summary: hey young blood, doesn't it feel like our time is running out?
notes: wow, this is the fastest i've written in a while but i have had this scene ready since i started this fic. it's getting interesting now, guys.

15. and i'm just waitin' for the axe to fall

Hinata sips her champagne, profoundly more comfortable than she was the last time she was here.

The floor to ceiling windows still tower over her, nearly three stories tall for a single level. The chandeliers twinkle above her, and the crowd of wealthy art dealers mingle beside her, barely acknowledging her unfamiliar existence.

Hinata resists the urge to let her hair tumble down from its delicately pinned updo, with crystalline pins. Her dress tonight is a gentle lavender, slinky and elegant, the soft fabric pleasant against her skin. She had maybe spent some money on a few proper dresses — it was a necessary expense, Ino had assured her. She can't say she minds too much, with the way she feels all dressed up.

Kiba accompanies her again, this time in a properly fitted dress shirt that didn't make him feel like he was choking. He stands with her, trying to shove finger foods down his face as politely and inconspicuously as possible. He had allowed his usually unruly hair to be slicked back elegantly, despite his grumbles.

They both fit in far better tonight than their previous escapades. They hold themselves with a practiced elegance now, though it is entirely fake. They still don't mingle among the rest, keeping to themselves.

Hinata has made a significant amount of money at this point, her pieces selling for higher and higher at every auction. After tonight, she's going to tell Naruto about the auctions and give him the money to help him. If all goes to plan, after her pieces sell tonight she should be able to give him a hundred and fifty thousand. The mere idea that a number that high is even in her worldview, is in her bank account still baffles her.

A familiar face approaches her, and she turns on her customer service smile. He's accompanied by someone new this time, and when he reaches for her outstretched hand to kiss it, she reflexively tights her grip on Kiba.

"Itachi," she says. "How nice to see you again."

"Miss Hyuuga," he says, his voice deep and smooth. "A pleasure."

She smiles politely, but her face is tight. She can't quite pinpoint what it is, but he makes her nervous. Every time he comes near, her instincts scream at her to run. But he was also one of her highest buyers, so she forces herself to stay, despite the cold sweat that breaks out on her spine.

"This is my associate, Kisame," he says, gesturing to the man besides him. "We're business partners. I had to have him come see your work outside of my office."

Kisame is a large man, towering over her by at least a foot. He's also wide, rippling with muscles she can see even through the expertly tailored suit. He grins at her, extending a hand for her to shake, and his mouth is full of impossible white teeth. She shakes his hand, and his grip is tight and rough like sandpaper, his hands calloused and dry.

If Itachi makes her nervous, Kisame makes her terrified.

"Nice to meet you," she says, feigning a perfect smile. "I hope you enjoy the auction. I have quite a few pieces up today that I think will catch your eye."

"I look forward to it," he says, and his voice is so deep and gravelly that Hinata can feel it vibrate in her chest. He grins wide at her again, and it threatens to send a shiver up her spine.

When they walk away, Hinata gives herself a minute to breathe and calm down. Kiba can sense her distress, and pulls her into his side and rubs her shoulder. He plays the dutiful boyfriend role well, and it wasn't like the two of them were uncomfortable being so close. Hinata fakes a smile, as if Kiba was just being affectionate and she was enjoying it.

"Got a bad vibe from those guys," he murmurs to her.


She's thankful that Mr. Otogaka was sick today and she wouldn't have to spend time socializing with him, either. He always managed to make her skin crawl, though she can't pinpoint why. He had never given her any reason to, but she knows that every time he looks at her, she just gets a sick feeling in her gut.

There is a gentle ringing of a bell that signifies it is time to move towards the auction area. Tonight, they've set out plush velvet seats and have lit the ornate fireplace, logs crackling pleasantly. The heat is appreciated, and she sits as close to it as possible. It's March already, but the spring snows are heavier here and the silky fabric of her dress does little to warm her.

Her art is later in the line-up, now. The more money her pieces sold for, the later they were brought out, to encourage spending for all the artists. It's mostly portraits today, since those sold the most successfully.

There's one of Naruto, stretched out on the couch of his office, taking a nap. There's a study of the tattoos on his arm, painstakingly detailed and shaded. A study of his muscles, though that was in charcoal. A portrait of him deep in concentration, tattooing someone.

Hinata smiles as the the bids go up on that one. That had been from her sketches of him on their first date, but it took her forever to get the lighting right. Even now, she's not too happy with it, having the real thing burned into her memory. Maybe one day, she'll be good enough to get it perfect.

Her pieces sell as expected, garnering her a sixty thousand dollar profit. It was still unreal to her, that her paintings were worth that much money. It was less shock now, more just disbelief. It still felt like a dream, despite that she had been steadily watching this money grow and grow for the past several months.

She only stays long enough to thank some of her more prominent buyers personally and rub elbows, with Kiba firmly at her side. He is quiet but polite, which seems to match the other artists' significant others. Their cover is solid.

"Ready to go?" she asks, sending him a tired smile.


"I have to use the bathroom, can you wait for me?"

