"LET GO, DAMN IT!"
Deidara struggled against the choke-hold grip Kisame had around his neck, fingers digging into the blue-skinned man's forearms as he tried to slip out from his grasp. He only succeeded in getting Kisame to tighten his hold, however, and he found his breaths getting shallower and shallower as his throat was constricted. His arms began to beat against the iron around his neck, growing weaker and weaker until it looked like he was flailing in Kisame's grasp rather than attacking him.
When he had left the inn, he certainly hadn't expected his comrades to find him so quickly. Tobi should have told them that he was going for a walk; it should've been hours before they even began to wonder. They must have known Tobi was lying, or the masked man had revealed his partner's true intentions to them. Either way, they had caught up with him within the hour, appearing out of nowhere and giving chase to his fleeing figure before finally trapping him in front of a thicket of trees.
"Where were you going?" Itachi asked, staring at him with the crimson eyes he hated so much. He could see the black dots swirling threateningly around the man's pupils, and beneath the scope his left eye twitched. They seemed to merge together as they spun, but maybe that was just an effect of the lack of oxygen.
"I was going for a walk," Deidara gasped. Clearly no-one was buying it. "If you try using your illusions on me I will blow you to the fucking moon!" I'm not going to tell you anything, asshole. The world was growing darker. He blinked to fight it off, straining to get some oxygen in his system. "They won't work..." he trailed off, unable to speak anymore. Fucking hell, I need to breathe. I must be as blue as him by now...
"Do it, Itachi," Kisame said with a grin. "I want to see him squirm."
"Let him go. It's useless if he can't talk."
His partner grudgingly obliged, dropping the blonde on the ground like a large, heavy sack. Deidara sucked in all the air he could until his lungs were ready to burst, and then let it right back out. A few breaths later and he was sitting upright. His neck was sore and bright patches of red were blossoming around it. He began to prod the tender skin experimentally, ignoring the Uchiha as he knelt beside him.
"Where were you going?"
He coughed loudly in reply and picked himself up from the ground, swaying slightly. Ignoring the man still kneeling on the ground, he turned to glower at Kisame instead. "You could have fucking killed me!" he hissed angrily.
"It's a pity I didn't. But I guess that's a game for another day, eh?"
Damn bastards. He eyed the trees opposite him, wondering if he could make a dash for it and get away. But he was too light-headed to even stand up straight, let alone move. Damn Tobi. They're wasting my time! I have to go now! "I was going for a walk."
"Why did you run from us, then?" Itachi inquired.
"Have you looked in the mirror? Anyone would run away from you two."
"Where were you going?"
"I bet you he was going back to Konoha, to get one last piece of that Hyuuga girl."
"I think you're onto something, Kisame. There's nowhere else for him to be going, and just a few miles ahead is the road."
"Well, Deidara? D'ya miss that fine piece of ass or something? Even I have to admit that when it comes to the chest of your Hyuuga there's -!"
Deidara's fist met the shark's mouth with a loud smack! Although the punch wasn't as strong as it could have been, it served its purpose of silencing the man. Kisame rubbed his jaw, irritated yet still wearing that bold grin of his.
"That was pathetic," he teased. "But it's nice to know I hit a nerve. Thanks for proving us right."
"I wasn't going to go to her!" the blonde hissed. "Why would I?"
"Do I really have to even answer that?"
"Well then, it's because, as Hidan would say, you're a little bitch who just won't let go of unimportant things. I thought you were pissed because you didn't know about the plans, but now I think it's because you were actually into the girl."
Tobi must've told them what I was up to, he realised, cursing himself for his reactions to their questions. They've just been trying to get me to admit it this entire time. "A lot of stupid has come out of your mouth before, but that just takes the cake."
"You just punched me for talking about her. I'm not fucking dense. What the hell were you thinking? Trying to go back to Konoha right after we let you out."
"I wasn't trying to go there! Do you really think I'm crazy enough to go back? The girl is just a girl, but if you talk about her again you'll be asking me to punch you in the face."
"Quit it with this charade already, Tobi let us know exactly what you were going to do. Sure, it took a bit of convincing, but in the end he let it slip right out."
Itachi had clearly grown tired of the exchange. "Come on, you two, we're going back to the inn. We've wasted enough time here, and Pein-sama is expecting to see us back at the base in a couple of days. And if you try something like this again, Deidara, we'll tie you up and drag you there."
It wasn't an empty threat. They knew he wanted to go back to help Hinata and potentially screw up all their plans, and now they were keeping a closer eye on him than ever. The entire trip back Kisame loomed in front of him and Itachi behind him, making sure that he could never stray too far. His feet stayed true to the course they took, but his mind travelled all over the place, searching for ways to sneak away any trick that would be of use. Most involved some pretty big and damaging explosions, but something told him they wouldn't work at all.
