Red Kunai Bolts
Welcome to Red Kunai Bolts. :D This is my newest fanfiction and I hope that it is to your liking. I have a few things to make clear before getting on with the story.
Important information: In terms of timeline, when this story was planned the anime only had the Gaara rescue arc and other immediate happenings of Shippuden. As such, Red Kunai Bolts will deviate from the Shippuden arc at one point. The OCs will be distributed to have one chapter for each. At some points, both will appear together. In the story, Hyuuga Neji is 17 years old and Gaara is 16.
And now, on with the story!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. However, I do own Akemi, Asumi, the Amano clan, the nagare shogai , any OCs that appear here and the plot.
Silver for Konoha
"Just make sure the mission is complete or you know who will suffer the consequences…"
The tree shade was cool against the warm beads of sweat on his skin. His body seemed to have absorbed the sun's scorching heat during the three hours he'd been training with his teammates and he was having trouble dispelling it even after spending long minutes sitting under the faded green foliage.
A soothing wind washed over him and threaded through his long coffee locks like a refreshing surge water. Part of his well-hidden tension eased down instinctively and he allowed himself a moment to simply feel. Any instant that permitted him some relaxation in his circumstances was welcome.
While fleeting calm settled over him, his female comrade left the training field across and treaded toward him with a tired smile. She twirled a kunai in her right hand expertly and tucked it away inside her kunai pouch with a graceful maneuver. Then, abandoning all the displayed elegance as if it were a cloak, she slumped down on the grass at his side.
"That was really…intense," she commented with tangible exhaustion as she gazed at the third member of their squad.
He was still absorbed practicing his taijutsu in the middle of the grounds without any respite as he had been since noon.
"Tenten, Neji! We must train some more!" he exclaimed with resolve after the faultless execution of a high kick. "We still have a long way to go if we want to finish Gai-sensei's training for today!"
Despite his unwavering enthusiasm, his fatigue was as palpable as the grass at his feet.
"Take a break, Lee. You haven't rested in hours," Tenten advised, shutting her eyes and leaning back on her hands, "and just watching you in the sun makes me even more tired."
She exhaled deeply and slipped down to her back on the tickling lawn. The temperature the shade had provided to it made it an ideal place to lounge.
Lee wiped away a few droplets of sweat with the back of his hand and looked over at his friends. Tenten's words sounded rather wise and the shadow seemed very inviting after training under the unbending sun. He could take a break and resume his regime later.
He approached the branching tree and sat down beside the kunoichi. "It is quite cool here."
"Mhm…," she agreed as her eyes fluttered closed against her will.
Sleep tried to win over her senses, but she managed to keep it at bay by focusing on the chakra flares around her. She would not be beaten into a nap.
"You have been a little distracted today, Neji," Lee pointed out as he gazed at the other male. "Is something wrong?"
Tenten waited to hear Neji's response, but nothing except silence shifted in the breeze. A small frown creased her forehead and she flashed her eyes open to look at him. Normally he voiced some sort of answer and Lee continued speaking. However, as she figured from Lee's lack of words, Neji had not given any sort of counter. Had he heard him?
"Neji?" she called, studying his handsome features with her frown intact.
Unreadable pale lavender turned away from the clearing to look at her upon being addressed.
"I won't train anymore today," he said, eyes fixing on her.
Lee frowned without understanding. "Why not? Gai-sensei told us - "
"- I have something to do," Neji cut in, face drawing into a glare and voice freezing over.
He didn't like it when people put their noses in his business; it was his alone.
Tenten's doubt at his quiet morphed into full-fledged worry when she heard his tone and words. All traces of sleep abandoned her as quickly as they'd come. Neji usually wasn't so harsh. If he had turned acrid, there had to be a reason behind it. Was something wrong?
"Neji, is everything alright?" she enquired, sitting up and gazing at him with obvious concern.
"No," he responded in the same manner, eyes shifting back to her. "I'm fine. Now, I'm leaving."
Without waiting for his comrades to utter another word, he rose to his feet and disappeared among the leaves.
"I wonder what's making him that way…," Tenten mused with unease as she and Lee stared after the path Neji had taken.
