Thanks to Saki-Hime, ByakuganHyuuga360, ppeach2, sKyLaR KnIgHt, IamALIPED, Numder1Weirdo, random, Naru-Hina-love-Cookies-123, Wannabe- Temari, The Winggoddess, Oh My Glob, Akumu-chama, julieyang92 [MY 100TH REVIEWER!], XxX Uchiha Suraya XxX, Sasha Heild.

Okay. I kinda merged two chapters here, and I copied a few lines from 'Piccadily Jim' by P.G Wodehouse. I know it's extremely dishonourable of me and goes against the morals of being a true writer, but I hope you forgive me. Personally, I'm extremely dissatisfied with myself.

On another note, YAY! CROSSED THE 100 REVIEW BARRIER!


Confinement

'I will not allow that filthy, disgusting murderer anywhere near my mansion.'

'Sorry, Hiashi. It's already done and there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it. If there is, I will be the first person to tell you about it.'

'Being the Hokage does not entitle you to assert yourself in the matters of my family.'

Tsunade tapped her chin. 'You're right.'

Hiashi was taken aback, but he kept it well concealed under masked indifference.

'Yes, I cannot interfere in Hyuuga matters. But, as you just said, I am the Hokage. Neji and Hinata Hyuuga are shinobi under my jurisdiction. I have complete authority over them to give them whatever missions I find necessary. Your objections are nothing more than obstructions in the peaceful running of Konoha. Obstructions that I am legally entitled to destroy.'

'I will most definitely have a talk with the Konoha elders about your impudence, Tsunade.' Hiashi said curtly.

Tsunade sighed in mock sadness. Sick bastard. 'I did not want to do this, but I guess I have no choice.' She stretched her arms and swiveled her office chair till she was facing the windows, her back to Hiashi.

'Let me tell you a story. Once, there lived a queen. One day, it came to the queen's notice that certain branch family members of a certain highly reputed clan of her kingdom were doing illegal things. Children were going missing. Children that were supposed to be born were never born. Further investigation by the queen's extremely trusted personal assistant revealed it to be cases of trafficking, infanticide and feticide. Now, Hiashi-sama,' Tsunade said politely, her back still turned to him, 'the question is why? Why is this happening?'

The man in question hardened his face.

'What if, Hiashi-sama, I told you that the children of the branch families of that certain highly reputed clan were branded? Branded to live their lives in undying devotion to the main family members, their general well being dependant on the wishes of the main family members? So, this naturally answers my first question. The parents most naturally do not want their children to go through the same pain that they had to. Now, for my third question. What would happen if this information became public? Won't that clan be disgraced forever?'

'This is blackmail!'

'Of course not. All I want to say that the queen was quick tempered person. In her anger, certain things could slip out of her mouth.'

Hiashi had lost, and he knew it. He regained his aristocratic calm. 'Very well, Hokage-sama. As you wish. But, if things go wrong, it will be your fault entirely.'

Tsunade waved her hand. 'Good. Wish you a pleasant trip, Hiashi-sama. Prolong it a bit for my sake.'

And my sake too, Hiashi's kage bunshin thought as it disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Hinata strolled through the huge Hyuuga gardens, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her skin. It had been around 7 weeks since Sasuke had come to stay with Neji. She never got to see him, except for the occasional glimpses she caught every now and then. Her cousin seemed to be under a lot of stress, which meant that he was taking his babysitting business pretty seriously.

She paused to observe a pair of squirrels chase each other up a tree.

Hinata continued her walk. Sometimes, she wished that she could talk to Sasuke and ask him how things were going. Back at the Uchiha sector, though she had enjoyed the moments of silence they'd usually shared, she also cherished the moments the few moments he would open up to her. It was during those times that he looked, or felt, normal.

Not that I mean he is abnormal in any way.

Having reached her destination, Hinata sat down near the foot of a giant peach tree overlooking a koi pond. Her father had built it in memory of his late wife and she used to come there whenever she had any free time.

'Hello, okaa-san.' She whispered and leaned back against the trunk.

'Hey.'

Hinata started. This place isn't haunted, is it?

A bit too late, she realised that it had been a man's voice which had originated above her. She looked up.

