Opening Notes: Sorry I took so long! I've just had a hard time with keeping inspiration up long enough to write. I hope you all enjoy this :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or affiliated characters.
Naruto was nervous as he walked to the Academy one last time for an 'explanatory meeting'. He had been told that his graduation had been generally accepted now- the cover story had been that Mizuki had fudged Naruto's grades in order to manipulate him-, but he just didn't know what he'd do about actually meeting his classmates again. It may have only been two days ago that he was causing trouble for them, but to him it seemed like an eternity. The only person in his recent memory was Ino, and he didn't want to think about her, though he was far too nervous to think of any other individuals.
He didn't see anyone else on his way to the classroom- he supposed that everyone else had arrived early. When he actually got there, he could see some faces he thought he recognized, but he had never realized just how little attention he had paid them before. As he tried to go find a corner to hide in, someone called out to him. "Huh? Naruto? Why are you here? Didn't you fail? And what's with the sunglasses?"
Naruto turned to the familiar voice- it was Shikamaru, one of three boys that were anything near to what Naruto could call a friend, and one of the last people he expected to call him out. He tried to pass it off as quickly as possible, pointing to the Konohagakure insignia on his forehead. "This says I passed, so there!"
Shikamaru merely shrugged as he went back to ignoring everything around him- he was normally extremely laid back, so this level of logic was enough to dissuade him. Surprisingly, the corner desk wasn't full- it was probably because the others had nothing to fear from sitting up front now that they weren't students. The only person back there was some dark-haired girl whose name was escaping him, and she said nothing as Naruto sat down next to her. In fact, she seemed to be actively not looking at him.
There was a bit of noise from the hallway, and he could see Ino run through the door at the same time as a pink-haired girl. It was Sakura, a girl he had had a crush on for the longest time. They argued over who had gotten there first for a moment before Sakura walked among the students and found a seat next to a dark-haired boy- Sasuke, the most popular guy in school, and someone Naruto disliked more than anyone else. He again felt little of what he should; he was beginning to see why the Hokage felt he should go to Psyche Eval if he didn't brighten up.
As he continued watching his crush flirt with his nemesis, he noticed too little too late that Ino had walked over to where he was sitting, and had assumed 'flirt mode' herself. "Hey, Naruto! I see you're still wearing those sunglasses. You must have a really good reason to be wearing them indoors..."
Naruto realized that there was no escape this time- when Ino wanted information, she got it. He had received a cover story to use on the other Genin, but he didn't know how well it would work. "My eyes got damaged in an accident, I need to wear them so I can see right while keeping them protected from more damage."
Ino raised an eyebrow- she knew as well as he did that that excuse was crap, especially with how he had said it. She sat down next to him, locking him in place and making him more scared of her than anyone else. "Aww, well that's just horrible, Naruto. On the plus side, the sunglasses make you look better. You should see if you can keep them after your eyes heal. Right, Hinata?"
She had leaned back so she could see the girl on the other side of Naruto, who was apparently Hinata. Naruto turned to look at her- she had the same look of being trapped in her eyes that Naruto knew was in his own, hidden behind his sunglasses. She glanced at Naruto for a moment before turning away again. "Th-they're not... bad..."
Ino smirked in what appeared to be a triumph of some sort; Naruto could never hope to fathom what went on in the girl's brain. "See? Now we just need to get you a matching outfit and you'll look like an actual ninja!" Everyone around them flinched- Ino had mentioned shopping, though indirectly. There was no stopping her now by Naruto's own power; even children who hated Naruto wouldn't wish this fate on him.
Fortunately, fate was on Naruto's side, for the moment; Iruka had just walked in, clipboard in hand. "Alright, guys, settle down. It's time we got to the main event, but first... I just wanted to say that I was proud to have you guys as my students. Starting today, you will all get to be real shinobi, though you'll only be Genin. Your paths as ninja have only just started- the Academy is a cakewalk compared to your future. To help you, we've put each of you into three-man teams, each with a Jonin sensei to help you. You will follow their instructions in order to complete your missions."
Naruto's eye twitched beneath his sunglasses. Teams? That meant he'd be stuck with two other people who could easily discover his secret. He glanced at Ino- he'd die if it turned out she was on his team.
