Hanabi couldn't help but shake her head at her friend's childish behavior. She was currently watching Naruto skate on top of the water doing random jumps and spins, all the while he was laughing his head off. 'Over two months for him to finally master it; a few hours to understand and make progress on the wall walking skill, but nine weeks for this exercise. Well, at least it's finally over and he can create his clones to pass the test.'
In those two months she had investigated what his secondary chakra system and seal could be -- only to be disappointed. None of the Fuuinjutsu books or scrolls she could understand helped. She assumed the answer would be in the more advanced section but she could barely comprehend the basics of Sealing. Anything higher than that was too confusing, and between her own training and spending time with Naruto she didn't have enough time to study it. She wasn't going to give up on the mystery though.
"Naruto! Stop acting like an idiot and come here."
He stopping sliding around and turned toward her with a large smile on his face.
"I think you should come out here, Hanabi-chan. Unless you can't do this." The boy teased while skating around backwards. "Can't do this, can you?"
She let out a sigh in frustration.
"I could do that if I wanted, I simply don't see the point. I want to test something, come over here."
Naruto ignored her for a few more minutes before finally relenting to her glare.
"Okay, coming over," he spoke while sulking a bit.
Hanabi did what was becoming a habit with every passing moment she spent with her friend, she rolled her eyes. The girl watched him stop his sliding a little bit away from the shore.
"Hanabi-chan, pull me to the ground," a smiled threatened to show itself as he extended a hand toward her. "I wanna see something."
The brunette was wary but didn't see any harm as she grasped his hand. As she was about to pull him away from the water he suddenly yanked her out onto the pond's surface. It was only her instinct that allowed her time to send chakra to her feet, preventing her from falling into the water.
"Naruto!" She screeched as she was pulled farther away from the shore. "What in the world do you think you're doing?"
He laughed as he pulled her along, forcing her to slide across the water.
"Having fun Hanabi-chan, what does it look like?" He gave her a mischievous smile. "Don't be such a prude, isn't this fun?"
"This is stupid and a waste of time." Hanabi untangled her hand from his as she forced herself to stop sliding. "Now, follow me to land, I want to test something with your multiple chakra systems."
"Come on," his smile dimmed a fraction. "Relax, you're too uptight."
"I'm not 'uptight'," she pointed out with a small frown. "I just don't like wasting time."
Naruto's smile slowly fell from his face while looking at her with slight disappointment.
"Hanabi, we aren't getting off the water yet."
She was surprised by how serious he looked at that moment. Especially since he was laughing and smiling just a few minutes before.
"We aren't done here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you tell me a while ago that you needed my help as much as I need yours?"
She wasn't sure where he was going with this but she confirmed him none the less.
"You have spent three months helping me out. You taught me how to eat when in fancy company," he noticed her raised eyebrow. "Or at least how to eat with other people and not disgust them with my habits. How to walk up trees and on water, you helped my study habits and showed me how to take notes while listening to Iruka-sensei's boring lectures, and some other stuff."
Hanabi was still confused about what this was about.
"But in all that time, I haven't really done anything to help you out." Now it was dawning on the girl what he wanted. "You never do anything for fun, Hanabi-chan. Look, if you just relax a little and play around with me for a little while I promise I'll do whatever you want for the rest of the day without complaining."
She must have looked uncertain because he spoke again.
"I can make clones, my grades in the academy are better than before," he pointed out with a proud smile. "I'm not even at the bottom anymore, I think I'm somewhere in the middle of the class. Come on, just one day of doing something for fun."
She finally relented after he gave her a large, foxy smile that warmed her heart.
They spent the next hour skating around, she could honestly say it was the most enjoying time she ever had.
Hanabi noticed the sun nearing its apex in the sky and forced Naruto to stop playing around.
"Okay, I really want to test something out today before we have to leave." She began gliding toward the shore. "We should have enough time if we hurry."
As the brunette stepped onto solid land she noticed him not far behind.
"Now, I want to see if we can activate this red colored chakra." She stopped and turned to face him. "I'm going to use the Juuken on you to seal a few chakra coils."
