A Fine Line

Chapter Three - Friends and Team mates

"But Sensei; there are only two bells." The Gennin known as Ichi stated. "And why are we being tested this way?"
"Yesterday you said you'd be satisfied if we would be able to place a mock exploding tag on you. Why this test?" Shreya asked, equally uncertain as Ichi
Naruto Smiled looking at his team…there were similarities to his own team from all those years ago. He could obviously identify with Ichi; loud with something to prove.
"That was just a little test to see how you would cope with a situation forced on you without any warning. It has to be said…you guys sucked yesterday." Naruto explained
"Now…this test is the real deal. All or nothing in this."

"So…all we have to do is get those bells from you? And you'll pass us?" Hiro, the third member of the team spoke up. "…to be fair sensei, that seems a little too easy" He said with a trace of cockiness in his voice as he snapped the deck of cards from one hand to the other.
Naruto could identify who this boy reminded him of. He did not respond however.
"Anyway…I've explained the rules, get these bells from me in whatever way you can. You have one hour." Naruto explained, eager to move this along

"oh…and as Ichi rightly pointed out, there are only two bells. Whoever doesn't have a bell at the end of this hour, will immediately fail…have fun." Naruto shrugged as he vanished with a puff of smoke.
The three gennin stood in the clearing looking at one another with a hint of suspicion. This was competition, the weakest would fail.
"This doesn't seem right." Shreya said to her two team mates who both eyed her carefully.
"Ofcourse it isn't right! I had to struggle all through the academy only to risk getting put back in there!" Ichi shouted.
"No Ichi…I mean, this doesn't seem entirely fair. To pit a Gennin against a Jounin." Shreya elaborated
"Hmm! Speak for yourself…all I have to do is get a bell, that'll be all too easy. You two can figure out the morals and fairness between you." Hiro removed a card and placed it at the top of his deck, focusing chakra to his fingers he tapped the seal that was on it. An elongated kunai materialised in his hand. With that, he made a dash for the trees.

"I cant say I agree with that jerk…but you did hear Naruto-sensei, this is a competition." Ichi grinned at Shreya before making a hand sign…the patterns and kanji on Ichi's bodysuit glowed and began to shift.
Soon his outline was becoming blurred as light was contorting around him. After a few seconds Ichi was transparent and all but invisible. She saw the light distortions around his movements as he too ran for the trees. His camouflage jutsu needed work, and he really needed to learn how to cover his tracks. Even if his jutsu completely rendered him invisible, she could still trace his footsteps as he ran; blades of grass, leaves and fallen twigs were all being disturbed as he moved.

She was the only one left

'all or nothing…that's what Naruto-sensei said' Shreya said quietly to herself. With a sharp breath she steeled herself and activated her bloodline, veins protruded from around her eyes and the world sharpened and widened as she was granted an almost complete view of the surrounding area.

Naruto had watched the interchange between his students. It was most interesting., but more disappointing, it seems they would miss the point of this exercise and try to go it alone.
Again…more similarities.

...

Wiping his blood from his chin, he looked at Hinata

"You know Hinata…I probably wouldn't have become a sensei if it wasn't for you."
Hinata didn't respond. Her eyes were fixed on him though
"I laughed when you suggested it…and you persisted that I'd be a fine teacher."
"I was right." Hinata said shortly "…but that's not why we are here right now is it Naruto! This has nothing to do with our students! This is you and me, right here, right now." Hinata shot.

Hinata had long since discarded her Anbu cloak, her body armour glinting in the torchlight. She stood in the gentle fist guard position; Naruto standing before her, about three metres away.

She took a deep breath and ran at Naruto. She threw a powerful palm thrust, aiming for his belly. Naruto deflected it with ease. Hinata immediately planted a foot wide…the momentum of her palm thrust and Naruto's deflection had pushed her off balance. She stumbled to Naruto's left. Before she found her footing again, he connected with a sharp chop to the base of her spine. Hinata's knees folded and she was on all fours before she realised. Acting fast, she spun herself round and caught Naruto's ankle with her left foot and kicked as hard as she could with her right at his knee. It buckled as Naruto was sent down.

