10. Act of love
10. Act of love
They said there were two sides to every story.
Time was no exception to that dilemma. Depending on the individual, the story, and every point to take into consideration when telling their life, time would happen to be too slow or too quick.
For some, it even stopped. Completely.
In reality though, time was never slow or quick, or even stopped –not even for the time between seconds. It was the same everywhere and at every moment. Whether it was out of order, justice or pure fluke, time just cared little for individual lives.
She knew painfully too well how that worked.
It didn't help one bit the process as there was limit to the relief logic could bring. Despite knowing that love was just a jumble of chemical reactions people still felt hard for, she had been hopeless against the devastating power of her sorrow.
For time and space ceased to exist.
One month went by.
It had taken her one whole month before reality sank in. She slowly grasped what was really happening as poison working slowly up to kill. Just as poison delivers its last blow, realization of his death destroyed her.
It had to take so much to open her eyes to what had happened, to what she had become and how much she looked like the men she had the most despised –Danzo and Madara. The film of her life during the past months kept replaying over and over in her head: the white noise, the pretense, all the ways she used to survive…
Obito had said it once: she had felt dirty, worthless and guilty of all those things Madara did to her. Yes, she still felt like that but this time she wanted to turn her back to all that she forced her mind to do to survive. It hadn't been her back then.
Deep down Hinata was just a meek girl who talked too quietly, who always tried to be at the back of the row and lead a simple life where there were no troubles but only people she loved. That was what her heart had desired the most but there was no one left: Sasuke and her mother died, Hanabi had preferred their father who didn't give a damn about her, and with Sasuke's dead sure Karin wouldn't want to see her face.
Her world had collapsed over her head not because of Madara but because she let it be. Even at the last second when she could have let it go, she just kept being a horrible person ready to stomp over people to reach her goals…
'just for empty goals'
Until it was too late
"I'm so sorry Sasuke. I swear I wished things were different… or that I tried harder" she sobbed, each word separated by hiccups "I was so lost -I've lost… all… my repairs and didn't know what I was doing."
She clenched her thundering chest but nothing could be done against the ache growing mercilessly. It was just like a nightmare: she tried to scream but no sound came out; she wanted to cry but no tears slid down.
"I love you Hinata"
"At first I almost threw up at the mere idea of sharing any kind of kinship with you… I'm still disgusted…"
"I didn't give a fuck about you, but you came back…"
"The story started with me trying to help you out and ended with me being kicked aside. My only mistake have been to trust you"
Old ugly memories were like knives. They could cut one open.
Wet grass and hard ground made contact with her jeans-cladded knees, then her right cheek against the calloused earth. Her hands shot up against the forming abysmal hole in her chest. The waves of pain that had only grazed her until now reared high up and bathed her in a blind cruel ache, pulling her always deeper.
"I… I don't even know-" she sobbed, still without a tear "I loved, and I still love you but things happened. Danzo, Madara, and then your pink haired fiancée and her child. You… probably stopped loving me with all the troubles I've… got you into and I should have understood that and let you go. I didn't want to ruin your happiness… and I did. I have… no excuses…"
In front of Sasuke's tomb stone, her bruised heart made an impossible wish…
"I won't dare to imagine, to wish that… but I'll do what I can to get right anything you left behind unfinished. I swear on my life"
The houses around the neighborhood weren't big like in Uchiha's neighborhood but their sizes were decent enough, showing the middle class of the inhabitants. The one she was ringing at the gate was a two-story house with cream walls. The golden lights glowing through windows indicated at least one person was there.
Hinata knew it was really, really a bad idea to be there but the mere idea of getting back down after her promise was not tolerable. Unimaginable.
She ran one last time her fingers through her long hair she now let free.
Dogs started barking.
The black metal door opened on a blond woman with short hair. The woman was in her late forties and had green eyes shade darker than her daughter. Their resemblance was visible though.
Her heart sank a bit.
If this woman was her mother, odds were big for her to know about everything and try to kill her before her mission was accomplished. Despite being motherless, she knew what those passionate women could do to protect their little chicks.
"Good evening Haruno-san" she said with her most pleasant and soft voice and bowed
"And who are you?" the blond woman asked with an arched brow, sizing Hinata
"Um, I'm U- T- H-…" she breathed subtly, thinking about her identity "Hinata -just Hinata. I am –her fiancé's friend" she said with all the effort in the world
"Ah, that hooligan" she spat out "what do you want?"
She never realized that something was out of place.
"Could we go in, please? It is kind of chilling outside"
"The weather is fine"
"Please… I'm really cold out there"
She grumbled but led Hinata to their warm living room. There were soft brown sofas half-circling a black small table strategically placed before a large flat screen. On both side of the TV were two white medium wooden cupboards with glass doors behind what diverse trinkets, china, and porcelain plate were placed. A bit far behind was the dining table circled by three chairs.
