Disclaimer: This is a non-profit work of fiction and all copyrights to the Naruto manga and anime are retained by their original owners.
Extended Summary: If you found yourself in the body of someone in the Narutoverse, would that really be a good thing? What would you really do, become a Ninja or run? An OC-insert into one of the worst possible people in the Narutoverse – Hyūga Hinata. Even if you want to, running isn't possible. Follow Hinata as she tries to overcome the cage formed of her blood; Heir of the Hyūga Clan, and circumstance; the terrible events she knows are coming in Konoha's future. An AU story that gives a few advantages to Hinata as a result of the insertion and makes a change so that the dōjutsu with the greatest perception has the potential to equal the others. When the canon Sharingan and Rinnegan are compared to the Byakugan, it's hardly an even matchup. Supposedly it has the greatest perception, but events don't prove that out. Neji wasn't able to tell which Naruto was the real one, yet Sasuke could?
Explores what it might mean if, when all capabilities and disadvantages are considered, the three great dōjutsu are at least close to equal. The Rinnegan has amazing abilities that blatantly defy the laws of nature, but is exceptionally difficult to activate at all. The Sharingan comes with an impressive list of abilities even in the first three stages but not all Uchiha unlock their abilities. The price for unlocking the powerful higher levels is even greater; with blindness resulting if only the Mangekyō is unlocked.
By contrast, the Byakugan is used by every Hyūga, apparently not requiring any special circumstance to unlock. In this story, it lives up to its name as the dōjutsu with the greatest vision and insights; it is simply that activating all features of the bloodline takes beyond exceptional chakra control at a very young age, too young to be feasible. If a majority of perception modes are not discovered within two years of first activation, the Byakugan loses the flexibility required to use them later, after the Hyūga has possibly discovered the chakra control required.
An adult mind in a child's body though, one that is used to not feeling chakra and so is far more sensitive to its location is a different story. Watch as Hinata struggles to balance the demands of her clan and village with her morals, what she wants and the looming spectre foreknowledge of possible events provides.
Tl,Dr: Power comes from skill gained during hard training combined with experience. No quick power-ups, experience, skill and treachery almost always defeat youth and power. Strives for internal consistency, no character bashing or exaggerated clichés hopefully.
Small note: The chaotic terms of personal reference at the start of the chapter are intentional, not an error. Also, I've been reading long enough that I often can't remember without some effort if a specific jutsu or idea was part of the original canon or part of fanon. When I am aware that I've borrowed something from another fanfiction author, I'll give credit at the bottom of the chapter it occurred in. If you see something that you think originally belongs to another author, please PM me and let me know. If I agree, I'll amend the chapter straight away to include the appropriate credits.
A Cage of Blood and Circumstance
Prologue – Welcome to the Cage
A sudden jarring sense of motion jolted me awake, my senses disoriented and lungs straining for air, a suffocating blanket wrapped tightly around me with something hard digging into my stomach from below. Another jarring impact drove what small breath I had left from my lungs and the tightening of a hand grasping my ankles served to make my position clear; I was draped like a bag of laundry over someone's shoulder. I struggled ineffectively as my oxygen-starved brain tried to grasp what was going on.
'Have I been picked up by some sort of freakish giant?' I thought. The size of the shoulder driving into me and the hand grasping both ankles suggested it, although the long pauses between his footsteps indicated slow movement at least. Vaguely I heard muffled shouting and the giant made a series of sudden twists, my torso whipping back and forth as my legs were held in place, before with a grunt and sudden feeling of weightlessness I was flying through the air. With a thump I landed and rolled, dispersing the momentum and coming to rest on my back.
The blanket fell apart enough for me to see a dark form partially eclipsing the stars, towering over me in a strange stance, seemingly preparing for an attack from outside my field of view. Prepared or not it did him little good; a second later another figure appeared from thin air at arm's reach directly in front. I got the sense of blurred motion and grunts for a second before they froze, the second man with his hand flat on the chest of the other; a spike of what appeared to be translucent blue energy exploding from the back of the man that'd been carrying me. There was the sound of a cough and something wet spattered on the ground, then the man standing over me toppled slowly backwards, his arms falling limply to the side.
A voice spoke above me, low and urgent, the meaning lost amidst words that were confusing gibberish to my ears. I stared upwards in blank incomprehension, my lack of breath preventing a response even if my mind hadn't been in turmoil. The sounds were repeated slightly louder, and in a rush the meaning bubbled up from some forgotten corner of my brain; "Hinata, are you injured?"
Suddenly the world snapped into sharp focus. The features of the man leaning over me, creepy, all-white eyes seemingly focused on a point a foot through my head locked onto my face. In an instant, disjointed facts that hadn't impinged on my consciousness were brought into stark relief: The metal plate on the forehead of the man lying beside me, the strange blue energy that had come from his back, the name I had been called and most of all, the creepy white pupil-less eyes and understanding a foreign language that sounded Japanese – I was Hyūga Hinata. A wave of darkness seemed to sweep across my vision as I succumbed gratefully to oblivion.
The return of consciousness was a gradual process as my mind rose to awareness like a slowly surfacing shark, the soft pillow pressed against the side of my face and hard mattress informing me of my location, as I mulled over the weird dream that remained so vivid in my mind. It was strange enough to dream myself into a Manga, stranger still for it to be as that character – why not Naruto or Sasuke if I was going to dream of it at all. I lay there in a half-drowse, letting my mind drift randomly as an irritant made itself progressively greater until I couldn't ignore it – hard mattress?
My eyes shot open, dazzled by the light before almost instantly adjusting to a crystal clear view of a white pillow and fine sheets, with the dark wooden floor polished to a mirror-finish extending away almost level with my head. I was sleeping in a futon, not my expensive mattress. Slowly, keeping everything else still, I raised my hand from under the pillow, the tiny, childish size telling me all I needed to know about the status of my dream.
It was with dawning shock that I realised there were two sets of memories in my mind, where before there had been only one. Alongside my recollections of University lectures were memories of my small body being patiently moved through stance after stance, language and the beginning of deportment lessons and finally, being taught to unlock my chakra shortly after my third birthday. Given that was nearly a year ago, I must be almost four in this body.
