Disclaimer: This is a story based on the story Team 8 by S'Tar'Kan, who if you are remotely interested in Naruto Fanfiction, you should definitely read. This story was written to take place during Chapter 11 when I found out he skimmed over a potentially cute scene where Hinata first visits Naruto's apartment. I have received his permission to play in his sandbox with this story. I have not received permission to use Naruto, but Fair Use and all seems to back me up. This was edited primarily by Liquid Engineer who apparently grasps the English language much better than I do, and partially by S'Tar'Kan who made some pointers in the email he sent me. It should also be noted that this counts as AU as the events that take place in this story do NOT take place in the main Team 8 story arc. This is a fanwork of a fanwork, but at this point, I like Team 8 more than canon Naruto, so I'm not sweating too much over that fact.
A Night With Naruto
Hinata fidgeted from side to side as she stood before the door of a small apartment with an exterior that looked like it had been neglected for years. She bit her lip slightly as she nervously reached up and rapped a knuckle against the door. What had she been thinking when she asked Naruto to train together at his apartment? Never mind the forwardness of imposing like she did, now she was going to be alone with Naruto in his apartment. Granted, she had spent many nights training with Naruto with no supervision, but somehow the fact that they would be alone in his apartment made her nervous. Of course the fact that scenes of what could happen while she and Naruto were alone in his apartment playing in her mind's eye didn't help the matters. She absentmindedly pushed her fingers together out of habit as she angled her gaze slightly downward.
Naruto opened the door with an exuberant smile on his face, and an air about him that dispelled all her fears. "Heya, Hinata. I'm glad you managed to find the place. I know it's a bit out of the way. Come on in." He stepped away from the door and let her in She heard the telltale pops of Bunshin departing coming from inside. She stepped in with a sense of wonder. The dwellingwas very small, only slightly larger than her bedroom. Immediately as she walked in, she saw a tinykitchen area that held a very small stove, sink, and mini refrigerator. She turned her head right, and saw that the kitchen area ran into his living area, with a small door between them she guessed went to his bathroom. Pressed up against the back corner of the apartment was a single twin sized bed. Next to it was a night stand on which sat a pair of books, Naruto's field alarm clock, and a small picture frame that held the picture Team 8 had taken after they returned from their first border patrol. Naruto's voice filled the small room as she studied the apartment, "Eh heh, I told you it wasn't much, Hinata..." His voice trailed off, something she noticed happened when he was embarrassed.
"It's very nice Naruto-kun. It was very kind of you to let me come here and practice with you." She smiled warmly, aware of how uneasy Naruto was about his status in society. She would rather die horribly than offend him.
Naruto's spirits rose with her comment. "Well, uh, you're welcome in my house at any time. Even if it isn't much." He smiled as he tried to remember the exact words Shibi had said as they departed from the Aburame clan house hold
Though it may not be much, it was still enough to cause Hinata's eyes to widen in surprise. "T-thank you Naruto-kun." She lowered her head in a bow.
Naruto let a laugh escape his lips as he shut the door. "You don't need to do any of that formal junk with me, Hinata-chan." He paused to compose himself before speaking again. "I do mean it though," He walked to the center of the apartment, which formed a roughly five foot square of empty space. When he spoke again his voice was harder, as if to make his words come across more gravely. "You're my best friend. If you ever need me, for anything, even when you think I'm asleep, come get me."
Hinata did not trust her voice as she nodded her head. Objectively, she knew that she and Naruto were close. These days they spent nearly sixteen hours a day together training, and only parted to sleep. What's more she had become his confidant with regards to the Kyuubi caged within him. Subjectively though, his admission that she was his "best friend" rendered her speechless. A warm feeling felt like it was emanating from her chest. She took a deep breath as she moved towards him. "Thank you Naruto-kun. If I ever need someone, I know who I will come to." She smiled brightly and lifted her head to look him in the eyes.
Naruto's serious attitude melted away as his lips curled up into a smile. "Alright then. I may not have much room, but I did make some space on the floor we can use to spar. It's not much space, but as Shino said, maybe this will be good training." Naruto dropped into a ready stance.