"We tried our best to balance the teams skill-wise, so don't expect to end up with your best friends." Naruto was glad to join in on the collective moan the students made- it made him feel more normal again.
Naruto would've held his breath on every team announcement if there weren't so many of them. "Team 7 will include Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke, and Aburame Shino." Okay, now he was feeling something. He glanced towards Sakura- she seemed ecstatic to be partnered with Sasuke. He, on the other hand, seemed less so.
"Team 8 will consist of Hyuuga Hinata, Uzumaki Naruto, and Yamanaka Ino." Iruka flinched when he heard two hard thuds- looking into the back row, he could see that both Naruto and Hinata had fainted, from the looks of things. Ino, still conscious, decided to take advantage of the situation and ask a question.
"Excuse me sensei- the other teams are all two guys and a girl. How come there are two girls on this team?"
Iruka was surprised she caught onto that, but tried to lie his way out of it regardless. "I've heard that the Hokage wanted to try a new team balance this year. Your team was also originally supposed to have the only kunoichi jonin sensei, but she decided not to take the job at the last minute."
Some of the boys realized that this meant that Naruto had been chosen to be the only guy on an otherwise all-girls team, and a moment later Iruka could feel a lot of killing intent directed towards the poor boy. Despite the pressure, he couldn't help but smile- things seemed to be looking up for Naruto. "Team 9 is still in circulation, so Team 10 will consist of Akimichi Choji, Inuzuka Kiba, and Nara Shikamaru."
Shikamaru glanced backwards at the collapsed Naruto, apparently pitying him. "A blessing within a curse... None of his friends are on his team, but he seems to have gotten the only girls who don't hate his guts..."
Kiba, a very feral looking boy, growled quietly. "Che! Getting two girls on his team... That's a bit more than a blessing."
Choji, a very wide boy eating chips, didn't seem to share their opinions.. "This is Ino we're talking about."
Said girl glared down at them. "You're right next to me, you know."
The boys quickly silenced as Iruka looked on for a moment, etching their faces into his memory. He gave a soft smile before giving his final order as a teacher to his students. "Come back here after lunch to meet up with your new teachers. Dismissed!"
Naruto wanted to eat by himself- he really did. He had planned on going over to Ichiraku's to cheer himself up. Ino had other plans, the kind where she kidnapped people and forced them to be her friends. They were sitting on the roof of one of the Academy's many wings, with another section with a lower roof adjacent to theirs. Noticeably, Sasuke was sitting in a window in said next wing, eating his lunch, and most certainly not surrounded by annoying teammates. For once, Naruto was jealous.
Ino spoke up as she took out her lunch. "So, we need to plan this out."
Naruto didn't like the sound of that, mostly because he didn't like thinking too much. "Plan... what out?"
The girl was annoyed at his apparent obliviousness. "This whole team thing, of course! If we're going to be a team, we need to decide things like our name, formations, leader, that kind of thing. My dad was in a famous team, and they did all that stuff!"
He realized that she was right- if they were a team in name only, it wouldn't be too good in the long run. She must have been thinking this through. "Huh... You have any suggestions?"
"Of course!" Her eyes lit up- Naruto should have known better. "Well, for the name, I was thinking something like Team InoNaruHina, or Team UzuHyuYama, or maybe something less obvious like Team Flameboar or something."
It was apparent that both Hinata and Naruto himself were intimidated by those names. He decided to attempt negotiations. "How about something we all have in common? Hobbies, interests... Stuff like that."
Ino seemed to like the idea. "Oh, that'll work better! That way the team name doesn't show our differences... You're smarter than I thought you were, Naruto!" The boy decided not to comment on the fact that he hadn't even thought of it that way. "Okay, I doubt you two want to name ourselves "Team Shopping" or "Team Sasuke", but aside from that I only like gossip and flowers."
Resisting the urge to comment on Ino's tastes was rather hard for Naruto, though he managed anyways. "Yeah, we're going to want a name slightly more intimidating than just 'Flowers'... My interests are training, ramen, and gardening, so I guess we have that in common."
Their attention was turned to Hinata, who took a moment to gather the courage to speak. "I... like pressing flowers, so..."
Satisfaction was very apparent in Ino's demeanor. "Great! We can be Team Gardener, then!"