My mind began to race, 'Four years old in the Narutoverse?' I could become a great shinobi, take advantage of foreknowledge of what was to come, use my memories of training methods to become a prodigy and help Naruto; even track down those who would be threats and eliminate them... early... Wait.
I was in the Narutoverse, where shinobi took assassination missions, everyone with power operated in a climate of secrecy and lies within lies, there was an official organisation openly titled the Torture and Interrogation Unit and fights were more subject to the butterfly effect than anything else – the slightest mistake and I could be dead or crippled for life. This wasn't an adventure or opportunity, this was a nightmare!
Mentally I scratched being a shinobi off my career planner – I would just look up Naruto as a civilian kid, maybe offer some pointers that I could say I heard a couple of Chūnin discussing. Perhaps go to the academy to get some basic training to build on in my own time for self defence, but make sure to fail the graduation exam. I should be fairly safe if I made sure to be away from Konoha during the Chūnin exam finals and around the time Pain visited. I could look for a job as a shopkeeper, perhaps a weapons store or something similar and I could get some start-up money from the clan; they were certainly rich… enough... Wait.
I was the Heiress of the Hyūga clan – not taking the path of a shinobi meant an automatic relegation to the branch house and with it, the Caged Bird Seal. I stifled a groan as I considered going through with it anyway – at least I would still be alive.
In the end, I reluctantly pushed that option aside. Aside from the pain and risk with the sealing itself, the seal was effectively slavery and I had no illusions about my ability to withstand the kind of torture the seal was capable of in the hands of a Main house member. Once I was sealed I would give up what limited control I had – I might be ordered to continue shinobi training to act as a guard in the Branch house, putting myself at risk and liable to be given morally repugnant orders that I would have to obey or die.
In a fit of pique I considered running, but the likelihood of successfully evading the clan if I left before becoming a shinobi was incredibly low; after I would be a missing-nin and the Hunters would be after me, to say nothing of the problems of supporting myself. Successful desertion as a shinobi would require S-rank skills – the kind of reputation that would see loyal Konoha shinobi avoiding contact rather than seeking me out.
With a soft sigh I turned my mind back to the idea of becoming a shinobi and began to consider the problems. First, the moral issue – I had served time in the Army in my original life, so I had considered the possibility of killing in self-defence, in defence of others or as part of a war and believed that I could handle that, although it remained to be tested. The problem was with the other missions I might be assigned. Spying or stealing was okay, as were patrols and guarding missions, or at least I could see myself accepting them.
Seduction, interrogation and assassination though, were a much more unpleasant proposition. Of the three, seduction was the easiest to consider as it mainly affected me and although distasteful, was something that women had been doing for recorded history – I might even be exempt as the Heir to a major bloodline clan. As for the other two, I could accept that in the case of adult targets the mission would be done if I did it or not, so any refusal would just force one of my fellow shinobi to carry it out in my place.
Given that there would no doubt be years of mental conditioning between now and the need to do either, I tentatively put a check mark in the shinobi career box. I did, however, make a firm resolution that I wouldn't accept interrogation of a civilian child or work long-term in T&I for any reason. I would've made a blanket rule about harm to children but if Kakashi could be a Chūnin at six, it seemed impossible to follow.
Second, my progress as a shinobi verses the integrity of the timeline. Should I keep things to be as they were in the Manga as much as possible? Should I care for the timeline at all? Sure, it'd seemed like it would work out in the end, but there were a lot of deaths and tragedy to get there. Also, I knew that the clan itself matched canon, at least what I could pull from my new set of memories, but there was no guarantee everything else did.
I might spend years keeping things the same as best I could, only to find out Nagato was killed by Hanzo or Danzo and Akatsuki didn't exist or was run by Uchiha Madara directly. In the fanfiction I'd read, the person in my situation could rely on canon, but that might not be the case here. I stifled a shudder at the thought of some of the things I'd read and made a resolution that if there were any signs that Naruto contained some eldritch abomination rather than the Kyuubi, I was heading out of Fire Country immediately.
So, I would take inspiration from everything I had read, both canon and fanon, but attempt to avoid making any assumptions as to the course of events, the personalities of people and the techniques that could be employed. Careful observation would be needed before I took any actions that would be difficult to undo or disavow.
It was fortunate that the Byakugan was so suited to exactly that task, as otherwise the difficulty might be insurmountable for a small child. I had just last week started learning the handseals and internal chakra manipulation that would allow activation and I made a mental note to make proficiency in its use one of my first priorities. With regard to the timeline, I resolved to put off any external changes until I had made further observations and work on my own skills for now.
In the end, it seemed that a shinobi was the only path open to me at the moment, and I cursed the fact that I was in the body of one of the only people whose very identity would so restrict my life choices. Why couldn't I have been some random civilian who was on the path to the academy but could change their mind without much comment? Even Sakura or the other clan heirs could have dropped out prior to graduation, granted there would have been arguments but without the threat of the Caged Bird Seal I could have forced the issue.
The only other person who probably had no choice was Naruto as I couldn't see a decision from the village Jinchuuriki to become a civilian going over well, to say nothing of the likelihood of him finding gainful employment. There was no point speculating any further though, as Naruto may not even exist here and there was no point moping about might-have-been.
The needs of my body, though not urgent, were making themselves known, and I suppressed them as best I could. Concentrating, I brought the lessons just started last week to the front of my mind. Concentrate on the Hara, the chakra pool, draw and mould it as my hands clumsily made seals, each one acting as a key to guide the internal flow. From the Hara to the brain, pool in the visual cortex, two strands extending forward, one to each eye, cover the retina in chakra, send a line back to the brain to form a loop from each eye as I muttered "Byakugan" almost inaudibly under my breath.
Surprisingly I found it much easier to control than what my memories showed, although that might be attributable to the greater power of concentration from an adult mind. Ease of control or not, the first attempt simply caused my vision to whiteout for a second until I relaxed the chakra flow. There was also a strong feeling of disassociation from my body as the differences between what I was used to and the current situation were brought glaringly to my attention.
From the small things this morning, like eyes that adjusted almost instantly to a dramatic change in light levels and crystal clear vision that made everything stand out almost as if it was 'hyper-real', to the fact that as soon as I started to channel chakra I could feel the internal position of every coil; a wealth of other confusing information about my body accompanying it, the obvious discrepancy too much to ignore. It was probably a good thing though, as without some sort of internal sense I wouldn't be able to direct the chakra to the right areas.
