Family

By: Kulani Tawanoki

Hinata Hyuuga slowly opened her pale eyes to the morning light streaming into her room. She groggily tried to remember what day it was.

"Keep at it, Neji! Your fight with that Kyuubi brat is today and you must be prepared for whatever happens!" she heard her father yell from the training yard. Hinata sat up abruptly.

'That's right. Today's the final day of the chuunin exams. Naruto-kun has to fight Neji,' Hinata realized with a frown. 'I hope Naruto-kun wins, but it seems as if the odds are against him again…' the pale-eyed kunoichi sighed, listening to the sounds of her father and cousin training outside. She looked up and her eyes hardened. 'No,' she thought fiercely. 'Nobody can defeat Naruto-kun.'

"Hinata-sama. It is time to awaken." One of the Hyuuga compound maids called from outside her door. She nodded.

"Yes, thank you. I'll be down in a few minutes." She called back, getting out of bed to take a shower and get dressed.

As she let the warm water soak her entire body in a warm mist, she let her thoughts trail away all on their own. She thought first about her father and how she keeps trying to please him. He was so devoted to the Clan ways about how the branch family was not better than the main line. She shook her head. Look at Neji. He's much better than her and he's only a branch member. She longed for her father's praise the way he praised Neji. She loved her father more than anything else, but she knew he probably didn't realize that. She longed for his confidence in her. She tries to train, but the fighting just doesn't come as naturally to her as it probably does for Neji and her younger sister Hanabi. She longed to live up to his standards, so she keeps trying, knowing one day; she would earn her father's approval. She had to.

She then let her thoughts drift off to the training session that her father and cousin were having. Maybe she would ask Neji to help her with her training. Surely, he of all people would understand her strive for her father's attention; he had to earn approval from the same man everyday, just to be considered good.

She then let her thoughts drift away to her cousin, Neji. He was so fixated on how everyone had a destiny laid out for them and how fate was inevitable. She shook her head again. Not all fate was inevitable. Some were, but she couldn't remember which ones. She knew destiny could change, she'd already heard the story of how Hizashi, her father's twin brother, sacrificed his life for her father, claiming it was his way of escaping his fate. But now, thanks to that, Neji was without a true family. He was alone. Sure, he could turn to Hiashi, her father, of Hanabi, or even her. She knew he didn't try to intentionally kill her; he was just upset at the fact that she'd always been treated better than he was. Even the elders of her Clan, now that she thought about it, would help Neji if he had a crisis. He wasn't truly without a family, but she knew; to him it wasn't the same.

Her thoughts automatically shifted to Naruto. Her pale eyes widened. Family. Naruto truly was all alone, with no family at all. He had no brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, nothing. He had no one he could call 'family'. Sympathy filled her heart for her (not-so-secret) crush. She wished that he could have felt the comfort of a loved one long ago. Just, someone to comfort him through all of this stupid Kyuubi nonsense.

As the pale-eyed girl stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around herself, she stopped to look at herself in the mirror. Her navy blue hair and pale, iridescent eyes stared back at her.

In a spur-of-the-moment sort of vision, she watched the foggy mirror transform into a scene like in a storybook. She saw herself, much older, and an older Naruto embracing each other lovingly as a few young children ran around their legs. In the chaos they were smiling, their eyes for each other.

She gasped as the vision ended, realizing that she had a new dream to fulfill. She would be the family that Naruto needed. 'Family is an inevitable destiny,' she thought with a smirk. 'You're going to have to deal with it sometime or another.'

"Naruto-kun," she promised out loud, looking out her window to the Hokage Mountain, Naruto's favorite thinking spot. "I promise, that I will become the family that you need, no," she paused, smiling, "that you deserve."

And with that, the pale-eyed kunoichi went to silently cheer Naruto on through all of his troubles, through all of his battles. Knowing deep in her heart, that her love would never be defeated.