Naruto was less than enthused. "I can't help but feel that we'll regret this later... It doesn't feel ninja-like."
Ino rolled her eyes knowingly. "Oh, Naruto... Did you forget about the origins of shinobi already? Farmers were a big part of the first ninja group! It's why we use kunai as weapons even though they're supposed to be digging tools."
He was honestly surprised- he must have skipped class that day. "The first ninja, huh..." He remembered because of Iruka that the Rinnegan supposedly belonged to the Sage of Six Paths, the founder of ninjutsu. "You know, I changed my mind. I'm rather liking that name. Do you mind it, Hinata?" She shook her head, being too shy to speak. He hoped that they could fix that later.
Seeing as they were still on lunch break, they decided to put off the more intricate parts of teamwork in favor of just getting to know each other better. Ino was honestly surprised at Naruto's green-thumb, though he was the first to admit that it had taken a while to get the hang of it. Ino's family ran a flower shop, so she naturally had to pitch it to her teammates for their future needs. Hinata offered to take any flowers of Naruto's that were getting ready to die and press them, which he gladly accepted.
When it came time to be picked up, Naruto was unable to hide his surprise when Jiraiya walked in the door. "My name's Jiraiya, and I'm here for Team 8!"
"Y-you! Why are you my team's sensei?"
Ino hit him over the head, and he barely managed to keep his sunglasses on. "You idiot! That's the Jiraiya-sama! Do you have any idea how lucky we are?" She suddenly switched back to a much nicer demeanor while speaking to Jiraiya. "We're Team 8, sir!"
Jiraiya grinned at her personality. "Good to see you have fire, you're gonna need it. Come on now, huphup!"
Jiraiya took them out to a restaurant, which seemed like a surprising move until they saw Team 10 at another table. Naruto was slightly down that they weren't at his preferred place of Ichiraku Ramen, but since he wasn't paying, he went with it. The old man was quite happy to see that the three of them were getting along just fine, so they merely had casual chat instead of 'the usual', whatever that was.
Naruto eventually got tired of Ino's servile attitude to the old pervert, however. "Just what is it that's so great about you anyways?"
Jiraiya gave a mock-impression of being hurt. "Your ignorance wounds me, Naruto! I am one of the Legendary Three Ninja, the great Toad Sage, and world famous novelist, Jiraiya the Gallant! I studied under our current Hokage, taught the Fourth Hokage for years, aaaaand..." There was a long pause, at which the three younger ninja were held at attention.
"...and I was the one who taught the last ninja with Naruto's 'condition'."
Naruto was quite alarmed at those words, while Ino and Hinata were merely confused. "Wh-what do you mean by that?"
He smirked, as if he had accomplished some magnificent plan. "Well, pass my test and I'll tell you!"
This only made Naruto more irritated. "What test?"
"The one that determines whether you stay with me or go back to the Academy."
Hinata was surprisingly the first to speak. "Why do we need another test? If the first one's not good enough... Why give it?" Naruto couldn't help but agree, considering all the trouble he went through to pass it.
Jiraiya toned down the drama and began speaking plainly again. "Well, that test was more generic. It was meant to see if you could physically be a ninja. This next test is a field test to see if you can mentally be a ninja. I'll give you more details at the training ground tomorrow." He handed out some sheets of paper that gave details on the where and when, accompanied by cartoony drawings of frogs. "You can do whatever you want between now and then, but I suggest that you come prepared as if for a long-term mission."
He raised his hand to catch the attention of the waitress and paid for the bill, giving her a look to be suspicious of before turning his attention back to them. "Well, I'll be off! I like to spend time everyday for book research, and it's getting towards there. Go do whatever you want, but make sure to come on time tomorrow!" With that, he got up, paid the bill, and left.
Ino dragged them to the training site that they were going to use the next day, unusually silent most of the way. Once there, she immediately let a kunai fly at a nearby tree, apparently very frustrated. "Who does he think he is?"
Naruto rolled his eyes at the question, despite how useless the gesture was. "He told us exactly who he thought he was..."
This did not lower her frustrations at all. "Yeah, but... To tell us that we might end up failing after all that..."
Naruto touched his fingers to the smooth metal on his forehead, remembering what 'all that' was to him. "...something tells me that there's more than meets the eye... I think we don't have to actually worry about failing. We should worry about the 'mental' part he was talking about."
