First of all, i thank you all for your patience.
I have written myself into a corner that i couldn't crawl out of.
However, my trouble has been rewarded. This chapter is finally finished!
Now i should be on track for my other chapter, so stay tuned!

This is my first Naruto Fan Fiction.
Note that this story is based on a still ongoing Show / Manga in Japan.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto!

Please Read and Review.
Thanks, and enjoy!

Naruto - Hinata Gaiden
Chapter 8 - The road to the Chuunin Exams - Part 2

Hinata and Sakura met at the ramenshop early in the evening to share a cup of ramen.
"Why haven't you told him how you feel for him?"
Huuga Hinata looked away from Sakura's stare nervously before she responded.
"I-I don't know what you are referring to."
Sakura chuckled as she drank some of the hot soup that was left in her cup.
"I was revering to Naruto of course."
The young kunoichi with the pale eyes blushed and fell silent for a moment.
There was really no point in fooling Sakura or trying to change the subject. Her friend was to sharp unfortunately.

Outside the ramenshop Shizune noticed the young girls chatting.
Whatever it was about had to wait, as she was sent bij Tsunade to tell Sakura that she wanted to see her.
So she walked up to the girls.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you two, but the hokage requested you to go see her right away Sakura."
Sakura looked at Sizunne and nodded, before returning her attention to her friend. "It seems Tsunade-sama needs me, so i don't seem to be able to get an answer to my question today. So let's finish our ramen, and continue our conversation at a later time."
Hinata swallowed hard before responding to her friend.
"We really d-don't need to c-continue this i-if you don't want to Sakura-san. We c-can also talk about something e-else."
Sakura chuckled lightly at Hinata's attempt to change the subject. Obviously the young Huuga failed.
"What would be more interesting than this? What Naruto likes for his birthday? Or perhaps what kinda date he would like to take a girl onto?"
Her words had gotten the response from the shy Hinata Sakura had hoped to get from her friend.
The girl's face turned deep red, while her eyes dropped to stare at her ramen.

After they finished their meals, and paid the kind shopkeeper, Sakura and Hinata said their goodbyes, and both went their separate ways.
Sakura joined Shizune's side, and headed for the hokage-mansion, while Hinata went home, to the Huuga mansion, to train with Neji or her father.
Tsunade was focusing on some documents that where spread over her desk as Sizune and Sakura entered her office.
While reading one of the documents, she reached in front of her, further on her desk and grabbed an envelope.
"Shizune, deliver these to Nara Shikamaru ASAP."
The young jounin accepted the envelope filled with documents, and left the office of the 5th hokage as quickly as she came in.
Tsunade moved the documents she was reading onto her desk and focused on the remaining pupil.
"Sakura, as you know, the chuunin exams are forth-coming. But without a team, you can't compete.
It so happens that a team of genin that also is qualified to compete is missing a third member. So i was hoping that you would like to join them for this exam."
Sakura held back a scream of joy Tsunade knew she felt.
The old Sakura would've jumped for joy and choked the life out of her sensei in a powerful hug.
But the young kunoichi, who stood before her, had grown much since she had become the student of Konoha's finest medical shinobi, and nodded thankfully.
She did however brushed away a tear of joy. But then, nobody was perfect.
Tsunade stared at her youngest pupil with pride.
The 5th hokage's expression changed to a more serious look.
"Hanura Sakura, your next mission is to be a chuunin the next time you walk into this office!"

She was her rival and her best friend at the same time, but now they will be teammates as well.
Things will be difficult, but in order to get at least as far as the last chuunin exams, she knew they both needed to rise above their rivalry's.
And so they will.
Chouji watched Ino walk next to him, lost in thought for the moment.
"Are you alright Ino?"
That snapped her out of her trance, and she formed a genuine smile on her beautiful face.
"Of course. Why shouldn't i be? We are able to enter the chuunin exams again. And with Sakura in our team we have 2 most powerful, cutest, and smartest kunoichi's from the Hidden Leaf in 1 team."
Chouji looked a bit sad for not being mentioned at all by his female team member.
Ino noticed, and smiled again.
And with your special food pills, none of us have to worry about getting hungry.
Chouji still doesn't seem to cheer up, and Ino couldn't stand it.
"Oh common Chouji. You know you're the strongest in our team. Me and Sakura wouldn't get very far without you."
This made her kindhearted friend smile warmly.
Mission accomplished, Ino thought, when Chouji suddenly responded.
"I'm way cuter then either of you anyway."
Both genin couldn't help themselves and laughed loudly, right before they opened the doors to the office of the 5th Hokage.

