Gentle Fist, Will of Fire

I have been the heir apparent for the first fifteen years of my life. The child who would be the next member of the main family. The lucky Hyuga who would escape the Manji seal which could end a life at a whim. Though not especially strong, I was unmarked.

I watched my younger sister grow stronger. Hanabi was everything I was not. She was strong. Capable. Secure in her abilities and a much stronger ninja at her tender age than I ever was. It almost seemed like she would soon surpass me.

So it was with resignation, not anger, that I read the note. Hanabi would be heir to the main branch of the family. I would be branded with the same seal my cousin Neji had been branded with. I would be a member of the branch family, expected to die in the name of my sister or at her mere whim. It was in that moment that I understood my cousin's rage with me during that first chuunin exam.

I told my team mates. Kiba growled that they'd have to go through him if they wanted me. Shino expressed a similar sentiment, the little parts of his face which were visible twitching into a rare grin. I knew that these two boys would gladly fight against my family to keep them from forever marking me. I knew that if they did fight, they would die. I made them promise not to raise a hand against my family.

Grudgingly, after much debate, they finally agreed.

So it was with a heavy heart that I sat in my bedroom, glancing at my reflection in the small mirror my father had given me. I tried to picture having to use my forehead protector to hide the unsightly seal which would forever mark me. I tried not to weep.

My grand-uncle opened the door, his own forehead protector hiding the mark which I was about to be branded with. His smile was one of sympathy, of a regretful knowledge. He knew just what sort of pain I was about to go through, the changes that I was about to face.

He knew that Hyuga Hiashi would no longer be my father. He would be the clan head.

Arriving in the family dojo, I calmly strode to the center of the sealing circle with the grace which befitted my position. I may not have lived up to my expectations, but I wouldn't embarrass my family with cries for mercy or other displays of weakness. I could be strong for my father, just this once. I knelt in front of him, resting lightly in seiza and tilting my head back to allow him to scribe the mark which would forever bind me to my sister's protection.

It would be duty and survival which bound me to her, not love. Love had no place in a family such as ours. Love could not protect our secrets or guarantee that our family wouldn't defect. For a family like ours, we had only duty. I would do mine with a clear conscience.

And so it seemed that I would disappear quietly into the history books of my family, a footnote about a member of the main branch too weak to pass muster. My father touched his brush to the dark green ink, his eyes not meeting mine as he finished his preparations. With slow, precise movements he flicked his right sleeve back and raised the brush to mark my forehead.

It was then that the compound wall, the garden, and the wall of the dojo disappeared in a maelstrom of wind and chakra. Naruto, wearing his orange jumpsuit and a determined scowl, strode through the destruction like my father might stroll through one of our gardens. At his side stood two Kage Bunshins who poofed out of existence, and behind him I could see my teammates.

They vanished in a swirl of leaves as they used the body flicker, reappearing in flanking positions to me. Gentle, but firm hands grabbed my arms. My gaze turned to Shino as I tried to form the words to a question I wanted desperately to ask, but couldn't speak.

"We promised not to raise a hand against your family," Shino noted calmly as he and Kiba pulled me to my feet, ignoring the activation of the Byakugan in many members of my family. I was dragged quickly to the entrance Naruto had created as Shino and Kiba both used the body flicker technique again. Now Naruto stood in between my enraged family and I like a wall. "We never promised not to tell anyone. Nor did we promise not to raise our hands against you."

They'd followed the letter of the promise I'd extracted from them and violated the spirit. I couldn't find it in my heart to hate them for it.

Two members of the branch family closed on Naruto. Even back when he'd been a younger boy facing the first chuunin exam, he'd managed to beat Neji in close combat. The two who closed with him were earthworms crawling in the mud next to the way Neji soared. Naruto had only improved under his tutelage with one of three legendary Ninja, conjuring a Rasengan in each hand which blasted them away without having to move.

Neji, I knew, could stop Naruto. With my father, both of them could overcome Naruto with a great deal of ease. I watched unblinking as my cousin rose in tandem with my father. Neji advanced quickly, a smile on his face as he walked towards the man who held the rare privilege of having defeated him.

"You're going to try to make good on your promise, Naruto?" Neji's question was light, belying the dangerous nature of the situation. Naruto's grin seemed to answer the question. My cousin shrugged, his Byakugan activating as he launched a furious assault against his opponent.