I tried again, this time reducing the chakra used by roughly half only to have my vision distort weirdly for an instant before snapping back to normal, the result I had been getting all week. I paused for a moment to check for any sensations of tiredness and attempted to estimate my reserves but without more experience I wasn't confident in my conclusions. In any case as I didn't feel tired and my reserve seemed unchanged I tried again, this time adding about a quarter of the difference between the first and second attempt to the pool in my retinas.
There was a terrible, nausea-inducing moment where the world seemed to warp and wrap around me, almost as if my head had turned inside out through my eye sockets. It was, at the same time, the most disturbing sensation I had ever felt and a great relief as if the world was finally as it should be. The dichotomy proved too much and I cut the chakra flow immediately, squeezing shut my eyes and swallowing convulsively. As the nausea subsided, I thought back to what I had seen. I needed more practice in interpretation but I got the impression that I was alone in my rooms although there may have been guards outside. I also had the feeling that the disorientation had come from my original memories and the comfort from the current body. I would have explored that thought further but the needs of the body had grown too strong to ignore.
Blanking my mind as much as possible, I let the subconscious routine of actions carried out hundreds of times before guide me as I moved to the bathroom and used the facilities. Moving to the sink I kept my eyes focused on the taps until my hands were clean, and then reluctantly raised my face to the mirror. The tiny visage of Hinata stared back, the white on white eyes barely clearing the faucet and the round little face with a weird bowl-cut and blue-black bangs staring back. I took a sharp breath, and lost myself studying what I could see. It had been decades since I was so small, the memories fuzzy and uncertain. After an unknown amount of time, it occurred to me that staring blankly into the mirror when for all I knew, half the clan was watching me was probably not a good idea.
With a sigh I moved back into the bedroom, taking in the large expanse with one other door and a bookshelf and low table surrounded by tatami mats. I straitened my futon before moving over to the table and kneeling in the seiza position. I had a moment of surprise as I reviewed my actions – normally I wouldn't have bothered with the bed and anything like seiza was highly uncomfortable. It appeared that some traits in the original Hinata's personality would come to the fore when I was distracted and I resolved to keep track of my behaviour.
I reviewed what had occurred earlier with my dōjutsu and concluded that I needed further experience in relaxing into the feeling of comfort provided by this body when using the Byakugan. Reactivating the technique I steeled myself to ignore the initial discomfort and after a few seconds it markedly decreased and the feeling of comfort became dominant. I hadn't really known what to expect due to conflicting descriptions in fanfiction and I lost myself in wonder as I gazed about.
In a sphere around me I could see seemingly everything – there was no peripheral vision, everything was in crystal focus at all times, regardless of the angle or distance. The only thing I couldn't see was inside my own head, the details of my body a confusing jumbled mess with chakra coils winding through like neon tubes. Surprisingly, I seemed to be able to concentrate on two things at the same time, with an occasional jump to three. It wasn't fast switching either; I was concentrating on someone preparing food in one direction and the guards outside the door at the same time.
Using the dōjutsu must affect the way information is processed as otherwise only one point of interest could be paid attention to at a time. Perhaps it was something unique to dōjutsu as Naruto's method of completing the Rasengan and Rasenshuriken suggested he wasn't able to concentrate on multiple things at the same time. I could feel the rate of chakra usage from the pool in my brain jump when I activated my eyes so it was possible that was enabling the brain to handle the flood of information.
Considering the area outside my rooms, I could see through my walls and throughout much of the compound in a circle almost 100m in radius around my position, excepting only islands of blankness where I knew the personal quarters of the elders and adults were, as well as the meeting room and Main house archives. There were two guards standing either side of my door, their coils softly glowing but not moulding chakra – they weren't using the Byakugan, nor was anyone else that I could see. I deactivated my chakra and the world inverted, normalcy returning with a feeling of loss.
I practiced the activation, running through the handseals slowly at first then faster, working on speed with fluidity. I also practised the internal manipulation of my chakra, moving it from place to place in different shapes. I reactivated my eyes, waiting to feel the disorientation settle before doing it over again using slightly varying amounts of chakra and checking the resulting effects. I found that with slight increases of chakra I could extend my range by approximately 50m before further increase began to cause a whiteout. Recalling that there was supposed to be a way to trade the encompassing vision for a telescope function, I tried for several minutes to activate the ability before noticing that my chakra reserve had noticeably diminished.
A few seconds of concentration on that were spent trying to determine the rate of depletion but as I couldn't see anything obvious, I shut down my bloodline. A moment later a wave of tiredness seemed to sweep over me and a curious aching feeling seemed to emanate from my coils. I reminded myself again to go slow until I had a better idea of the dangers associated with chakra usage in general and in Hyūga specifically.
With a grimace I pushed to my feet, making my way to the door before sliding it open. On the far side was a modest room, the floor covered in mats with another low table the only furniture. I moved to the door on the far side and opened it to the sight of the two guards I had previously detected. One turned his head to look at me from the corner of his eye. "Hinata-sama, Hiashi-sama requested you remain in your room until called. If you wish to eat, we can have food brought to you." came in a monotone from the guard on the left.
Drawing on the memories of instruction in deportment I replied, "Very well. Please do so."
With a faint inclination of the head he moved off and I returned to the sitting room, closing the door as I did so. I assumed the purpose of the room was so that I could have visitors without the implications of intimacy that entering my bedroom would entail, although no one had stated as much to Hinata as far as her memories recalled. Kneeling down to wait for food it suddenly struck me that the ache had gone from my coils and my chakra reserve felt slightly different, although I was not able to tell in what manner.
'At least the damage seems to have healed quickly,' I thought to myself, 'It should make training go quicker.' I took the time to think over where I was with chakra exercises – I had been shown the leaf floating exercise almost a month ago and had been practising with indifferent results. I would need to master that before attempting any form of tree walking. The tree walking could be practiced in my room against the outer wall, which though it looked like paper, in my memories felt harder than steel – likely some form of Fūinjutsu.
