To Teach a Fox Remake
Chapter 9: The Search Continues
Disclaimer: I do not and never will own Naruto.
Notes: Hey, look, one of the more rare phenomenon on this website, an update from me! Yeah…sorry. No excuses. Anyway, I hope you enjoy chapter 9!
After spending the first four hours of his day at the memorial stone, Kakashi had spent the rest of the day on the hospital's roof, reading.
Coming to the end of a paragraph, the jonin tore his eyes away from his favorite copy of Icha Icha Tactics to glance up at the sun's position. 'I should probably meet up with Sakura and tell her we won't be having any missions for a while.'
He glanced back down at his book and started to close it but stopped at the last second. He was on a particularly good chapter. It would be a shame not to finish reading it before meeting up with Sakura.
'I still have some time.' He decided, once more leaning up against the fencing that ran along the building's top.
Hanako easily maneuvered her way between the various pieces of machinery, tables, tubes and piles of paper scattered around the doctor's laboratory as she looked for her dark haired employer.
Frowning, she came to a stop in the middle of the room and glanced around. "Doctor Ito?"
"Doctor Ito!" She called out again, louder than before.
"Yes?" Hanako fought back the urge to jump in surprise. Trying to play down the fact that she had been spooked, she turned to face the doctor. "Doctor, we have a problem."
Ito smirked in amusement at scaring a ninja, but decided not to bring it up. He nonchalantly maneuvered around the young woman and sat a small stack of papers on a nearby table before turning to face her. "Oh, and what would that be?"
"It looks like the town hired some ninja to investigate," she responded quickly, trying to distract from her recent failure.
His mouth turned down into a frown. "Are you certain that they're looking for us?"
"No, but I don't see many other reasons for them being here."
The doctor nodded and stared off into the room for a few seconds before refocusing on Hanako. "Follow them and see if you can figure out why they're here. Oh, and tell Taiki to hold off on any new abductions. Just to be safe."
Considering the situation dealt with, Ito turned back to the table and quickly scribbled down something before turning to study the nearest tube, its calm, green liquid casting a slight green hue onto his face.
The missing nin's eyes widened in surprise. She hadn't expected this. "O-okay, but why am I the one watching them?"
The doctor glanced away from the tube. "Because you possess the skills needed to do a job like this, and because I trust you to do the job well. Don't worry, I'll make sure Taiki doesn't sit around doing nothing."
Hanako, feeling her face warm, quickly nodded. "I'll let you know when I find something."
"I know it won't take long." He smiled briefly before turning his attention to the tube.
The missing nin bowed and turned to leave, a small smile finding it's way onto her face. 'I won't fail.' She exited the laboratory and started towards the entrance to the hideout.
"What'd the doc say?" Taiki asked, not looking up from his magazine.
Hanako scowled, glancing over at the lanky man. "He said to lay off on the abductions."
That caught the ninja's attention. He looked up at her and grinned. "So sit here and do nothing? I can handle that."
She shook her head in disgust, leaving the room without another word.
"Woohoo!" Naruto ecstatically cheered, arms shooting up into the air before falling back onto the table with a light thud a second later. He had finally finished reading his half of the reports. Few things could have excited him more at that moment. His joy was so overwhelming that it temporarily made the thoughts about his recent revelation, which had plagued him ever since their origin, fade.
Startled by the outburst, Hinata jumped in her seat and worriedly looked up at the energetic blond. Quickly realizing that everything was fine, the heiress relaxed slightly, her pale lavender eyes asking the question that didn't gain the confidence to pass her lips.
Naruto, noticing that he had startled his timid teammate, began rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment as a sheepish grin found its way onto his face. "Oh, sorry, Hinata. I'm just really happy I'm done."
"It's f-fine." Hinata responded quietly, a shy smile gracing her lips.
A quick, awkward laugh escaped his lips as he looked across the table at the young Hyuga. Her pale lavender eyes immediately captured his focus, and his laugh died instantly on his lips. The previous revelation came crashing back to the forefront of his mind. The blond's eyes darted down to the table. "So, uh…did you find anything that could help?"
