Notes: I am honestly being leeched alive by this story, every sentence has to be dragged out, and I'm crazy-busy with my first adult job - THIS STORY IS THEREFORE DISCONTINUED. I'm posting the complete outline, however, which is actually the story itself in its bare bones (with a few fleshed-out scenes) so you won't keep wondering.
I'm so terribly sorry, but you all go "unleash your imaginations" and try to follow the haphazard outline. Freak out at how cluttered my mind is.
WARNING: SCATTERED SCENES, AUTHOR NOTES, RAW DRAFTS
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
THE MADARA CHAPTER
LINES TO INSERT:
"You will find that self-discipline is rewarding."
"This looks like it came from the Stone Age." "Yes, that was the most civilized of eras." Tobi said, as though he'd been there himself.
Itachi made a particularly soulless gesture of consent.
With one breath, he'd adulterated the language about six times.
"How rapidly your morals degenerate." "Trained by the best," she immediate fired back, momentarily out of her mind.
"I don't feel so fresh." "Fresh? What are you, a damn fruit?"
"Fired!" "From a cannon, un."
"You are an impertinent girl," Madara observed.
Hinata woke up one morning to see Hidan arguing with a motherfucking legend.
She didn't know him, of course, but the man was entirely too comfortable around the psychopathic Jashinist to make her wary. He stood grandiosely at the rail, backlit by the sunrise, giving him either a flaming aura or the impression of being barbequed, chin too high and pose too relaxed to be anyone safe or sane.
[HINATA IS SPOTTED]
"Who is this?"
Hidan, in the suddenly awkward position of politely introducing two people he hated to the guts, scowled at her existence.
[HIDAN'S INTRODUCTION; DESCRIBE MADARA]
[HINATA RAISES EYEBROW - ISN'T MADARA VERY OLD? HOW COME THIS ONE LOOKES LIKE HE's YOUNG?]
"Oh, how very interesting."
[MADARA FIRES OFF A LOADED, POLITICAL QUESTION]
Muscle memory is, honestly, a terrible inconvenience. Hinata was immediately transported to a library far, far away, getting diplomacy drummed into her head. [ADD FUNNY]
[HINATA BLURTS ANSWER]
Madara nodded like he saw past her all along – which was entirely possible by the way – a feline smile stretched across his lips, but he kept silent.
Hinata felt chills racing each other down her spine as she remembered her history. Infamous Captain Madara, during the days of his youth and casting mayhem over the oceans and men into the oceans, always had his equally-feared first-mate Izuna raise a flag.
This is what the flag says: "Some are born great. Some achieve greatness by slitting the goddamn throats of those born great. I have done both."
It wasn't the most conceited banner in the world – upon reflection, it was – but it garnered points for sheer, in-your-face intimidation.
"Madara," Pein traced the word slowly and painfully, looking like he was about to have a headache. "What are you doing here? I heard you were searching for something on the other side of the world. There were reports you had died at the Ocean of the End."
Madara turned to the captain. "There are always reports, haven't I explained that?"
Hinata breathed a sigh of relief.
Pein's sudden appearance, for once in her favor, cut short the extremely nerve-murdering silence left by Hidan when he conveniently jumped off the ship (yelling "Jashin!" with a shit-eating grin in the lamest alibi ever, because Madara had a way of killing brain cells through eye contact) and swam to the other side. Only Hinata's tightly-screwed manners prevented her from leaping off after him.
"I'm hardly apologizing," Madara said airily to the captain. "I am even giving my valuable time to check up on my infamous legacy." Then, his face twisted like it had done acrobatics for years, the cool façade dissolved into stark, raving madness. "You scumbags are falling apart without me!"
Pein, who was so obviously used to this from his days as the former's boatswain, didn't bat an eyelash.
Madara, who treated friends and enemies alike with equal contempt, didn't even bother to listen. Hinata wondered if all megalomaniacs acted like such when forced into each other's presence.
"Madara," Another voice breathed out. Itachi had also come on deck, shirtless as everyone else, because laundry had become as nigh impossible as Ye Jolly Akatsuki going legal. Itachi's eyes, Hinata noticed, were a fraction wider than usual.
"Itachi," Madara suddenly stopped gesticulating about the downhill careen of Pein's administration, which didn't make sense to anyone but himself, and regarded Itachi with something akin to a pleasant expression. To Hinata's utter surprise, he was actually capable of it.
Meanwhile, there was a general sense of dread hovering over Itachi.
[Itachi, sarcastic: "I might kill myself in shame."]
[Itachi: "I am, frankly, not surprised."]
[Madara to Team Art: "As I expected, you actually amounted to something."]
[Madara to Kisame and Kakuzu: "Come near me when you are more entertaining."]
[Hinata, who could blather in six languages if need be, was speechless. Itachi's tact, thus far, was famous for its non-existence.]
"We are distantly related," Itachi explains.
"When in Rome, do as Romans do. When with the Akatsuki, do not even think about it."
["We all derive several benefits from being affiliated with Akatsuki."
Good food wasn't one of them.]
["I'd rather shoot myself in the foot." "Okay." "I was kidding!"]
[Hinata: "Why didn't you get rid of it?"
Itachi: "It makes you happy, does it not?" "I cannot seem to find it in me to add to your miserable existence."
Hinata's face glazed over. "WHAT?"]
[SCENE: ItaHina ROMANCE development – mutual kindness, uncertain attraction]
Hinata, wryly: "Ah, y-your kindness is blinding."
["You are abounding with enough contentment to get fat with it."
Although it didn't make itself known very often, to the point where everyone thought it didn't exist, Hinata actually did have a temper. For years it had been suppressed, buried, talked and trained to making itself as small and concealed as possible (because tempers caused irrationality, conflict and unnecessary embarrassment).
But, darn, this was just too much. ]
[Hinata: "You are more mild than your reputation suggests."
Itachi: "I gather that when you start getting known, they will paint you as a bloodthirsty beast. Then we will see whose reputation precedes them."]
Itachi: "Whilst I admire your confidence, your deduction is erroneous."
His smile was a crime in itself.
After nearly a fortnight of trying, she still didn't seem to understand that underhanded tactics of that level doesn't work on him.
He wondered if he was the only who noticed the sheer effort she put in to please them, never doing less than her best and frequently pushing herself to exhaustion with all the training and cooking and chores and never backing down. What wasted loyalty.
Really, why was this princess of a girl working so hard as though she had something to prove to them?
He supposed he really could admire that kind of spirit.
"Hinata, don't ever feel that you're not my equal." The genius said to her, his eyes serious, his hand gripping her shoulders. "All things considered, you might even be above me."
Hinata tried not to flinch at his accusing words, despite them being said in such a casual tone.
The real Itachi, she decided, was even more complicated than the faux one.
["Did no one want you?" This was an unofficial rule. No one was to ever, ever ask about Hinata's home.]
[Hinata wonders how she'll ever resolve this sudden conflict of interest. Ah well, she'll cross that bridge when she comes to it. The apocalypse must happen eventually.]
[Hinata remembers that she was actually engaged to someone. She could imagine their reactions.
Hidan: "Just a technicality, bitch."]
[Itachi: "Ah, a little too in-your-face?"]
[Ever since she'd been captured, she'd not acted like an engaged woman at all. But surely, being in situations of mortal danger (yes, despite the unexpected warmth, this whole fiasco still counted as mortal danger from both within and without) allowed deviations from decorous behavior. Deviations – yeah, right – as if her current conduct wasn't a full one-eighty from everything she'd ever been taught.]
Uchiha Sasuke. One of the conundrums in life no one was ever meant to understand.
THE SASUKE FLASHBACK
[Hinata remembers childhood and Sasuke, only a little bit: climbing trees, exploring ships, piggyback rides, carriage rides [CHILDHOOD SCENES!]. She had been confused as to when she stopped being the princess of the castle (fort) to being the dragon that encroached it. Looking back, she should have known it would have happened eventually but she'd been disgustingly blinded by their supposed closeness to believe it would ever happen to them. But it happened, swift and fast and she was suddenly looking at cold shoulders and turned-away backs.
