Sand Knight

Chapter One: Call and I Will Answer

Disclaimers: I don't own Naruto. Um...what else...OH! WARNING! You are subjecting yourself to my FIRST ever Naruto fic...don't say I didn't warn you...(Sigh) Well, here we go.

Yeah, yeah, it's a GaaHina fic with some KibaHina one-sided...yeah, yeah, it's gonna have flashbacks. It starts in about the middle of the story, and then goes back to the beginning in chapter two. So if you tell me you were confused by this...I'm gonna direct you back to this disclaimer. LOOK! LOOK! (Point, point)

If I don't get all of the attacks right, or something all...screwed up, attribute it to me having seen less than 50 episodes and call it an AU, if it makes you happy...or tell me, but not in that snotty, holier-than-thou tone. I get that tone enough from my grandmother. Feedback, constructive criticism, and reviewers simply telling me how great I am are always appreciated (but I don't have an ego). However, flamers are NOT tolerated, and you will be openly disrespected and mocked in the chapter after your comments. You were warned...

Current Song : 1000 no Kotoba piano version from Final Fantasy X-2

Oh! This is gonna be a fairly long chapter...sorry. I doubt the rest of them will be as long as this one, but if I get good reviews...I'll see what I can do!

You always said nothing could stop you...right?

Did you mean that?

Did it mean you would have hurt even me to get what you wanted?

I never asked, because I thought you wouldn't answer.

But I thought that...if I had asked...

Your answer would have been no.

Maybe that was just whimsical thinking on my part.

My family always called me a silly dreamer.

Then again...I suppose it's too late to ask you now, ne?

"Another bowl, please!"

Four sets of eyes rolled as the blonde yelled that phrase for...what...the fifth time in half an hour?

"Is that some sort of record?" Shikamaru asked from Naruto's left, leaning forward to look at Sasuke, who was on the blonde's right and had his face buried in his hands and was muttering something that sounded distinctly like 'Why me...?'

"Well, it was your own fault, ya know," Kiba said from Shikamaru's other side, idly sipping from the glass in his hand as he looked at the Uchiha clan member, who didn't seem to be paying attention.

The main reason Sasuke was so distraught about the situation was that he was paying for it. He had lost a bet, merely because he had gotten careless. Naruto had challenged him to a race, even though the black eyed boy was considerably faster than the blonde (until he got pissed).

Naturally, he had accepted the challenge, figuring he would be done in ten minutes, tops. Naruto had chosen the course, and if drawn on a map, the line would look like the trail of a mosquito on drugs.

They had gone over the bridge, where part of the fence was being repaired and some children had been fishing. And in the one moment Sasuke had given a sigh over how stupid the whole matter was, he stepped on a dead fish and went plummeting through the open hole in the broken fence.

By the time he got out of the water, back to the bridge, and to the finish line, Naruto had won.

So there they were, at Naruto's restaurant of choice, emptying Sasuke's wallet as fast as humanly possible. Sakura had come along to taunt him, Kiba had come along because he and Akamaru were both thirsty, and Shikamaru had come along...well, the only apparent reason was so he could complain about being there. To be honest, he didn't know why the brunette bothered to do anything, since he seemed to see breathing as troublesome.

"How troublesome," Shikamaru muttered. Everyone else had decided that that was the boy's own personal catch phrase now, since they never heard anyone else say 'troublesome'.

"Oh, yeah, I heard something interesting today," Sakura said, breaking the silence she had been in for the past ten minutes. The four males shifted their attention to her, Naruto having half the bowl of ramen hanging out of his mouth.

The pink haired girl smiled. "I was talking to Tenten-chan and Lee-kun earlier today. They said Neji-kun had told them Hinata-chan was finally coming back today."

She stared at the outskirts of the forest, clutching a small silver bracelet to her chest. The shine could barely be seen through her slightly parted fingers.

They had parted ways hours ago, quite a distance from where she was now. She had been so confidant then, but all of that had been sucked from her the moment she had arrived at the forest's edge. She was close...she knew that. And it was only noon. If she started now, she would be there by two-thirty with no problem.

But she couldn't get her feet to move.

She had fled nine months ago. She had wanted to get stronger, to prove her worth as the Hyuuga heiress, to prove her right to fight beside Kiba and Shino. But more than that, she wanted to prove to herself that she could do it.

She was worried. What would they say when they saw her? Was she truly any stronger? Would they, her friends, accept her back into the circle, or reject her just as powerfully as her family had?

She shook her head fiercely. What would he say if he saw her like this?

Simple. Nothing.

He'd just laugh.

The white eyed girl forced her back to straighten, her shoulders back, and her head up high. She wasn't cowering back to Konoha, and she didn't want to give that impression.

When they saw her...she wanted to look full of pride, full of the confidence that Neji had always said she could never obtain.