'Sasuke?'

Sasuke detached himself from the branch and landed noiselessly on the soft grass. Hinata motioned with her hand to sit down beside her. He hesitated for a while and then finally lay down on the ground, a few steps away from her.

'Aren't you supposed to be with Neji?' she asked. Sasuke was never supposed to go out of Neji's sight, though he might be keeping a watch with his Byakugan.

'Yeah, but he asked me to get lost as soon as some woman walked in.'

'Brown hair with two buns?'

'Hn.'

'That's Tenten.' Hinata explained. 'Neji's fiancée.'

'Hell.' Sasuke sounded a bit annoyed. 'If they start getting all lovey-dovey in my room, I'm not going in there until it's fumigated. I'd rather spend the night outside.'

'You can take my bed for the night.' Hinata offered immediately, being the kind-hearted soul she was.

'Ah, really?'

'Of cours-oh.' She just realised the full implications of what she had said and blushed. 'I-I mean, I can pr-prepare another one for you. Or you c-can take my room and I'll take another one.T-that doesn't mean I don't like-like staying with you or anything, I-I just...' she trailed off, flustered.

'You're too nice.' Sasuke declared through closed eyes. 'Too nice for your own good. Big nasty men can take advantage of you.'

'Oh, I wouldn't worry. I'm sure you'll be there to protect me.' She reassured him.

Protect me.

'I'll protect you, Hina-chan. So don't cry!'

Those two words had more impact on Sasuke than she had meant.

Protect her? Wasn't that something he'd promised Hinata as a child all those years ago? Yes, he had, naively. It had been nothing more than a spur-of-the-moment decision, something he had blurted out to stop her from crying her heart out. What was the reason, again? Something about her father calling her weak and pathetic.

How gullible of me.

'So, how's life with Neji?'

'So-so. He's fine as long as he doesn't speak. As soon as he starts-he sounds like a human thesaurus. There are easier ways of putting things.'

'He prides himself on being a Hyuuga. We are a noble bunch, you know.'

'That doesn't mean you need to act as if there is a stick up your ass or something.' He murmured lazily.

'Sasuke!' Hinata reprimanded. 'I'm a Hyuuga too!'

'Well, you are an exception. Better than the rest. Not so snobbish.'

'Nobody's perfect. Everybody has some flaw.'

'Yours being that you lack a backbone. Figuratively speaking.'

'You suffered from superiority complex in the Academy.' Hinata countered.

'The Academy, huh?' Sasuke said slightly wistfully, 'That brings back memories. What was that guy's name-who smelled like he slept with dogs? Inu-something.'

'Kiba-kun? And what do you mean by sleeping? Sleeping, or sleeping?'

'...'

'He does not do that.'

'You never know.'

'He does NOT.'

'Are you challenging me, Hyuuga?'

Hinata giggled.

'What's so funny?'

'I was just thinking...you and Naruto-kun are pretty alike.'

Sasuke couldn't help feeling slightly irritated when she brought up his name. Seriously. All everyone ever did in Konoha was to harp on about the Kyuubi vessel's greatness. Sure, Naruto had worked hard to get where he was, but still.

'That's a pretty random thing to say.'

'Both of you are really alike. Both of you are stubborn, like to challenge others, and once you set your eyes upon something, you won't stop unless and until you achieve it.'

'The similarity ends right then and there. It's like comparing a person with ADD to a comatose person.'

Hinata couldn't disagree with the last comment, although Sasuke was far from being in a coma. 'Hai...Naruto-kun is rather flashy. You are more...um...poetic.'

'Poetic?' Sasuke propped himself up on one shoulder and looked at her. 'The only poem I can compose is...' he cleared his throat. 'Let's see...the cat,' he began awkwardly, 'sat on a mat...his head I would pat...overstuffing itself with ramen, it grew...fat?'

This time, Hinata laughed. She did not have that simpering giggle that most girls had, Sasuke noted. Neither did she actually cackle like a hyena. Her laugh was graceful, ladylike.

Whoa. He stopped his mind from issuing such unnecessary compliments.

'Can I-' she said and gasped for breath. 'Can I ask you a personal question?'