I would have to use my progress at wall walking to outline the rest of my training once I had a better idea of my reserves and control. Really, I needed some form of planning journal that also recorded my progress, what worked and didn't and when I achieved milestones in training. It needed to be private though – I would have to see if I could find anything in the archives written in English – if not it would make an excellent private language and I would make sure not to write about any future events without using some kind of code just in case.
The faint noise of the door opening disrupted my thoughts and I could see a maid with a tray kneeling outside. "Enter." I intoned, keeping my voice as flat as possible.
The Maid swiftly set out what appeared to be a Japanese breakfast and then retreated silently from the room. I let out a faint sigh as I relaxed from the artificial pose and for the first time wondered why Hiashi had not been to see me. Something that had been nagging at the back of my mind suddenly jumped to the fore as I remembered what the consequences of my father killing the Kumo ambassador would be. I surged to my feet and was halfway to the door when I managed to gain control of my instinctive response.
'What the hell am I doing?' I thought. Nothing I could do would affect Hizashi's fate so why did the thought of losing my uncle... I stopped there as the changing references struck me. Hizashi was Hinata's uncle, not mine, just as Hiashi was not my father but I had unconsciously slipped into referring to him in that way several times this morning. Turning my thoughts inward, I began a more systematic appraisal of my memories and mind.
After some time, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that instead of a new mind inhabiting a basically empty body with a few memories, I had merged with Hinata's mind. This went a long way to explaining my general acceptance of my new situation and body, also providing the reason I was so comfortable moving about without bumping into things in a much smaller frame. I resolved to try to accept that I was Hinata and her life and relationships were my own; from now on it was my body not the body, her father was my father and her mother had been mine.
With that thought the grief came forward like a dark wave, crashing through my forced calm. I stifled a sob as tears suddenly filled my eyes and it was with an enormous effort of will that I suppressed the urge to cry. The fact that I was even capable of doing so illustrated the differing levels of influence our original selves had on my new personality.
To the original Hinata, her mother's death was the defining tragedy that shaped everything for her over the last six months. However, when compared to twenty-nine years of life experience, although no less a tragedy it could be put in perspective by an adult mind already used to dealing with loss.
With a sniff I began the mechanical process of eating, using the rote action to allow my emotions time to settle. Finishing I replaced the cover on the tray and put it beside the door, moving back into my bedroom.
Lacking anything else to do, I took out a piece of paper from the shelf and tore off a piece the size of a large leaf – doing the leaf floating exercise would at least occupy my time productively and had the benefit of being a praiseworthy activity if anyone were to look at me. Placing the paper in my palm I moulded chakra and pushed a small amount to my palm, only to see it shoot off into the air.
In a blur my other hand snapped across and grabbed the paper before it had gone more than a couple of centimetres and my brows rose in shock. The paper had been moving fast and twisting, in my old body I would have had trouble even seeing it and again I wondered how different the baseline of physical capability was in this universe.
Adding another thing to my fast growing investigate-later pile, I tried again with half as much chakra to the same, if slower, result. I continued in this fashion adjusting my output until the paper stayed steady at a couple of centimetres from my palm and began to slowly rotate. Figuring that I had originally tried with about eight times too much chakra I did my best to memorise the correct amount then cut the flow and tried again.
This time was right the first try and I wondered why it was so much easier for me now than it was before the merge. The only thing I could come up with was the relative ages of our minds making concentration much easier or perhaps the extra experience had an effect on my chakra. Regardless of the reason it seemed like control came significantly quicker and more refined for me than what my apparent age would indicate, which was something of a relief as I knew I needed every edge I could get.
Switching to my other hand I repeated the exercise, this time getting the correct amount on the second try. I knew I needed practice with different amounts of chakra though so I tore the rest of the paper up and used saliva to stick pieces together in varying amounts so they were different weights. My aim was to be able to place a piece of unknown weight on either hand and be able to adjust the chakra flow to compensate before the piece moved noticeably. It was almost an hour later that I felt reasonably satisfied and by that time there was a growing empty feeling in my stomach and an unpleasant tingling in the palms of my hands.
I collected the pieces for later use and wondered what to do next. If my father was dealing with the elders and council I might be forgotten for some time, time that needed to be filled. Running back through memories of my daily routine I hit on reading and calligraphy as common things to practice. It would be good to do a non-chakra based activity while I waited for my reserves to fill and my reading comprehension and speed in English far outstripped that in Japanese or whatever language was spoken here.
Calligraphy was something that would pay off later as I had always been fascinated by the concept of Fūinjutsu and hoped to start looking at the theory in the future. There was no point practicing seals until I could either get a teacher or develop my reserves to allow at least one Kage Bunshin, as I didn't want to risk experimenting and killing myself. Moving over to the shelf I pulled out two books for reading and my practice scroll for calligraphy.
The books were the tale of an imaginary Kunoichi in Heaven country and seemed to be pitched on a level for someone in their early teens. I struggled through half the first one over the next two hours, having to resort to frequent use of the dictionary to make sense of what I was reading before moving on to the calligraphy scroll.
Instead of practicing characters, there were examples of common brushstrokes and combinations with boxes for fifty practice attempts beneath. I worked my way down the scroll for an hour, the ability of four year-old muscles to hold an arm in position without support for so long amazing me, as I would've had difficulty with that in my twenties.
Taking a moment to check my reserves and confirm they had refilled I decided to practice further with the Byakugan, as the moniker All-Seeing White Eye and the description as the dōjutsu with the greatest vision and insights seemed grandiose for what was shown in canon compared to the Rinnegan and the Sharingan abilities.
While Hinata's ability to feel what was happening in her own body when channelling chakra was not possible in my original world, now that we had merged my sense of what my chakra was doing far outstripped what was the case for her previously. It was like a photo taken by moonlight compared to one using the light of the noonday sun, perhaps because I had decades of experience in a body with no chakra at all. Regardless of the reason, this gave me the ability to alter the way I channelled chakra to activate the Byakugan, with a mind capable of understanding both a methodical process and what I saw at a very young age.
I thought back to my earlier attempts and the way the chakra moved and attempted to shift it there without handseals. My first attempt failed as did the next nine but soon I was successful and saw the same view from this morning. After activating the dōjutsu several times without handseals I felt confident to move on to my true interest. Concentrating on the flow of chakra in my eyes and brain I began to experiment.
