Hi! Okay, so here is the latest chapter and I'm hoping the ending provides some sort of mini-closure because I'm in a mess of papers and community service and SAT/college stuff to focus on this a whole bunch.
BUT I am going to try to finish 10 in time for christmas break, my gift to you! After that though, it will be rare to see a chapter from me and for that I am so sorry.
BUT (again) I will try! I am certainly not giving up on the story :)
So thank you Simmering for editing! Your comments and changes make this whole process a lot easier (and less nerve wracking) for me :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
"Lady Tsunade, why are you reading all those books again? I thought you'd finished them before we got here." Shizune asked.
Shizune and Tsunade had been in the restricted section of the library for four hours immediately after Ibiki had told them his story. At the very beginning of what looked to be a fifth hour, a frighteningly old looking librarian came over and kicked them out.
If looks could kill, Shizune wasn't sure who would still be around: Lady Tsunade or the librarian.
Now Shizune, Tsunade and Tonton were at a very nice house that was near enough both the Hokage tower and the hospital.
Shizune came out of the kitchen with a tray of tea for herself and Tsunade. She tried, and nearly failed, to hand Tsunade a cup without spilling any on one of the many books that were lying on the dining room table.
Shizune sat down cautiously, watching Tsunade for any sudden movements. She hadn't even blinked when she took a sip of the tea. Never had Shizune known Tsunade to willingly accept a cup of tea when there was sake to be had. Even in her serious moments Tsunade liked a drink or two to calm her down, soothe her headache, clear her thoughts, or whatever other excuse she came up with.
"Yes, but before I had been reading them under the assumption that there was an attacker involved in this mess, and therefore a foreign chakra overriding the natural one. But if there was only natural chakra then it should make it less complicated, however, the police report coincides with Morino-san's story and therefore the massive amounts of chakra make it even more unreal."
"Thanks to that one assumption all of my previous notes are bunk. They are of no use to anyone now. I need to read these all again under a new light. I need to look for hints of birth defects or maybe it's a side effect of the Kyuubi's chakra. I have no clue anymore!"
Shizune sighed and slid down across from the furiously studying Tsunade. "I guess it's true then," she said, more to herself than anyone, "'assume' really does make an ass out of you and me."
Tsunade snorted, "Ain't that the truth."
Shizune went wide-eyed. Had she said that out loud?
The mortification wasn't quite as terrible as she thought it would be. Tsunade had thought it was amusing, she hadn't even been angry with her for speaking out! Maybe Tsunade's temper wasn't quite as quick as she'd thought.
"Why don't these damn scholars know how to condense anything?"
On the other hand…
Shizune giggled lightly.
Tsunade groaned, "If that stupid librarian had let me stay there just a little bit longer, I might have been able to look up Hinata's family tree. Then I could have gone somewhere with the hereditary theory." Shizune had gone ahead and told Tsunade about Hinata's family and though they were both thoroughly confused they decided to take in stride and simply add it to the embarrassingly small list of things they knew about Hinata.
"But, no, that old hag had to kick us out. She never liked me, even when I was an adorable genin."
"G-genin? Lady Tsunade, do you mean to say that that woman has been around since you were a genin?"
"Yep, and she's as gray and wrinkly as ever. I always thought that if Orochimaru wanted the secret to immortality so bad he should just go talk to the hag."
Shizune tried desperately to hold it in, but ended up failing miserably and choking on her own laughter. She couldn't remember a time when her teacher had been so carefree with her.
Tsunade chuckled. "Alright, alright, enough fun and games. We'll have to work late if we want to finish this by tomorrow. Shizune, why don't you take these two books and work out some new notes for them. I'll take this one. When you're done with your notes just put them in this pile and then put the books in... this pile here okay?"
"I'm ignoring that, Shizune."
Shizune giggled. She knew she was going to be exhausted tomorrow morning, but she also had a feeling that it would be worth it.
At six in the morning, Shizune found that she had been right about being tired. She had not been right however, when it came to the fruits of their labor. Shizune had read seven books and had written a seemingly endless amount of notes, but Tsunade hadn't said anything about progress. Shizune was not in the mood to ask.
"Oh, don't tell me your still miffed, Shizune."
Shizune simply turned away from her teacher, damp hair flicking water into the air.
"You're being way too sensitive. It wasn't even that big of a deal." Tsunade shrugged.
"You poured a bucket of ice water on me."