Sasuke: "I don't have to answer to you."
PRESENT: Sasuke, while still nice enough, wasn't someone she could imagine sharing her life with. Notwithstanding the fact that he could be such an utter prick at times (like the time when they kids he shoved her off the pier and nearly set off a catastrophic chain of events), he was too much like her – a born, bred aristocrat.
Jaded. Overindulged. Taut as a bowstring.
If they were ever married, they would both be doomed to living in constant luxury and ostentatious surroundings and making superficial social calls and pointless small talk with others in their circle.
They would both go mad in months.
(Especially Hinata, now that she'd experienced the zest and vibrancy and sheer thrill of the outside world.)
And things had happened.
[Sasuke going to school, the Uchiha-Hyuuga competitive thing (Sasuke very competitive) that wasn't at all helped by their statuses as the heirs, spending time with different circles, Sasuke going all emo on her and always finding disdain in other people's laughter and enjoyment (what wasn't about his angst anymore?), their adolescent years had been disastrous. etc.]
They'd simply drifted apart, the same way she and Neji had come dangerously close to doing.
When he'd finally gotten over that (or over himself, more appropriately, the self-absorbed bastard), it had been too late.
[ENDING SASUHINA ANGLE ONCE AND FOR ALL:
Once upon a time, they could have been born for each other – but there was too much water under the bridge now. It was wonderful that they were friends again, good close wonderful friends, but it was impossible for them to go back to the way they were.
The marriage was just so very convenient for their families (and for themselves) that they decided to ignore the elephant that was always, always in the room loudly stomping and stomping on their bittersweet childhood memories.
It wasn't the love match their parents had always wanted, nor was it the passionate affair his admirers reviled with fervor. It really wasn't worth all that melodrama everyone had to waddle through after they announced the engagement.]
THE CLEANING SCENE
Cleaning the side of the ship and checking for weak spots, wiping off barnacles
Deidara: "Damn things affect our speed, yeah?"
Who actually cleans? Hinata (best at cleaning, through a lack of pride), Kakuzu (good with ropes) and Kisame (can swim).
Disaster. Rope breaks.
Deidara and Tobi manage to catch Hinata, despite running interference with each other. Kakuzu and Kisame fall. "Why, yeah? Hinata is a beautiful work of art whereas you're ugly. We can afford to have your faces wrecked, un."
[It was a statement only pure bile could come up with.]
THE HURRICANE SCENE
Freak hurricane, some people actually go out of their way to save her, like she was valuable, and not because they had to.
Hinata was fighting to keep her breakfast in stomach as the ship suddenly lurched. Again.
The sky was terribly dark. Howling winds battered the ship, cutting at the sails and threatening to overturn and thrust them all into a whirlpool. There was a conspicuous flood on the upper deck, making them all slip and fall as they tried to regain some control over the vessel.
Deidara made common cause with the storm and started sinking the ship as well.
[Hidan: "Mother nature, you dirty rotten pagan bitch!"]
[Everyone on deck fell down from the crashing impact, except Itachi. But even he had to grab hold of something.]
[some terribly dramatic scene in which Hinata is knocked around.]
[Hinata blanched as the massive wave ripped toward the ship, propelling it around as if it was nothing more than a toyboat.]
[The cold saltwater hit her with enough force to send her flying into the mast.]
[Pein/Konan: "Get her, you fools!"]
[Oh, she thought, disoriented. That might've broken a few bones.]
The day had started out normally enough, if not for the fact that everyone was in bad spirits from the previous night's rain.
Deidara was especially frustrated, his fists trembling as he fought not to smash his best telescope while the others shouted up at him for navigation. "All I see is fog, un!"
Yes, it started out an okay day. That was why, even with pairs of very good eyes on the ship, they hadn't seen the freak hurricane coming.
(Hidan's words: "Itachi! You're the one who's always prattling on about fucking storms! How the hell did you miss this one?")
AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE
"I told you all it was bad luck! It's the thirteenth, you stupid assholes! I fucking told to stop the fucking ship and fucking wait out the day!" Hidan yelled as he fought to keep the sails from ripping up. His voice pitched a little higher than usual.
["Do we use the secret weapon?" "Hell yes, let's go."]
["Kakuzu, you're killing her! You don't jostle a person who might possibly have broken bones!" "Hey, who's the fucking medic here?" "Oh, don't start getting prissy, you fucking charlatan."]
[A stinging slap brought Hinata back to painful consciousness (yes, absolutely no mercy even for the injured.)
"Am I finally dead?"]
["Oh, is that what happened?" Hinata asked dazedly.]
The soft caw of sea birds poked at the heavy stupor of unconsciousness.
Dazedly, she opened her eyes and took stock of her surroundings.
Salt air in tranquil breezes. Warm, shimmering sand beneath her. The warm glow of the sun.
Land! Oh god, land!
Quite unashamedly, she kissed the shore.
THE BLENDING-IN-WITH-TOWNSFOLK CHAPTER
Ship in cove. There was most assuredly going to be a problem in organization here. And Pein's administrative problems…were totally her concern.
"We'll be staying in the village. It's neutral territory but I advise everyone to lie low. Hidan, Kisame, find smaller weapons." "Hell no!"
In the end, they managed to pry Hidan from his scythe. It was nothing short of extreme sacrifice.
"You up for some recon work, Hinata-chan?" "Yeah! Let's do some intel!"
"Why do we have to rob that building? There are plenty of others to choose from!" "Because. We. Can."
[Haggling. Pretending to be legitimate.]
["Do you know how to kill a mockingbird?" "There's a damn book on it. Check it out."]
[At the sides, Hinata could see the glint in the women's eyes as they decided who to bring home. She wanted to warn them something fierce.]
It did little effect to strip them of their weapons. The way they were acting it would be a miracle for people not to peg them as pirates.
They ate like they had tapeworms, which they probably did.
Normally, Hinata would have hesitated, but at this moment, nothing mattered more than piggily stuffing her face like the rest of them. Ah, caloric heaven.
[It was amazingly ghastly how often the crew was hit on. Didn't their façade scream thug! loud enough?]
"So you can be feisty…" (Wench scene) [Jiraiya-pervert makes an appearance! Konan remembers him.]
[It would be the height of rudeness to flee this guy, screaming, though it was very, very enticing.]
Yes, a good serving of prudence was in order.
["Fine, we will compromise." That meant, of course, that they ended up doing exactly was Konan wanted. This was real power at play.]
[While in the past several days Hinata had done more dirty, underhanded deeds and taken more hits to her pride than she had in her entire lifetime, there are certain lines she will never cross. Fluttering around an aged pervert like an excitable school girl was one of them.]
"Didn't say you were such a good singer, Girly. Really brought the house down." "Shut up." Hinata hissed venomously.
["Jiraiya," Pein nodded respectfully. Then he glanced in askance to the woman beside his former mentor. "– and Tsunade." The woman practically snarled at his lesss-than-respectful tone.]
[Everyone except for Konan had dropped jaws. Wasn't he the pervert earlier? Oh god, they were so doomed.]
["We're…grounded." Pein explained rather lamely.]
["Meet the geriatric brigands." Tsunade looked about ready to kill him.]
[LIVING WITH JIR/TSU: It was like having a dysfunctional band of brothers in a sick parody of a normal household.
Jiraiya – as if he needed more virility than what he was currently radiating.]
JirTsu: It wasn't quite as appalling as she imagined but it wasn't the luxurious estates she imagined retired pirate lords to have. But what the heck, it was heaven compared to the life at sea. What did she expect? Plush carpeting? Hidan also brings up the issue the next morning. "Hey fuckers," he greets. "Couldn't you spare fucking money to get a bed that actually stays intact?" That explained the splitting nocturnal scream everyone ignored.