Close to forty minutes later the wary attention I had left attuned to my reserves let me know they were dwindling fast and I deactivated my eyes with a sigh. The chakra behind the retina was formed into a thin, curved plate and I had spent all my time manipulating this, preferring to leave experimentation involving the brain to a later date.
If the chakra plate was thickened and made softer, more malleable, the range of my vision drastically reduced but the depth of my perception increased in proportion. When my range narrowed to about ten metres in radius my body was suddenly covered in glowing dots, the tenketsu or chakra points. If I continued to extend the depth of the plate at around a five metre radius I could see the faint wisps of chakra emanating from these points. Going the other way, making the plate thinner and harder extended my range but made it more difficult to see chakra, the sense of the coil system inside my guards dimming until all I could see internally was their central reserve.
If other Hyūga had about the same sense of their internal chakra flow as Hinata originally had, they might well settle for the method they used the first time they were successful in activation, without the ability to make fine alterations and test the result.
I moved back to the sitting room and after requesting and receiving lunch started to eat. Paying attention to my reserves I noticed that shortly after I began eating, the rate of refill increased. Apparently chakra could be refilled through the metabolic process, suggesting that if I continued to grow my reserves I would have to secure a plentiful source of food. Perhaps if I requested fruit and snacks to be brought along with my meals I could have something to eat in between, and gradually increase the amounts as my reserves increased.
Speaking of which, I was a little surprised that I had been able to go for so long, as I had expected someone of my age to have far less chakra. On reflection though, the Hyūga had probably been selecting for large chakra reserves since their formation, as using the Jūken and Byakugan in combination likely drained chakra very fast, to say nothing of moves such as the Kaiten. While I ate, I thought on my situation.
There was nothing external to the Hyūga clan that I could affect at the current time, after a kidnapping attempt I would not be leaving the compound for some time and going unescorted would wait even longer. So I had nothing to focus on but my situation here. I would continue to improve as best I could regardless, as the greater my strength the more options I had, the question was how much to show the clan.
If I performed as the canon Hinata had, I had an idea of what might happen but had already resolved that trying to cleave to canon was a futile endeavour and possibly pointless. If I performed very poorly I might well be sealed, not an acceptable option. On the other hand, if I was exceptional, Hanabi would likely be relegated to the Branch house, something I was keen to avoid with the influence of Hinata's original personality.
Perhaps I could use the kidnapping as my public reason to grow stronger and become a shinobi; revenge on Kumo was also a motivating factor. If I could secure my place as Heir, I could suggest to my father that Hanabi remain unsealed until I proved myself as a shinobi by rising to Jōnin, giving us time to find another option. This depended on his attitude but the conversation with Neji after the Chūnin exams gave me hope.
Learning anything other than Jūken and increasing my chakra control and reserves while experimenting with my dōjutsu would have to wait until I was unequivocally the Heir and in good standing, although I could probably research limited topics if I could justify their relationship to Jūken.
Faint sounds reached my ears and I briefly activated my bloodline and saw my father approaching the guards. I deactivated it and moved to face the door in a respectful position; it was best to start as I meant to continue and the games of position and respect were something I would have to play well if I was to be Heir. The door slid open, and I bowed from my kneeling position, "Good afternoon, Otou-sama."
"Hinata-chan. I find you well, I see." He said.
"Yes, Otou-sama. Thank you for your assistance last night." I replied, rising from my bow. His face was a mask, the rigid control of outward emotional expression taught along with walking and refined by a lifetime of practice conspiring to repress any affection or concern in all but the most extreme of circumstances.
His voice was as flat as his face, "It was my duty, both as your father and clan head. Perhaps Kumo will learn the price of their arrogance now their ambassador is dead."
My brain froze as I tried to work out what was going on. 'Of course, in the Manga it looked like Hizashi's sacrifice was immediate but Kumo probably hasn't even heard of the failure yet, let alone made demands.' "Kumo, Otou-sama?"
"Yes, the ambassador was the man who took you last night. The guards informed me you have been quiet today."
"Yes, Otou-sama, I have been practicing. If enemies can reach even here, then the time has come to put away childish things and become a fitting Heir to the clan. I will not be taken so helpless again." I angled to use any guilt he might be feeling to push for quiet acceptance of my new attitude. I didn't expect much opposition, as he had been pushing me increasingly this year, but in this world and clan any change was suspicious.
There was a pause as he seemed to be considering that answer. "Very well, it would be appropriate if at least some good came of this. I expect to see the results of this new determination the next time you have practice with me, is that clear?"
"Yes, Otou-sama. If I might request scrolls on basic chakra theory and use of the Byakugan, it would be helpful."
"They will be brought to you tomorrow. Goodbye, Hinata-chan."
"Goodbye, Otou-sama." I said, bowing low again. I remained low until I heard the door slide closed, rising but keeping my face neutral. I waited until the sound of footsteps came and flashed my Byakugan to check if he had moved away before returning to the bedroom. I would have to practice the maintenance of a calm countenance at all times, unless I could be sure there was no one watching.
Internally I grimaced at the stilted dialogue between me and my father, a drastic change from what I had been used to. There was no help for it though, and I decided not to dwell overlong on it. No doubt I would get used to it over time.
With reluctance, I moved back over to slog through the novel, reading had been one of my greatest pleasures but needing a dictionary to make sense of things made it difficult to enjoy. I silently hoped for swift improvement.
The next morning I woke early, this body seemingly needing very little sleep. After spending several hours reading the afternoon before, I had returned to practicing with the pieces of paper, this time trying to do the exercise with the Byakugan active and watching the tenketsu and expelled chakra. It took an hour before I was able to consistently maintain both, possibly because it was distracting to keep track of what was going on.
There was a cluster of tenketsu in the palm and a small fountain of chakra was expelled from the centremost ones acting to levitate the paper. What was surprising though, was the previously unnoticed extra chakra coming from the surrounding points and dispelling in the atmosphere. Concentrating, I realised that I could sense this wasted chakra, not just see it and I spent the time until dinner working to reduce the chakra being lost in this fashion. If the wasted chakra could be sensed at range, it would be a major tactical disadvantage on the order of hanging a neon sign shouting 'Here I Am!' By eliminating it I was training my control, reducing the rate I lost chakra and potentially making myself harder to detect, to say nothing of any possible side benefits I might discover later on.