"Today Konoha is supposed to be visited by a clan from Iwagakure as part of a treaty the two shinobi villages are making. I understand the Hyuuga clan is playing a big role in this accord. They need Neji to be there," Gai's voice reached them from behind.
"Gai-sensei!" Lee exclaimed with joy, jumping to his feet as soon as he saw him.
"Wish luck to Neji, my students," Gai said, clenching a fist as he joined them under the tree.
"Why, Sensei?" Lee asked, gaze widening as he observed his teacher.
"Because Neji is about to become…a man," Gai flashed a shiny grin at his students' stupefied faces.
"A man? How, Gai-sensei!" Lee replied, eyes broadening doubly in surprise.
"What do you mean?" Tenten interjected, eyes narrowed with more worry as she rose.
What was her insane teacher saying?
"Oh, the innocence of youth!" Gai cried out before he crushed the two Chuunin in a bone-cracking hug, "you will soon find out!"
A single dark brown tinted wagon guarded by four shinobi made its way down the path that led to the main gate of Konoha. Its shades were drawn, preventing sunlight from leaking inside. It looked as though it carried no passengers, but it could be guessed otherwise if someone drew close enough to detect the three hushed voices barely heard from within. One was distinctively male while the other two female and they were completely absorbed in a discussion.
"You have to kill him," a man stated as he gazed at one of the young women sitting across from him.
His age oscillated around the mid-thirties and he had unruly chocolate tresses with eyes of the same color. A dark blue haori with hakama pants of a matching hue dressed him, both made of a fine textile. At the sight of his younger companions, he smiled but it never touched his gaze.
An eyebrow rose over deep sapphire orbs in one of the faces crossways from him. "I don't need to be told what I must do. I received the orders and details once; I don't require hearing them again."
"Oh, my dear, I'm simply making sure you understood what you needed to do!" he said with false affection, smiling widely.
The same young woman pressed her lips together and glared at the shade on her left. "Don't use endearments with me. If you are trying to act like a father again then I must say it's simply not working. After spending seven years in the hell you sent me to I stopped needing one. I don't need or want one now."
"Why, watch your manners, young lady! This is your father to whom you're speaking! Besides, you will need your nice little smile and manners when we arrive at Konoha. I want to make sure you have them," he smiled ruefully at her as if he were speaking to a child.
"If you want us to have them then I suggest you to stop taunting us. It's getting on our nerves," the second female replied, pressing her forehead to the side of the vehicle. "Besides, you do know it's convenient for you that we both behave, otherwise you will get the blame for our poor manners. You wouldn't want the plan to fail because of this, would you?"
At the subtle threat, the smile on the man's face vanished and his eyes turned steely as he glowered at her. "Be quiet you insolent child. You need to be more respectful."
"I will be as long as you are. We need to be in our best moods if we are to pull the first phase off," she replied, honey-brown eyes scrutinizing him, "so cooperate and we will too."
The sapphire eyed young woman smiled very slightly. Finally there would be some quiet. She would be able to ponder over how she was to complete such a mission. She had done many of identical nature before, but they had not been as complex as the one she had at present…or had had the same consequences. She had to succeed if she wanted to protect what was precious to her or else, the penalty forced on her would come to pass. Neither she nor her female cohort could permit that to happen.
The distinctive sound of people bustling around surrounded the caravan and the travelers realized they had entered the village at last.
"And so it begins," the man smiled as his lips twisted into a dark sneer.
Neji stood at the front gate of the Hyuuga estate awaiting the arrival of the foreign visitors. The guards at Konoha's eastern gateway had sent word that they had admitted the Iwagakure procession into town minutes earlier. Upon hearing the news, he had finished preparing for the meeting and had gone to wait for them by the compound's entryway while his Uncle and cousins finished getting ready. The four of them were supposed to receive the guests at their home.
He'd chosen a gray yukata for the presentation with the traditional wooden sandals he used when sporting such clothing. His Uncle had told him they would be meeting members of an old, traditional and renowned clan in Iwagakure and that they would meet them in equal ground. For that reason, he'd had no choice but to dress up as the customs of his clan stipulated.
How different was the clan they were expecting from the ones in Konoha? It was a question that had been plaguing his mind for days as of late and he found himself growing curious as the time ticked by. He had not been told what to expect.
