Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment
Chapter 10: Convictions
Author's Note: Canon has proven two things. The first is that Madara was so overpowered as a villain that it took a literal Deus Ex Machina in the form of the Sage of Six Paths. The second is that Gai is a monster. You'll also note that this chapter is shorter than normal because I removed the flashbacks that made up half of it. They've been moved to Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment - Beetle Chronicles.
Hinata Hyuuga sat atop a cushion on the floor in picture perfect posture, her long hair curled into a bun via two hair chopsticks made of steel and decorated with the imagery of Lilies. Her eyes were placidly straight ahead, focused on the esteemed individuals seated atop a platform within the confines of the private conference room within the Hyuuga estate. They were the elders of her clan.
There were five of them total, each one adorned in silk robes and their personal ceramic cups that had been filled with a rather exotic tea blend. Each had drunken some the tea with grace and elegance instilled by their teachings prior to her arrival. Hiashi was not present, leaving the sixth place vacant.
"Your father seemed to have taken ill and will not be joining us," one of them mused before activating a seal on that wall. Despite their faces being stony and unchanging, their animosity towards her was palpable in light of her current actions. Thus she had been summoned at this late hour as she guessed she would and her father had confirmed earlier. "What is discussed here will not be uttered to anyone else, barring him and in private."
"I understand," Hinata stated. She already knew that, as this was their personal chambers of deliberation and it contained sensitive papers and important decisions. They were shielded from those all-seeing eyes of others and any escaping sounds were muted by an expensive seal, only known to them in design.
With that out of the way the de facto leader of them nodded and then began. "Hinata Hyuuga, your actions have shamed our noble clan as of late. While we understand your loathing of the Kyuubi, you allowed your emotions to overtake your judgment and attacked a fellow member of your unit. You have been discharged from Konoha's forces in a dishonorable manner and you have cost this clan much in terms of monetary losses as well as the esteemed reputation we have worked hard to cultivate. Do you understand this?"
"I do," she admitted. "Whatever punishment you've seen fit to discipline me with, I will accept."
"There are suitors," the female member of the elders said, somewhat stiff and perhaps feeling her age. She didn't show it though. "All of whom have agreed to pay a rather large bride token without necessitating a dowry. While not the most savory of individuals, all of them have proven to be modest in terms of their temperament upon investigation by our own means, including your father—after all, having ties to one who would abuse one of your pedigree would not bode well on the reputation we have."
"I am to be…wedded?" she asked for confirmation, noticing that the elder on the right was slightly sluggish as he reached for his cup. "Would I not be able to pursue another path towards amendments towards the clan?"
"Are you going back on your words just now?" asked the elder in the center. His throat felt strained, so he took a sip of the tea and allowed his eyes to narrow and display his conviction.
She lowered her head. "Not at all. I was simply hoping that I would be able assist in the hospital as a medic with the skills I have attained so far."
They talked amongst one another in clipped and low voices before coming to a decision. "That is for you and your suitor to decide upon. Certainly, your medical skills would yield some result in that field."
"The Caged Bird Seal will be a necessity, regardless," the female elder added, the stiffness now spreading further. She maintained the illusion of being fine to hold onto the image she wished to project. "While we have no intention of activating it, the fact remains it is the only means we have of sealing away your Byakugan should you pass away and as a sign that you no longer hold the same position you once did. Fortunately Hanabi can still be groomed to be the heiress…"
Hinata fidgeted at that. Not the mention of the seal, but her sister.
"Do you…" The elder in the center's throat felt like a stone was wedged in it. He feared that the others would notice, that he was feeling so tense rather than maintaining the prim appearance he maintained, but none of them spoke or showed any sign of noticing. "Do you understand…?"
"I understand," she stated, her head bowed low. "If I may ask, which of the suitors will I be meeting with first?"
No words came. Despite her inquiry, none of them responded at all. Instead they simply looked to her with the stony and stoic nature their family had cultivated. They did so in silence for a full minute before Hinata's head rose and she slowly stood to her feet.
It seems like the paralysis has set in, Hinata thought to herself. If she were truthful she was worried that they would have noticed they had been poisoned, but it would seem that her time under Shizune and Tsunade had proven beneficial. It was a shame that the rift between them was now too vast to be mended.
While the tea itself wasn't poisoned, as it had been checked prior to her arrival as a safety precaution, they failed to notice that the bottom of the cups had a thin layer of poisonous paste applied and then dried to leave what amounted to a small glaze that matched the glossiness of the cups. The moment the hot water from the tea touched it, it broke down the paste and mixed with the tea's already strong and exotic taste. They had grown complacent in their positions it seemed and failed to predict the chance of such a thing coming.
Even as loathed as the main branch was by the side branch, the animosity between them paled in comparison to ones who perpetuated the system—namely them. For all her demeanor when it came to the Kyuubi, she still treated her cousin and the branch family well enough to have sympathizers to her cause and have them apply the poison while doing the housework. While she couldn't say that she liked the actions she took by ensuring the elders' death, after all wanton murder and assassinations were never something she reveled in, she couldn't forgive them.
