[Thread] Where I Belong [Hizashiko and Hiashiko]
Hyuuga Hizashiko wondered if the nurses in the secure ward were used to strange requests. They had barely batted an eye to some of her odder requests and hadn't even paused when she had asked for a scale. She now had several books, and even a scroll or two, to keep her from going crazy while she waited to be released from this little room. She supposed that when you dealt with ANBU and special cases for years on end you got used to their oddities, and was simply grateful for it. And being able to track her weight, finally, was also a small miracle. When she had first arrived in Konoha, she had been skin and bones and nothing more, only able to eat a meal a day, if that. Now she could no longer count her ribs or pinch her fingers in-between the bones of her arms; she wasn't defined, but she certainly wasn't a skeleton anymore. Though, if the stress of worrying about her sister continued, she probably would start losing weight again.
Grunting in slight annoyance, she stepped off the scale and glanced around the room, lips pressed into a thin line. It had been a couple days since she had spoken to young Hinaji and she had no idea what had happened since then. She hadn't seen Nejiko in a couple days, so she'd been unable to ask her to check on her sister. And she hadn't seen her sister in even longer and it was beginning to make her uneasy. There was the assumption that Tsurdue would tell her if something had happened, but she wouldn't put it past the Council to force something suddenly, and then tell him after it was done. That's just how some of the council worked sometimes and.... bastards.
So caught up was she in her ruminations (and pacing) that Hizashiko didn't hear the footsteps coming down the hall until they were quite close, and it took her several seconds after that to recognize the footsteps. When the knock at the door came, there was a relieved sigh and she stopped her pacing finally before telling the person knocking to come in. Once Hiashiko had stepped inside, shutting the door behind her, Hizashiko spoke.
"It's not very nice, neesama, making me wonder if you're dead or alive for so long. I'm glad to see its the latter and not the former."
"Forgive me." Hiashiko tried to keep the weariness out of her voice. She had been kept busy with the Elders, and it was only now, merely hours before the planned announcement, that she was able to break away to see her twin. Though it wasn't a true escape--one of the youngest on the Elders Council was in the main floor waiting room. She still had enough sway over him to convince him to let her break the news to Hizashiko alone, though she suspected that was because neither Hinata nor Hiroki had given him specific orders saying she couldn't be alone with her sister.
"You look well." It wasn't all that impossible to imagine what Hizashiko ought to look like. Her cheekbones still stood out sharply, but she was no longer an emaciated wretch. The progress was spectacular, but Hiashiko believed her sister would never regain her full health or abilities. Most things in life could not be undone, or even recovered from completely.
Hiashiko tried, but did a poor job, of keeping that weariness out of her voice. It was there, in her movements, in her face, in her eyes. Even though her sister wasn't dead (which Hizashiko counted as a miracle) things had obviously gone very badly. Not that she had expected them to go well, but... seeing her twin like this rankled something deep inside Hizashiko. It just wasn't right to see her so exhausted, not proud, strong, Hiashiko. What had this clan done to her?
"Thank you. You look exhausted. Sit." Hizashiko pulled out a chair for her sister, sitting on the edge of the bed, and watched her. Only once she was sitting did the younger twin ask, voice serious and heavy, "... what have they decided?"
Hiashiko took the offered seat and did not remark on the order. There had never been much point in trying to hide anything from Hizashiko, and it seemed that now was no different. "In a few hours, I will announce your return to the clan," she said. But though she knew Hizashiko would rather she started with the more weighty matters, Hiashiko wanted to get at least let Hizashiko know where she stood in relation to all this. "You're free to return to the compound at any time. Let me know when, and I will have quarters prepared for you."
"Thank you," Hizashiko said, but her voice was absent, gaze fixed on her sister. Right now, she didn't care about what would happen to her, though she was grateful; she was far more concerned about what was going to happen to Hiashiko. Her insistence on not explaining her stance right away made Hizashiko nervous and she strove not to shift on the bed. After a moment, she murmured, her voice tinged with impatience and worry. "And? For you, ane?"
The endearment somehow made Hiashiko feel ashamed, and she wasn't certain why. "As far as the outside is concerned, nothing has changed." The clan would never dare appear anything other than united in public, and even the Head's treason was no exception. Tsurude would be told, an inevitable concession since the Hyuuga did have an obligation and duty to the village.
"As far as most of the clan is concerned, I've decided it was finally time for the Elders to take charge of Hanabi's education," she continued. Hiashiko hoped she had managed to convince Hanabi to keep his mouth shut when it came to his opinion about the Elders--thinking of that night still made her throat dry. So many things could have gone wrong, not just for her, but for Hanabi. "In reality, I've been stripped of most of my power. I am no longer allowed--" she could say allowed without bitterness now "--to attend meetings of any significance without at least one Elder by my side. When Hanabi comes of age, I will retire, and the Elders will decide then if my life should end."
Hizashiko grimaced, sliding off the bed and pacing slightly. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, all things considered, but it wasn't exactly good. Hiashiko had lost much of her power, leaving the Elders to run willy nilly. She wasn't sure who was in charge now and she remembered some of the Elders as... well, she hadn't been very fond of them. As for Hanabi's education... Hizashiko didn't know anything about the boy and it could go both ways. Either he was set enough in his ways, and knew his mother enough not to be swayed by those honeyed words.... or they might end up with a clan like underneath Hiashiko's mother.