Sasuke became slightly wary. Even though this was Hinata, he didn't like people asking him questions. Especially personal ones. He returned to his original position.

'Ask away.'

His reply surprised even himself and Hinata's next words even more so.

'What's the most important thing in life?'

'...'

'...'

'Pride.' Sasuke said finally. 'A man without pride is a man without identity. Am I right? Pride is everything.'

'No it's not. Love is.'

'What is?' he asked disbelievingly.

'Love.'

'Love?' Hinata couldn't see his face, but his voice sounded extremely scornful. 'I never thought you'd be so typical. You seemed different.'

'Eh?' she said blankly.

'I hate all this talk about love, as if it were something wonderful that is worth everything in life put together. Every story you read, or every song you hear is about this coquettish girl and boy, or something like that. It's as if all the people in the world are in a conspiracy to persuade themselves that there is something great just around the corner that they can get if they try hard enough. And they hypnotise themselves into thinking of nothing else, and miss all the other, more realistic details of life.

'Love is nothing but a drug, an addiction, something which you perceive as being great because other people say so. If you clear your head of this pathetic deception, you will understand what it really means to live.' There was a hint of bitterness and anger in his voice.

'You don't understand.' Hinata said, looking over to the pond. 'The love I am talking about is not the one you think. For me, love is the feeling you share with those around you- the feeling of happiness and content you share with them. For example, this tree. I love this tree, its leaves, fruits, flowers and every little creature living in it.'

'Even the termites?'

'Even them. And in the same way, I love Neji, Hanabi, Kurenai-sensei, and even you.'

'I'm not sure I like being compared to a termite.' She's the same. The very same. Trying to convert me into something soft with all this talk.

'The point is,' she continued, 'even though you disagree with me, you too have some love in you.'

'You too have some love in you, Uchiha-san.'

Her last few words struck a chord in Sasuke's mind, giving him a sense of déjà vu. That woman had said the exact same words to him.

'Enlighten me.' This should be interesting.

'You're pretty famous, Sasuke. Everybody knows what you did, and why you did it. Until the part you...until the part concerning Itachi-san, at any rate. What we don't know is what happened after that- why you joined the Akatsuki or tried to destroy Konoha. But there were reports...reports of you mentioning something about your family whenever you did anything. Take Danzo, for example. He was saying things, wasn't he?'

How did she know?

'That got me thinking. What motivated you wasn't anger, it was love. You also love, don't you? You love Mikoto-san, Fugaku-san, and most of all, Itachi-san. You feel love and compassion. If not for the world, then at least for yourself.'

Suddenly, Hinata found herself pinned to the ground, with Sasuke on top of her. She wasn't surprised. She had expected this.

Considering her silent observation of Sasuke, she knew that if she pushed him far enough, he would snap out of his self-imposed cage and start talking. Start expressing his feelings.

All she wanted him to do was to talk. That way, he could finally let go of things and relax. She remembered that night, when she had first seen his broken face, when she had first seen him lose his indifferent mask.

'I dream about them. I dream about him. About how I let him down. He comes to me whenever I'm asleep…I can't take the burden anymore…I simply can't.'

Sasuke leaned forward, bringing his face near Hinata's. She was aware of a light pleasurable sensation originating somewhere near her lower abdomen and closed her eyes.

Kami, he was so beautiful. She could almost feel his lips pressed against hers, a phantom memory from that night. Damn it! If he wanted to make a point, or assert himself, then why did he have to make it so kinky? Not frightening. Not forceful...well, okay, maybe a little, but why kinky?

This was wrong. She couldn't afford to have those perverted thoughts. Especially not when Sasuke was probably homosexual.

But Kami, wasn't he beautiful. Angelic.

Hinata trembled slightly and felt a bit suffocated.

'Don't pretend as if you know anything.' Sasuke whispered smoothly, after what seemed like several agonizing hours. 'Because you don't. I don't have anything to love in this godforsaken world. The only reason why I killed Itachi was because I hated him for killing my family. The only reason why I killed the rest was because I hated them for taking advantage of us. I hated them for taking advantage of Itachi's weakness. I hated them all. Hatred motivated me, not love. I've taken lives over and over again, just like that. And do you know the funniest thing? I don't regret any of it. And yet you have the audacity to say such things?'

