"No, no, no!" Hiashi Hyuuga cried in frustration as his daughter, Hinata, messed up the same form for the third time in a row. The snow swirled around him as he gestured his hand. "The form flows with a sidestep, duck, and then a strike!" Hiashi said, and demonstrated his instructions, ending the form by striking and destroying one of several snowmen set up around the snow-blanketed training field.

"G-gomen, Father…" Hinata stammered, her stutter brought on both by the cold and her father's severe admonishments. "Don't apologize, try it again!" Hiashi barked, stepping back to observe his daughter's latest attempt at the form.

Hinata settled herself into the standard Hyuuga fighting stance, right leg planted in front of her, right arm extended, and left leg and arm drawn back to her body. She focused for a brief moment, and then burst into motion. She charged at a snowman, sidestepped to the left to avoid an imagined attack from the snowman, ducked to avoid a second strike from the same foe, and then struck.

At least, that's what Hinata tried to do. Before her last strike could land, her left foot lost its grip on the slippery snow, sending the dark-haired girl skidding unceremoniously into the thickly layered snow. Hinata gasped at the suddenly cold and wet state of her clothes. She wondered why she hadn't donned heavier clothes for training, especially since it was winter. Christmas Eve, in fact.

"Good Lord…" Hinata faintly heard her father mutter. She raised her head from the snowdrift, the crystallized water burning her cheeks red. "I-I b-beg your p-pardon, Father?" she said, focusing her pearlescent eyes on the imposing figure addressing her.

"What have you been doing for the past four years since your graduation?" Hiashi exploded. "That's a Jyuuken move that a young child should easily perform! Why do you mess that up so easily?'" Hinata cast her eyes back down to the snow as she drew herself back to a standing position. "I-I just sl-slipped on the snow, F-father…" Hinata said weakly, her voice cracking from the cold.

"That's no excuse, Hinata!" Hiashi shot back angrily. "That form teaches agility and fluidity, while you demonstrate a notable lack of both!" Hinata's eyes widened in surprise and shock. "Furthermore," Hiashi continued, "Your movements are slow and predictable. Is it any surprise that Neji beat you in your match in the Chuunin Exams?"

"Please g-give me another ch-chance at th-the move, Father!" Hinata pleaded, small tears gathering in her eyes. It was Christmas Eve, and she wanted her father to be happy with her, which he obviously wasn't now. Always it seemed like he was unappeasable. Hinata always seemed to screw everything up, while her younger sister, Hanabi, seemed to be the prodigy that Hiashi wanted Hinata to be but wasn't.

"I don't know how you managed to talk me into this..." Hiashi muttered to himself quietly, and then addressed Hinata. "Very well, Daughter. But, don't return to the Compound until you have mastered the form." Hinata's father turned his back on Hinata and began to walk away. "You will demonstrate your capability in the morning." He tossed over his shoulder at his shivering daughter, who was still rooted to the spot.

Hinata stood in the one spot for several minutes, staring in the direction her father had gone. She was shocked. She knew that young Hyuuga were expected to be fluent in that Jyuuken form, but the Jyuuken was her weakest form of fighting. Hiashi expected too much of her, many thought, since she was simply wasn't physically built for it. Instead, she did better at more fluent forms, rather than the quick, precise blows that the Jyuuken delivered. Hinata thought differently. She was a Hyuuga, so she should be adept at the Jyuuken, physically able or not. If she couldn't master the Hyuuga's signature fighting style, then how could she expect to lead the Clan?

***Line Break***

Several hours later Hinata collapsed into the snow, completely exhausted. The Jyuuken form remained tantalizingly beyond her grasp, so she stayed in the training field. She hadn't ceased training once to rest, so she was totally drained.

Hinata's awareness had flagged even before she hit the softly-blanketed earth. She was deathly cold, as her customary purple sweatpants and sweater offered little chill protection outside of nippy weather. Hinata really hadn't expected to be out in the elements longer than a couple hours, so she hadn't dressed to full weather expectancy.

This time, when Hinata fell into the snow, it wasn't because of an error. It was because she now couldn't even feel her limbs. The freezing snow, which had earlier burned any exposed skin, now just barely stung. Even that seemed to be fading.

Hinata, whose brain was somewhat fried at this point from the extreme cold, began to intensely debate with her survival instinct, which was telling her to shake it off, get up, and go somewhere warm.

Why not? The snow's embrace was cold and soothing after her strenuous and prolonged training session. It seemed to whisper into her mind, stay here. why return to the world that rejects you as a failure? you can sleep here in my embrace forever….

Hinata ignored her subconscious' demands to find heat, and tried to draw herself back to a standing position. She still hadn't perfected the fighting technique, and her father had said for her to stay out until she had mastered it… hadn't he? She couldn't remember well. The cold was causing her thought processes slow seriously, making it hard for her to think coherently. She also didn't want to heed the icy snow's call yet. One more attempt…

Hinata's motor functions finally gave out as she collapsed onto the snow-laden ground. It was so hard to keep her eyes open, let alone conjure up comprehensive thought. She couldn't even remain upright now. The cold, slowly but oh-so-surely, had taken its toll.

Hinata finally surrendered to the seductive call of the cold, and shut her frost-laden eyes.