Disclaimer: I am just a fan. I don't own anything else except for my imagination. Hahaha

A Crane's Song

Chapter 7

Kiba, Lee and Neji sat pensively in front of a roaring fire while Tenten stay guard on Hinata who was fast asleep inside the tent. Every once in a while, Kiba and Lee would glance his way but didn't say anything, which is no small feat considering Kiba's brashness and Lee's tactlessness; but still something Neji was still thankful for considering his state of mind at that moment. "Noooo! Neji! Help me!" Hinata's anguished cry ringing through the stillness of the night.

Neji quickly ran to where the tent was, along with Kiba and Lee following behind him. What they saw stopped them in their tracks. Hinata was suspended in the air, her wings spread out and eyes still closed. Tenten was standing by her side, eyes wide with shock. The 3 men were frozen in their places but Neji was the first one to break out of his stupor. He ran to Hinata, grabbed her legs and tried to pull Hinata down. "Kiba! Lee! Hold her down now!" Spurring Kiba and Lee to grab each of Hinata's arm and was met with strong were finally able to bring Hinata down but she was still trapped in her nightmare. No amount of shaking or soothing could wake her. Neji but his lip, feeling helpless for the first time in a long while. "Kiba! Lee! Hold her still!" Neji reared back his hand and firmly slapped Hinata across her face.

Smack! It was a loud stinging sound that made everyone wince in pain. Hinata's head lolled to the side like a limp rag doll and obscured by her long hair. Hinata slowly turned her face to look at the rest of them. Pure unadulterated fear was etched on her face. Neji clenched his fists. That fucking Orochimaru, when I get my hands on him, I'll…growled Neji in his mind. Hinata blinked once, twice to get rid of her stupor. She quickly saw Neji and grabbed him, tumbling them both into the sleeping mats; great wracking sobs leaving her body. Neji, still shaken could do nothing more than whisper, "It's okay now. You're safe. I'm here now. I won't let him get you." over and over. It took a while before Hinata was finally able to calm down and sleep again. Neji tried to gently extricate himself from Hinata's grasp with futile success. With his every attempt to do so resulted in Hinata tightening her grip even more.

Kiba and Tenten looked on with jealously while Lee looked at the pair speculatively but wisely kept his mouth shut. Neji pleadingly looked at them to help him to get away from Hinata but Lee broke the silence. "Well Neji, it seems like you're sleeping here tonight. See you tomorrow." And with that parting remark, Lee grabbed Kiba's and Tenten's hands and began to drag them away. "What? Wait!" yelled Kiba as he struggled against Lee's grip. He turned to glare at Neji. "Don't you even think about doing funny stuff to her, got it?" And stomped outside, dragging Lee and Tenten with him, not noticing Neji's smirk on his way out.

Neji's smirk faded as he turned down to see Hinata sleeping soundly, her arms still entwined in his waist. He sighed as his fingers gently brushed away a stray lock of hair that had fallen in front of her face. A soft smile made its way to his mouth as he heard her sigh and snuggle closer to him. He then gently eased himself in her embrace, adjusting their positions so that they lay side by side; Hinata cuddled to Neji as he gently places he face on the crook of his arm, smiling as she sighed again and burrowed closer to him. His eyes blurred for a minute, making him blink back the tears that threatened to fall.

Hinata-sama it's good to have you back. I've missed you so much. Life back home is not the same without you thought Neji as he gently kissed Hinata's forehead once, then one more time for good measure. Neji pulled away, feeling slightly embarrassed by his boldness but later fell asleep holding Hinata tightly in his arms, as if he was afraid that someone would snatch Hinata again.

TIME SKIP: A few minutes before sunrise

Hinata feels her consciousness slowly returning to her, along with a feeling of warmth and protection. It was a feeling she rarely experienced during her time with Orochimaru and after her escape. She snuggled closer, still half drowsy from the radiating warmth. She blinked quickly to get rid of her drowsiness for she thought Neji was smiling at her. "Good morning, Hinata-sama." Hinata blushed and gave him a shy smile that he reciprocated in return. But her smile faded as she noticed that it was nearly sunrise. Hinata gasped and quickly ran out of the tent, just in time for her body to be kissed by the rays of the sun.

