Author's Note: Thanks for all of the reviews, everyone! They were all very lovely…but I got some comments that I'd like to address to all of you. First of all, there will be no SasuSaku or NejiHina (in case you were wondering if there would be a SasuHinaNeji love triangle because they're all training together) in this fic. Just SasuHina, 'kay? And Ino may have been fawning over Sasuke last chapter, but that's because that's her nature. There will be no SasuIno in this fic; just ShikaIno. And there'll be NejiTen, as well.
Apropos, someone also asked if Neji was going to be cruel to Hinata in this fic. Well, I don't want to spoil parts of the plot for you, but in the beginning, he'll generally hate her. But as Kakashi will say in this chapter, he'll live to regret it.
Dedications: I never stop, do I? Let's stay Bold & Delicious forever, Jules and Ishy, because HLtHS is dedicated to you two, as well as Shoey! Love the Violet Sauce forever! (Sorry, the song references are inside jokes. Ayumi Hamasaki and Namie Amuro rock.)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Inspiration: Kiseki by Koda Kumi, Fall iNTo DozE by move, Color of Soul by Koda Kumi, I'm Not Alone by Crystal Kay, Puppy Love by Bennie K Feat. Gipper (Nora), Beautiful by Round Table Feat. Nino, My Boy by BoA, Make a Secret by BoA, Yuki's Room by Yuki of Bennie K, I Love You by Namie Amuro, STEP you by Ayumi Hamasaki, and ALIVE by SOUL'd OUT. Also, I've been reading a lot more SasuHina than ever before! mI.ShOE's Addicted was especially wonderful inspiration, so go read it!
Her Light to His Shadow
Chapter 3: Classes with Whom?
Two glorious days of no missions had come and gone since the meeting with the other teams had occurred, but the next morning had already taken Hyuuga Hinata by surprise. Now sitting up on her bed torpidly, svelte hands rubbed creamy eyes dreamily as she permitted a tiny yawn to escape from parted lips. A glance towards the sole window in her room quickly informed her that evidently, the sun had woken up way before she had.
She couldn't even begin attempting to hide the small smile that was already peeking through slim cheeks. Now, when was the last time that that had happened? Ambling indolently towards the nearest bathroom in the vast Hyuuga manor, she decided to bathe as quickly as she could with the intention of getting out of the estate before breakfast.
Switching on the faucet and allowing the warm water to course down slightly pale skin, she could safely assume that life had been going smoothly these days. Although she generally took pleasure in the numerous assignments Tsunade bestowed on her team (it wasn't such a rarity to go on missions without Kurenai-sensei anymore; the woman now accompanied them on only particularly risky and perilous tasks), the bashful kunoichi was certainly appreciative of a short break now and then. She wasn't entirely certain if she was elated about the fact that she and the boys would probably be doing nothing but trivial missions from now until the spring of next year, but for now, she was content in just being able to stay in Konoha in peace for a few months.
She was just stepping out of the bathroom, trying to towel-dry wet hair that flopped halfway down her back, when it hit her. Things were not okay anymore; how could she have thought that for even a second? She could deal with Kiba's overexertion of power during a mission, she could cope with Shino's sometimes infuriatingly mysterious demeanor; but deal with her own cousin for a mere two hours she could not even think of doing.
And Neji was just one problem, she reflected, biting her lip lightly as the other difficult shinobi soon came into mind. What about Sasuke? Yes, she would admit that she did not know him well enough to place such harsh stereotypes on him; but from what she had heard and seen from a safe distance, she'd understood that he was not a very affable person.
Then again, she'd never comprehended why the entire female population of Konoha (at least, those who were her age) was infatuated with him, even after everything that'd happened with him and his foiled revenge that apparently, he would never be able to fully exact. All of those whispered murmurings she'd heard in town about him – of how he valued his goals for vengeance over his own teammates, of how he refused to care about a single soul around him…she just couldn't grasp the logic the other girls had. They were aware of these same personality traits the Uchiha bore, so how could they – how could anyone – have feelings for him?
Simply put, Uchiha Sasuke was just one conundrum she did not wish to figure out.
