichi that she finds. Not the one that goes around these days with her chin steady and her eyes calm. It's a younger Hinata. Hair shorter in back than in front. Bangs cut short.

Thirteen, at most.

Sitting in the middle of a lake of ice. Perfectly smooth. Perfectly slippery. Ino slides her way over to the girl. Ice has grown up around Hinata's legs.

"Good morning, Hinata-chan."

Hinata blinks at her. "Is it morning?"

"It could be," Ino says, settling herself a little more comfortably on the ice. "It's a bit hard to tell right now though."

The girl looks up at the sky then down at her fingers. "The sky is blue. It's daytime."

"It can be," Ino replies. "Did you make it that way? It's a pretty colour."

"She wanted it," Hinata explains, patting the ice with a hand that's stark white from the cold. "Because she wants to wake up and the world wasn't right for her."

Ino tilts her head up to study the sky. "Do you like this world?"

Hinata stays silent.

Ino's lips curve very slightly. "Do you know what she wants to do when she wakes?"

The moaning under her is slowly subsiding. The being they're discussing is listening. Straining to hear. Ino doesn't let any alarm sing through her at all. She would only scare Hinata.

The girl shakes her head.

"Freeze everything," Ino says simply. "She is ice. Freezing time, freezing feelings-keeping everything the same forever."

Hinata stays silent.

Ino leans forward to wrap her arms around the girl comfortingly. "You have every right to wish things were different," Ino says, pressing a kiss to Hinata's hair. "But if you let one incident consume you, you'll never be the same. Do you want to lose yourself?"

Hinata shakes her head. "She wants to wake up though."

Ino holds up a glowing crystal. "Let her wake up," she says, voice carefully measured. "Wake, but not take over. Be the one in control. Do not let it consume you. Remember that to grow, we must keep moving forward."

Hinata reaches for the crystal then stops, her eyes serious as she looks up at Ino. "You'll be here? You'll keep me on track?"

And this is why trust is so essential in her work. Ino smiles. "I'll make sure of it."

The girl lifts the crystal and the being under them wakes up. The world is engulfed in an ice storm and neither of them screams.

Ice thaws.

-x-

Solitude.

The landscape is darkness. There is no floor, no sky, nothing but nothing and darkness. Everything here serves as a hiding place. Her skin prickles as she looks around. Something is there; watching.

Ino isn't bothered. She's seen worse even if this emptiness is disquieting.

Solitude stifles.

She walks, her direction set by the tugging in her heart. Towards Hinata. Ino can observe and interact with the environment. To bring change here, it must be up to Hinata. Or else nothing will stick.

And she'll never wake.

Hours, or days, or months and years could be passing right now. There isn't anything she can do but keep walking.

When she finds Hinata, it's not the proud and strong kunoichi that she finds. Not the one that goes around these days with her chin steady and her eyes calm. It's a younger Hinata. Hair halfway down her back, eyes finding the serenity Ino is used to seeing.

Sixteen, at most.

Surrounded by a faint, flickering glow of white light, Hinata stands out like a star in all the darkness. Ino clasps her hands behind her back and offers the girl, the young woman, a smile.

"Good morning, Hinata-chan."

Hinata blinks at her. "Is it morning?"

"It could be," Ino says, rocking on her feet. "It's a bit hard to tell right now though."

The young woman looks around them. "There's nothing to say for certain either way."

"That's right," Ino replies. "Did you make it that way? It's a bit confusing."

"She wanted it," Hinata explains, gesturing at the darkness around them. "Because she wants to wake up and the world had to be prepared properly for her."

Ino tilts her head up to study the sky. "Do you like this darkness?"

Hinata stays silent.

Ino's lips curve very slightly. "Do you know what she wants to do when she wakes?"

The world is beginning to press down on them. The darkness looming, paying attention. Listening. Ino doesn't let any alarm sing through her at all. She would only scare Hinata.

The young woman shakes her head.

"Muffle everything," Ino says simply. "She is solitude. Loneliness. Being nothing, changing nothing."

Hinata stays silent.

Ino leans forward and rests her fingers against Hinata's shoulders. "You have every right to want to be alone," Ino says, pressing a kiss to Hinata's cheek. Touch is essential, especially in this stage. "But if you never come out of your shell again, you'll never be the same. Do you want to lose yourself?"

Hinata shakes her head. "She wants to wake up though."

Ino holds up a glowing crystal. "Let her wake up," she says, voice carefully measured. "Wake, but not take over. Be the one in control. Do not let it consume you. Keep your friends, they make you strong."

Hinata reaches for the crystal then stops, her eyes serious as she looks up at Ino. "You'll be here? You'll stay no matter what?"

And this is why trust is so essential in her work. Ino smiles. "It's a promise."

The young woman lifts the crystal and the being around them wakes up. The darkness contracts around them, grabbing at limbs, and then explodes in utter silence and neither of them screams.

Solitude speaks.

-x-

Death.

The landscape mutable, indescribable. Everything she's ever seen all swirled dizzyingly together. The sky variated, multi-coloured, bold and soft all at the same time. There is no need for a hiding place here. Everything around her moves when she looks at it.

Ino isn't bothered. She's seen handled worse, even if it makes her heart bleed that this is how her friend views things.

Death ends.

She walks, her direction set by the tugging in her heart. Towards Hinata. Ino can move in this environment. Hinata must be the one who wants it to change in order for anything to happen.

In order for her to wake up.