After dinner was an hour of calligraphy practice before retiring. The next day was also spent practicing alone, and I hoped that by tomorrow the security situation would have relaxed enough for me to resume something resembling a normal schedule.
In the morning I showered, marvelling at the modern convenience beside the traditional bath in this very strict clan, before being informed that I was able to leave the room for training purposes. Currently, I trained mostly with a member of the Branch house five days a week; only meeting with my father on Wednesday, the next session not for two days. I entered the dojo, the guards remaining outside and moved over to my sensei. This was one of the smallest dojos, used only for the Main house children before they advanced to the intermediate levels of the Jūken. The floor, instead of highly polished wood found elsewhere, was a forgiving fabric that was difficult to slip on. He bowed and greeted me,"Good morning Hinata-sama."
"Good morning Hirameki-sensei." I replied, bowing in return. He wore the forehead protector of a Konoha shinobi, the long dark hair so common in the clan falling down the back of a light training uniform. Although the branch house were not required to maintain the ultra-formality of the main house, they were still Hyūga and expected to behave as such, and he had maintained the appropriate cool distance between us the entire time I had known him.
"Before we begin, do you have any injuries I should be aware of?"
"Very well, assume the first stance."
As I moved my body into the wide stance that was the foundation of Jūken, I put into practice something I had theorised the day before. Channelling chakra through my coils but not expelling it and allowing it to flow back into my core in a loop, the more intense than normal presence ensured that I was forced into awareness of the exact position of every part of my body.
Comparing my stance to the instructors I corrected a tiny error that I had not been aware of previously. His left eyebrow flicked up infinitesimally, the equivalent of a shout of surprise for a Hyūga. "Follow."
As was his habit, he then started to move from stance to stance, stopping only to critique when I made an error or lagged too much. In stark contrast to previous sessions, I was often able to self-correct before he had to say anything, the improved sense of body position greatly assisting me in both flaw identification and memorisation of the correct position. After the third run through, we went through the entire set four times in random order without a mistake before he gave a grunt and straitened up. "Acceptable."
After this high praise he moved over to the target post. It was one of several, a foot-thick column covered in small black circles with numbers above. "Activate and we will begin," he commanded. I activated my Byakugan without handseals and there was a surprised pause then a series of numbers came in a steady voice. To my sight, the post was home to a twisting array of lines surrounding a pool of chakra, from which faint traceries extended to the dots on the exterior.
As each number was called, my palm flashed out, connecting with the pole and injecting a spike of chakra from my hand into the dot. A successful strike caused the dot to glow red for a second, the Fūinjutsu array in the column providing feedback to the trainee. We continued for an hour and my reserves were feeling very low when the command to cease finally came. "Much improvement, though there remains far to go," came the dispassionate assessment.
He motioned and I turned to the breakfast that had been left in an alcove to the side of the dojo, eating steadily as I felt my reserves begin to refill. After a short break he motioned me back to the centre of the dojo and took up the foundation stance facing me. We ran through random stances again at a steady pace for two hours.
I think he was testing my new commitment and endurance because we had already gone far past the point where he would have stopped before as my form fell apart from lack of concentration. I managed to maintain the correct stances this time though and eventually we stopped and he indicated that we would be attempting freeform defence. This was significantly harder, as he would move randomly through the attacking forms against me and I would have to choose what stance to use as a block or diversion and perform the correct transition.
It was also something I had utterly failed at the last time it was attempted. Despite a faulty start, I began to get the hang of it, falling into a sort of calm trance where my body moved automatically and I watched for errors in form. Finally we finished up and he looked at me for a moment, "I will report your progress to Hiashi-sama, Hinata-sama. Practice is over for the day."
"Thank you for the gift of your instruction, sensei." I replied, bowing slightly and moving with the escort back to my rooms. When I arrived there was a small collection of books and a scroll on the sitting room table and I carried them to the shelf in my bedroom on my way to the bathroom. I cleaned myself, thankful that at least my rooms were protected from prying eyes by Fūinjutsu, earlier I had discovered that I could see out but no one could see in. After dressing I walked back to scan the book titles. There were two on chakra; one on theory and one on basic control exercises, and a scroll on the Byakugan itself. I picked up 'An Introduction to Chakra Theory' and settled in to read.
At dinner that night, I mulled over what I had learned today. The enhanced sense of my body position when I actively channelled chakra was a godsend that I badly needed for improving my Taijutsu. The impression I got from the manga was that Hinata had a lot of natural talent but was stifled by uncertainty and her less forceful personality. To secure my position as Heir though, I needed to be not just good but exceptionally gifted when it came to Jūken and our bloodline.
I could have been the greatest Ninjutsu prodigy since The Professor and it would have meant nothing compared to lacklustre performance in the defining art of the clan. Once again I reminded myself that priority had to be given to my Jūken studies and other shinobi arts could only be studied when my position was secure, and likely not for a few years in any case.
Reading the book on chakra had turned out to be something of a hit and miss occupation, as it was written in much more technical language than the novels and my dictionary did not cover many of the terms used, so I had great difficulty making sense of it. I had already asked permission to visit the Branch house library tomorrow to see if I could find a more advanced dictionary and to get a general idea of the contents.
After dinner I went back to what had occupied my attention for much of the afternoon, working with my bloodline and chakra control. I didn't want to make any attempt at the tree climbing exercise until I could reliably expel chakra from any of the tenketsu on my hand at an instants notice, with only minimal leakage from the surrounding points. It would be an advantage for the Jūken and eventually I wanted to be able to use every tenketsu in that fashion, although that would probably take years as the hands were the easiest part of the body to expel chakra from and it was difficult enough even then.
I knew it was possible for Neji to do it in his fight with Kidomaru but it took time and so was not applicable to a Taijutsu spar. If I could do it with the same proficiency as the hand tenketsu were used during normal Jūken, any body contact with me would be very dangerous to my opponent; not to mention the normal way for non-Hyūga to fight our style with unarmed Taijutsu revolved around avoiding the hands by blocking the arms, which would be rendered totally ineffective.