"Juuken?" He questioned. "What's that?"
"It's the Hyuuga Clan's Taijutsu style. It does internal damage each time we strike our target's body."
"Can you teach it to me?" He was noticeably excited at the prospect, so she was a little disappointed at having to crush his hopes.
"I'm sorry, but no. There would be serious consequences if I were to do that." Hanabi grimaced at the thought. "I would either be executed for teaching someone from outside the clan or more likely branded with the Hyuuga Cursed Seal."
"They would kill you?" Naruto was horrified.
"They would be within their rights to do so." She stated with severity. "This may be hard for you to understand being an orphan, but not every family or clan is filled with love or compassion."
"If I have a family," he spoke with a passion, "it won't be like that. I will make sure everyone is happy and loved."
The intensity of his eyes brought a small blush to Hanabi's cheeks.
"I know you will Naruto. And it would be 'when' not 'if' you have a family." She pointed out with a small smile. "You will have your family one day, I'll do everything in my power to ensure it."
She forced herself to not dwell on that thought for too long and moved on.
"Let me see your arm," she spoke as she activated her Byakugan. "I'm going to shut down a few of the coils and I want you to try to access your red chakra to unseal them."
Naruto seemed hesitant before asking if it would hurt.
"Normally it would, but you should only feel uncomfortable during this test." She reluctantly added to that. "You may feel a small amount of pain though."
He put his trust in her and extended his right arm toward her. Naruto watched as she tapped a few spots on his arm with her index and middle fingers. There was a small amount of pain, but the more disconcerting thing for him was the numbness.
"Is my arm supposed to be numb?" He seemed a bit alarmed as he stared at his arm.
"Yes, that's what I was going for." She stepped back once. "The numbness is the internal damage I've done. What has happened is I've sealed three of the coils in your arm, I want you to gently try to unseal them."
Naruto masked his face in concentration as he attempted to fix his arm, all the while Hanabi stared at his chakra system with her bloodline active.
"Naruto, try to reach within yourself and pull any power you may have hidden."
Beads of sweat began forming on his forehead as head struggled. He clenched and unclenched his fist, trying everything he could to unseal is chakra coils.
"Okay, stop." Hanabi was disappointed but didn't let it show. "There was no movement of the red chakra, I'm not sure why you couldn't access it or why you even have it. I don't want you trying to force it too much, I don't want to potentially damage your arm."
"I'm sorry I couldn't do it." He watched her tap a few spots on his arm and the numbness went away.
"It isn't your fault and you did nothing wrong, so you shouldn't apologize." She was quick to reassure him so he wouldn't feel bad. "It is something unique, so there must be a unique way to access it."
The young girl was uncertain for a moment before gathering her courage.
"Naruto-kun, I, um, I want to thank you for earlier. With the water skating." She shyly lowered her eyes with a slight flush of her cheeks. "It was… it was fun and I'm glad you made me do it."
And then she did something she had never done, she hugged him. He seemed surprised by it but quickly reacted and engulfed her in his arms. It was the first time she initiated an embrace. Hanabi pulled back after a few moments.
"Well, um, I need to return to the Clan compound, so… thank you and I'll try to make more time for you soon."
She left in a hurry, a blush on her face and never once meeting his eyes.
"Hello Hinata-chan. Are you ready for the Genin Exam today?"
The lavender haired girl's eyes widened in surprise as her secret crush took the seat next to her. She blushed at the thought that Naruto was so close to her.
"I think I am, N-Naruto-kun." Her voice was very quiet and soft-spoken but at least she didn't stutter as much when talking to the blond boy. "Are you p-prepared?
Over the last four months he had change pretty significantly. It started when he came in one day wearing a different outfit. It consisted of mostly black -- a vest and pants -- with the only orange visible being a shirt beneath the vest. Hinata silently mourned the loss of his bright orange jumpsuit. It had been one of the original things that attracted her to the blond. She admired the courage he showed in wearing something that most people made fun of without letting it bother him.
"You're definitely ready to go." His encouragement only caused her blush to deepen. "And of course I'm gonna pass."