Ino went over to the tree and picked up the kunai she threw. "Well, how do we do that?"
Hinata spoke up again, looking Ino in the eyes. "We should... continue with making our team better. If we work together... We'll beat his test! It's meant to be taken by teams, right? We should take it as a team!"
Naruto grinned at her inspirational words. "I agree! We already passed our test... Team Gardner needs to take this next one!"
The blonde girl rolled her eyes at his own words. "Try making sense sometime, Naruto... But yeah, you two are right. If this test is supposed to be designed like a longterm mission, then we should treat it like one. Let's go over our expertises and plan accordingly."
Ino wasn't a specialist in anything in particular as far as the three branches of jutsu were concerned. However, she did have 'clan jutsu', techniques that only Yamanaka clan members were allowed to know. At the moment she only knew one- the Shintenshin no jutsu, which allowed her to essentially project her spirit into someone else, abandoning her body to possess theirs. It was certainly useful, though the drawbacks were that her body was defenseless as long as the jutsu was in effect, and that any damage done to the possessed was transferred to her original body.
Hinata was second. She was a Taijutsu specialist- her style, 'Gentle Fist', specialized in damaging internal organs without leaving external marks by manipulating chakra. Naruto watched her use a palm strike on a log with his Rinnegan active and could see chakra be expelled from the strike. Apparently it only worked on things with chakra inside of them- an ordinary inanimate object would just take the blow as an ordinary palm strike.
It was her eyes that Naruto was particularly interested in, however. "Byakugan? Is that one of those Kekkei Genkai things?"
She nodded while turning away from him. "Yeah... It's a power in my eyes that allows me enhanced vision. I can see in a 360 degree field around myself, see farther than usual, as well as see through solid objects. Lastly, I can see chakra..."
Naruto noted that she seemed to be quoting a textbook, because her usual shyness had decreased. Her eyes seemed to have some similar properties to his, though the 360 degree vision was new. "Can you turn them on and off? Do they look different while you're using them?"
She was surprised by the specifics of his questions, and blushed. "Well, y-yes... Here, let me show you." She performed some handseals, meant to focus chakra more than for a particular jutsu. Suddenly, her normally blank eyes gained pupils, and the veins around her eyes began bulging, which, to Naruto, made her look just as unnatural as he himself did with the Rinnegan. A look of surprise came upon her face as she seemed to look around. "N-Naruto... Are your eyes okay?"
He mentally cursed- she had just said she could see literally everything around her. "Uh, why do you ask? I said I had to wear these for a reason you know..."
She seemed hesitant to continue, yet too curious not to. "Your chakra... Most people keep it centered in their bodies when they're not using it, but there's a small stream of chakra going to your eyes... You have a doujutsu, don't you? One you... Can't turn off..."
She remained silent, looking away from Naruto physically even if she could still see him. Ino's mouth hung open, but she said nothing. Naruto knew that there was no escaping the question of what happened to his eyes this time. "...I'll show you guys, but only because I intend to make this team stick together. If I show you, you've got to promise me... we'll pass that old man's test, no matter what!"
There was more silence before they both nodded. Naruto slowly took off his sunglasses, and he could see both of their faces widen in shock at the sight of his new eyes. He watched their reactions in the silence for a minute before sighing. "I've had these eyes for all of two days now... I still don't know most of what they do, but apparently they're super-powerful."
Ino took a moment more to speak. "Naruto... That's the Rinnegan."
"...Well, now I know why you don't mind being compared to the first ninja... What do they do?"
Naruto activated them, which startled the girls momentarily. "Well, like Hinata, I can see chakra, even through objects... As for unique abilities, I've figured out one." He placed his fingers in a cross, and with practiced ease his clone came into existence. The second field of vision disoriented him for but a moment, but the clone seemed to surprise Ino more than it did Hinata.
"Whoa, when did you learn how to create a proper clone?"
Naruto smirked. "This isn't the Academy standard, this is the Kage Bunshin no jutsu. The clone itself isn't what I wanted to show you though." He closed his eyes while the clone kept his eyes open. "Do something that I would have to see you to know you did it."
