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[personal profile] edellin
Title: Rivals
Author: Edelin
Couple:Itachi/Hinata
Rating: T
Summary:Companion Fic to Bandage. Where Itachi and Sasuke have to face the truth and the lies between them while Hinata finds herself in the middle of that very difficult attempt for the two Brothers to restore their relationship.

Sasuke was standing when Hinata entered his room. He seemed a bit anxious about something and that… sudden emotional display of his on his face scared her.

And fascinated her too; She had always wondered how Sasuke would be if he was more… natural. More relaxed when it came to what he thought and felt.

"Sasuke-san?" she called him in a low voice. The young man locked his eyes with hers and the Hyuuga felt her heart beat faster just because of his eyes. They… they were telling her something, something he couldn't hide but she didn't know it… yet.

And if she had a choice… she'd never find it out.

She walked a bit closer to him and smiled softly. "You wan..nted to.. to see me?" she trailed feeling incredibly nervous because of his hard stare.

He didn't say anything. He didn't move, just looked at her like he was trying to find something by just looking at her. He slowly moved closer to her and Hinata flinched but managed to remain still and not take a step back. It wouldn't be wise to make him feel that she was afraid of him or that she didn't want to be here… she had to try and communicate with him somehow.

And then she could get away from the room.

He came in front of her but made sure they has enough distance so they wouldn't touch each other but still close enough that she felt his body warmth and breath on her skin. "What has he done to you?" he murmured and she looked confused at him. "Why do you believe what he says?" he asked her again and then looked away again. "Why do you all believe his lies? Why did you let him stay alive?" his voice tone rose the more he spoke and his endless anger started leaking out. "Tell me! Why do you believe what he says? Why do you try so hard to protect him and take care of him? What has he told you? What has he done to you to believe him?"

Hinata raised her hands and touched him lightly on the shoulders, trying to calm him down. Sasuke tensed immediately and went a step back looking at her with an accusing look for wanting to touch him. "I am not going to hurt you, Sasuke-san." She took a breath and bravely went closer to him. "No one wants to hurt you. Please understand that."

He trembled for a moment out of anger, fear or too many emotions he couldn't name. "Then why is he alive? Why do you take care of him?"

"Because things are not as you think they are." She replied.

Sasuke suddenly grabbed her hand and pushed her at the closest wall, trapping her with his body. "Why do you believe him? Why do you not see that he is not what he seems to be?" he asked hit his head at the wall, right above the crook of her neck. Then suddenly he jumped away from her.

He didn't move for a second and then he went some more steps back and looked away from her. "Get out." He ordered in a low voice.

Hinata, still shocked by their previous position and unable to process what had happened and his words looked at him and then at the door. She was ready to leave when she suddenly stopped and turned to face the young Uchiha. "Why did you call me here, Sasuke-san?" she asked once more.

He glared at her with anger and clenched his fists. "Get out!"

"Why did you call me here?"

He didn't answer and like a small child turned his back at her so he wouldn't have to look at her. Hinata sighed and crossed her arms at her chest. "You know, Sasuke-san? Your brother is better than you." Sasuke tensed at that and suddenly his killing intent filled the room and Hinata felt her heart skip a beat out of fear. "He is so much more honest with himself than you." She turned her back and paced to the door. "It's not me you should call to talk to, Sasuke-san, but yourself. And when you do that, you'll come to listen to what your brother has to say."

She got out of the room and started walking towards Itachi's room.

XXX

Itachi let the breath he didn't know he was holding, when Hinata entered the room. He didn't say anything but waited for her to talk to him. He heard her move closer to the bed, sitting on the chair next to the bed, sighing and he suddenly felt a warmth wash over him as she leaned closer to him.

He sat up a bit, bringing his face closer to hers and suddenly felt his body tense at their proximity until she leaned back.

None of them spoke for a second. "He is very confused." Hinata said to him in a low tone.

"What happened?" he queried.

Hinata took a small breath to calm herself and narrated to the older Uchiha what happened from the beginning with Sasuke's sudden emotional display up until her last words to him. Itachi didn't interrupt her while she spoke but that didn't mean he wasn't affected by what he said.

For some reason, Sasuke was deeply disturbed that Itachi and Hinata were getting along. Only that he didn't want to admit it and tried to find fault in everything so he would somehow justify himself for whatever he was thinking and feeling. To blame the environment for making him be like that.

"Do you think I shouldn't have said to him those last words?" she asked him but before he could reply, she got up and started walking a bit around the room nervous. "I didn't want to meddle and make things worse but I just… just can't stand it that he thinks like that about you when you've done so many things for him." She turned and stared at Itachi for a second. "That he doesn't even give you a chance." she murmured. He didn't say anything for a moment.

"Do you hate me?"

