-Set at the beginning of Shippuden, the Elders send Sakura off as a hunter-nin, wishing for her death as a way to weaken Tsunade's political powers. Sakura agrees to prove them wrong, but what she didn't know was that Orochimaru's involved! Oh, god… Just what did she get herself into?

Yikes! It's been a whole year since I last updated this story! I am so sorry, my readers! Giant writer's block here! I am so very sorry! But this story is somewhat back and kicking… I hope… Well, at least, you guys get a chapter. I am very sorry that I haven't updated, but AP Bio is killing me and so is Pre-Cal! Pray for my safety (and the survival of my honor roll status) through these classes!

Episode Fifteen

~Hinata's Disappearance~

There had been a lot more shinobi than expected. And a lot more meant trouble, dangerous trouble—especially now as Team Kakashi and Team Asuma (still Team Asuma because that was their name, regardless of their sensei's death) battled their enemies. All in together, there were only eight allies vs. a whole platoon of enemy shinobi, a ratio of maybe one to five. At first, it had seemed easy—Shikamaru's smarts weren't even needed as Choji, Sai, and Naruto took out the first few—but then that's when the rouge shinobi decided to step up their game, all of them revealing their secret powers. And with most of the stemming from the Hidden Mist village, their secret powers included creating blizzard's where their opponent's line of vision would be dulled by the harsh snow and wind. Konoha's ninja were forced to rethink their strategy, lining back to back with each other so that the enemy wouldn't be able to catch them from behind—and if that defense had failed, Kakashi's sharingan and Yamato's wood-style jutsu were able to decapitate any foreign nin that got too close. Many of the enemy shinobi were defeated in this manner but, in the end, however, Yamato was forced to use his jutsu to create a wooden enclosure to separate the Konoha shinobi from their surroundings when the very last two enemy shinobi seemed to strong to beat, at least in the tired and exhausted state the two Konoha teams were in. And it was a good thing too because the two teams had been battling nonstop for three hours thus far.

"We'll take a break now," Kakashi told the teams. As team leader, Kakashi knew when his team was ready to die of extreme exhaustion and a sudden turn of weather. "These last two shinobi we're battling against… They're not ordinary shinobi, remember that. We'll need all of our strength to defeat these men… We'll take this time to regroup and—"

"NO!" It was Naruto who spoke out, his scream worrisome and his eyes searching throughout the small space. "Yamato-taichou, you need to take down your jutsu! Hinata's still out there!"

"What?" Both ex-ANBU members couldn't believe what they were hearing and who they weren't seeing. They had been sure everyone was together before deciding to put up this defense.

Shikamaru restrained himself from saying troublesome since it looked as though Naruto would attack anyone who would speak against searching for the Hyuga Heiress. "She must have gotten separated from us…"

"That's impossible…" Ino said, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Had she lost another comrade again? Ino didn't know what she'd do if there was to be another funeral… "She was right next to me…" Both she and Hinata had been assigned as medics for the team. Thus, they were to stay together if a threat was to come. Oh, why hadn't she been more careful? Why hadn't she taken extra measures to protect herself and Hinata? She could only blame herself for not securing Hinata's safety. "She couldn't have—"

"But she's not next to you anymore, is she?" Naruto yelled, fury ran through his eyes. "You've been out of it ever since Asuma-sensei's passing! You probably didn't even notice when she was taken!"

"Naruto, that's enough," Yamato commanded. He understood the boy's rage, the fear of not wanting to lose yet again another teammate, but he would not tolerate the boy lashing out at a friend. "Regardless of what happened, Hinata's missing, and we won't be able to search for her until morning."

"Morning?" Naruto was in utter disbelief. "Those creeps could have taken her far away from here by then! You can't expect me to abandon a comrade when she needs help! Kakashi-sensei, back me up here!"

But Kakashi could only sigh and look at Naruto with tired eyes. He knew what Naruto was feeling, and he too wanted to search for the Hyuga heiress, but there were certain priorities first. He had made Asuma a promise that he'd protect Team Asuma, and he couldn't just go back on that promise. "Naruto, it would be best if we waited. Look at the rest of your friends. We all are as worried as you about Hinata, but what good would it do to charge at the enemy when our chakra's diminished?"

"You wouldn't be saying that if it was Sakura out there!" Naruto accused. "What happened to never abandoning your comrades? Wasn't it you who taught me that?"

"Yes but, as team leader, I have to think of what would be best for the team. Do you think Hinata would like it if you and everyone else went to look for her as injured as you are now? Are you prepared to lose another one of your friends?"

"I don't care!" Naruto screamed. Why was Kakashi against him on this? Hinata was too gentle, too nice, to be out there by herself in a territory filled with enemies around every corner! How would he live with himself if Hinata were to get hurt? Or worse, if she were to die? "If you're worried about everyone else then let me search for her!"

"It won't be needed, Dickless." It was the first time Sai had looked up from the pictures he painted on his scroll. "Don't you remember my special ability? To gather information without getting caught?" And he revealed the paintings to the team. "Yamato-taichou, if you would please make a small opening for my mice to leave this enclosure…" And once the little door was made, a procession of mice jumped out of Sai's scroll and left through the makeshift door.

"And now we wait."


It was cold… So very cold. Even with the Byakugan activated, Hinata couldn't see through the thick snowfall. Just as Yamato had begun to make the wooden dome, an enemy shinobi had grabbed Hinata and taken her far from her friends. Through the howling of the high-speed winds, Hinata had distinctly heard the enemy say something about ransoming her. She didn't hear anything else, using the Rotation technique Neji had helped her perfect to distance herself from the rogue shinobi. But now, she had no way of getting back to her friends—hell, she couldn't even see where they were. She was tired, she was cold, and her chakra was drained. What were she to do if the enemy—

"There's that bitch!"