She lowered her hands and looked at the bracelet – it was soaked in sweat. Had she really been that nervous?

She shook her head violently again and clasped the silver ring around her right wrist.

She was no longer a weakling. She knew that.

With that last thought, she took the first step into the forest and leapt into a tree. What had once been nervousness had taken shape into an eagerness for them to see what she had become.

And from now on...Hyuuga Hinata was not one to run from anything.

"WHAT!" Naruto cried, spraying the other three males with half-chewed ramen in the process. Sakura had been expecting that reaction, and had created a small shield of chakra to intercept the Noodle Torpedoes. Yeah, sure, half-chewed noodles seeming to float in thin air wasn't a pretty sight, but it was better than the alternative.

"You heard me," the pink haired girl said in an exasperated tone, flipping her hair over her shoulders. Over the past few years, she had let it grow out again, and now that she was eighteen, it was down to about the same length it had been when she had been forced to cut it in the Chuunin exam.

In all those years, little had changed, save a few relationships. Sakura had finally given in to Lee asking her out, and they were actually a pretty happy couple. In addition to that, the strangest couple in the village had been created. It had been weird when Shikamaru had asked Ino out...and even weirder when the blonde had said yes.

They all also looked roughly the same as they had – sure, they were taller, better built, had sharper facial features...but they still had the same hair, personalities, and (as far as some went) the same clothing. Akamaru still rode around in Kiba's coat, even. She assumed that it was sort of silly, since they all still acted like twelve-year-olds, but she also knew it would be weird if Naruto tried to be mature.

"This is great! Great, I tell you!" the blonde kitsune exclaimed, slamming his empty bowl down as Shikamaru groaned and picked a vegetable out of his ponytail, Sasuke rubbed his face with a napkin, and Kiba restrained his dog the countertop.

"So she's actually still alive?" the boy with the painted face exclaimed as he shoved Akamaru back into his coat, glee in his voice. He had missed the leaf nin, both because she was his friend and Shino really got on his nerves sometimes.

"Un," Sakura said with a nod. "Neji-kun said he got a letter from her a few days ago. Apparently, the two of them got on better terms just before she disappeared."

"Did he find out why she left?" Sasuke asked, dragging the rest of them out of the ramen shop before Naruto recovered from the distraction and ordered again.

"Something about getting stronger..." the pink haired girl said with a shrug. "But either that's all it said, that's all Neji-kun would tell Tenten-chan and Lee-kun, or that's all they would tell me."

"But Hinata-chan is coming back!" Naruto exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air as Kiba dragged him by the back of his shirt.

"You just miss her cooking, don't you, baka?"



"OWWW! Sakura-chaaaan, that hurt!"


It had been a long time since they had all gotten together, just to talk. Of course, waiting for Hinata was reason enough for all of them to be near the town gates.

Apparently, Shikamaru had said something moronic again, because Ino and Tenten were both chucking rocks at him and screaming, 'SEXIST PIG!' The brunette had chosen Choujii as a shield, and the rocks just bounced off him as he consumed his fourth box of Twinkies that day.

Kiba and Naruto were getting into another semi-good-natured argument, which was stopped by Shino making ants crawl up under their shirts. Sasuke was still planning the day in which he would get his revenge on the blonde kitsune, and Lee was doing a horrid job of helping him look on the bright side.

Sakura giggled as she watched all of this. To be honest, all of the teams hadn't gotten together too much since Hinata left. It had really bummed Kiba and Shino, and when Kiba was down, everyone in the vicinity needed anti-depressants. It wasn't that they felt bad for was just that he was that good at taking control of any situation he was in.

The pink haired girl looked over at Neji, who was sitting on a bench and unconsciously glancing at the gate every three seconds. She had never seen the Hyuuga male this anxious before...she supposed he was worried about his cousin. That was good, was how families were supposed to treat each other.

Finally, Tenten stopped her assault on Shikamaru and plopped down next to Neji, swinging her legs. "Oh, for heaven's sake, you look like a father who's daughter is coming home late from a date," the Chinese girl said teasingly, sticking her tongue out at her teammate.

"Hn..." he said distractedly before sighing and closing his eyes, leaning back on his arms. "It's not that I'm worried or anything. I'm just..."

"...worried!" Tenten finished for him.

"That's not what I was going to say."

"Sure it was."

He glared at her. She merely smiled back, using the smile she reserved specifically for annoying him. He opened his mouth to retort, when he was cut off by a gentle voice.

"Konnichiwa, mina-san."

Even the rock Ino had just thrown seemed to pause in midair as everyone redirected their attention to the gate...and froze immediately.

It was least, they were fairly sure it was. Same eyes, same hair color, same smile, same voice, same Konoha forehead protector around the neck...and the similarities ended there.