It was only when they got back to the inn and Tobi came skipping outside with a message from Zetsu did Deidara cease to think. His mind went black and his blood cold, and all the feeling left his limbs. It was a miracle he could stand at all. All because of one single statement.
"Pein-sama wants us back on the double, guys. Things are going perfectly! The girl has been sentenced to death."
When she looked back, memories poured into her had as thick and strong as a waterfall. She recalled things she had never dreamt of remembering, pictures of her childhood flashed through her eyes; pictures of the mother who had met an untimely demise; flashes of her training with Neji; glimpses of Naruto through the trees; Kiba, Shino and Kurenai and their endless days of training...every experience she had ever lived through flickered in her mind before fading once more into the recesses of her head. It moved forward even faster then, and more moments came to light, the day Naruto came back and then left again to go save Gaara; the kidnapping; the cold damp cell beneath the mansion; the outdoors and a house with a kindly old lady; an arrogant man with a wicked smile who made her laugh, who treated her warmly, whose lean body she had felt against hers and whose lips she had tasted on her own; he was all she could see then. Deidara. The most vivid image of them all. Him.
When she looked forward, she only saw death.
It wasn't in the form of a robed skeleton with a scythe, like most would imagine. For the girl it took the shape of a noose on a raised platform, the rope swaying above the trapped door hidden amongst the wooden floorboards. They had brought her here the day before in the hopes of scaring her into confessing, but she had kept her mouth shut tight. Kiba, Neji, Kurenai, Shino, Naruto, Sakura, and all the rest of her comrades had come to fight to her, yelling about unfairness and justice, but the mob screamed just as loud, and they wouldn't rest until they got what they wanted. And although Tsunade hadn't wanted to oblige to their wishes, she hadn't had much of a choice in the matter. All the evidence pointed to Hinata, and even the Hokage couldn't be sure of Hinata's innocence as the small quarter of her underlings were.
So they had announced to the entire village that in two days, she would either confess to her crimes and be rewarded with a life sentence in prison, or die an untimely death. Even before they had given her the options Hinata had known what she would do. She would never lie just to save her own skin. And even if she did, what was left for her here? What was a life behind bars really worth? She had lived through it once before, and didn't plan on going through it again.
Then it was settled. In two days, she would die.
One of those days had passed since then, and now she sat in the gardens of the Hyuuga compound for one last time, plucking the petals of a small white flower unfortunate enough to have rested near her fingers. For nearly two hours that was all she did, sitting beneath the leafy branches of the tree she leaned against and plucking petals from flowers. She hummed softly to herself, a tuneless song that she would probably never remember. Not that it mattered anymore.
She looked up, clasping the bare stem of a flower tightly between her fingers. Kiba was jogging over to her, with both Akamaru and Neji at his heels. They stopped in front of her, and when they realised she wasn't going to stand up they moved to sit down beside her.
Her teammate looked unwilling to talk, so Neji told her the bad news for him. "We tried our best to dissuade Tsunade, but nothing would change her mind. Whether we like it or not, your...your execution won't be delayed."
"But we're not going to give up," Kiba immediately added. "There are other ways we can stall this, and if worst comes to worst, I'll break you out myself and –"
She yelled out so violently that the world seemed eerily silent afterwards. Her face was flushed pink, and she was clutching the stem so tightly in her fist that it flattened completely. When no-one said a word, she took a deep breath and spoke.
"I will not let you throw away your life to save mine," she said. Kiba opened his mouth to protest, but she shook her head. "Forget it. I've accepted my fate."
"But you're innocent!" he exclaimed.
She smiled sadly. "It doesn't matter anymore. I have nothing left. If I live, what will happen then? I'll be stuck in some prison cell for the rest of time. No-one will be happy, and chaos will ensue. I don't want to be the cause of it."
"Hinata, it's your life."
"A life behind bars is no life."
"Neji, talk to her!"
Her cousin looked at her with an expressionless face, but his eyes betrayed the anger and pain he felt. "Can't you see?" he sighed. "She's already made up her mind."
"Thank you," she said to him.
"But," he continued. "That doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying. It's just like Kiba said. We won't give up until the last possible moment."
The Inuzuka stared at him in disbelief. "What the hell?! You shouldn't be accepting what she says, you should be fighting her!"
"It's not our place to fight her wishes," Neji said. "I won't throw away my life. But I'll do whatever I can to make sure she keeps hers."