[Whoa. No one could mistake him for a girl now. (referring to Deidara)]
["Just admit you like her." "Fuck you, un. I don't like her like that." Hinata giggled, even though her face must be all sorts of red now.]
[Itachi: "I didn't save you. You crashed into me."]
[When in doubt, deny.]
[Hinata stood there, looking gleeful.]
"You got a tattoo." It wasn't a question. "Erm, yes?" "…" "It's okay! It's a nice little leaf-like thing called Konohagakure! I was going to get the one they called Caged Bird or ANBU, but then I saw this!"
["Why do you insist in being so difficult?" Itachi blinked. HE was difficult?]
[It occurred to her that someday she was going to have to leave all this behind. Or it will leave her behind, more likely.]
Life in town: touring the village, naval officers, bouts of paranoia, women green with envy as she toured around with Itachi (sunset scene!), easily discovered attempts at escape, Tsunade whom Jiraiya is connected to – tells them about a party in the next town. She and Itachi go around marketplace, communing with civilians, where all the young mothers and their little girls swarmed to him.
[Jiraiya: "I am personally acquainted with many of them, had dinner with the families, went fishing with the husbands…"
"…slept with the wives…" Tsunade added dryly.]
[Itachi liked his morning coffee with a boatload of sugar and a splash of alcohol. He wasn't aware Tobi kept spiking his early mix, but he clearly appreciated the effort.]
[Hidan's response was appropriately barbaric.]
["Your heart is in the right place." "In my chest cavity?" "Yeah, unlike someone's, whose heart is probably shoved up his ass with a number of other things, yeah?" Hinata had to be blind to miss Deidara's pointed glance at Itachi.]
GOVERNOR's BALL CHAPTER
[SEQUENCE: (1) naval officers in the morning – recognize them as pirates and think Hinata is one; another chase around town – they get her picture; (2A) preparation for crashing the IMPORTANT ball for scroll on Kyuubi and Hachibi treasure – primping and team-making; (2B) OPTIONAL – Governor's ball in next town very tight security, they enter by acting as a funeral – Hinata as the dead? (3A) Entering the ball and establishing fake identities – at least 1 team member in the ballroom at all times; (3B) Hinata/Deidara/Hidan; (3C) Hinata and the Condescending Socialite; (3D) Hinata and the rumors on the Hyuuga; (3D) Hinata/Itachi; (3E) Escape]
"The governor's ball." "What? Do you even realize how tight the security will be?"
"Mission: the treasure, the map, and pick up on gossip – tis useful.
Sneak into the town under the guise of a funeral – so they won't have to answer too many questions. Just say the late person died of some exotic tropical disease and act completely aggrieved and everyone, even the well-meaning but heinously gossipy ones, will give them space.
"Why do I have to be the priest? Jashin-sama will have my head, seriously."
"You look like one, un."
[The scapulare disturbingly fitted Hidan perfectly. Before he opened his mouth, he was benevolence and grace personified. "Fuck! Jashin-sama will fucking castrate me for touching these goddamned heathen shit!" Before he opened his mouth.]
Just like I look like a dead body? Hinata thought sardonically.
"Yes, yes, it's a fu– it's a shame. But she's lived a good, long life." Someone – Hidan possibly – said somberly. I heard that, you imbecile. Good long life indeed, but only by Akatsuki standards perhaps.]
[Hidan opened his mouth to speak, remembered he was supposed to be an anointed member of a heathen clergy, and silently cursed the lack of alcohol to take the edge off.]
["His Reverence is fed up," Sasori prudently (or not) intervened.
"He curses, despite his calling." One villager whispered to another so quietly he might as well have shouted it. Hidan turned a ripe shade of purple.]
["Hell, I spent the hour buttering up some nuns who wanted to ask about my fucking sermons. I deserve some rum!"]
[They were hiding out in a funeral parlor. Oh dear god.]
"We need a codeword – how about rum?" "We might as well advertise the fact that we're pirates." "Jashin?"
"No!" "Boom?" "How can we even say that?" "Pirate." "…okay. The other one?" "Treasure?" "That'll work."
[Team Pirate – Hinata, Hidan, Kisame, Kakuzu and Team Treasure – Itachi, Deidara, Sasori, Tobi]
["Pardon my rudeness, sir, but what the fuck?" "Can't we just sneak in through the sewers or something?" "No!"]
[Hinata regarded herself critically in the looking glass.
The cheekbones. It was the cheekbones that were a dead giveaway. The way they jutted out like that…]
["Now that we're all dressed like fucking cockatoos…"]
["Now, it's unseemly to enter without –" "Shut up, girly, you think we haven't done this before?" Oh dear gods. They've done this before. Must communicate to Hanabi to have strict guest lists.]
[And just what were they going to say? "Good evening, we represent the estates of the ethically challenged under his lordship Captain Pein."]
[From the pirate's point of view, nobles did seem like they had more mannerisms then manners. But she was not going to comment on that.]
[They prowled closer from ostentatious estate entrance. For a while, at least. Prowling was rather tiring and the house, as all opulent edifices are wont to be, was another mile at least.]
[Hinata was well-versed in all matters of small talk was did not feel as out of place as she should've.
A few polite inquiries here and there about their health and children and businesses and political empires, a gaily smiling face, a light blush – All done to make her seem like a sweet girl who posed no danger at all (be it to their social standing or material self).
With a start, she realized she had them at the palm of her hand, ready to tell all at the slightest prompting. Of course, it was easy because they didn't perceive her as a threat. Still, she didn't recall herself or Hanabi being as bad as this, letting down guards so easily. Then again, it was her and it was Hanabi.
Weren't these ladies brought up on the same political mind games as her and her sister? Or were the Hyuuga just unique in that regard?
Across the room, Deidara and Hidan seemed to be doing a fine job as well, entertaining the men with tales of their audacious exploits as affluent, island-hopping merchants. Their flashy personalities and bold sweeping gestures and comical expressions were rapidly gaining attention. Hinata had to give it to them – their rakish mannerisms only hinted at a passion for adventuring, not pillaging. ]
[When Hinata was young and callow, she'd let the silly condescending little comments and snide remarks affect her. Now, with much help from Hanabi who'd never found reason to doubt herself, she'd learnt to take it in stride. They were not worth listening to. Now, she was parrying them off without making it look like she was experienced at this sort of verbal and gesticulation warfare. She'd heard worse, and on a daily basis at that.]
[Hinata bristled at the carelessly thrown comment. It was one thing to airily poke and stab at petty little things like choice of dress, makeup or man, but it was an entirely different thing to insult both pirates and naval officers. The former were her friends, the latter her… family.
Hinata did not realize it but she was suddenly morphing into the Hyuuga heiress that she was born to be, the true-blooded Hyuuga who stood her ground unyielding when her pride and friends came under attack – her posture straightened, her eyes turned icy, her chin tilted just right to convey the maximum amount of superiority and condescension.
"Is that how you talk of people willing to lay down their lives to guard you?" Politely chilly, Classic Hyuuga.]
["The Hyuugas haven't been making any appearances lately."
Hinata blanched. That statement will inevitably, by Murphy's great truth and law, lead to gossip the Akatsuki shouldn't be hearing.]
Hinata recognized her. No, more than that, she knew her. Hinata knew her parents, her family history, her family wealth, her personal history and her current boyfriend.
Who was, incidentally, Sasuke's best friend.
It was Haruno Sakura.
Hinata paled. This little gala was going blow up in her face if she didn't do something. And soon.]
[Hidan and Itachi, posturing:
"Fascinating, do tell."
"Why yes. Thank you for noticing."
Hinata's eyes bugged. Knowing the man, she was pretty sure he would have preferred slitting everyone's throats all cool and efficient-like and going directly for the targets instead of having to expend any social graces or stayed at the ship, if he couldn't go with the first option. But Itachi had been willing to go through this to back her up. It was such a ridiculous thought that she could cry. Instead, she pulled out all her acting chops, smiled and moved to save him.
