Yet another ItaHina of sorts that I came up with on a whim for DeviantArt's ItaHina club. This one's a kind of alternate situation taking place after the last failed mission to bring Sasuke back. It's a little on the weird side, but really, what ItaHina isn't? XD

© Masahi Kishimoto …………………………………………………..........................

"Hyuuga Hinata, are you even listening to me at all?"

Hinata's back, which just a moment before had been timidly slouched, speedily shot straight up in her seat as she looked up to meet the irritated gaze of her hokage.

"I, I'm sorry, Tsunade-sama." Her near-whisper of a voice reminded Tsunade of the steady hum of an electric fan, radio static, and other white noises which tended to fade into the backround of one's mind after awhile, but still, her eyes couldn't help but soften towards the baby faced girl who was obviously trying so very hard not to stare down towards her gracelessly entwined fingers. Tsunade let a long sigh escape her lips. She really couldn't blame a girl like her for anxiously closing her ears to anything she might have to tell her, especially after the last task which she had been given, namely the sordid job of making sure that Konoha's recent and most infamous captive, none other than Uchiha Itachi himself, met his end quickly and quietly.

"I am the one who's sorry, Hinata, for getting you involved in this mess, but you do understand why it has to be you, don't you?" Tsunade's unwavering, intimidating stare never left Hinata's direction, but upon seeing Hinata's blank white eyes staring back at her, Tsunade found herself absently fiddling with the disorganized clutter of scrolls and papers which littered her desk and left a faint and unsettling inky smell hovering about the room.

Hinata easily sensed and took note of Tsunade's sudden fidgety spell and only lowered her head in an obedient nod which spread her dark hair comfortingly over her face like a fragrant azure-colored blanket. She always noticed everything, in spite of whether others were aware of it or not, and so she gave no words in reply as she had no wish to further aggravate someone so superior to her.

Tsunade abruptly leaned over the desk, filling a large portion of it with her imposingly large breasts, and leaned close enough to Hinata to catch the subtle rhythm of her breathing.

"Well I wouldn't have given you such an assignment if I wasn't one- hundred percent sure that you were able to handle it. As heiress of your clan, God only knows, you'll have far more confusing issues to deal with in the future."

With those words, she waved her hand to one side in a dismissive gesture which caused her painted fingernails to flash; alerting Hinata that it was no longer necessary for her to stay through the torment any longer. Hinata nodded once again before springing up out of her seat, first taking small graceful steps which quickly evolved into a clumsy half-run as she tried to escape the oppressive air in that room as soon as she possibly could.

Tsunade, who had lowered her head down and covered her mouth in order to hide the beginnings of a caustically amused smile, looked up again with a start. She could've sworn that she had heard the purring hum of Hinata's voice once again, but as her eyes darted towards each corner of the room, she realized that the ill-favored Hyuuga heiress had been long gone.

She shivered, suddenly chilly and finding that she no longer needed the table fan which she'd left on earlier that day to combat the heat. She roughly turned it off, nearly smashing it in the process, and felt reassured by the total silence which resulted.

It was often said that the voices of lost and disembodied spirits sometimes spoke through the monotonous buzz of white noise, she thought to herself.

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Hinata looked up towards the sky with an uneasy shudder which spread from her back to her fingertips and then downward towards her toes despite the afternoon's sweltering heat. Looking up, down, or straight ahead helped her to ignore the many pairs of eyes which were shamelessly following her with obvious curiosity; she who was usually ignored and overlooked.

Word traveled shamelessly fast in a village full of ninja, whether it was supposed to or not, and it was inevitable that more than half the town would be aware of the startling fact that she, a mere chunin with only the most basic of medical skills, was harboring a dying, barely-conscious, and barely sane criminal within the tranquil, secluded walls of her home.

Her home, an unoccupied space in the Hyuuga compound set aside just for her as a reward for finally shedding the tiresome label of genin. She normally was full of pride and peace upon entering it, even if she suspected that it was truly only given to her as a means of keeping her out of her father's sight while he focused on building up the more promising talents of her older cousin.