"You can't tell me that you haven't ever wanted to do the very same thing to me, Shizune." Tsunade smirked.
"Of course I've wanted to! I've just never acted upon that want!" Shizune glared at her teacher.
"Well maybe you should have, then you wouldn't be so angry." Tsunade laughed.
Shizune glared darkly, "I'll remember that the next time you're sleeping in, Lady Tsunade."
Shizune was shocked at her loose tongue. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the irritation of having ice cubes tossed down your shirt or maybe it was the city itself that was making her feel so calm around her teacher. She had a sneaking suspicion however, that just maybe, she and Tsunade were getting closer.
Presently, they were heading over to the hospital for a personal check of Hinata's vitals and small assessment of her condition. After that, it was back to the library where they would continue their research.
The attention Tsunade got from the hospital staff was less crazed than the day before, with good reason, as the head of the hospital had given everyone a very... stern warning about their theatrics the day before.
"Lady Tsunade, what use is the assessment when we don't even know to look for?" Shizune asked, "We already have a list of her injuries from the Hokage. I'm afraid I just don't understand."
"Shizune, I want you to think of everything that we know about Hinata. The information could barely fill a page. Giving a personal examination can tell you more than just what injuries were sustained. The reason why we need to pay attention to everything is because we don't know where to start. At this point, anything about Hinata could factor into her condition."
Shizune nodded. When Hinata woke up Shizune was going to thank her to the moon and back. One small accident had sped up Shizune training, and her relationship with Tsunade, ten fold at least. She was learning the finer details of medical research and the importance of knowing the family's background. If Hinata hadn't gotten sick, Shizune would have been nursing Tsunade's hangover right now.
Maybe that was a selfish way to think, but it wasn't like Hinata wouldn't be cured. The Great Tsunade would personally see to that. So is it so bad to think she had gained a little bit from the situation?
Shizune's mind flashed back to the broken man's face.
Maybe because there were people suffering for your gain.
In that one moment, it occurred to Shizune that in order for her to learn properly, people and their families needed to be suffering.
When she learned to treat burn wounds, there had been a horrible fire that consumed three apartment complexes. She had treated a man with minimal burns, but he was still weeping terribly. Thinking back, he had lost all of his belongings in that fire.
Or when she learned to pump water out of someone's lungs using only chakra. They had arrived in a village just in time for a flash flood. The village's population had been cut in half and no one had escaped losing a loved one.
But Shizune hadn't noticed then. She was a teenager, hell bent on being the best medic that she possibly could. It just occurred to her now that maybe knowing the techniques wasn't all it took.
She looked at Tsunade. This was a woman who started drunken brawls at seedy casinos. She drank whole bars dry and caused earthquakes when they refused to sell her any more sake. She was a hell raiser and dragon lady. But calm and collected now, she understood the seriousness of the whole situation. This wasn't a game.
"Shizune?" Tsunade asked.
"H-huh? Yes?" Shizune's eyes were brimming with tears of pride as she looked at her teacher. She was simply the most amazingly talented, beautiful-
"Why are you standing in front of the door? It's been ten minutes."
Shizune's face fell and her cheeks became a flaming shade of red. "I-I was just concentrating!"
"Daydreaming is more like it..." Tsunade mumbled. Shizune simply huffed and followed her teacher through the door.
It didn't look like anything had changed from the previous day. She was still ashen and frankly, the tubes jutting out of the small girl's body scared Shizune.
Tsunade however, went straight to work. "Hm, she's recently activated her Byakugan and the blisters on her hands show she's recently started weapons training. She has a very delicate bone structure, but that's to be expected from a child. Her muscles are abnormally swollen and fairly firm, she's already started training with chakra. Maybe for a few months now? We'll have to ask Ibiki and Anko. She's looking very thin, we'll have them up her nutrient IV. Shizune are you writing any of this down?"
Shizune, startled at the question, made a mad dash for a clipboard and immediately started writing, "Yes Lady Tsunade!"
Lady Tsunade sighed then chuckled at her student's eagerness, "Alright then. Her breathing patterns don't seem out of the ordinary, but this machine probably to thank for that." Tsunade placed a light green hand above Hinata's body and slowly dragged it from her head to her toes. "Huh."
"Her internal injuries aren't anywhere near the state they should be." She took the clipboard from Shizune.
"It says they were a mess just a few weeks ago, they're almost completely fine now. There's mild pelvic and thoracic inflammation, but that's... I'm not sure what to make of it." she said handing the clipboard back.
