a/n. Just a quick btw, Meno gave Xiao the nickname "Emerald duck" because emerald ducks have greenish teal stripes on their heads and Xiao has teal undertones in his hair.
Trigger Warnings. Mentions of death and violence
Again and again these waves crash over Xiao's subconscious. Riptides of lost human dreams, the tsunamis of guilt, and the eons of pain build each other up, growing larger as they drown him in endless suffering. Waves of black vapor cloud his person. He clutches his mask
He can hear their screams now as he writhes on the top floor of Wangshu Inn in agony, barely supporting the weight of his body with his arms leaning on the balcony rails.
"Xiao, Xiao!" he turns his head to see Verr Goldet franticly searching for him.
"There's someone downstairs, the-they, Verr Goldet stutters on her words, waving her arms around unlike her usual composed self.
Xiao doesn't wait for to finish, he grabs his pole arm by reflex prepared to strike the threat down.
Instead he's met with a person grappling with pain on the floor.
"Why slime condensate exactly?"
"Hm?" Xiangling gives you a genuinely confused look despite it not exactly being the social norm to add slime liquids to a meal. She was climbing up a sandbearer tree. The striped squirrels on the ground scatter upon her arrival.
"What gave you the idea to add slime into your dishes?" you clarify, trying not to come off as rude. Tossing the wicker basket between your hands as a form of entertainment while your culinary friend ducked her head underneath a branch.
The trees ruffle and flocks of crimson flinches and golden flinches fly off to the sky as Xiangling forages around in the tree branches for bird eggs.
"What gave you the idea that not everything is edible?" she playfully teases, now placing bird eggs by sets of two in the basket she previously gave you in Wanmin Restaurant.
You giggle, covering your hands with your mouth. She motions for you to put the basket down and come over while she grabs you by the shoulders ("Don't you dare-") and hops down. Unfortunately, you aren't heavy enough to support her body weight when she jumps down with her full force.
"Ugh!" you groan as you both tumble down to the floor. You raise a hand to your head and cover your forehead. "Was that really necessary?" you sigh, already far too used to her antics. She snickers.
As you regain your footing, you ask, "How far along are we exactly? My mother will have an aneurysm if we step foot in Moon City.*" Xiangling had already run off, and with the basket no doubt.
You look to your right and find her by the lake counting hydro slimes behind a crack between a few slabs of stone. You crouch down besides her. Her charcoal hair brushes against your mulberry silk skirt.
"1,2,3,4." Yes! this is definitely enough for my new dish!" she pumps her fist in the air.
You don't remember there being a lake to the far right in the places your mother told you to stick to.
"Let me guess," you strike a thinking pose, you want me to set up a new shop here for your new culinary competition?" you sarcastically muse.
She rolls her eyes. "No, silly I-," she stops at your amused expression. "Ah- well go on than."
You reach your arm to summon your now unsheathed dagger attached to the leather belt on your waist, ignoring the long bow and arrows attached on your back and rather choosing a melee weapon,
Standing up from your hiding spot, the group hydro slime flock, well bounce towards you.
The air turns frosty and Xiangling's teeth chatter while she rubs her arms in hopes of warming up. "Don't turn me into a chef popsicle before I get the slime condensate [Name]!"
As you kneel down to slam the stiletto dagger into sand, sharp edged flower patterns appear on the ground. The slimes teeter back at the sound chill between their mass before large icicles spring up, piercing their bodies and turning them into goo.
"Woo!" Xiangling jumps above the rock pile and excitedly cheers. Pumping her arms up. "That's my girl!"
"It was nothing really. What was it you needed next again? Of course after you've collected the slime condensate of course." you stop talking as Xiangling sweeps the slightly frozen slime fluids off the crystals you've created into a glass bottle.
"Well talking about other ingredients, I actually wanted to try something." she mentions with a certain twinkle in her eyes.
"You have my attention." You wave your hand at her to go on.
"You know that cooking competition? The one I had in the Mondstadt with the chef named Brooke?"
"I don't recall you telling me that, can you specify?" racking your brain for memories of Xiangling's rantings about food. You suddenly feel drops of sweat on your back despite not being lukewarm at the very best. It must just be from the excitement from fighting the slimes, you think pushing away your other thoughts on the matter.
"Well anyways, we found this extinct species of boar with the help of the traveler, I believe they're called the honorary knight now?" she taps her chin. "That's besides the point but, anyways, it made me think of the different varieties of possible meat options I could use with different monsters. Can you go with me north of Jueyun Karst with me to find a Stonehide Lawachurl?" She claps her hands together into a begging motion. "Please, Please?"