"Hinata-sama wait!" yelled Neji following her outside the tent. Hinata cried out, feeling her body changing back to a crane. The clothes that Tenten lent ripped, leaving her naked and her body glowing in the light. Lee, Kiba and Tenten ran out, hearing Neji's shout. They watched in horrified fascination as they watched Hinata turned into a crane right before their very eyes. Hinata feeling embarrassed couldn't face them as she let out a high pitched cry, spreading her wing, preparing to take flight. Neji seeing this, quickly tackled Hinata. "Hinata-sama! You mustn't! You promised me you'll come back with us! And we'll be arriving in Konoha exactly a few minutes before sunset. We'll help you! This I swear!" yelled Neji as he tries to subdue a struggling Hinata in her crane form.

Feeling weak in relief, Hinata stopped her struggling and turned to face the still gawking Team Guy. Lee was the first to recover, giving her his patented youthful smile while Tenten and Kiba showed her OK signs. Seeing this, Neji began barking orders for them to pack and hurry. "Wait for Kiba to fire a flare after we enter the gates of Konoha. We'll see you on the rooftop of the Hokage tower." instructed Neji as he smoothed Hinata's feathers. Hinata nodded her head and let out a soft trilling sound.

TIME SKIP: A few minutes before sunset; Konoha

Neji and Tenten quickly ran to find Tsunade after instructing Lee and Kiba to wait for them at the Hokage Tower's rooftop. Neji didn't bother with pleasantries with other people and headed straight to Tsunade's office. "Wait, she's in a meeting right now with the Kazekage! You can't barge in just like that!" yelled Shizune as she tries to stop Neji from barging in the office. He banged the door open, interrupting Tsunade's meeting with Gaara.

"Neji, what's the meaning of this?" yelled Tsunade as she angrily stomped towards Neji, preparing to swing her fist into Neji's face as Neji replied "I finally found her Tsunade-sama! I've found Hinata!" stopping her fist in mid-swing to Neji's face. "Well, where is she?" Gaara stood up as well, interested in the ongoing conversation. "I want to see her." Gaara commanded. Neji narrowed his eyes. "Excuse me KAZEKAGE, but this does NOT concern you and you are not my boss." Neji glared.

THUMP! "Ouch! The hell did you do that for, Tenten!" growled Neji, rubbing the back of his head. "I apologize for this dolt, Kazekage, it seems that my teammate here forgot his manners due to lack of sleep. Please forgive him." Tenten bowed to Gaara, glared at Neji again. "Moron! He is still KAZEKAGE and you interrupted their meeting. Let's go up to the rooftop where Kiba and Lee are waiting for us. Hurry!" said Tenten pushing Tsunade and Gaara to move them faster.


As soon as Lee saw the incoming group, he nudged Kiba to fire the flare. They waited tensely, all looking for a sign of Hinata. In a blink of an eye, Hinata swooped down and landed gracefully next to Neji, seeking his comforting touch by nuzzling his neck with her face. Neji, seeing this, smiled and carefully stroked her head as Hinata eyed the rest of them suspiciously. Tsunade yelled "Is this some kind of a sick joke, Hyuuga? Because if it is, then you and your team better prepare yourselves for a year of doing community service in Suna without pay! After I beat you that is." She grinned maliciously as she began to crack her knuckles and walk towards Neji.

"Tsunade-sama, please wait a moment more! She really is Hinata-chan!" yelled Kiba. As soon as the words left his mouth, the last rays of the sun touched the crane, engulfing it in a bright light and the group shields their eyes from the brightness. A few moments later, they cautiously opened their eyes to see Neji covering a naked and shivering Hinata with his jacket. "Tsunade-sama, Gaara-sama, may I present to you, Hyuuga Hinata-sama, true heiress of the Hyuuga clan, my mistress." And with that introduction, Neji kneeled in front of Hinata, who slowly stood on shaking legs and smiled tremulously. "Tsunade-sama, Gaara-sama, I'm back."