Hours, or days, or months and years could be passing right now. There isn't anything she can do but keep walking.

When she finds Hinata, it's her friend that she finds. The one that goes around these days with her chin steady and her eyes calm. It's her Hinata.

Twenty, now.

Standing by what, in any other world, might have counted as a beach. Only beaches didn't come in mauve and yellow and pink. Watching the waves. Ino stands beside the woman. Long blue hair that twists and is being tangled by the wind.

"Good morning, Hinata."

Hinata blinks at her. "Does it even really matter, Ino-san?"

"I think that's up to you," Ino says, as a yellow wave laps at their feet. "I cannot tell you that answer."

The woman looks up at the sky then down at the green-blue sand. "It's not like home at all."

"It is and isn't, if you know how to look at it," Ino replies. "Did you make it that way? It's unusual."

"She wanted it," Hinata explains, as the waves grow stronger, sweeping up to their knees. "Because she wants to wake up and the other world wasn't ready for her."

Ino tilts her head up to study the sky. "Do you enjoy this?"

Hinata stays silent.

Ino's lips curve very slightly. "Do you know what she wants to do when she wakes?"

The sand is deepening, turning to dark jewel colours-ruby red, sapphire blue, jade green as they speak. Colder colours, ones that are less forgiving of mistakes. Listening. Ino doesn't let any alarm sing through her at all. She would only worry Hinata.

The woman shakes her head.

"Destroy everything," Ino says simply. "She is death. Every ending, every last breath."

Hinata stays silent.

Ino leans over to wrap the woman in a hug. "You have every right to mourn," Ino says, pressing a kiss to Hinata's hair. "But if you let it consume you, you'll become like them. Do you want to lose yourself?"

Hinata shakes her head. "She wants to wake up though."

Ino holds up a glowing crystal. "Let her wake up," she says, voice carefully measured. "Wake, but not take over. Be the one in control. Do not let it consume you. Stay yourself."

Hinata reaches for the crystal then stops, her eyes serious as she looks up at Ino. "You'll be here? You'll stay with me?"

And this is why trust is so essential in her work. Ino smiles. "I'll be here."

The woman lifts the crystal and the being under them wakes up. The world turns into light and joy and pain as one ending turns into another beginning and neither of them screams.

Death renews.


It's like being inside a hollowed out egg. Curving, sloping inward walls, the floor, nothing straight about it at all. Two girls stand two feet apart. One is tall, leggy and intent. One is shorter, bustier and awake. Both are floating a few inches off the floor, off the bottom of this egg.

Ino waits patiently for Hinata to say something, anything. She will not go rushing in to say things that could mess this up. Not after all her work.

"You..." Hinata begins, stops, and starts again, "You don't give up, do you?"

Ino lifts her shoulders in a shrug. "Ain't my job to give up."

"Was this just a job to you?" The question hangs there.

"Do you think so?" Ino asks, tilting her head.

Hinata looks down and away. Shakes her head. "That's not an answer."

No, it's not.

"I'll give you an answer when you wake up," Ino promises, with a tap of one cheek. "But we're not finished here yet. What do you remember?"

"I was... poisoned," Hinata says slowly. "Tsubaki-san and Ryouma-san were already down and Maki was..."

Hinata's eyes go wide. She shakes her head in a silent no.

"Was a traitor," Ino finishes softly, her words like raindrops falling onto a still lake.

"I didn't know," Hinata replies, and she's talking but not to just Ino. To herself.

Ino stays quiet.

"I didn't know. She was always cheerful and kind and when... when she turned, she said..." Tears filled Hinata's eyes. "She said she was sorry. Why?"

"They had her family," Ino says, keeping her voice measured and even. "And family loyalty won out over village loyalty." Her own opinion on that was mixed. It was hard to say what path was the right one in that situation.

Hinata nods.

"I should have known," she says quietly. "Tsubaki-san and Ryouma-san..."

"We recovered their tags," Ino replies. "Their families have been notified."

"What do I do now?"

Ino studies her for a long moment. "What do you want to do?"

"Change things," Hinata says quietly. "But changing the past is impossible."

"Why not change the future?"

"The future?" Hinata asks. "Make it so... there's less chance of a repeat...?"

"Maki was recovered," Ino says, not directly answering Hinata's question. "Konoha is deciding what to do with her. You have a voice. Will you tell your story?"

"Do you think that will matter?" Hinata replies, shaking her head slowly. "I am just one voice."

"And one voice can turn the tide. Make a mark. You," Ino pauses, "you might not be able to save Maki. She doesn't appear to want to be saved. But in speaking, you can change things, even a little for any future 'Maki'."

Hinata is silent for a long long time before speaking again. "What do you think?"

"That living in the past has never helped anyone."

"Will you help me?"

Ino smiles slightly. "Haven't I been doing that all along?"


Picture this:

White walls. Sturdy hospital bed. Starched white blankets. Daffodils on a side table. Tiled flooring. Get well letters scattered around. A small window.

Birds chirp outside that window.

Picture this:

A girl lying on the bed. Long blue hair fanned out on a pillow. Her eyes slowly open. She sits up. And smiles.

Picture this:

A girl slumped in a chair. Long blonde hair tumbling over the back to just miss touching the floor. Her eyes slowly open. Brushes away sweat with long fingers and grins.

Know this:

It's not a victory. People are still dead. There's mourning to be done. Changes to aim for.

But they're both breathing, still alive, and finding their feet, hauling themselves up again.

They'll take it.


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