"Mhm, I'm not sure how fast we can make it there? You didn't hear my question before when I was asking where we were before. I'm planning on packing my bags early when I go home overmorrow." you say counting the possible time it would take you to pack all your belongings. Black spots appear in your vision. You open your mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.
"Hmm, I'd say if we're lucky, a few hours? It's lucky that it's still the early morning huh?" Xiangling turned her attention to you from the mushrooms she was picking underneath the trees.
She looks over to see you on your knees, black substance withering out of your body. Sweat drips down your forehead.
She frantically shakes you, but your vision has gone black.
The blood on Bosacius' arm dripped to the ground creating a thin string trailing only to be diluted by the pouring rain water behind Bosacius and a certain teal haired adeptus. Bosacius gripped his injured arm with his other.
"You need to treat that wound," Xiao said, glaring at his fellow adeptus' wound. He could see the majority of Bosacius bone creeping out of his flesh. A familiar sight.
"Rest assured, I've been in worse state. I just never expect it to hurt as much as it always does," grimaced Bosacius through his smiling expression. The water soaked through his garments and drenched his hair.
"You sound like one of those mortals, trying to fight through their deathly injuries only not to see the next day," replied Xiao looking forward to their destination of Jueyun Karst. He could see the towering peaks getting larger and larger as they move on despite the misty atmosphere.
"We're all too mortal for our liking these days." said Bosacius, his expression unreadable.
The sound of steps softly crushing the blades of grass underneath them and thunder rumbling filled the air while their owners remained silent.
"Have you told Rex Lapis about the constant pain you've been experiencing?" said Xiao, breaking the silence.
Bosacius bit his bottom lip while his working hands, well, what was left of them tensed up. "No, I didn't see the need to bother him. I'm sure he has other pressing matters to attend to now, especially with the incline in aggression from monsters around Liyue Harbor recently. It's strange," The older man looked up to the sky, while Xiao had a distracted look on his face from thinking about the increased monster attacks. "I have yet to figure out the cause behind it."
"I believe Cloud Retainer and Mountain Shaper are free this evening, I'll ask them for their input on the situation later."
They had arrived at Jueyun Karst, the floating island in the middle of the adepti abode was lit up, symbolizing the availability of Cloud Retainer.
"I'd imagine we don't have the need to place an offering in the middle of the lake huh?" Bosacius winks at Xiao. Xiao looks down at the lake, full of ripple currently from the cloudburst. The empty bowl in the middle overflowed with liquid.
Bosacius gave a forced smile at his correct prediction of their fellow adepti's availability. "Well, I suppose it's best for me to head off and find Indarias to heal my wounds."
"That would be for the best." confirmed Xiao
"Thank you for accompanying me for this trip."
Xiao turned his back and Bosacius was gone
"Hey! Emerald duck!"
Xiao swore he heard the inter layers of hell again as he pinched the bridge of his nose
"Oh archons," he cursed under his breath. Menogias tumbled towards him, no grace or posture in her current childlike state.
*Moon City refers to Mondstadt as Mondstadt translates to Moon City in German.
a/n. Incase anyone was wondering the reader's constellation is "The Maiden" or "Virgo". I'm planning on making a character sheet for the reader soon, so watch out for that!
guess potato farming was all in a day's work for the blood god. but now, it was her work, too.
pairing: techno x oc (very strange mafia/gang au)
a/n: a bit of a longer chapter! i hope to continue to write chapters about this long from here on out! :)
"Sign here, and your contract for a year will begin." Dream set an emerald green fountain pen by the contract paper on his desk. Technoblade sat on the edge of it, his long legs extended out and his arms folded. His nonchalance now and when he had signed the contract twenty seconds ago gave Stella pause as she went to pick up the pen. What was she getting herself into?
Stella picked up the pen anyway, tapping its metallic side with a finger to ease her nerves. Its heft was slightly unsettling--what was this pen made of? Actual emeralds? "When do I start?"
"Today," came Technoblade's immediate reply. He arched an eyebrow at her, as if daring her to challenge him. "Unless you can't."
She bit her lip and signed her name on the line below his. Her pretty, loopy name contrasted so starkly against Technoblade's chicken scratch. "No, uh, today is perfectly fine."
Along with a hefty hourly salary, Stella's benefits for taking this job were numerous. Apparently, she was also getting a security detail assigned to her when she was not at any of the SMP complexes. She didn't want to know exactly what they did in order for her to need security. Dream had originally appointed someone named Karl to her, but Techno had immediately dismissed him as a contender. When Dream then replied with a counter offer of Purpled, Techno reluctantly agreed.
He had said, and Stella could quote, "At least Purpled can defend himself." She didn't know what that meant, but she hoped this Purpled character was nice and not intimidating like everyone here was.