Even I could see the opening he left Naruto. It was the only way he could save face and support his friend. The only way he could contribute without being killed.

Naruto didn't hesitate as he overwhelmed Neji's defense and left the branch member unconscious with a well placed blow. Several members of the family murmured at this development, firmly believing my cousin had allowed this defeat. They could never prove it thanks to Naruto's previous defeat of Neji, but they would always know.

"Kiba, Shino... You two have a job," Naruto reminded, not turning to face us. His voice seemed to snap my comrades out of their trance.

They took me with them as they exited the hole Naruto had created. I watched as my family began to swarm towards Naruto, attempting to take him down with their style. They didn't notice the Naruto on the roof until the Kage Bunshin in the dojo was finally struck after defeating half of the family present. They didn't see the wink he gave me as he dove into the confusion with another Rasengan.

And once again, I was forced to see the hopeless beginning of a battle I knew, deep in my heart, would be a desperate fight for the blond boy.

I found myself worrying as we waited. Shino and Kiba wouldn't let me leave the small apartment which I'd learned belonged to Naruto, nor would they return to the Hyuga compound to aid my kidnapper.

Neither boy truly had much to worry about. Shino was the heir to the Aburame clan and as such, was protected from any problems which may arise as a result of his actions. Likewise, Kiba was protected by being a member of the Inuzuka clan... and everyone knew that messing with one Inuzuka would bring the whole clan into things.

Naruto had no such protection. My family would fight him without a care because he had no clan, no ardent protectors who could guarantee reprisals for any permanent damage.

So it was with great shock that I watched Naruto walk in to his home. Battered, bruised, his clothing torn, he returned.

"How?" I'd finally found my voice.

"Bah. Your father's heart wasn't really into it," Naruto waved off, turning on his kettle and fishing out a styrofoam cup of instant ramen from his cupboard. Peeling away the lid and sniffing it in anticipation, he cocked his head to look at me. "Besides, most of your family isn't really all that strong. I bet most of them can't even see the tenketsu like Neji can. They just aren't used to dealing with someone as good at Taijutsu as they are."

Despite his demeanor, I knew that it was not lightly that one could walk into the Hyuga compound with hostile intent and then walk out. It was not lightly than one could dismiss the impressive skills of my family.

Yet I realized for the first time, watching the boy as he eagerly poured the hot water into the ramen cup, that his dream of being Hokage wasn't just a dream he'd endlessly walk towards. It was a real possibility already. He had the skills, he had the attitude, and he certainly had the sheer brazen confidence it would take to pull off the job.

I knew then that whatever happened, whatever the result would be of Naruto's trespass against my family, I would be safe. I knew that whatever the fallout from this would be, I could face it with this man and my teammates at my side.

I knew that Naruto had delivered me from my fate and would not back down from the declaration of war he'd signed in destruction with my family. I knew that he would not back down, could not back down. I knew it could only end when the will of one side finally crumbled.

I knew that he would stay firm no matter what. I knew he was fully aware of what he'd just done. He was smiling anyway. Naruto's broad grin reflected the small smile on my face, though in my heart I was happier than he could have imagined.

Author's Notes:

Just something I felt like writing. Plus, I like this pairing and felt like tossing something out there, even if it doesn't have the closure most people would like. It's more of a prologue to what people would expect, I guess.

Two things:

About Naruto defeating Hiashi: Yes, I believe this is easily within his capabilities. Hiashi all but shits bricks when he sees how far Neji has come, which indicates to me that he doesn't have many more tricks up his sleeve. Combined with Naruto benefiting from three years of training under Jiraiya and yes, it's possible.

About Neji's comment: That just goes back to the comment Naruto yelled at Neji during the chuunin exam about Naruto changing Hyuga.

Sorry for those who want more, but I've got no intention of continuing this. I've got too much on my plate at the moment and it's a running rule of mine not to do too much with fanfiction unless the series is already complete.

Updated: If anyone wants to continue this, feel free. I've noted a slight interest in doing so within the reviews. If anyone chooses to do so, drop me a PM and I'll include a link in the story to your chapter 2. I only ask that you make it clear where you're continuing from.