Hinata's smile slipped slightly at her crush's odd behavior, but she quickly focused on the question. "M-maybe. I separated a-all of m-my reports into piles b-based on where the abductions occurred. T-these," she pushed the largest pile forward slightly, "were all i-in the forest on the east side of t-town."
Distracted by the new information, the jinchuriki managed to push his revelation to the edges of his mind once more. He nodded and flipped through some of his reports, looking for their locations, before glancing back up at his teammate. "A lot of these reports are from the forest east of town too. Think we should focus on that?"
The heiress nodded. "A-at least to begin with."
Having a direction to focus his energy and mind towards, Naruto grinned and jumped up from his chair. "Awesome! We'll figure this out in no time!"
Happy to see the blond's normal energy and enthusiasm was back, Hinata smiled and stood as well. "H-how do you w-want to search?"
The energetic Chunin had been about to rush out of the room, but his teammate's question stopped him in his tracks. Confused, he looked over at his companion. "Eh? What do you mean?"
The Hyuga's eyes shot down to the ground out of embarrassment at his attention. "O-oh, um, I just w-wondered if y-you wanted to search t-together, or in d-different areas," she responded, nervously pressing her index fingers together behind her back.
Naruto's eyes lit up in understanding. "Oh! Uh…" He frowned, not sure what to do. He hadn't thought about how they would search. 'We could search together, but…' The blond didn't want to admit it, but he wasn't sure he would be able to handle searching with Hinata. Not because he didn't like her, but because of his recent revelation.
The more he thought about it, the worse he felt. Was he really going to ostracize a close friend just because he didn't know exactly how she felt about him? No. He couldn't do that to someone as nice as Hinata.
Trying to mask his internal conflict, Naruto's mouth turned up into his trademark grin. "We should search together. I'll go with you while you use your eyes, and I'll send my clones to search the other areas. That way we can cover a lot more ground."
Hinata's face lit up in a blush at the blond's response, a bashful smile working its way onto her face. "O-okay."
"Alright, let's go!" He turned to leave the room, his teammate following close behind.
Kurenai watched as Naruto and Hinata left the hotel. Having seen the power of the Byakugan many times, the Jonin knew better than to follow the two out on their search. Instead, she waited until she was absolutely sure that the two were out of the town before making her move.
Playing upon her strength, she entered the hotel lobby and cast a simple genjutsu on the attendant that made it seem as though Kurenai was not there.
Quickly crossing the room, she wasted no time in looking at the hotel's room register. 'Room 204.' The jonin cataloged that information for later as she left the hotel just as quickly as she had entered. Once out of the building, she released the genjutsu.
'Alright, so they're staying on the second floor,' the ninja thought as she made her way down the road, looking for another hotel. 'That makes things a bit more difficult, but, then again, it was never going to be easy in the first place.'
Sakura sighed in relief as she felt fresh air dance across her face. She loved working in the hospital, but the still, sterile airflow grated on her nerves after a while.
Glad to be done with hospital work for the day, the medic basked in the sun's warmth for a few more seconds before turning to leave. She had to meet up with the rest of her team and check in with Tsunade, if for nothing more than just to make sure they weren't needed.
It didn't take Sakura more than a couple minutes to get to the agreed upon meeting spot, a small bridge that crossed a small stream near the middle of town. Neither of her teammates were there, but that didn't surprise her. Kakashi was never on time, and Naruto didn't have the greatest track record with being on time either.
Sighing in mild annoyance, Sakura meandered onto the bridge and leaned against the railing. Looking out over the trickling water, she thought back to the last time the entirety of Team 7 had met there. It had been only a few days before Kakashi had told them about the Chunin Exams.
Her mouth twitched upwards. It was one of her fonder memories of Team 7, but not because anything spectacular had happened. On the contrary, it had been a completely ordinary day. She had been fangirling over Sasuke while he insulted Naruto, who had somehow fallen into the water. Kakashi had arrived a few seconds later, offering one of his obvious lies before promptly being yelled at by Naruto and herself.