Once the deed was done, Dream added his own signature to the third line. "She's all yours now." Stella did not appreciate how he had worded that sentence.
"Excellent." There was a gleam in Techno's auburn eyes, before he turned away to sweep from the room. Literally. He had turned with an actual flourish of his velvet cape. "Have Miriam sent my way. Let's go, Stella."
Stella bowed her head slightly to Dream, then gathered herself and hurried after Techno. He led them out of the meeting room and into the hall Stella had taken when she first arrived. Guards standing on either side gave Technoblade deep bows of respect, but the man simply strode past them.
The halls were made of black stone and marble, while the ground was lined in a luxurious, scarlet carpet. Stella would kill to just touch it with her bare hands, but she knew that was nowhere near professional. She didn't know if she should walk with him or continue to walk behind him, but as he led her into a corridor to their immediate right, he peered over his cape-draped shoulder at her.
"Well? Are you just a slow walker? Pick up the pace." And then he was walking again--or rather sauntering again. He had that air of effortlessness to him.
Stella took the clear hint and tried harder to keep in step with him. Her short stature found that trying to keep up with his long strides was a struggle, but she eventually got the hang of it. She could have sworn he even slowed down just slightly, but based on the rumors and whispers she'd heard on the streets about this man, he wouldn't be so kind as to even do the smallest of gestures.
This hallway was much darker than the rest, and perhaps even more heavily guarded. She had not taken this route to the meeting room, so she could only pray that he wasn't taking her to a torture chamber or anything of the sort.
They came upon an area swarmed with even more guards. At the end of this corridor sat an archway with an amethyst gem at its center. The gem gleamed like a twinkling iris, even if there was hardly any light here. The gem somehow harnessed the limited power of the corridor's redstone torches in order to continue to shine.
Past the archway was a small room with a glass chamber at its center. There was a light shining from the bottom, but Stella especially noticed the dispenser at the chamber's ceiling. She recognized this as one of the coveted Ender Pearl Transport devices that could (allegedly) only be found on the Black Market. How had they gotten a hold of one?
Actually, should she really be asking that? There was nothing about this place that didn't scream SHADY AS FUCK.
"In you go," Technoblade said, placing a hand on the small of her back to guide her into the chamber. He came in right behind her with his front flush to her back and his hands steady on her shoulders. Stella stiffened at the contact and his closeness. "Hit the button."
Was he talking to her--
A guard pressed a button on the side of the chamber (nevermind) and an ender pearl came crashing down on top of their heads. As it did, it released hundreds of shining purple particles into the air. Stella had never traveled by ender pearl before, but the sensation she felt was a tingling one, as if these floating pieces of particle were surrounding her entire body. They covered her so completely that she had to close her eyes as they blocked her vision anyway.
A moment passed, and then Technoblade was squeezing her shoulders. She felt his body leave hers and she turned to follow him out.
Stella froze. Instead of the dark and dank room they had entered into, they now walked out into a comforting and warm room paneled with oak wood. Glorious sunlight, so different from the overcast she had seen this morning, streamed through the open doorway from the hall.
Where had they gone?
"Welcome to my humble abode," Technoblade's voice droned out. He gestured widely to the room beyond the teleportation chamber.
Stella followed him out, scurrying up to the railing he now stood at. She grasped it tight once she realized how high off the ground they were. The room they just emerged from was located on the topmost floor of the house they had teleported to. It was almost like a grander version of a cabin in the woods with vaulted ceilings, cobblestone foundations, and a roaring fireplace at the very bottom.
It was absolutely beautiful. And Stella made sure she told him so. "It's gorgeous."
He flashed her a lazy, yet conspiratorial smile. It made his sharp canines peak out from his mouth. "I know."
Technoblade turned to his left and disappeared down a stairway. Stella quickly followed his lead and figured out that the stairway must wrap around the entirety of the house. It spiraled around, but with spaced out landings and steps. Along the way, there were a multitude of closed doors on her left-hand side, while empty torch holders dotted the right-hand wall.
She wondered if anyone else lived here, but then recalled how Technoblade himself had said earlier that no one else worked here.
When they reached the bottom floor, Technoblade pointed out the massive kitchen, the obvious living space, and according to him, the "most important feature"--the farm outside.
A pair of French doors led out onto the deck that overlooked acres of farmland that stretched as far as the eye could see. The wooden deck wrapped around the entirety of the massive property, and she would know since Techno walked her around the entire thing. She noted the small dirt path that led from the home to a farmhouse just a little ways out, and another path leading into a dense forest beyond.
