Okay, just a little note before I let you guys continue reading.

The story is set right before Shippuden starts...so basically, right before Naruto comes back to Konoha from his training with Jiraiya.

Enjoy!


'Chapter 1 - Dangerous Encounters'

Paper butterflies spun around her in a giddy whirl, their fragile wings beating against her face. There were thousands of them, all pooling around her, for some reason she knew not of.

Hinata stared at them with curiosity, now and then flinching as one or two got caught in her long hair and proceeded to tug itself free. Apart from that, the sensation was most pleasant. Their delicate paper bodies raised up a small tornado of air, disturbing a few strands of her typically sleek tresses.

Slowly, almost as if she was under water, for that's how it felt, Hinata extended her arm into the fray. Paper scraped across her fingertips, almost as if the origami insects meant to tickle her. Yet, no matter how enjoyable the feeling was, Hinata knew that they were perfectly capable of slicing open her skin.

Through the haze of paper wings, Hinata spotted the cloaked figure of a woman coming towards her. From what Hinata could see, the woman was the source of the butterflies: they came out from underneath her cloak in swarms, filling the air with a thunderous rustling.

The woman bore a strange insignia on her cloak, but Hinata couldn't quite make it out through the mass of butterflies. All in all, it seemed oddly familiar, like a bad case of deja-vu that haunts one for days and days to come. For a split-second, Hinata thought of activating her Byakugan to see through the swarm, but soon changed her mind after reevaluating the consequences. There was a very high chance that the seemingly innocent origami would turn on her if she showed even the slightest sign of retaliation. So instead, Hinata chose to wait until the woman was in better view of her.

"You're a smart one, thankfully. Most girls like you would have tried to get away."

The woman's voice was as soft and dry as the wing of the butterflies encircling Hinata. She was by now close enough so that the red cloud symbol on her cloak could be seen by the young Hyuuga heiress.

As the image of the Akatsuki loomed closer and closer, the breath in Hinata's throat caught midway down to her lungs.

"Are you scared?"

The woman was by now close enough for Hinata to touch and thankfully she did not come any closer.

Her hair was the color of the afternoon sky and her eyes were as cold as the sweat on the back of Hinata's neck.

They stood and stared at one another for what seemed like hours, but in reality were only a couple of minutes. To Hinata it was an eternity, decades and decades of standing there and gazing into the navy blue eyes of the missing-nin. Hinata found herself wavering as the eyes

bored into her, bringing with their coldness a strange sense of comfort and serenity. Slowly, as if time had lost all meaning, Hinata's eyelids fluttered shut and she fell forwards, careening into the wide-open arms of the Akatsuki woman.

---

Dawn.

It poured through the cracks of the shuttered windows, coming to a rest on every patch of the sleeping girl that it could find.

Hinata's eyelids fluttered as a few strands of sunlight came to a rest on her cheeks. The warmth of the sun beckoned for her to open her eyes and embrace the day while the warmth of the bed she lay in enticed her to continue sleeping.

Under these two opposing influences, Hinata squirmed, unable to find a comfortable position beneath the heavy bed sheets.

"I noticed that you were awake."

The sudden breach in the silence caused Hinata to sit up in the bed faster then was healthy for a human. Her head spinning like a top, Hinata looked to the right, only to see the blurry image of a woman standing in the doorway. Slowly, her vision cleared and Hinata was able to stabilize her sight until she could clearly see the blue-haired female.

"The bathroom is the first door on the left and I laid out clothes for you on the counter." She continued, not paying a single speck of attention to Hinata's dumbstruck expression.

"Once you figure out that staring is rude, you can go and make yourself decent."

The comment made Hinata blush a deep shade of red as a slight sting of shame entered her mind. Hinata pulled the covers from her body with shaking hands and slipped out of the bed, holding her arms around her torso in mock protection.

"After you finish you are to wait for me in this room, I will come by in half an hour. Any methods of escape will fail, so I do not suggest attempting to run off. You'll most likely be killed if you do, and I can't have that happen," said the woman, her hands clasped around each other in a relaxed position that contrasted with Hinata's nervous fidgeting.

Giving Hinata a small nod, the woman turned sharply on her heel and marched over to the door. As her hand reached over for the knob, Hinata called out to her and immediately regretted doing so once the woman's head snapped in her direction.

"What?" She asked, clearly irritated at being called back by someone such as Hinata.

Blushing even more, Hinata stammered out her question.

"Wh-what sh-should I call y-you?"

The Akatsuki woman regarded Hinata with a scrutinizing glare, making the Hyuuga heiress feel as small and insignificant as an ant.

Finally, her lips curled into the tiniest of smiles, "Konan."

With her name hanging in Hinata's memory, the woman twisted the doorknob and exited the room in a flurry of black and red cloth.

After a few minutes, Hinata followed Konan's direction and wound up in a small bathroom which held just enough room for a bathtub, a counter, and a toilet. On the counter lay a pile of the aforementioned clothes, neatly pressed and ready to be worn.

