Hello, y'all, and welcome to mah new story! Don't worry about Prodigals, I'm definitely not abandoning it - in fact, the latest chapter is underway right now - I just need another creative outlet that's a bit different from Prodigals.
Disclaimer is in my profile, should you not realize that if I did indeed own Naruto, I would not be on , writing fanfiction... I would be busy giving Hinata more manga time.
A Strange Kismet
Chapter One : Looking Forward
Iruka straightened his chuunin vest a little nervously. What could have the Hokage calling on him on such short notice? That never tended to be enjoyable business. He had mentioned something about the Hyuuga, which probably made it doubly unpleasant. He raised his hand, poised to knock, when he was interrupted.
"Come on in, Iruka."
The chuunin shook his head. On some days, it seemed as though "The Professor" knew everything, or at least damn near close. He stepped inside.
"Hello again, Iruka. I'm sorry to tell you that this year's genin teams have been rearranged yet again."
Iruka winced visibly. "Hokage-sama, I don't mean to be rude, but this is the third time we've had this conversation and I don't think the jounin sensei will be very pleased…"
"Feh, I'm at the top of the food chain, what are they going to do about it? Now, down to business. Do you recall the Kumo Incident from eight years ago?"
It certainly wasn't hard to recall the war that the Hyuuga had almost instigated when they found their heir had been kidnapped. The girl was still MIA as far as most people were concerned. Iruka had a sneaking suspicion that was about to change.
"The Hyuuga girl was recently rediscovered," said the Hokage solemnly.
Bingo! Am I good or what? "That's wonderful," said Iruka with a smile. It suddenly dropped off his face. "But… is she alright?"
Iruka had always had a great compassion for children, even those he didn't know very well. Something in Sarutobi's face told him that her story was not a pleasant one.
"A jounin found her curled up inside a self-made hole in a pouring rain. She had clear signs of physical torture and perhaps scientific experimentation when examined by our medic-nin. However, she is polite to fault if quiet and mostly keeps to herself. Not to mention her ninja skills are very well-rounded. How that happened is still a mystery. But I need to put her on a team."
"If I may be so forward –"
"Yes, I will tell you why. This girl has seen too many things in her life already, as anyone can tell simply by looking at her. Now, the Main Family of the Hyuuga has rejected her because the secrets of the Byakugan may have been revealed during her stay in Kumogakure. Forcing her to live a normal life like a regular citizen will only end in failure, perhaps tragedy. She could lose her mind, quite literally, if subjected to the quiet life.
"She is a shinobi." Sarutobi's smile was barely bittersweet. "If we don't let her be a ninja, what else can she be? Now, I will show you the new order of teams."
There was a momentary pause as Iruka read over the lists – again. "Hokage-sama, saddling such instructors with those genin could prove a fatal combination! We could lose jounin and three possible powerful assets to the village! And they're still just kids –"
"I am the Hokage, Iruka. I have made the decision is feel is the best." An edge of authority entered his voice. "Do you wish to dispute the matter?"
Iruka closed his eyes and sighed resignedly.
"No, Hokage-sama. Not at all. I will inform the sensei of this change." Sarutobi smiled.
"Thank you. That is all."
Uzumaki Naruto was bored.
He had once played a great number of pranks on Iruka and his other chuunin teachers… but it soon proved a waste of time. It was simply too easy. So easy that it had become extremely boring. Instead, he spent his class periods in the dark recesses of his mind, chatting with the one thing that didn't seem to waste his time.
Yes, Naruto knew that the Kyuubi had been sealed inside him. He also knew that was the reason he had been failed by his chuunin instructors two years in a row. But this year was different, because he had actually made an effort and hadn't failed.
"Hn. You actually passed dobe?"
Naruto ignored his Uchiha rival and went to sit down. As soon as they were put on teams, he wouldn't have to see that bastard anymore. Besides, he knew that if he revealed his abilities, he could beat Sasuke no problem. Midnight training sessions with the Kyuubi could do that to a person. The blonde settled in as Iruka began to read off the teams.
"… Team 3, Akemi, Benjiro, and Emihiro; jounin instructor: Mitsuomi Daisuke… Team 6, Chiasa, Rando, and Mikomi; jounin instructor: Otuku Yuki… Team 8, Kiba, Sakura, and Shino; jounin instructor: Yuuhi Kurenai… Team 10, Shikamaru, Chouji, and Ino –"
The blonde girl screeched her disappointment. Iruka suppressed his temper. "Jounin instructor: Sarutobi Asuma. Those will be the teams for this year."
One girl raised her hand, waving it back and forth to get his attention. "Excuse me, Iruka-sensei!"
He sighed. "Sakura, I am well aware that Sasuke's name was not called. I was about to ask both him and Naruto to come up to my desk."
