I used the next day to explore more streets and places in Konoha and walked into directions I’ve never been before. I was no longer in the centre of the village when I heard slight yells. I left the path I was on and walked on a grass field through some trees, feeling a clearing. On the clearing someone was training and of course I recognized her immediately.
“Hey Hinata” I called out. She let out a yelp and jumped back immediately.
“Oops, did I scare you? I’m sorry. I didn’t want to sneak up like that.”
“N-no it’s okay, T-Tora” she stuttered, being no longer in battle stance.
“Are you training?” I asked, stepping onto the clearing and closer to Hinata.
“Y-y-yes.” I could see her blush even with my blind eyes.
“Would you mind if I join?” I asked an idea popping up in my head.
“N-no… but why?” I heard through her voice that she in fact had something against it. Seeing her lack of self-confidence she probably didn’t want to train in another person’s presence, being afraid that someone would see her failing. Actually I understood here all too well. It was because before I had found out that I could control the earth I also hadn’t want to show anyone my failed attempts. But although I had my special power now, I also wanted to train my ninja skills. Maybe it was because of my dad calling me a failure as a ninja, maybe because I thought so myself, maybe because I really wanted to become a chunin and was afraid that they wouldn’t accept my earth tricks.
“I have to practice my ninja skills a little, no actually drastically, because they are still crappy. For that I need someone who can see my results and tell me honestly how I do, and help me improving. And not someone who laughs at me the whole time” I answered her question. “And well, I hoped that you could help me.”
“Uhm… s-sure…” I smiled at her happily.
“Thanks Hinata.” And this time I knew that she wasn’t blushing but smiling.
In the morning Kazumi walked with the bingo book in her hand down the hallways until she stood in front of Pain’s office. Knocking slightly she waited until she heard his “Enter”.
“Leader-sama, I have a request” she said when she stood in front of his desk, bowing slightly.
He looked up from whatever he was doing and his ringed eyes met her hazelnut brown ones. As he didn’t speak she continued:
“The dragon spirit just told me that with every time using her power my body grows a bit weaker and becomes unimmunized for sicknesses. I have to find a medic ninja who can fix that problem so that I can serve Akatsuki in the future completely. I borrowed Kakuzu’s bingo book and searched out some medics that are actually missing ninjas or won’t ask too many questions. I’ll pay you back the money the treatment will cost later, I promise” she said politely, her face didn’t show once that she was lying. Of course she needed the medic for Itachi. Somewhere on this world there had to be a healer who could treat his sickness and his growing blindness. She wouldn’t give up saving him even if she had to visit every medic ninja in every country…
Pain stared at her for some time. Of course he believed her. But right now he considered whether he really should send her on a mission alone or not, she could see it in his gaze even though it was almost emotionless.
“If you want, Itachi can come with me. To play my baby sitter…” she said quickly, but muttered the last part.
“Why Itachi?” Pain asked her with a raised eyebrow though he already had agreed silently on that.
Kazumi shrugged. “Well, with all respect but he’s at least quiet and I won’t have to watch my back in his presence the whole time.”
And Pain nodded. “I inform Itachi about the mission, meet him at the entrance in five minutes.”
“Tell me, do you actually still love Naruto?” I asked several hours later when we were sitting on the target practice logs, resting from the training.
There was the heat again that came from Hinata every time she blushed. “Eh… H-how do you know…? I mean I don’t love him!”
I smiled. “Don’t deny it, I know you do. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.” Actually everyone knew it already except for that idiot Naruto.
“H-He doesn’t even l-look at me” she murmured. “I-I wanted t-to be s-s-strong, but I’m weak. S-sometimes I even d-doubt that he knows… t-that I do exist” she whispered out.
“You’re not weak! You’re a very strong person, in your inside. You just have to let it out and show your strength to the world, and to Naruto.”
“B-but I… I can’t. Y-you’re strong, like Kiba and Shino and the others, but I… I am not.” I was silent for a moment, not exactly sure what to say. I heard the desperation and sadness in her voice and I just wanted to do something against it, to replace it with happiness and proudness.
“You know what, until Naruto returns we’ll train together as often as we can okay? You help me in striking that damn target with a kunai and other ninja stuff, and I’m going to help you turning your strength from the inside to the outside and becoming more self-confident so that you’ll be as strong and tough as a stone, deal?” I asked, holding out a hand.
She hesitated, but then I felt her small hand in mine.
I smirked when another idea popped in my mind. “But that also means that as a result of our training I’m going to become a chunin whether they acknowledge my earth controlling power or not, and you’re going to ask Naruto out for a date as soon as he returns!”
“W-what?!” I felt that she wanted to pull her hand away again and hold it in a tight grip.
“Deal is deal, Hinata. I know that you can to it, and I know that you also want it. You will go on that date and show this knucklehead that he already has someone who acknowledges him. And that you’ll take better care for him than this Sakura with her punches. Okay?”
She was silent for some seconds, but then her hand squeezed mine slightly and I heard her say determined: “Okay.”
When Kazumi arrived at the entrance Itachi was already there.
“I thought I made that clear” he said, narrowing his dark eyes at Kazumi. “My sickness can’t be healed, only delayed.”
“Is that right, then I’m guessing that you already had visited some medics, asking them to heal you?” she said, raising an eye brow.
Itachi didn’t reply, but kept staring at her darkly.
“Maybe you already gave up on yourself, but I didn’t. I won’t stop finding a way to heal you and trying prevent your death!” she said glaring back at him.
“This is nothing that concerns you” he said. “This is my choice. I am going to die through Sasuke’s hand; I want to die this way. This is my punishment for what I’ve done.”
“I think that you already were punished enough in your life for that, Itachi. Your brother though got on the wrong way, and your death won’t change him into the boy he used to be, it won’t take away the hatred and revenge. Instead of fuelling his dark side you have to be there for him, tell him the truth maybe, and guide him back to his old self.”
“Hn.” She saw in his eyes that he still thought his death would solve everything, but she wouldn’t give up yet trying to change his stubborn Uchiha mind.
“Now let’s go, we have a mission to do unless you want to tell Pain why exactly we shouldn’t do this.” Kazumi couldn’t stop a smirk forming on her lips when he only glared harder at her. When Itachi would have been only a little bit like Hidan he would have used Tsukuyomi or Amaterasu on her right now. But luckily he wasn’t and so they headed out to find someone who could heal a terminal illness.