Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and I'm making no profit from this story.
AN: This is the sequel to The Pretty Nurse, so if you haven't read that then please do before you start on this. It can be found on my profile.
She ducked under the punch aimed at her head and jabbed at the tenkutsu point in her opponent's armpit. The red haired girl she was fighting flinched and scowled but didn't give up. Hinata could just glimpse Naruto's figure beyond her opponent's body. He was facing off against Sasuke, again, and his body was glowing with evil, crimson chakra. Hinata knew why the girl wasn't giving up: she was trying to protect Sasuke from any other opponent.
To Hinata's left, Sakura faced off against a gigantic brown-haired boy who was doing exactly the same thing. He seemed to have some kind of super strength, because it wasn't just Sakura's violent blows that were cracking the earth open.
She wondered where Suigetsu was. He was supposed to be here somewhere. He was Akatsuki, after all; one of Sasuke's team mates. She hoped he wasn't in trouble.
She danced backwards as one of the red-haired girl's punches came far too close for comfort. She had let herself get distracted – the wrong thing to do in a fight against anyone, let alone one of the Akatsuki. And if Hinata's suspicions were correct, then this was the girl who had left Suigetsu injured; had refused to heal her own team mate. Hinata couldn't help but feel some sort of responsibility, if her suspicions were correct; she owed it to Suigetsu to defeat this girl.
She settled back into a low stance. It wasn't a traditional Jyuuken stance, rather it was one that Hinata had developed – more like lapsed into – on her own while training with her team. And while it wasn't pure Jyuuken, it was more suited to her and very formidable.
Her opponent studied her as she settled into her own stance, obviously favouring the arm Hinata had just injured. "You're fighting very well," the girl said. "But you won't beat me. I will protect Sasuke-kun."
Hinata rolled her shoulders and set her lips into a thin line. "You are not the only one with a reason to win," she said, feeling oddly confident. The girl, so far, hadn't shown any particular talent for fighting whether taijutsu or ninjutsu. "And I assure you, my reason is greater than the life of one spoiled brat!"
The red head growled. "You know nothing about Sasuke-kun," she sneered.
Hinata didn't bother to correct her. Perhaps the girl was right. Even though she had grown up in the same village as him, and even though she had been in his academy class, her knowledge of Uchiha Sasuke was minimal: what she had known about him was what she had overheard from the gossip of her clan and her classmates. Perhaps the girl knew him better. But that, in Hinata's eyes, didn't make Sasuke any less of a spoiled brat. It just made the girl a fangirl, just like her classmates had been in their youth.
So instead of speaking, Hinata darted forward, slamming her fist into the girl's poorly defended stomach, following up the blow with a Jyuuken stab to the shoulder. Now both of the girl's arms hung limp and helpless at her sides; Hinata would only have to look out for her legs.
The girl snarled at her again, and kicked out. Hinata jumped over the girl's leg and retaliated with a flying kick aimed at the girl's face. The girl dodged easily – Hinata wasn't all that good at flying kicks – but as Hinata soared over her shoulder, she turned and aimed a Jyuuken stab at the back of the girl's neck, severing the tenkutsu point and damaging the girl's spinal cord with the bolt of chakra she sent through her.
Hinata landed neatly on her feet as the girl crumpled to fall face first into the earth. She had been suspiciously easy to defeat, and Hinata got the impression that she had been fighting the weakest person to ever have been allowed into the Akatsuki organisation.
"Not bad," said a familiar voice from behind her. Hinata's Byakugan told her that the speaker was indeed Suigetsu, but she couldn't help but wonder how in earth he had managed to sneak up on her without her noticing. That was bad. If she survived, then she would have to train more.
"T-thank you," she said softly.
He stepped past her, approaching the girl Hinata had just disabled. His zanbatou was dripping with blood, as was his Akatsuki cloak, and Hinata wondered whose it was. She hoped, for her own sake, that it hadn't belonged to anyone she knew.
"Suigetsu," the girl whispered. She had managed to turn her head enough to look at her team mate, and Hinata could see the fear in the girl's red eyes. She didn't look anywhere near as strong as she had done before – not as confident and proud and powerful – rather, she looked like a child dressing in the clothes of a serial killer.
"Help me," she whispered.
"Why?" Suigetsu asked. "Not like ya helped me last time I needed it."
Hinata saw the girl's eyes widen and knew that her assumption had been correct. This was Karin – the girl who had left Suigetsu with a vicious wound for no good reason; the girl who had left her team mate in need – and Hinata couldn't make herself feel sorry for the girl she had just disabled.
