Hey, it's me. Yeah, I thought that I should update again. Heh… Does anybody know how to put in those lines? And add dashes in the summaries. I can't figure it out… It would be a big help. Oh, yeah. I know that I've made Deidara a little more childish than he was in "Allegiances", but with Hinata in the picture, I figured… well, he's cuter this way. Heh heh… Ooh, I got more Evanescence songs! I especially like "Anywhere"! It's not like them at all, but it's really pretty!!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, but I wouldn't mind a couple of hours alone with Sasuke. And a LARGE assortment of sharp, metal, pointy things. Yes, that wouldn't hurt at all…

- - -

Sakura, Sasori, and Tenten arrived at the Akatsuki hideout breathless and slightly flushed. Not wanting to take chances, Sakura had ordered a dignified but quick retreat.

As they stepped inside, Deidara met them. "Sakura-chan!" he cried, waving his hands around frantically. "Help me! Hinata-chan keeps going unconscious, and her face is all red, un! Is she sick?!"
Sakura sighed, washing her hands before following him into the back room. "I don't think so, Dei-kun," she said in slight amusement. "Have you been talking to her?"

He nodded eagerly. "Hai, hai! I keep telling her how pretty shi is, because Ino-chan said girls like that, but she keeps blacking out, un!"

Tenten slapped her forehead from behind Sakura, where she had been following the conversation. "That poor girl," she muttered to herself.

"I think I know what your problem is, Dei-kun," Sakura chuckled, pushing open the door. "Oh, Hinata, you're awake!"

"H-hai," the blue-haired girl replied softly. Deidara peered at her from behind Sakura.

"Hinata-chan! Are you feeling better? Please don't die; you're too pretty to die! Un!" He would have said more, but Hinata had blacked out again. Puzzled, he turned to Sakura for an explanation. "See? She keeps doing that, un!"

Tenten hid a giggle. "That's called fainting, Dei-kun," Sakura said. "And Hinata's fainting because of you."

"You could lay off the compliments for now," Tenten added helpfully. "And maybe you should introduce yourself."

There was a thoughtful silence from the blonde as they waited for Hinata to come to again. Once she had opened her eyes, Deidara took a deep breath and looked at her.

"Hi, Hinata-chan, un!" he exclaimed. Hinata squeaked, falling back. "I'm Deidara! Are you feeling better, un?"

Hinata sat up cautiously. "H-hai," she said nervously, lavender eyes darting to Sakura for help. Sighing, Sakura stood beside Deidara and looked Hinata over.

"Sorry, Hinata. Dei-kun tends to get hyperactive. Have you been giving her something warm to drink every five minutes?" This question was directed at Deidara, who nodded and satuted.

Sakura's face softened. "That's good. At least she's been physically taken care of… thought I can't say much about what you've been doing to this poor girl's mind…" She trailed off, grumbling good-naturedly.

"He's not that bad of a nurse, Sakura-san," Sasori interjected amusedly as Deidara pouted, feigning hurt.

"You wouldn't know," a new voice cut in. "You haven't been here for the last half hour, listening to him talk nonsense at her. It's no wonder she fainted!"

Sakura straightened up. "Oh, Ino. You're awake."

Ino rolled her eyes. "I've been awake since you got back. Now will you tell me why I'm here?" she demanded.

"Welcome back, Sakura-chan, Tenten-san, Sasori. Do you have the ring?" Itachi appeared behind Sakura. She flicked the item at him; he caught it and tossed it to Tenten, who slipped it onto her finger.

"Kabuto's dead as well. No one saw us leaving," Sakura reported calmly. "We came back as soon as possible anyway."
Itachi placed his hands on her shoulders and nuzzled her hair. "Good job. So, Ino-san; about why you're here… To be frank (A/N: Nooo!! Be Itachi!!), Akatsuki is short on members, and we are currently looking for extras. We had hoped, of course, that you would join." Glancing at Hinata, he added, "We extend the same offer to Hinata-san, as well."

Hinata's eyes widened. "A-Akatsuki?!" she exclaimed. "J-join you…?!"
"Un! Un!" Deidara replied eagerly. "And you can be with Tenten-chan and Sakura-chan and me!"

"That is, if Sakura-san decides to stay," Sasori stated flatly from the doorway.

Itachi's grip on Sakura stiffened and his eyes flashed, though his voice stayed as cool as ever. "Ah, yes. A year ago, we agreed that you would stay with us and decide whether you would join or not. Today that year is up."

Deidara's gaze was pleading and sad. "Sakura-chan, un…"

Tenten glanced at her, as did Sasori. Sakura's hand found Itachi's and gripped it tightly. "I have been here for the last year," she said firmly. "I remain loyal to the Akatsuki."

Deidara launched himself at her, almost pulling poor Hinata – whose hand he still held – off the bed, but managed to stop himself in time.

"Hinata?" Ino asked suddenly, for the pearly-eyed girl had sat up, wincing. Deidara promptly steadied her with his body, which resulted in her blushing even redder than before.

"What is it, Hinata-chan, un?" Deidara asked anxiously. "Please don't say no," he begged, dark blue eye wide.

Hinata smailed shyly at him. "Th-they l-left me f-for d-dead," she declared softly. "M-my loyalty l-lies with th-those who s-saved m-me." Her voice held a quiet authority which few had ever heard before.

This time, Deidara didn't hesitate to squeeze her in a gigantic hug. She went deep, dark red and began gasping for air.

"Has it ever occurred to you that she might need oxygen, Deidara(-san)?" Sasori and Tenten sighed at the same time. They caught each others' eyes and looked away, a slight blush adorning Tenten's features. And if Sakura looked closely enough, she thought she could make out a faint pinkish tinge across Sasori's nose and cheekbones.

Sheepishly, Deidara let go. Slowly, Hinata was becoming immune to him – or so it seemed, as she regained her normal coloring fairly quickly this time.

"And you, Ino?" Sakura prompted her friend gently. "Where do your loyalties lay?" Ino bit her lip, thinking.

"I still love Shikamaru, but I have a feeling you're not going to let me out," she said worriedly, glancing searchingly into Sakura's eyes.

Itachi came to her rescue. "We can offer you the same thing we gave Sakura-chan: stay with us for a year. If you like it, you join. If not, you may leave with an oath of silence. Remember, Ino-san, loyalties shift."

Slowly, Ino nodded. "All right. One year." Sakura hugged her, then pushed her back down, saying that she needed to rest. As she closed her eyes, Ino contemplated her future for a while before giving up. What would come, would come; there was just no telling how it would come.

Loyalties shift…

End Loyalties.

- - -

My sister was playing a rated game once, and she and her partner both castled their queens. Hah… I think I should do a last story for this. All I need is a title. I would like it to fit the pattern – allegiances, loyalties, get the idea? – but all I can think of is connections or bonds. Neither of which sound particularly impressive. So help me, please!!!!! Until next time, when I have a few songfics for you guys… See you!!!