On this particular day, however, she found that her steps were slow and dragging and her stomach was twisting in an odd, guilty sort of way at the thought of breathing the same air as him once again.

I'll take a little detour, she decided, planning to cure her stress with a cinnamon bun or two, a bad habit of hers which was starting to add to the ample curves she kept self-consciously hidden beneath her heavy jacket.

And so minutes later, there she was, seated down at the nearest bakery, blanking out everything surrounding her and focusing only on the hot, sticky sweetness warming her from inside with each bite, making her sigh with contentment. Her brief contentment quickly deflated though, at the sound of a certain mischievous blonde's voice coming from somewhere outside the shop before slowly fading away as he passed on by, causing most of the shop's patrons to smile and be thankful that it wasn't their peace he would be disturbing.

Hinata hastily swallowed as every one of her senses suddenly peaked. Doors and windows always failed to contain Naruto's earsplitting boom of a voice, which was the exact opposite of Hinata's own quiet tone, and hearing it only reminded her that just a mere couple of days before, she had been bubbling with childlike bliss at the prospect of her squad being given a mission alongside of his.

Their assignment had been simple: return home to Konoha with either a captured Itachi or a rescued Sasuke. Hinata's heart ached for Naruto when she remembered how he had been glowing with the hope that they would achieve the latter, but it wasn't to be. Sasuke had disappeared with a mysterious, sharingan-endowed member of Akatsuki, and they had left the battered and defeated body of his older brother behind in their haste to get away, it seemed.

Things had quickly gotten even more bizarre and surreal after that, when they'd prepared to head home with their unconscious and quickly expiring prisoner. Seeing the notorious murderer for the first time, completely motionless and occasionally mumbling, with dead black eyes that had seemed to be staring out into the beyond, had terrified Hinata. But at the same time, she was also completely enthralled in a sick and unfamiliar sort of way, so that she had needed to force her eager eyes to look away.

Instead, she had focused on the disappointed crush, whose face had been wet with tears which he'd made no manly attempt to hide as he mourned yet another failure to bring his supposed best friend back home, and at her fellow teammates, who'd seemed just as stunned and horrified as she did, only without any trace of her unexplainable fascination.

It was like wanting to get closer to some trapped wild animal, yet being afraid that it would bite, thought Hinata, who was starting to find all of the sugar hard to swallow at the recollection of Itachi's body, which had been covered in blood that had dried nearly black; the same disturbing shade as the black flames that had surrounded the area near where he'd been discovered.

She had found it hard to believe that he had survived that journey, but he had, and so the thorny dilemma of what should be done with someone of his kind had arisen, and recalling how that had turned out made Hinata want to escape from prying eyes and hide under the safety of her bedcovers.

From the beginning, Team Seven had adamantly insisted on keeping him not only alive but fully recovered; though still a prisoner naturally, in order that his presence might serve as bait in their ever elusive quest to bring Sasuke back home. Hinata had watched as the steadfast sparkle of hope lit up Naruto's blue eyes once again, but the council of elders would hear of no such thing, and seemed outraged by the mere suggestion of allowing one with a history such as his to live.

Hinata could still hear Tsunade's voice in her mind, dripping with reluctant resignation.

"They say that he's a danger to the village if he recovers, and that the only honorable course of action is to let him die, to speed the process on if possible. How the hell am I supposed to argue against that?" Tsunade had raised both her hands as though giving in and then brought them back down hard on the table, causing it to shake and Hinata to jump.

"Sakura and Naruto are still stuck on bringing that, that foolish child back, and knowing them, they'll probably try to win Shizune into their way of thinking, but regardless of all that, I have yet to get to the root of just what is killing Itachi. His wounds are mostly healed, yet he still seems to be wasting away, and I'm not sure whether the cause is mental or physical."

Hinata's whole body had gone red without her really knowing why, as if she had been afraid of what Tsunade would tell her next, but her apprehension had gone completely unnoticed by the hokage.