Once again in the garden of her family, Hinata was sparring.
Not with her father, not with Neji, not even with her little sister Hanabi.
Aburame Shino, a powerful genin from the esteemed clan of bug users, the Aburame-clan,was usually more than her match before they competed at their first Chuunin exams.
Now, to Shino's surprise, he was having trouble keeping the small girl at bay.
Suddenly she struck straight through his defenses, and in a blink of an eye, his bug-clone was dispersed.
The real Shino was sitting on the ground, panting heavily, a good 6 meters away from the action.
"You have improved some of your techniques quite a lot Hinata. I would've enjoyed seeing more of them, but it seems that my last training with my father drained my chakra reserves. So I'm afraid that I'll have to step out and take some rest to recover some of my energy."
Hinata lowered her guard and walked over to her beaten friend and offered him her hand, pulling him to his feet.
"I understand. You've been working very hard today. Let's go inside, and I'll make you some tea."
When Shino was on his feet, he and Hinata walked into the large Huuga mansion.
Inside Kiba was waiting on the couch with their team's jounin Kurenai.
Kurenai stood up and smiled at her students.
"Shino, get some rest, and go home to pack your bags. We'll be heading out for the Hidden Sand village tonight.
Same goes for you Hinata. But be sure to see your father before you leave. He wanted to talk to you."
"Of course sensei. When shell we assemble at the gates?" Hinata replied.
"In 3 hours. So you both have more than enough time.
Me and Kiba will be waiting for both of you there."
With that said Kurenai and Kiba walked out of the door, with Kiba's faithful companion Akamaru right behind them.

It didn't take Hinata long to pack her bag, and was almost ready finishing cleaning her room, when her little sister walked in.
"Hinata-neesan, may i ask you a question?"
Hanabi was growing up into a beautiful and strong representative of the Huuga family.
Hinata started to like her little sister a little more now she to treated her older sister with a little more respect.
Hinata knew it started out as being a forced subject for her little sister, as she was told by their father ever since her fight against Neji, and the many successful missions she's been part of since then.
"Of course Hanabi. Ask ahead."
For the last year or so, Hanabi was getting more and more comfortable around her older sister.
They started more and more casual conversations. Hanabi even started asking her for advice more often lately. Mostly because of the progress and experience she gained as a genin.
It started out with some questions about some projects she was given by the academy.
Their father simply stopped helping Hanabi, and directed her to ask her big sister.
They even shared a few giggles together.
Today her little sister had a curious look upon her face.
"How does it feel, changing so much in so little time? I mean i didn't even like you a year ago, and you are more like a real big sister."
It was more of a statement then a question. And the part that actually was a question was a simple one. Yet it was hard to answer quickly.

After a little thinking, Hinata came up with a good answer that should satisfy her sisters curiosity.
"Hanabi, when you grow older, your body changes. And so does your personality.
"Sometimes it is a very slow process, and will take many years before you'll notice the change. Sometimes it's so fast, you'll only find out about the change when others point it out to you.
"It's like how dad is slowly growing into an old man.
"It'll take about 20 more years before he's gray and wrinkly, but it's gonna happen as surely as you'll become a beautiful woman like mom was."
The thought of her father being a wrinkly old man made Hanabi giggle loudly.
And as if reading her little sisters mind, Hinata couldn't help but smile.