Hinata was on her feet before he even hit the mat. She looked at him as he was getting back on his feet; he was favouring his left leg.
He had been a good sensei, Hinata thought

...

Having finished with her official squad of genins for the day, Hinata approached the neighbouring training fields. She saw Naruto sitting atop one of the training logs staring up at the sky. It was late in the day and the temperature was beginning to drop and the light starting to fade. He had his back to her…oblivious to her presence.

As she approached she heard the faintest of jingles. Naruto still seemed to be none the wiser that anyone else apart from him was around. Hinata was now standing directly behind the log Naruto was sitting on, looking up at him he seemed to be staring at one of the very few clouds that were hanging in the sky.

With a smile, Hinata reached up and poked him in the side.

"Ahhhh!" Naruto squealed as he toppled sideways off the log in surprise. Landing heavily on his side, a kunai appeared in his hand ready to throw at the intruder. Standing above him, Hinata looked on with her head cocked to one side with a smile on her lips.
"What exactly are you planning on doing with that Naruto-kun?" She said gesturing to the kunai.

"oh, erm…sorry, hehehe. You sorta gave me a bit of a fright there Hinata" The kunai disappeared into his holster as he stood up.
"Some people find it politer to say hello" Naruto said half indignantly. Hinata merely smiled further
"Some people find it funnier to catch people unawares Naruto." Hinata spoke. "…well, how'd your team get on?" Hinata inquired, she noticed the couple of bells he had in his hand.

Naruto remained silent for a moment.

"Well…erm, I still don't think I'm cut out for this sensei stuff." Naruto admitted. Hinata frowned.
"I'm sure that's not true." Hinata protested calmly. "…it's a big responsibility obviously, but one that is worth while in the end. I can't think of anyone better suited to the task. You seem to know how to get through to people. You inspire courage and determination in your words alone…and your actions, they speak louder than anything."

Naruto's eyebrows rose slightly.

"It's just…a lot can go wrong in the future if I'm not careful now."

"That's just jitters…I know for a fact that anyone being taught by you will become truly fine Ninja."

Naruto was flattered, and grateful for her words…but he obviously still had self doubts.
Her eyes could read him better than anyone. Hinata felt disappointed that she couldn't re-assure him further.

"How did your test go Naruto-kun?"

Naruto rose his eyes to meet hers, her heart picked up a few more beats per minute.
He smiled very slowly.

"Excellent!" He broke out into a wide grin "…at first I was worried. The way they spoke to each other, it seemed clear that they weren't going to act as a team. They all went it alone."
"They tried taking you on by themselves?" Hinata asked
"To be fair…it's exactly what Sasuke and I did all those years ago against Kakashi-sensei. And I think he was a bit more lenient about letting us pass." Naruto admitted nervously. "…but it was all thanks to Shreya. She recognised something I told them before the test began."

Naruto paused for a breath…Hinata was listening intently.

"As kakashi likes to remind us; ninja must read underneath the underneath. I was explaining to them they had to come at me with no restraint…All or nothing. Shreya picked up on this. She managed to round the team together and take me on." Naruto smiled some more

"They've got potential this group…Hiro and Ichi are somewhat knuckleheaded, but Shreya's got some very good leadership skills and managed to keep them under control."

"So you passed them?" Hinata asked
"Ofcourse I did!" Naruto said proudly

"Then why…?" Hinata pointed at the bells in his hand.

"Oh! …errr, well…hehehe…" Naruto began rubbing the back of his neck nervously
"Naruto?" She said suspiciously.

"well…I, eh hehehe…this is kinda embarrassing. I…sorta, lost them." Naruto said sheepishly. Hinata was confused
"You mean your students managed to get them off you?" Hinata asked

"No…at the start of the test, I was hiding in the trees, they must have snagged on a branch. Later they managed to corner me…Ichi grabbed me from behind, Shreya started to shut down my chakra and Hiro went for my belt where the bells were."

"And he was…less than impressed?" Hinata asked, forcing herself not to roll her eyes
"They accused me of cheating, hehehe. The bells weren't important though, the important thing was team work. So I had to pass them, I'm just a bit disappointed I couldn't scare one of them out of their mind by saying they were going back to the academy…hehehe, OW!" Hinata ended his retelling with a soft thump upside the back of his head.

