Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of the other characters.


Today is the day! Hinata took a deep calming breath as she walked to the training grounds where her team was going to meet. Nothing is going to stop me. I'm stroger then I was and I'll continue to grow stronger. This last thought was Hinata's personal mantra. After the infamous chuunin exams, Hinata had decided that she was never going to be weak again.

Today she was going to complete one of the goals she had set up to meassure her improvement. Last week she had warned him of what she was planning, just not saying the day that she was going to do the deed. Hinata smiled as she remembered the that conversating.

Team 8 was finishing up their training session for the day. Kiba and Akamru were lazing against the log watching the end of Hinata and Shino's taijutsu practice. They had been sparring for the last part of the session and Hinata had not only been able to keep up, but she had actually scored some hits. When Kurenai sensei had called the session to a halt Hinata had the biggest grin on her face.

"Shino-kun," she panted, as they walked over to their gear, "You might want to get ready."

"Oh?" he said, lifting one eyebrow over his sunglasses.

Hinata nodded. "I'm going to complete goal number 18 this week."

When Hinata had come to Shino six months ago about becoming stronger, they had set up 20 goals for her to complete. These were things that she thought that she should be able to do when she truely became strong. Last week she had finished number 17, keep up with Kiba and Akamaru on one of thier "walks."

Shino's other eyebrow raised at this. "Really?"

Hinata nodded, enjoying the rare look of surprise on his face. "I'm going to find out what you're hiding under those glasses."

Hinata had spent every spare minute between then and now working on her strategy. She had even asked Shikamaru what he thought of her plan, warning him that he would regret telling anybody about her plan. He just scoffed at her and rolled his eyes. Knowing that he would keep the secret, Hinata rewarded him one of her rare smiles. Well rare for everyone who wasn't on her team. It was a smile that held no self consciousness, just pure joy.

Finally Hinata made it to the training grounds. She was early of course, but not by much. Soon Kurenai sensei arrived, followed shortly by Kiba and Akamaru. After several minutes there still was no sign on Shino. This worried Hinata, Shino is never late. What if he knows about the plan?

"Kurenai-sensei?" she began, "Where's Shino?"

"I don't know. I haven't heard anything," Kurenai answered, sounding worried herself.

"Maybe we should go check on him?" Hinata suggested.

"What are you worried about?" Kiba demanded, "The Bug-Freak probably decided to sleep in."

This didn't sound right. So, Hinata volunteered to go to the Aburame compound to find out what happened to him. Hinata liked the Aburame household. True, it was covered in bugs, but there was something about it that felt comfortable. Whenever Hinata was there, she felt surrounded by silence. Not the cold, stilted silence of the Hyuuga compound, but mostly just a lack of need to fill the silence. Like everything that needed to be said, could be said with a look, not noise.

Hinata stepped up onto the front porch of Shino's house. She reached up to knock, but the door was opened before her knuckles made contact. There stood Shino, dripping wet with a towel wrapped loosely at his hips. This was the last things Hinata saw, falling forward in a dead faint.