After taking a loop around the house, they walked back inside and up the stairs. Technoblade directed them to one of the many closed doors, but this one was now open.
The room they entered was plain with cream walls and dark floors, but the centerpiece was a raised platform before a trifold of mirrors. Light shone from the corners of the room and above the platform, leaving the remainder of the room in shadows. A young woman was waiting just beside the platform with a notepad in hand, a pencil tucked behind her ear, and a tape measure around her neck.
She seemed surprised to see Stella by the way her eyes widened a smidge, but bowed to them both anyway.
Technoblade gestured to the woman as he collapsed into one of the armchairs in the corner of the room. "Stella, this is Miriam, a seamstress who works with the SMP. Miriam, this is Stella, my new uh... assistant. Stella, get on the platform, would ya'."
"Oh, uh…" Stella stepped up onto the platform and faced the mirrors. She left her hands to hang on either side of her, fingers playing with the pleats of her loose pants.
"I'm just going to take your measurements," Miriam told her softly and stepped onto the platform with her. She gave her a smile in the mirror. "It'll only be a minute or two."
As Miriam efficiently took Stella's measurements, Stella wondered why her new employer would need such information. Perhaps she was supposed to have a uniform? He did seem like the kind of man with an extravagant taste, as if the crown and cape weren't evidence enough. Were her clothes too drab for him?
Indeed, it had only taken Miriam a record two minutes to note down all of her measurements. The seamstress addressed Technoblade next. "What garments should I have made for her?"
Stella felt his eyes on her again, just as they were the entire time Miriam was working. "Huh… we'll go with a couple pairs of overalls, both denim and perhaps corduroy--whatever you think; I trust your judgement. And I'd also like gardenin' gloves and fancier ones made. And a few nice dresses, if you know what I mean."
No, I don't know what you mean, Stella thought to herself.
Miriam nodded. "I'll have my team get these made right away."
Miriam exited the room soon after, no doubt gone to make these things for Stella. Should she have thanked her--?
Technoblade pushed out of the armchair and beckoned for Stella to follow him once more. "I'm sure you're wonderin' what in the Wither's name you're going to be doin' here."
They walked out of the dim room and back out into the warm sunlight of the hall. Stella fell into step with him again, hands clasped together in front of her. "Yes, actually."
"Well…" They were back on the deck overlooking the acres of farmland. Technoblade braced his arms on the deck railing and had almost a wistful smile on his face. "Pretty much all I do is farm. 90% of it is potatoes--"
"90%?" Stella queried with wide eyes.
Technoblade raised an eyebrow at her. "Yeah, wish it was more, but alas--" he sighed. His eyes rolled halfway in a lazy fashion, and one of his hands flourished in a flippant gesture. "I can't exactly live completely off of that crap. The rest is other things like carrots and beets and watermelons or whatever. I've got livestock in the farmhouse that go out far to graze, and there's the orchard you saw earlier."
Ah, so that hadn't been a forest, but an orchard. Perhaps the fruits were just deeper inside and far from sight.
"So… I'm helping you run your farm then."
"Pretty much," he said. Technoblade leaned his back against the railing now, like he had done with Dream's desk. He looked at her with that boring gaze of his. "So why is someone like you endin' up workin' a farm for someone like me? You had quite the résumé."
Stella assumed a position leaning over the railing to gaze out at the endless acreage of farm. It seemed both daunting and freeing all at once. "I don't really have work experience, and a lot of companies only do internships for people like me without pay. So I won't get paid anytime soon. And I'm drowning in debt. And I need to eat and pay rent."
"Am I doing actual work today or was the seamstress thing it?" She asked before she could stop herself. She knew in her gut that Technoblade was not a man to be trifled with, yet she somehow got the feeling he appreciated bluntness. Maybe it was because he was just blunt.
He considered her question for a moment. "Yeah, no. That was all I really had in mind. You'll probably start actual work tomorrow."
Stella bit the inside of her cheek. "Would Miriam have everything ready by then?" Maybe she could dig up some old clothes she could use to farm in--
"You'd be surprised," he said with a smirk on his face. --Or maybe not.
Them adding a new domain and housing in the same patch was a terrible move because most of my genshin time is now about hunting good wood hacking spots or other housing things and not fighting stuff.
I picked Emerald Peak which is nice but i kind of regret cause I want Floating Abode now but I can't switch till trust rank 8 and i am 4. In the meantime - to accrue adepti energy - i have stacked rocks randomly and placed random buildings and it's kinda crowded and i would like exterior area 2 now so i can spread out.
