Building a Bridge over your Barrier
Two steps forward and one step back.
That's how her progressed seemed to go these days, for Hinata Hyuga. And at the moment, it was quite a literal task as the girl was standing on a path in the middle of the night. She had taken two quick short steps forward only to inch back a step perhaps out of shyness or out of nervousness. Hinata Hyuga was the wallflower in the village of Konoha, often the one who sat back and observed rather than throw her voice around hoping an idea stuck somewhere. Her life had been a constant push-pull struggle for her to find her voice, to find her niche. For the most part, there had always been someone else, someone much better than her and those doubts would settle into the large cracks of soul and seek refuge and comfort. When she became a Genin upon graduating from the Academy, she had been so pleased with herself, so happy that she could see something till the end when in fact, becoming Genin only marked the beginning of her lifelong journey of self awareness. Inside her head, she was more confident and thoughtful but on the outside, she had trouble articulating her thoughts in a manner that people could connect with. She couldn't help but admire people like Naruto and Sasuke and Sakura, Team 7 was filled with gifted individuals who could speak her mind without trouble, could be called upon without anyone cringing.
Hinata's group had someone who was a lot like Naruto, Kiba. And then they had someone like herself but a bit more quiet, if that were possible, Shino. Their teacher was a wonderfully skilled woman, someone who Hinata was sure she could try and emulate one day. Someday. Then the Chunin Exams began and Hinata really wasn't sure of herself. She didn't feel ready but she carried on with her team's support and they managed to make it pretty far. Yet in the end she ended up losing to Neji Hyuga, her cousin who seemed intent on taking the fight to a personal level. And while it was personal for her as well as her tiny amount of pride, it seemed even greater for Neji. In the end, several people came to her rescue but one stood out to her. One made her heart beat a little faster. That was Naruto, the boy who had been her silent cheerleader. Because her father had lost hope in her, Hinata found having hope in herself a terribly hard task and it was Naruto who she could relate to, as he was often as alone as she was. He even helped defend her when she found herself face to face with some bullies from school. And even though it was all in the past, she never forgot the look in Naruto's eyes. He was fearless and wouldn't give in, wouldn't give up.
He, and Kurenai-Sensei and Kiba-kun and Shino-kun all helped foster her potential and even though she failed to pass the Exams, things were slowly looking up for her. Her father was starting to acknowledge her once more and she was trying to train with Neji more often when he had time to offer. The kunnoichi knew her life would be a struggle but she didn't pity herself for it, she knew if she took things in stride, one step at a time, then she would become great, the kind of great ninja that Naruto-kun deserved to be around. Yet one might wonder why Hinata was out on a chilly autumn instead of safe inside her compound. She had a conversation with Sakura Haruno, Naruto's teammate. Hinata had agreed to help out with Sasuke Uchiha since she had the Byakugan and could keep an eye on him from any distance. Sakura seemed grateful and left. Hinata knew Sasuke and Naruto had a complicated history as friends and enemies and it seemed it was time for them to go down different paths. While she didn't know the details, she knew they had a fight recently atop the Hokage Monument which many people, Kiba-kun mostly, were talking about. It was then noted that Naruto would leave with the legendary Sage, Jiraiya to embark on a training mission to which saddened Hinata greatly. She knew he had to leave to get stronger but she didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to him, which to her was the worst part, the pain inflicted was of course unintentional. She and Naruto didn't exactly qualify as friends but she still cared for him deeply and she knew he did too, in his own way.
"Hey Hinata-san, I need a favor!" Sakura called out to the purple haired girl who was sitting outside with some tea at the local cafe.
"Y-yes?" She rose from her seat.
"I know this is going to sound out of nowhere...but I need to ask you to keep an eye on Sasuke-kun." Before Hinata could ask any questions, Sakura continued. "He and Naruto are really at one another's throats lately and he's been mentioning leaving and Kakashi-Sensei and I don't think we'd be the right people to ask him to stay. I know I'm asking a lot from you but you are unbiased, he might trust your word more than ours right now." Sakura pleased. "Please, Sasuke-kun can't make this mistake, with Naruto already gone, I'm worried Sasuke is going to do something drastic and with your Byakugan, you can keep an eye on him. Will you help?"
