Summary: All is well for Hyuuga Hinata until she is captured by Itachi of the Sharingan and the Jolly Akatsuki. Sailing over the high seas with the most fearsome crew in the five seas with Captain of the Guard Neji and her own fiancé Uchiha Sasuke in pursuit, what's a lady to do? ItaHina.
Warnings: OOC (prepare to have these wonderful characters butchered). Swearing (Hidan). Honorifics. Clichés.
(author gnashes teeth) This is no longer a romance/humor oneshot. It is now a monster-sized, convoluted, mutant disaster of a story that has descended into somewhere between coherence and crack. Don't say you weren't warned.
Posted as a separate story because there's no point in violating Epitome. Honest, you won't believe its the same writer.
Dedication: Everyone who has written, loved, reviewed, or read ItaHina (in that precise order). You are the reason I write.
In retrospect, I should also dedicate this to coffee since that's what I was on while I wrote this, nine nights out of ten.
Disclaimer: Let's put it this way – all mistakes are mine.
Yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me.
Rumors spread faster than Amaterasu.
Lady Hinata, privileged daughter of the powerful and affluent Hyuuga dynasty and successor to all its assets and holdings, shame and fame, had absolutely no patience for rumors.
Of course, this may have been due to the fact that not a few weeks ago, she herself had been the subject of quite a few particularly vile ones after news let out about her engagement to the beloved prince of all the village girls' hearts, the strikingly handsome and debonair Uchiha Sasuke.
Apparently, despite her status, kindness and vehement protests against the engagement, she was not safe from the ones who dubbed themselves as the FANgirls (a tribute to the family symbol – they thought they were being quite cute and clever for thinking it up).
Rumor Number One: Hyuuga Hinata tricked Uchiha Sasuke into marrying her. A ludicrous rumor that refused to die until Sasuke-sama himself refuted it.
Which the man refused to do, stating that he couldn't be bothered. In the deepest, most shadowed corner of her mind, a treacherous little voice sneered that Sasuke was just more comfortable believing that as the truth behind their engagement rather than admitting that maybe he had scrap of affection for her.
Rumor Number Two: Hyuuga Neji, also of the Hyuuga, was gay.
This had much less been due to her cousin's effeminate hair, vanity and morning habits, which were admittedly dubious, and more to do with his obsession with his duty ("It is my destiny, Hinata-sama.") which took him to various corners of the world, through enemy territory, harsh weather and cruel seas, in the company of men, strapping young sailors who probably didn't keep their shirts on once the ship left port.
After Sasuke, he was the candy among the young women of the village and, following a series of cold rebuttals and snappish rejections and a distinct lack of interest in anyone, was mourned as hopeless.
Really, what sane man would choose leading an armada over settling down with a nice lady and whiling away his (considerably massive) inheritance?
(In Neji's mind, what sane man wouldn't?)
Rumor Number Three: A known member of the dreaded Jolly Akatsuki – the most deadly crew in known history – was spotted near the town she was currently vacationing in. Now that was just ridiculous.
Only a few weeks ago they had raided a fortress a long way south from their region, this she'd heard from Neji himself who was never known to speak falsehoods, and, unless they'd miraculously caught every tradewind to the north and suffered no injuries, it should take more than a month to travel from there.
What's more, everyone knew they were after the legendary "nine demon treasures" (what it was exactly, no one knew) and there certainly wasn't anything like that around here.
So, unlike the common salt-of-the-earth townspeople who'd barred up their homes and fled at the first whispers, the merchants, upper classes, and aristocrats stayed.
Okay, maybe she should have paid more attention to that last rumor.
Then, probably, she would have been spared this gut-wrenching horror of witnessing a town being burned town, dodging gunshots and clashing swords, and being knocked around by a steady succession of explosions.
She'd long been separated from her guards, one of whom had suggested that she dress herself like an urchin and run with the rest of the remaining townsfolk in hopes of not drawing more attention than necessary. It had worked for the most part but…
Unfortunately, she'd taken one of the dead-end routes and ended up dangerously near where the main fighting was commencing. Readjusting the dirty-brown hood, she pressed herself further in between the gap between two large oak barrels, willing herself to stop moving.
The moon was monstrously bright tonight and it wouldn't be too hard to spot even miniscule movements. Just pretend you are a sack of potatoes. Don't mind me everyone.
A mad scuffle to her right caught her attention and she carefully peeked at the scene beyond the barrels.