Fully clad in her usual training outfit, she exited her bedroom with the intention of heading downstairs as quickly as humanly possible; slender, fit legs aided her in creeping past the Hyuuga kitchen without being detected. Upon her departure from the bathroom, she'd made up her mind to go without breakfast today. She had her justifications for doing so; sneaking momentary gazes at the numerous household servants that were frequenting the vast hallways, she came to the realization that either her sister or her father was presently situated in the eating area – unsurprisingly, she did not desire to encounter any family member this morning.
Providentially for the demure kunoichi, her wish was fulfilled. She was able to safely avoid both of her immediate blood relations, exiting the grand mansion and situating herself at the minute garden behind the manor in no time at all. Cautiously kneeling down before the patch of land and clandestinely hoping no one would disturb her, she permitted creamy orbs to sweep over the sight of the numerous blossoms decorously adorning the rich, abundant soil with delight. An absent beam could be seen creeping on a porcelain face as she gently allowed a lithe finger to play with the stubby petals of a particularly young bud. Having noticed the tiny sprout peeking out from the earth on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she'd promptly assumed the role of its caretaker, informing the servants that they need not strive for watering or tending to the plants any longer. In all actuality, she really hadn't had a valid explanation for her actions; just being conscious in the fact that it was unique enough to have been born the day before her birthday had provided enough reason for her to want to watch over it with the loving intuition only a mother could bear.
Plentiful training sessions and frequent, lengthy missions had prevented her from periodically checking up on its progress, but each time she was at home and was confident that she would stay there for a long period of time, she made certain to certify that the tiny blossom was still alive and accounted for among the other flowers in her garden. She, however, wasn't able to determine its species as of yet – it appeared to mature rather differently than those around it – and although she'd been increasingly disheartened to see that it wasn't developing much, she'd learned to accept its slow growth. Her unwavering belief was that it would soon become more beautiful than its neighbors if it was given the proper time and painstaking care needed for it to mature.
She longed to be able to discern its genus; for now, however, she would wait until she could delight herself with its scent first. Rising up from her spot slowly, as if she were in a faraway trance, she dusted herself off thoroughly and took one last glance at the mysterious sprout before turning around and heading out of the Hyuuga grounds.
Walking down the dusty road by herself, a sylphlike hand gently went into her pouch and unearthed a crumpled list of electives she had decided upon the night before. Her milky eyes pensively swept over each of the four classes she'd selected, and she couldn't help but wonder if she'd been right in her choices. She didn't particularly enjoy mathematics (in truth, she happened to deem it an unnecessarily laborious and demanding subject), but the childlike part of her essence still desired for Kurenai-sensei to remain her teacher. To a certain extent, the stoic woman had been somewhat akin to a mother-figure these past four years they'd trained together; it soon became a regularity for the young kunoichi to instinctively depend on the jounin to shower her with the implicit affection her own family had neglected to give her. It had grown to the point wherein the Hyuuga had almost forgotten her recurrent agony about never having been acquainted with her birth mother; as long as Kurenai-sensei, Shino, and even Kiba were present with her, living wasn't insufferable.
…Shino and Kiba. Still deep in thought, she couldn't help but ponder about which classes her teammates had opted for. Unsurprisingly, she knew that they both might have selected the Biology course with Kakashi-sensei, so she'd gone for the same class. Perhaps the emotionless jounin would focus on botany, as well as animals, in his course syllabus. Realizing that she was also a bit intrigued at the possibility of picking up the basics of a few unfamiliar dialects, she'd also picked the General Languages course, as well as the General Grammar one. In all veracity, the problem of her scheduling process had been more of which fourth course (which would undoubtedly be a math one) was the least challenging out of them all. After hours of mentally deliberating with herself, she'd decided on Algebra to be her last selection, especially since it appeared to be less troubling than Geometry and Calculus.
Her mind reverting to the most significant matter at hand, she cringed slightly at the considerable amount of people currently gathered around Gai-sensei's training spot. Both of her teammates were standing a little off to the side, closely accompanied by Team Asuma's. Glancing from the anxious but determined blue orbs of Yamanaka Ino to the warm but apathetic chocolate eyes of Tenten, she wondered why they were all here. Had all the chuunin opted for the General Grammar course?