Also the serentea pot log says i need to visit someone and buy from their traveling merchant which I don't wanna do cause i play single player; i have one mmo co-op sucks. "Pokes discord friends*
Also, Dain needs to put his prickles away and Zhongli remains my favorite Archon. Venti, i like but no one takes him seriously and he deserves better but he's exhausting to like. Zhongli outlines his expectations and never wavers from that and it's nice to know where you stand instead of trying to translate evasiness or vagries. Zhongli never moves the goalposts or hides them and my brain is just on empty always so I appreciate his bluntness
saw you scrolling through the genshin impact tag!! distraction: what do you think of yanfei's va's? which house scenery ar you picking? what do you think about the tree chopping system (it's really weird imo?? idk)
Ahh, thank you very much! :D Your message is really appreciated.
I honestly don't have a strong opinion about Yanfei's VAs, especially since I've only heard her English VA so far. But I like Yanfei in general, she seems to be a great character and if I get her I'll definitely put her in my team. :)
As for the housing scenery, I chose Emerald Peak because I just love how majestic the mountains in Liyue look. I was considering going for Floating Abode at first but yeah, obviously that didn't happen.
Oh my, the tree chopping... I'm not sure what to think about it tbh. It was fun at first but I feel like it's going to annoy me at some point. However, I don't think it was a bad idea to implement something like this because it would also be weird if the materials just appeared out of nowhere. :)
How about an ItaHina slow-burn fanfic where Itachi and Hinata meet each other for the first time, and Hinata is hesitant to trust Itachi (naturally) until he helps her later on. They then converse more often and the both begin have feelings for each other over time despite the both of them being on opposing sides. Maybe have a tidbit of Itachi's partner noticing him watching over/being with Hinata too much? I know I'm putting too much into this, but I thought I'd put some input to help you out.
Hello, friend! Thank you for requesting, and I hope this story was worth the wait. Your prompt was a little too much to include in one story, but fear not! I am working on two more parts to continue this tale, so keep an eye out for those in the future! For now, I hope this is a worthy introduction to the ItaHina saga I have planned <3
A Meaningful Life
Dozens of honey-sweet aromas filled the air, wafting around Hinata’s face as she stood tranquilly in the expansive clearing bursting to the brim with hundreds of wildflowers. The Land of Flowers was aptly named; the small village on the outskirts of the Land of Fire boasted many fields such as these. The blooms stretched on in every direction, kaleidoscoping against the emerald green grass in bursts of white, yellow, pink, blue, and red. Their soft petals brushed against the fabric of Hinata’s ninja uniform as they swayed in the gentle breeze rolling over the horizon. Hinata slowly walked to a lone oak tree sprawling on a small hill in the center of the field and then reclined amongst its protruding bumpy roots, inhaling happily as she enjoyed the cool shade.
Hinata and her teammates had been dispatched to the Land of Flowers for a month-long mission protecting the nation’s twelve-year-old princess. Officials had caught wind of an assassination plot stewing, so they’d dispatched Team 8 along with a small cohort of Anbu Black Ops to guard her until the day of her thirteenth birthday passed; that was the supposed date for the ill-gotten plan. Hinata hoped that it was simply rumor, for she couldn’t imagine who would want to brutally murder a twelve-year-old girl, but the world was a lawless, dangerous, and unforgiving place. Hinata plucked a dandelion blooming in one of the patches of light and brought it to her mouth so she could blow away the light, delicate seeds. The breeze caught their fluffy, feathery bodies to spirit them away into the great unknown, and Hinata watched through lidded eyes as they were carried off.
Hinata's pale lavender eyes drifted to the ring of green framing the spacious carpet of colors in which she currently rested. Pockets of forest dotted the Land of Flowers, little blots of mesocosms contained in the ocean of beauty. Hinata found herself rising to cross the tide of petals to drift underneath the canopy of leaves, like a ghost wandering the astral plane to find meaning again. The air hummed with the trills of cicadas and tunes of birdsong; the musty odor of decaying leaves and rich earth floated up into her nostrils to fill her to the brim with a sense of grounding. Her fingers skipped over the emerald, spiked leaves of the bushes and brambles as her feet floated over the uneven, dense layer of detritus. She tracked the senseless winding path through the lichen-coated trunks until suddenly it all fell away to reveal a sun-dappled clearing with a dilapidated house in the middle.
Hinata blinked slowly as she regarded the destroyed structure in the center of the overgrown yard. I wonder what a house is doing way out here? It was obvious that the home had been out of commission for an exceptionally long time. Only so much could be gleaned from the spirits of lives past; as Hinata wandered over the cracked, dirty stone that once marked a pathway to the porch, which had detached partially from the house and has sunk precariously into the earth, she spotted a few artifacts of those who had once called the cabin home. A frayed rope snaked across the yard, evidence of a clothesline once stretched from the window. A few clay flower pots huddled by the side of the abode, overgrown with weeds and clovers. Did they enjoy gardening? Did those once hold flowers or herbs? A cracked plastic trellis indicated a vinous plant, like strawberries, even.