"But, Suigetsu," she whispered. "I…"
Suigetsu sneered in disgust, and raised his zanbatou. There was a flash of blood-drenched steel and Hinata flinched as Karin's head rolled. Red eyes stared up at them accusingly through a screen of broken glasses and mud-matted hair. Suigetsu lifted the zanbatou again and slung in over his shoulders, ignoring the way that it dripped even more blood down his clothes.
He looked so fierce. Hinata couldn't help but shiver as she stared at him with wide eyes. He had just killed one of his team mates. Admittedly, she had been a team mate who had abandoned him in a time of need, but she had still been a team mate.
Suigetsu looked at her, and his expression softened slightly. He reached out a calloused, blood-spattered hand and cupped her chin gently. "I told ya, princess," he said. "Ya ain't got nothin' ta fear from me."
She nodded. Vaguely, as if from a great distance, she thought she heard someone yelling her name, but she ignored the noise. She only had eyes for the sinister, cloaked figure of the friendly enemy gently caressing her face.
"Come on," he said suddenly. "This ain't the time or place."
She nodded. "Right," she agreed. He was right. It really, really wasn't the time or place. They were on a battlefield, surrounded by their warring friends and enemies in various stages or death and dying. There were massive blasts of chakra coming from every direction and the earth was shaking with the force of the vicious blows of the Hokage, Sakura and the Akatsuki member Sakura was fighting. Evil red chakra and the stench of blood, shit and death filled the air.
Suigetsu seemed to be searching the battlefield. He was looking around them both, a frown of concentration on his face, and then she saw his face twist into a malicious, pointy-toothed grin. She followed his gaze with the Byakugan, and realised that he was looking at where her cousin and his team stood fighting a tall, blue skinned Akatsuki man who looked distinctly like a shark. He was wielding a huge scaled sword that was stained with blood that Hinata knew for sure had come from her allies.
"W-Who is he?" she asked.
"Hoshigaki Kisame," Suigetsu said. "He has somethin' that I want. Will ya back me up?"
He was looking at her again, his purplish blue eyes searching her own. She nodded firmly. She would, at least, be able to stop Neji-nii-san from getting the wrong idea and attacking Suigetsu when he went over there.
Suigetsu set off running: ducking kunai and shuriken, dodging stray justu and launching himself in a blur of red, black and grey at the huge swordsman he had chosen as his opponent. Hinata fell into step slightly behind him, racing across the blood and the mud towards where her cousin was fighting.
The Akatsuki man, Kisame looked up when they arrived, and smirked when he saw Suigetsu. "I don't need your help kid," he said, ignoring the blood trickling down one of his arms. His opponents were far worse off.
Suigetsu didn't bother with words. Instead he threw himself at Kisame, swinging round his zanbatou to meet that of the larger swordsmen in a vicious clash.
Hinata came to a halt near Neji, who looked at her in confusion. "What's going on, Hinata-san?" he asked. There was blood on his face, and a gash near his temple. It hadn't come from the swordsman, she knew; if it had then Neji would have been missing his head completely.
"He's a good person, Neji-nii-san," Hinata said. He didn't look like he believed her, though his eyes widened in surprise at the conviction in his voice.
Suigetsu got thrown back. Kisame was clearly a great deal stronger than him, and had more practise with a sword, cancelling out a considerable amount of Suigetsu's talent. He panted harshly, though with her Byakugan Hinata could see the grin on his face. She reached out a hand and touched his shoulder – the first time she had willingly touched him of her own accord that wasn't to heal him – and he turned to look at her.
"W-We can help you," she said.
His eyes narrowed slightly, and then he nodded. "The Samehada's mine," he said.
She nodded back and fell immediately into her modified Jyuuken stance. A quick glance at Neji told her that he and his team would have her back.
"I hope you know what you're doing Hinata-san," he said quietly.
"I do," she whispered, though her words were lost as zanbatou clashed against zanbatou and Suigetsu locked Kisame in a fight again.
Jyuuken was a fighting style surprisingly well suited for fighting back up. Its users – the Hyuuga clan – as a rule were small, slight and nimble. They were able to dart in and out of the danger zone quickly, delivering swift debilitating jabs to tenkutsu points while their opponent was distracted. Even though Hinata's brand of Jyuuken was bastardised and modified to suit her own personal uses, she did just as well as Neji in providing Suigetsu with back up. She knew that even though she wasn't as talented as her older cousin, she had more to fight for in this particular fight than him, and that was fuelling her passion.