Thinking back on the blonde kunoichi's question yesterday, however, presented her with an acceptable answer. Perhaps they were all furtively afraid of getting their tongues chopped off in distant lands…
She soon noticed the absence of a third person from Kakashi-sensei's unit. It seemed evident that Uchiha Sasuke hadn't selected this class, or perhaps he didn't deem it important to show up at all. She couldn't help but allow the dark-eyed monsters of indifference to obscure her thoughts. It wasn't such a bad thing that he was missing; if anything, his lack of appearance this morning would make things slightly easier for her. She would only have to avoid just one training partner before the actual sessions began, and that was her cousin.
…But then, warily glancing over at Tenten's general direction again, she noted that Neji wasn't present, either. The same went for Nara Shikamaru of Ino's group…perhaps another class was going on at the moment. That would provide an explanation of why her team was the only one with all three of its subordinates present and accounted for, unless Shikamaru, Neji, and Sasuke had all taken ill today. Shaking the aforementioned folly out of her thoughts almost as soon as it had permeated into her mind, she couldn't help but inwardly mope on what was going to happen later on that afternoon. Why had Kurenai-sensei recommended her for these special training sessions?
"Hey, Hinata!" Kiba, waving from the distance, brought her back into the world she had wandered so easily from. Judging by the strained tones in which he had voiced her name; she reckoned that Kurenai-sensei had once again forbid him from taking Akamaru with him. But she couldn't blame their teacher – after all, the canine had grown considerably large over the years. He was no longer an adorably cute puppy; he was even large enough to switch roles with Kiba – the shinobi wasn't ever seen around town without being carried by his faithful dog. "…Over here!"
Smiling sincerely, she quickly joined her teammates and replaced her list of courses back into her pocket as she absently greeted them both. "Good morning, Kiba and Shino…I hope you are both doing well…" Moving her gaze elsewhere, creamy eyes lit up at the sight of a certain blond shinobi arguing with his teammate for the millionth time that week. Ostensibly, Naruto was in the same class as she, Shino, and Kiba – it pleased her to no end. Just seeing him in his exuberant temperament was akin to a warm fire warming up joints on a particularly chilly day.
Someone's voice broke her off from her pleasing thoughts, prompting her to turn and face whoever it was that had spoken. "…Hinata, which classes did you pick?" inquired her usually silent teammate out of plain curiosity. "I was just checking with him-" Here, he jerked an apathetic thumb towards an indignant Kiba- "only to find out that we'd both selected the same things. Which is rather unfortunate, if you ask me-"
"Look, buddy," Kiba stressed the last word with such a biting and sarcastic tone that made the Hyuuga heiress flinch in her place, "I'm not in a good mood today, if you haven't guessed already. This whole thing is stupid, I mean, who really needs to learn all this trash?" Mumbling dispirited incoherencies underneath his breath, he proceeded to circle around his startled team members. "…I don't even know what Akamaru would do, anyway…it's not like he'd bite someone, if that's what she's so afraid of…"
Shino, having regained his composure a bit faster than Hinata, presently shrugged at the Inuzuka. Kiba had been consistently displaying this irritating behavior ever since Kurenai-sensei had shown up earlier and informed him that he couldn't have Akamaru accompany him anymore (to thwart any distractions he might receive from the canine's presence), right before she'd disappeared and missed the furious shinobi's rants. "It's useless to keep griping about things you can't change, Kiba. You're wasting your breath, if you ask me."
The aforesaid ninja bristled in his unstilted rage – if anything, the bug-nin had been exasperating him even more than his sensei had. All of his indifferent but snide remarks, his assumed superiority, and the way he seemed to effortlessly go through tasks without complaining; just thinking of the smirk the Aburame indubitably had concealed behind both the sunglasses and the trench coat seemed to drive Kiba mad. "Well, guess what, Shino? No one's asking you!"
Hinata reluctantly winced as she stood between the verbal disputes. It wasn't necessary for her team members to act so hostile towards each other so early in the day, to be frank; she couldn't help but furtively wonder why Shino was acting so pessimistic. Figuring that the Aburame probably expressed a secret desire to get these abnormal training sessions out of the way with the hopes that he could become a jounin as soon as possible, however, gave her an idea. Turning to face both of them, she uttered her plead as nicely as she could possibly muster. "C-Calm down, will you? Everything will be a bit more tolerable if we can stick together…" She dug into her pocket once more to retrieve the crumpled list of classes, handing it over to Shino. "Here's my schedule."