The wood of the porch groaned as Hinata tested her weight on it. It protested considerably but thankfully did not yield. Carefully, Hinata skirted the intact edge of the porch to meander up to the door. Dust drifted out of the threshold, as the thing barely held on by half a hinge. Hinata paused when a flesh of red disturbed the muted tones of gray and brown. She crouched down with a curious expression eyebrows knitting as she inspected the strange puddle of crimson liquid pooled on the fungus-coated wood. Her stomach plummeted when she realized it was unmistakably blood.
“Hello? Is someone injured?” she called, stepping over the ominous pool into the gloom. Half-rotted planks of wood barred the windows, allowing only thin slivers of light to trickle into the structure. They splayed in skinny rectangles across the floor. Hinata squinted in the darkness, tempted to use her Byakugan to illuminate the dark.
She froze as an ominous creak echoed through the small house. It traveled like a dark wind from the back of the structure. “Hello?” Hinata called once more, inching down the hall with furrowed brows. Her fingers slipped underneath the flap of her tool pouch; it could be that she stumbled upon an injured hostile or even one of the assassination party attempting to lay a trap for one of the hired guards. “If you’re in here, make yourself known!” she ordered. “I’m not afraid—”
“You don’t have to yell.”
Hinata jumped nearly a foot in the air, whipping out a kunai on instinct. The voice had spoken suddenly from her left, so she whirled on her heel to find an open doorway. Activating her Byagukan was not necessary; light spilled in through a broken window, illuminating the dust particles floating through the air and the man in a cloud-patterned cloak slumped against the grimy wall.
Akatsuki! Hinata recognized in horror. Could they be in on the assassination plot? She held her kunai firm as she stood still in the doorway, measuring him up. His red eyes glinted beneath dark bangs, making Hinata swallow in fear. Those eyes… The Sharingan… He must be…!
“You said you were not afraid, but your demeanor implies otherwise,” Itachi Uchiha smirked. Hinata bristled at his blatant accusation, and straightened herself up, trying to steel herself. “Relax. I have no interest in you, nor in the affairs of this country. I was merely passing through when I was surprised by some rather unsavory individuals.”
Hinata continued to stare suspiciously at him. Her hand slowly tightened around the handle of her kunai knife. If I kill him here, then…!
“Let me guess— you’re thinking that if you kill me now, you can protect Naruto.”
Hinata gasped at how easily he surmised her thoughts. She wondered if his Sharingan enabled him to read minds. She’d never heard of such a thing, but then again, Itachi was considered a master of the art— for all they knew, he could have uncovered secrets previously unknown. Itachi continued to smirk levelly at her.
“If I had really wanted to take Naruto, I would have done it back then.” His lips curled up as Hinata looked at him quizzically. “That business about fearing the Toad Sage Jiraiya was just a convenient excuse. It is much more in my interest that the Akatsuki never get their hands on him… But of course, I doubt you believe that,” he hummed self-deprecatingly. He reclined against the dilapidated wall, then winced as he tweaked his arm in a painful way. “If you’re going to kill me, you might as well get it over with. Unless you wish to torture me for information.”
She knew she should do something, but Hinata found her hand stayed nonetheless. Perhaps he’d worked his genjutsu magic on her, or perhaps it was her gentle nature rearing its head at an inopportune time. Whatever the case, she just lingered in the doorway,
Hinata knew she shouldn’t trust him, but the wicked gash in the meat of his upper arm added a certain degree of credibility to his story. Blood drenched the fabric of his right sleeve, and the jagged edge of the torn skin and muscle peaked out of the tear. Though he had tourniqueted the wound with a thick piece of his cloak, red still saturated the upper edge of his trousers, showing where the blood had leaked down his abdomen to soak into the material. If he isn’t treated, he’ll bleed to death…
“You Akatsuki normally travel in pairs. Where’s your partner?”
“I made the mistake of going for a walk,” Itachi hummed despondently. “Next thing I know, I’m ambushed by thirty or so ninja calling themselves the Liberation Squad who mistook me as a Leaf ninja. I’d admittedly been weakened by an earlier encounter, so one of them managed to get a good blow on me.” Now that Hinata noticed, Itachi was no longer using his Sharingan, and the muscles of his face were tensed— as if his eyes ached something fierce. “In my attempts to escape, I’ve probably ended up miles from my partner.”