The yolk walls were intriguing at first, but the place definitely had charm. It had that familial bubble to it -very inviting.
"Please take a seat. Would you drink something?" she asked politely but her eyes gleaming with suspicion
"I do not want to disturb you, madam"
"It's fine. So? What do you drink?"
In her professional role of housewife, the tea was ready in no time.
"It's really delicious"
"How considerate of you. Thank you"
"You're welcome… but I mean it."
Hinata sipped her tea, not flinching a bit under the scrutinizing gaze. Her sharp sense of observation that had been fogged by her last visit to Sasuke came back up. One didn't need to be Freud to realize that something was out of place with that woman's too ordinary behavior, given their common background… unless it was a trap.
"You have a really nice house"
"Is it me or you're trying to do something?" the older woman narrowed her eyes
Hinata blinked twice.
"I'm just being honest Mrs. Haruno, but I guess it's probably better to go straight to the point." Hinata said with a tone firmer than during the lure-your-host-in phase "I came here to talk to Sakura-Chan"
"What that guy wants from my daughter again? Isn't it enough he fled from his duties? Why did I do to have my daughter not meeting a better guy who would respect her?"
Everything became clear: Sakura definitely knew it was her, but she never told her mother the truth. Theories on the reason of such situation didn't lack but still…
"Please, I beg you to respect his memory"
"He died one month ago"
"I don't understand"
"They found his body in his flat. He had been shot" she enunciated with a clinical blankness
"Oh my God! I knew it! I knew he was a scam! A lout! I knew he'd bring trouble. Oh my… what will happen to my daughter now?!"
"Mom! What the-!"
Emerald eyes clashed with grey ones. The first turned hard as stone, while the latter stayed blank.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
Hinata got up instantly and walked to stand before the first step. There she was, her belly showing more than the last time. To think it could have been her…
"Good evening Sakura-Chan"
She let on the honorific to make the process any easier.
"Get the fuck out of here!"
"We have to speak-"
"I have nothing to talk about with you, you monster! He died because of you! And now what? You came to kill me too?"
"Nothing! I misunderstood nothing or else Sasuke wouldn't be six feet underground eaten away by worms. You killed the person I loved the most on earth and you dare coming up here? I'd have killed you if I had the power." She spat, and then smiled a smile full of scorn "But I respect myself too much to sell my body to older men for that power"
"Sakura, what is the meaning of this? Who is this girl?"
"Nobody, mom. Just get her out of there!"
"Please madam. I came here for one thing. Just hear me out"
"You'd better get out of here with me Hinata" Sakura's mother calmly said while massaging the brink of her nose
"I didn't kill him. Your daughter got the wrong idea"
"She's his ex-girlfriend. Remember when I told you about our first meeting? With Sasuke-kun? It was her fault. She dumped him for an old rich man and when he finally found happiness with me, she threatened him and tried to kill him more than once! And she succeeded in doing so!"
"If you don't go out, I'll call the Police" Mrs. Haruno threatened, slowly stepping toward the phone like Hinata was the most dangerous criminal on earth
Everything had been done. Everything had been said.
Hinata inhaled deeply. She put her hands in her black coat's pocket, exhaled and opened her eyes.
"The man I was engaged to was Uchiha Madara" Hinata said; Sakura's mother eyes grew wide "and lately we have found out that Sasuke was his son –his only child. He might be dead now but that doesn't change his statue. About his dead…"
She didn't kill him herself, or at least directly but she still felt guilty because she could have made a difference.
"We can't do anything against that" Hinata said with her most frightening cold mask "All I want now is to do the right to him. To his memory. His child has the right to get what is due to him or her"
"Sakura's kid is an heir to Uchiha Madara? Oh my! I-"
"Don't listen to her! Even Madara tried to kill Sasuke when he was courting her! That family is full of shit and blood on their hands. I don't want anything to do with them!"
"Madara didn't know back then that Sasuke was his son. He had loved Sasuke's mother enough that he would have recognized him as his son right away"
Sure he had loved the woman in a sick way.
"Defending your murderer of a husband? Of course freaks side freaks. This is the last time I said this: get out…!"
"Sakura's kid is related to the famous Uchiha family…?" Sakura's mother was still dumbfounded
"Listen to me Sakura" Hinata hissed, finally dropping the honorifics
"I don't fucking want to hear your voice! And stop calling me Sakura. Neither we are friends nor do I like you!"
"If you hadn't slept together, we would have run away"
"Oh you regret now? Uh, I thought you never regretted anything! It's incredible all the shit that can come out of your mouth when your money is at stake"
"Sasuke's dream was to do anything for our children. He wanted them to have not only love welfare but material one too. It's not about you but Sasuke's money fairly put into his child's hand. I would have directly signed papers but that would have brought troubles to your family because many people want it too"
"What did your money bring to you? Your expensive coat?"