"Tachi dahling, what a pleasant surprise! I haven't seen you in ages. Have the pirates gotten to you?"
Itachi so easily fell into the role of long-lost acquaintance that if she hadn't initiated the play herself she'd have thought it planned well in advance.
"Nata? I say, is that little Nata? Look how you've grown. Look closely, gentlemen, you'll not see another treasure like this lady. Men are still looking for any cache that could compare."
"You flatter me, Tachi, I'm sure pirates have long found gold and jewels that I cannot match up to."
"Well, is that so? They've been looking at the wrong place then."
"Honestly, Tachi, you exaggerate. But you are such a treasure that I'm considering we go over to the other house to renew our acquaintance."
"Now, now Nata my dear, do choose your words more wisely. I fear you might not be understood well."
"Oh dear me, I did sound rather foolish. Then perhaps you might come over to my estate some time, I'd love to hear your second story. The first one was all about traps. And, Tachi, I suggest you be on your guard – my sister has recently turned sixteen and you understand how young ladies are at that age."
"I understand very well. My, I haven't had the opportunity to meet your sister since she was still playing pirates. I would love to see her later."]
[Getaway: "Would you care to dance?" Hinata would have loved to think the invitation was something more than just another portion of their farce. Swirl across the dance floor in a glorious sweeping waltz.
Where the heck did Itachi learn how to dance?]
["Au revoir, shitheads." Hidan flipped him off.]
["How'd you find the treasure so quickly?" "We stumble upon it, literally." "Like a bunch of dominoes, yeah?"]
[She'd had the advantage. She had the chance to make a near flawless escape. But, somehow, Itachi wasn't surprised she was still here. Hinata was a person who stayed.]
[No one mentioned that they should've stopped holding hands a while ago.]
[The epic disaster intervened at the last possible moment.]
[While they were sneaking out the back, an understatedly grand horse-drawn carriage pulled up at the front. The Hyuugas had decided to make an appearance after all.
Neji looks at the bright, happy surrounding, pretty lights and flowers that he, in his constant anxiety, can't appreciate.
Hinata-sama should have been here. Neji thought despairingly.]
Party: They should've come in town as a circus instead. Just as attention-deflecting but infinitely more appropriate.
Party: It did seem somewhat theatrical.
Party: "Pity it's not a masquerade, isn't it?" "Yes, Itachi has a wonderful collection of porcelain masks." "It was Tsunade's." Itachi'c voice may or may not, depending on one's level of optimism, have a shade of defensive in it.
Party: The whole set-up stank of 'get-away carriage'.
Party: Hidan stepped on the train of her dress, effectively tripping them both. He, rather than her, had a fit at the close contact.
Neji after Party: We have never been his guest so we have no right or duty to hold him in contempt.
THE KUMO CHAPTER
(Actual raid using the scrolls from the everywhere – which points to a boy named killerbee who'd encountered the 'beast treasure' once! Refer to Flashback Chapter for setting!)
[Enemy: KUMO – Hinata vs. Samui, Raikage vs. Itachi (reflect Saske vs Raikage in canon!), Pein and Kisame vs. Killerbee, by a freak incident long long ago, who knows the location of the bullion and the legend behind it]
Collision course. With Kumo. Oh vay.
[It was disturbing in principle, but it was gruesome in practice.]
[The ship was hidden by the clouds. Much like Suna was hidden in the sand after Team Art was done with them.]
There is a time, Hinata, to throw all caution to the winds.
"You – you would trust me to watch your back?" Hinata felt deeply honored. That is, until he spoke again. "Well, I would trust you not to run way." Hinata deflated.
Hinata could almost hear the dramatic background music. All they needed now was warpaint – oh wait, they had that too.
"AH!" A yell of utter delight. "Deidara's like that whenever we raid something with priceless pottery on it. He loves to blow them up in his spare time."
Eh? So none of them were willing to give up. That's one thing in common at least. They were all willing… victims. No other word for it.
"I've faced a runt like you before." "Is that so?" "Yeah, slammed his head into the ground and all." "I imagine it was a horrible experience."
"Where did you learn to dodge like that?" Without missing a beat, "dance floors!"
"Intelligence is overrated." "I can't believe you said that!"
"Go for the runt!" "Go for WHO?"
Being choked to death… was awful. [Why did he feel so furious?]
Tossed like a ragdoll.
"You really must all stop acting like you hate each other!"
"Of course we leave survivors. We need someone to carry the fear of us into the next town!"
[Callous, mean-spirited and huge jackasses. They may not have been the best of men (Hinata gagged at the understatement), but they were still her crew.]
[Why hadn't anyone mentioned Itachi's stupid selflessness? "It's his character flaw."]
["You sow disaster wherever you go."
"You got us on a collision course with Kumo."
Kumo: I promise to venerate you when you die, un. So long as it happens soon.
Kumo: The island was so inaccessible, the surrounding seas so hostile, the terrain so ugly that is probably necessitated the invention of planes.
Kumo: The smell alone was enough to knock them off their feet.
Kumo: Sasori – "If you wanted a guess, we should have stopped for fortune cookies."
Kumo: Counting death one smile at a time.
Kumo: "What did you say?" "Want me to blast the wax out of your ears? Nothing up there to hurt, un."
Kumo: Hinata wondered how they would sneak out a two-hundred pound man on a platter without garnering attention. Ye Jolly Akatsuki, faux priests and all were miracle workers.
Kumo: What am I? Your fucking mother?
THE OROCHIMARU SCENE NUMBER ONE
Refer to Hinata in hooker-disguise: "Oi, oi, oi! This new one's practically a princess!"
She blinked. Did he just call me a – She blushed in outrage and embarrassment.
["You're lying." "How would you know?" "Byakugan." "Dementia."]
[ "Well, well, well, look what we have her… a little spy from that Akatsuki, those dogs." (Orochimaru fleet)]
["Shit! Itachi! Seduction techniques! Now!" "No."]
["He had his hand cut off in a skirmish." (Orochimaru – the only one with a hook)]
[Sasori affected absentmindedness like a pro.]
["He was with Jiraiya and Tsunade when we met them." "He hates the Akatsuki." "Was he ever surprised to see me and Pein again? The little brats he wanted to kill were now kicking his ass."]
["We'll do the best thing to do when someone starts showing animosity: we hit them first and wait for them to retaliate."]
[Then, very neatly, the two of them put hands on her shoulder and pressed her down just in time as a sword whizzed where her face had been, slicing off some of her hair in the process. Hinata watched in wide-eyed horror as the wisps of indigo hair drifted down.]
[For the first and only time, Itachi's temper skyrocketed. He was furious.
The woman was crazy! Sure it was just her hair that got lopped off this time, next time it would be her head. Just who did she think she was? Hidan?
"Don't," Hinata cringed, fully expecting a bawling out. Itachi reminded himself that he wasn't supposed to have a temper. "Don't do that, okay?"]
["You're still so naïve," Itachi said, his mouth taut, his glare almost accusing.]
["Orochimaru," His blue eyes noticeably darkened. "Him and his first-mate Danzo have something personal against Itachi. It was their fault he –" He abruptly stopped speaking, his mouth clamping shut at the sight of a pair of livid red eyes.]
["An important part of being a pirate – is knowing when to run away." "To fight again another day, right?" "No, because the bombs are going off soon."]
["Cross the palm with silver, honey." And Tobi, Madara, whatever, very methodically drew a silver dagger deeply across the man's palm.]
[Watching pirate duke it out with cutlery was an incomparable sight.]
[KAGUYA ARC – famous pirate family who tried to take on the Mizukage crew, last member Kimimaro taken in by Oro, uses the bones of enemies as weapons.]
[Hinata GUN Arc:
(Much Earlier) – "Here, girly, hide this in your skirts for me. Careful, it's loaded."