Before Hinata could ask more, she recognized something he’d mentioned.
“Wait… The Liberation Squad?!”
“Indeed. They mentioned something of an assassination plot. I imagine that’s why your team has been dispatched to the region,” the man surmised. Hinata clapped a hand over her mouth, realizing she’d inadvertently divulged too much to the suspicious rogue ninja. Itachi chuckled at her. “Be at ease. As I said, I have no interest in the affairs of the Land of Flowers. There is nothing here for the Akatsuki.”
Hinata slowly lowered her hand from her mouth, debating. Itachi was a murderous insurgent trekking the continent in search of the power of the Tailed Beasts, and the Akatsuki were tied to numerous assassinations, coups, and other nefarious events. His words were almost worthless. However… Looking at him, injured and largely at her mercy, Hinata found herself trusting his assurances. Slowly, she lowered her kunai knife.
Itachi’s lidded eyes languidly tracked her movements as she crossed the room, stepping around holes in the wood and puddles of blood. He only tilted his head as she knelt down beside him and procured a roll of bandages, antibiotic ointment, a roll of steel thread, and a needle.
“Your wound… It needs to be treated,” she mumbled, unnerved by his silence. Wordlessly, he presented his arm to her. Hinata carefully tore away the blood-soaked fabric to expose the wound. Just looking at it made her stomach turn; the gash bit deep into his flesh, tearing skin and muscle fibers alike. He really ought to visit a hospital, but it wasn’t like a wanted criminal could walk into an emergency department. Hinata would have to do her best.
She used some water from her canteen to clean the wound. Itachi twitched at her ministrations, occasionally releasing a few grunts or groans of pain. Hinata tried her best to be gentle, but it was hard to do considering the severity of the laceration. It didn’t help that the man’s gaze fixated on her hands, which made her cheeks flush pink with self-consciousness.
Before her thoughts could stray, she forced herself to begin stitching up the gash.
Itachi screwed up his face a little as she punched the needle through his skin. She wished she had some form of anesthetic to offer him. She found herself muttering a compulsive, “Sorry.”
“Why should you apologize? I got myself into this,” Itachi chuckled. Something about his nonchalance and light-hearted tone made more heat rush to her face. “You could have left me, your enemy, here to bleed, and yet you are here tending to me.”
Hinata was silent for a moment, eyes narrowed as she concentrated on weaving the fibers through his wound to tug the skin together. After a few seconds, she chanced a glance at him out of the corners of her eyes. His smile was warm, and a strange light twinkled in his dark eyes; it was a look that made her heart flutter.
“That is not the type of person I wish to be,” she answered simply, returning to the task at hand. The pleasant rumble of his that followed made her fingertips tremble, causing the twine to slip out of the needle’s eye. She cursed under her breath and hurried to resituate the thread and get back to work.
“A hard life to live for a shinobi.”
“Life is hard by design. I might as well live it in a way I believe is meaningful,” she countered matter-of-factly. Itachi chuckled at that, a gentle shake of his shoulders that scrunched up his eyes into half-moons. Despite the situation, Hinata found herself thinking it a wonderful little laugh.
Focus, Hinata, she scolded herself.
Finally, she finished stitching the gash shut. She slathered a healthy amount of antibiotic cream over the suture before wrapping it in bandages. After clipping the cloth in place with a small metal piece, she sat back to observe her work.
“You should be all right now.”
“Thank you,” Itachi smiled gratefully. He shifted against the wood, apparently trying to rise, only succeeding in slipping back down. “It seems I won’t be going anywhere for quite a while,” he lamented with a small sigh. Hinata fidgeted, pawing at her pants uncertainly. Really, she ought to be getting back to her team; they would be switching guard, soon. By the angulation of the light spearing through the boarded-up windows, she had another three-quarters of an hour at best. And yet…
“Are you… Hungry?” she asked quietly. Itachi looked at her with raised eyebrows, surprised by her request. Hinata flushed darkly and looked at her lap, twiddling her index fingers. “Y-you won’t get far on an empty stomach… I have some rice balls and water to spare…” she explained meekly. She wanted to kick herself, doing so much for someone like Itachi, but she convinced herself that it was something that Naruto would do and that made it okay… right?
“A rice ball sounds lovely.”
At his prompting, Hinata removed the carefully-wrapped food items from her pouch and handed them over. Itachi ate them calmly, but she could tell that he was barely holding back his ravenous hunger; his entire body was tense, and he stared at them with an almost frightening intensity. After several minutes, he seemed to remember that Hinata was there. “Do you want one?” he asked, holding one out.
“O-oh, no! I ate earlier—!”