"Sure, I'll go warm up the Jeep. I'll see you there."

Hinata turns on her heel to use the restroom when she realizes that she has no idea where it is. Thankfully, a waiter passes by her holding a tray of food and she stops him. His directions are vague, but it's better than wandering around aimlessly in search of finding the right door.

She's never been in the back of the mansion before, only ever mingling in the two main rooms. She's still a little lost in the ornate oak polishings of the small hallway, but she eventually finds the small bathroom. It's fixings are as elaborate as the rest; the sink is designed to be a waterfall, with pristinely polished steel and there are dozens of warm, fluffy hand towels and a hamper to place them in after use.

Hinata is about to roll her eyes and leave, until she hears two very familiar voices outside the door.

"How much longer do we have to keep this up for?" she hears Kisame grunt. "Hate fuckin' suits. Hate spendin' decent money on fuckin' pictures."

"As long as we need to," Itachi's voice replies smoothly. "The intel is valuable. Her house is being watched as well, we just need to arrange for a suitable and inconspicuous capture. We cannot draw attention to ourselves or attention to Orochimaru's business."

"Can't believe he found Uzumaki's girl. He sure is making a ton of money off of her."

"Which is why if we draw attention to the fact that these auctions are just a cover for gang intel exchange, we will never be invited back. This could be our chance to crush Konoha once and for all, and finally bag the price on Uzumaki's head. Can you imagine what he would do once he hears that we've kidnapped her?"

Hinata's heart stops in her chest, and she has to steady herself on the granite countertop so she doesn't faint. As she does so, her phone clatters to ground, loud on the tile.

"Is someone in there?" Kisame's voice calls out.

"J-just finishing up," she calls out, cursing herself. "Just, um, just a moment, please."

The doorknob rattles like a gunshot in the quiet, and her heart beats painfully in her chest. Her skin is cold, her hands shaking as she picks up her phone.

to: kiba
you need to go without no time to explain when you get back call naruto and tell him ive been selling art to someone name orochimaru otogaka and there are two people here named itachi and kisame talking about konoha if he doesnt answer call these numbers until someone answers and tell them the same thing

She sends him Sasuke and Sakura's number and steels herself. She deletes the messages and puts her phone in a strap fastened to the inside her thigh. Maybe she can keep it from them long enough that Naruto can track her to wherever she's going.

She takes a breath and smooths out her hair before unlocking the door, to see Kisame and Itachi standing shoulder to shoulder at the door, their faces no longer charismatically pleasant. She doesn't know how she failed to notice how athletic Itachi is as well, but she can see it now, in this wide shoulders and against the tight seams of his suit.

"Gentlemen," she says, trying to feign a smile and clasp her hands in front of her to keep from shaking. "Excuse me, it's all yours now."

They don't move.

"We can do this one of two ways," Kisame says, crossing his impossibly huge arms and grinning widely. "You can come with us, quietly, to our car. Or you can try to make a fuss, and we have the car that's following your boyfriend home cause an...unfortunate accident."

The emphasis on the word "boyfriend" was not missed with the widening of his sickening smile. The breath is stolen out of her lungs but she tries not to let it show on her face.

"There's no need for a scene," she says, trying not to think about how her voice shakes a little. "I'll go with you."

"You save face well," Kisame says as they walk in a line towards the huge double doors that leads down to the valet. "But I can smell the fear on you."

Itachi opens the door for her, as if he was a gentleman. As if he wasn't just trying to make sure she didn't make a run for it as soon as she got outside. Not like she could get anywhere far in this dress and heels, on a gravel road no less.

She locks eyes with Kabuto as he is directing staff to load art pieces in. It makes sense that Mr. Otogaka would have his right hand man handling everything in his absence, especially if it was a cover for intel exchange. Kabuto's face changes as he spots her with Itachi and Kisame, almost imperceptibly. It's almost like he says "I'm sorry," his eyes softening and his frown deepening for just a moment, before he goes back to his task.

He must know what he has condemned her to.

But that's his job, and his burden to bear.

Kiba doesn't know what the fuck is going on.

He reads this text from Hinata again at a stoplight, before dialing Naruto's number. Straight to voicemail, which apparently she knew to expect. He dials the next number, which he doesn't recognize.

"Hello?" a soft voice answers. A woman.

"Hi, uh, this is weird, but um, I'm Kiba and—"

"Oh, you're Hinata's roommate, right? This is Sakura."

"Yeah, yeah." He breathes shakily, running his free hand through his hair. "Uh, something weird happened."

"What happened? Is she okay?" Her once soft voice turned steely, and he can hear some interference on the phone as she switches it to speaker, her voice sounding farther away.

"Uh, so we were at an art gallery and she went to use the bathroom. I got a text from her telling me to leave immediately, and to call Naruto and tell him that she's been selling art to an Orochimaru Otagaka and that there were two people named Itachi and Kisame talking about Konoha. Then she sent me your number and another if he didn't answer."

"Shit," a deep voice responds, sounding far away.

"Kiba," Sakura says again, "you need to go straight home. Lock all the doors, all the windows, don't let anyone in, and don't seem suspicious. Just be calm. Can you do that, Kiba?"