She had grown taller in the past nine months – that was for sure. Her hair, which she had always kept very short, had grown out to her shoulder blades. It was also parted to the side, a few strands falling over her right eye. Her coat was gone, and in its place she wore form-fitting dark blue jeans, a dark red tanktop, and a long-sleeved fishnet shirt. The silver bracelet still glittered pointedly around her wrist.

"Wow! You look great!" Naruto exclaimed, being the first to find his voice.

She smiled brightly at him. "Arigatou, Naruto-kun."

The blonde grinned at her, but the rest of them blinked. No blush? No poking-together-of-the-forefingers-thing? No stutter?

"KYA! I LOVE YOUR HAIR!" Tenten shrieked with enough force to knock Neji backwards, leaping to her feet. She then barreled over to the white-eyed girl, clasping her hands over the other's. With that, she began barraging her with questions. "Where were you! What have you been doing!"

"Calm down, Tenten," Lee said with a sweatdrop, standing up and waving his hand to his teammate. She had seemed to get even more hyperactive in the past few years. The others quickly made their way over to Hinata...with the exception of Kiba. He was still in a bit of shock.

That...was Hinata...? he asked himself in his daze, blinking a few times. Whoa...

Akamaru's questioning bark brought him back to reality. "Huh? O-oh...right," he said with a nod, heading over as well. Well, that reaction was a first...

"Come on, come on, come on, come on!" Tenten coaxed, bouncing up and down slightly on her bed with her pillow hugged to her chest. The motion shook the whole mattress, sending Sakura, Ino, and Hinata into a bit of the motion with her.

Hinata laughed. And here she had been worried about them not accepting her back.

Once she had finally stopped with the questions, the Chinese girl had declared that the four of them were going to have a sleepover at her place. She had strictly ordered all guys to stay as far away as possible, much to their indifference. Even so, she considered the possibility of this only being a façade and had put a tight chakra shield around her entire apartment.

Hinata had, of course, gone by the main house first, to apologize to her father. In their brief meeting, she discovered that Hanabi had taken over her place as heiress to the Hyuuga family name. And she was quite surprised at how little she cared.

As soon as they had heard of this, Sakura, Ino, and Tenten had immediately began making plans for Hinata's immediate removal from the main house and into one of their apartments until she could get her own. Sakura had the largest out of the three, so she had offered to let Hinata stay. Well, she called it an offer, but it was more of a command.

It was surprising how well Sakura and Ino got along now that they both had boyfriends that weren't Sasuke. In fact, on their way to the main house, Neji told her that the two were practically joined at the hip. Hinata supposed it was because they both had boyfriends to vent to each other about, and it seemed as though they did so a lot.

"Tell us," Tenten pried, poking the Hyuuga girl once she had stopped bouncing.

"Yeah," Ino said with a grin, bracing herself back on her arms. "You didn't blush or stammer when Naruto complimented you. Something's gotta be up. Did you get a new boyfriend?"

"N-no! Nothing like that!" Hinata exclaimed, throwing her hands over her face to hide her blush. The other three exchanged wicked grins. They had hit right on the mark...or, at least, close to it.

"A new crush then?"




"I can't hear you!" the three said with wider grins.

"I-It's...j-just a n-new crush..." she mumbled into her hands.

The three giggled. "That's great, Hinata-chan!" Sakura exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "Was it a boy you met while you were traveling?"

She nodded, finally lowering her hands to reveal her shy smile. "Actually...I was traveling with him..."

"Ooooh," all three chorused at once. "Anyone we know?"

"Well, uh...agh, this is embarrassing!" she exclaimed with a crimson blush, waving her arms. (A/N: Is this what normal girls talk about during sleepovers? The only 'sleepovers' I have is with my half-sister, and we just talk about hot anime guys coughs)

"Is he sweet?"

"He can be..."

"Meh, lucky," Ino said with a mushroom-cloud sigh, leaning back on her arms again. "The closest to 'sweet' Shika-kun ever got was taking me to a fast-food place and not making me pay for the whole thing."

"Well, then why do you stay with him?" Sakura asked, nudging the blonde with her elbow gently. "Ne, ne?"

Ino coughed into her hand, blushing faintly. "Certain things. He has talents in areas besides fighting."

The other three burst into giggles at that. Once it calmed down, Sakura sighed. "I can't get Lee-kun to stop being sweet. He proved that he would die for me during the Chuunin exam, but he can stop reaffirming that idea now. He keeps getting himself hurt just to show off."

"At least you two have boyfriends!" Tenten said, crossing her arms over her chest.

The other three blinked at her. "Demo...I thought you and Neji-kun..." Ino began.

"Yeah, we're 'dating', but we haven't gone out more than once."

"Really!" Hinata exclaimed, leaning foreward and blinking at her. "He didn't tell me this!"

"Is he really the type?"

"Aw, why am I always the last to find out about these things...?"