Hinata noticed that even though his words were filled with self-confidence, his face showed his anxiety.
"W-why are you sitting next to m-me?" After realizing how that must have sounded she rushed to add to it. "N-not that I mind, I'm j-just surprised."
"You were the person I talked to the least in the class," Naruto seemed a little disappointed to admit this fact. "And since tomorrow we'll all be assigned teams I figured we might not get another chance to talk for a long time. I'm also getting tired of getting yelled at by Sakura and thought it would be best to start my ninja career off on a better foot."
Hinata smiled at that thought. She had noticed that he spent less time going out of his way to confront Sasuke and Sakura over the past couple of weeks. 'Maybe I have a chance now,' hope bloomed in her chest.
"You have gotten much b-better in class, I- I'm really p-proud of y-you." She could barely force out her compliment as she blushed deeply. She got lightheaded when he gave his widest smile at her in response.
"Yeah, but I can't take most of the credit, most of the credit belongs to…" He was prevented from finishing his comment as both of their sensei arrived.
"Quiet down!" Umino Iruka called out as he stepped through the door with his assistant. The man had a kind-looking face, brown hair and dark eyes with a large scar going from one cheek to the other cutting across the middle of his nose. "Today is the final Genin Examination day; you will be called, one at a time, to perform each of the three Academy jutsu.
"The written and practical portion of the test you all took part in yesterday has already been scored. Some of you have noticed there are a few students that are missing today, those are the ones that were informed earlier that they had failed yesterday's portion of the exam. Today you will be required to perform all three Academy jutsu in order to pass and become a certified Genin."
"Ami, follow us through the doors." The silver-gray haired sensei named Mizuki called.
Hinata allowed herself to fall into a recent memory as she waited for her name to be called.
She stood across from her younger sister as their father watched on.
"Hinata, in three days you will become a Genin of Konoha." There was no hint of emotion on her father's face, not even a small amount of pride. "According to my information you, at best, won't even be placed in the top ten."
The girl in question lowered her eyes to the ground, ashamed of her failure.
"I would be disappointed if I had high expectations but this does not come as a surprise to me. You have never shown any real potential and I have long since accepted this." The man continued to chip away at any self-confidence she may have left. "Given that I'm duty-bound to see where your current level of skill stands, you will be sparring with Hanabi."
They weren't the only ones in the training room. Surrounding them were the Clan Elders and various Hyuuga of high rank, all here to watch the fight between the two heiresses. None had come to the twelve year old girl's defense against her father's verbal assault. Some had even nodded in agreement.
Hinata never noticed her younger sisters eyes soften slightly.
"Take your positions." Her father waited until both of them had taken their fighting stances.
Hinata waited for Hanabi to attack, she had never been the type of person to want to hurt someone, especially her younger sister. She had always been caring and compassionate, never wanting to fight.
The girl with short lavender hair turned her body to side to dodge the shoulder strike from Hanabi. Hinata immediately had to take a step back as Hanabi aimed a palm strike at her chest. She wasn't given any relief as her younger sister quickly struck her right thigh before she could reset her feet. The slight numbness in her leg from the strike would surely cause her severe problems for the rest of the spar.
"Hinata, you can't win simply dodging." Hinata heard some emotion leak into her father's voice – disappointment. "Strike back at your opponent."
Even though the lavender haired girl knew she would need to fight back to win, she couldn't bring herself to hurt her younger sister. So she continued to struggle to dodge and parry more strikes.
Hanabi was able to injure her right leg even further within a few minutes, it became apparent to all who were watching just how outclassed the older girl was.
As Hinata was slowing down, futilely doing everything she could to prevent more damage to her body, she suffered a powerful strike to her shoulder. She gasped out in pain and closed her eyes, waiting for Hanabi to finish up the fight with a hard palm strike as the younger girl usually finished their spars.
Grumbles of discontent caused the twelve year old to open her eyes slowly. She was shocked to see her younger sister's palm halted a few inches away from her body. Never before had her sister shown mercy.
Hinata was so surprised by the action she stumbled back and fell onto the ground.