"Y-Yeah, but what the fuck! What the hell did Nata get herself into?"

"That's not your concern—"

"The hell it is," he snarls, gripping the steering wheel with white hot knuckles. "Don't give me that bullshit!"

"Kiba," the deep voice says again. "I know what you mean, but for right now, the less you know the better. We're going to take care of this, and get Hinata home safe, okay? Can you trust us?"

"I don't even know who you are!"

"Kiba. Can you trust us?"

"I guess I'm going to have to," he grumbles, but his heart still beats like a hammer in his chest. He sighs, pressing his forehead to the steering wheel. "Just — please, bring her home safe."

She sits in the back of a sleek black sedan, with tinted windows and leather interior. It smells almost like bleach, and she wonders if they've had to clean blood out of the car before. She wonders if they'll have to clean hers out of it, too. She doesn't miss the gun that's pointed at her the moment they're all in the car, either.

It's strange, she thinks, staring down the barrel of gun. It's so lazily pointed at her, as if she is just an afterthought. Kisame doesn't even look at her, just aims it over the shoulder to make sure she doesn't try anything. Though they all know that she won't. She wants to imagine that she feels her phone buzz frantically through her thigh, Naruto calling and texting to find out if she's really okay.

But her phone's on silent. And it would continue to be.

At some point, they place a bag over her head so that she can't follow the directions to where she's going. She doesn't blame them, but it ups her panic more. She can only see the streetlights they pass faintly through the dark fabric, the sweat of her palms unnerving. She wrings her hands in her laps, finally allowing her silent tears to fall in privacy.

She's trying not to let the panic set in, but here where feels safe and alone it's hard not to. She feels herself slowly beginning the start of a panic attack, breathing heavily as if that will stave off the hyperventilating that's sure to come next.

But then the car comes to a stop, and she's wrenched out of the car by Kisame's large hands. He's not gentle, either, as he leads her forward, the cool metal of his gun pressing against her back. The gravel crunches under their shoes, and she stumbles a few times, her heels getting caught in the potholes that she can't see.

They seat her down somewhere after pushing her around what she assumes is a house, before pulling the bag off. They've bound her hands behind her back, to the metal frame of the chair she's sitting in. Her ankles, too. She sits in a featureless room, the window covered up with cardboard and duct tape.

"Well, well, well," a new voice calls from behind her, though she doesn't turn her back to see. She keeps her head up, trying to pretend like there aren't tears streaked with mascara down her cheeks. "What a lovely surprise for me today."

He walks in front of her, shoes clicking against the hardwood floor. He's dressed nice, in a maroon button-up and a gray vest, his sleeves rolled up to his ankles. It's a good look for him she admits begrudgingly — he's tall and thin, she would even call him pretty. His long blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, the ends brushing between his shoulders. His smiles at her, his eyeliner bringing even more attention to his startling blue eyes.

"Deidara," he says, holding out a hand for her to shake. "A pleasure."

Hinata looks at his hand pointedly, then shrugs.

"Of course," he laughs, putting his hand back in his pocket. "Silly, silly me."

He trails around the room several times, circling her. She's not sure what he's looking for, but she becomes comfortable in the silence. Even if her heart feels like a jackhammer in her chest, and her hands shake in their binds. She's grateful that at least her dress is long and covers her spread legs.

"Hinata Hyuuga," he says finally, letting the words wrap around his tongue. "You are such a treat."

She stays quiet, following him slowly with her eyes. She tries not to scowl, but she thinks her face betrays her.

"Pretty thing," he says, trailing a hand across her shoulder, and she can't help the squirm she does to get away from his touch. He grins when he sees that he's finally drawn a reaction from her. "And oh how useful you've been, too. We're closer than we've ever been thanks to your hard work."

"Fuck off," she finally spits.

"Oh! She speaks!" he says, clapping his hands. "Here I was worried that you were a timid little mouse. You do put on such a brave face."

She smiles wryly at him, her eyes narrowed into slits. "So, what do you intend to do with me? Torture me for information? Because I have none."

Deidara laughs, pulling out a pocket knife and flipping it over and over in his hand. The pearlescent handle glints in the low light, shimmering with the same lavender as her dress. Her throat goes dry as she eyes it, forcing her to swallow back bile.

"We know that, sweetheart," he says, kneeling next to her, trailing the knife's edge along the exposed pale of her thigh. "No, we're going to keep you here 'till the blondie himself comes to save your pretty face. Then, we're gonna shoot him. And maybe, if you're a good girl, we'll let you go."

Hinata looks at him, contempt in her eyes, and spits in his slimy, grinning face.

There's a sharp sound as he slaps her across the face, hard. She lets out a squeak, her face stinging. Her must have hit her nose a little, from the way it throbs and from the stars she sees in her vision. She gasps, blinking hard against the spots in her vision.

"Listen," he says, the smarmy smile long gone, replaced with a determined scowl. "You understand how worthless you are to us, don't you? I could kill you without a second thought."

He jams his knife into her thigh and she screams.