Her smile solidified. The good old days.
A humorless laugh escaped her lips. It had happened a little less than four years ago, and she was labeling it as 'the good old days.' She shook her head in mild amusement. It was amazing to her how those four years had managed to feel like ten to twenty.
So engrossed in her memories, Sakura had failed to notice that neither of her teammates had shown up yet.
Finishing another set of paperwork, Hiashi sat his pen down and began massaging his forehead in an attempt to curb his growing headache. He let out a sigh as he glanced down at his desk. He was done. For the moment.
Feeling the need to leave his office and stretch his legs, the clan head slowly stood and left the room. He didn't have anywhere in particular he wanted to go, so he just picked a direction and started walking.
It mildly amused him when he later found himself looking out into one of the many outdoor training grounds in the compound. But finding a training ground wasn't what was amusing to him. It was the fact that it was the training ground where his second daughter, Hanabi, regularly trained. 'I've been so focused on Hinata and her situation for the past few days that I've barely spoken to Hanabi. I wonder if she knows about the current situation.'
Hiashi fought back a smile as he turned to his youngest daughter. He studied her. She was still bowing and it was doubtful that she would raise before being addressed. Her hair was long, but meticulously well taken care of. Her clothing was loose to allow a wide range of movement, though not so much so that it would be considered baggy. Rather plain, perhaps stemming from the fact that it had so little color. Much like himself, she was a slave to tradition. Exactly why the Hyuga Council wanted her to be the heir over her older sister. "Ah, Hanabi. Would you care for a spar?"
"Hai, Oto-san," the young Hyuga responded, almost robotically, as she stood. As he watched his daughter walk onto the training field, the clan head wondered just how much he was at fault for her behavior.
Pushing those thoughts away, he, too, entered the field and took up a position opposite of her. After bowing to each other, they both fell into perfect forms of the Gentle Fist stance.
Hiashi studied Hanabi's form. 'Excellent form, as always. Let us see if she has gotten any better.'
He made the first move, sending a swift jab towards her torso. She blocked it and returned one of her own.
The clan leader blocked it effortlessly and shot off another jab. Hanabi blocked and counterattacked.
They continued that way for a while, progressively getting faster and faster until one of Hiashi's strikes landed and knocked the young Hyuga back.
After recovering, she moved to return to the fray, but was stopped by Hiashi. "That's enough, Hanabi."
She hesitated briefly before bowing. "Hai, Oto-san."
"Excellent work, Hanabi. You have progressed very far. Continue like this and you will master the Gentle Fist in record time," he said after returning the bow and making his way over to the hall to sit down.
"Thank you, Oto-san," she responded mechanically, though the clan head could see happiness at the praise dance briefly in her eyes. His mouth twitched upward as she sat down next to him. All eyes, even the fabled Byakugan, gave clues to a person's emotions if one knew what to look for.
The two sat in silence for a few minutes before Hiashi, knowing that she would not break the silence first, spoke.
He glanced down at his youngest daughter. "How have your last few days been, Hanabi?"
"Fine, Oto-san. Training is going well, and academy work is easy."
He nodded as he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew she wanted to ask him something. It was only a matter of time now that he had spoken first. "Good."
Another prolonged silenced threatened to settle in between the two, but was broken by Hanabi. "Oto-san?"
Hiashi's mouth twitched upwards once more. She had broken down faster than he had expected. "Yes?"
She looked over at him. "Is it true that the Council is pressing you to name your heir?"
'Ah, so she does know.' The clan head nodded once more. "It is true. The Council has made their stance on the matter clear and are getting impatient for my decision."
The young Hyuga looked back out over the training field. "I see."
"Are you not concerned as to what will happen?" Hiashi asked, prodding her for her thoughts on the matter while carefully scrutinizing her every move in an attempt to gain insight to her true feelings.
She glanced up at him again, doing her best to mask her emotions with the famed Hyuga composure. "What will happen, will happen."