Two men wearing the infamous red cloud insignia on their cloths were taking out soldiers left and right, easily gliding between rifle shots and brandishing blades. Huge blades. One of them, looking too much like Death's scythe for her comfort, caught the beam of a torch and momentarily blinded her.
By the time the spots disappeared from her eyes, the two men were right in front of her, grinning ferally. The way cats probably would when they finally cornered the canary.
Fear like she'd never known before (not when she'd almost been kidnapped as a child, not even when Neji tried to kill her when he'd still had a grudge, not even when the FANgirls confronted her) rose in her chest, making her heart slam painfully against her ribs.
I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. Kami, please make it quick.
"Look what we have here, Kisame, a yellow-bellied townie who took a seriously wrong turn somewhere…" One of them, Hidan, grabbed her arm, staining it something remarkably red, and forced her to stand, laughing harshly as she stumbled on her own feet.
Kisame chuckled darkly (alarming Hinata to higher levels – for there was nothing quite like two possibly murderous pirates laughing at you). Poor kid was shaking like a leaf.
Suddenly, Hinata coughed, pulled out of Hidan's grasp and squared her shoulders.
Pale eyes then looked at straight at Kisame (a good choice too, Kisame though – honestly, between shark-faced Kisame and choir-boy Hidan, he was pretty sure he was less scary), glaring magnificently.
Or trying to. Kisame almost laughed. The glare was much ruined by the kid's own features (soft, refined, girlish), small stature and the incessant quaking.
"L-let me go," Hinata did her best to growl, exuding as much bravado as she could. Neji told you about these kind of people, show them you're afraid and you're dead before you know it! Impress them and you just might be spared.
At the thought of her cousin, her heart calmed down a whit, reducing the blood pounding in her head and allowing her to think more clearly.
"Let me go, you foul bandits!" She repeated, rather recklessly.
"Brave lad you got there, yeah?" Deidara had arrived (Another one?! Hinata's eyes snapped fully open), slipping out from between two burning buildings. He cut quite an impressive figure right there: glittering eyes, golden hair gleaming from the flames, guns and bombs strapped on his back. "I was starting to think there wasn't any spines in this town. They all ran away at the sight of danna back there, un."
"Blondie," Hidan acknowledged, eliciting a fuming scowl from the, well, blond. "So you finished blowing up your half of the town?"
Deidara's insane grin was answer enough.
Hinata had faintly registered that the sounds of fighting were beginning to die down. The battle was already over. By daybreak, the beautiful and once-thriving town would be left in gunpowder and ashes, another one in a long line of Akatsuki's casualties. Just like she would be if she didn't get a move on.
She contemplated just bolting, hoping to the gods that be they wouldn't bother to go after her, not when they probably had much booty to purloin. What could she do, after all, a weak tiny person like her (not counting her connections to the Imperial Navy and local military forces)…
That train of thought was abruptly and thoroughly demolished on strong, vise-like hand gripped the back of her squalid outfit and threw her down hard enough to bruise. That hand belonged to a fourth pirate, one she hadn't detected even a wisp of.
She shakily got her feet, regarding the newcomer warily. A lean figure wrapped in dark swathes of cloth in classical pirate style, bandana round his forehead, long dark hair in a loose ponytail, an unforgettable face – not just because it was impressively attractive (even in the sparse light), but also because it was odd: it had the stubble and the tan and the general messiness but the planes of the actual features were very well-defined and quite elegant.
Heh, like a prince thrust into bandit clothes. She'd met princes in the flesh and they had nothing on this guy, even dressed as he was.
Itachi didn't even glance at her perusing gaze before coolly stating that they were leaving. "Wrong information, the beast's treasure isn't here. We're loading up and going."
"Damn, right now?!" Hidan cursed crossly. "Ugh, just when I finally got free of that stinking sea shit…"
The other two seemed more concerned about the failure of their recon, but reluctant to bring it up when not in the captain's quarters. Paranoia does that to you.
"What about it, un?" Deidara pointed to Hinata. Hinata turned sharply to him, causing the hood to fall to her shoulders, fully revealing her face and hair.
"Shit, it's a girl!" Hidan bellowed, looking at her up and down in astonishment, not quite believing the skinny runt in the baggy rags they'd been playing with was, in fact, female.
Itachi finally spared her a cool sideways glance. "Leave her. She's useless to us."