'But you don't-you can't forget a-about them. You obsess about them. Everybody has a conscience, Sasuke, everybody. You say you hate, but in reality you try to drown your true feelings in your own words. You love. Love.'

Conscience? Sasuke stared at the indigo mass of hair splayed out in front of him. He did have something like that in him...maybe. After all, he had refrained from killing Naruto when he had the chance.

This was not fair. If he agreed with Hinata, it practically meant he was denying his own existence, his own ideals.

This was not fair at all. Who was she to dominate his life? Who was she to try to get him to change his ways? Who was she to tell him how he really felt deep inside? Who was she to make him question his own life? Who was she to tell him that he loved, rather than hated?

Maybe he did. Maybe not. But his pride wouldn't let him find out the real answer.

'Love and affection- these are like drugs. You'll desire people you love, crave their existence. And when their existence goes disappears, like Ita-when their existence disappears, you feel destroyed. Wasted. Empty.'

There he was. Even his speech- what he had almost let slip showed his softer side. Hinata was a smart girl. She'd most definitely notice.

She did. Itachi. He's thinking about his brother.

'All I am saying that stop punishing yourself like this.' Hinata said. 'I know you have nightmares. I know you hardly sleep, you hardly eat. Neji says so. Please. I know the real you, Sasuke. You returned to Konoha. Start a new life here. Better than the old one. I trust you.'

I trust you.

'Damn it! I'm not the Sasuke you once knew, Hina!' Sasuke burst out in frustration.

Hina? He remembers!

Sasuke got off her and turned away. 'Stop this, please. I don't know what to do, I'm so confused.' He sounded weary. 'It's you and your goddamn talks that's scrambling up my mind. I just...don't know. Sometimes I despise this place and each and every freaking person in it. Sometimes I think life here isn't all that bad...I don't know what to think. I don't know.'

He felt like crying, but he wouldn't. He had dehydrated himself enough on the day Madara had told him the truth about Itachi.

Yet, here he was, in the very place he had sworn to destroy.

This is what I am. A hypocrite. Always hesitating to follow what I preach.

'Do me a favour.' Sasuke ran his pale fingers through his contrasting hair. 'Don't ever start this discussion ever again. Ever. Just forget about everything I said, okay?'

'G-Gomen.' Hinata said quietly. 'It's all my fault. It's because I was so stupid...so scared to stand by you when you needed me. If I had that little bit of courage...maybe things would have been different. I blame myself. I-'

Sasuke looked at her apologising and beyond the layers of maturity and an excellent kunoichi, he could see the frail little girl with large eyes who used to cry at the drop of a feather. His Hina-chan. For some reason he wanted to wrap his arms around her and just let go, in the hope that when they broke apart, his life until now would have been nothing but a bizarre dream. He would still be a kid, Itachi and his family would still be alive, and he could still go and spend time with Hina-chan.

'Just forget it. You don't need to say anything more.'

Hinata switched her gaze from Sasuke face to the sky. 'The clouds look especially beautiful today?'

Letting his shoulders sag, Sasuke looked at the sky. 'They do?'

'You need to look at them from my angle.'

Sasuke lay down on the grass beside her, letting a nice, herbal smell fill his senses. He furrowed his brow.

'Yeah. They do.'


I couldn't update sooner due to injuries suffered from a suicide attempt.

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My friend and I jumped off the ground floor of the school building. He landed on water and splashed mud all over our yoga teacher while I stubbed a toe trying to avoid that teacher and the puddle of extremely muddy water. We swore, got screamed at by the teacher because apparently 'star' students like us should know better than to swear and splash muddy water at passing teachers, then our basketball coach and cricket coach joined in... and basically, we landed in deep soup. That aside, my poor toe STILL hurts! D':

Anyway.

*gets serious*

I may – I repeat, I may – go on temporary hiatuses at times (study pressure!). Please bear with me. I'll update once or twice each month, starting with the more popular fic of mine (based on the reviews). Once again, I ask you wonderful people to bear with me.

Review for faster updates...?