I had considered making a fitness training plan but after consideration it just wasn't practical at my age. A four year old wasn't supposed to carry around a great weight of muscle and I was already getting significant exercise from my daily Taijutsu practice. Any more might damage my body or growth.
By the time I stopped for the night I could use all the tenketsu in my palm with only small amounts of leakage and had fast response through the ones in the tips of my index and middle fingers with significant leakage along the finger. I had at least been able to use every tenketsu in my hand, but with a delay for the other ones and I sometimes selected the wrong point.
Training the next morning was a repeat of the day before, though we spent twice as long on the training post, sensei working on my speed and accuracy by slowly increasing the pace. The freeform sparring was much the same although I was quickly able to find the right state of mind.
Accompanying my guards to the archive, I wandered inside with one following me. The technical dictionary was just inside the door with a large section on general interest topics like history and economics. Moving further in, there were several shelves with chakra theory and control exercises, which made sense for a clan like the Hyūga. Behind that though, was the surprise. Long shelves of elemental Ninjutsu from each of the five major elements marched into the darkness at the back of the archive, not what I had expected to see at all. Something must have shown on my face, because the guard cleared his throat and said, "The Main house does not usually learn elemental jutsu, Hinata-sama."
I nodded in fake comprehension while my mind raced. Suddenly it became clear – I was basing my view of the Branch house on Neji as he was in the manga, someone who was an acknowledged prodigy with techniques that belonged to the Main house. Without access to the Hakkeshō Kaiten and other such restricted techniques, the Branch house members would be considerably more vulnerable. A selection of elemental jutsu would do nicely to offset this problem. Keeping my face blank I turned back towards the entrance with a feeling of triumph.
Here was a resource that I could tap when I was ready to start learning elemental Ninjutsu and I hadn't seen any sign of other languages so I could start using an English journal to plan my training, without mentioning anything incriminating in case someone could actually read it.
In my room I placed the dictionary with the chakra books and gathered two blank journals. One would have plans for future training while the other would contain things I had already figured out. Taking a moment to organise my thoughts I recorded my experiments with the chakra behind the retina from two days ago. A few short notes served to detail what I had so far found to work best with chakra control and I turned to the planning journal.
After sectioning off two large areas to the front for the Byakugan and Jūken respectively, I put headings for chakra control, elemental manipulation, Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, Kunai and Shuriken, Ninja Tools (wire etc.), Kenjutsu and finally Fūinjutsu. I was well aware that I would not even start on most of these for years and depending on my natural talents it might take decades for me to achieve proficiency in all of them.
Chakra control I was already working on and I hoped to include elemental manipulation to that as an ongoing, daily exercise. Ninjutsu would wait until the academy although if I could find out the handseals for the basic three I was not adverse to practice. Genjutsu and tool use would also wait until the latter years of the academy and I hoped to start practice with Kunai and Shuriken no later than six months to a year from now. I should have about two years until the academy began so I would have enough time to practice those before getting there, without taking too much time from my other training.
Kenjutsu was not restricted to a sword, I simply wanted proficiency with some sort of standoff weapon if there was an enemy it was too dangerous to get close to like Hoshigaki Kisame carrying Samehada, and would wait until I was at least ten and had a larger frame. That would also be a long-term project as it would probably take years to be able to use a long weapon in combat.
Fūinjutsu was the art I was most interested in but it was too dangerous to do more than study theory until I had both privacy and the use of at a Kage Bunshin to experiment with the practical application, so that also would wait for near the end of the academy. An hour later I relaxed and closed the book, reminding myself to continually update it as training ideas that I was not ready to try occurred to me.
Moving back to the book of chakra theory, I opened it beside the technical dictionary and began to struggle through it. As I worked, I simultaneously was grateful that I seemed to be immune to eyestrain and cursed my limited reading comprehension, although it was still far better than a four year old had a right to expect. Most of it was information that I already knew, such as chakra being composed of a mix of spiritual and physical energies.
There was some interesting stuff though, like the primary focus or purpose of each handseal with notes about some of the more common ways that purpose was modified in combination with others, and I made sure to copy the important parts down. It appeared that the handseals provided the rough shape of the chakra construct that made up the Jutsu but considerable manual moulding and focus was still required from the user.
There was a note in the margin that most shinobi accomplished this by mentally envisioning details of the end result and unconsciously opened and closed different tenketsu on the hands while forming the seals as a consequence. Apparently there was a debate in a more advanced tome as to how this was possible when the shinobi in question had no conscious control over individual tenketsu and indeed no awareness of what was actually happening.
On reading this I wondered if my ability to both see and control the tenketsu in my hands would help or hinder me with jutsu. With my luck it would turn out that the unconscious manipulation wouldn't work for someone with the control I planned to have and I would end up taking three times as long to work out the mechanics as everyone else.
Tiring of the note-taking, I moved back to the bed and lay down. I felt the need to take a break from mental effort and the time until lunch seemed a good space to do so. I reclined on my back and closed my eyes, allowing the flow of chakra through my coils to hold my attention. I didn't attempt any manipulation, simply letting my awareness drift with the flow. I resolved to try to do this at least once a day for a short period, as the better I knew my own system, the more likely I was to notice the subtle disruptions from a Genjutsu, or so I hoped.
In the afternoon I worked on control of the hand tenketsu again, using the Byakugan to monitor my progress. Each time when my reserves grew low, I practiced calligraphy or meditated until I was ready to start again. The meeting with my father tomorrow was weighing on my mind, and I went to bed immediately after dinner, hoping that being well-rested would help.
It was with no small trepidation that I forced myself to focus the next morning as I approached the dojo reserved for the head of the clan. Once inside I knelt, alone in the centre of the floor. A mat had already been placed down to prevent me from slipping and I speculated that from the intermediate level, the Jūken must incorporate the use of chakra to maintain footing, explaining the polished floors in most of the clan dojo. My guards did not come in, the walls here a seemingly impenetrable barrier to the Byakugan from outside. Ten minutes passed, the only sound my heartbeat thudding in my ears. There were faint sounds of sliding wood, then my father entered my field of view. I sank down into a low bow, "Good morning, Otou-sama." I breathed.