"For someone with eyes like yours, it should be easy enough to find out just where his sickness stems from and to make sure that he does not heal, not under any circumstances. I choose you because I know that the rest of your family is too proud to dirty their hands with this sort of thing, but you've always been a good girl, Hinata." Here, Tsunade had smiled down at her as though she were praising a small child.

"I know you'll come straight to me if you need any assistance, and you're so sweet-natured that Naruto and the others would never think to suspect you of trying to snuff out the life of even the coldest of murderers. On the contrary, they'll probably find you extraordinarily brave and compassionate for taking him in like this, and while I hate planning things behind their backs, sometimes the ninja way calls for a bit of deception, I'm afraid."

Hinata had felt a guilty ache in her chest at the thought of possibly deceiving the one she thought she'd loved most, combined with a sharp stab of raw fear at the thought of having to be in constant close contact with someone who had apparently killed both of the people who had given him life, without an ounce of pity or regret. Tsunade had been right, however. She was a "good girl," and would never even dream of denying a hokage's request, and so she'd hesitantly agreed to become the unwilling instrument of Itachi's death.

That had been just a few days before, and on the present morning, Tsunade had been checking with her to make sure that eeverything was going according to plan, and Hinata suspected, to make sure that the task wasn't becoming too much for her and her "sweet nature."

Hinata realized that she'd been silently mumbling under her breath out of held-in frustration and hurriedly paid the shop owner, being eager to exit the place with all of it's blissfully laid back customers, most of whom had never had to take on an assignment harder than catching a petty thief or two.

She was ready now, though, ready to face Itachi and his cold dead eyes once again. As a sudden summer rain began to fall, dripping down each strand of her hair and cooling her overheated body, Hinata almost smiled.

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As she entered the quiet familiarity of her home, Hinata threw off her soaked jacket, exposing the dripping wet, pale, and nearly naked skin beneath, which was covered only by a thin mesh undershirt.

She turned around and found him sitting in a corner of her room floor, arms wrapped around his knees and his face completely devoid of expression, in pretty much exactly the same way as she had left him. That was no surprise.

Itachi had little strength and could see nothing, so she could never tell just what was going on in his head. She knelt down in front of him at eye-level, keeping a proper distance from him in case he should unexpectedly snap, and coolly activated her byakugan. He made no response but continued to stare right through her with eyes that were no longer as deep and piercingly black as they had once been but were now a dulled dark gray as a result of his blindness.

With the aid of her byakugan, she could easily see how his disease was violently destroying him from the inside out, and had been for many years. Both his mind and body were slowly deteriorating and it wouldn't be long before his every breath unleashed a torrent of blood and he would die, gasping and choking.

It was a death that seemed written by the hands of God for one with sins such as his, but Hinata still shivered at the cruelty of it. She could help to relieve some of his pain and make it look to the whole village like she was extending some sort of divine mercy towards him, but in reality she was doing nothing. It was all a show. She was apathetically watching as everything that had once defined him, his talent, genius, and pride; were slowly being shredded apart. The little room now seemed to be far too dark to her.

Itachi's hand closed tightly around her wrist then, causing her skin to feel as though it were scalding hot.

"Amaya." Itachi's voice had a throaty quality to it which never failed to make her feel uneasy. "You've been out in the rain again." His hand was roaming the length of her arm now, catching each and every raindrop with his fingers. "That's so like you. You'll catch cold that way."

"Don't worry about me." Hinata shook her head at her foolishness in answering him back. It wasn't as though he were really addressing her. He was in a world of his own, trapped in his own mind, speaking to another girl.

Amaya. The name meant 'night rain,' and to Hinata's mind, seemed to contrast with her own name's meaning of 'a sunny place.' She often wondered whether she'd been someone whom he'd known in his past, perhaps in Akatsuki or even in Konoha, but had convinced herself that she was probably nothing more than a figment of Itachi's unstable mind. The only thing that she knew for sure was that Amaya was loved by Itachi, needed even, and Hinata wanted so badly to be loved and needed.