She wanted, desperately, for Suigetsu to succeed in his goal of defeating Hoshigaki Kisame, even though it was a goal she hadn't known about until right before he'd attacked.
Gai, Lee and TenTen were very able in taijutsu as well, but the styles that they used weren't quite as appropriate for the situation as the Jyuuken. So when the Akatsuki's supporters finally caught on that one of their own was defecting and attacking another Akatsuki member, they kept themselves busy by keeping people away from the fight between Kisame and Suigetsu, Hinata and Neji.
Hinata ducked underneath clashing steel, automatically trying to block as sparks from the two blades flew towards her face. With her other hand she delivered a Jyuuken strike to Kisame's knee, slamming a knife-blade of chakra through his tenkutsu point and the pressure point just behind it. Then she got out of the way as quickly as possible, avoiding the blade of the Samehada as Kisame tried to get past Suigetsu and take her head off with it.
Suigetsu blocked him and parried, forcing the huge, scaled blade away from where Hinata crouched. On Kisame's other side, Hinata spotted Neji diving in to strike his hip. No matter what they did, though, Kisame didn't seem to be slowing down. Her Byakugan could see the huge amount of chakra he had running through him, and his tenkutsu were so large that blocking them was extremely draining for both herself and Neji. They wouldn't be able to help. Not unless…
As she thought, her eyes focussed on a kunai that had been released by one of TenTen's attacks. It was sticking handle up out of the mud not two feet away from where Hinata was crouched. When Suigetsu blocked another of Kisame's swings, she went for it, grabbing it and yanking it up out of the ground. The blade of the kunai was filthy: covered in blood and mud, and she knew for a fact that any wound she managed to cause with it would get infected very quickly. Then as soon as she spotted an opening, she darted back towards Kisame again, and drew the kunai over the back of his ankle, cutting through skin, muscle and most importantly, tendon.
She heard him bellow in agony, and threw herself back as his leg gave out from under him and he dropped to one knee. She saw Neji look towards her, and she indicated the kunai she had grabbed. She saw him nod and pull out one of his own. He had caught on. They would have to combine the agile strikes of the Jyuuken with the use of a weapon to have any effect on Kisame at all.
She saw Suigetsu attack again, and was relieved to see that he wasn't taking any chances. Kisame was wounded, bleeding heavily, and in a bad position to use the Samehada, but he was still very dangerous.
Hinata darted in again, ducking and rolling and stabbing her kunai through his other ankle, tearing it back out again just seconds later, releasing a spray of blood as another tendon snapped. Neji, at the same time, went for one of Kisame's shoulders. Kisame, preoccupied by the force that Suigetsu was putting into his blows, was unable to block when Neji's kunai dug into the soft part of his shoulder just by the collar bone, ripping through tendon and muscle and a tenkutsu point. As Itachi's momentum carried him past Kisame, the kunai he was holding scored a deep cut along the top of Kisame's shoulder towards his neck.
The huge blade of the Samehada drooped towards the ground as Kisame's other leg and one of his arms gave out. Suigetsu moved quickly, swinging his zanbatou round, and aiming for Kisame's throat. Hinata watched as Suigetsu sliced clean through Kisame's neck, sending it soaring through the air, arterial blood spurting from the severed body like a macabre fountain.
Then, slowly, Kisame's body toppled. The size of him, though nothing else, made Hinata think of a huge tree falling in the forest, freeing up space for new growth. Kisame's body hit the ground hard, and Suigetsu stabbed his bloody zanbatou into the earth. Then, he bent and carefully reached for the bandages hilt of Samehada.
"The sword attacks anyone who is not its true owner," Neji said, and both Suigetsu and Hinata looked up at him.
Suigetsu nodded. "Good ta know," he said. Then, he closed his fingers round the hilt.
There was a pause, and Hinata found herself holding her breath as concern flooded through her. She found herself pre-empting a horrendous injury by reaching for the pouch on her thigh where she kept her medical kit. But nothing happened. Seconds ticked by and Suigetsu remained whole and healthy. Then he tugged and lifted Samehada out of the mud, raising it to shoulder height, a triumphant grin on his face. Hinata released her breath and felt a smile stretch over her dirty face. He looked so happy; so content to be standing there holding what she assumed was a legendary sword.
"It's mine," he breathed. "I…It's mine."