He raised an eyebrow at his daughter's response and looked down at her. "How much time have you spent around Neji recently?"
Hanabi's eyebrows drew together in confusion. "Very little. Why? Am I not allowed to be around him?"
"No, you are allowed to be around him as often as you would like. I was merely curious," the clan leader responded, shifting his gaze back out onto the training field. "Would you care for another round?"
Kakashi laughed to himself as he finished reading a chapter of his book. 'Gets me every time. Jiraiya, how do you come up with these things?'
He smiled happily behind his mask, eager to start the next chapter despite the fact that he had already read the book numerous times over.
The copycat was so completely engrossed in his book that he had completely forgotten about the meeting with his student.
Finally turning her mind away from all of the fond memories she had of Team 7, Sakura glanced around the meeting spot and frowned. 'They're still not here? What time is it? Did I get the time wrong?'
The medic pulled a small watch out of her pack and glanced at the time to find that, not only had she been on time, but it was now a full hour past when they had agreed to meet up. She put the watch back in her pack with a scowl, her temper flaring up.
'It's been a full hour since the meeting time. I expected this from Kakashi, but Naruto too? If he was going to wait until later to come he should have told me so I wouldn't be standing here by myself, looking like an idiot!' Her hands balled up in anger. 'When he gets here, he's so dead.'
A passing shadow caught the silver haired ninja's attention. He glanced up. 'Just a standard messenger hawk. Doesn't look like it's for me.'
Kakashi refocused on his book, trying to find where he had left off. 'I wonder how Naruto's mission is going.'
His visible eye widened in fear. 'Oh crap, I forgot about Sakura!'
Realizing his mistake, Kakashi wasted no time in closing his book and slipping it in his pack. He ducked down to pick up an object next to him before disappearing in a cloud of smoke and leaves. 'I hope she's not too mad.'
A few seconds later the copy cat appeared in a tree near to the designated meeting spot. Not wanting to barge into a possibly volatile situation blind, he looked out from behind a branch.
Seeing Sakura's clenched jaw and tense fists, Kakashi instantly regretted finishing that last chapter. He sighed. 'Well, it was my fault, and Naruto isn't here to be the scapegoat for her wrath this time. Might as well get this over with. Now, which excuse am I going to use this time?'
After spending the better part of two minutes deciding upon a suitable excuse, he jumped out of the tree and landed next to his hotheaded student.
She immediately turned on him, sending him her best death glare. Which, he had to admit, was pretty damn effective.
"Your late," she stated in an scarily calm voice.
Kakashi inwardly flinched. Her calm anger was much more frightening than her normal raging anger. He raised his unburdened hand in submission. "Sorry, sorry. I got a little sidetracked picking these," he said, rising the basket of fruit and vegetables in his left hand slightly. He paused briefly before weakly offering the basket as a peace offering. "Want some?"
She continued to glare at him, obviously not buying his excuse. "No."
"Right…" The masked man lowered the basket and quickly began speaking again, not wanting to see what would happen if he gave his student a chance to steer the conversation. "Well, since Naruto got sent on a mission with Hinata yesterday, we're being sidelined until he gets back. So that means no missions for about a week. Or two."
Sakura's fists tightened. "You made me stand here by myself for over an hour to tell me THAT?"
"Uh…yeah," he drew out, trying to buy time to figure out how to get out of his current situation.
"I'll find you when he's back. See you in a few days!" He smiled and waved, disappearing in a cloud of smoke and leaves before Sakura could bring him bodily harm.
Kakashi let out a breath of relief when he reappeared. 'That was a close one.'
A scream of anger pierced the air, causing him to glance in its direction. 'I need to be more careful when Naruto's not around. I could really get hurt.'
Not having anything else to do for the day, he decided to head back to his apartment and finish reading his book for the umpteenth time.
Tsunade watched as the setting sun cast spectacular red and orange hues across the forested horizon. Unfortunately, she just couldn't enjoy it as much as she usually did. There was too much on her mind. Too many things that she couldn't control.