Her stomach exposed her lie with an almost angry yowl. Red sprouted from the base of Hinata’s neck to travel up to her ears, coating her face in a fiery blush. Itachi laughed at her cute reaction and set the rice ball in her hands. She meekly muttered a gratuitous remark before nibbling at it. They slowly drifted back into this comfortable silence, something Hinata never thought she would share with a man like him.
She wondered how much she really knew about him, and if he really was as cold-blooded a killer as they said.
“You know,” Itachi murmured immediately after her passing whimsy. His eyes were barely-open slits, staring at the half-eaten rice ball. “If more Leaf ninja were like you, I wonder if I would have ended up like this in the first place.”
“What…?” Hinata whispered. Her response seemed to make him realize that he had spoken aloud. With an embarrassed smile, he shoved the rest of the rice ball into his mouth. He braced his hand on the wall to slowly push himself to his feet, wobbling a little. Hinata jumped up, her own rice ball landing on the wood with a splat, to steady him. As her hands secured around his hip and shoulder, he gave her a pained smile.
“You really are kind. What’s your name?”
She really should’ve debated telling him, but she didn’t.
“I thank you, then, Hinata. Also, I apologize for this.”
Before she even knew what was happening, his eyes flashed red. The three black marks in his eyes swirled, and so did the world around Hinata. As she fell backwards, disoriented and barely clinging to consciousness, Itachi’s arm looped around her waist. As the world faded to darkness, she caught his forlorn smile, and his murmured words.
“I wish things could have been different.”
Hinata breathed in sharply through her nose as she phased into consciousness. She groaned as she rolled her head slowly to the side; it felt like it was stuffed with cotton, making her ears ring. She cracked her eyes open and immediately shut them as light speared through the gaps, burning her corneas. Distantly, she could hear someone calling her name.
“Hinata! Hey, Hinata! Wake up, sleepyhead!”
“Kiba?” she asked groggily. She forced her eyes open once more. Gradually, the fuzzy shape of the brown-haired young man coalesced in her vision. He was leaning over her, brows furrowed and lips pursed.
“Hey! Rise and shine, princess. Catch a good nap?”
“What?” she mumbled blearily. Her hands fumbled around her to be met with soft petals and smooth grasses. She looked around wildly, spitting her dark hair out of her face, to find that she was laying among the roots of the oak tree in the flower meadow. Her head whirled with confusion; the last she remembered, she had been in the abandoned house in the woods, tending to…
Kiba recoiled as she jerked up with a gasp.
“Yo! What the hell’s your problem?” he demanded. Akamaru barked and came over to sniff her curiously. Breathless with shock, Hinata only combed her hair with her fingers, tugging grass blades and flower petals free of the purple-black strands.
“Could it have been a dream?” she murmured to herself. Kiba pursed perplexedly as he squatted in front of her.
“Yo, Hinata, are you all right? Didja eat somethin’ funny out here?”
“What? No, no, I…” As an explanation danced on her tongue, she thought better of it. Dream or not, she wanted her interaction with Itachi to remain secret. “It’s nothing. I’m sorry for falling asleep.”
“S’all right, I guess. You were up all night guarding the princess. Shino is with her now, but it’s almost time for your shift, so I came to getcha. Good thing I did, sleepyhead!” he teased, flashing her a toothy grin. Hinata smiled and nodded. Kiba stood, then offered a hand to help her up. As he righted her, something fluttered out of her tool pouch. “Eh? What’s that?”
Hinata bent down to retrieve it. It was a small slip of paper, no longer than her forefinger. On it was scrawled a simple sentence: Thanks for the help.
Hinata tucked it away as Kiba peered over her shoulder. “Heyyy! What is it?” he demanded with a stamp of his foot. Hinata laughed, turning and tucking a swathe of her hair behind her ear.
“Nothing. Just a reminder to live a meaningful life.”
Kiba gawked stupidly at her, unsatisfied by her cryptic explanation.
“All right, then… Let’s head back. And no more sleeping out in the open like this! I ain’t gonna babysit you, too!”
Together, they headed back towards the capital city and their mission. Hinata paused on the path to gaze out into the deep green of the forest. She wondered where Itachi was, if he was safe… if they would meet again and under what circumstances. Would they exchange blades instead of pleasantries? She thought of the slip of paper, tucked deep down among her kunai and shuriken.
It is a hard life to live indeed, the one which we have chosen. As long as I live it meaningfully, however, I can take pride in my ninja way.
With a smile, Hinata set off after Kiba. Something told her that her story with the mysterious Uchiha had more pages yet to be revealed… How it would end, only the future would tell.
Enjoy this oneshot? Here’s Part II! Feel free to peruse my Table of Contents!