She still recalled it vividly, how they taunted and tormented her for her ignorance of the demon's nature until they had culled her into what they considered their near-ideal heiress. Her fondness for her cousin and the branch family was still something they had yet to have taken from her, but she knew that if she allowed the cycle to continue they would condition Hanabi to that same nature that led to the animosity between her cousin and herself prior to the Kyuubi's intervention.
Its reasons for making that pledge to change their clan were for some sinister purpose no doubt. Perhaps to make her more loyal to it in the long run by reading her own intentions and then twisting those into something perverted later on, like foxes were rumored to do in legends. But it still had merit and their clan had to change.
While she was no longer in a position to do it, the removal of these five would present more of an opportunity for Hanabi to have less poisonous words being whispered in her ears. It was all she could do for now, besides eliminating the Kyuubi tonight. That way it could no longer trouble the village or twist any more lives than it already had—including her own.
Making for the door as though she failed to notice the minuet tension in their bodies as they desperate struggled against all muscles in their bodies becoming so tense and rigid that they tore themselves apart, including their hearts, she gave a small bow once she reached it and said, "Farewell, Esteemed Elders."
With that said she excused herself and warned the guards on the exterior that the council was in deliberation and asked not to be disturbed. With the seal in place, no eyes could gaze upon the room and only her father remained as one who could enter without permission. By the time the poison that induced his sudden bout of sickness was flushed from his system in the morning, she would have accomplished her goal or died trying.
Her father's chambers were being guarded at the moment by her cousin, what with him ill and vulnerable. That was to be expected from her poisoning him while they met earlier for a private discussion, although there were no overt traces of it in his system and the symptoms induced matched those going around the village at this time of the year. Even for a man as vigilant as he was, he dropped his guard around his daughter and she often prepared tea for him as her mother did, so no one suspected anything and he didn't interfere or end up caught in her assassination plot should it have failed or something went amiss.
Hinata made for her sister's room instead, across from her own. Both had privacy seals a step below those of the elders, commissioned by their father to ensure their modesty from what may have been unscrupulous or untoward family members. Her sister was sound asleep inside, resting on her futon.
Hinata kneeled down and gently brushed her younger sibling's hair aside so it was parted, revealing her sleeping face. It looked so peaceful and content. She took a moment to just watch her, pondering what type of future Hanabi would have without her there to watch after her.
Would she be the savior to their clan and free the branch family? Neji-nii-sama and she were both close, so it was possible. Killing the elders at least ensured their venom would not pass to her, but there would be many who preferred the old ways and change was scary.
Would she become a kunoichi that would make father proud? Certainly she was more talented that Hinata had been at that age. It was a very likely possibility.
Would she grow to find someone she loved? Taking a moment to look around her otherwise Spartan room, she noticed that Hanabi had left dried woundwort in a mortar and pestle on the top of her dresser. Thinking about how flustered she was when handing the balm Hinata taught her to make to Shino (she had her eyes active at the time) put a smile on her face. It reminded her of that time during the preliminaries of the Chuunin Exams, when she gave…
She shook her head at the memory that was tainted by the realization of what he truly was. While her own heart had been shattered and betrayed, Hanabi was different. While there was something of an age difference of five years, once she reached adulthood there was always a chance if their father didn't oppose the decision and if Shino-kun would return her feelings. A small chance the way things were now that she was to be the heiress of the clan, but a chance nonetheless.
I do this as much for myself as for you, Hanabi-chan, Hinata thought as she leaned down and gave her sister a small kiss on the forehead. The kiss failed to wake her, leaving the youngest of Hiashi's children to her dreams as Hinata stood and left, closing the door behind slowly and then making her way to her room.
Once there she pulled out an ink well and brush to begin drafting letters to her father, sister, and cousin. She knew that by the time this was all over she would most likely never see them again, even if she survived. Then she dressed herself for combat, her tools, her pouch, her jacket all adorned her. She reached for her banana that normally adorned her neck, but it was gone after attacking Shino for the sake of killing the Kyuubi.
She then left out of the compound and proceeded to walk down through the streets of Konoha at night. It was late and few people were out, so she didn't expect to run into anyone she knew. As such, when she found Akamaru carrying her teammate out and about, she was somewhat concerned. Did he somehow know she was planning to kill the Kyuubi?
The thought died when she saw that he was swaying on top of the large ninja hound and he spoke, "Hi-ii-Hinata-chan?"
"You're inebriated, Kiba-kun," Hinata said, her tone somewhat placid but carrying a hint of admonishment.
Kiba raised a finger at that. "O-only a littttttle, but the-there's something I want t-to tell youuu…so-something im-important…"
"You should go home and rest," she told him, walking to his side as Akamaru lowered himself. "We'll talk in the morning."