(Scene itself) – Itachi at gunpoint, disconcertingly unfazed. Hinata flounders and panics and acts all vacuous (ala Mary in Immaculate Deception by Iain Pears. "I can't believe you'd take on a stray this horribly pathetic." "We did try to remedy that." The moment he turned the gun away from Itachi, she emptied the entire barrel into his chest.
She was a murderer. Holy fucking hell.
(Immediate Aftermath) – "Don't you think it's a little pointless to be screaming now?"
She had none of their levity, it seemed, even when bloodthirstiness had seeped into her.
(Late Aftermath) – Hinata and Itachi: "It was self-defense, well, not self per se but he would have gotten you eventually as well." "I killed him." "Would you rather I have died?" "I guess not." "You guess?"]
[Everyone stared as the _ arched in the air, slowly, gracefully, perfectly. Then everyone scrambled for it.]
[Oro crew escapes but Akatsuki won.
Hinata didn't know whether to laugh or die.]
["What a mess." Nobody could argue with that.]
[Sasori: "You really pick the most indecent times to be outrageously brave, you know that?"
Deidara: "Yeah, I think all her nerve comes out when she's about to die, yeah?"]
Hinata wonders if she could ask to send communication to home. No, because it was line that should not be crossed, she'd jeopardize the shaky trust they had in her, it wasn't in their mind that she had a home (thinks she's like them), what would it do anyway? Neji and Akatsuki confrontation – that was something no one could ever mediate.
THE HANABI SCENE
[Hanabi: in this world, she was the problem child, not Hinata. Although when she turned fourteen, her father eventually came round. Hinata, who had always endeared herself to everyone she met. Who loved Hanabi like no one else did.]
If the civil uprising due to the distress of Hinata's absence did indeed occur, Hyuuga Hanabi was determined to be at the head of it.
Tough little Hanabi, who showed signs of growing up to be either a tomboy or the most plucky and dangerous lady one will ever meet, who loved her sister to the bone, was fanning the flames of the pandemonium if only half-consciously.
Hanabi had always been notably awkward with commoners. Unlike Hinata, she'd never had a natural talent for winning people's favor with a mere smile and never had much opportunity to interact with them either. She tried, put in the same amount of effort as she did all her endeavors, but, in all truth, dealing with the townspeople had never been Hanabi's domain.
While she meant well by getting everyone excited about Hinata, the teenager had no idea about the levels of vitriol and bloodlust she mustered up or the general mess she'd made of things. As always, all her devious little plans backfired violently in Neji's face (he used to share that damage with Hinata and remembering this made him all the more desperate to find her – he will not handle the hellion alone).
"Oh dear," Hanabi gasped sarcastically when Neji gently demolished another wall. "Father said you should really stop wrecking your own ship. Temper, temper, dear cousin." She tapped his shoulder twice in reprimand with her fan.
[HanabiSasuke Interaction – Describe Hanabi and Sasuke (really tall, really handsome, actually) – fight for superiority, elegance, wealth and power – lots of Uchiha vs Hyuuga squabbles – supposed to be an exploration of both their characters – "Don't think just because you're a Hyuuga you can get away with that insult." "I think I can." They went from insulting everything from the family ideals to the family symbols to each other's mothers. "Myopic pigs!" "Blind leeches!" "Freaky tomato!" "You're mistaking me for my sister!"]
Neji felt the blood drain from his face. Kami, the repercussions this conversation could cause…if it ever escaped the confines of this room… Hyuuga and Uchiha may very well descend on each other and eyes will clawed out for sure.
It fell to Neji to nip it in the bud.
[Descend to worse insults.
"You were just dying for this, you little brat. Without Hinata, you'd be the heiress!" Hanabi turned white. Neji thought that was a little below the belt.
"Don't bother pretending you're worried, you selfish jerk, you never gave a crap about my sister. You only like her because she's the only one who genuinely thinks you're worth something!" Okay, that was a little below the belt too.]
[Even worse insults.]
Neji's head seemed to grow very large and a vein stuck out threateningly. "SHUT UP!"
[After Sasuke leaves, Hanabi lashes at Neji again with renewed vigor. Like a cucumber freshly pickled.]
In the end, Neji could forgive Hanabi because, for all her spunk and seemingly flippant attitude, she was genuinely worried about her sister. He'd heard her crying at night, after all.
And judging by the ferocity with which he responded, Sasuke may actually be just as worried. To Neji, it was an unsettling thought. He hadn't seen ever seen Sasuke grieve yet, but he knew enough to prepare for an all-consuming inferno.
"Neji," Rock Lee called to him, striding faster than any man should be able to manage. Rock Lee, his absurdly eccentric first-mate who, by some miracle, managed to rise up to his position despite being incurably vulnerable to sea legs.
(Neji will never know what made him take on the endlessly seasick disaster that was currently calling himself his admiral.)
Ever since his appointment, Neji had been subject to Lee's endless blathers on the flames and power of youth. Lately, however, Lee had quieted down a lot, much affected by Neji's alternately somber and tumultuous moods. Why was he approaching him now?
"Sir, there are reports of a woman who looked a lot like Lady Hyuuga appearing in the eastern towns." Neji's attention level skyrocketed.
Neji's eyebrows rose. They had been in that region for that stuffy, pretentious ball that had rapidly descended into pandemonium when a robbery had been uncovered. They had been in a hurry to get away from that crowd of furious, indignant nobles before they got sucked into an international diplomatic incident.
They should have stayed.
"Report everything. Leave out no details."
Hinata-sama, where are you?
"She sure looks a lot like your wonderful cousin, Neji."
"It is my cousin, idiot." But his words didn't have much sting at all.
She's alive. She's alive. She's alive.
An important question: was the crew trying to match-make them or were they just trying to get someone killed?
THE ITAHINA MAIN DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER
["What's that?" "Sweets, you want some?" Itachi offered automatically, holding out the pouch.]
[Itachi knew he'd always liked sweet things.]
[Hinata tried not to mind his singularly unappealing appearance.]
["You know, Itachi, I do not understand you. Mostly I am so sure you are nothing more than a cold, emotionless, sadistic *bastard*, but sometimes… you become this, god forbid, gracious… intelligent… selfless… person… who is completely the opposite of the other you!"]
["And how do you know how a lady should act?" She stared up at him questioningly.]
[Why did the girl constantly defy being lumped in a category? It only made her all the more interesting.]
["Hey Itachi, have you ever considered playing poker?"]
["Itachi here would be perfect for seducing them nobles' wives and daughters – he's got the dark, handsome and mysterious part that they so love down – if only he wasn't so against the idea."
"Yeah, he's our closet romantic, un. Reserving himself for that one special love of a lifetime."
"Or maybe it's because he can't be bothered to mask his social ineptness for such a frivolous purpose." Said Sasori, who honestly wasn't much better.
Hinata giggled into her hand. They really did love to talk about Itachi behind his back.]
[Konan: "You know what you should do to really gain their respect? Shoot without a second thought and don't follow orders – you are a pirate, after all." That I am.]
["We really need to find a better healer than Kakuzu." "What? You don't enjoy the little meatball surgeries?"]
["You know the power of wealth, but do you know the value of it?"]
["It's hard to respect ignorance but it's harder still to respect those who knew better but still did nothing." SOCIAL COMMENTARY? Find a context!]
[Itachi deliberately added a trace of mocking in his voice.]
[Itachi sent her a look. Hinata giggled, covering her mouth with a hand. Yeah, their own nonverbal conversations that made a whole lot of sense only to themselves.]
[When did she become so attuned to him?]
[Ah. She never ceased to surprise him. Hinata, he thought to himself, was so endlessly amusing.]
["Is there a problem?" Itachi calmly asked.
I am rather a little bit in love with you. Will that be problematic? Hinata's face suddenly felt warm. "N-Nothing."]
[They really should've added a clause to their engagement in case of kidnapping by charming rogues.]