"Well, maybe it's her medicine? Could it be new or experimental?"
"Hm, good thought Shizune," She beamed, "I want a list of every medication they've put her on since she's been here. I want a CAT scan, an MRI and blood and chakra tests. Get another X-ray done as soon as they can."
"Yes Lady Tsunade, what kind of blood and chakra tests do you want me to order?"
Tsunade paused for a moment with her finger on her chin, "All of them."
"Tsunade! That's such a large amount of work! How do expect it to be done by the end of today?"
"I know it will get done because you're going to stay here and make sure it does." Tsunade smirked.
"M-me?" Shizune yelped.
"Who else can I trust?" she asked.
Shizune flushed at the compliment. "But, how-"
"Throw your weight around if you have to." Tsunade waved it off. "Just get it all done by the time I come back here tonight. I have to go battle with a librarian."
Tsunade poofed out of the hospital and Shizune stood there with her head hung , a look of both shock and distraught on her face, "But Lady Tsunade, I don't have any weight to throw around..."
Miles away at Konoha's grand library, Tsunade had disguised herself as a young Hyuuga girl.
You're not kicking me out this time, hag.
Tsunade sauntered into the library and passed the crone without any problems at all.
Inside, Tsunade's eye twitched dangerously.
Not even a warning? Why you crinkled up bag of wind, I oughta bring this place down.
Thankfully however, the building stayed in tact. There was a reason Tsunade had come here after all. She needed to look at the Hyuuga genealogy. Normally this was forbidden to anyone non-Hyuuga (because the head feared someone would find out a Hyuuga in the past had married a farmer), but that was why she had the disguise. She wasn't going to let some dumb rule stop her from doing something.
Tsunade's opinions on rules went something like this: rules are just like laws, to be bent and broken on a daily basis.
Tsunade didn't know anything at this point. When she had first stepped foot in Konoha, she had thought she'd be treating a case of serious burns or organ failure with some criminal hunting on the side. No, she was faced with a full-blown medical mystery.
Most diseases that were formally a mystery were either contracted while in a hostile or tropical environment; or were genetic mutations from a very elusive homozygous recessive gene. As far as Tsunade knew, Hinata had not entered any kind of tropical environment; therefore, the next logical step was to take a peek into her DNA.
Hiashi Hyuuga: Man of unremarkable medical records, no allergies, no life threatening injuries, made it to the rank of chunin before retiring from active duty to become clan leader.
Elder twin to the late Hizashi Hyuuga who died in the line of duty.
Son of Haruki and Takai Hyuuga.
Haruki died at the age of 72 from natural causes. Haruto is still living and also has an unremarkable medical record save for heart disease.
Hiashi currently married to Kiku Hyuuga. They have one child, Hanabi, half-sister of Hinata.
Let's see... previous marriages, here we go.
Hiashi Hyuuga was formerly married to Hikari Hyuuga. They also had one child, Hinata Hyuuga.
Who has no Hyuuga medical records past the age of three, hmph, something to look into.
Hikari Hyuuga died of an assassination against the new heir three weeks after Hinata was born, while she was on maternal leave.
Sad, but irrelevant.
Hikari was the daughter of Aki and Haru Hyuuga. She was one of five children and the only one to make it to the rank of jounin before retiring to become the wife of the clan head.
Not many members of the Hyuuga main branch seem to make it past the formal rank of chunin or special jounin.
Aki and Haru both have terribly boring medical records. Haru made it to special jounin and Aki jounin before becoming calligraphy teachers among the Hyuuga clan.
Of their other four children; one died by an accident near a pond at age four, and the other three had successful careers as proficient chunin until retiring from active duty.
Aki's mother however died of multiple sudden organ failures at age forty-two.
Also sad, but could be contributed to a bad diet or lack of necessary fats.
This endless stream of Hyuuga history would continue for another six hours before something occurred to Tsunade. In the mean time, Shizune was trying (and failing) to get the testing finished with.
"Excuse me? I just need-" the woman walked away without pause. Shizune turned around.
"If you would just wait a minute I-" again she was ignored.
By now, every doctor, nurse, technician, intern and janitor had heard of the craziness she was requesting. So now she was left to deal with a hospital full of rude, inconsiderate idiots!
Shizune normally had a very, very slow fuse; she had developed it when she traveled with Tsunade. But Tsunade wasn't here right now, and Shizune was getting mad. How dare they just ignore her like that? She was a good medic-nin and could take on any physician in this hospital if she wanted to, but that wasn't what she wanted!