Tenten smiled at her, ruffling her hair. "If you don't want to miss things...don't disappear on us anymore."

Kiba leaned against the railing of the balcony outside his apartment, pulling off his hood and ruffling his hair. He still couldn't believe he was still so shocked at seeing Hinata.

Well, he had known that she was going to be at least a bit different...but in appearance, she was barely even the same person anymore. Something had happened while she was out there, and both he and Shino wanted to know what.

However, they also knew that if the Hyuuga girl didn't want to talk about it, there would be nothing they could do to pry it out of her.

Folding his arms on the metal railing, Kiba leaned forward again and rested his chin on his wrists. Akamaru stood beside him, giving him another questioning bark as he flopped into a sitting position.

"Nah, it's nothing, Akamaru. I was just thinking, that's all."


"I have not been acting weird since Hinata got back," he said defiantly, closing one eye and looking away with the other. "I'm just...thinking, that's all. Really, I'm wondering if she's gonna want to return to the team again. I figure Kurenai-sensei will probably want her to, but she won't force it if Hinata doesn't want it."


"No, I won't force her either. But I really do hope she will...otherwise, we'll have to get a new teammate, and they might be even more annoying than Bug Freak."


"WHAT!" Kiba exclaimed, the paint on his face now blending in with the color of his skin. "I was not staring at her when she got here! Meh, I couldn't care less," he added indignantly, turning his head from his dog.

Yeah. He was having to defend his pride from his dog. How lame could you get?

He coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm going to bed," he said as he retreated back inside. He could almost swear he heard Akamaru laughing at him.

'Smart-ass dog.'

Neji, who had been unable to get to sleep for an hour, finally gave up for the time being and stood, making his way over to the window. He pulled open the large curtains and flung the glass open, sighing as the cold air rushed into the room.

Hinata had taken the news of Hanabi's promotion to heiress much better than he had counted on. She had just nodded, telling Hiashi that if that was his wish, she would abide by it.

However, he had reveled in the look of sick astonishment he had seen on Hanabi's face. She knew that the girl had probably wanted to see her older sister cry, the little bitch. Neji had never liked her, and that didn't exactly help relations any.

When Hinata had first left, they were barely on grudging good terms. They had actually had a conversation the day prior to her disappearance. He had figured if they were going to start liking each other, it would be a gradual thing, slowly acquired over time.

Yet when he found out about her practical disownment from the head family, all the hostility he felt towards her seemed to be sucked away. It was as though he realized that she was really no different than he was, being a member of the branch family and never receiving any of the respect he knew he deserved.

Now, he felt a duty to protecting Hinata from pretty much anything that could harm her, including anyone else of the male gender. He had seen how Kiba was staring so intently at the girl, and he didn't like it at all.

'...Tenten's right, I am acting like a father,' he thought with a groan, burying his face in his hands.

Hinata lay awake long after all the other girls had gone to sleep. Her thoughts were just too preoccupied at the moment for her to be able to rest.

She stared down at the bracelet, which remained around her wrist. To be honest, she felt like crying. But she wouldn't – she knew the effect tears would have on the metal.

If your blood or your tears touch this bracelet, it will summon me.

She didn't want to summon him here needlessly. Of course, she could be careful and try not to get the tears on the silver ring...but then she would feel as though she were hiding something from him.

Call and I will answer.

A smile touched her lips despite the tears welling in her eyes. She knew he either cared, or felt a duty to protect her. In either case, it was good, right? It meant they were at least friends, right?

Hugging her wrist to her chest, she closed her eyes and forced the liquid in them back. She would keep her mind on him; help keep the worries out of her mind with his words. She felt that it would be the only way she could sleep.

Starr: WOO! First chapter, done with! It's...fourteen pages, rock on (throws her hands up in the air in glee)

Meh...maybe I made Kiba a bit shallow...oh well! Oh, and can anyone tell me if Shino EVER removes his sunglasses, and if so, what color his eyes are? If not, I'm gonna have to make some stuff up eventually (sigh)

Well, like I said, reviews are vastly appreciated.

Gaara: If I'm part of the cannon relationship of this stupid plot, why wasn't I in the first chapter?

Starr: Well, one, you'll be in the next one, and two, you threatened me with Shukaku, saying you'd kill me if I put you in the first chapter.

Gaara: ...right. It slipped my mind.

Hinata: Gaara-kun!

Gaara: Hn. Take your time reviewing; she doesn't need to write more of this.

Starr: Meh, you're so humphy.

Gaara: ...humphy?

Starr: Yes, humphy! Anyways, hope you people like this story.

Gaara: (Looking through the dictionary) Humphy isn't a word...

Starr: Shut up! (Flings him into a Pack of Rabid Fangirls) ... (Looks at everyone else and smiles nervously, waving) Ja ne!