Disclaimer: Not mine.

Plot: Hinata, adopted by Akatsuki, cooks …

'Hinata…'

She looked up from her untouched plate with a smile, 'yes?' she asked sweetly.

'This is… very nice,' Itachi stated. Then heaved a sigh of relief and continued eating, happy that he got that over with.

Tobi had insisted that they show her more… love.

Whatever that meant.

She blushed, 'thank you.' She was genuinely glad to hear that. She was trying out a new recipe.

They continued their meal in silence.

'Hinata…'

She put down her chopsticks and looked up at her master, Pain-sama.

'This tastes… different. From what we usually have,' small talk is not his best area… but that idiot Tobi had managed to brainwash them into believing that Hinata-chwan was requesting for more and more missions because they were too… cold towards her.

Whatever that meant.

They had a unanimous and unsounded agreement to send Hinata on missions only when she asked for them.

Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not because they care about her well being… Well, they do care (though none of them would admit it). But she was brought up by the Akatsuki. Not some twisted Hyuga household who undermines and humiliates her every chance they got… they only do that sporadically… when they find it necessary… and when they feel like it… which I admit is not very un-often… but the point is,

Hinata is the only who among them who can cook.

Not, as in, the kitchen doesn't get blown to bits.

I mean, Itachi could do cook without setting the place on fire (but he's too lazy to).

Or that the food they cook for themselves are inedible (if you're an Akatsuki, you have to learn to cook for yourself… and yourself only)

Thus said, Hinata's the only one who bothers to cook for everyone.

Plus she's really good at it.

So, when she came back from her previous mission, they were ecstatic… though none of them showed it… except perhaps Tobi… but he's not considered one of the statistics.

And so, they were somewhat desperate to keep her here for as long as possible this time.

She grinned at her masters' observation, 'I collected some herbs on my way back village,' she frowned, looking worried (they held their breaths in unison), 'is it any good?'

'Tobi thinks it is wonderful, Hinata-chan!' said man stated happily.

The grin came back instantaneously, 'thank you. This is the first time I cooked with this kind of meat.' She picked up her chopsticks and resumed eating.

They processed that information carefully, what did she mean by 'this kind of meat'?

'So…' Deidara cleared his throat awkwardly, breaking their streams of thought, 'how was the mission?'

Tobi also insisted on asking questions… Tobi thought asking questions meant they… care.

Whatever that means…

'It was… nice,' she frowned in confusion. They're acting weird today. She shrugged mentally, 'Oorochimaru was already injured when I got there, so it was pretty easy. But his snake was rather… uncooperative though…' she frowned.

They found themselves staring at her, thinking that there is something vital that they're overlooking... And by the way, since when had she grown so pretty? She's almost… eleven? Twelve? Not that it mattered.

'How's the meat today?' she asked, looking around expectantly.

'It's good…' they agreed, nodding almost in unison. Though they were almost frowning in unision.

She looked doubtful, the little wheels in her mind working overtime. Could it be… they're trying to distract her because… they didn't like the food?

'If-if it's n-n-no-not good, then you c-c-can tell me… I-I-I'll t-t-try harder next time,' she stuttered.

Damn Tobi, they thought in unison.

'The fuck! I'm starving!!' Hidan, having just arrived, broke the tension unintentionally.

Kakuzu reminded himself to kill him less painfully next time.

'Oh, Hinata, you're back!' he sat down and helped himself to a mouthful of the meat-like-substance on his plate.

'This is great!' he exclaimed.

Hinata blushed prettily, 'thank you.'

'What the hell is this stuff?'

'Snake meat.'

'...'

Everyone stopped eating.

The wheels in their heads made the connection simultaneously:

'Oorochimaru's snake...'