[Whatever this was, it was far too precious to be the subject of laughter on a pirate ship. Of course, that didn't stop the crew from making it exactly that.]
["What is hell is this? Is someone stalking the princess as she sleeps?" "How fucking intriguing."]
["You are… persona non grata here, yeah?" Konan, apparently exiled, sputtered in indignation.]
["Hey, what sort of gay voodoo is going on here?"]
["That is sufficient." Itachi said coldly.]
["Oi, if you're hurting, don't pretend you're okay." Hinata just didn't want to face Kakuzu or his treatments again.]
["Even I can't control time, Hinata." Reference to Tsukiyomi]
[RATIONALE: Itachi and Hinata do things together: eat, train, steer, sleep (nightwatch!). Like a couple gravitating towards each other without ever verbalizing it.]
[THE 'AH' MOMENT: Itachi with a wide grin as bright as the clear blue skies framing him. The world shifted.]
[They really should've added a clause to their engagement in case of kidnapping by charming rogues.]
[Itachi's upbringing: Hinata had always suspected Itachi to be educated.]
[Hinata: "My fiancé, you know, he was brilliant and the ladies were all over him." Itachi: "Gee, should I be jealous?"]
MORE ITAHINA DEVELOPMENT
[She really did look too delicate to stay with them for too long. Already, the hard life at sea had taken its toll on her – she was getting awfully pale and thin, if her stick-like arms protruding from the baggy clothes they gave her were anything to go by. She'd weathered through everything magnificently though, showing a stubbornness and determination that was unexpected, and lasted far longer than he'd thought.]
["Are you perchance trying to get me to leave the Akatsuki?" Her reaction confirmed all his suspicions: the thought never even crossed her mind. Hinata had never been one to act like she had to right for decide for others.
"I'm never going back, not for anyone and certainly not for you."]
["Hinata-chan, we practically raised Itachi and, believe me, he acts differently with you. He trusts you."]
["Damnit, it's so sweet I'm getting sappy! Seriously!" Itachi glared imperiously at the lot of them. "Face it, Itachi, you'll never find someone as perfect for you as Hinata. Hell, she's the only one you allow to touch you – physically and figuratively." "Are you blind?" "Who could've known this would happen?"]
["I have to say, Itachi, it sure is awkward having to deal with relationships as knotty as yours especially since we're all stuck in the same boat, I mean, ship." "You fucking drift to each other!" "Honestly, all this he's-mine-he's-not-mine nonsense has got to stop already!"]
["You got a good one, Itachi! You should marry her, yeah?" Hinata spat out her drink. OR "Better not go around making babies, yeah? Too troublesome." Hinata spat out her drink.]
[Dusk. Weird, melancholic, sunsetty poetic mood. Itachi taking care of his ravens and talking to himself.
Someone pounded at the entrance.
"Suddenly there is a tapping, as of an idiot coarsely rapping, rapping at my chamber door. Quoth the raven?"
Itachi smiled briefly at that, not really expecting anything else, then reverted back to his stoic expression as he opened the door.
Quoth the idiot?
"Why did you take so fucking long to open the damn door, you fuck?"
It was Hidan… and everyone else it seemed.
"What is it," Itachi asked, mindful of the sense of antagonism in the air. He wondered if it had something to do with missing last night's meeting. "Everyone?"
"Itachi, as pansy-ass as this is going to sound, we're going to have a fucking sleepover. Seriously."
For once, Itachi was speechless – not by choice but because he honestly didn't know what to say. This was Konan's doing, he was sure of it.
"Break out the rum, boys."
"This toast is for all you ill-suited couples!" Itachi punched a hole through the wall, seemingly by accident. Unfortunately, that wall opened out to sea.]
["We're all fucking sick of it already!" "And that is my concern – how?" - Itachi]
["Ah," Deidara suddenly exclaimed, at no one's prompting. The man was, obviously, witlessly insanely drunk. "That is one question all of us men struggle to ask ourselves: do I love her because she is beautiful or is she beautiful because I love her?"
He, to the best of his impaired ability, glared pointedly at their dark-haired ever-reluctant host.
A tic developed in Itachi's cheek.
He wondered if he should slaughter them all now, or do it one-by-one later to savor it more. There was no fun in murdering people already too sloshed away to feel it.]
["Oi, Itachi, I don't fucking want any heathen fornication, okay?" Itachi ignored him.]
[Kisame: "Admit it Itachi, she is cute when she's happy."
Itachi:"Only when she's happy?"
Deidara: "Damnit, he's whipped!"]
["I might snatch her up for myself, yeah?" "Don't you dare."]
[The girl didn't even know what an excellent thief she was – sly and fast and gone before he ever realized he'd lost something important.
Itachi's mouth slowly turned up into a very slight smile.
"Thief," he accused flatly.
Hinata's brow scrunched up. "W-whatever you are talking about, it wasn't me."
It was most certainly her.]
["I feel like this is it, blondie." "That's just heartburn, un."]
[Pein "Well, their joint performance is exceptional. You agree, Konan?"]
MORE ITAHINA DEVELOPMENT
[Their hurricane romance, because whirlwind was entirely too mild a word to convey the horrific destructiveness of the relationship.]
"She won't survive, Itachi." (Pein)
[Weather cold and night clear]
The sea breeze was cold and he caught her shivering.
The feel of his soft hair against her face… slender fingers lightly brushing her cheek with uncommon gentleness…
Lidded eyes… peace and contentment… a sudden well of tenderness… (the cliché kiss in moonlight scene!)
He leaned his forehead against hers and gave her the ghost of a kiss. It would have to be enough for a lifetime.
No, actually, it wasn't even enough for a minute.
ANOTHER 'AH' MOMENT
He felt something in him still at the sight of her stumbling with their breakfast, smiling to herself, sunlight kissing her skin… then something very warm and very scary flooded his chest, making it a tad difficult to breathe…
Then the world suddenly shifted and he knew then that something was going to have to give.
Damn, of all the girls in the world…
For the first time in his life, although the moment will pass quickly, Itachi was at a complete loss of what to do. So much for genius.
Nonetheless, despite the unpleasant spin his hitherto relatively peaceful life just took, Itachi couldn't find it in him to feel displeased.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. She was never supposed to get this attached, this addicted. And to a pirate!
Certainly not one who acted no differently from before he tore out her world from its axis.
Funny how things work out. If things hadn't gotten all fucked up, they shouldn't even be breathing the same air. Now they were sharing saliva.
But, from an elliptical and decidedly blind point of view, they were a perfect match.
[Poofy hair and bloodshot eyes. And Itachi saw her in even worst conditions – say… covered in swamp muck.]
Gah, didn't he know people avoid getting into situations as apocryphally awkward as this?
THE AWKWARD MORNING AFTER (the kiss)
[Itachi broke the silence first. "Well, this is rather awkward, isn't it? And stupid?"
"I would dearly like to pretend I was highly imbibed last night, but I can't. And I was hoping we could do it again."
Well, maybe some things have changed.
But his imperviousness to embarrassment hadn't.]
["It wasn't the first," Itachi said quietly, after Hinata left.
First kiss – five-year-old Itachi and infant Hinata, Itachi doted on both her and infant Sasuke, before the kidnap]
["You don't have to… love… me."
"It's mine to give." He said, almost waspishly. The universe blinked in incredulity.]
["For some reason I couldn't possibly fathom, the problem always leads back to you."]
"I love everything about you." She turned away defiantly, not wanting to be convinced that something somehow went wrong somewhere. She was conflicted enough as it was, with a brain sending out danger signals like never before and a heart that screamed out "Home!".
Itachi's face was unreadable.
"You believe we have a future." It wasn't a question, only a statement of fact and it clearly implied that he believed otherwise.
THE OROCHIMARU SCENE TWO:
["July?" "Are you accusing me of being a damn liar?"]
[ "If I'd been there..." "We still would've lost." "Yes, but the body count would have been much hire." "And how does that help?" "Sorry, you royal fucking leniency."]
