Disclaimer: I do not own any aspect of Naruto. Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto and probably Shonen Jump, with license to Viz Media

Author's note: un-beta'd This is a friendship fic. Please do not expect a lot of fluffy romance.

Amigos para siempre

Chapter Six: Friends for a Lifetime

"I should treat it like a mission?" Hinata asked skeptically. Her face crinkled in thought. It wasn't like any mission she had ever fulfilled.

But maybe it was not so different.

"Objective?" Shino asked.

"To change the Hyuuga clan, to change what it means to be a Hyuuga." Hinata replied easily.

"Mission Parameters?" Shino continued.

"Create permanent alliances for the Hyuuga clan through marriage, financial and political agreements. Leverage key Hyuuga assets to create and strengthen bonds." Hinata stated. "Protect and extend the Hyuuga bloodline limit…" Hinata trailed off, suddenly unwilling or unable to complete the thought.

"By finding a strong mate?" Kiba teased.

"K-Kiba-kun!" Hinata scolded, as she blushed scarlet.

"It's not so bad. Hinata-chan." Kiba gently poked the red-faced girl in the ribs. "The mating part should be a lot of fun." He said with a smirk.

Hinata batted away his fingers. "I-I don't know if I can go th-through with th-this." She stuttered as her embarrassment tangled her tongue.

"Hinata-chan. You don't have to." Shino murmured.

Hinata put her head down and took a deep breath to calm down. Her friends were so supportive. They would help her with any decision she made.

"If I do this." She paused as her mind resolved itself. "If I do this right. The Hyuuga clan will never have to face the problem the Uchiha clan faced. Our pride and arrogance, which drives us, that will be replaced by with a different kind of drive…a drive to truly grow and learn different ways. The Hyuuga clan will be forced to change." Hinata's mouth firmed. "We will be forced to embrace change."

"And Neji and Hanabi will be elevated in status with you living outside the village." Kiba stated. He was merely repeating what Hinata had told them many times.

Hinata nodded her head.

Shino sighed. Duty bound her. It drove her with a sense of purpose.

Which was admirable.

But the Aburume couldn't help but worry for his friend.

Kiba was a less encumbered with such worries. It wasn't so bad. Hinata could serve her clan and find a good mate. There was no doubt that whoever married Hinata…that person would love her. She was adorable.

"If you are lucky and a little bit good, it will be a marriage based on trust and political convenience and lust." Kiba commented with a sly look.

"If you are unlucky or a little bit sloppy, you may end up dead or imprisoned." Shino countered. The sunlight glinted off his glasses as if in agreement.

"So …like any A-ranked solo mission. Big reward. Big risk." She replied thoughtfully.

They all thought it through as they continued toward their training area.

It was a surreal mental exercise for Kiba. The Inuzuka clan was famous for shunning clan politics and relying on their nin dogs and their instincts for guidance.

It was easier for Shino. The Aburume clan knew quite a bit about clan politics and protecting or carefully breeding bloodlines.

After an intense and rewarding training session, the teammates rested at the base of a large tree and idly discussed the most important decision of Hinata's life. The topic of "marriage is a mission."

"So…maybe I should have a four man cell." Hinata joked. Kiba and Akamaru laughed and Shino even smiled.

"Actually a four man cell is not a bad idea." Shino commented almost idly. But Shino was never idle.

Hinata blinked in surprise and then tilted her head thoughtfully. "Backup, intelligence gathering, complimenting any weaknesses or blind spots." She ticked off some of the common reasons a mission would require more then one shinobi.

"Additional intelligence would definitely be helpful. Backup, someone loyal to the Hyuuga would definitely be an asset. My blind spots or weaknesses? That's easy, the finances will be hard for me. The details in these trade agreements are quite difficult. Also, because of my age and gender, it is likely that some members of the Suna council will not take me seriously." Hinata was surprised by how easily the pieces fit together.

"And for the bribery." Shino stated. "You can't negotiate that sort of thing directly."

"Think about it. Your actual goal is not just a marriage. Your goal is a secure political alliance for Konohakure and for the Hyuuga. Ideally, it will also be financially beneficial. If you have the right intelligence gathering and supporting negotiator you have a much higher probability of success." Shino elaborated.

Kiba snorted in disgust. "This is too much work. Hinata, you don't need to do any of this. You can if you want, only because you want it." A marriage mixed with lust and duty was fine. But all these other parts made the whole thing too complicated. Why couldn't Hinata follow her instincts instead of this cold logic?

Hinata smiled. "I know Kiba." It was nice to hear Kiba's support. She looked down at her hands. Her simple hands, with the small calluses from the gentle fist taijutsu. "There is only so much I can do by myself. I need to make a big move if I want to change the Hyuuga clan." She explained for the hundredth time.