He stood up and tapped Kiba on the head. "Come on, let's go and meet up with the others. We still haven't told them what Tsunade said."
"Go on without me. I'll follow in a couple of minutes."
The Hyuuga nodded, and bent down so he could lay a hand on his cousin's shoulder. Then, wordlessly, he walked away. When he was out of their sight Hinata fixed her gaze onto Kiba, who had been staring at her the entire time. Looking at him quizzically, for the first time she found herself unable to tell what he was thinking.
"Kiba, I..." she trailed off, not sure how to continue. She wanted to console him somehow, but there was nothing she could possibly say now. Only lies would help, and she refused to resort to such measures. He had to accept her wishes. It was as simple as that.
He's still staring at me, she realised. Still contemplating her next words, she didn't notice that he had wrapped his arms around her until she had linked her own around his torso. She buried her face into his shoulder, holding back the tears that were threatening to spill out.
"I'm sorry," he murmured in her ear. "I don't know what to do anymore. I really don't. None of this should have ever happened to you."
"It's not your fault," she replied. "You did all you could. This is just the way it's meant to end."
A few seconds later they drew apart, and he gave her a small, forced grin before he went on his way. Even hours later, long after he had left and she was watching the sky turn all sorts of pink and orange, she could still feel his tears dripping down onto her shoulders.
A few seconds later they drew apart, and he gave her a small, forced grin before he went on his way. Hours later, long after he had left and the sky was turning all sorts of pinks and oranges, she could still feel his tears as they fell onto her shoulders.
Faster, we have to go faster!
The sun was rising, there wasn't any time left! By now they were probably leading her to the platform where her end awaited her. But no matter how hard he tried to get his comrades to move faster, they stuck to their sloth-like pace.
It had taken hours of pleading and begging and threatening before his comrades had even considered letting him go back to Konoha. And even then they hadn't wanted to, but then Kisame had realised how much fun it would be to let Deidara witness her death. Itachi had only gone along with it because he wanted to scope out Konoha's situation himself, rather than just listening to So they had come to an agreement with him – they would let him go if he agreed not to interfere. She would die, whether he liked it or not.
He had immediately said yes, with the intention of completely ignoring everything they said and stopping the execution. But they weren't prepared to take any chances, and they had timed their journey perfectly, so that when they arrived at the village they would either be right on time, or too late.
I don't know how I'll manage to get her away with both these guys and the Konoha-nin on my back. But I'll do it. I have to do it!
He was determined to save her. He knew he could do it somehow. So why was there such a strong feeling of dread hovering over him?
There it is!
He could see it in the distance now, through the trees as he ran forward, faster and faster, ignoring the shouts of his comrades behind him. It was the wrong side, though! He knew where this would take place. It had to be under the watch of the stone Hokages who watched over the village day and night. Such an important event would have to be around there. He only hoped he wasn't too late to stop it.
Brushing back his bangs from his eye, the lens in the scope turned and twisted as he scanned the empty streets. It was like the entire village had been abandoned. There was no need to lurk in the cover of the shadows; no-one would see him now. Fearlessly he raced onwards. The other members of the Akatsuki had disappeared, but they would know where he was going. Whether he liked it or not, they would find him.
He could see the people of Konoha now, a massive throng of citizens that formed a complete circle around a raised wooden platform. A couple of people turned their heads when they heard his heavy footsteps, and he quickly ducked behind the closest building before they saw him. This wasn't good. There were hundreds of people in between him and the platform - the only way of getting to him was by the air, but he'd be shot down straight away!
Damn it, what can I do?!
Still searching for a way to get to the platform stealthily and on time, he realised that the throng was parting on the other side of the stage, and a procession of guards was marching through the path they had created. Behind them the Hyuuga girl followed, her head held high and a blank look on her face. As she walked people hissed and yelled at her, and occasionally an object was thrown at her. They all missed, however, the guards made sure of that.
His heart leapt into his mouth when she climbed up the steps and onto the platform. No, he thought, struggling to swallow. I can't let this happen!
He felt his feet moving forward.
"Not so fast, Deidara. We had a deal, remember?"
They found me. Fuck!
Slow and steady, that was the key.
She approached the nose without flinching, and stood silently as they fit it around her neck. From there there was talking, an announcement of her crimes, a chance for her to confess and repent, but still she said nothing. Instead she merely looked out over the crowd, over all the angry faces that glared at her with unhidden reproach.
I can't see my friends anywhere, she thought sadly. I was hoping for one last chance to see them...