Inside of his office, Huuga Hiashi could hear the girls giggle a bit. It pleased him greatly that they finally started to get along.
It took Hinata a few minutes more to enter his office because of this, but he wasn't going to reprimand her now.
He stopped working as his eldest daughter finally walked into his office.
"Father," Hinata announced herself formally. "Kurenai-sensai asked me to see you before i left for the Hidden Sand village."
Her sight drifted to her feet mid-sentence.
Even though she gained a lot of confidence over the last year, his daughter was still too timid for his taste.
But he was sure this would change in the coming when she gets older.
"Hinata, unlike last time, i have a lot of faith in you. You'll make me proud whether or not you succeed in becoming a chuunin.
"Both you and Neji have grown far beyond the level of a genin."
Hinata actually felt a tiny bit of pride form in her body as her father spoken those few words.
She wasn't sure she could meet his expectations, but she would definitely would give it her best.
The young kunoichi stood up and gave her father a deep and respectful bow.
"Thank you father. I won't let you down."
She felt good about herself as she left her father's office, and couldn't hide her proud smile as she picked up her bag and left the mansion
After Hinata met up with her friend Shino, they both left for the gates.
It took them both a few minutes before they met up with Kurenai, Kiba and Akamaru.
After team Kurenai double-checked their gear, they finally left for the Hidden Sand village.

Although they were rivals, Tsunade had witnessed their capacity to work together on previous missions. She had high hopes for the both of them.
Both girls where her students, and performed very well. Accept for the occasional quarrels between them.
The learned the hard way when they started one of their quarrels at one of their first lessons together under Tsunade. It was the last time as well that Tsunade witnessed such behavior.
It was almost like watching the rivalry unfold between the young Orochimaru and the young Jiraya.
The thought made her smile a little bit every time.
As Ino, Chouji, and their jounin captain Akuma, walked into the 5th her office, she noticed a change in the atmosphere.
Both girls where suddenly fully aware of the situation.
Tsunade knew there will be a few quarrels between Sakura and Ino before they will be able to function fully as a team.
She just hoped it would be settled before the chuunin-exams started.
"Sakura, you are hereby assigned to team 8. Follow Akuma's instructions as if they were my own, and regard Chouji and Ino as you have regarded Naruto and Sasuke. As friends, allies, and as your trusted teammates. That is all. Good luck. Team 8, dismissed!"
Her words where short, simple, and to the point.
Chouji, Ino, and Sakura saluted and marched off to home, and pack their bag for the journey to the Hidden Sand village.

"Akuma, Chouji would have no problem to accept Sakura as Shikamaru's replacement for the upcoming exams. But i expect that Ino and Sakura will have a few conflicts before they will be able to work together as equals."
Akuma scratched the back of his head, while looking a bit worried.
"These 2 girls will either make it, or break it.
"It would be much better to test them as a team, before they start the exams."
Suddenly a plan formed in the back of Akuma's head, and gave Tsunade a reassuring smile.
Never mind. I already found a good way to test just that.
"Could i borrow Shizune for a day?"
Four hours later team 8 had already left Konoha's territory and where making good time.
For now the two alpha females, Akuma called them when they couldn't hear him, Ino and Sakura where very peaceful. Something Akuma and Chouji knew wouldn't last. It was only a matter of time before they lock horns.
The two young woman had an equal amount of combat pros and cons.
Sakura would pummel Ino into the ground in close combat, while Ino would devastate Sakura at ranged combat.
They both where very smart, and where bold enough to do something nobody would expect.
He needed to bring them both to a level quickly, where they could function as a team.
He hoped the two girls would find equal ground to do just that, but the way Ino was sticking to Chouji's side and Sakura to his own, Akuma knew he needed to execute his plan rather sooner than later.
Otherwise team 8 would fail the exams before they started.
After another hour of traveling, he ordered his team to take a break.
Right ofter they landed, the jounin took out a cigarette and lit it.
Ino and Chouji had gotten used to the habits of their team leader, but their newest member was not.
Sakura coughed loudly and batted the clouds of smoke away with her hand.