Unfolding the paper with the intention of viewing its contents, said shinobi scanned over it distastefully before endeavoring to hand it back to its rightful owner. "…You sure you can't change some of these, Hinata?"
Creamy abysses were now gazing at him, sincerely puzzled. "What do you mean?" She made an attempt to accept her schedule from him, but Kiba had quickly snatched it from Shino's grasp. Emitting a surprised squeak, she tried not to look frightened as the critical frown on the dog-nin's face grew deeper and deeper within each second of his reading of her classes. This didn't look good, not in the least-
Kiba had since exchanged his irritated mood for a pitying one, shaking his head in what could be perceived as sympathy while he handed the schedule over to the demure kunoichi. "Yeah, Hinata…besides Biology and this stupid excuse for a class, you don't have any of our classes." He scratched his cheek and stared at her pensively, deep in thought. "Maybe you should ask Kurenai-sensei if you could switch out of Algebra-"
The bemused look on the heiress's countenance had subsided once she became conscious in their true intentions. A heavy blush soon took its place as she realized that they were merely concerned for her wellbeing. "Don't worry; I'll be f-fine." Seeing their faces darken even more so gave her the painful realization that they were genuinely unconvinced of her fabricated response. She would admit to herself that being in classes without them was downright terrifying; but on the other hand, she'd done so much without either of the two shinobi by her side. She would survive, at least until her private training sessions later on that day…
The alarming sound of someone clearing his throat smoothly snatched her away from her contemplations. Gai-sensei had appeared out of thin air, and clapped his hands together in an expert fashion. "Good morning, you all! Let's get this show on the road! Get seated so we can get started!" Seemingly oblivious to many of the exasperated groans and grievances currently being uttered by the majority of the chuunin in reply to his exuberance, he eagerly motioned to the stragglers of the group, Naruto and Kiba. "C'mon, you two! We really don't have any time for all this slowness…"
Having been the first to be seated, Lee seemed irked at the way a heavy-eyed Naruto grudgingly complied with his sensei's orders. Despite Tenten's cautionary glances, he uttered his thoughts aloud. "You heard him, Naruto. Hurry it up!" Truth be told, people like Naruto were bound to bring the entire class down if they didn't plan on sharing his revered teacher's enthusiasm. He frowned as the blond chuunin obliviously seated himself between his pink-haired teammate and Neji's bashful cousin. As long as he wasn't attempting to strike up a suave conversation with Sakura, things were fine with him.
If she hadn't been flushing already, the creamy apples of the Hyuuga's cheeks colored brightly upon noting the presence of a certain Uzumaki. She couldn't even begin to fathom her unbelievable luck – this was wonderful! Shifting uncomfortably within her spot, she struggled to refrain from biting down her lower lip as she finally addressed him while Gai-sensei proceeded to discuss the class's syllabus. "Hello, N-Naruto…"
Said chuunin indolently stifled yet another loud yawn before turning to glance at the kunoichi who had just spoken to him. Sluggish blue orbs didn't seem to delve far into buoyant white ones, however. "Oh. Hey, Hinata. What's up?" He raised a tanned hand to his mouth once again and awaited her response.
Presumably, some of the chuunin besides Lee were trying their best to pay heed to Gai's course outline. From where she sat behind the blond, Ino tapped his shoulder with a strong finger and scowled at him. "You're so rude, Naruto. If anyone, you should be the one making sure your tongue doesn't get cut off…" She heaved a sigh noisily as she moved her concentration from Naruto to Chouji, who was presently stuffing his face, as usual. Normally Shikamaru would intervene with his own wry remark; what was the point of sitting here when she had become so accustomed to his petty grievances? To add to her problems, Sasuke wasn't here…
Although the blonde kunoichi had indirectly stolen Naruto's immediate interest, Hinata sat in her spot, milky orbs seeing past Gai-sensei's bouncy figure. A dreamy smile splashed with oblivious bliss was seen sprinkled about her flushing countenance; her creamy eyes sparkled with a pristine light from the sudden bout of pleasure she'd just experienced. Shino and Kiba, who were situated on her other side, eyed her dubiously before turning away, but nothing could dampen her spirits as of now.
Even though she'd caught their uncertainties displayed so overtly in their glances, she could've cared less.
…Nothing could spoil her present state of mind.