She tried to stare past the heads, to take in the sight of her village, which looked so beautiful in the early dawn. Everything was glowing; the houses, the trees, the roads, they all shone with an orange tint. There was even something glinting in the distance, like a reflection off of a tiny piece of glass. Her eyes narrowed as she peered at the reflection even closer. It couldn't be a window; most people's shutters were still closed tightly over their windows. What was it?
It seemed to move then, and all of a sudden her heart was racing in her chest as the blonde hair came into view. Ignoring everyone and everything, she switched on her Byakugan to confirm whether or not this was real, or if she was just hallucinating.
But no, he had to be real, she could see every single bit of him; his long, blonde, hair, the beautiful blue of his one visible eye, the lean and muscular arms beneath the cloak he donned. There were people around him, she knew, people she had never hoped to see again, but it didn't matter anymore.
All that mattered was him. He was here. He had come for her.
Why had she given up, again?
She couldn't remember.
"Do you have any last words?"
Deidara waited for her to say something, but she didn't seem to hear the man speaking. Instead she continued to stare straight at the blonde, as though she was savouring the sight of him. She sees me, he thought, but all he could see was the rope around her neck.
The man walked off the platform, and he could see two men standing at a lever, their hands wrapped rightly around it.
No, Deidara screamed mentally. No no no no no no no I have to do something it can't end like this I have to save her I came here to save her!
In the few seconds before they pulled the lever, he noticed something odd.
She was smiling at him.
It was a smile full of love and dreams and everything he'd always wanted but could never hope to have.
In those last few seconds of life, she could still smile at him, even though this was all his fault, all completely his fault.
He felt something shatter inside his chest.
I want to live.
He was running once again, but this time it was in the opposite direction. He had to get as far away as he possibly could, to get away from this all. No matter how far he got, though, every time he closed his eyes he saw her body fall as the trap door opened up beneath her, and heard the sickening crack of her neck.
She was gone, she was gone, and he couldn't do a damn thing about it.
"HOLD ON, DEIDARA!"
A hulking figure crashed into him, and he was sent sprawling to the floor. He lay there, unmoving as the tears streamed down his cheeks. His comrades merely stood above him, watching, and waiting.
"We have to go," Itachi finally said. "They'll be returning to their homes soon."
She's gone she's gone she's gone she's gone.
"You're not leaving just yet."
They all turned their heads toward the voice. It belonged to the man with the red markings on his cheeks, the one he had seen long before, in the cells. He no longer looked like the energetic youth he had once been. There were shadows under his eyes, and a dark, haunted look to his face. "I caught your scent," he told them. "You've been here the entire time."
I'm not the only one who lost her, Deidara thought, wiping his wet cheeks. He stood up and glowered at the shinobi.
"You're not going to stop us," he hissed. "But I promise you, I will be back. Hinata didn't deserve that. SHE DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE!"
"She didn't," Kiba agreed, nodding solemnly. "That's why I'm coming with you."
"I can't stay in this place, in this village with these people, these stupid fucks who went and condemned her when all she was guilty of was caring too much. I'm going with you."
"We don't want you."
"I don't give a shit. I'm coming whether you like it or not."
"You realise what you're saying, kid?" Kisame asked. "You plan to join us?"
"I know exactly what I'm doing. There's nothing left for me here. Nothing without her. They took her away from me."
Unrequited love. She never knew his feelings, did she? He never told her. She loved me, not him.
"Fine," Deidara said thickly, nearly choking on the word. She's gone she's gone she's gone she's gone. "Come with us." He tried to move, but he couldn't. He couldn't just leave. Not like this. They killed her. And they were just going to get off completely unscathed?
THEY SHOULD BURN.
He could see it now, all the villagers alike wreathed in flames, screaming for mercy as fire rained upon them. It was so vivid he could almost smell the smoke, and hear their cries ringing in his ears.
"Deidara, come on. We're leaving now."
"...Itachi, you don't understand. I can't leave. How can I just leave it like this?"
"Do you think we're leaving forever? We'll come back soon. There's a jinchuriki for us to capture. After that, you and the Inuzuka can do whatever you want to the village."
"I don't want anything to happen to Neji," Kiba admitted. "Or the others who tried to help her."
"The rest then," Deidara muttered. "I'll blow them up. All of them. It'll be my greatest work of art. And the most satisfying."
I couldn't save you Hinata.
But I can avenge you.
A/N: There you go everyone, the alternate ending of Prisoner.
I've had a blast writing this fic, guys, thanks so much for your reviews, favorites and follows, and thanks for sticking with this story all the way to the end. :D
A couple of you mentioned sequels in your reviews, and I have to say although at this point I have no plans one, it could well happen in the future, considering that there is so much we could still see happening in the story.
Once again, thanks for reading. :)