logic probe

Excerpt from "An Eight Among Sevens"

Remember that weird idea I had about Sasuke needing to pass psych eval in order to be able to run for Hokage and Tsunade telling him to choose someone he could talk to to help with his emotional problems…this is an idea for one of their “sessions” in which Hinata inadvertently changes the course of the ninja world…

“I don’t know.”

Hinata frowned slightly at his repeated response, somewhat agitatedly stirring the sugar and cream into her teacup. She watched the concoction lighten into the softest of browns, looking invitingly sweet and warm. She closed her eyes, reminding herself that patience was the key to all locked doors.

Looking up at her “patient”, she smiled slightly at Sasuke.

“Uchiha-san, I cannot help you if you will not speak your thoughts.”

He glared at her, his anger and frustration palpable in the air between them. It mingled with the steam from their tea and writhed like a snake, wispy and tangible as it drifted around them. Hinata wondered if it was simply something both he and Naruto-kun had in common, that ability to make those around them feel exactly what their mood was simply by their fluctuating chakra.

“Listen Hyuuga.” He spat out, as if the very mention of her family tasted bitter to him. “I don’t want to go through this crap again. Just tell the old hag I’m fine and let’s get this over with.”

Hinata simply continued to stir her tea, the tinkling sound of the spoon against the mug seemed to make him all the more angry. She watched him amusedly, laughing inwardly as he smoothed his long shirt sleeves in consternation. She nearly giggled out loud when the vein in his neck pulsed noticeably, his anger rising.

“Hyuu-”

“With all due respect Uchiha-san, were you not the one who chose me as your ‘person’?”

That quieted him for a bit, his mouth closing shut with an audible click. She stopped stirring, delicately tapping the spoon against the rim of her mug and setting the tiny spoon on her saucer.

“Besides…I did not go into this exactly willing. Tell me one thing Uchiha-san…”

He looked at her, his glare softening in confusion.

“Why me?” She asked, her tone gentle and questioning.

His chest lurched and he raged against this tiny person that dared question him, that dared to pry where no others had tried to before. There was no way he would admit that maybe it was because he had copied Naruto and Sakura and stolen their mutual confidante. There was no way he would tell her that it was because with her soft tone and dark long hair, she reminded him of his mother to whom he would tell anything and everything to.

He slammed his hands onto her pathetically fragile breakfast table, the silverware clattering with the force of his frustration.

“You…you have no right…” He bit out, choking on his emotion, rising out of his chair to loom over the Hyuuga.

She was not intimidated in the least. She simply tapped her nails on the side of her mug, maddeningly rhythmic and calm.

“Sasuke-san…”

His name being said stopped him long enough to realize he was being stupid…uncharacteristically stupid. He sighed and sat back down, crossing his arms and looking for all the world like a petulant child.

“Sasuke-san…why is it that you want to be Hokage so badly?”

“Revolution.” He said simply, not missing a beat.

“I understand that you believe strongly in change. But killing the Kage was not exactly the most conducive or politically stable way of achieving your goal.”  She continued logically, probing the topic.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s this system that traps us all in a cycle of war.” He said wearily, having already explained his ideas countless times to those who asked, having tirelessly campaigned across Konoha and the Land of Fire to gain support.

She nodded, picking up her pen and scribbling down several notes. She looked up at him, pale eyes boring into his own and he felt laid bare, stripped of his shields. He shuddered to think that Hinata Hyuuga could read his mind, see all his thoughts, because then she would know about those embarrassing, horrifying dreams of his…dreams where her naked, supple form lay underneath his, clawing his bare back and screaming his name in pure ecs-

He stopped his thoughts, mentally beating up that side of him into a pulp, gagging it with tape and torturing it with images of Maito Guy in a speedo.

He was pulled from his thoughts as she spoke again.

“Do you think…” She hesitated slightly, as if scared to make any assumptions. “Do you think that maybe your need to compete with Naruto-kun might also be a factor in this goal of yours, Uchiha-san?”

He remained silent, not wanting to admit that she might be right.

She heaved a sigh, slim shoulders sagging with the weight of her task. Hinata gave him a look of earnest compassion, a reluctant smile pulling at her lips.

“Competition can be a good thing Sasuke-san, healthy even. But too much…” She pulled at a strand of hair tucked behind her ear, bringing it forth.

“Too much, and one can lose sight of themselves, leaving parts of themselves behind all in order to win. It can make you become the ugliest person and when you look in the mirror, you no longer recognize who it is or what is that you want to be.”

Sasuke watched as she tugged the indigo strands to the front, an errant sunbeam illuminating them. His eyes narrowed in confusion when he noticed that this section of her hair was at least ten inches shorter than the rest of them, barely reaching her chin.

She saw his unasked question in his expression and smiled sadly. “To compete for the heart of someone I loved, I almost became what I thought attracted him.”

Sasuke’s eyes widened when he understood.

“That’s…really stupid.”

She laughed lightly, pale eyes twinkling in mirth and surety. “So it is…but when I looked in the mirror and saw the hair that I had grown so patiently cut off so simply, I cried. I ran out of the hairdresser’s shop, part of my hair chopped off.”

She tucked the strands back behind her ear.

“And I realized that I did not like the person I saw in that mirror…that me with short hair and a misguided notion of what I needed.”