"Hanabi, why did you hold back?" Her father did not sound pleased.
"Otousama, the spar was over, she couldn't defend herself and there was no need to continue." Hanabi displayed more courage than she felt looking into the eyes of her father.
Hinata's eyes watered slightly at the idea that her sister had decided to spare her more pain.
Her father was even more displeased at the reply. He stared with dissatisfaction at his daughters before turned and walking out, the rest of the spectators soon following.
Seeing that they were alone Hinata turned her attention back to her sister, a few stray tears falling from her eyes.
"W-why did you s-stop?" Her voice was timid and shaky.
Hanabi stared at her older sister, eyes more compassionate than they had ever been.
"I simply didn't see the point of continuing." Her voice revealed none of the compassion her eyes held. "It would have been a waste in energy."
Hinata watched her sister hesitate before she walked out.
It may not have been much to anyone else, but to Hinata it touched and warmed her heart. The two girl's relationship had never been good. Hanabi had always been jealous of her older sister and had taken every opportunity to beat and harm Hinata. This was the first time the older girl could remember her sister hold herself back and prevent more harm from befalling the timid girl.
Alone in the confines of the training room the girl softly sobbed, hoping that this was the beginning of a more loving relationship between the sisters.
That had been a few days ago and Hinata hadn't seen her sister much since then. Only for meals and when both were getting ready for bed. She wasn't sure where her younger sister spent most of her days and she never worked up the courage to ask her. Hinata didn't want to do anything that could cause more dissent between the two.
After that spar Hinata had spent a lot of time going over her memories of her younger sister. It came as a surprise to her that Hanabi had been subtly changing in the past few weeks. It wasn't substantial and she would have dismissed the changes if it weren't for that spar. Hanabi looked at her older sister with much less derision and resentment in her gaze. The tone of the smaller girl's voice was softer as well, it wasn't gentle but it was much warmer than the cold indifference of previous years.
"Hyuuga Hinata." She was pulled from her thoughts by Mizuki's voice.
She stood with some uncertainty.
"Don't look so scared," she turned to the blond with a small blush. "You're gonna do well, I know it."
Her blush magnified as she straightened her back and walked toward her sensei with much more confidence.
Completing examination was much easier with Naruto's encouraging words running through her mind. Less than five minutes after stepping into the room she exited it with a hitai-ate tied around her neck. Naruto was the first person to congratulate her.
"Told you that you could do it," his smile was large as he praised her. "You really shouldn't doubt yourself so much, you're better than you give yourself credit for."
Naruto reached over and gave the girl a hug, something he had made a point to do for Hanabi at least once a week.
Her vision began to get blotchy as she developed a full-body blush. His body pressed against hers and the words rebounded throughout her mind. Naruto's worried face was the last thing she seen before it went dark.
She was awakened with her head lying on her desk to the sounds of excited screaming. Self-consciously wiping away any drool as she rose from her seat. The door nearly exploded open revealing a cheerful blond proudly displaying his hitai-ate.
"Hinata-chan!" The boy immediately rushed to Hinata's side when he noticed she was awake. "Are you okay? You fainted again."
She blushed at his concern.
"Y-yes," her head lowered a bit in embarrassment. "Congratulations N-Naruto-kun."
His smile widened as she pointed at the item in his hand.
"Yeah." Pride shined in his eyes as he gazed at the piece of metal. "I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it. I mean I know I could make clones now, but I was worried something would happen to cause me to fail."
Hinata gave him a shy smile as she watched Yamanaka Ino – the final student taking the test – exit from the room with her hitai-ate. Ino was followed shortly by Iruka and Mizuki.
"All of those that pass will need to return her tomorrow at the same time you did today when you will be assigned a Genin squad. For those of you that failed – better luck next term if you decide to make another attempt, and if you don't then I wish you luck in whatever vocation you choose. You are all dismissed for the day."
Naruto didn't even hesitate as he ran out the door. Hanabi had promised him all he could eat Ichiraku's if he passed and he was going to collect. He completely ignored Mizuki who tried to catch his attention.