Hinata had to admit that she was surprised by the woman's hospitality. She had always considered the Akatsuki to be nothing but an organization of barbaric murderers who harbored no interest other than taking the lives of innocents. Never had she thought that someone who went by that description would perform small acts of kindness, especially to captives.

Shrugging away her questions, Hinata stripped down and got into the cramped shower. With a flick of the knob, cold water spewed out of the shower head. Hinata cried out in fright as the water hit her and desperately fumbled with the knob to make it warmer.

Once the intensity of the water stabilized to a lukewarm temperature, Hinata finally allowed herself to relax. Taking in a few deep breaths, she turned her head to face the water, hoping against hope that it would somehow be able to wash away all her worries. But, hope as she did, the water did not possess the aptitude to perform such a feat and Hinata was left to fend for herself.

---

As she came out of the shower, all dressed in ninja attire which was a size too big for her in the hips and a size too small in the chest, Hinata saw Konan exit the room.

"Oh, I j-just came out." Hinata called out as she brought her finger to her lips.

Konan glanced at Hinata and motioned for her to follow.

"Next time you need to pay attention to the time. You took four minutes too long in there and Pein doesn't like to be kept waiting," Konan stated as Hinata trotted behind her, "There are very important matters to be discussed."

Hinata kept her mouth tightly shut as she followed Konan down the winding hallways to a large, office-type room somewhere in the end of the building.

Before walking into the room, Konan paused and turned to face Hinata.

"Whatever you do, be as polite as possible."

Hinata was only halfway through a nod when Konan opened the door and pushed her in. Stumbling into the bright interior of the room, Hinata looked around, blinking to adjust to the lighting.

The circular area sported windows on three-quarters of its walls, providing an excellent view of the city outside. Between these windows stood tall wooden cabinets that were fully stacked with books and papers. None of them seemed particularly important, as any person could just come up and take something off the nearby shelf. Turning her head away from the cabinets, Hinata's eyes landed on a large mahogany desk and a comfortable-looking chair which stood in the very middle of the room. The chair was currently being occupied by a red-haired man with many piercings who was flipping through a stack of papers.

When noticing that someone had entered the room, he tucked the papers back into their folder and put them into a drawer inside of his desk, which he locked with a key.

"Do you know why you're here?"

His voice echoed through the room, rebounding of each wall before reaching Hinata. It was the coldest voice she had ever heard, full of loathing, malice, and severity. Once again she felt as if freezing cold water was being dumped over her head, or at least, she would have rather had that happening right that minute instead of enduring this man.

"N-no, sir." Hinata replied, shaking her head politely.

"I expected as much," he sighed and got off the chair to walk over to the nearest window, "you, Hyuuga Hinata, are here because your skills are of value to the Akatsuki. We find it necessary to have a member with each dojutsu among our ranks. Since Itachi possesses the Sharingan and I possess the Rin'negan, all that was left was finding someone with the Byakugan."

Hinata gulped as fear settled around her. This was not good…this was definitely not good.

"Since you are of the main branch of the Hyuuga family and thus you do not wear the curse seal on your forehead, you were the perfect choice."

Blanching, Hinata took a step back.

"H-how do you kn-know that I'm from the m-main b-branch, s-sir?" She stuttered. Fear rose in the form of bile within her throat, making her gag and clutch at the collar of her shirt.

"You could thank Konan for that, she's the one who knew about you, and so it is not up to me to tell you how or why."

Hinata looked over at Konan, but the woman was not paying the slightest bit of attention to her. Konan was staring straight ahead, looking at something through the window across from her.

"Since you do not have any experience as to what it means to be an Akatsuki, you will be temporarily assigned as an assistant to one of our pre-existing teams."

Hinata watched Pein's reflection in the window, trying to tell herself that he was only a man and she had to control her fear of him. Or at least, she hoped he was a man…he certainly did look like one. That is, if you counted out the lifeless look portrayed by his grey-ringed eyes.

"I will call for a team soon and you will leave Amegakure once they come for you," He said, finally turning to look in Hinata's direction. "Now, go and get ready. Konan, if you please, pack a small bag of clothing and essentials for her, as I'm sure she'll need them."

With a flick of his wrist, Pein motioned for Hinata and Konan to leave him.

Without a word, Konan grabbed Hinata by the arm and wheeled her out of the room.

Once the two of them were walking and Konan had let go of her arm, Hinata summoned up the courage to ask her a question.

"K-Konan? What if I d-don't want to help the Akatsuki?" This time the Hyuuga managed not to stammer out of fear; her nerves were more or less settling down so she was no longer prone to spewing out slurred dialogue.

Konan kept walking, her hands clasped in front of her as before.

For a while there was silence, broken only by the few words which slipped from Konan's lips.

"You have no choice."


I'm quite proud of this first chapter...it's the longest I have ever written in any of my other stories.

Anyways, don't forget to review!

Why?

Because every time you don't review, a Leprechaun gets stepped on.

Please, think of the Leprechauns.