A/N: Trying something different. HinataxDeidara, enjoy. :)


"Yah!"

Hinata sent a roundhouse kick at the dummy's head, and it bent backwards, only to bring itself back up and slam into her knee, sending her falling to the ground. She groaned and brushed the dirt off her jacket as her teammate moved over to help her up, silently chuckling to himself.

"These new and improved dummies are a pain in the ass, aren't they?" he remarked, helping her off the ground.

"I forgot t-they were new," she sighed. "This is the third time that's happened. I'm sorry, Kiba, I'm interrupting y-your training."

"Hey, it's more like entertainment than anything else," Kiba teased. "You've done pretty well this week. Don't let one bad night get you down. Why don't you go home and then come back tomorrow refreshed and relaxed? We can make up for lost time."

"…Yeah, I think I w-will. Goodnight."

"Bye, Hinata!"

The Hyuuga walked away from the training grounds, the dismal mood within her growing with each step she took. Okay, so tonight wasn't her best of nights, but all in all she had to admit that Kiba was right. It had been a pretty good week. Well, after Gaara's successful rescue, it had been an absolutely amazing week for most of the village.

The news of the Kazekage's revival and the annihilation of one of the members of the Akatsuki had spread through the village like wildfire, and Konoha was thrown into a frenzied state of celebration, with Team Kakashi and Team Guy receiving congratulatory whoops and pats on the back wherever they went. Sakura received a medal for her part in Sasori's death, and then the trend of parties every night began, the first one simply dedicated to her achievement, and then the next five because everyone enjoyed the first one so much. Even though she was proud of all her fellow shinobi had done, most of Hinata's attention had been dedicated to Naruto. She had wanted to go up to him as soon as he had returned and told him how amazing she thought he was for saving Gaara, but upon sighting him she couldn't think of anything to say, instead stuttering a small hello before he was engulfed by the mob of villagers also awaiting their arrival.

Hinata looked up at the sky, admiring the quarter moon and the wispy white clouds that surrounded it, threatening to engulf it. For a long time now she had been following a nightly training regime in an attempt to better herself and become the strongest kunoichi she possibly could. Recently Kiba had joined her, and he was a welcome addition. After all, sometimes it could get rather lonely, and he gave her the support and encouragement that she needed. I'm so close to becoming as strong as the other kunoichi, she mused, clasping her fingers together in front of her and slowing her pace. She admired their power and grace so much, and she knew she was so close to achieving what they had. It just needed a little more time.

In the distance she could hear music and laughter emanating from a cluster of colored lights, a clear sign of another pointless celebration. She could imagine that Naruto was there with everyone else, Lee, Ino, Tenten, Sakura, and once again wished that she had the courage to go there and have fun with the rest of them, relaxing and enjoying life. However, no matter how much she wanted to see him, she couldn't imagine enjoying the event, and besides, what would she say? Every time she was around him she wanted to confess her feelings for him and pray that he would reciprocate them. She wanted to tell him that he was her inspiration, that he was the reason she hadn't given up but was instead pushing herself to get stronger and stronger. I would never be able to say all that! Just the notion of it was making her cheeks flush, and she shook the thought out of her head.

Snap!

Hinata whirled around, her hair hovering wildly around her face as she searched for the source of the noise. A cool breeze wove around her and rustled the leaves of the trees and bushes around her, attacking her ears and preventing her from hearing anything else.

"It was just the wind," she murmured, taking a deep breath. "I have to stop being so paranoid all the time." As she resumed her walk home, she failed to notice the shadow looming behind her, nor the rock that came crashing down onto the back of her head until an intense pain sent her falling to the ground. Before her eyes she could see a swirl of black and red mixing together, until finally, nothing.

"Fucking hell, Kakuzu!" a voice whispered harshly as a second shadow materialized out of the bushes. "We could've chased her around a bit and had some fun!"

"We have orders to get her back as soon as possible," Kakuzu replied, taking out a length of rope and securing the unconscious girl's hands together. Lifting her up with one arm, he tossed her over his shoulder and started to melt away into the darkness once again. "Come on, let's go."

"Get bent," Hidan muttered darkly, following the order all the same. "At least this was easy. I hope these Konoha bitches have a field day when they realise one of their precious comrades is missing."

"Just shut up and start walking."


The morning sun shone brightly over Konoha as Kiba's loud guffaws reached the ears of every villager. He and Akamaru were standing over the scene of the last party where a stream of unconscious bodies lay, half of them still holding the bottles of sake that had done them in. He could see Shikamaru, Ino, Tenten, Choji and Lee huddled up close together as if seeking warmth, looking rather comfortable under Naruto and Sakura, who were using them as a mattress. If only they could have seen how ridiculous they looked, Kiba could have enjoyed the moment so much more. But that didn't matter – he would be able to mercilessly mock them when they awoke later on.

The blonde shinobi let out a yawn and slowly opened his eyes, dazedly looking around him. He rolled off his makeshift bed and grumbled when he hit the floor, wiping his eyes as he tried to figure out where he was.

"Fun night, huh?" Kiba commented. Akamaru leapt onto Naruto and started licking his face, much to the blonde's dismay. Pushing the large dog off was no easy feat, but with his owner's help it was accomplished, and Naruto busied himself with wiping the saliva off his cheeks.

"I can't remember half of what happened yesterday," he groaned. "I think I've reached my limit. No more partying for me." His stomach growled loudly and he gave his friend a hopeful stare. "Got any ramen on you?"

"Do I look like I do?"

"Want to go buy me some?"

"You wish! I have to get to a team meeting in a couple of minutes."

"Okay, after that."