Flicking on her room's light switch, she noticed with sudden alarm that her arms were stained coppery red where he had touched her. Beneath his mouth and on his hands Itachi bore the same stains, which she'd failed to notice in the half-darkness. He's been coughing up blood already, she realized, wondering why the thought of his dying so soon set her blood racing with panic.

It's because you're selfish, she thought. You're selfish and you'd rather have him live so that you can care for and be needed by him in his deranged fantasy world than to have him die and have to go back to your old unnecessary existence. Naruto doesn't need you, your own clan doesn't need you, and your teammates may love and respect you, but they have their own lives and their own families. They don't really need you.

As Hinata began to clean up the blood, it was the milky white length of her throat that Itachi chose to explore casually with his fingers, sending a cold shiver crawling up her spine. This was no innocent victim of disease deserving of her pity. The Akatsuki were all ruthless killers and he'd been perhaps the worst of the bunch as not even the blood of those who'd loved him most had satisfied his unstoppable need to kill. At least that was what she had heard about him for most of her life, in the form of hushed whispers spoken quickly behind quivering hands.

"What are you doing?" She forced herself to speak without stuttering. Itachi seemed to blush slightly, making him appear deceptively youthful and innocent.

"Do you still hate me, Amaya-chan?" He has buried his face in her neck now, and despite being initially unnerved, Hinata continued to play her role; running her fingers fondly through his dark and abundant waves of hair.

"I've never hated you." It was true after all. Hinata had never hated anyone other than herself.

"Yes, you do." Itachi's voice had become wearied and drowsy as he fell victim to the gentle circles she was drawing round his scalp. "I haven't forgotten. I'll never forget. I'll always be sorry."

"I'm sorry too," Hinata replied, as a tear began to creep down her face, dripping downwards to fall on his own.

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As far as Itachi was aware, his world consisted of an endless sea of black. He couldn't see, could barely feel, or even think. When he tried to think clear thoughts, it was as though they evaporated into thin air before he ever had a chance to collect them. It was as though he could only think in broken fragments which made little sense even to him.

Okaasan, Shisui-kun, Sasuke, why do you all look at me with so much hate, where are you going now? Why have you left me alone?

And so it went, on and on, circling and circling in his head until he felt drained and exhausted and his sharingun spun lazily despite their being nothing to fight against, nothing to see. This waste of chakra strained him even further.

I must be dead, he thought. I've died and this darkness and emptiness, this remembering and forgetting, this must be hell. That was what he had thought at first, before a particularly evocative fragrance had thrown his world into further confusion by making him feel shockingly alive.

It was the mingled scents of lavender, jasmine, and the warm scent of a woman's body; and it was a scent that, when mixed with falling rain, or with the sweet and rusty odor of blood, he happened to know very, very well.

Amaya-neesan, why are you still here with me? Don't you also hate me? How can you still touch me, still hold me? The rich scent easily unlocked many deeply buried memories. Uchiha Amaya. She'd been his cousin, older than him by about three years, with long silver streaked black hair and an amusingly high-pitched, melodic voice. To him and his best friend Shisui, she'd been a beloved older sister figure, both indulgent and scolding, depending on both her mood and the occasion.

The three of them had formed a happy, carefree squad; blissfully unaware of the agonies awaiting each of them in the future, but as he began to grow into his early adolescent years of having to juggle being an ANBU captain with the demands of his clan, he'd slowly lost touch with her. Indeed, he'd all but forgotten her.

His father, Uchiha Fugaku, however, had been no fool. He had seen through Itachi's reluctance to serve his clan at the village's expense in the guilty flicker of expression which had momentarily clouded his otherwise unreadable face. Itachi had grown far too closed-off and antisocial for his family's liking, choosing to associate with almost no one besides his little brother, who had been too small to understand the intrigues springing up around him, masked by nervous laughs and indulgent smiles.

Fugaku had needed someone who would tie Itachi down to his clan beyond all doubt, and so it should've come as no surprise to Itachi when she re-entered his life one warm, humid day. It had been the kind of day that left one moody and tired, yet she'd seemed perfectly at ease with herself, little-changed other than being rounder in all of the right places. And of course, there had been that scent.