She paused thoughtfully, peering into the murky depths of her tea as if it could offer some sort of approval of her epiphany.

Sasuke gaped at the girl, finding his interest peaked by her thoughts and wise words.

“…He’s not with her yet, you know…you still have a chance.” He said quietly, the silly words coming out before he could stop them. He did not miss the strange pain that lanced through his chest as her expression brightened.

“Oh yes…I know.” She answered and tugged at the sleeves of her white cardigan. “But if I cannot win him over by being me, then it’s not worth losing myself over it…I love being me…”

He nodded towards the shorter parts of her hair. “Why keep that part like that then? It doesn’t look like it’s grown at all, if this happened months ago.”

The smiled at him and answered. “To remind me of what I almost did, and to keep me on track.”

“What if you want to cut your hair later?”

“Then I want to make sure it is because I want to…and not because I want to be like Sakura-chan.”

He frowned slightly because he imagined Hinata Hyuuga with pink hair and a violent super strength and a louder voice, and the image did not sit well with him. She was fine as she was, quiet and thoughtful.

Hinata mistook his frown for discontent at her comment and explained hastily.

“Please do not misunderstand. I adore Sakura-san. I admire her strength and her virtues, her tenacity and intelligence. She is one of my most precious friends and I treasure her company! But you see…the problem was with me…” She trailed off.

“You’re fine just the way you are, Hyuuga.” He said and he almost slapped himself then and there. But she surprised him further when she answered…

“I know.”

She sipped her tea contentedly, eyes drifting to the open window to her right and enjoying the sunbeams streaming in.

“…I don’t…” He muttered quickly, feelings bubbling to the surface like never before.

Hinata lowered her mug, softly placing it down and turned to him intently.

The silence stretched between them, his thoughts sorting themselves into coherent sentences and finally he said…

“I don’t know if I’m going to succeed.”

She blinked quickly, a bit startled at the vulnerability of his confession and she felt a warmth shoot through her, a want to embrace him and encourage him despite their differences in opinion and her unwavering wish that Naruto become Hokage.

“May I be honest with you, Uchiha-san?” She said quietly, fiddling with a loose thread on her sweater.

In a slight fit of humor, he asked…”It’s back to Uchiha-san now, is it?”

She looked up surprised at the silent laughter shining in the dark depths of his steady gaze and she smiled again, giggling.

“I apologize. It seemed the best way to get your attention at the time.”

“Well then, by all means, be honest with me…Hinata-san.” He drawled slightly, tilting his head and lifting a corner of his soft lips into his signature smirk.

She flushed slightly and looked back at the window. “I think…I think that you need to reach the people’s hearts first before you can have a revolution.”

He frowned, uncrossing his arms and leaning across the table towards her. His eyes burned black fire and she felt the small kitchen become much warmer than it had been.

“And how do I do that?”

“Sasuke-san…do you remember how when we were children, and we would all fight for the same shady lunch spot under the Jacaranda tree?”

He leaned back, amused. “You mean how you all fought…”

She laughed, remembering that Sasuke-san had been to “cool” to fight over something so stupid.

“And there were always other spots, but everyone always wanted that particular one because it was the most brightly colored one…you know, all the purple flowers and petals blooming in spring?”

He nodded for her to continue.

“I think…being Hokage isn’t the only shady spot in the world.”

“What do you mean? Are you telling me to give up becoming Hokage?” He asked flatly, the humor gone from his eyes and a heavy pressure began filling the room.

Hinata looked up at that, eyes wide and worried because she was never one to discourage someone’s dream. She waved her hands in front of her, flailing in her distress.

“N-no! You misunderstand. I meant that maybe becoming Hokage was not the only way to create the change you want…or that you don’t have to be like Naruto to become Hokage.”

The pressure wavered slightly, and she continued her thoughts, words nearly crashing into each other as they fell from her mouth. She clasped her hands together, desperate to make him understand because he needed this…to know that someone did believe in his dream, even when the rest of the world seemed to be against his ideas.

“Sometimes one just has to find their own way…or make it themselves if that is what they want…”

Sasuke stilled, his eyes narrowing and his thoughts racing.

‘Or make it themselves…’

He stood up, his chair falling to the ground with a loud clatter.

“Umm…Sasuke-san?” She asked nervously, gripping the edge of the table in her nervousness.

He rounded towards her, his strides sure and his face inscrutable.

“Are you ok-eeeeeeeeh!!!!”

She found herself being lifted by her shoulders, her feet dangling several inches above the floor. Her bunny slippers fell one by one as he looked up into her frightened gaze, his eyes bright and alive…he was brimming with energy, his face alight in a way she had never seen before.

“You’re a fucking GENIUS, Hinata!!” He exclaimed, twirling her slightly in his excitement.

“W-what do you meaaan?!” She nearly wailed, his sudden emotion head-spinning and frankly very much out of character for Sasuke Uchiha.

“I’ll make it myself!”

“What?!” She squirmed in his grip, and he put her down hastily.

“A new village where everyone has the freedom they deserve.” And with the biggest smile she had ever seen cross his face, he raced out the door, slamming it in the wake of his ardor.

Hinata was left standing in her kitchen, still in shock as she took in the spilled sugar and the toppled chair. She tugged at the short strand of hair tucked behind her ear and smiled.

“I know…you can do it, Sasuke.”