Back again! Apologies for the later update, but I'm back at the university so updates will be less frequent now. Still, I'll try not to leave you hanging too long if I can help it.

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"I still don't know about this Kisame…"

"Oh relax Deidara, she said she's willing to go through with it,"

The group had entered the sparring area. Hinata and Kisame were warming up in preparation for the fight.

"I bet she goes down in the first minute," Hidan muttered.

"How much?" Kakuzu inquired as Hidan rolled his eyes.

"It's an expression,"

"Yes, but if you wanted to put some money on-


Meanwhile, Hinata's heart was racing. He mind buzzed with questions. Could she really go through with this? How long could she really last? What chance did she have against one of the most dangerous ninja around?

"Hey, you ready yet?"

"Oh, um… Y-yes…" Hinata nervously stepped forward, visibly shaking a bit.

"Hey, hey… Relax," Kisame chuckled. "I told you I'll go easy," As he said this, he took the massive sword from his back, placing it on the ground. "Hands only, see?"

Hinata nodded, grateful she would at least last a little longer…

She wanted to stop, wanted to say she wasn't ready to do this… But she knew she couldn't. She had to show both these men and herself that she was willing to do this.

Still, keeping that confidence up was tough given her opponent.

"Let's get to it then," Kisame got into a fighting pose. Hinata nodded, quickly activating her Bakugan as she took a stance as well. Despite her shakiness, a look of determination was on her face. Kisame grinned. "Ready…?"

Suddenly, he dashed to her.

"GO!" He shouted, throwing the first punch. Hinata was barely able to avoid the hit. She paused for a half second trying to figure out where to strike before aiming for a point on Kisame's chest.

Unfortunately, that half-second was enough time for Kisame to react. He quickly dodged the hit before countering with his own, knocking Hinata off her feet.

I knew that was the wrong move…

"Don't hesitate," Kisame said as she quickly got up. He had noticed her miniscule pause.

Hinata readied herself again. Moments like that were common for her… She had a tendency of second-guessing her tactics for a brief second.

"Pay attention now!" Hinata gasped as she was struck down again. It wasn't necessary a hard hit, but it had knocked her off her feet. "Come on, you gotta focus!"

Hidan smirked. "Like I said…"

"She doesn't seem to be in the right mindset," Sasori commented.

Hinata rose again, this time deciding to attack. She readied herself a third time as she quickly decided on what to strike at. It was a special order of hits her father had taught her.

That father said you can't do right…

As Hinata charged at her opponent, these thoughts lingered. She quickly struck out at various chakra points… All of which Kisame dodged. Realizing the plan didn't work, she frantically began trying to avoid Kisame's own hits.

Think, think… What did father tell you to do?


A rather hard blow hit Hinata's side, causing her to stumble back.

"Her reaction seems slow…" Kakuzu muttered.

"She still doesn't seem completely focused," Itachi spoke up. "She's fighting 2 battles right now…"

3 times.

3 times, she had already been hit. Any real fight and she easily would have been finished by now…

She rose, albeit slower this time. The hits were starting to get to her.

She couldn't just give up, but the realities of her fighting abilities were setting in again. Her father's comments echoed through her head.


She clenched her fists, trying to shake off the thoughts as she prepared to fight again.

Kisame took the initiative again, but Hinata was ready this time. The two struck at each other, each dodging the other's hits.

As Hinata quickly weaved between Kisame's blows, more thoughts slowly crept into her head. She tried to push them back, tried to focus on the fight, but her doubts were too much.

Again she was distracted for just a millisecond too long; Kisame landed several blows.

As Hinata hit the ground yet again, she tasted blood on her lip.

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"You KNEW!?" Tsunade cried. "And you didn't try to stop her?"

"As I said, it was her decision to make,"

"Don't you realize what could happen out there? She's a young woman! An heiress to a powerful family?"

"WAS an heiress,"

Tsunade glared at the man in front of her desk. Hiashi Hyuga was proving… Difficult to talk to.

