Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, I would be one lucky daughter of a so and so, but I don't. So I am not, and I am reduced to being a Narutard!

AN: If any of the characters are OC, trust me, it was not meant to be that way. No matter what universe they are in, I like for my characters to be as close to their canon personalities as my limited writing skills can get them! So, if they have OCish actions, let me know.

Chapter 1: Realization

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He was leaving.

No, he was already gone, and in truth, his spirit had left way before his body had, and all that was left in it's wake was a damaged husk.

After the betrayal of his best friend, no his brother, Hinata knew that she would not be able to keep him. There was no way her invisible love would hold him down. Not now. Not anymore.

He was too far gone in determination, and all she could do was watch as he walked away from the village. As he walked away from his friends, and her.

He had never really considered her a friend, and she knew he would deny it swiftly if she ever spoke her thoughts. But, they both knew that to Naruto, every and anybody was a potential friend.

Even when they spit on his name. Even when they shot him venomous glares. Even when they stumped his heart in the ground with their small pale fists and abandoned him to live a life without a brother, without a true confidant in the world. They were still his friends. No matter what.

Hinata had always found it funny that the ones who rejected his friendship the most were the ones he was most determined to win over. She found it funny how he easily noticed whenever the ones who loathed him shot him a glare, but he never once saw the adoring glances of the ones who cared.

She found it even more funny how she who loved him the most was the last to know that he was leaving.

And even though she found it, oh so, funny, she could not make herself laugh to keep from crying, or smile to keep from hating that Sakura, the one who had pushed him away the most, was the one he promised to return to, with Sasuke in tow.

She could not help but walk around the village like a ghost and follow the daily routine he had went about for years as if she were on autopilot. Going to Ichiraku and watching the stand from the pastry shop across the street. Imagining him eat his favorite meal as she ate hers while picturing them enjoying the moment together.

She could not help it, and she also could not help going to the training ground where he would practice for hours. Pounding on the fighting posts until blood dripped from his fists in spurts. Going numb as he beat out the frustrations he thought no one knew of.

The frustrations of being second to Sasuke, the fact he only brought contempt from the one he loved the most, and the pain of being the village pariah.

Here is where it all came out. Here is where she stayed the most.

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Rain pelted the ground in a thunderous roar as the sky opened up to slap at the Earth with a striking light while wailing in failure. The streets of Konoha were being evacuated quickly as people rushed to the shelters of their homes, and the training grounds were reduced to mush. Much to Neji's dismay as his sandal sunk in slightly before being put in upheaval again and again in a messy splat.

He had a purple umbrella in his hand, and a cream colored jacket that protected him from the more mellow winds; however, there was not much the flimsy creased material could do for the harshest of the wind that tried continuously to carry away his umbrella.

If this were any other circumstance, he would be at home tucked away in his room in a state of meditation, but tonight was different because he knew she was out here. Somewhere, and he was pretty damn sure he knew where.

He was coming upon the training ground that Uzumaki was said to have frequented, and after hearing soft sobs that seemed to echo the falling of the rain, Neji knew he was heading in the right direction.

He walked down the path that lead to training ground 7, how ironic, and found his cousin as expected. Soaked by the rain, her knees sinking slightly in the mud as she slung to a beaten post that still had small stains of blood knotted in the dents.

He found himself fight back a scoff and a small glare of contempt as he approached her. Remembering he was trying to turn a new leaf to get his relationship with Hinata back to the way it was before the incident with Kumo. He owed that much to Hinata and Naruto for beating the sense into, but old habits were hard to change.

So he watched her for a few minutes as she hugged the post as if it were her life line while she sobbed into the damp wood. He did not know how to approach her. How to comfort her, but he knew that he could not go back home to Hiashi without Hinata in tow. So he just watched. Not even needing the Byakugan to truly see.

Hinata was a broken thing, and she did not know what to do to pick back up the pieces.

She had worked so hard to gain his respect. To become his comrade, his ally, his equal, and then he left. With a Sannin no less. There was no way she could compete with that. No way she could ever be his equal now. By the time he came back, he would be so far ahead that Hinata would be equivalent to an Academy student on his scale. That is if he even came back.

"N-no, Naruto-k-kun! You h-have to come b-back," Hinata shouted, as much as Hinata can, up to the blazing sky before she let go long enough to hit the post half heartedly with her small pale fist. She regretted it immediately.

"O-ow," Hinata said cutely with tears still clinging to her under eye lids as she inspected her slightly bruised hand. Noticing Neji only seconds afterwards. A small speck of fear welled up within her. She had not been near Neji alone since the day of the tournament.

"N-n-n-neji-nii-sama," Hinata asked with a small voice as he continued to study her before walking over to place the umbrella over her soaked form.

"Hin...Hinata-sama, what are may I ask are you doing out here?" Neji asked awkwardly. Not quite sure how to word his question or what to say, but Hinata still seemed too hung up on the fact he was there to even really process his question.

"I...I...I don't know," Hinata answered honestly as she continued sitting near the post. Looking down at her bruised hand.

Neji expected as much as he gave small nod in acknowledgement while holding the umbrella, and waiting for her to get to her feet. She must did not realize that was what he was doing. Because, she stayed there, staring for awhile.

Neji waited, impatiently mind you, as he felt a small growl leave his lips as Hinata flinched. Reminding him that going about this the harsh way would do him no good, so he just stood there. Waiting and waiting until Hinata spoke.

"I have to get stronger, but I don't know how."

"Hm."

Neji agreed.

"I have to become unworthless if I am to become strong."

"Hm."

"If I do not beat you, then I am not strong."

"Hm."

Neji let a small smirk play on his lips as he looked down at Hinata from the side of his eyes. He wasn't sure if she was making another vow to herself, or if she was just stating the obvious, but he knew that either way. It was going to be amusing.

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AN: I was really thinking about putting more, but it just felt right to end it here. So what do you think. I mean much didn't happen at all, which is rare for me. I usually give it all away the first chapter. But I thought I'd pace myself, and see what happens.