Hinata looked nervously at the wooden floor. With the space as confined as it was, her style of combat would have a large advantage over Naruto's much more energetic Goken. In addition the space would limit his ability to use Kage Bunshin. She looked at Naruto. He was never one to back down from a challenge, and he would rather she fought with everything she had than hold back against him. "I think I may have a small advantage in a situation like this."
Naruto let a small smirk cross his lips. "The Jyuuken is strongest when it can limit its opponent's mobility as each successful strike reduces their offensive and defensive capabilities," he quoted something Gai had said during one of their morning sessions. "Still, this gives me the opportunity to try out some new ideas I had during Gai-sensei's last lecture." There was a mischievous glint in his eyes that warmed Hinata.
She bowed her head lightly and fell into her basic Jyuuken stance. The space confinement meant the two were already inches from being within each other's guard. Naruto started their spar with a quick right jab at her left shoulder. Hinata easily sidestepped the move as she began her offensive. The two moved around each other slowly. Hinata's attacks were more dangerous than Naruto's due to their debilitating consequences, but Naruto was effective at avoiding or pushing them off course. However, he made the mistake of overextending himself slightly on a blow that Hinata ducked beneath, and was able to strike at his abdomen before he could recover. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see Naruto's handscoming together to form seals. She heard the sounds of a Bunshin being created to her left, followed immediately by what sounded like it being disrupted. Her strike landed just to the right of Naruto's navel, and he took a step backward and tripped over the baseboard of his bed. A subsequent thunk echoed through the house as Naruto banged his head against the wall of his apartment. "Owwww..." He rolled up into a sitting position as one hand rubbed the back of his head and the other rubbed his stomach. "Gonna need to be a bit more aware when fighting in confined spaces like these."
Hinata bowed lightly, "Ano, what were you trying to do when I hit you, Naruto-kun? I saw your hands making seals, but I didn't see anything happen."
Naruto grimaced as he pushed his Tenketsu open again. "I guess it didn't work very well. I was trying to create a clone to swap with, but when I performed the kwamari jutsu, the clone was disrupted." He shrugged. "Kwamari is a hit-or-miss jutsu for me, but if I can get good enough to create a clone and then swap it for me, that could be really useful." He rubbed his side and stood, stretching his arms behind his neck. "So, ready for round two?"
Hinata's eyes widened. Being able to move around like could be very useful, and though typically it would be a waste to use a Kage Bunshin on such a tactic, Naruto's overwhelming reserves of chakra made it possible. Hinata paused for a second before speaking, "Ano, have you ever tried to do that before?"
Naruto tilted his head to the side. "No, I guess that was the first time I tried it. I thought of it when Gai was talking about misdirection the other day. Why do you ask?"
Hinata nodded. "It is important that you spend time practicing maneuvers like this before you try and use them in combat. Would you like to work on this some?"
Naruto frowned slightly, "But if we work just on that, you're not getting much out of this training time are you?"
"That's alright Naruto-kun. I am happy to help. Perhaps you can start off by trying to do both jutsu back to backand see how it feels."
Naruto hesitated for a moment before nodding his head. "Ok, here goes!" He quickly rammed his hands together in a seal. He lowered his head and screwed his eyes close to concentrate as a clone appeared beside him. His hands shifted quickly as he hastily tried to mold the chakra for the substitution jutsu. A moment later, he heard a distinct "poof" as the clone disrupted. A scowl crossed his lips. He was about to make a remark before Hinata's calm soothing voice cut him off.
"A-ano, perhaps you should try it a bit slower Naruto," Hinata quietly suggested. "In order to get the feeling of the technique. You can try to speed it up once you know how it's supposed to feel."
Naruto nodded slowly. "Ok, I'll give it another try." This time he placed his hands together calmly, and audibly verbalized, "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu." Across from him a thin cloud of smoke appeared and he could see the outline of a clone behind it. He shifted his fingers again, and concentrated on the now solid clone. He closed his eyes in concentration, and when he opened them again he was looking at Hinata from a new angle. "I did it!" He jumped up and waved his hands over his head as his clone popped out of existence.
Hinata smiled warmly at Naruto. "Very good Naruto. Now take what you did and try it a bit faster. If you keep practicing I'm sure you will get it." Naruto let out a bark of laughter at her comment, which caused her mood to temporarily fall. She had been sincere in her words, so what did Naruto hear that made him laugh at them?