"Baka!" Hinata shook her head.

"What was that for?" Naruto asked confused…his bottom lip protruding out. Hinata held up two fingers
"First…for being careless." She put down one finger "…and second, for doubting yourself as a competent sensei." Hinata broke her serious face into another smile.

Naruto couldn't help but smile back at her.
Steeling up all her courage, she took a deep breath.
"Naruto…how would you like to go get something to eat? My treat?" Hinata said nervously.
Naruto smiled at her

"That's very kind of you Hinata, but no thanks. I've got a date later, need to go get ready" He smiled happily and began walking away "…thanks Hinata, you're a great friend. Bye for now" He waved.

Hinata was frozen in place…her finger nervously pressed against her lips.

"A date?" Hinata mumbled softly to herself. Disappointment enveloped her as she began to slouch.
She looked down at her sandals sadly
"Ofcourse…ofcourse someone else would notice him" She said bitterly to herself, she stole a last glance at his retreating form.

She wanted to tell him all about her team, how well they had done and how great it made her feel…she wanted to share with him all these feelings.

...

Remembering the hurt he had caused her that day caused her teeth to grit together and her jaw to clench painfully.
Looking at his face as he stood across from her…he looked very solemn. He was applying light pressure to his weak knee, testing it.
Carefully she approached him. Naruto tensed up and readily awaited her attack.

She dropped into stance, not a gentle fist one this time however.
She had a wide foot spacing and her fists up in a high guard position.
Mild surprise was in Naruto's eyes.

She started a slow rhythm but heavy hits.

She unleashed a strong right hook. Naruto raised his arm to block, unsure why she wasn't using her normal fighting style.
Maybe she was trying to psyche him out.
It was turning into a bit of a boxing match. A steady rhythm of punching was being exchanged. Neither of them were scoring any direct hits.

Naruto swung his left fist at her head…instead of blocking however, Hinata shifted her whole body to the left and allowed the fist to glide harmlessly above her. She continued leaning over to the point her she had to put her arm to the ground to keep her balance.

She quickly let loose her right leg straight for Naruto's head.

With his body still in momentum from his missed punch, he had no chance to dodge the oncoming kick.
Within the space of a second, Hinata had dodged his punch and kicked him very hard in the side of the head.
Naruto staggered to the side dazed. He felt Hinata's arms around his waist from behind,
he remembered how she used to do that before.

This time was different…with her grip around his body secure, she vaulted him upward and over.

Naruto felt weightless for a split second before feeling his shoulders and head slam into the mat.
Naruto was surprised at her use of a non-Jyuuken fighting style, but couldn't argue its effectiveness as the pain swelled around his head.

When his vision stopped spinning, he looked over to Hinata who was also on the floor.
She was on her hands on knees breathing heavily, trying to get her breath back.

"Ne? Hinata?" She shot him a look. Words died in his mouth when she looked at him with that feeling in her eyes.
With a deep breath, he clambered back to his feet. His head ringing and his back throbbing.
Hinata was still on the ground still getting her breath back.
Naruto decided to wait for her to continue the fight.

A couple of minutes pass before Hinata is back on her feet and back in a ready position. This time in the traditional Jyuuken stance.

Naruto sighed…this was turning into one long night.

Author's Note: i've started to divide up the flashbacks...using my old enemy, the elipsis! :)

so then, how are people finding this? i'm quite enjoying it. forgotton how fun it is to write :D

Special Thanks to the reveiwers thus far:

XxXxFading DreamxXxX - First reveiwer...hope you stick around to see how this all pans out. I'm leaving things ambiguous for now...dont want to give too much away. Glad you're enjoyign it

Guybrush007 - it was somethign i dont really remember seeing before. It's naruhina...just not in the conventional sense

TL - yep...just gonna have to wait and see

imatwilightfan - updating as fast as i can...cheers for reading

Will2012 - I shocked you? then i suceeded in my ploy mwahahahahahaha! glad you're enjoying it...stick around, i'll try do much the same.

anyways...take care people...see you soon

Scorpi!