"I don't suffer from deprivation"
"Does that help you sleep at night? Does it help you facing your reflection day after day?"
"It makes life bearable"
"You're really a gold-digger"
"I'm realist. Please Mrs. Haruno; make your daughter realize what is important"
"I'll –I'll try, I guess… I mean you're right. It's about taking care of the baby"
"Shut up mom! When will you take my side?"
Hinata saw Mrs. Haruno frightened gaze. Unlike her own daughter, Hinata saw through the woman's effort to save their life until their call to the Police. Funny, but admirable. She was gaining some time.
"That's what I'm doing-"
"Just shut your mouth! First you insult Sasuke and now you learn about his 'heritage' you feel like allying with his murderer! You sicken me"
"Don't talk to me like that Sakura!"
It had been so quick.
Sakura was walking up stairs when she whipped around to scream on her mother. Her feet slipped… then her body was rolling down.
Rolling, and rooling. Bumping and bumping.
Time disappeared. Space had no importance. Nothing mattered or existed.
Only Sakura's body oddly angled at the end of the stairs.
One dreadful second of silence.
Her body laid there lifeless with a string of blood sliding down her temple.
The next second was marked by the piercing screams of an agonizingly worried mother, and a panicked young woman call for the emergencies. The next thirty minutes was marked by the usual curious and noisy neighborhood and insufferable high-pitched alarm of the ambulance.
That night, on thirty past midnight, Sakura survived.
Sasuke's child died.
Swallowed by raw guilt of adding yet another innocent life taken onto her account, Hinata learned from Sakura's mother that the dead unborn was to be called Sarada. It was a girl.
Uchiha Sarada sounded good to her ears, but it wasn't anymore… Uchiha Sarada wasn't anymore. This time it was her fault…
One year later
Every day since her first visit, she came by Sasuke's grave. Like the first day, not even a tear would escape her eyes, neither would a sob rush out of her throat. Her eyes wandered around. Uchiha Sarada tombstone should have been beside her father's but she guessed his stained image perished in the unborn family's heart after that incident one year ago.
Nothing could be done. She eventually reached that conclusion. She was tired to live like she did; she was tired to just survive instead of living and most of all, she was tired to hold grudges and accuse people. Many people –Danzo, Madara, and Sakura- played a role in destroying her life, but even she had her own role, as much as she had in Sasuke and his child's dead. She was the biggest monster of them all.
Everything had turned to ashes as much as all her links with her past. She was a broken young woman now, ready to go on with what was left of her. Entertaining the idea of dying wasn't funny anymore but there was another problem: she had lost all will to live, but she was afraid to put an end to her life by her own hands.
Maybe she was a survivor at core because at the end of this shattered road she was the only one left.
"I'm going to leave everything behind Sasuke"
"You're truly heartless"
A cold deep voice frightened her like never before. It had been a long time since her heart had beaten this hard against her ribcage. For a crazy moment she thought Sasuke answered her back. Gulping down the lump obtruding her vocal cords she looked up at a tall figure, all clothes black.
He walked up to her and stood before the grave -certainly someone Sasuke knew, she concluded.
"I can see it's easy for you to ruin lives and turn a new page every time"
"… It's the first time I meet someone else on Sasuke's tomb"
"You killed him and you don't even blink an eye when you say his name. Your reputation does you all the justice"
Nothing new under the sky. Everyone she tried to talk to that made up Sasuke's circle would say the same thing, call her the same name: murderer.
"I don't want to ever see you there so leave now and never comeback." She said nothing, and he went on "I'm talking to you. Leave now" he said a bit louder, with a forcing bitter tone
"This is a public place. I just went on my mom's tomb"
"You killed her too?"
"I have the right to be on this grave"
"How dare you?!" he hissed, his voice muffled by his scarf "I'll get a mandate to have you forbidden there –or are you going to kill me so you would have no one to keep you from mocking his memory?"
"How can I kill you if I don't know your face?" she said without a trace of humor
She wasn't thinking when she said those words to Obito one year ago, but the words still crossed her lips. She should have been more precocious of what she did. In such a circle as dangerous as Madara, she should have known jokes didn't have a place, neither did brainless words. Being considered a murderer and not defending herself was a reminder of her thoughtlessness.
Deafening silence followed her words, not to her surprise.
"You said that you'd be the bad guy. You did take on your role"
"… I see that you were really close to Sasuke to know about those words" she said without looking back up
"To come back on the tomb of your victim to spit on their graves. So the legend is true"
"Do whatever you want; say whatever you think. If you try to take it on a higher level, I'll get official authorization to visit this grave at my ease"
"He did all he could for you, yet you found it worth killing him… why do you comeback on his grave? Don't you have any respect for the dead?"