[A majority of her senses had taken leave indefinitely.]
[It felt like something out of a bad opera. The delusional speeches, the posturing, the cuecards.]
["Did you dispose of the evidence?" "I ate it." "Sufficient."]
[Probably for the first time in his life, Itachi saw red.]
["We will eliminate the competition, literally." "Hear, hear!"]
[Itachi, thankfully, had complete control of what goes on in his mind, and the ability to easily store away thoughts until he could deal with them more effectively. That meant he, unlike all other lovesick fools, didn't have to have her running through his mind at every moment and generally distracting him.]
[Itachi's back story – kidnapped by Danzo as a kid (their fault he had to be separated from his family) – they weren't pirates back then – meant to be trained as their protégé, that's why he was their Itachi-sama – escaped easily. REFERENCES TO SHISUI.]
[Tayuya vs. Hidan – raw, unparalleled strength]
[Kidomaro vs. Konan]
[Jirobo/Suigetsu and Kisame]
[Kakuzu and Sakon]
[Juugo, Karin and Suigetsu and Team Art]
[OROCHIMARU. Kimimaro vs. Itachi. "Now Itachi, don't either of you die before your fight ends." (DIDN'T THEY BOTH DIE OF TUBERCULOSIS?) "What is that supposed to mean?" "I can feel it in my bones."]
[It's a real death match.]
[Hidan and Itachi interaction:
"Who told you to jump in?"
"Blahblahblah, Itachi. You might be willing to risk your gamble your life but, hell if we're going to take on your lookout duties if you die."
Itachi paused, then gave resigned sigh (with a little difficulty because, you know, bruised ribs).
"I do wonder whatever happened to appreciation."
"I do wonder what happened to the crew that knew how to mind each others' business."
"Your girlfriend's fault, asshole."
"You are insinuating about things that are non-existent."
"And you are in denial."
"The Nile is a river in Africa."
"Coming from you, that was pathetic."]
[(missing for several minutes to set up) Deidara, in a magnificent display, exerted his dominion on all things combustible by thoroughly detonating the enemy vessel.]
[Hidan seemed intent on splattering everything on deck with his blood.]
[Hinata couldn't believe it. She'd just stabbed someone in the back. Literally.]
["Hinata, just play dead yeah?"]
[Deboned Kimimaro: The sight would remain in Hinata's nightmares the rest of her life.]
["Don't cry, the sea is salty enough." Hinata cried even harder.]
["It had crossed my mind that I might one day have to die for you, but I certainly did not expect it to be this soon or in this manner." "Itachi, you idiot, stop talking!"]
DATE SCENE! With the entire Akatsuki spying.
[Hinata groaned. Forget ladies-in-court and clan matrons (who were almost evil incarnate when it came to matters such as this) – deadly pirates were the most tenacious matchmakers in the universe.]
[Itachi was staring intently at the sign. "Would you prefer chicken or fish?"]
["And they said it was not a date." Five heads poked out (Deidara, Sasori, Kisame, Hidan, Tobi – some still injured) of the bush. "Bah, it's not even a proper date. They're standing a meter apart!" "I'm disappointed in Itachi, un."]
["It's a nice sunset."
"I suppose so."
(from the bushes)"This is not turning out as well as I hoped, yeah?"
(from the bushes too) "Since when did you start playing matchmaker?"
"Itachi, do you –"
"They have been tailing us since we left the ship, Hinata."
[AKATSUKI EAVESDROPPING SCENE:
Kisame went sprawling into the room.
"Eh, I didn't interrupt anything, did I?" Kisame asked awkwardly. Hostility poured off Itachi in almost visible rivulets, even though his face remained as stoic as ever.
"You should know, you've had your ear flattened against the door for a while now."]
["Messenger, don't shoot."]
["Even if you stumble, I won't laugh. Even if you stutter, I'll understand. Even if you are an inconvenience, I'll still love you." Itachi recited.
"You really have a lot of confidence in me, don't you?"
"It was the best the crew could come up with."
"I should have known."
"I do appreciate it though."
"Do you wish for me to repeat it?"]
MADARA WANTS TO MOVE ON TO HUNTING THE DEMON TREASURES AGAIN
(Which are actually Animal-Islands - think Lion-turtle in Avatar or the Vanishing Isle in Aladdin 3)
["I know who you are, most of them know too, your features aren't exactly that common. Hyuuga."]
["Hyuuga Hinata. Goddamned first-in-line," Hidan muttered spitefully.]
["Can I at least know your name?" Itachi sighed. "It's Uchiha." Ouch. Hinata felt like she'd been slapped. He was tossing one of her very first lies back into her face.]
["You signed a deal with the devil." "What the devil are you blabbering about?"]
["The beast treasures do exist," He intoned quietly, whispering it into her hair. "We have… seven… of them. That's what's below the third landing. The legends behind them are true – it's power beyond imagining. But it's dangerous, far more dangerous than anything you've ever encountered with us."]
[The severity of his gaze was outstanding.]
["You have to leave, Hinata." You have to live, Hinata.
You've got to stay alive somehow. ]
["You may pawn this." In his hand was the family heirloom she could have been executed by mad Uchihas for losing, her engagement ring. The one she'd left behind when she'd (attempted to) fled the Akatsuki. The one worth about three islands.
Her throat closed up. "It's an Uchiha heirloom." She somehow managed to choke out. "Y-your family's…"
She flinched at the reminder of the earlier mockery.
"And yours." Itachi said as he slipped her the ring.
Hinata wondered if that was a proposal or merely a reminder of her own lies.
But she never had the chance to ask.
Without further ado, he knocked her out.]
[Akatsuki leaves Hinata. Lonely, morose, lethargic atmosphere following the farewell.]
"Um, Tobi has something to say…"
"Tobi! I'm gonna kill you, un!" Deidara yelled, straining against Sasori (who luckily had the foresight to get any bombs out of reach the moment Tobi began to speak).
"You stowed her in? What do you think all those fucking goodbyes were for? Practice?" Hidan's rage threatened to surpass even Deidara's.
[The rest of the crew threw cautious glances at Itachi.]
Itachi himself didn't make any move to attack Tobi, although his fists were clenched so tightly the knuckles were white.
"No, please, don't try to leave me again." They squirmed almost guiltily.
Encounter with Neji and Sasuke
"Damn, we knew you were rich, girly but, seriously, HYUUGA? An entire fleet?" Hidan was joking, but she could not help but see the way sweat beaded on his brow and the way his face paled at the mass of ships in the distance, the Hakke in the forefront.
[Hinata points to the massive ship in the distance. "I need to go over there!"
"What are you crazy? That ship's impenetrable!"
"Kaiten has a blind spot! I have to go there!"
"Because, after all is said and done, I still outrank Neji. He will listen to me." Her eyes narrowed. "Or else."]
["Now that she's over there… we can't use the beasts, right?"
"Holy shit, that girl really is more trouble than she's worth."]
[Hinata felt like crying at the sight of the two men.
"Neji! Sasuke! STAND DOWN!"
It was rather shocking to see Lady Hyuuga, meek sweet woefully-polite Hinata-sama, looking like she'd been dragged through the gutter and shouting down orders.]
[Neji was floored. Hinata had never, never, never held her position as heiress over him before, not a single instance, and now she was taking control of his fleet.
It was then that everything he knew to be true about his shy little cousin took a nosedive off a cliff.]
[Hinata, yelling wildly: "Belay!" "Belay!"]
[Sasori, wryly: "Captain, aren't you supposed to go down with your ship?"
Pein threw him a look that clearly said that if they somehow survived this, he'd kill him.]
[HINATA IS TOO LATE.]
Sixty-four cannons let loose in a melodious burst of staccato fire and blew everything into oblivion.
