Blood Drenched Butterfly

Chapter 3: The End

A/N: Rest up, Hinata.

XXX

By the time Hinata stood outside the home of her final objective, she couldn't feel her right arm at all; it was beyond the point of numb now and a little voice in the back of her head, one that had been continuously whispering all the detrimental aspects of the night, told her it was dead. Such news didn't alarm the Hyuuga heiress...she could barely feel anything past the fire raging where her left eye used to be. The darkness from that side was beginning to overtake what little vision she had left. Her Byakugan was as dead as her arm, and not because she was lacking chakra, but because it was linked to her wellbeing. She almost cried when it flickered and then...nothing….

It's alright, she told herself firmly. It's not needed for this...I don't need it anymore. I won't need anything anymore after this….

And she lifted her working arm, knocking twice on the worn door. The sound was hollow, a reverberation that Hinata could internally identify with. Her heart, once slowed as more bled crept from her body, started to pound when she heard the muffled sounds of shuffling from within followed by a fair bit of cursing as something was knocked over with a sharp crash.

The door snatched open and she stared into the grimacing face of Naruto Uzumaki who was slightly bent over, caressing his knee. His flyaway blonde hair, those passionate cerulean eyes that now gleamed discomfort, and those adorable whisker marks...all of it Hinata took in and only now, when everything had progressed far too deeply to fix, did she wonder why she ever thought him cute.

"Son of a gun! Stupid coffee ta—" he grumbled ruefully before looking up and predictably falling silent upon seeing who it was at his door. From the bottom to the top his eyes roamed, and his face slowly changed from one of annoyance to abstract horror. "He-H-Hinata-chan! What in the hell"—his nose crinkled with disgust and she could only assume it was from the tart stench of blood wafting off her—"are you okay? You...you're covered in blood! Are you hurt?"

Though there was panic and concern in his tone, she knew…she knew he wasn't asking like one might to their potential other; it was a friendly affair, and it churned her stomach with bile to know that all these days…months...years….

She didn't realize that he'd grabbed her until he was tugging her inside. She stumbled a bit but Naruto didn't seem to notice; he was busy shouting his throat raw and rattling off things he would need to staunch the blood flow. Hinata cracked a legitimate grin. 'Stop the blood flow?' No...you couldn't fix wounds of the heart with gauze and alcohol rub.

Naruto left her standing in the middle of what she could only assume was his...everything? This room was almost claustrophobically small, with a number of things crammed into it ranging from a sofa, to a beat mattress, a notched table, dozens of ramen cups strewn across the wooden floor—a case of goose flesh erupted over her body when she spotted a rat's nest of dirty clothes in one corner. He'd disappeared through a door almost directly in front of her, the most cramped bathroom she had ever seen in her life; there was only a toilet and sink, no tub of any sort.

She knew that the village hated him for reasons she still hadn't quite figured out but this—all of this—was just...inhumane.

"Damn, your eye...and your clothes—just what are you wearing?" Naruto had come bustling from the bathroom, if one could call it that, with his arms laden with all sorts of medical supplies, some of which Hinata had no clue the purpose of.

She barely heard his questions. Somewhere during that battle with her clan, she'd taken a palm strike to the temple and ever since then her hearing had been unstable, zoning in and out. She only caught 'your clothes' and glanced down, not at all surprised to find her once glorious ensemble the remnant of some brutal war, tattered and bloody with healthy amounts of her porcelain skin free to view.

He gripped her by the wrist in an effort at tugging her to the beat-up sofa but she snatched her arm back, a flicker of disgust cutting through her fatigued expression. His touch was like the lash of a whip on her flesh, sharp and painful. When he whirled around, still displaying that annoying look of confusion, she dropped her katana with a loud clatter that drew his eyes, which widened as though just noticing. Before he could voice further questions, she struck out with her good arm, curling her fingers around the back of his head and in one clean motion she snatched him forward until they were within spitting distance, their noses brushing.