Naruto seemed to pick up on this. "Sorry Hinata, it's just that, for a moment there, you sounded just like Kurenai-sensei or Gai-sensei. They're both always going on about practice and hard work and how that's what you need to get better." He screwed his face into a serious expression, and spoke with a lowered voice attempting to mimic one of Gai's speeches. "Trust me, Naruto, you will become a great ninja one day, and in your path you will become a genius of hard work, just like Lee."
She smiled at him, her momentary setback past. "Naruto-kun, you are already a genius of hard work. You are working every waking moment you have! You probably work even more than Lee-san."
He snickered lightly. "Oh yeah? Look who's talking! You spend just as much time as I do training and you know it! Besides, it doesn't feel so much like work when I've got such an awesome partner to train with!" He grinned broadly at Hinata.
Hinata felt her heart skip a beat as she drew in a quick breath. She managed to regain her composure and smiled. "Hai. I also enjoy training with you very much, Naruto-kun." She watched Naruto idly brush a hand through his hair as his grin became slightly lop-sided. "Perhaps we should continue training, though. I need to work on some Chakra control exercises, and if you continue working on your Kwamari jutsu, I'm sure that you will get it."
Naruto smiled and nodded at her. He began to focus on the wooden floorboards of his apartment as he began forming the seals for both jutsu. He performed the technique for what felt like an eternity, but was really closer to twenty minutes. He could feel himself getting quicker, but he kept hitting a wall. The problem seemed to be that he was trying to switch with the clone before it had completely formed, so rather than being able to perform the two moves simultaneously, he had to try and time things right so that he swapped with the clone right as it solidified. All in all it still happened fast enough to be useful, but like so many other moves of his, it required a great deal of discipline that he often lost hold of when in a pitched battle. He frowned slightly, as he wondered if there was someway to speed up the Kage Bunshin process. Maybe he would ask Kurenai about it. The fact that the technique was a secret technique of Konoha certainly imposed additional roadblocks when it came to learning about his favorite jutsu. Still, Kurenai had always encouraged his learning in the past. Perhaps he would approach her and see what came from there.
His thoughts were interrupted by Hinata's voice. He looked over to see her performing the water gathering jutsu over his sink. Except that this was far more complex than merely gathering water and having it flow from a spot. The water seemed to split at the start into four small streams, which spiraled along a diagonal from the top. As the streams were about to disappear into the sink, they shot upwards for a moment defying gravity before finally falling into the sink. Naruto's eyes were as wide as saucers as he spoke in a quiet voice. "Hinata, that's … that's amazing!" The dark hair girl let out a small squeak as she turned to Naruto. "That's incredible Hinata! I didn't know you could do that!"
Hinata let a slight blush creep onto her face. "A-ano." She paused, took a quick breath and composed herself. "Kurenai-sensei noticed when I was training that I was very skilled with this technique. She has begun giving me some more advanced chakra control exercises using it." She noticed the excitement on Naruto's face as he seemed ready to burst. "I could, umm, show you the notes she gave me. If you want to try that is." Naruto nodded comically as he moved over towards the sink. She activated her Byakugan so she could get a better view at how Naruto was molding chakra. It was a training technique she had used with him ever since the first night they trained together. She spoke slowly as she described the process; always pausing when it seemed like something confused him. Spending so much time with him gave her a good amount of insight into his facial expressions. As she concluded everything that Kurenai had taught her, she stepped back and let Naruto make his first attempt. Another thing she had learned about Naruto was that he always seemed to learn better when he was doing something rather than simply being lectured or reading from a book.
His first attempt was a rather out of control condensation jutsu that barely managed to stay in the sink. He grinned sheepishly at her as he waited for the water to drain from the sink. He took a deep breath as he refocused. He worked for nearly a half hour trying to mold his chakra properly, but all he seemed to be able to do was make a normal stream of water, or one that flowed from a slightly different angle, or at a slightly different speed. Hinata kept patiently speaking in hushed tones with suggestions. He nodded as he registered the words, trying a slightly different approach. Finally after an agonizing amount of time he noticed that the flow of the stream was twisting. It wasn't anywhere nearly as impressive as Hinata's but it was a start. "Hinata look! Look! It's twisting!" A surge of chakra came with his excitement and the stream suddenly shot away from him towards Hinata.