He wasn't expecting such a question. Did he hate her? How could he? How could she think that he could hate her? How could anyone her? He suddenly wanted to get up and go close to her, do something that he didn't want to want to do. And without realizing it, he was up at his feet and started walking towards the direction he had heard her voice come from. Before he could make another step, he felt her hands on his body, holding his arms, her body touching his…

And he suddenly became very aware of what he really wanted to do with her, to her. He bit his tongue to control his sudden desire to bring her closer to him and push her at the bed and crawl upon her and "see" her body, explore it with his hands.

"Itachi?" he heard her say. "What happened?"

He shook his head and went a step back, finding with his hand the bed and slowly laying down on it. "Nothing."

She came closer to him, fixing the blanket over his body. "Why did you get up like that?" she asked him.

You could have hurt yourself.

She couldn't say that to him though. He wouldn't like it because he didn't want people around him to act like he was incapable of taking care of himself.

Even if that was true. He would need some time to truly be able to take care of his body and manage to live in a completely dark world. Void of colors and shapes. His eyes now had become his hands and it would take some time to learn to use them.

"No." he suddenly told her pulling her out of her thoughts.

No? No, what? "No to what?" Softly asked she.

He didn't reply immediately but after a moment she heard him murmur in a nearly shy, uncomfortable tone, one that didn't suit the Mighty Uchiha Itachi. "I don't hate you." he clarified.

"Oh…" she smiled lightly at him. "I am glad you don't."

"Don't ever ask me that question." he told her in a firm and ordering tone of anger.

Hinata sensed the sudden change of his mood and fidgeted slightly as she tried to find the right words to answer.

"I am sorry." she murmured.

That an answer with the right words. Well done Hinata.

She really was stupid. Really didn't know how to keep her cool and think when she had to.

Her answer seemed to anger him more, she felt him tense and saw his hands clench and unclench. What had she said to make him so upset?

XXX

Sakura entered Sasuke's room with Naruto behind her. Their old teammate and friend hadn't spoken to them since he came to Konoha. Every time one of them went to visit him, he had a blank, expressionless face and never reacted to anything they said.

Sakura, admitted to herself, that she had given up on him.

If he hadn't called Hinata those two times, if she hadn't heard him react so strongly to the young Hyuuga earlier, she would continue to think that he was permanently emotionally damaged.

Somehow though Hinata – sweet, little Hinata – made him come back to the world of the living.

At first the pink haired woman thought that it was because Hinata was a link to his brother but she wasn't so sure anymore. It certainly played a role but Sakura suspected that the younger Uchiha had connected Hinata to something else and that's why he "craved" her company, calling her and then sending her away.

The medic was certain that Sasuke would ask her again soon. For some reason…

Sakura looked at Naruto behind and the two shinobi paced slowly inside the room to find Sasuke not lying on the bed like the previous times they had visited him but standing next to the window. At first, they didn't say anything and just looked at him. Then he turned to look at them.

And he glared at them.

It was the first time that Sakura felt so happy that someone glared at her; it was a sign that he was in a way coming back… and he was Sasuke… it was the usual for him to glare at people.

Naruto smiled at the raven and walked confidently toward him. "Hey Sasuke! Got tired of lying around? You must have gotten soft after sleeping all that time."

"Hn" Sasuke didn't say anything else to Naruto's comment and completely ignored the blond. Instead he fixed his gaze on Sakura. "When can I start training again?"

Sakura didn't expect him to ask her so bluntly although she expected him to ask her something like that – if he was going to talk to her ever. "Um… You are still not fully recovered but I think you could do some light training…" she looked sternly at Naruto "But NO sparing!" she turned at Sasuke and her face softened a bit "I will do daily check ups on you to make sure that you are not overdoing it though… you are still… weak." she finished in a low voice. She knew how much Sasuke hated being called weak, even if that was the truth.

Sasuke nodded and after a moment walked and lay on the bed without saying anything. Naruto looked at Sakura who sat next on the chair next to the bed and then the blond haired man leaned on wall and stared at the Uchiha.

There was a very uncomfortable silence between the three until, to the other two's surprise Sasuke broke it. "Is the Hyuuga…his only medic?"

"Hinata?" asked Naruto. Sasuke nodded and eyed the blond boy carefully.

"Yes." Sakura answered; irritated slightly that Hinata was what they were talking about.

Sasuke eyed Naruto with a raised eyebrow. He had never wondered before why the Hyuuga liked the blond. He remembered the way she had looked at his brother when she thought he wasn't looking at her, and the way she reacted at the morning, although she wasn't blushing or fading like she used to do with Naruto, he could see the same look in her eyes…. That betrayed an undying admiration.

Could the Hyuuga be in love with his brother or did she still crave the Nine-tails jinchouricki?

To that answer, Sasuke found himself, determine to find the answer… he had after all too much free time and the girl could prove a useful link to his brother.

The young Uchiha gave another look at Sakura and then just closed his eyes.

Women were idiots for feeling so much.

XXX

Hinata was ready to say something else but was interrupted by someone knocking the door. She turned and saw Uzumaki Naruto, her long time crush, enter with his usual bright smile. Her heart beat started beating wildly and all the stress she had before because of Itachi was forgotten as she smiled at the young man and got up.