She could smell ramen on his breath, beef flavored. Just what was it with his abnormal fixation over ramen in the first place? It was good, yeah, a quick meal if nothing else but there were far better—she growled in her throat. As her only admirer had said: does it matter? It was only senseless nitpicking of his character that should have been done a long time ago.

"Who—" she tried to begin but her eye throbbed with an unholy pain and she pitched forward, grunting when her mouth met Naruto's with a loud clack of teeth. Her stomach gave a 'warning' flip in accordance to the pain and it was only due to a prior emptying that kept her from spewing sick down his thr—

She gasped into his mouth. The medical supplies fell to the floor between them and his arms rose, clamping almost securely around her shivering figure. Her mind died when he not only straightened their crooked posture but began to bend her back slightly, the embrace between them sliding from accidental to purposeful.

Before her brain could even begin to process what was happening, Naruto pulled back with a jubilant smile, giving her blood-encrusted nose a little peck. He looked how she felt: breathless.

"That's why you came over?" He had an arm around her back and ran the knuckles of his other hand over her cheek. His touch was so unbelievably gentle that the Hyuuga heiress forgot simple speech, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Naruto continued to smile warmly, a blush growing in his whiskered cheeks. "I'd...heh, I wondered how long we'd be able to last, y'know, watchin' each other from afar but not saying anything…."

Now Hinata found her voice, the pain of her eye forgotten while the other twitched. "What…? You...you watched me…?" Her heart jerked as though shocked back to life. "What do you mean by—"

"I didn't wanna say anything!" Naruto blurted out, lifting the hand of her dead arm and rubbing it soothingly over his cheek. She couldn't feel a damn thing and stared in bafflement. Just what was he…? No, why was he…? "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry…."

"S-sorry?" she croaked out, and she struggled to remember a time in which he'd brought her any kind of grief.

"I thought waiting would be good—for the both of us. It was in the back of my mind, every day of every month...that when I became Hokage? You...I'd come for your hand," he whispered and he leaned in, planting a kiss on Hinata's forehead that she never felt past the shock. "Every time I felt like givin' up or somethin' stupid like that I'd hear you, your voice, just yellin' and yellin' for me to keep going. You were so quiet and yet so loud!" he laughed and his voice radiated with a warmth that heated the Hyuuga heiress' insides.

"So I decided," he continued, and he frowned somewhat after catching sight of the blood-soaked wrap covering her mutilated eye, "that I wouldn't say anything. I didn't deserve you...you, next in line to take over your fam's prestigious clan. There was no way in the world I could just run up like an idiot and say 'Hey, Hinata, wanna be with me?' So I took your words and tried to better myself, started to study, y'know, and damn was that hard...but I wanted to approach you with some knowledge, you were worth it!"

There was so much wrong with Naruto's assumptions that it brought a tear to Hinata's eye and she sucked in her quivering bottom lip.

"But learnin' your chakra's specific elemental nature and thumbing through the twelfth volume of 'The Study of Algorithmic Chakra Expenditure' wasn't enough—not for you, not for your smart-ass cousin, and not for your father"—she blanched but he ignored it—"I knew in order to feel like, well...like I deserved your smile, I wanted to be something. And that's when it hit me! Hokage! If there's anyone who deserves anything, it's gotta be the Hokage—it's always been my dream anyway, to have the villagers finally notice me, so I figured this would be like killin' two birds with one stone! Become Hokage, the people here respect me, your clan sees I'm worth something, and then I'd take your hand and…."

He was laying kisses upon the back of her lifeless hand, his words slurring. She stared as his lips met her knuckles with an almost loving nuzzle. Could she feel it? No. Did she wish she could? As much as she wished she could go back in time. It was only when cold reality struck, forcing her to see that as nothing more than a child's wish, that the barricade she'd set up for this night came crashing down and she openly wept, her right eye leaking a stream of water.

Her sudden outburst caused Naruto to double-take, possibly expecting his words to be something akin to good news, and he opened his mouth to speak but she lifted her good hand and put a finger to his lips.