Hinata stood, brushing her mud-stained hair out of her face with a bloody hand and approached him slowly. He looked at her, and his grin widened.
"Thanks for the help, princess," he said. And he glanced at Neji who nodded distractedly. Hinata knew that her cousin was watching her with him – this enemy who they'd helped – and she felt respect for him swell in her chest.
"Thank you Neji-nii-san," she said, and looked up at Suigetsu to see him looking between them. She reached out and twisted her fingers in the sleeve of his bloody cloak. "It was our pleasure to assist you, Suigetsu."
He slung Samehada over his shoulder, and grinned at her broadly. "You're somethin', princess, bein' all formal with me."
She blushed, and he chuckled slightly, somehow managing to spot it under all the blood and filth that marred her face. "Come on," he said. "We gotta war ta win."
They stood side by side up to their knees in the mud that had once been one of Konoha's training fields watching the sun as it began to set, hanging low and blood-red on the horizon. There were bodies lying in the mud, but Hinata found that she couldn't recognise any of them. There were, perhaps, a few Hyuuga she didn't really know, and others from Konoha's other shinobi clans, but her team had survived. Kiba was leaning on Akamaru's back, both of them panting heavily, and Shino stood nearby them, looking over in Hinata's direction curiously.
She knew why he was looking. He was wondering why she was standing so tall and proud on a battlefield, her fingers loosely entwined with those of a silver haired stranger with a sword on his back.
Somewhere on that muddy field lay Suigetsu's Akatsuki cloak. He'd abandoned it not long after he'd killed Kisame, not seeing the point in wearing the cloak of an organisation he had publicly betrayed. Now his lavender shirt and blue pants – which he suited far more than the black and red of the cloak – were filthy, but he looked much more like him.
Naruto stood over the body of his one-time best friend. Most of his clothing had been burned off by the evil chakra of the Kyuubi, but Hinata found that she wasn't as bothered by that as she might once have been. Sakura stood next to Naruto, a faint green glow surrounding her hand as she tried to fix her own broken ribs. She'd survived her opponent's impossibly strong attacks, and won, but the fight had clearly drained most of her chakra. Sasuke, lying in the mud, was dying slowly. Tsunade was trying to heal him – he'd fought for Konoha in the end, turning against the Akatsuki to fight the man in the orange mask alongside Naruto – but His injuries were too great. He'd gone from fighting one of the strongest shinobi on the field to the other in a matter of minutes.
Hinata closed her eyes. The voice, she knew, belonged to her father. She looked round, and saw him standing behind her. He was as dirty as the rest of them, and she realised that this was the most human she had ever seen him look. He was looking at the hand being held by Suigetsu, but she couldn't tell what he was thinking.
"Father," she greeted. "Are you alright?"
He nodded. "Of course, Hinata," he said. "Who is your friend?"
She blinked at his words. Friend? Is that what Suigetsu was to her now? The Akatsuki didn't exist anymore, and the last other member of it lay choking on his own blood a few feet away from them. He wasn't her enemy. She had never been able to truly call him that, even when he had kidnapped her to make her heal him.
Or was he something other than that? He'd kissed her the last time they'd met, when they were in the forest. They were standing with their fingers linked, letting the drying blood of their enemies fuse them together.
"I'm Houzuki Suigetsu, Hyuuga-sama," Suigetsu said, giving a short, surprisingly respectful bow. "And we ain't friends."
To get his point across he grinned wickedly, flashing his pointed teeth in a perverted looking smile, and tugged Hinata closer to him. She saw surprise flicker over her father's face, followed swiftly by something that looked uncannily like disdain, and her face reddened.
It was in her nature, she supposed, to fall for men who would go against everything that her clan held dear, and true to form Suigetsu would have the clan elders foaming with rage within seconds if he ever met them.
"Is this true, Hinata?" her father asked her.
"Y-Yes, father," she said, trying to keep her voice firm.
She couldn't quite look him in the face, though, and heard him sigh in exasperation. It was a sigh she was used to hearing.
"Very well," he said.
She started, looking up at her father in amazement. He didn't look happy, per say, not that she didn't blame him – Suigetsu was the very antithesis of 'Hyuuga' – rather, he looked resigned. From the corner of her eye, she saw Suigetsu's grin widen, and she felt her heart skip a beat. He was rude, perverted, violent and bloodthirsty, but there was potential there. She could see it. And even if she was the only person in the world who could see it, she knew it was there. That was what mattered.