"Naruto-kun." she greeted him and blushed slightly.

Naruto scratched the back of his head as he eyed for a moment Itachi that stayed still and just waited to hear out the rest of the interaction of the two young shinobi. The blond man then turned at Hinata and smiled at her. "Hello Hinata-chan," and then after a moment of thought he added "Itachi"

"Hello Naru..ru...t..to-kun. How ar..re yo..you?" she said stammering uncontrollably once again. She inwardly slapped herself. Hadn't she worked so hard to not be weak, inspired by him? She had to act as brave as possible when she was near him.

"I am fine, thank you." he said and looked at Itachi once again. "Umm… I wanted to tell you something… ask you actually."

Hinata felt her heart stop for a moment. "Yes?"

Naruto gave one more look at Itachi and then at Hinta…."Emm… I want us to talk alone about that, if you don't mind." He muttered at her and she nodded, blushing hard.

"My shift ends in one hour so if it's not something very simple, we can talk about it after I finish…" she looked at Itachi and then at Naruto "but if it's urgent, we can go talk about it no outside of the room." She managed to say calmly without stuttering at all and smiled in pride when she finished.

"Oh…" Naruto said… "Ok then, later after you finish… We can go eat at Ichiraku as we talk since I am hungry." He added as an afterthought.

"I..if…. you want, Naruto kun, you can go start eating and I'll come find you there once my shift is over… yo..you don't..t… have to wait here for me."

Naruto smiled widely at her and nodded. "That's a great idea Hinata! I'll go talk to Granny for a moment and then go to Ichiraku and wait for you." He said as he started leaving.

"See you later Naruto-kun!"

"See ya." He said and closed the door behind him.

Hinata took a big breath and turned with a huge smile on her face at Itachi who was still and with still a quite angry face. His fists were tightly clenched and she heard his breathing being a bit too quick.

"Itachi?" she asked and went close to him. She softly touched his arm and the man nearly jumped up at her touch. This alarmed her immediately. "Are you still mad about before?"

He didn't answer and she tried again to touch him. This time he didn't pull away but she felt him tense under her touch. What was wrong? What had she done to make him feel so uncomfortable with her?

"Itachi?" she asked concerned.

"No." he told her. "It's not about before."

"Then what?"

Itachi didn't say anything at that. "You can go now… you don't have to stay here until your shift is over."

"No… it's all right." She told him.

"But you don't want to stay." He nearly barked at her. This stunned the both of them. He had never been so unable to control his reactions… this woman was affecting him in a way that perhaps was not as good as it appeared to be. She was making him weak.

Hinata took a big breath and went a step back. "Do you want to be alone?"

Itachi knew the answer to that question. After all those years of being completely alone, without anyone to be close to him and have an actual relationship with, he didn't want to be alone. But he also didn't want her with him now… not when she wanted so much to run after the Uzumaki.

"Yes." He finally told her.

Hinata nodded in understanding and paced slowly towards the door. "Rest well." She told him before closing the door and suddenly she felt sadder than she ever remembered feeling. Even the idea of spending time with Naruto – of nearly being in a date with him – wasn't enough to make her feel better.

XXX

Itachi heard the door close and slowly allowed his body to relax. That encounter was unsettling. Not that he had a reason to be unsettled but he didn't have to lie to himself.

No, that was true. He shouldn't lie to himself.

He craved the girl. He wanted her in a way he had never wanted anyone. And after the previous events of the day, he was sure that he didn't only want her friendship and company. He didn't act the way he did out of gratitude but because he wanted her.

If he could just give in that morning…

But the Hyuuga seemed to be interested in another man and it seemed that the boy was responding to her. Itachi didn't blame the Uzumaki; who wouldn't want someone as affectionate and caring and gentle as Hinata… especially Naruto that was always alone, with no parents, he would gain both a lover and a substitute mother in Hinata.

Hell… he also felt like a child to be taken care of with her…. And he had had a mother, the most affectionate mother in the world… only that he had stopped letting her act that way with him since he was very young…

But with Hinata… he wanted her to do all the things a mother would do – caress, kiss, hug, support… even hold him at his sleep at time – but also so much more that a mother wouldn't do.

He admitted to himself that he had thought that the girl was perhaps somehow interested in him beyond friendship… she had spent so much time with him, had been so protective of him with Sasuke… she had told him that he was very important in her life and she didn't want him to be angry with her.

Could all that be platonic interest?

And she had touched him quite a bit, even if it was a brush or just touching him a little more after she changed his bandages.

Why did she do all that, if she wasn't interested?

Not even a tiny bit?

Itachi closed his eyes, feeling angry again and tried to go to sleep so he wouldn't have to feel that confusion inside his head but it was a nearly impossible task… his thought was fixed on the possible scenarios of how Hinata's 'date' with the blond boy could go.

That woman was certainly a bad influence on him. A very bad and dangerous one.

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