Three dedications:

Shinigami29 – thanks for inspiring me to want to write my own multi-chapter story.

Chibiaddicted – your one-shot random pairing made me want to explore the concept further.

Gymchick - thanks a million for doing Beta. Your suggestions and editing certainly made a difference.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. No money changed hands. I just do this for the fun of it all. Enjoy.

1-Prologue

Kankuro stood on the viewing deck with mild disinterest displayed on his normally painted, impassive features. On the floor below, a battle was about to begin. As the two combatants took their positions, he coldly surveyed them both.

The delicate girl looked as though a stiff breeze could knock her down. Her fragile nervousness was a stark contrast to the stoic demeanor of the lanky arrogant boy across from her. She trembled with apprehensiveness as her opponent took her measure.

He mentally shook his head, "This won't end well for her."

He didn't care if she died. The girl was obviously weak – standing before her challenger quivering in terror. To survive in this world, you had to be strong – A lesson he and his siblings knew too well. The world had no place for a weak shinobi.

A blond boy called to her, shouting words of encouragement so loudly that there was no possible way for her to miss him. The change in the girl was startling. She stopped shaking. Stepping into fighting stance, she prepared to battle.

"Shame she'll be crushed, she's actually quite attractive." Kankuro caught himself thinking, of the girl below.

It took a moment for the actual meaning of what he had just thought to sink in.

"Wait! What am I thinking!"

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Hinata watched her cousin take his place across from her. She was terrified at the thought of fighting him, and though she was trying hard not to let that fear show, she knew he could tell. He didn't need his all-knowing eyes to see that she was afraid. There was no lost love between her and Neji. The only comfort she received was the knowledge that her secret crush, Naruto, was loudly encouraging her to confront her fears head long rather than running away. She looked up to the viewing deck when he called out and found her eyes darting towards another figure there. He was strange looking in with kabuki make-up on his face and the shrouded puppet on his back. He scared her too, not in the same way as Neji that Neji did, but in a way that she couldn't put her finger on.

She had no time to dwell on that fleeting fancy. Her cousin's heckling comments brought her back to the present situation. She faced him with determination, a new-found fire burning in her eyes, ready to fight.

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Kankuro leaned forward, trying to not disclose his intrigue in the altercation unfolding below him to his brother and sister. Temari would only laugh and criticize him while Gaara would view this mild interest as a weakness that must be destroyed. He could not help but admire the sudden determination displayed on the girl's face. The loud mouthed boy's words must have awoken a fighting spirit in her. He could tell that she was still scared but she wasn't running away now – mentally or physically. He stepped away from the balcony edge shortly after she had briefly glanced in his direction. He was slightly unnerved by those silver eyes as they flickered over his form. He couldn't put a voice to why it disturbed him; it was an unknown sensation, almost like she could see right through him.

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The battle ended badly for the young girl. She was barely breathing and showed no signs of moving anytime soon. Her sensei was frantically calling for medics to attend to the prone girl. He was shocked at the sudden urge he felt to jump down into the arena and tear her cousin to pieces. How unexpected. He heard the commotion coming from the nearby balcony and watched the blonde boy jump down and confront the arrogant silver eyed cousin.

He breathed a silent sigh of relief, as the unexpected madness slowly died down inside of him.

He watched the arena being cleared of unnecessary personnel and refocused his thoughts on his brother's upcoming fight. Though he was certain Gaara would win, he didn't need to have his head filled with thoughts of some fey, silver-eyed girl he didn't even know.