On the contrary, Uchiha Sasuke felt that everything was tampering with his mental state. He'd purposely skipped out on attending his first class simply because he didn't feel like it. Chances were that he wasn't going to feel like it for a good while, but he'd make himself go soon enough. Besides, he'd wanted some time off from everything around him – some time away from society and civilization, namely. Rather than walking with Naruto and Sakura to Gai-sensei's training area, he'd opted for just leaning back on a sturdy tree's trunk deep within the forest – a place where no one would even fathom him to be. It was all for good reason, naturally. He honestly didn't know if there would be another opportunity for him to be able to have himself as his own company in the months to follow.
Shutting his eyes temporarily with the intention of catching the few winks of sleep he hadn't managed to obtain the evening before, he strove to purge the thoughts currently sullying his mind. A deep scowl soon graced his handsome features afresh when he noted just how eerily the quiet seemed, however, and his dark eyes forced themselves open. …This, like so many other things in life, was meaningless. There really wasn't any real point behind this new program the Hokage had just seemingly concocted out of nowhere. He frowned and rose up from where he'd just been leaning.
…It was time to take a long walk.
Someone else's soft breathing could be discerned not far from where the Uchiha had been located. Eyes tightly shut with the intentions of delving into deep meditation, Hyuuga Neji had, unlike Sasuke, achieved some semblance of control over his thoughts. On the other hand, he, like the sole survivor, had purposely skipped the training sessions to catch up on his own personal training. The tangible notion of training alongside his younger cousin had revolted him more than anything else; he too did not look forward to Hatake Kakashi's extra training gatherings later on in the afternoon.
Speaking of Hinata…he was fully aware of the hushed discussions about him as he walked about the village (albeit he was accompanied with Lee and Tenten). He knew how they felt about him; he was completely conscious about the way she felt about him. Having since understood the general agreement that he should strive to be more considerate to her, even after hearing the real truth about his father's tragic demise years ago, it was a shame that the Branch House Hyuuga still harbored some sort of abhorrence towards the diffident heiress. Hinata had tried to create some appearance of desiring to patch things up with them, but the situation wasn't bound to change.
He had promised himself, at an earlier date and time, that he could not afford to associate with weaklings. Yes, she had certainly grown emotionally and physically stronger within the past few years; he would not deny it. Yes, there were times wherein he'd allowed her amiability to implicitly affect him and even make him think guiltily about his past transgressions towards her. And yes, he would live to protect her, as was his duty; however, his reviled role did not require a necessity to befriend his cousin.
As long as she stayed away from him, he would stay at peace. Regrettably, there was no method in the entire universe to prevent her from meeting with him.
In the meanwhile, Nara Shikamaru lazily stretched from his temporary napping position, keeping one eye open as he gazed at the clouds above numbly. Having felt that it was just too bothersome to have woken up so early in the morning, he'd opted for purposely missing his first class with Gai. Unlike Neji and Sasuke, however, he felt that the class was probably beneficial to his future as an esteemed shinobi; lacking the motivation required seemed to have exacerbated the situation.
He opened his other eye and was deliberately silent for a couple of minutes, paying no heed to the random chirpings of the forest birds from above. In a few moments, he received his answer. Based on the moronic grumblings (Kiba and Naruto, he reputed) emanating from the area not sixty meters from where he himself was situated, class had let out. Most of the chuunin were probably heading out to some mathematics course with Kurenai-sensei right about now.
Algebra didn't sound as irritating as General Grammar (and he would furtively agree that the aforesaid kunoichi teaching the subject wasn't as troublesome as Gai-sensei), so he forced himself to rise up from his spot, stretched indolently, and began his way to Team Kurenai's training spot.
Ten minutes later…
Because the amount of students opting for arithmetic had been drastically cut in half (Lee, Chouji, Kiba, and Shino had all gone their separate ways to head out to Asuma-sensei), the only real addition to the party seemed to be a rather apathetic Shikamaru, Hinata shortly noted, watching him take a severe verbal assault from an enraged blonde without any real retaliation. She wondered where he could have been, taking her seat beside Sakura as she waited for Kurenai to personally deliver her own set of instructions regarding her class. Fortunately, her sensei seemed to be more organized than Gai had (the latter had spent the majority of his time blatantly fawning over his most treasured student, Lee). To ameliorate the situation (or would it possibly make things worse?), Kakashi-sensei had showed up, as well. Forever reading his debased novel, he took his seat behind Naruto and didn't utter a single word.