Both boys complied while Sakura looked embarrassed.
Naruto suspected that he was not going to like what he was told. And seeing as him and Sasuke were the only two people left without a team, things weren't looking too good for them not being on a team together.
"You two. Come with me, please." Iruka led them out of the room and down the hall towards a classroom that was not being used until later that day. Iruka slid the door open and beckoned them inside.
A girl was sitting there. She was sitting silently in a desk waiting for them, neatly-folded hands covered by black gloves. Under a sleeveless robe of silver-grey that reached to hips, she wore black pants to just below her knees and black shirt to her elbows, a mesh shirt visible underneath. On all her wrists and ankles were identical pewter bracelets that looked heavy. A holster was tied to her right leg and a belt around her waist was clearly made for holding scrolls. But the most noticeable feature about her was her face. While one half was pale, smooth, and perfect, prettily framed by a lock of dark indigo hair, the other was covered by an overlarge black eye patch.
When she opened her eye, the two boys started. UNLESS I'M MISTAKEN, THAT WOULD BE THE BYAKUGAN. THE GIRL MUST BE A HYUUGA.
But there are no Hyuuga our age… unless she's –
YES. THE ONE WHO WAS KIDNAPPED YEARS AGO.
There was a moment of silence in which Naruto waited for something more… along the lines of 'she seems weak' or 'the gene pool of your generation ain't lookin' so good'. Nothing came.
What? That's it? No snippy comments?
SHE HAS AN INTRIUGING AURA.
Naruto tuned the demon out for now to grin darkly at the girl, showing off his canines. "Hiya. Uzumaki Naruto's the name, don't wear it out."
"Uchiha Sasuke." She nodded to both of them, but didn't speak.
"This is Hinata, boys," said Iruka, smiling at the girl kindly. "She'll be the third member of your team." Naruto protested immediately.
"I'm on a team with Sasuke?! Iruka-sensei, you've GOT to be kidding me!"
"I have to object, Iruka-sensei," said Sasuke, finally showing some interest. "We don't even know her, and it doesn't seem as though she had to pass any examinations to get here. Also, why Naruto?" He didn't look too pleased. But then again, he rarely did look pleased about anything.
The girl did nothing, except shift her lone eye to rest on Sasuke.
"I can assure you, Sasuke, the Hokage knows what he's doing. If he thought that she would disadvantage you or your team in some way, she wouldn't be here. As for 'why Naruto', the highest and lowest student are traditionally paired with one another, in order to balance teams properly. Now!" said the chuunin, trying to break the tense atmosphere. "Time to go back to the classroom. You have to wait for your jounin sensei."
Neither boy thought to ask who their sensei was.
"You know of Orochimaru's wish to gain immortality."
She snorted inwardly.
"His scheme, in attempting to copy all of the jutsu in the world, is to snag an Uchiha. Since one is clearly out of his league, he will probably be headed toward our own Avenger."
She didn't like where this was going. She really didn't. "Sir?"
"I want you to counsel him and his genin team. You and Kakashi will be co-instructors."
"No offense, Hokage-sama… but are you losing it?! Please sir, you do know who I am, right? Mitarashi Anko? Crazy chick?"
"Of course I know who are. That's the reason I'm asking you. He will be after Sasuke, and the only one who knows enough about him to prepare them –"
"- is me. I get it, sir."
Life sucked. Three brats, including that arrogant Uchiha brat. Brat, brat, brat. She shuddered.
What would become of her? Mitarashi Anko, babysitter…
Naruto, Sasuke, and Hinata waited patiently for their instructor.
Or as patiently as one could wait after three hours. All three were immersed in an awkward silence. Hinata, choosing to budget her time, observed her two new teammates.
Both were troubled people, she could tell. She could relate, in fact. The proud Uchiha had the all-consuming fire of revenge in his eyes, a burning need to kill someone. He would get into trouble unless someone monitored him carefully.
The other boy, the blonde one, was something of a mystery to her. She could tell he was hiding something, and his manner was as shady as the Uchiha's own. But despite his dark clothes – a dark red jumpsuit with burnt orange/black details and a black shirt underneath – bestial, bewhiskered face and forebodingly cynical attitude, his bright blue eyes were very open to her. He was determined. He was determined to do… something. He wanted respect, of that much she was sure.
She could understand that. Back home –
No, Hinata told her brutally. That place is not your home. That place means only death. That place means they will use you.
But what was this place? This village where the sun was always shining brightly, people looked you in the eye as you passed and possibly said hello? Everyone was always so cheerful and happy, as if unaware of life's greater evils. It was so unlike the place she had previously lived, where the clouds were always present, blocking any form of hope. But was here any better? Or was it worse, even more evil, a creeping, subtler malevolence?