Hinata threw her hands up in surprise and twisted away from the oncoming stream, only to find that the stream had split mid air and two streams traveled around her. Her eyes went wide as the two streams splashed against the stove and floor. "Naruto-kun ... did you just do that?" Naruto shook his head, his own eyes wide with awe. "I ... see."
They stood there for a moment letting what happened soak in. Naruto broke the silence with a quiet awe inspired voice. "Hinata, that was ... really cool." He smiled at her as a smile crossed her lips. "I don't know how you did that Hinata-chan, but that was awesome!" A wide grin crossed his lips.
"Hai." She nodded her head in agreement. She wasn't entirely sure what happened, but she had a guess that Kurenai-sensei could tell her. A thought crossed her mind. "This should be a Team 8 secret."
Naruto nodded emphatically at her, and struck a pose which reminded Hinata just a bit too much of Gai-sensei's thinking pose. "It shall be, our Secret Weapon!" He then proceeded to give her his V-for-victory pose.
Hinata giggled slightly at his antics, which caused him to laugh as well. The stood there for a few moments as Naruto regained control. A few moments passed between the two as they stood in Naruto's small kitchen area, before Hinata broke the silence. "Do you want to spar some more? Perhaps you could try to use your Kwamari Jutsu again?"
Naruto nodded as he led her back to the middle of his apartment. They stood two feet apart as they dropped into their defensive stances. Hinata started the fight with a quick strike at his left arm. Naruto twisted to avoid the blow and swiped at her midsection with a quick jab from his right fist. She slid back, as his knuckles brushed against her stomach. Her hands were already moving to strike at his shoulder while he was still inside her guard, but something stopped her arms from moving. She must not have heard the sounds of his clone as it appeared behind her and grappled her arms. She attempted to score a kick against Naruto, but he had already retreated before she could finish the motion. The Bunshin grappling her was hindering her movement rather severely as Naruto began to advance on her. Hinata stepped back and lowered herself against the clone, knocking it off center. She then grabbed the clone's wrist and pulled forward, throwing the Bunshin over her shoulder. Naruto ducked under flying body before it was disrupted against the ground. Hinata lowered herself back into the guard position.
Naruto grinned. "I see you're learning quite a bit from our lessons with Gai-sensei." He lowered himself into the guard position as well.
"Even though I specialize in the Jyuuken, it is important to study a variety of techniques. As sensei says, there is no such thing as useless knowledge." She took a step toward him slowly, and struck her hand forward as she heard a pop from behind her. As the blow landed against his shoulder, Naruto's form erupted into smoke. She began to turn around as she felt knuckles graze across her back. She looked behind her and smiled.
Naruto was standing there were the proud look on his face that she adored. "I did it, Hinata."
The pale eyed girl nodded. "Hai." She took a step back and dropped into her defensive stance. "Shall we continue?"
The two sparred with each other, trading blows for almost a half hour. Hinata was hunched over breathing hard; thirty minutes of constant sparring with only short reprieves wore on her quickly. She was glad to hear Naruto's stomach as he sheepishly scratched the back of his head in embarrassment, which seemed to mark the end of this training session. Hinata smiled as she moved over to the counter were her pack was set. "I brought some dinner if you are hungry, Naruto-kun."
Naruto grinned and nodded his head. "I was gonna offer to make some ramen for us, but you're a way better cook than I am, Hinata-chan." He looked out the window to see the sun beginning to set. He spoke in an excited voice. "Come on Hinata, let's eat on the roof." He ran over to pull a mat large enough for both of them from under his bed.
Hinata was somewhat dubious about the idea of eating on his roof. For one she wasn't entirely sure she trusted the construction enough to support both of them, and two she wasn't exactly keen on the rusty sheet metal that seemed to compose his apartment. Still, Naruto had a look on his face that seemed rather intent on this, so she pushed her misgivings aside and nodded. "Okay, Naruto-kun. If you think it's safe." She added quietly.
He smirked. "Don't worry, I've been up there plenty of times. Trust me, you'll love it." He led her just out the door before leaping straight up to the top of the roof. He set the mat down on it and leaned over with arms open. Hinata carefully handed him the pack of food before leaping up herself.