Kiba rolled his eyes as he walked off, his dog loyally following him. Naruto trailed along after them, completely under the impression that he would be getting a free meal very soon. "You know, Naruto, my team's been doing a lot of training. We've gotten like ten times stronger. Especially Hinata." Kiba glanced at him sideways, looking for any reaction, but unfortunately his friend was too busy focusing on the longing pangs in his stomach to have heard a thing.

Rolling his eyes, Kiba resisted the urge to smack the blonde's head, instead busying himself by stroking Akamaru's fur. He had only joined the Hyuuga in her midnight-training regime a few days ago, when he had accidently run into her while out on a late-night walk with Akamaru. Since then he had helped her out every night, with the occasional visit from Shino who would tell them what they were doing wrong. He hadn't been surprised to see her working so hard – that was just the way she was, always pushing herself. And he knew that part of her motivation was to be able to show her long-time crush just how much stronger she had gotten. Unfortunately for her, that crush was so clueless he would probably never realise that all her efforts were for him. She would never say it, and he would never see it. But Kiba would help her build her confidence, until that one day when she could come clean. He'd been looking out for her ever since they had been placed in the same team; that would never change, whether the situation was them versus a hundred enemy shinobi, or simply her boy troubles.

He had barely finished thinking this when he spied Kurenai in the distance, hands on her hips and tapping her foot impatiently.

"Kiba! You're late!"

The shinobi swiftly took in the scowling face of his teacher and grinned sheepishly. "What can I say; I'm not good with time management." He spied Shino leaning against a nearby tree, and looked around for his other teammate. "Where's Hinata?"

"I thought she'd be with you," Kurenai said, moving her gaze to Naruto. "Obviously that's not the case." He smiled and waved at her, frowning when his stomach's noisy rumblings failed to cease. "Where could she be? She's never late to meetings."

"Well, she did get home late last night, she could have overslept."

"That could be…Well, since you were the last one to arrive, you can go look for her. I was going to brief you all on a job I wanted you to take, but it seems like that will have to wait. Get her and bring her here in ten minutes. In the meantime, I'll give Shino all the details he needs."

"…Can Kiba buy me ramen first?" The three glowering pairs of eyes immediately silenced the hungry jinchuriki, and he grumbled sourly to himself as Kiba pulled him away. "I just wanted some food…"

"Too bad! First, we get Hinata. Then I'll buy you all the ramen you want."


Hinata was trapped in a dream.

She was swimming in a beautiful ocean stretching endlessly into the blue horizon. The smell of salt water was in the air, and in the distance the cries of seagulls could be heard. The young girl effortlessly glided along with the current, the cold water caressing her body and pulling her this way and that, leading her to a destination that didn't seem to exist. Yet still she kept on going, searching continuously but to no avail. The scene remained the same no matter how much she swam and how far she went. Only now, things were changing. Gray clouds began to gather in the sky, melding together and darkening the world around her. A clash of thunder rang in her ears, and then the once calm current became treacherous and violent, throwing her around like a flimsy rag. The more she fought against it, the more her muscles failed her, until she couldn't move at all. Suddenly she was submerged beneath the roiling waves, completely helpless and unable to breathe. She opened her mouth and a surge of salt water filled her lungs. Now she was choking, clinging on to dear life as tightly as she could, until finally, there was darkness.

How much time had passed? Five minutes? Five hours? The darkness was smothering her in its embrace. Any sense of reality had become a distant memory. She had no idea what to think when a steady, rhythmic tapping made itself known to her. It was as quiet as a whisper in the beginning, but surely it was becoming louder and louder, until finally it wasn't the only thing she could hear. The hum of unclear murmurs joined in the background, and all of a sudden, one seemed to break the barrier that had deafened her, and she could hear.

"I'm telling you, you should totally follow the ways of Jashin-sama!"

Dismissing her lack of sight altogether, Hinata put all her energy into her sense of sound in a desperate attempt to hear more.

"No thanks," said a gruff voice. Bingo! It was as if a door had unlocked, and her senses were hit with an intensity she had never known before. She was aware of everything; the smell of hay and a scratching against her face, the thick cord of rope binding her wrists and the blindfold wound tightly around her head. A sharp stabbing pain flared to life in the back of her head, and she felt herself emit a gasp in shock.

"Well, well, someone's woken up," a voice commented. "Your drugs may have lost their effect, Kakuzu."

"It's not that hard to get her asleep again."

Their words sent a chill down the Hyuuga's spine, and she struggled against the bonds holding her back in a desperate attempt to escape. It was useless however, so instead she tried a different approach to the situation. Byakugan! She could feel the veins around her eyes popping out, but she was granted with only a blurred view through the blindfold. She could see nothing of the speakers' faces, only random shapes and colors.

"That's not going to work," the voice was awfully close now. Hinata could practically feel its owner's breath on her forehead. She wanted to get away from it, but her body refused to obey her. "The point of that whole treatment was to drain you of your chakra and weaken you completely. It looks like you'll need another dose." She felt a slight pinprick on the back of her neck, and then once again she was blinded. However, she could still hear the rustling of the man's clothes as he went back to his original position. She recalled the name she had heard before – Kakuzu. She knew that name from somewhere, but where? Deep in the recesses of her mind the answer was hidden, and it refused to let her find it.

"Pein better not try to make me watch this girl in the cell," the other person said. "I'd rather cut my throat then get that job."

"I'll do it for you, if you want."

"Shut the fuck up!"

"Whatever. I'm not doing it, either. There's no money in it."

"I say we make him choose blondie for the job. He can play with his clay down there. It's a win-win situation."

"For once, that actually sounds like a smart idea. I'll tell Pein when we get there. You just go sacrifice another goat or something."

"I am going to fucking kill you one day, just you wait."

That was the last thing Hinata heard before she blacked out completely, after having finally realized who had taken her hostage. Akatsuki.