Look! They had told her upon her arrival. This is your home. Look, see these people? They have your eyes. You are family. Now see this school? You'll grow up and be a ninja, okay? And trust. You have to trust these people with your life. You can trust us. We're the good guys. Trust, trust, trust.
Trust? In her experience, trusting people only led to being treated like an object, or painful betrayal, or someone's death. Family? What kind of family rejected her for something she couldn't control (and hadn't particularly enjoyed, for that matter)? That was no family. Even a girl who had never truly known a family could tell that much. As for the team… well, she'd have to wait and see.
Her mind snapped to attention when the door slid open. But, much to her confusion, there were two people as opposed to one, and they were both arguing heatedly under their breath. Her hearing was excellent and so she caught some of their conversation.
"-tell me what I should do with him, we're 'sharing', remember-?"
"-bullshit and you know it, his chakra is completely unpredictable -"
"-naturally favor him, we both know it, that's just one of the reasons I'm here -"
"-wildcard, we don't really know her abilities so we can't push her too hard –"
After a few more long moments in conflict, they both looked at each, one with anger, one with deadpan annoyance.
"Fine," they muttered in unison. Clearing her throat, the woman wearing little more than a mesh suit, a miniskirt, and trench coat spoke first.
"Hey there, Genin Team Alpha, and welcome to great wide world of ninjahood. I'm Mitarashi Anko and, along with this idiot here, I'll be your jounin instructor. Any questions?"
Naruto spoke up. "Who's the idiot?"
"I am Hatake Kakashi," replied the masked man. "For further briefing, meet us up on the roof."
The atmosphere was, once again, uncomfortable.
While Kakashi, Sasuke, and Hinata seemed unaffected by this, Anko was tapping her foot, irritated and Naruto began to look restless.
"I think introductions would do us some good. Tell us about your likes, dislikes, dreams and stuff like that," said Anko suddenly. "The shrimpy one, Blondie, you go first."
He scowled at her for the nickname. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto and I will be Hokage someday, the best one ever! It's not so much a dream as it is an eventuality," he said with a grin. "I like ramen. Scratch that, I love ramen, especially if it's made by Teuchi-san of Ichiraku! I also like training and getting stronger. I dislike how long cup ramen takes the cook and bastards like Sasuke here who think they're hot shit. I don't have any dreams, and that's because they're all going to come true some day. Like I said, eventualities."
Hinata had slammed the nail on the head with that one. What could give one more respect than being the most powerful ninja in the village?
"All right Pretty Boy, now it's your turn."
"My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I don't like much, but I dislike a lot of things. My ambition is to kill a certain man."
Again, right on target. Hinata was glad she had picked up that particular skill. People could be easy to read, if you knew what to look for.
"C'mon girl." All of them listened attentively. The mysterious girl had yet to open her mouth at all.
"I am Hinata." Her voice was soft and melodious. Even the two jounin had to strain to hear it.
"I like being free. I dislike people who challenge that freedom. I don't really have any dreams..."
Freedom… that's a pretty broad tag, thought Kakashi. What happened to this girl?
"You already know my name. My likes and dislikes are none of your business, really. And as for my dreams…I don't care to share them with you."
"Anko's the name, and it's just Anko, no sensei. I LOVE dango and kicking butt, I HATE sneaky assholes with no regard for their village or a basic moral code. My dream… well, dreaming is a bunch of sappy shit I don't really care for. But anyway. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of it, shall we?
"Usually… there would be another test to see if you are ready for the real world… but the Hokage had thought it best that you stay out of the Academy, all three of you. Team Alpha is a special group, in case you haven't guessed already.
"So! Tomorrow, we shall convene again on Training Ground 13 at seven. That's seven o'clock AM sharp Kakashi, do you hear me? Good! Now, off with you."
Hinata walked to the small, apartment-like house the Hokage had set up for her on silent feet.
"I know that your family has expressed their displeasure at your presence, but don't worry too much. We've already got two other genin in your graduating class living alone. It's not so bad and as I understand it, you like privacy."
That she did. She knew that even if the Hyuuga had welcomed her into their home with open arms, she would be uneasy. Hinata had been, from the earliest she could remember, hypersensitive to being watched, and those eyes could watch her every movement. Anyway, the house was a decent size and fully furnished. It was certainly not a bad arrangement for her.
So the whole family reunion thing had been a bust. Oh well. The concept of a team might actually work out. Her teammates were strong, and would push her to be stronger by challenging her. Her sensei seemed – okay. They were competent at the very least, and she could sense they were both strong ninja. Not to mention Naruto was pretty cute…
As she lay down to sleep, a small smile curling her lips, Hinata realized it was the first time in a long time she was looking forward to tomorrow.
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