Kakashi adjusted the book so that he could easily peer over the edges of the pages without looking too conspicuous. It was amazing how many people ignored someone who they believed was reading inappropriate material and how often they thought it made him blind and dumb. Turning a page he discreetly scanned the area that was waiting for the results of the emergency council meeting.
Everyone looked comfortable, relaxed. Either they were not expecting the exploding tag that Tsunade was currently holding in her hand or they had no idea that something was going down inside those oak doors. Kakashi personally like to believe the first. There were too many people connected to the council. Too many ears, too many eyes. No, some of them were just biding their time. It would be a long time before they cleaned all the rats out of their holes.
That was fine with him. Ibiki was going to go through them with a fine toothed comb and anyone stupid enough to go after his team later in some misplaced sense of revenge was going to have their hands full. A small smile tugged at his mouth. He was hopeful that some of them would come after him, but he didn't think he would be given such an opportunity.
He paused in his reading as the council door opened. Hiashi was unsurprisingly the first to exit. There was an expression on his face that Kakashi had only seen once or twice in his life. He felt no pity for the head of the Hyuuga clan. Hanabi was a brat who didn't care about who she had to run over to gain power and Hinata was too soft-spoken to be taken seriously without some serious leverage. Kakashi had seen the Neji and Hinata sparring and what Neji had over Hinata in sheer power the small Hyuuga made up for in speed and creativity. That sort of mind would do well for her clan if just given the chance.
If the developing tic under Hiashi's left eye told him anything, it indicated that the first step in securing Hinata as the heir to the clan had taken place. The next few hours would be critical to see how the clan would react. More importantly, how Hiashi would react. Shikamaru was fairly sure that he would be forced to name Hinata heir but until that moment came there were many things that could go wrong. He hoped Neji was keeping a close eye on his cousin.
Closing his book, Kakashi memorized names and faces that exited the council room. Many of them were pale and several of them were sweating. Some didn't leave the room at all. Making mental notes, he waited until the doors shut again and turned on his heel.
It was time to go and check on his wayward student.
Sasuke lifted his eyes from the scroll he had been reading when there was a knock on his door. Since she had been standing on his landing for the past five minutes he had almost expected her to walk away. He wasn't exactly surprised that she was stopping by but he hadn't expected her to be alone.
She looked up at the sound of her name. Sasuke looked around her and lifted a brow when he confirmed that her cousin was nowhere to be found.
"Sasuke-san," she said quietly. "Neji is not here. May I come in?"
He opened the door, carefully scanning the area before shutting and locking it behind her. Some of the tension in her shoulders seemed to release once his traps snapped into place and her pale eyes scanned the distinct lack of windows with something like approval. Motioning to the small table he had been previously reading at, he headed into the kitchen to start a pot of tea.
Turning once he was satisfied, he settled his hip against the counter and considered the Hyuuga heir. She had settled at his table and was watching him with her hands clasped in her lap. Since they were her best weapon she was deliberately handicapping herself.
"You have heard about the council meeting this morning?" Her tone made it almost a statement but he nodded anyway.
She nodded and straightened her spine. "Then you are aware of the grief my clan has caused you."
Again he nodded. There were many things that her statement could have alluded to. The council had attempted to drive his clan into the ground and they had attempted to destroy Naruto, his teammate. Both gave him grounds to claim fault. If the spark – he would almost call it temper – behind her eyes said anything, she was clearly aware of everything that had occurred during the council meeting this morning. Remembering the way her eyes had once followed Naruto, he decided that her words were for Naruto and for those he now protected.
"This morning my father placed the cage seal on Hanabi," Hinata's voice held no triumph, instead she just looked tired. "Officially, this was done because of her connections to the Elders who are currently being charged with treason. She couldn't be trusted by the village after this and so was no longer in contention to be heir. Unofficially, this was done to save face. There is no proof that Hanabi was involved in the plot but there is no proof that she was not. My father cannot loose the support of the clan or we will never resolve our internal problems. So he chose this as his path."
"My father is getting older, Sasuke-san." Her words were soft but there was an edge there that Sasuke could appreciate. "He hides it well, but he is getting tired. He had already started training Hanabi quietly about Clan economics and strategies and he does not approve of me as heir."
Sasuke studied her face before turning to take the water off the burner before it could start to whistle at him. Pouring the water over the leaves, he settled the teapot onto a tray and added two mugs before setting it down on the table to seep. Taking a chair across from Hinata he laced his fingers together.
"What does this have to do with the Uchiha-clan, Hinata?"
"You will need support to rebuild your clan, Sasuke-san." Hinata said quietly. "I am now in a position to offer that support."
Sasuke was silent as he poured them both some tea. "Your Elders will not appreciate that move."
Her smile was tight. "What better way to fish out the rest of the traitors?"
He lifted a brow. "That is dangerous."
"Yes." She agreed, lifting the mug and cradling it in her hands as if suddenly chilled. "There are many things I plan on doing that are going to be dangerous."
He studied her. His clan would grow. He knew Hinata was aware of that, as she was also clearly aware of the traditional animosity between their clans. Leaning back, he studied her.
"You would like our clans to grow as allies."
"I would like us to try." Hinata said finally. Her eyes were hard. "I cannot close the rift between the Branch and the Main house completely. Not in my lifetime. I can abolish the practice of the cage seal but it will take work and years of struggle before I can win my family over to the reality of change." Her eyes grew distant. "But I made a promise to someone and I will keep it."
Hinata drew in a deep breath. "What I would like to do Sasuke-san, is offer your clan support. We cannot do much, not with my father still keeping an eye on things but Neji and I will do what we can both politically and economically to aid you. You will need assistance in learning as your clan develops and I would like to offer you ours."
Sasuke considered her offer. "Is this is payment for the debt your clans actions have caused?"
Hinata shook her head. "No, Sasuke-san. This is in payment of a different promise. The debt my clan owes on that front is political and shall be paid politically. The Elders who are left are in agreement with me on this."
Sasuke took a sip of his tea. "I shall consider your offer."
Hinata nodded and set her mug down. Standing, she bowed. "Thank you for your time, Uchiha-sama. May your clan be prosperous."
"And may yours weather the storm of time." He returned the old greeting and it felt a little clumsy on his tongue.
She nodded and he stood and followed her to the door. As he opened the door for her, he studied her out of the corner of his eye.
"The undercurrents of the council’s actions have not yet settled."
She nodded her head. "Yes. Watch your back, Sasuke-san."
Shutting the door he flipped the locks back into place. Rolling his neck, he checked his traps and lifted his eyes to the small window in his kitchen. He had plans to make. It wouldn't do for his teammates to return home and him be caught off guard by their questions.