Oh, no.

"Take her, and this time, break her hands!"

"Got it, boss."

Hinata turned to run, but she hadn't gotten very far when her legs failed her, and she tripped over a fallen tree branch covered by the snow. But instead of just meeting the icy wintriness, there was this warm watery warmth running down her face. It wasn't until she saw red snow that she realized it was her own blood flowing down her head. She was sure her vision wasn't just fogging up because of the snow now. She tried to stand, tried to run again, but she still didn't get very far. Was this the end for her? To die alone? With no one being able to hear her screams for help? Would she die here, foolishly and helplessly trying to crawl away from her attackers? It must be her fate, for she was already beginning to hear the chirping of birds and a blue light not so far from her. And she could hear Akamaru barking and his soft, warm fur rubbing against her fingers and—


Wait, was that Sakura's voice? Was Sakura here?

She heard the snow crunch besides her and then a green glow enveloped her. Snow crunched loudly a bit further as if something large had fallen over.

"Hozuki Suigetsu, will you fight too like this man I've just taken down with no effort whatsoever?" Hinata heard a deep baritone ask one of her attackers. "Or will you come quietly and listen to my proposition?"

Was . . . was that Sasuke? She didn't get an answer, her eyelids too heavy for her to keep opened.

"Sa . . . Sakura-san…?" Hinata couldn't even recognize her own voice. The sound didn't even sound as though it had come from her own mouth.

"Shh…" a soft feminine voice cooed. "You'll be okay, Hinata… Just sleep…"

Sleep…? That sounded just fine to the tired Hyuga heiress.


As they had travelled, Sakura came upon the strangest sight she had ever seen. It was snowing! Snowing in the middle of summer! Snowing at the border of the Land of Waves where it had never snowed before! And snowing only on one side of the forest! How curious, indeed… "What do you think caused this?" she had asked her travelling companion but, even without Sasuke answering her, she knew that only a strong shinobi or a group of shinobi could have caused this. And as Sasuke continued into the snowy landscape, Sakura knew that this was the work of the shinobi they were looking for. She quickly followed the Uchiha after picking Kiki up into her arms. (Kiki would have no means to travel through the snow since the snow had piled as high as her chin.)

Sakura was glad that Sasuke had given her a cloak. If not then she would have been freezing in this snow storm. She had a hard time seeing straight because of the intense winds and snow and wondered how Sasuke could see through the weather. But instead of asking, Sakura decided to tough it out. She couldn't let the Uchiha think of her as weak, and so she stayed quiet even as it was getting a bit too hard for her to travel through the knee-high snow.

Kiki started barking after, maybe, twenty minutes into the snowy hike. It was Kiki's warning bark, Sakura could tell but, warning for what, Sakura didn't know . . . until she tripped over . . . something—was it a fallen tree branch or large stone? Whatever it was, it was hard enough to most likely leave a bruise… She didn't come face to face with the snow, however, tripping right into Sasuke, her forehead hitting the back of his broad shoulders—it wouldn't just be her ankle that would have a bruise the next morning…

"Why did you stop…?" Her question trailed off when she saw lightning gather in the palm of his hand, the familiar sound of the chidori filling the silence. "Sasuke…?" Her eyes, squinting to see better through the snow, moved to the two figures standing before them. How had she not noticed that there were other ninja here? Had the snow really disabled her senses so much? But when she saw the small figure on the floor, the girl's lovely dark hair sprawled out in almost a halo formation, her adrenaline was pumping, her senses as alert as ever before. "Hinata-chan!"

Despite her hurting leg, Sakura ran towards her friend, quickly falling to her knees and assessing the girl's injuries, Kiki jumping out of her arms and starting to rub herself against Hinata's hands. Sakura would have smiled at her smart puppy if the situation wasn't so serious. So far, Hinata only had the beginning signs of frostbite, nothing a warm bath couldn't fix or rather some body warmth as Kiki was administering, and there were some minor scratches. But Sakura could tell that the head injury Hinata had sustained—it seemed as though Hinata had gotten this while falling over—was not just a minor flesh wound. Sakura knew she had to heal that first or Hinata's eyes could be affected.

As her healing touch surrounded Hinata's injury, Sakura almost cried at how feeble her friend seemed. She was furious! How dare anyone attack Hinata like this! If her healing abilities weren't needed, she would have returned the favor tenfold!

"Hozuki Suigetsu, will you fight too like this man I've just taken down with no effort whatsoever?" Sasuke must have taken down one of the enemy shinobi, Sakura realized as she heard the Uchiha speak. "Or will you come quietly and listen to my proposition?"

Proposition? Sakura was enraged that Sasuke could think of letting one of those creeps off the hook. And if that creep thought he was getting off easy then he had another thing coming after Sakura was finished healing Hinata!

"Sa . . . Sakura-san…?"

"Shh…" Sakura cooed, giving her friend a smile Hinata probably couldn't see. "You'll be okay, Hinata… Just sleep…" She felt a slight movement in what she believed was Hinata trying to nod her head, and then she went to check for any more injuries but paused when she saw a black mouse situated right by Hinata's head.

Sakura had forgotten what exactly Hinata being in this area entailed. If Hinata was here then Naruto would probably be close by, and if Naruto was here then—Sakura's eyes moved to glance at the Uchiha… No, she refused to think about what would happen. Right now, she had to get Hinata somewhere where she could rest and recover. And only one place came to mind.

Sorry it's so short! But I leave you guys here because I really can't figure out another good way to end this chapter. It's really just repeats of the same scene, but I really thought you guys might like something like this. Um . . . please don't hate me!