"I don't know, she's kind of gutsy… Pretty too. We could always use another mole in the bars." Kisame suggested, giving her the once-over and nodding in approval. "Just have Konan train her into getting them drunk and giving them the eyes…" He fluttered his own lashes, much to everyone's consternation.
Hinata would have sweatdropped if the situation wasn't so dire. Did she look the part?
Hidan chose just that moment to speak up. "What the hell?! No! She's a fucking girl! It's damn bad enough we already have Blue and Blondie!"
"I'm a MAN, un!" Deidara snarled imperiously. "I do not bring bad luck."
Hidan cocked an eyebrow at him tauntingly. "Suuure you don't."
Quick as lightning, Deidara punched him in the gut. Hidan sank to the ground before grabbing his scythe, murder in his eyes.
Hinata squeaked and, in a haste to get away from the rapidly degenerating fight, tripped over Kisame's sword and tumbled to the hard earth, narrowly missing Itachi who sidestepped.
"Hurry up, you mongrels. Captain's orders were to get to the ship as soon as we're done," He said, ever nonchalant to the ensuing fight, and departed as quickly as he came.
"Oi, you two! You heard Itachi, move it!" Kisame shouted, scooping up his enormous sword to his shoulder.
Itachi, Hinata noted the name, storing the information for when Neji finds her, as his duties as a special officer in the Royal Navy consisted of chasing after buccaneers like her current companions, he was bound to be summoned to this town. He'd be glad to get an ID on one of them.
If he found her alive, that is.
Dear god, she hoped they wouldn't notice her resemblance to the man who'd been doggedly hunting the Akatsuki since he got his own ship and who'd put many a lesser pirate behind bars.
That was her last thought before she was struck in the head and sank into unconsciousness, Deidara frowning at a shrugging Kisame over her prone form ("You're carrying it, un").
The craft was huge, even from a distance, and was the quintessence of everything a pirate ship should be, a sinister spectre that was elegant and timeless and dangerous. It wasn't exactly the first thing you'd want to see after coming to.
Hinata closed her eyes, barely repressing a groan at a throbbing spot on the back of her head, and wondered if she was dreaming. She delicately peeked again. No, didn't think so, she had never been that lucky.
She registered that she was in a much smaller boat, sloppily propped out between a couple of rattling crates that smelled faintly of the pirate's lifeblood, rum.
The first vestiges of panic rose within her, for both herself and the people who depended on her being safe and not getting kidnapped. Well, not that there were many of them, but Neji and Hanabi and the rest of her family (and, maybe, a little, just a tiny bit possibly, Sasuke) would worry.
She had to get out of here. But where was here exactly? There was hardly anything in the darkness aside from the lights of the boat and the Akatsuki mothership that would indicate the direction of the shore. And even if there were, Hinata could not possibly hope to swim her way home – unless someone fished in her bloated corpse that was riddled with disease and creature bites and delivered it to the Hyuugas.
And there was no chance of her taking the boat under control.
She was going to have to wait this out and pray for survival.
"I stand by what I said," Hidan thundered, the most vocal on not keeping Hinata. "She dies, end of story. Anything less would be sacrilegious!"
Deidara snorted at the obvious exaggeration. He still hasn't quite forgiven Hidan's pokes at his masculinity earlier and was happy for a chance to rile up the silvery bastard. "I want it to stay, un. It's interesting."
"It would be a waste if we don't use her," Kisame pointed out, honestly reluctant to kill the scared pale-eyed kid.
Pein and Konan, the two original pirates among them and who had the piercings to prove it, exchanged a glance and shook their heads in tandem, ever mistrustful of strangers.
"She'll just be another mouth to feed," Kakuzu complained as he glared at Hinata, perhaps disappointed at the utter lack of anything valuable on her. Hinata shrank away from him, a little unnerved at his masked appearance, horribly curious at how bad his face must be if he had to hide it.
"I don't care either way," Itachi drawled when Hidan turned aggressively to him, just daring him to take up Deidara's side. "Do as you please." He waved a hand dismissively, looking almost bored as he leaned against the side of the ship. You shouldn't have brought her in the first place.
Hinata threw him the most baleful look she could muster, more offended by his cold indifference than by Hidan's zealous gibes.
"Walk the plank, girly." Oh there was another gibe – wait – what?!
Indeed, the man was already directing her to a wooden board that stuck out of the ship and hovered over the sea. She'd been voted out.
Hidan's cackling was nothing short of diabolical.
Hinata felt the wetness at her eyes and swabbed at them before she even realized what they were. Damnit, ladies do not show their tears! Not without a plan!