He knew her for the bait that she was the moment that she'd flashed him one of her charmingly dimpled smiles, but that hadn't stopped him from smiling back. It hadn't stopped him from following after her and making her his own, even when he had known that Shisui had loved her as well.

He'd been only thirteen, knowing little about women or about the ways of love and lust, but she'd seemed to know more than enough for the both of them. Touching, tasting, laughing, fighting; it had all been such a quick and dreamlike diversion, but of course it had to end eventually.

Itachi wished that he could forget the moment of her death. The sheer effort of having to think about it made him want to claw his eyes out. Of course she had been suspicious of him following Shisui's "suicide," and he should've expected to see her there waiting for him on that terrible night. She'd wanted to stop him, to make him see reason. Poor fool. Poor beautiful fool, he thought.

There had been no room for reason or logic in Itachi's brain that night. He had been like a machine programmed only to complete his ghastly mission, namely, the annihilation of his clan.

And so he hadn't been thinking when his kunai had speedily penetrated her throat as if of it's accord, cutting straight across from one side to the other and leaving her head just barely attached to her shoulders; the same neck and shoulders which he had planted kisses on so many times before.

The thick fountain of blood which had splashed and spilled from the gaping hole that was left of her throat had stung his eyes and filled his mouth so that for years after, every time he coughed up blood as a result of his sickness he was always forced to think of her, and of the heat and taste of her blood on that day.

Oh Amaya-neesan, how did I bear it? Why did I live?

He's watched as she fell onto the dirt, which had swallowed up her blood like fresh rain. Her eyes had betrayed her shock and rage, and her lovely face had transformed into a mask of pure agony before her eyes finally rolled back into her head and she lay cold.

A piercing, keening wail had then snapped Itachi out of his shocked daze. Damnit, he'd thought. Damn, someone has seen me, and they are alerting the whole of the clan and possibly even the whole of the village with that awful noise they're making. Where are they, so I can kill them and end their fear?

Itachi killed many, many others following that moment yet still the awful cry had gone on. It wasn't until the night was nearly over and he had been thoroughly drenched in blood and tears, that he was able to realize that the sounds that he's been hearing had been his own screams, and his insides had felt ripped apart from the force of it.

Why did I live? How did I bear it? It finally hit him as he was sitting there, stuck in his world of thoughts. It hit him with an almost painful force. Sasuke. The only one left, the only reason he'd lived, but it was too late now. He was dead already, wasn't he? He was in an eternal prison, with his first and only lover as his devoted warden, ensuring that he stayed there always.

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Hinata was seated on the floor of her room a couple nights later, in a thin robe that slipped down below her pale shoulders, leaving her exposed to the cold, yet she didn't dare to move a muscle. Instead, she watched Itachi, who was lying on a futon just a few feet away from her.

She watched the play of shadows on his face and on his bare chest as his eyes opened and closed, moving in the rhythm of dream (or perhaps nightmare) filled sleep. She didn't have to get any closer, even in the dark, to tell that he was whispering softly to himself. By closely watching his mouth she could just make out a few of the names which he spoke. Okaasan, Shisui-kun, Sasuke, and other names which meant little to Hinata and which she knew nothing of, with the exception of Amaya's of course.

He was finally beginning to become much more lucid, aware, and mobile as the days went by, but that was no surprise to Hinata; she had known it would be that way from the start; had even planned it to be that way. That was the normal progression for diseases such as that which Itachi suffered from. He would rapidly appear to be completely healed; remembering all, moving about again, and possibly even regaining some of his lost vision, before just as quickly dropping dead and choking on his own unclean blood. Hinata had simply sped the process along due to her knowledge of the body and its internal systems.

Tsunade and the elders should be pleased, Hinata thought bitterly, inching closer in order to take in his features one last time before turning to leave

She had barely a moment to cry out loud before she felt herself being pulled down by the back of her neck and she fell hard onto the futon. Itachi's loose hair fell onto her face like a black curtain and she could feel his breath on her skin coming hard and fast.