She plopped onto a chair in the waiting room, "All I want are some tests done!" She shouted.
Small giggles erupted in the next room. Shizune looked and read the sign on the door, "'Technician's Lounge'" she read aloud.
So that's where they all disappeared.
She had managed to ask one technician for help performing the tests and, after laughing in her face, that man had told every other technician in the hospital and she hadn't seen one since.
A small tick appeared. They were hiding. Another tick. In the lounge? A third tick. From her? Steam could be seen. Oh, she would give them something to hide from.
"Oi!" She shouted pounding on the door, "Open up! I need to talk to you."
She heard snickering on the other end. "This is a medical staff only lounge, kid, go bother some other fool!"
Kid? She was nineteen for god's sake! "Kid? I don't think you understand, exactly whom you're messing with. Now if you don't-" The door eased open and the same cocky man leaned against the frame.
"Wha'do ya want, sweet heart, some of us actually have work to do around here. Now if you don't do what I'm saying," he chuckled, "then I'm afraid I'll have to bring someone over to escort you from the premises, understand?"
He was patronizing her. That over confident blowhole! How dare he insult her capabilities like that, hospital guards to detain her? She was not a genin! She was beyond angered, glaring up at the man's not quite clean shaven face was like something akin to a bull looking at a red scarf; infuriating.
Everyone's face was frozen in gape-mouthed terror as the small woman's fist crashed against the wall next to the man's head. The actual indent left by her fist was almost half way through the wall and the mass of branching cracks spread four feet in every direction.
"You didn't let me finish my sentence." Shizune said coolly. "You listen here," she said, each word laced with more venom than the last, "as Lady Tsunade's apprentice, I am not asking for respect, nor am I pleading for it, I am demanding it. Now, if these tests aren't done by the time 10 o'clock rolls around, I swear on your grave that I will bring this building down; understand?"
The combined phrases such as; 'Lady Tsunade', 'apprentice', 'grave' and 'down', sent the technicians into an outright frenzy. They snatched folders and papers from the giant stack on the ground and scattered to finish them as quickly as possible.
Shizune giggled lightly, a broken hand was a small price to pay for the power rush she was feeling at that moment.
Back in Konoha's grand library Tsunade was feeling a little less triumphant.
Tsunade's head slammed onto the table. "Why is this so hard?" she moaned.
Tsunade's head snapped in the direction of the sound, 'Wretched old hag...'
She had been over the Hyuuga clan's medical records twice now, going as far back as Hinata's great-great-great-grandparents and as distant as her fourth cousins three times removed. It was agonizing and she still hadn't found anything. She had such a good feeling about a hereditary disease too.
She only found one thing of mild interest. For all their pompous, irritating, holier-than-thou attitude, hardly any of the main branch Hyuuga made it past chunin before retiring; even less got past special jounin.
Guess you guys ain't so hot after all. Tsunade giggled madly.
The ones who did manage to make it to jounin or up died horribly tragic deaths, almost always at a young age. Sad, but… irrelevant?
How many times had she said that throughout the day? Twelve? Fifteen? Twenty? How many things could possibly be coincidental?
Nothing, rule number five: nothing is ever coincidental.
The black haired woman whipped around at her name. She had been sitting with Hinata for an hour now, having left the highly frazzled technicians to their work.
"Lady Tsunade!" Her teacher had barged through the door and slammed it shut behind her. "I-it's not even close to ten yet; you shouldn't be her right now! Uh, what I meant to say is that the tests aren't finished or anything and-" Shizune started to ramble.
"That doesn't matter right now, I solved it!" It was just about now that Shizune notice how excited her teacher looked. Her eyes were bright and her smile wide, she looked like she just won a million bucks. At least that might have paid off half her gambling debts.
"What?" Shizune asked.
"The mystery! Hinata's mystery!"
"You know what's wrong with Hinata?"
"Yes!" Tsunade said grinning wider.
Her lady hadn't said anything else, so Shizune decided to venture a guess, "Is it a disease?"
"No, no, not a disease. I mean, at least not a classified one. Not yet anyway."
"Lady Tsunade, I'm afraid you're losing me."
Tsunade groaned, "It's a type of, gene. A special gene, a super human gene!"
Shizune decided to simply nod as if she understood.