"Hinata-chan. I have had encouraging reports of your progress over the last two days. Impress me." Hiashi replied, falling into a stance in front of me.
I fluidly rose, matching his stance, forcing a slow exhale as I did so. Seallessly I activated my dōjutsu and moved chakra through my coils, ready to begin. Hard faced, he glided forward, attacking with a common form slightly faster than Hirameki-sensei. I let my body move in response, diverting the attack to the side. Seamlessly he flowed from form to form and I held tightly onto calm as attacks were blocked and parried.
Slowly, almost unnoticeably, the speed increased and my heart began to beat faster. As we continued I began to feel a mounting sense of desperation, as though I was barely holding on. For several minutes the speed stayed constant, always feeling that the slightest slip would finish me. A build-up of chakra in his arm coils drew my attention, and for a moment I stared in blank incomprehension.
Sudden fear came with understanding of the threat and I registered a faint sense of gratitude in the back of my mind for the hours of practice with the pieces of paper. As my hand came up to block I channelled chakra, just in time for our palms to meet in a flare of expelled energy.
The forms continued, now with the most basic of Jūken attacks added and my concentration started to slip, not up to the challenge of handling both. At first just a foot one centimetre out of position, then a shoulder too low, forcing my arm to block faster. Mistakes built on mistakes, and it reached culmination as with desperation I saw a palm moving toward my shoulder and knew I wouldn't reach it in time.
My arm crossed my body, trying, and in a panic I used fingertips to strike the glowing dot just ahead of the pulse of chakra travelling down his arm. In a blur too fast to comprehend his other hand struck out twice, impacting my shoulders before my arms dropped limply to my side. With a frown he stepped back, a finger coming up to tap and re-open the closed tenketsu in his arm. "That was deliberate. You can see the tenketsu?" Came the stern inquiry.
"Yes, Otou-sama." I gasped, "For four days now."
"Very well. I have seen some improvement. Continue work with Hirameki-san and I will increase the pace of your studies. Your shoulders will recover in an hour, you may leave."
"Goodbye, Otou-sama." I said, bowing.
The walk back to my room was uncomfortable; my arms dangling like dead things. The guards had to handle the doors for me and I flopped down gracelessly in the bedroom. Despite showing no signs, I believed my father had been sufficiently shocked by my performance that he acted without thinking to re-open his tenketsu. Granted proof that it was possible, at least from outside, I set about trying to duplicate the feat using internal control.
With the Byakugan it was easy to see the problem, a mass of stationary foreign chakra plugging my coils. I moved a piece from my Hara to the blockage, pushing against it then quickly stopping as a stabbing pain seemed to shoot down my arm. I backed off, trying to think of another strategy. After a minute, I narrowed my chakra to a fine point, prodding at the obstruction. It started to penetrate, causing the block to bulge and my coil with it. I stopped and considered the problem; I needed to get the obstruction out without direct force or pushing it into the coil wall.
In the end, a drill shape seemed the best possibility, though this was easier said than done. After almost half an hour of failed manipulation I managed to form a rough drill for long enough to get through and the block dissolved into my coil. I was about to start on the other arm when a gaping feeling of emptiness drew my attention to my reserves, the lowest I had ever seen. I deactivated my bloodline and leaned forward with a groan. Making my way to the sitting room I began to eagerly consume the breakfast set out with my working hand.
Now that I didn't have the struggle to open my tenketsu to occupy my mind, the results of the spar drew my thoughts like a loadstone. While I could take comfort that father acknowledged my progress, any illusions I had about swift mastery of the Jūken had been brutally dispelled. No matter how advanced my chakra control or perceptive my sight, there was no substitute for experience in combat.
I needed years of practice and sparring to allow me to keep my cool when pressed. Even then, my opponents would likely always have the strength and reach advantage – I needed skill and speed to compensate. At the moment there was little to be done in that area that I was not already doing but I resolved to gradually introduce an ever-growing emphasis on speed to my fighting as the years progressed.
Finishing the meal I sighed and sat back, waiting for the numbness to wear off in the other arm. While I had proved that I could re-open a blocked tenketsu, it was in no way a combat ready technique, needing half an hour and complete silence is a difficult thing to find in a battle. Vaguely I wondered why his strike had disabled not just my chakra coils but the ability to move my arms entirely then gave it up as a problem for later.
I spent the rest of the day reading and practicing calligraphy, not wanting to put stress on my system after the events of the morning. The drill technique was copied into my journal and a note to work on shape manipulation within my coils made in the other. Thinking over my progress to date as I lay in bed that night, I was cautiously optimistic about my planned path, hoping that I would be able to overcome the obstacles that faced me. All the while, the looming spectre of Kumo's response hung over my thoughts for the future.
Author's Note: I've been trying to write a Harry Potter story for about a year, have about fifty pages of background material, timeline/event planning and a ton of technical ideas for world building in an AU setting. It's not a Self-Insert or in first person, neither of which I usually like. I've gotten about 300 words of the actual story written in twelve months and then I had an idea and wrote this in a week. Extremely frustrating, but since I've started I'll finish this and then hopefully the other will start to flow.
Hinata in this story is basically the same as canon up until the abduction, where the SI occurs. This gives three advantages from which all the following divergence springs.
The first is that an adult mind is more capable than a child – can concentrate longer, understand better and handle trauma with the benefit of experience.
The second is that decades of experience in a body with no chakra system is a great contrast to one that has felt the presence of chakra from birth, even if subconsciously. This has the effect of making the protagonist hyper-aware of the presence of internal chakra and the sense of its interactions.
The third is the mind in the self-insert belongs to an avid fanfiction reader who has consequently a large number of ideas to try but confusion over what version of events to believe – there are fanfiction worlds that would be very unpleasant to visit! The result gives the conditions needed to excel, Hinata has the resources of a Clan Heir that she was psychologically unable to take advantage of in canon with the uncomfortable knowledge that bad things are probably coming and being unable to flee.
Edit: 17 Feb 11 - Fixed wall-of-text issue.
Edit: 04 Feb 11 – Added some description of environment, fixed timeline issues.
Criticism is welcome; please provide examples and/or how to fix the problem if you can. Flame anonymously if you want, you couldn't crush my ego with a hydro-vice.