"That title now belongs to Hanabi," He paused. "But, despite what may have been said, Hinata is still a Hyuga. She may be… Lacking in skill, but she is capable enough to survive. She could have just gone straight to another town,"

"I still don't understand… Your own daughter, Hiashi,"

"I have no doubt she will return in time," Hiashi said calmly. "If anything this may be… Well, a learning experience for her,"

Tsunade scoffed.

"Perhaps being on her own is what she needs to develop herself. If that's what it will take for her to finally be worthy of her title, so be it,"

Tsunade could not believe his words; Hinata seemed nothing more than a symbol to him.

"However…" He continued. "There are dangers out there, and your concerns are certainly justified. I will not argue with you searching for her," He paused. "She… She is still my daughter,"

For a moment, Tsunade actually could hear some regret in his voice.

"I'll begin arranging search parties right away. Did she give any indication where she was going?"

"Not at all. Though she had very limited supplies, so she will have to stop somewhere soon enough,"

"Well, it's something… Alright, that's enough,"

With nothing else to say, Hiashi left. Tsunade got to work.

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Hinata attempted to catch her breath yet again. Sweat trickled down the side of her face.

She had been continuously getting thrown to the ground for about 15 minutes now, and it was getting more and more difficult to get back up each time.

Partly because the injuries were starting to get to her, but partly out of embarrassment.

There were some offers to stop, but Hinata refused; she had made a decision, and she was determined to keep it.

At the moment though, she had been on the ground for a while. Her spirit finally seemed to be waning.

"Honestly, this is getting embarrassing…" Hidan grumbled. "Kisame, why don't we stop?"

"Hey, until she says she wants to stop, we keep going,"

"Yes, you said that last time, but…"

"Well then maybe you should listen,"

Kisame looked back to Hinata. He could see in the way she was fighting that she still wasn't serious; something was distracting her, making her hesitate…

Of course, he didn't know WHAT it was, but he was determined to wait until she was able to shake it off.

It was, of course, all the thoughts in her head. All the doubts from her father and herself that had been plaguing her mind since the fight started.

This happened every time she tried to fight… As it went on and on, she just felt worse and worse.

"I don't understand, hm…" To Deidara, the fight had been difficult to watch.

"It's her," Itachi said. Deidara looked at him. "You can see it in the way she fights,"

Deidara thought about the things she had said earlier. He thought about her lack of confidence, her recent failures she talked about, her relationship with her father…

Suddenly, he understood what was needed.

"Hinata!" He suddenly shouted. "

"Oh please…" Hidan rolled his eyes.

"You know what I saw in those woods last night? I saw a Hinata that nearly fought off 3 trained ninja. For a moment, I saw her beat back 3 ninja so much they had to resort to ninjutsu, hm!" He paused. "You only lost that fight because of all the shit on your mind from the village. You gotta stop thinking about that! Kisame's right, Hinata, you don't know what you're capable of. You've heard enough of your father's bullshit that you're starting to believe it!" He stopped again; he was actually panting a bit from shouting so much. "Your father's wrong, alright!? You're that one gets to decide how strong you are. I want to see the Hinata I saw for a second last night. I want to see a Hinata that doesn't have to fight herself more than her opponents, hm!"

Everyone was silent for a moment as they stared at Deidara.

"…I'm sorry about that, I just…"

Hinata continued to lie on the ground after Deidara's speech. As he spoke, she felt something amidst all the doubt in her mind.

SOMEONE believed in her…

And as he continued, the thoughts that clouded her mind started to vanish.

Come to think of it, she had only stopped improving once her father began getting harsher on her. She only got worse the more stern he got.

Hinata struggled to her feet.

"Well then…" Kisame grinned. Something was different about her…

She readied herself again, Bakugan ready.

No more doubts. No more Father. No more distractions. If only for a moment, Hinata was going to let her mind be clear.

Okay, Deidara. I'll show you that Hinata.

Kisame went at her again. She evaded once again, and immediately countered.

This time, it hit.

Kisame felt a sharp pain as a chakra point was struck. The sudden feeling of being hit stunned him for a split second.

This time, Hinata took advantage.