Ino thought it was an odd request, but held her hand up with two fingers extended. Hinata didn't really know what to do, so she put her index fingers together as she always did when she was nervous. The Naruto with his eyes closed spoke. "Ino has two fingers up, and Hinata is pushing her index fingers together." Ino blushed and held up two more fingers. "Now Ino has four fingers up." She reduced it to one finger. "No thanks, I'm not in the mood."
Ino was clearly impressed despite blushing. "So you can actually see what your clone sees? That's GOT to be useful for spying."
His response was to turn around, with his clone still facing them. "Not just spying- when I'm fighting, I can literally watch my own back." He was beginning to feel glad that he had shown these abilities to them, and it was showing- a smile was on his face now. "And if I make multiple clones, I can cover a 360 degree radius with my linked vision. All the clones have the same ability too, so I can watch an attack come at a clone from behind and they can dodge. Though, I'll need to actually work on that..."
The blonde girl seemed to be thinking about something as she processed this information. "If that's really the Rinnegan, this is only the tip of the iceberg... Is this what Jiraiya was talking about before? Does that mean he's actually taught someone with the Rinnegan before?"
The sage's comment returned to the forefront of Naruto's thoughts. "That old guy, Jiraiya, seems to know a lot about these eyes. If we pass his test, he'll actually teach me how to use them... That's the feeling I get." Momentarily he felt like he heard the voice in his head again, but he wasn't too sure about it.
Hinata had by now deactivated her Byakugan, but was still looking away from Naruto. "We should practice so we can pass tomorrow..."
A grin came onto Naruto's face as he turned around, putting his sunglasses back on. "Sounds like a plan to me!"
When Hinata had arrived at home that evening, the guard had told her that her father requested her presence. That was rarely a good thing. She quietly entered his office and assumed her place on a floor pillow by the door. "I'm sorry I took so long, Father."
He didn't turn to face her, instead focusing on his work. "...Why were you out so late? Team assignments shouldn't take so long."
She did her best not to bow her head in embarrassment- her father always made it sound like that everything she did was something to be ashamed of. "I was training with my new teammates so that we could work well together."
He paused in his writing. "...If I recall correctly, you still have another test to pass before you can truly call yourself teammates. Who else has been placed on this team?"
This was the part she was dreading. "The other members are Yamanaka Ino and Uzumaki Naruto, with Jiraiya-sama as our instructor."
He placed his pen down, apparently giving the matter thought. "...Jiraiya is a very unconventional ninja, but also very powerful. You would do well to follow his teachings about ninjutsu, if not about how to live your life."
She gave a low bow. "Yes, Father."
"As for the Yamanaka girl... She must be Inoichi's daughter. She will be a valuable resource on missions, the Yamanaka clan specializes in the human mind, as opposed to our specialization on the body."
She again bowed. "I will keep that in mind, Father."
He was silent for a few moments before speaking again. "...Uzumaki... That is a name I have not heard in a long time. It is a name I did not want to hear again."
Hinata could swear she detected emotion in her father's voice- something other than mild disdain for everything, at any rate. "Father...?"
He glanced over his shoulder, and she could see that his usual hard stare had softened. "Hinata... You may leave. Don't disappoint me further."
She had no idea if that meant he was disappointed right now, but it was better than being outright told he was disappointed again, especially since he seemed more sad than angry. "Y-yes, Father."
End of chapter 3
Length to write: Sorry, I'm just bad at keeping to a schedule..
Teams: Normally I'd place Kiba on Team 7 to replace Naruto, which was exactly why I used Shino- to challenge myself. Also, Kiba, Chouji, and Shikamaru go together.
Ino's competence- normally I like to portray Ino as incompetent and then change her how I want to, which really isn't canon- she's about as competent as Sakura, just less intelligent and thus having better skills. I've made it so she's motivated to follow in her father's footsteps, which is why she knows more about actually being a ninja than others might. As for her stereotypical girliness, that's just a bad habit of mine- I ramp up known character traits to make up for lack of character depth.
Naruto's feelings- He's honestly just out of it. Once he's himself again, he'll be back to hating Sasuke and trying to woo Sakura, if he hasn't already fallen for Ino/Hinata.
Hiashi- Yes, I'm going with the horrible father route. It is canon, after all. Noticeably, I'm going to be taking a very different route with his characterization than I normally do.