"I'm not letting you leave me again this time, Amaya-neesan." His words were desperate, pleading even. You can stop this easily; you can kill him right now, thought Hinata. He's not what he used to be, he's nothing to be afraid of. Go ahead, kill him! Right now! She was all but screaming at herself mentally, but her body was frozen, and even her eyes were unblinking and wide-open. She barely even breathed so that her now uncovered chest and torso were as perfectly still as if she were dead.

She could do nothing but stare up into his unseeing eyes while nervously biting and sucking at the dark hair falling into her open mouth. I can't do it, I won't do it, I can't kill him, not even now, she thought, as she tried hard to ignore the circular patterns he was tracing throughout her entire body with his fingers, and the achy, sore feeling which was spreading below her waist. It made her feel light-headed and stupefied, but not in the least bit scared.

You wanted to be needed, didn't you? She asked herself bitterly as she closed her eyes.

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The sun which rose the following morning filled Itachi's eyes with blinding, dazzling light that shocked him with it's flashing, golden intensity. He was beginning to see a little again, in many more ways than the obvious.

He was alive, he had no idea how or why, but he was in no empty hell, he now knew that for sure. And the girl, who was now sullenly sitting up nearby, and whose slender form he could just barely make out, was no ghost, and was certainly not his dead Amaya.

He'd realized that the very minute he had come out from her small, trembling body. Why hadn't he realized before? Her mouth had fit onto his in a completely different way than Amaya's had when he kissed her, and she was short and pixie-like; lacking Amaya's tall and elegant form. Her scent was the only thing that was even remotely similar.

He held onto his head with shaking fingers, feeling as though he had just been awakened from centuries of sleep. "Where am I? Where have I been?"

"Konoha," was his unknown lover's curt reply. So I've been caught, he realized, wondering why the higher-ups hadn't ordered him to be killed yet, before a possible explanation dawned on him.

"Am I still alive as some sort of trap for my brother?" The girl remained completely silent, and Itachi wondered if she hated him or if she were disgusted with him after the previous night, but why did she not defend herself? Itachi knew that the kunoichi of his village were not to be easily messed around with. Who was she then?

"Who are you?"

"Hyuuga Hinata," she replied once again with equal curtness.

"Hinata," he whispered back. A Hyuuga. Distant family of his; it figured, he thought sardonically. "I'm sorry for all of the trouble that you've been caused, and I'm guessing that you must mean little to your family, if you've been left alone with me for so long."

"Wha, what do you mean?" She was starting to sound a little more animated and a little more interested now.

"I mean that I need you. I need your help before I die. I need to get out of here. I need to find Sasuke, so that I can talk to him and warn him about what he's getting into before I die." His own voice was becoming more urgent now. "I know where they hide out, and I know how to get in and out of this village, I've done it before as you may know, but I still can't see much, and it won't be long now." His head was spinning already, and he was doing as much as he could to keep from slipping into insanity again. "I need you. I need you to help me."

Hinata's reply was choked with tears that to Itachi seemed to be both guilty and angry.

"Why? Why should I help you to escape justice again? How could I do something like that? How could I trust you? You're not even in your right mind?"

"I have no reason to trust you either, you're as much of a danger to me as I am to you, as you could easily kill me on the way, or give me up to your Hokage. I have no other choice. I need to see him, and I need you to help me get there." She remained silent, but he could hear her steady breathing along with the beating of her heart.

"Make your choice, help me or kill me."

I need you. I need you. I need you. The words kept swimming around over and over again in Hinata's mind as she choked back hot, angry tears, but her decision had already been made. It felt far, far too good to be needed.

END………………………………………………………………………………………..

I may definitely write a sequel for this, that is, if anybody cares enough to review this one. So please review!! Oh and yes, Amaya was indeed based on the dead canon lover; I just had to come up with the name on my own since she was little more than a footnote in the real manga. So that's all for now I guess…

REVIEW!please };---- a rose for you, my luvs XD