Kisame felt even more points get struck, increasing the pain for a moment. A final powerful palm blow sent him back, staggering. Hinata went at him again, but he was ready this time.

Kisame dodged several quick hits, finding it tougher to find places to counter. Every hit he tried to make was dodged. For a solid 15 seconds the two avoided the other.

Meanwhile, the others looked with mouths agape. Deidara especially was mesmerized as Hinata almost seemed to dance between Kisame's attacks.

She was turning battle into art… Magnificent.

When someone finally made a mistake, it was Kisame to get hit to the ground.

"Holy shit!" Hidan cried. "Deidara, I don't know what you did…"

"Simple: he gave her what she needed," Itachi calmly remarked. He nodded at the blonde. "Confidence,"

By now Kisame was on his feet, and he was laughing.

"So I guess we've finally started!"

Hinata said nothing; her expression was that of fierce determination. Any thoughts that began creeping into her head were forced out. With her head clear, she could see everything more clearly. Time seemed to slow down a little when she and Kisame were clashing.

She finally felt like she was really fighting.

"Well, what do you say we take this up a notch…" Kisame suddenly reached down and picked up his sword.

"Woah woah woah!" Hidan cried. "That seems a bit excessive, doesn't i-


Kisame grinned as Hinata spoke.

"I can handle it,"

Of course she was a bit nervous, but she wasn't about to let that stop her.

"Well… Come on then!" Kisame charged, as did Hinata. Dodging a sword was certainly different, but Hinata quickly adapted. There was a flurry of white as the bandaged blade swung back and forth, each blow narrowly missing the young Hyuga.

"Knew I should have taken that bet…" Kakuzu murmured.

The fight went on for another 5 minutes or so. Hinata continued to assault Kisame's pressure points, each blow hurting more than the last. Kisame managed to strike her once or twice with Samehada, but they were very minor hits that only knocked Hinata off her feet for a brief moment.

Kisame could feel it becoming harder and harder to move his arms; the points she had hit were cutting off a lot of chakra to them. Granted, if he was truly going all-out this wouldn't be an issue, but that wouldn't be fair to her.

Still, he was certainly trying, and he was certainly impressed.

However, he finally did manage to land a solid hit with his sword on Hinata. She was sent flying across the room, rolling across the floor.

While it wasn't enough to do any serious damage, Kisame paused to make sure she was alright. There was a moment of struggle, but she rose to her feet.

Kisame grinned again when she readied herself.

She has heart alright… I think that's enough.

Much to Hinata's surprise, Kisame suddenly sheathed his weapon.

"What are you…"

"We're done," He said. Hinata looked confused.

"But I can still…"

"Oh, I can see that," Kisame's grin widened. "But I think we've done enough," He looked at the stunned Akatsuki. "I think you've proven your point,"

Hinata looked over at the others, almost laughing when she saw their expressions.

Sasori was the first to speak.

"…Alright, so I was wrong," He admitted. "I mean, there are certainly flaws, but you are but a chunin…" He looked at the others, who nodded. "And frankly, we don't have an excuse anymore… Alright Deidara, you win,"

"You mean…"

"He means we're gonna train you after all," Hidan interrupted. "Because by Jashin that was some damn good fighting for someone your level,"

Hinata blushed. She also winced; the pain was starting to really set in.

"Why don't we get her patched up," Kisame suggested. "She took a beating before…"

"And STILL managed to fight like that," Hidan shook his head. "You know, I don't like admitting I'm wrong often but..."

As the group set to leave, Deidara and Hinata looked at each other for a moment. They stared at each other for a moment until Hinata mouthed 2 words silently.

"Thank you."

With that, she slowly made her way to the door.

The fight had changed her. She finally felt like she was worth something again. She finally felt like a true ninja.

Her father finally was out of her mind.

You are not my daughter.

As Hinata left the room, she felt a smirk on her face.

No… She wasn't his daughter anymore, was she? Her old life was done. Her life as a Hyuga, as a Konoha ninja, that was done. Her new life as an Akatsuki started today.

And it was a life she was looking forward to.

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Well, that's done! Hopefully you enjoyed, and hopefully I can update soon!