"Y-y-you l-loved mmm-m-me?" It was a struggle to get those words and, as with Shino, she prayed that he would say—

"I do!" he exclaimed. She looked stricken as he once again picked up her inert hand, cupping it within his own. "I'm gonna make myself better for this hand right here! I don't deserve you now but soon...so wait for me?"

This is your punishment for being so stupid.

For thinking no one was in your corner.

That second thought resonated with Shino's deep vocals and Hinata unconsciously reached for his signature whisker marks, her thumb running over them idly. They weren't really so stupid, she figured with a sniffle as Naruto seemingly melted into her hand, his eyes closing almost contently.

"You're so warm," he uttered absentmindedly.

Warm. When I'm covered in the blood of my father...my clan mates...a chunin...and my…my...She couldn't even finish the thought and instead produced a watery smile.

"Yes."

"Hm?" Naruto's eyes fluttered open again. "Yes? Yes what?"

"I'll wait for you."

The biggest, dopiest grin she had ever seen began to spread through his face, almost ear to ear. "You—really? You mean it?"

She nodded, crying on the inside. "On one condition."

"One...condition?" He blinked, confused, then instantly nodded. "Yeah, sure, whatever!"

Dear God, his happiness...it may as well have been his chakra incarnate, overflowing, abundant, infecting everyone and everything it touched. She could feel its warmth seeping into her...giving her the strength to do what she knew needed to be done.

"Wait for me till I get back," she whispered.

A look of intense relief flooded Naruto's face and it couldn't have been any clearer that he had been expecting something impossible; his alluring blue eyes lit up like diamonds at her easy request, then—and Hinata felt her heart skip—he adopted this adorably cute stumped expression.

"I can definitely, definitely do that—been doin' it all this time—but...where are you going?"

"Where you can't follow."

And without another word, the Hyuuga Heiress snatched her hand back. In the same frame, she rammed her foot into his chest with such force his eyes nearly popped from their sockets as he flew in reverse, his back slamming up against the opposite wall. In two more frames, Hinata had seized her katana and flung it with all the strength she possessed, calling once more upon the power of her Byakugan to give her perfect aim.

She watched with a hollow stare as the blade punctured a spot just to the right of his abs, pinning him to the wall; she watched as unfathomable pain screwed up his face and he howled out; she watched trickles of blood seep over his bottom lip like scarlet wine; and then she turned away, staggering for the door—

"W-WAIT!" His sudden roar didn't so much as make her twitch. She kept walking, ignoring the hole punched into her heart. "Wait!" he called out, growling through the pain and she glanced over her shoulder to see him gripping the blade with both hands, seemingly oblivious to the gashes he sliced open on his fingers. "Y-you...why?"

"B-because you'd try to follow me...and you c-can't...not where I'm g-going," she smiled, blinking away tears. "So just...hang there and w-wait for m-me, okay?"

There must have been something peculiar hanging in her tone because for the briefest of seconds, the agony left Naruto's features and his jaw fell open, a mixture of blood and saliva escaping. They met eyes in that moment and Naruto gnashed his teeth, beginning to struggle.

"No—damn it, NO! Don't—whatever it is d-don't do it!" he screamed.

Hinata wiped her good eye with the back of her hand and turned, continuing to walk. "After watching y-you for so l-long I know it's hard for you to die of blood-loss, and I m-missed your vitals, but p-please...don't fight so much or y-you really will d-die…."

She pulled the front door open, a gust of freezing night air blowing her red-streaked hair and tattered robes about. It felt so good...so refreshing….

"H-HINATA! COME BACK—DON'T DO THIS!"

"Goodbye...Naruto."

And she closed the door on his cries.

XXX

She stood on the Hokage monument, atop the carved head of Hiruzen. In front of her were no less than fifty ninja, all of them with their faces hidden behind animal masks. Anbu. The best of the best. The hands of the Hokage. Trying outrun them would be like a mouse attempting to outstrip a hawk, and she idly found herself wondering which one, whether the hawk-masked anbu or the rat-masked one, was the fastest.

When she chuckled, something sharp grazed her cheek. She felt the skin there shudder and split with a dull pulse of pain.