Kiba looked pained. "You deserve to be more then a tool for changing your family." He complained softly. His face set into a mulish expression.

Hinata blushed. "Nothing is decided. I haven't spoken to my father about this yet. I-I don't really know if I can really go through it." She confessed.

"Perhaps we should finish for today. Why you ask? It is clear we will not solve these issues for Hinata. She will find her own way. One more sparring round and then we head back." Shino suggested.

"Hinata-sama. This plan is unnecessary." Hyuuga Neji argued. "There are other ways. Many other ways, to change the Hyuuga clan."

Neji sipped the tea prepared by his cousin as she worked. Her green house was a refuge. And she enjoyed her cousins company.

"I know." Hinata replied softly. "We both know that….but this way, I would leave the village and you could become heir of the clan in Konoha as my proxy. And Hanabi would be your heir until you marry and have children. But by then we should have been able to make enough changes to avoid the curse seal. She would be protected as well."

"Neither your sister nor I would ever wish for this solution." Neji stated simply.

Hinata smiled as she trimmed the pear tree. "I know. But I also benefit. I will have a husband and a home which I will build away from here." She didn't have to elaborate. The clan was family, but it was also oppressive. Even the main house family had no illusions of freedom.

"You speak as though you want to leave the village." Neji said. "Running away?" he accused not unkindly. It was a common fantasy between Hanabi, Neji and Hinata. To escape the clan, the politics, the pressure…

"No….Maybe….Konoha is my home." Hinata said. "It will be hard to leave. B-but you know that if you lead the Konoha Hyuuga and I lead a Hyuuga family in Suna…you know that you and Hanabi would be protected. You could marry anyone and you wouldn't have to be a-afraid that your children would be sealed."

Neji met Hinata's affectionate gaze with one of his own. His face softened as he felt the truth in her words.

"And I want a real family." Hinata said quietly. "I love our family. But I want some of the simpler family things too. Not all training and politics." Hinata shook her head. "But that might be hoping for too much." She sighed.

"There is no guarantee that my father will allow me to pursue this plan. And even then, I don't know if the Suna council will approve." Hinata stated quietly.

"And then there is the demon vessel and kage himself." Neji added. He rubbed his face in weariness. It was rationale and crazy. It was a plan to change the Hyguua.

And all it would cost was Hinata's entire life in Konoha and her future.

Hinata nodded. "I talked with Temari-san a little. Naruto-kun speaks very highly of the Kazekage."

The frown on Neji's face deepened. "Naruto didn't know why you were asking. A good friend does not necessarily make a good partner in life."

"I know that." Hinata agreed. "But I can't allow myself to expect too much. I will have to adapt."

But you deserve more. Neji thought silently.

"And what of Kakashi Hayate?" Neji asked quietly.

Hinata stilled her movements, but only for a moment. She smiled softly to herself.

"If I can achieve my goals…Kakashi will be happy for me. He is a good friend." She answered simply.

"You have a right to be happy. To at least look for happiness wherever you can." He assured her. And not for the first time did he wonder if she would truly be happy. He wondered, if it was possible for her to be happy in a loveless arranged marriage with the Kazekage.

Hinata ran to Kakashi's apartment. She had glimpsed him as at the Hokage's Tower after he had delivered his mission report.

He appeared uninjured, but she had heard that their mission had failed and they had lost the client in an assassination attempt. The client was a small boy only eight years old. The assassins were all killed after the fact. But that would be little comfort to his parents or to Kakashi.

Hinata stopped abruptly in front of Kakashi's apartment. Now she was here, she didn't know what she was doing here. Would he want her help? Maybe he wanted his privacy.

She had come here a few times when she was in need of a friend. Kakashi was all that and more. He gave her comfort and helped her retain her humanity. Kakashi asked nothing in return. Only that she believe in herself. It was the closest she would probably ever get to unconditional love.

Not that he loved her, but he definitely cared for her. Just as she cared for him.

Since that first time when Shino and Kiba had been hurt, Hinata had turned to Kakashi for his help. There were other days and other nights when Hinata would come to him for comfort. There were times when he would do more then hold her. Sometimes he taught her to feel like a woman. She would whimper and sigh in pleasure as he caressed her. He would ask her again and again if she wanted to stop or if she wanted more. She always wanted more and Kakashi always complied. He saved her soul with a thousand caresses, a hundred soft whispers and dozens of well-timed shoves out of her own introspection.

She reached out and knocked on his door gently. Hinata would do whatever she could to help him through this difficult time.

"Hey." Kakashi said as he opened the door.

He stood casually as he read his orange Icha Icha Paradise book. The copy-nin hardly gave her a glance.

"Um… Hi. Kakashi." Hinata replied uncertainly. She had expected a morose moody Kakashi. Not this casual attitude.