"Neji-nii-san," a shy voice addressed him from his left.
"Hinata-sama," he replied as he turned to gaze down at the heiress, "is there something that you need?"
"No," she responded, eyes flickering down at the fingers hidden under the long sleeves of her kimono. "I-I was just wondering if you were nervous…"
"No," Neji stated in his even voice, expression composed, "I'm fine."
"O-Okay…," Hinata replied softly and then turned to face the empty street.
She was relieved Neji had started to forgive the Main Branch. His relationship with her father, sister and her had greatly improved, so much so that her father had allowed him to live in the Main Family's quarters and had accepted to help him train. He still kept the same arrogant and cool attitude, but he wasn't hostile like before.
"I see they've not arrived yet," Hiashi's voice carried to them from behind. "They should be here any moment."
He glided to Hinata's unoccupied side with Hanabi and waited calmly for signs of the visitors. Within minutes, a shinobi in a foreign black ensemble appeared shrouded in smoke. He waited for the cloud to dissipate and then turned rock-hard eyes on the small group.
"Pardon me," he said solemnly, gazing at Hiashi rigidly, "is this the Hyuuga estate?"
Pale lavender gazes were drawn to the headband of the young man and the symbol engraved on the metal placed against the black cloth. It bore the two rocks, one in front of the other, that proclaimed him a ninja from Iwagakure.
"Yes, it is," Hiashi answered in a leveled voice as he examined the Rock-nin.
The shinobi nodded curtly. "Arigatou. Amano Yomiuri-sama will be here soon."
Not long after he'd spoken, a convoy guarded by three ninja wearing similar attire as the other stopped at the gates. They dispersed around the earth colored wagon they looked over and directed no glances at the Konoha citizens.
The door on the side of the vehicle opened slowly and revealed a man in a navy haori and hakama pants. He stepped out and left the access open so that his cohorts could join them once they were ready. His dark brown gaze sought Hiashi and when he found him, he ambled toward him with a very courteous smile.
"Hiashi-sama," he saluted, dipping his head as he came upon him, "please excuse our delay. We encountered a few drawbacks on our way here."
Hiashi returned the nod and allowed an almost invisible smile to grace his lips. "It is not a problem, Yomiuri-sama. I hope you managed to solve your troubles successfully. Welcome to Konoha."
"Arigatou," Yomiuri replied with relief. He smiled pleasantly at Hiashi's kin and turned to glance at the carriage. "My daughter should come out any second now."
Neji saw the wagon quake faintly and a young girl around fifteen years of age walked out. Dark blue tresses inhabited her head, all drawn back with a shiny golden hairpin. Eyes the color of brown honey contrasted with the dark hair and they sparkled when sunlight alighted within them. A top that resembled Tenten's hung over her, tinted in maize. Her shinobi sandals matched the coloring of the shirt as well as that of a pair of gauntlets that reached her elbows. White shorts rested on her hips and carried the standard shinobi belt with extra pockets to carry further ammunition. The Iwa headband circled around her forehead smugly, embraced kindly by her fringe. When she saw all of them, her lips lifted into a rather childish smile and she moved over to join the older man.
"My apologies for the apparel; we were attacked at the border and were forced to take action alongside our guards," Yomiuri stated as he placed a hand on the girl's back. "This is my daughter, Amano Asumi. Asumi, meet Hyuuga Hiashi-sama and his closest family."
The young girl smiled again and bowed with respect. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Hiashi-sama."
"Asumi-sama, I present you my daughters, Hinata and Hanabi," Hiashi replied as he motioned to each, "and my nephew, Neji."
Neji's eyes narrowed imperceptibly at the formal title his Uncle used to address the young girl. Was she from the Main Family of her clan? If so, difficulties in the arrangement were meant to arise.
"Is something the matter, Hiashi-sama?" Yomiuri enquired after he'd saluted the young Hyuugas courteously.
He thought he'd seen a shift in the clan leader's face, but he decided to ignore it. It was most likely a figment of his imagination since the man had not been moved by emotion other than for the smile with which he'd greeted him.
"No; everything is all right," Hiashi replied, features devoid of emotion as he surveyed Asumi.
She was not the age they had settled upon. Would the Hokage tell them to continue with the peace agreement despite this discrepancy?