"We've told you. You move, you die," said the hawk anbu. As he stood out in the front, she assumed him to be the leader. The calm timber of his tone bore no trace of fooling around; the next kunai he tossed would more than likely end her life.

If I can call it that. She'd been standing there for the better half of ten minutes. Apparently, they were waiting for the Hokage, Tsunade herself, to show up and proclaim sentence.

"Can I ask a question?" she wondered, beginning to waver.

"If you mean beside the one you just asked, you're allowed one," came her curt response.

Everything was dimming and Hinata felt beyond cold, as if the very blood in her veins were freezing, clotting, making it difficult to draw breath. She knew what that meant and felt relieved. Finally...no more pain.

"Will y-you send the Aburame clan m-my apologies?"

"Reason?"

"Because a precious bug has been lost tonight," she pushed out cryptically.

There was a silence as those close enough to hear processed her words. And then all at once, Hinata felt a blindingly strong upsurge of chakra.

"What...did...you...do?" questioned another anbu. Surprisingly, his chakra felt almost familiar to her, and after glancing at his beetle-esque mask she knew why.

Wordlessly, she lifted her good hand, sucking in air through her teeth when a kunai struck it dead center.

"We told you not to move, Hinata!" yelled the hawk anbu. "That's your final warning! Move once more and—"

With a sickening 'squelch', the Hyuuga heiress chomped down on the kunai's end and wrenched it free, inviting a deluge of blood to pulse down her wrist. Before she could be punished, she took the weapon in her wounded hand, nearly bit her tongue off when she wrapped her fingers around it, and pressed the point to her throat.

"And w-what?" she questioned daringly, vision waning. "What m-makes you think I don't w-want to die…?"

No one answered. Not a single anbu stirred in the night.

"My apologies...w-will you give them to the Aburame clan?" she questioned again.

"Put the kunai down, Hinata-chan," came the voice of a woman wearing a jaguars mask. She was tactfully soft spoken, which let Hinata know their threats to kill her were bluffs. She wouldn't die by their hand. After what she did, her death needed to be made a public affair. "We can talk about this. There's no need t—"

Hinata pressed the metal into her flesh. Her vision whited with sparks and a choking groan issued from her throat that cut all other noise. She instantly lost control of her legs and almost buckled, remaining on her feet through sheer will, the same will that had kept her conscious for so long. She only needed it a little longer...just a bit….

"One of y-you...g-go...d-deliver my apologies," she ordered to any anbu close enough to hear her strained whisper. When none moved, she dug the kunai in deeper, her look of agony spurring the hawk anbu himself to take flight towards the Aburame estate. She would have told them herself, oh God she would have...but time didn't permit….

"He's going, Hinata-chan, he's going," said the woman anbu. She made slow pulling motions towards herself. "Now...drop the weapon, toss it over to me like a good girl."

"Good girl...n-not me," and Hinata didn't give the anbu a chance to respond. She was through talking. Fatigue had claimed a good majority of her muscles and she was tired, longing for rest. "Time to sleep."

Almost before she could finish speaking there came a great movement as the multitude of anbu leapt as one collective force—but it didn't matter. She dug the kunai into her neck, only managing a couple inches depth before she lost all control of her body and began to tilt…

...tilt…

...falling...

She could feel the wind rushing by in speeds that nearly whipped the robe from her limp body. The gash in her throat she barely felt...her vision was fading fast, breathing in short ragged gasps….She wanted to laugh when a few anbu leapt over the edge in a futile attempt to save her but her voice was gone….

An instant before the world turned black, she caught sight of a lone crow...one with sharp red eyes. She heard it caw, and then her body knew warmth as though being enveloped in the hug she had always dreamed of.

Naruto...wait for me….

Shino. His mental image popped to the forefront of her dying mind as the ground lurched up to meet her. I'll be with you soon.

Goodbye.

The End

XXX

A/N: (Spoiler? Maybe?)

Might as well say Hinata didn't die here because thoughts of a continuation began forming. It's unlikely it'll see the light of day so if anyone cared to know, that crow had something to do with it. Peace.