Hinata took in a sharp breath as she looked around. Naruto's apartment was by no means the tallest point in Konoha, but it was the tallest in the rundown neighborhood he lived in, which meant she could see the skyline of the village quite easily. It also bore an amazing view of the Hokage monument. Naruto rolled out the maton the tin roof and sat down. "It's a beautiful view, Naruto-kun."
Naruto smiled as he leaned back on his palms. "Yeah. I know. I come out here a lot to just take in the view. I get to watch what's going on below. And then there's..." He paused, and looked up at her with a mischievous look.
Hinata glanced down at him before sitting down beside him. "And then there is what, Naruto-kun?"
His lips spread into a mischievous grin. "Nuh uh. It'll be a surprise." He sat up straight. "Don't worry, I'll tell you what to look for."
Hinata gave him an uncertain look before letting the subject drop. Naruto enjoyed his little pranks, and she didn't mind humoring him. Besides, given his resolve she doubted she could extract the secret from him anyways. "Alright then," she said as she pulled out a pair of square porcelain plates and bamboo chopsticks. "Would you like some dinner?"
He nodded emphatically as she began to load up each of their plates with food. She had to admit that training with Naruto gave her more than a healthy appetite. The two ate the dinner watching the streets below, only to be interrupted by a few comments on "just how amazing your cooking is, Hinata-chan." The sun began to fall towards the horizon when Naruto pointed off in the distance and spoke. "Hinata, watch the Fourth."
Puzzled by his comment for a second, Hinata followed his gaze to the monument of the Yondaime. She took a glance back at Naruto but saw that his eyes were fixed on the statue. She turned her head back to gaze again, and watched as the sun began to dip past his head. The light cascaded around him letting beams through and giving his face a certain divine quality. Her eyes widened at the sight, something she had never noticed, either because she wasn't ever this high above the city or because she had merely never stopped to notice. "That's ... amazing ..."
Naruto smiled, and then pointed down to the city, where darkness was quickly enveloping it. "And down there, you can see his shadow."
She looked down and saw the creeping darkness wash over the city as it slowly made its way over Naruto's apartment. Lights illuminated the area around them as it became night.
Naruto stood up before speaking again. "It's like he's standing there, watching over us, from wherever he is." Naruto looked up to the monument of his hero once more. "When I think about that, it makes me happy, hopeful. I know if he's looking out for us, we will make it." He clenched his fist and punched forward in the air, almost as if to salute the statue. "He did so much to protect his home, to make it a better place. He died for it." He looked down at Hinata, who was staring up at him with awe. "And that's why I'm gonna keep on fighting, keep on working, to keep it a place that he would be proud of."
This was the part of Naruto she loved the most. The part of him that caused tears to well up in her eyes. This was the Naruto that always got up and tried again, and she couldn't help but be inspired by him. She stood up beside him and nodded. "Hai. We will make sure Konoha is a place the Yondaime would be proud of."
Naruto twisted his head over to face her with a stunned look. For a moment she wondered if she had said something wrong, but slowly his face softened, and he bore a quiet shy grin on his face. He turned his face back to the Hokage monument and looked as if he was thinking about something. He then spoke in a hushed tone. "Thank you, Hinata-chan." Naruto sat back down on the mat in a wearing a more pensive expression than Hinata had seen in a long time.
Hinata sat back down on the mat beside him. Her mind raced as she tried to figure out exactly what she wanted to say to him. "You are my best friend, Naruto-kun." She paused for a moment before continuing. "I will be beside you, fighting alongside you, whenever you are in need."
He broke out of his thoughtful mood and looked over at her with a broad smile on his face. "I know, Hinata-chan. I know."
I hope you enjoyed, leave a review if you did, or drop me an email at kodra22 (at) gmail (dot) com or catch me on AIM at SN: kodra22. If you enjoyed this story and would like to see more work from me, I'm currently participating in a fanfiction challenge which is roughly laid out on my livejournal I never use. For more info check out: http (colon slash slash) kodra22 (dot) livejournal (dot) com
For more info on Team 8 check out: http (colon slash slash) www (dot) matthewschocke (dot) com
Spelling out punctuation is fun and plays nice with fanfiction (dot) net (apostrophe) s filters (period)