"This specific gene causes chakra to multiply at a practically inhumane rate; it increases strength, speed, healing. It's a genetic weapon Shizune!"
Shizune's eyes widened, "That's… that's incredible." Anyone worth their salt in the ninja world would kill for a gene like that. The possibility that the gene could bring, it truly was super human. "And Hinata's family carries this gene?"
"Not her whole family, no, on her mother's side there's definite signs of this gene's progression throughout the generations. On her father's there's no sign that the gene has ever manifested."
"So we can go ask Hinata's mother about this then?"
Tsunade shook her head.
Tsunade shook her head again.
"Who can, Lady Tsunade, are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"This 'super human' gene has one fatal flaw; if it's not properly controlled, the chakra pathways will grow so large and replenish themselves so quickly, the individual will die of SCC: sudden chakra combustion."
"A ninja sometimes gathers as much chakra as they can for a jutsu, thinking it will make the jutsu more powerful, but what they're really doing is cramming all of their energy into a confined space. The chakra molecules start to run into each other at increasing speed and eventually they rebound out of the person's chakra holes. It's a common suicide tactic for ANBU." Tsunade patiently explained.
"So all of the relatives on Hinata's mother's side are deceased." Shizune frowned.
"All the ones that we could have asked." Tsunade said.
Shizune suddenly looked up, "Lady Tsunade, if this is what the disease does, than how on earth did Hinata's ancestors live past childhood?" Shizune asked.
"That occurred to me too!" Tsunade said, clearly overjoyed that Shizune shared her wavelength.
"I saw that Hinata didn't have any Hyuuga medical records past the age of three so I checked it out with information that the Hokage gave us and it suddenly all made sense!"
Tsunade was pacing now.
"Ibiki and Anko took Hinata in at a very young age to begin helping and training her. But you have to think, there's gotta be differences between how they trained Hinata and how the Hyuuga trained would have trained Hinata, right?"
"So I started to think, what do the Hyuuga specialize in?" She turned quickly to her apprentice.
"Taijutsu. Not just that, but taijutsu that mainly relies on form and deadly precision, not large amounts of chakra. I did a little more digging and found that the Hyuuga don't usually start chakra training till age seven or eight, by then the chakra pathways are formed and solidified. It would take some dedication to get used to enlarging those pathways enough too, maybe the dedication of a jounin?"
"I suppose Lady Tsunade, but how does this effect anything?"
"I'm getting there Shizune, calm down!"
I don't think I'm the one that needs to calm themselves… Shizune gulped nervously.
"As I was saying; fully formed chakra pathways are much harder to adapt to enlargement. My theory here is that this special gene is activated by the sudden strain on chakra pathways."
The Hyuuga on Hinata's maternal side that have activated this gene have always been jounin, to become a jounin you need to be able to perform a respectable list of high-level jutsu. Which means that the Hyuuga who become jounin need to have stretched their pathways more than they were used to, therefore activating the gene! Most main branch Hyuuga don't have the ability to stretch their pathways this far, it's just physically impossible, which is why most main branch Hyuuga settle for a special jounin rank in taijutsu. Those who do have this ability are small in number, and the one's that are connected to Hinata's maternal side are even smaller, this gene is basically dying out!"
"Um, back to Hinata, Lady Tsunade?" Shizune didn't want to anger her, but she was getting eager to hear more of Tsunade's theory.
"Huh?" Tsunade blushed slightly, having been caught rambling about her theory.
"Oh yeah, I was getting to that part too, jeez, you're so impatient, Shizune!"
Shizune's eye twitched.
"Anyway, the chakra pathways of a child are much more malleable. So if Ibiki and Anko started training Hinata in the ways of chakra while she was young…"
"Then her chakra pathways took to the enlargement much quicker than if she would have trained with the Hyuuga, thus causing the sudden early activation of the gene." Shizune whispered in awe.
"Exactly." Tsunade plopped down on the chair beside Shizune.
They both sat there in a comfortable and exhausted silence. Two days, had it really only been that long, they had been working a total of thirty hours and they still weren't done.
Shizune carefully asked the question they were both dreading, "What do we do now?"
Shizune sat quietly, waiting for her teacher's answer. When no reply came Shizune opened her eyes slowly and looked over.
What she saw made her laugh; Tsunade was out cold. Both snoring and drooling, she looked very happy to be visiting dreamland again.
"That sounds like a good idea Lady Tsunade." Shizune said before closing her eyes once more and drifting off to a comfortably dreamless sleep.