"The why and the how of this story is between Sasuke and me. All the rest should keep their place as the onlookers they are. I'll come back over and over and over again until my own death. Then again, I'll ask in my testament to be buried by his side, and no one will keep me from doing so" she hissed "none of you know how much I have loved Sasuke"
"Are you sure about this?"
"What's the use? He tricked me. The marriage certificate is false far and wide. Besides, there are much more eligible heirs and much hungrier wolves out there"
"After all you went through and did, I find it unfair. Why do you want to give up?"
"I feel tired of this –of my life. I want to think more about me and do things I really like"
"I used to like cooking. Sasuke and I planned to open a restaurant… I'll do something about that"
"You can go to the best place to learn it"
"I want to earn it on my own"
"You did. You never asked to marry Madara but it happened. You do have your part. I agree to take over administration and all but I don't want to put you out of this. After all this time you became a good friend and as a good friend, I ask you to stay"
"Taking his money would be agreeing with all those who said I married a rich older man to get his money"
"You shouldn't care about what people say. They like to talk for the sake of it"
"It's true but I'm not that arrogant not to see the part of truth in this"
"Which part? The fact that you married Madara because he threatened Sasuke's life? Or that you have been sequestered against your own will? Or that you're the first woman Madara ever did that to?"
"Madara never tortured a woman. He did hang around BDSM clubs, but he never did what he did to you. It all came down to this because of his rivalry with your biological father, your stepfather's mischievousness and your mother stubbornness"
"So… I was the first victim. Of course it had to be me."
"You don't have to end as the victim"
She looked at him straight in the eyes for a long moment, too long for comfort.
Oh, how Hinata had been wrong concerning him from the start.
"I first thought that you were just waiting my fall like the rest but… more than once when you could have easily taken advantage, you still stuck by my side. It's hard for me… to trust someone again or let anyone in but, you…" she paused, gulped and then started speaking again "we'll make sure you get all of it"
"I know, and I won't be surprised that you don't totally trust me but you still need the money. There's your school, your treatment-"
"What do you really want now?"
"I just want to take a rest from all this" she made a large vague gesture "I'll keep contact with you but I don't want anything to do anymore with the Uchiha name –except you of course. As for now, just let me get out of this place –this town even"
"… You're an adult who make her own choices. Just call me when you need help. Where will you stay for now?"
"At a hotel"
"Then it'd be Imperial Hotel"
She gulped. Of course it'd be stupid to say no to a five star hotel that always made it up to top 5. Why not?
"I guess you won't take no as an answer?"
"You guessed right"
They smiled for a brief moment, and then shook hands. After a moment, he took her into his arms and squeezed her hard enough. Another pacific human's warmth was always welcomed, always put some balm over wounds but never totally washed away sins or guilt.
The embrace was bittersweet for Hinata.
"Everything will be fine"
"Obito-San, thank you so much for everything." She sobbed without a tear "If there's anything I can do for you, even the slightest of task, just ask. I will do anything for you"
"Don't make promises you can't keep"
"I swear I'm being serious! I will give my own life for you. You mean that much to me… many things had happened. You have seen my worse side, listened to accusations yet you stayed by my sides despite everything, and unlike everyone." She said through her smile "of course you mean that much. I swear on my own life, and heavens know how far I can get to protect it."
"I'll take your words"
"Yeah… you should rest too. Everything is over now"
"I like it better like that"
"I see… Bye then, Obito-san"
"Until next time Hinata"
Hinata went away with credits cards from Obito and nothing else. She didn't want anything coming from that house. However, she couldn't help but swear it was just a loan. After many encouraging words and soft jokes, Zetsu drove her silently to her hotel.
It was funny to discover at the end of the road that Zetsu wasn't so much of a bad guy. The same didn't apply to his tanner twin.
After a century, she was finally able to see something other than that damned mansion. Sure the place had been wonderful mixture of art and taste, but nothing could replace the relaxing activity of changing scenery –besides of course the 'sweet' story that house held in its womb.
It felt like the first time, and the colorful and joyous lights of town blinded her in the pleasant way it would a prisoner just out of jail after so many years.
To see light again… it felt good. She was breathing again. Freedom was such a treasure too many people didn't realized the importance until it's too late. For some, at least.
Her phone rang, snatching her out of her childish reverie.
She chuckled, a bit of euphoria intoxicating her sense. Obito could quite be the over protective brother. She had wished to have one in her only cousin Neji, but he had always seemed so far away from her. Hinata opened the text, warmth spreading across her chest.
From: 00 XXX XXX
She was surprised to see an unknown number, and even more at the message giving her appointment to a building she never heard about. The biggest surprise yet was the signature.