[Bodies. A scream tried to tear its way out of her throat and came out choked and painful. No. No! NO! She can't be seeing the things in front of her eyes. The ruins of a once-great ship, all aflame with great clouds of black smoke rising from the decks, and bodies… and faces she knew almost as well as her own…]
[They burned the ship. Everything and everyone on it perished away in a fiery blaze that turned the skies red like blood. Hinata felt like she was choking on the ashes.]
["Oh my God, Hinata-sama, what happened to you?" Hinata flushed in furious embarrassment. Did they really have to act like that? She was perfectly fine… okay, she was not. Her skin was burnt, her hair choppy, her hands callused and limbs bruised all over, she probably looked a great deal worse off than she actually was. Still, despite being a frightful mess, they should at least be glad she was still in one piece. Unlike her heart, which was still thankfully numb, as though it was still expecting to be woken up from a bad dream…]
[Someday she will stop gibbering in denial.]
[Hinata felt like she'd been widowed before she even got married. She felt cheated. She felt a loss that tugged sharply and painfully on her insides.]
[No, she would not blame Neji for this. She would not blame Sasuke. They had been doing what they felt was right (what actually was right) – the Akatsuki had it coming anyway, evil soul-sucking bastards that they were… such wonderful wonderful wonderful evil bastards…]
[She was going to go unpunished. She may have possibly murdered a man but he was another pirate.]
["He licked your face?" Sasuke was utterly blasted by this Hinata.
"Among other things, the whole debacle had been abominable. How did I ever stand it?" Hinata said flippantly, attempting a bright smile.
Sasuke watched in dismay as her face crumpled.]
THE Oh-ITACHI-WASN'T-LYING-WHEN-HE-SAID-HE-WAS-UCHIHA SCENE
["It's Lord Uchiha."
She turned – and there was Itachi.]
Hinata: surprised, overjoyed, anguished, astonished, everything
"Lord Uchiha?" She laughed nervously as she stood up, dizzy from a whirlwind of emotions, hanging by a thread to consciousness. "I knew I should have known better than to believe you were being honest with me."
Then she promptly burst into stupid tears.
"I've realized a few things," Itachi said solemnly. "The beast's treasures can wait."
"There are no horizons left to chase."
"This is where my treasure is."
This is where my treasure is.
Denouement – which is just a fancy word for end.
The bodies were puppets. What happened to the crew? How did Itachi survive and why was he Lord Uchiha?
Maybe someday she can tell their children a story about cannibals and crows, pirates and soldiers, rum and wenches, treasure and adventure and falling in love under the moonlight.
And, if anybody mentioned how Lord Uchiha sometimes vanished and that Itachi of the Sharingan rose from the dead from time to time… well, they were just rumors.
Omake 1: Nightmarescape
When Hinata awoke, she was lying on the deck of an unfamiliar ship with the warm sunlight shining down on her. She groggily pushed herself up when she noticed the flurry of activity around her.
About three dozen blond men were walking around, wearing blindingly orange tunics and boots. Three of them were arguing over a map, two were fighting over the helm, about five more were engaged in a sparring match while the rest did the usual duties. They all looked exactly the same. In fact, they all looked like Sasuke's friend, Uzumaki Naruto.
"Hinata-chan!" They shouted simultaneously. In their fight to get to her, some of them vanished in a puff of smoke.
What the –
"It's okay, Hinata-chan! Kage bunshin no jutsu!" A dozen more Naruto's popped up. "Isn't this more efficient than the Akatsuki ship?"
Hinata, staggered, was about to ask what (the hell)was happening when they were suddenly pelted by clay projectiles and paper shuriken. It was coming from what resembled the Akatsuki ship except that it had a humongous statue in the middle.
"Give back Hinata, un!" Deidara yelled impossibly loudly from atop one of the statue's fingers, birds and spiders made out of clay flying around him and popping out of orifices in his hands.
Beside him, on another finger, was Sasori, surrounding by dozens of murderous-looking puppets, and hung up by string himself. His face more wooden than ever (pardon the pun).
"We're under attack, Hinata-chan!" Naruto yelled, making several more of himself. They immediately vanished in another onslaught of paper shuriken, coming from Konan whose body disintegrated into and reformed from paper. Beside her was a grotesque-looking, blood-covered Hidan, his scythe more malevolent than she'd ever seen.
"You are already within my illusion." A voice suspiciously like Itachi's resounded and the sky turned black as raven's wings and where the sun had been was a glowing red orb with three tomoe, spinning madly and forming a kaleidoscope. "In the next seventy two hours your ship will be continuously destroyed by a hurricane."
Back in the real world, Konan and Itachi held the screaming, thrashing girl down while Deidara and Hidan were screaming at Tobi to hurry up and make the antidote to the hallucinogenic poison he'd accidentally fed Hinata as Sasori tried to manually draw out the poison from her system.
Omake 2: Neji's First Day as Captain
"No," The tone of finality to that voice was unquestionable. It was the same tone that allowed a teenager to rise meteorically in the naval chain of command, that sent a number of village girls into despair, that finally got rid of Hinata's absurd timidity and got Hanabi to stop when she intentionally crossed a line.
Hinata and Hanabi paused where they'd been passing by the entrance hall, curious at what their cousin was so adamant about.
"I refuse to wear a wig."
Neji glared at the offending item in his subordinate's hands as though it were something vile instead of a badge of his ascendancy in rank.
"I have the most remarkable hair in the Navy." Neji continued, still scowling.
Well, no one would dispute that.
"How can you expect me to cover it up?" The Hyuuga finished, crossing his arms over his chest.
Hinata and Hanabi looked at each other and choked on their giggles.
No wonder those kinds of rumors started.
Omake 3: Itachi runs (walks) away from Danzo.
"Itachi-sama," The six-year-old child looked up at him and took off the animal porcelain mask he'd been (ineffectively) using to disguise himself. His dark eyes were disturbingly adult-like and solemn. "You should be in bed."
"I need to catch some pirates," The child deadpanned, his expression unchanging. There were no indications to wariness save for Itachi's tightened grip on the large pouch he carried.
"Itachi-sama, please go back to bed. You can catch pirates in the morning."
Itachi's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
Then, he let his little shoulders droop. He set down his pouch and the bird cage with a single raven in it. He rummaged through the former, carefully pulling out his neatly packed things: a set of clothes, a bag of sweets, a small knife the guard immediately confiscated, a can of rare beans that only nobles can afford…
Itachi offered him some. Delighted, the guard plucked one out and chewed on it. Itachi-sama stared up at him, then proceeded to nimbly pack up his things.
Too late the guard realized that he couldn't move anymore.
"The paralysis should be gone in an hour," Itachi said and walked on.
By the time he reached port, the can of beans was empty.
For years afterward, none of the guards ever quite forgave him.
Omake 4: Itachi and Sasuke
"So you're my brother."
"I'm very pleased to meet you, Sasuke."
"And you stole my fiancée." Sasuke nearly said 'childhood sweetheart' but that was clearly pushing it.
"I hope we could get past that as I look forward to having a good relationship with you. Otherwise, I might have to rip your eyes from their sockets."
"And you think we'll get along."
"Of course, we are brothers after all. Unique, certainly, but still brothers."
Sasuke was speechless at Itachi's audacity. This guy was really good.
No wonder Hinata was so completely taken. Maybe… maybe there was still a chance… He clenched his fists. "Next time…"
Itachi read him perfectly. "I'm sorry, Sasuke, there won't be a next time."
Omake 5: Akatsuki doing babysitter duty
"No." Pein thundered. "Not happening."
Notes: Credits to the reviews and music that kept on being inspirational until it got too much for me. Music – especially Kamikazee's "Para sayo" which, though completely inappropriate, keeps running through my head as I write – all my song inspirations are in Filipino, sorry.
REVIEW! Come on. IF YOU READ THIS TO THE VERY END, I AM OBLIGING YOU TO REVIEW/FLAME/WHATEVER. I'm not kidding. Horrible crack and cheesiness it may be, but this story was a trial to write and apparently it was worth your time reading.