Even with Sakura currently bragging about how she'd managed to take every single course except for History in Literature and Ino continuing her assertive tirades at present, everyone was generally subdued. Rising up from where she'd sat just a few minutes ago, Kurenai cleared her throat somberly, and all chatter was eradicated.
"Since today's the very first day we're all meeting, I won't teach. Instead, I'll discuss the other things you'll need to learn before you head out on this journey in a few months' time. In addition to scholastic necessities, you'll need to be aware of domestic ones, as well. For example, some of you will have to learn how to prepare food for the others," she started, placing a svelte hand into her pouch for the list of names she'd compiled specially for the occasion, "and that was drawn completely at random. It's for those of you boys who like to think that the girls will be cooking for you all, of course."
Sakura sat up excitably and beamed, allowing Inner Sakura to do the majority of the talking. 'You tell 'em, girlfriend!'
"Now, proportionally speaking, only four of you will need to learn how to cook well," the dark-haired sensei continued, "and we've decided to randomly pick this four. Once your name has been read, remember that you must report to extra sessions with me at twelve o' clock each day." She unfolded the paper and proceeded to read off of it in a humorless tone. "We have Hyuuga Hinata, Nara Shikamaru, Uzumaki Naruto, and Yamanaka Ino."
Glaring at Kurenai, an enraged Naruto leapt to his feet and aimed a rude finger towards her, startling everyone else in the process. "Just what are you on, lady? I can't cook for everyone!"
Kakashi had risen up from his spot as well, and now took his time in emotionlessly knocking his subordinate upside the head. Removing his eyes from where they'd been plastered on his book, he spoke apologetically to the miffed kunoichi. "Ignore him, Kurenai. I'm afraid that he still hasn't been housebroken after all this time…"
Hinata couldn't control her tiny giggles as Naruto uttered a short yell of complaint and rubbed at the back of his head, while Kurenai stared indifferently from said subordinate to his sensei before turning to indulge in her true curriculum for her mathematics electives. Evidently, learning wouldn't end up to be so trying at all – there was yet another opportunity for her to see Naruto each day. Things were truly brightening up.
In the intervening time, a pink-haired kunoichi deemed it as good a time as any to begin gloating to her blonde former friend. Smirking snidely, she voiced her insult as loudly as possible to the infuriated Yamanaka, who was reddening more and more within the next few seconds. "I always knew your place was behind kitchen doors, piggy!"
Shikamaru groaned as his chagrined teammate leaned over to where Sakura was with the clear intention of delving into more petty arguments. Apparently, he'd certainly made the wrong decision in actually bothering to show up. At times like these, he'd actually prefer to spend time watching Chouji eat his snacked goods parsimoniously than listen to Ino's grievances against Sakura. Then again, he was about to encounter more food than he wanted to in the months to come, thanks to this random drawing of names…
"This is bound to be a lot more troublesome than it's worth…"
Ending Note: I decided to cut this chapter short, simply because it was getting too long as it is. I'm used to writing twenty-paged chapters, but I think I'll refrain from doing that this time around. Besides, I'm sure some of you would scream if this wasn't updated sooner. Again, I apologize for that! I've just been having family issues at home.
Funny; only one person wanted a gift from me, and that was the graphic art. I'm sorry, but that offer's now closed. But I want to take the time to thank each and every one of you for reviewing. I've noticed something – SasuHina reviewers/writers are like one huge, happy family. We all read each other's stories; we review each other; we support each other; no one lurks… We are a family!
Remember, the pairings among the chuunin will be as follows: SasuHina, NaruSaku, ShikaIno, and NejiTen. I will admit that I like the KibaHina, NejiHina, ShikaTema, and NejiIno pairings (as well as any crack pairings with Tenten or Hinata); however, I will not be putting these pairings in this fic. Also, I hate NaruHina. I hate it even more than SasuSaku.
Hmm…I've shown NaruSaku already. Let's see if I can put some ShikaIno and NejiTen in the next chapter, as well as SasuHina. Please review, as always! It was my birthday yesterday! XD My Sweet Sixteen! Reviews would be lovely at this time.