With a huff, the Hokage swiveled her chair around and looked down at her miraculously clean desk. She didn't have anything left to do for the day as she had finished the last of her paperwork an hour ago, much to Shizune's continued amazement.
She gave her office a once-over, making sure, for the fifth time in the last eight minutes, that she had finished all of her work. A scowl settled on her face. 'This waiting around for something to happen is driving me crazy.'
There was a knock on the door. "What is it?" The blond snapped.
Shizune edged into the room. "Is everything alright, Tsunade-sama? You've been a bit tense all day. Is something bothering you?"
Knowing she shouldn't hide the situation from her assistant, the Hokage sighed and leaned back in her chair. "Yeah, this damn situation with the Hyuga."
The med nin frowned slightly. She hadn't heard anything about a situation with the Hyuga. "What do you mean?"
The blond sighed wearily and started explaining. "You know that I sent Naruto and Hinata on a mission together, correct?"
"Well, after they left, Hiashi Hyuga stopped by with Kurenai. He told me that the situation in the Hyuga was more tense than we knew and that any sort of relationship between the two might plunge the clan into chaos. Hiashi says that he's done everything he can, but he won't be able to stop things from spiraling out of control."
The assistant let out a tiny gasp. "Is there anything we can do to help?"
Tsunade shrugged. "Not that I know of. That's partially why I accepted the request to re-catalog the records room, in hopes that it will turn up something we can use."
Shizune nodded in understanding. "Alright. I'll go through all of the laws and see if there's anything that can help. In the meantime, you should get some rest, Tsunade-sama. Worrying like this isn't going to help anyone."
The blond reluctantly agreed. "Thank you, Shizune, and you're right. I'll head to my room in a few minutes."
Glad that she could help her longtime mentor, the medic smiled and turned to leave. "Goodnight, Tsunade-sama."
"Night." The Hokage swiveled her chair around to face out the window once more. Somewhat relieved now that Shizune was in the loop, she sat in silence for a few minutes before following her assistant's advice and leaving to turn in early for the night.
Hinata came to a graceful stop on a low hanging branch, despite the deteriorating light. Her bloodline trait flared to life, and she immediately began scanning her surroundings.
With her nearly 360 degree vision, she could see Naruto on a branch behind her, silently waiting for the results of her search. He had been uncharacteristically quiet since they had left the hotel. It worried her. Was it because of something she had done?
Returning her mind to the mission, the heiress meticulously scanned the forest around them for anything out of the ordinary. Once done, she frowned slightly. Nothing. Again. She glanced over at the blond, more out of habit than anything else, and shook her head. "N-nothing."
Hinata felt horrible when she saw Naruto's expression fall. He let out a sigh of exasperation before slowly turning around. She knew that he had really wanted to finish the mission that day, but they had seen nothing so far and night was too quickly creeping upon them. It wouldn't be long before it was too dark for either of them to see. "Alright. Let's head back. We can start again tomorrow."
"O-okay," the Hyuga responded quietly. She hated seeing Naruto so crestfallen. It made her feel like she had failed him. If only she could have searched faster, farther.
Hinata followed silently after her crush, vowing to work harder the next day. She would help Naruto finish the mission quickly, even if she had to push herself past her limits to do it.
Notes: So ends the first day of searching. Naruto and Hinata don't have much to show for it, but it's alright. I'm sure they'll find something eventually.
Another chapter filled with things on the home front. Hopefully no one gets to mad at me for that, and hopefully everyone was in character. I promise that the next chapter will focus more on Naruto and Hinata.
As always, I would love to hear what you all think! If anyone sees anything that is a bit awkward, repetitious, wrong, or odd, please tell me! Also, please beat me upside the head, figuratively or literally, if I get any of the character's characterization wrong.
Also, I have a new poll up on my profile. It pertains to events in my other story, For One More Chance. You can either vote for Kakashi to save Rin or for him to arrive just a little to late. Whichever gets the most votes will be what happens in the story, so vote now and decide Rin's fate!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
Edited on September 11, 2011: Just a quick glance over, and just a few things changed.