"Hinata…I…" Kiba shook his head, slapping his cheeks to make sure the words came out clearly like Shino told him. "I love you. I always have, so…"
Silence followed as confusion briefly took hold of her. "Are you…serious?"
He nodded more so than necessary.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner then?" she asked.
"I was all-always afraid you wouldn't like me," he admitted as he brought his hands to his eyes and rubbed them. "And t-there was never time…but now…"
"Kiba-kun…" She ran her fingers along the side of his cheek to cup them. Then she leaned in slowly and gave him a kiss on his lips, ignoring the taste of saké and putting effort into it. It was one of the last things she would be able to give him.
Akamaru gave a surprised grunt as Kiba remained stunned by the abrupt action, before allowing himself to sink into the kiss. It was absolute bliss for him, a warm pleasure flowing into his body and pushing aside the inebriation of alcohol with the intoxication of intimate affection. Semi-Drunk or not, it was the single best thing he would remember as she broke the kiss and gave him a gentle smile.
"Thank you for telling me, but it would be best if we discussed this when you've sobered up," she stated, brushing his cheek again. "Go to bed as soon as you get home."
"Suuurre," he said, his world spinning as the heat from the kiss lingered and made his head lighter.
"Get him there quickly, Akamaru," she told the loyal canine, gently patting the ninja dog's head. "I'll see you both tomorrow."
"Yes!" Kiba whooped as Akamaru walked down the street while carrying him, elation in his voice as they departed.
Once they were out of sight, Hinata's smile dropped as a sort of lamentation crossed her mind. While he was rough around the edges, Kiba had so many of the same elements that drew her to what she thought was Naru…the Kyuubi's mask. Loyal, hard-working, somewhat robust and joyous despite his bouts of fierceness.
She took a moment to wonder what could have been between them if she had known earlier and hadn't been so enthralled by the Kyuubi's whims. It was just one of the many things she would never know, more regrets to join her between never seeing her sister again and having to poison her father. In the end, what she did may have been crueler than simply denying his feelings since nothing would be waiting for him tomorrow. The promise she made just now meaningless as things were already in motion.
Goodbye, Kiba-kun, she sincerely thought. Then she activated her Byakugan and spread her vision to avoid any more surprises. There were protected buildings that were shielded from her sight, but of them all only one in particular would be able to safely house the Kyuubi and warrant the presence of so many ANBU gathered upon a single spot. The Senju Complex was the most logical choice then.
Predicting a path to take with her eyes noting as many ANBU and civilians she needed to avoid, Hinata Hyuuga ventured to kill the source of her pain and suffering.
On the Outskirts of Konoha
Itachi Uchiha stood within the forests of outside his home village, atop a sturdy tree limb that allowed the moonlight filtering through the canopy above to shine down on him. He had a few minutes before the patrol crossed this location in particular and saw it fit to just look upon his home and allow for nostalgia to take him for a moment. With how his eyes had deteriorated it was more of a mess than he could sort out, but his mind filled in the blanks.
It was strange, Itachi mused. Despite nearly being blind, something that all doujutsu-users tended to fear, he was at peace with it. He wondered if it was because he was already dying from illness that he lacked the drive to acquire the means to revert the problem. Or was it because he loved his brother so strongly that his family's curse drove him to making Sasuke hate him for the sake of gaining power, enough to kill him even.
He wanted his brother strong, so much so that he violated his mind and practically forced him into Orochimaru's clutches. While he had no doubt Sasuke would usurp the madman, it was still such a risky decision to make in perspective—albeit one that would potentially allow him to manifest the Mangekyo Sharingan so he could bequeath his brother his eyes.
For a moment he mused on the possibility of them exchanging their eyes so both had their Eternal versions. But the thought died when he realized most ended up attempting to kill one another to acquire it. Since such a thing required absolute trust, something that shinobi rarely had due to their lifestyles with few exceptions, it would inevitably fail.
After all, it would be easy to keep the eyes as spares, which he suspected Danzo and Tobi had done. From the reports on the aftermath of the massacre he "borrowed" Itachi noticed so many bodies had gone missing. Most of them were the ones he allowed the masked Uchiha to deal with while he had to kill his parents. Then Shuishi had lost one eye to Danzo and bequeathed the other to him, so there was little doubt he did it to others.
As he activated his Sharingan, Itachi could barely make out the blurred shell outline of the sensory barrier, its color registered in his mind from the moment he first awakened his Sharingan. While it was deactivated during the festivities of the Chuunin Exam when he last visited, he had no doubt trying to cross it from above now would set it off and they would find him sooner than he'd like and force a fight. He had to conserve his strength to accomplish his goals and enough innocent blood had been spilled for the sake of his cover.
He thankfully knew a few alternative routes for getting in. They were the same ones that Danzo's agents used. They would lead him straight to the man. Once there, Itachi of the Leaf would fulfill his final duty to Konoha tonight…
And he would do so by eliminating the rot that was set in its roots.