Understanding dawned on the young girl's face as Hiashi inspected her and she couldn't help another smile. "I believe Hiashi-sama has mistaken me for Akemi-nee-sama, Father."
"Oh, I see," Yomiuri chuckled softly, "Hiashi-sama, this is my youngest offspring. My eldest one, Akemi, is still inside the carriage."
"Ah," Hiashi said, concealed relief rushing through him.
So Asumi was not the girl they had done the bargain with. He'd begun to suspect so as the Amano clan had strictly agreed that the chosen one was older.
The wagon trembled once more and a young woman about seventeen stepped outside. She did not resemble her sister in the slightest. Unusual silver locks adorned her head, secured with a golden hairpin in the same fashion as Asumi. Sapphire eyes complimented the pale hair, but they did not shine or sparkle in the presence of light. Instead they remained the same deep pools of blue that held a calm that was nearly solid. A steel blue shirt styled like Asumi's, gauntlets up to the elbows and shinobi sandals matched in the same hue. A pair of white shorts that carried the shinobi belt finished her clothing. An Iwagakure hitai-ate rested proudly over her brow, caressed by the strands of her silvery fringe.
"This is my oldest daughter, Amano Akemi," Yomiuri introduced her as she reached him.
She bowed like Asumi had done and smiled a little. "It is a pleasure to be here, Hiashi-sama."
"Welcome, Akemi-sama," Hiashi replied, mouth curving into that nearly undetectable smile yet again, "we've been expecting you."
He presented his daughters and nephew to her and then gave Neji and Akemi some space to exchange a few words. The two remained standing in the same place, but considered each other in silence.
There wasn't much Akemi could pick up from Neji at first glance. He kept his expression collected in that way she had been told to expect in a Hyuuga. In an attempt to be forthcoming, she smiled a little.
Neji returned the gesture with a nod.
'Not much of a talker, are you?' she thought as her father began to converse with Hiashi again.
"Well then, shall we visit Hokage-sama so we can sign the marriage treaty? I also need to complete Akemi's shinobi transfer papers," Yomiuri put forth as he turned to look at her with a paternal smile.
"Of course," Hiashi stated, tipping his head in agreement, "follow me."
He moved around the caravan and led the way to the Hokage tower. The others followed, falling behind in small groups. Yomiuri caught up with Hiashi and began to discuss several issues concerning the accord while Hinata and Hanabi followed them quietly. Neji, Akemi and Asumi closed the assembly in a silent line. Each was absorbed in ponderings of the repercussions the upcoming armistice would bring to their lives within minutes.
'Hiashi-sama and Father are to sign the truce that will bring peace between Iwa and Konohagakure at last after so many years since The Third Great Shinobi War…and my marriage with Hyuuga Neji is the seal. I only hope that this pact isn't broken by what I was sent to do. Iwa has nothing to do with my mission,' Akemi mulled over as she walked next to Neji along a barely crowded street with tiny shops on both sides.
'Akemi-sama from the Main Family of the Amano clan,' Neji mused as Hinata stole a worried glance at him over her left shoulder, 'what should I expect from you? You are not everything you seem to be.'
If marrying someone unknown as a pact between villages wasn't bad enough, wedding someone who was part of a Main Family was. He had been getting along with the Hyuuga Main Branch for some time now, but he didn't know if a different Main Family would be the same for him. How would Amano Akemi react to his standing with the Hyuuga? No matter her opinion of him they both needed to make the marriage work at least to a certain point. They were the key to the alliance Konohagakure and Iwagakure were trying to form.
"Nee-chan?" Asumi spoke up from Akemi's other side.
The silver haired young woman cast a glance at her younger sister. "What is it?"
Asumi smiled, took Akemi's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"Everything will work out," she whispered softly as a warm smile touched her lips.
A soft smile graced Akemi's face and she constricted Asumi's hand in return. She hoped her sister was correct. Too much depended on her actions and Asumi's as well when she settled down in Suna during the near future.
This is quite long and I didn't get to put everything I wanted in this first chapter. But I'll remedy that soon. If anybody has any questions, please contact me and I'll be sure to answer them. Next chapter features Gaara.
Please review and keep reading.