She gazed back to them and gave the best kicked-puppy-dog performance of a lifetime, never mind that it would be lost to these vicious heartless brigands.
"Hurry now, we'll be entering shark territory soon." Kisame laughed.
Hinata was dismayed at the sudden betrayal by the one she labeled as her staunchest supporter. Steeling herself for a long, extended swim, she tentatively took a step forward.
She had gotten as far as three steps when two more men popped up: a short, very young-looking red-haired boy and a man with bandages all over his face, covering all except his right eye. Their gazes flicked to her then to Hidan, who reluctantly asked for their votes.
(Hidan's mind: What is this? A democracy?!)
"I agree with Deidara," Sasori announced immediately.
"You didn't even hear my side yet!" Hidan yelped in outrage.
Sasori shrugged. So?
"What is she, Deidara-sempai?" The other man asked, bouncing over precariously close to the plank. Hinata had never so grateful for the rigidly strict posture lessons the Hyuuga imposed on all its young ladies. It gave her an excellent sense of balance.
"A wench we picked up in town, un" Deidara replied. "We're deciding if we keep her or not. She's gutsy enough."
"Tobi likes her!" The other man announced cheerily, after a moment of thought. He almost went over to hug Hinata before Kisame and Kakuzu wisely grabbed him back.
Pein sighed, massaging his temples, and acquiesced. "Fine, fine – if you want her, there's nothing I can do."
Hinata sucked in air sharply. Could she dare hope?
"Well," Kakuzu mumbled, releasing Tobi once the hyperactive man calmed down enough. "I suppose we could always sell her on the black market."
Hidan raised his hands in defeat. "Jashin-sama, you might as well sink our asses right now."
Yes! Yes! She nearly didn't hear Deidara's victorious cry over the pounding in her head. The relief and exhilaration was so overwhelming that her knees wobbled and she began to feel lightheaded...
She may have heard a panicked yell. She may have felt them scrambling towards her. She may have seen Itachi jerk.
But she couldn't be sure… things were going hazy…
Darkness overtook her vision and she toppled down to the waves.
"Who fucking faints when walking the plank?!" Hidan nearly laughed in disbelief as they leaned over the rail, scanning the waves for any sign of the girl so they could fish her out.
"That certainly was unexpected," Konan agreed grudgingly.
"You should've have brought her in the first place," Itachi repeated for what seemed to be the third time.
"Still hung up over that, Itachi?" Kisame raised an eyebrow at him. It didn't faze Itachi one bit.
"She was a stranger, scared out of her wits, likely useless in combat and probably unlucky," Itachi listed off calmly. "There were so many reasons to leave her but we didn't. Now we have another needless casualty."
"I'm just surprised at how quickly she lasted," Deidara piped up, voice still a little awed. "Even the last stray we picked up lasted a few days." He shrugged. "They usually wait until the first skirmish to die, yeah?"
"The girl was just out of luck," Hidan stated, smugly crossing his hands over his chest, uncannily pleased at the circumstances. Jashin-sama, praise you for your wisdom that transcends my mortal limitations! You found the perfect solution!
"Maybe not as ill-fated, as you think," There was a smirk in Konan's voice as she motioned for Sasori to turn the torch to something bobbing in the waves.
"T-Thank you," Hinata said automatically as someone passed her another dry sheet, her teeth chattering from being recently doused in the icy water. Fortunately, she had regained consciousness within seconds of hitting the ocean. She should have been more than able to swim her way up without the problem, but the clothes she wore soaked up the bitingly-cold water like a sponge and weighed her down. The knifing at her lungs and the darkness didn't help either.
The first gasp of air had been sweeter than anything her family's first-class pastry chef had ever cooked up.
Sasori and Kisame's combined efforts then fished her out. Her body was numb from the cold and she had no control over her limbs. Someone tossed a dry cloth over her and held the torch close that she might regain some feeling from the heat.
"Thank you," she repeated quietly but firmly, and they all knew that it wasn't for the blanket. Thank you for rescuing me.
Some of them froze in surprise. Even if they did save her from drowning, it wasn't everyday they encountered someone so polite that she'd thank her captors (who really were the ones at fault here).
"We already decided to keep you, didn't we?" Konan smiled at her carefully but kindly, transforming from the iron bitch she'd personified earlier to someone much nicer. "We always did try to save our strays, you know."
Next Chapter: Meeting the motley crew – did she have to?!