"Did you need something Hinata?" Kakashi asked politely.

"Um…no, I just thought…I just thought maybe…." Hinata trailed off uncertainly.

"Well, if there is nothing important. I have some reading to do. I'll see you later." Kakashi began to close the door.

"TEA!" Hinata called out as she pushed on the door and stepped into his apartment. "We…we should have tea." She babbled.

Hinata ignored him as made her way to his kitchen and started the hot water. Kakashi followed her into the kitchen and sat down without closing his book or putting it down. She looked at him as she pulled the tea leaves out. He was concentrating on his book.

Kakashi was well known to read his "adult" novels at anytime and under any circumstances. She was sure that he was upset. However, it seemed that reading Icha Icha novels was all he needed. Hinata sighed, part in relief and part in disappointment. She was glad Kakashi was alright. She was disappointed that she didn't know him well after all.

As she poured the tea, she looked around for something to serve with the tea and found some small snacks. So she put those on a plate as well.

Kakashi continued to read.

Hinata sighed again and sipped her tea. As she reach for a snack her fingers brushed the back of Kakashi's hand.

He recoiled so quickly she was startled.

"After you, Hinata-chan." Kakashi stated as he returned his attention to his book.

And then Hinata figured it out.

Kakashi was hurting. He was withdrawing from the world and hiding behind his soft porn. She sipped her tea again and wondered how she could help or even if she should try.

Finally she decided to just ask him.

"Kakashi, what can I do?" she said into the silence.

The copy nin looked up from his book. "Nothing, go home. I'm fine." He returned to his book.

Hinata's brow furrowed in concern. He was withdrawing from the world. Even if he had a lot of practice at it, that didn't mean it was okay.

Hinata stood up and walked behind him. She gently put her hands on his shoulders. "I care and I want to be here." She said softly. "We're friends aren't we?" She asked.

Kakashi's hand trembled slightly. He had friends. A few good friends. But Hinata was more then that. She had come to him in her weakest moments and she had trusted him. She had trusted him with her soul, her heart and her body. She never asked for anything, but all he wanted was to help and care for her.

Hinata's trust and friendship was a light that brought him days filled with hope he didn't have any right to expect. He hoped for her happiness and her success. He even let himself hope for his own happiness. Somewhere along the way, she had taught him that it was okay to do that.

And here she was again, with affection and worry shining in her pale eyes as she stood in his home. Now as she leaned over and hugged him, he wanted nothing more then to lose himself in the warmth of her arms.

"Yeah, Friends for a lifetime, Hinata." Kakashi whispered back. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to relax for a moment. He pressed his palm against his uncovered eye and tried to rub the weariness from his mind.

Hinata pressed her cheek against his and closed her eyes. "Do you want to talk about it?" She asked quietly.

"No." He responded honestly.

Hinata stood there awkwardly for a few more moments just hugging him as he sat in the kitchen chair.

"Then at least let me hold you today." Hinata requested simply.

Kakashi sighed. "Hinata-chan, with the way I'm feeling, it wouldn't be enough just to let you hold me." She could still be so naïve.

Hinata smiled softly. "That's okay too." She pulled him up from his chair and towards his bed. "Let me be here for you. I want to be here for you."

He let himself be lead by her. Despite his words, they both laid down in bed fully clothes and just held each other for quite sometime.

Later they would touch each other and kiss intimate places and shudder with pleasure as Kakashi vented his grief and she filled him with affection. Later his would whisper his regrets on the mission, errors he had made and she would listen quietly and without judgment or pity. Later as she lay naked in his arms with his body pressed intimately into her own, he would wonder how he had ever lived without her.

It was the closest he would probably ever get to unconditional love.

Not that she loved him, but she definitely cared for him. Just as he cared for her.

Asuma had once said to him. "In these small moments in life when you turn away from everything and find that you can't turn away from your friend. It's in these small moments when your friend saves you from yourself. And you make a promise to try a little harder, to fail, to struggle, and to be a little stronger. A promise to still allow yourself to be human."

Through whatever uncertainty was come, through missions and marriages, this was a promise.

A promise for a lifetime

between friends.

Author's Note:

I would be very happy if you would review!

That's all for the prequel folks. If you have not read it yet, the main story is "To Change Hyuuga" which is a long Gaara and Hinata story (Humor/Romance).

Overall this story was twice as hard as I thought it would be. But I had fun showing the stepwise progression of the relationship. This last chapter was intend to show Hinata reciprocating Kakashi's support, show the other strong friendships in Hinata's life and to provide some more background for the "To Change Hyuuga" story.

By the way, I'm planning/hoping to update "To Be a Cool Adult" next. Though I haven't given up on a one-shot citrus for Hina/Kaka.