It was a sobering thought.
Still pacing, Hizashiko responded darkly to the last part of Hiashiko's statement. "They would not live to pass down the order if they so tried. Bastards."
"Hizashiko!" It came out sharp, but not loud, though that was a near call. "That's enough."
Hizashiko stilled and tried not to look surly as she was reprimanded. She stopped pacing and crossed her arms, glancing at the window before she answered, voice quieter, less angry, but no less serious. "... I will not let them harm you. Not now, not later, not ever. That is not something you can deter me from, neesama. You will always have me at your back."
Her sister's words actually made her smile faintly, despite her words immediately before. It was Hizashiko's spirit, just as she remembered. "I won't listen to your homicidal inclinations, either. I already dealt with Hanabi, as far as I could." The next part was quiet. "But thank you."
"Even if you won't listen to them, they still stand," Hizashiko said, sighing and leaning against a wall, watching her sister. "Someone must take care of you when you cannot. I have done it before, and now that I am back, I will do it again..... and you're welcome."
Hiashiko shouldn't have been surprised by her sister's stance. "Hizashiko," she began, and then paused, trying to think of a way to phrase what she wanted to say. "You deserve your rest." She wouldn't go so far as to say that she didn't want her sister back in her old place, but Hiashiko didn't feel it was something she could expect from her. From a purely logical standpoint, Hizashiko was no longer physically fit enough for the position, nor was she needed. Hiashiko had had fifteen years without a right hand, and she didn't want to burden her healing sister with the job again.
"And I will rest easier knowing you are being taken care of, and that you are taking care of yourself," Hizashiko answered crisply, not backing down. "I may be unable to be your bodyguard now, short of being a poor human shield, but I won't just abandon you."
Dissuading Hizashiko from this line of thinking was pretty much nigh impossible. She had served as her sister's right hand woman for most of her life and though she wouldn't be much use now (especially with Hiashiko's power stripped) she was going to resume that position. Staunch support was something she would need and though it was likely not to be the same now, the Branch had always at least considered the positions she took.
... and it really would help ease the younger twin to keep an eye on her older sister.
Hizashiko was just as stubborn as she remembered, and while she appreciated the sentiment, Hiashiko couldn't help but think that her sister was getting a poor deal. The wise decision would be to accept the retirement being offered and not anchor herself even more firmly to this sinking ship. But Hizashiko's words about abandonment struck deep.
"You enjoying life wouldn't be abandonment," Hiashiko pointed out quietly. "It's something you have earned." It was she that had done the abandoning, back when her desperate, ill-conceived plot had been undertaken. After Hizashiko had been handed over, Hiashiko should have told Sandaime, or sent out a team of her own, but she had overestimated her sister's abilities. For someone supposedly intelligent, the lack of a safety net was especially galling. "It's something I owe you."
There was an exasperated noise from Hizashiko and she finally moved back to the bed to sit. "You sound like your son- you listen to what I have to say, know it is true, and then rebuff my words anyway. You owe me nothing. It is done and over with. But if you insist, you can owe me this- let me stand by you like I have in years past. It is what I want and it is what would make me happy. I can rest and enjoy my life and still be by your side neesama."
She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck slightly. "Please. Allow me this."
While there were several things Hiashiko could say in response to her sister's speech, it was the very first part that caught her attention. "You spoke to one of my sons?" Hinaji had only recently returned from his mission, and she doubted Hanabi had been able to escape from the Elders to go jaunting over to the hospital to speak to her. Why would either of them seek Hizashiko out, for that matter?
Belatedly, Hizashiko realized she probably could have introduced that little bit of fact in a better manner. Still, it was done and said and she ran a hand back through her short, shorn hair. "Yes, I did. Hinaji visited, not too long before you. I would have thought him Hiroshi-sama, if I didn't no better, he looks so like him."
Hinaji had always resembled Hiroshi, but Hizashiko's remark about their similarity created just a fleeting distraction. "I didn't know he had visited." Of course, that would be because Hiashiko hadn't seen Hinaji since their argument, nor had she seen her sister since then. Why would he have come here? She couldn't help that the statement came out a little coldly, but that was what happened when she had to suddenly rip emotion out of her words.
Hizashiko watched her sister from where she sat, regarding her rather calmly. Hiashiko was doing exactly what had hurt Hinaji in the first place and it was almost fascinating in a very sad way. After long moments of silence, she said very quietly, "Hinaji loves you very much, ane."
She said nothing to keep from letting sarcastic words escape. She hadn't come here for an argument, nor had she come here for a discussion of her relationship with her eldest son. Hiashiko wasn't about to go deeply into it, not with her sister, not when it was Hinaji's almost-kidnapping and Hiashiko's reactions to that which had led them to where they were today. "I appreciate your opinion."
"I say what he said. Not what my opinion is." Hizashiko said calmly still, still watching her sister. But she could see that Hiashiko wasn't going to go into it and there was little else that they could do. The yonuger twin would have loved to explain this more, to say what Hinaji said... but she had a feeling that what needed to be said had to be said between Hinaji and his mother.
Hiashiko was grateful that her sister backed off the subject, and in thanks offered, "If staying beside me is what you desire, then I will not drive you away."
"Good," Hizashiko sighed, laying back. "You would have failed anyway."
Though the words seemed sharp, there was a comfortable familiarity in the tone. She had missed her family... she was glad to be back.