Hinata chewed on her lip, not really sure about the large task presented to her but since she was trying to be more bold, she slowly nodded and Sakura embraced her tightly which threw Hinata off balance. "Y-you're...welcome...umm..." Hinata flushed slightly and Sakura released her and gave Hinata a bright smile. Hinata could tell this favor meant a lot to her, and probably a lot to Naruto if he was around, so she would her best. "I'll...I'll make sure he's o-okay..." She said with some confidence.
And so from that point on, Hinata had kept Sasuke Uchiha in the back of her mind, always present.
When she was training, she would take a break and activate her bloodline to see where Sasuke was. And when she was about to go to sleep, she would once again activate her bloodline and make sure he wasn't in any harm. Up until earlier in the afternoon, Hinata was thinking of approaching Sakura and saying that Sasuke didn't seem like he was trying to leave but when she was done eating lunch with her team and catching up, she noticed Sasuke heading out of a shop with some items, a lot more than what the average ninja had for a stockpile. Hinata excused herself and managed to place herself on the roof of the Academy so she could see better. And for the rest of the day she watched Sasuke pack some supplies and mull around his own empty Uchiha compound. It was a bit sad to watch. But she decided to wait until the last possible moment before approaching him. Sasuke was an intimidating person and based on what she saw in the Exams, she didn't want to cross him in battle. Hinata headed back to her own home to have dinner and then decided to watch Sasuke and wait. She ended up figuring the route he was taking, which would have the least amount of traffic.
'You can do this.' She silently told herself again and again. Her heart started to pound so loud that she feared the cunning Uchiha might feel it from behind. But she tried hard to conceal her chakra as she followed him behind. There was a light breeze which made the air more cool. Had it been the sunny afternoon where the lines of summer and fall blurred, the wind might be considered pleasant. Hinata pressed her lips together and breathed in. Part of her was pretty sure he was on to her, which meant it was up to either one of them to break the ice. After opening and closing her mouth several times thanks to too many failed attempts, she found herself fiddling with her fingers, a nasty habit of the wallflower's. "S-Sasuke Uchiha...." She called out but instead of it sounding brave or assertive, it sounded very uncertain, very withdrawn. "I...I um..." Words failed her once more and she considered running back home with her tail between her legs but then Sakura's eyes flashed in front of her and then Naruto's and then Neji's. "I...I can't le-let you leave!" She stammered, using a bit more force in hopes that he would stop, turn around, applaud her meek attempt, take pity on her, and just go back to his lonely home. Sadly that was unlikely to happen but she promised Sakura that she would make sure Sasuke was safe and she knew that leaving Konoha was surely not a safe thing to do.
"I..." She stated to feel her chest tighten as she slowed her pace. Hinata put a hand to her chest, her fingertips running along her tan sweatshirt which felt like a straight jacket at the current moment. 'I cannot tell him that Sakura asked me to do this.' She thought. "I d-don't...I d-don't think you should leave...there are...people here who care about you." Well she wasn't too sure about that, but she knew his team did and that had to count for something, it had to. "Y-you're not as alone as you think you are!" Hinata found herself boldly telling Sasuke. Then she reached up and put a hand over her mouth, feeling as though she had overstepped a line and had set off some kind of trigger yet she wasn't sure if apologizing would help at this point or not. From a few trees away, Sakura had perched herself up in a tree, concealing her chakra perfectly and effortlessly. Her emerald eyes were watching the scene carefully, knowing what kind of a terrible position she had to put Hinata in. Sakura held on tightly to the tree as her legs were swung over the branch as a momentary flashback to her with Sasuke and Naruto almost a year or so ago back in the Land of Waves, back when Kakashi actually stopped to train her, as well as the boys. Soon it became all about Sasuke-kun which Sakura found to be quite hurtful. In her mind, had he done something more for her as a teacher, she would have wiped the floor with Ino's stupid face and moved onto the final battles in the Exams. But that was all over now.
And Sakura couldn't help but wish for the simple days to come back, instead she had to watch her teammates struggle with personal identity while she was pushed aside.
'Come on Hinata, you can do it.' Sakura thought.