Hinata and the rest of her team had been traveling for a while through forests and later the desert, before they finally reached the Hidden Sand village.
At the entrance they were welcomed by Shikamaru and Temari.
Even though Shikamaru and Temari would strongly deny it, they did look like a lot more like a young couple then comrades.
Hinata could even hear them finish each other's sentences.
One day, she hoped with all her heart, she could have the same with Naruto.
The image that formed in her mind made the young Huuga blush.
Shikamaru noticed, but aimed his attention to Kiba.
Hinata was different then Sakura or Ino, but she was still a girl. And girls where... troublesome.
Somehow he knew exactly what the pale-eyed kunoichi was thinking, when he and Temari welcomed them to the village.

After Shikamaru and Temari showed team Kurenai their rooms, they left to welcome other teams from different villages to the chuunin exams.
Hinata sat down on her bed and pulled her diary out of her bag and started writing in it.
She was nervous, especially now that her father voiced his expectations to her.
Though he didn't say so, she knew her father well enough to feel his disappointment if she wouldn't pass the exams.
The biggest difference with the last chuunin-exams was that Hinata had high expectations from her own part the upcoming exams.
She felt overwhelmed by the confidence in herself.
The young Huuga girl placed her diary back into her bag and started to meditate, to calm her mind.
It would be beneficial if she had an empty head when they started on this exam.

More and more teams from different villages arrived as the day went on.
Hinata recognized some contenders from the last exams as she looked down from the balcony.
She smiled as she saw Sakura, Ino and Chouji were greeted by Shikamaru and Temari.
Hinata was happy that Sakura was able to participate in this exam but was worried about the team she had joined.
Her relationship with Ino was much to shaky, and hoped they could put their rivalry aside and work as a team. As difficult it may seem.
Hinata hurried down to meet and greet them.

The exams where planned to start 2 days from the day Hinata arrived at the Hidden Sand village.
So she had plenty time to see more of the village.
She especially wanted to see the greenhouse, where she heard many exotic plants and creatures lived.

A few hours later she and Shino arrived at the greenhouse.
Hinata asked Sakura to join her, but the pink-haired kunoichi wanted to train a bit more with Ino and Chouji.
Understandable, as they never worked on anything as intensive as the upcoming chuunin-exams as a team.
When she told her own teammates about her plans to go see the greenhouse, Kiba wasn't the least bit interested.
Shino however was much more willing to accompany her.
Mostly because he wanted to see what kind-off insects lived in the desert.
Kankuro told him about all the weird creatures he saw in his life. Most of which caused him nightmares when he was much younger, Temari teased.
Especially the wide variety of scorpions intrigued him.

Hinata and Shino where separated as they entered the greenhouse, and where guided by a guide of their own.
Though the hidden sand had no ninja with the abilities like the leaf's Aburame clan, they had their own specialists.
The boy who was assigned to show Shino around was the son, and student, of one of the lead researchers working in the greenhouse.
The boy was extremely excited about meeting Shino.
He heard stories about "bug" users of the leaf, and always wanted to meet one in person.
Besides being a bug fan, the boy was recently promoted to genin from the hidden sand.
Shino gave the boy five eggs from the colony that lived inside the body of the hidden leaf's ninja.
He told the young boy that once the eggs hatch. The larva would bond with the boys chakra, and so will their many offspring.

As Shino followed the boy, Hinata followed her own guide.
The young woman was a future scientist, who loved working with plants and flowers.
She showed Hinata all the special plants and flowers, which where al wonderful specimens in her pale eyes.

The days went by very fast, and early in the morning team Kurenai was ready to start the exams.
"Yahoo! Now that Naruto isn't around to spoil my chances to become a chuunin, my chances are looking very good. Let's do this Akamaru!"
The white dog barked loudly with excitement that mirrored Kiba's, right before they entered the large building where the first part of the exams where being held.

For now I've decided to keep Sakura's and Ino's test of the script for the next chapter. As i tend to focus more on Hinata.
But, if enough of you want some more "screen-time" for this part of the story, feel free to send me a PM with your request.

As for the next chapter, i tossed the script and have to start from scratch.
So no teaser for the next chapter, other then: The Chuunin exams have begone!