I do not own any of the characters in this story, nor this world where this story resides.

Thoughts

(Authors notes)

Thoughts of Demon/Inner Sakura (inner conversation)

Demon/Inner Sakura speaks

With family like this…

Chapter 7

~That night~

Hinata wakes up in a panic.

"Where am I and why can't I move?" thought a scared Hinata, as she looked around the room.

"Relax, my name is Fumio, I am a medical-nin in the hospital. You were brought in by your friends today after being attacked by some creature," the medical-nin said in a calm and soothing manner. "I was told the paralysis is only temporary, and that you will be alright, so try to relax and get some sleep," he said as he checked her vitals, wrote them in her chart, and then left the room.

"'Relax,' he says, yea like that's going to happen," Hinata thought as she slowly drifted back to sleep.

~Two days later~

"What's that sound," a frightened Hinata thinks as she quickly opens her eyes and checks out her surroundings, "Oh yea; I'm still in the hospital, in a bed."

"Still looking for that spider," Mito said as she enters the room, "You don't have to worry about it anymore, its dead."

"T-T-That's easy for you to say, you weren't lying under it, like I was," Hinata countered, "I didn't pass out right away. At first I was just lying there paralyzed as it came crawling out of the shadows. Ugh, I can still see it standing over me and drooling."

"Well, it's gone now," Mito said as she walks over and takes Hinata's vitals.

"So why have y-you been visiting me so often," Hinata asked, "I mean, shouldn't you be on a mission or something?"

"Since I am a medic-nin, I work here as a D-level mission," Mito replied as she wrote something in Hinata's chart, "The Hokage wants me to keep up my skills by working here."

"B-but you're the only one who's been treating me."

"Well, they did let me get first crack at helping you, since I was the first to treat you. That and I don't have too many friends and I like to watch out for them," Mito said as she cracked her knuckles.

"A-a friend…?"

"Ok, I was hoping that we could be friends… especially if you're going to be stalking my brother Naruto."

"Eep, I didn't know that he was your brother. I-in fact I did not know Naruto had any siblings," Hinata squealed as she hid her blushing face with the sheet.

"We just found out recently… So… wanna be friends?"

"Well… I don't know. Be friends with Naruto's sister… Hmmm," Hinata pondered as she lowered the sheet and started tapped her chin with her index finger.

"Well don't do me any favors… See if anyone else visits you so often," Mito said with a pout.

"I don't mind the visits, but what are you doing working here?" Hinata sarcastically asked. "Aren't you just a genin?"

"Humph… People keep asking me that," Mito harrumphed. "I haven't heard anyone complain about me after I treated them."

"Maybe it's because… they're dead," Hinata retorted while Mito just laughed in response.

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~Meanwhile at the Hyuuga estate~

As Hyūga Hiashi is out for his morning stroll thru the gardens in the clan estate trying to think of a way to set aside his eldest daughter, Hinata, as the family heiress and replacing her with her younger sister, Hanabi, a group of Hyuuga (it can be spelled either way. Hyuuga or Hyūga) elders approached him. The one that appeared to be the spokesperson stepped forward to speak to him.

"Hiashi-san, the elders have been concerned lately about the fitness of your elder daughter as the heiress," the elderly man said, "Considering the latest incident, and your daughter's inability to overcome the simplest of obstacles, The clan elders have decided that your daughter should be set aside as heiress and your younger daughter be instated in her place. We also feel that she would not be fit for the Hyūga branch family, because being the previous heiress, might stir up resentment in the branch family and cause a civil war as people choose sides over which heiress to support. To prevent this, she would have to be completely expelled from the clan and declared dead. However, we feel it necessary to give her one more chance to prove herself to us thru a test of fitness in the ring of trials tonight. We further recommend that she be put against Neji, as he would be an impartial competitor."

Hiashi almost could not believe what he was hearing. "It seems to be the will of the Kami that Hanabi be the heiress," Hiashi thought as he restrained himself from doing a happy dance. "I will inform my daughter at once of the clan elders' decision," Hiashi said in as somber a tone that he could fake.

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~Later at the hospital~

As Mito is about to enter Hinata's room, the door suddenly opens to reveal Hiashi attempting to exit the room.

"Good, just the person I was hoping to find," Hiashi said to Mito.

"How may I be of assistance, Hiashi-san," Mito replied.

"When will my daughter be released and declared fit for service."

"If her progress continues as it has been, then I expect to release her sometime this evening and declare her fit for service tomorrow," Mito answered as she noticed that Hinata appeared to be trying to stare a hole into her sheets that she was grasping very tightly.

"She can't be declared fit for service today?"

"No, I feel one more nights rest would be the best course, why do you ask?"

"It is nothing. People of my clan were planning to have a ceremony for her tonight, but it can be put off until tomorrow. Thank you for your time," Hiashi said as he then brushed past her and walked away.

Mito entered the room and closed the door behind her.

"If you don't mind me asking, what was that about?" Mito asked as she approached Hinata.

"T-that was about my father finally getting his way. He came over to tell me that the clan elders want to replace me as clan heiress with my younger sister and that I will have to survive a trial of fitness, if I am to remain the heiress."

"So what happens if you fail?"

"That is what worries me. If I fail, I will be expelled, declared dead to the clan, and a modified caged bird seal will be placed upon me to prevent the clan secrets from being stolen by any enemies. I don't know what to do, if the seal is placed on me, I don't know how anyone will want to marry me or take me seriously as a ninja. This can place a terrible black mark on my reputation and career," Hinata said in a very emotional manner.

Mito stood there for a moment as if she was carrying on some type of internal conversation.

"I'll be right back Hinata," Mito said with a raised index finger. "I need to consult with the Hokage and come up with a plan," she said as she turned and left a distraught Hinata to her thoughts.

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~The next morning~

Hiashi is once again approached in the garden by the group of clan elders.

"Hiashi-san, is everything ready for tonight?" One of the elders asked.

"Everything is almost ready… I am just concerned that if the preparations are not to the clan elders' satisfaction that someone may try to besmirch my honor," Hiashi stated.

"We were concerned that you might think that one of the clan elders would try to undermine you, so we had a document made up stating that you have the elders' full support and that we will not question any of your decisions that you make to be fully prepared for this evening's event," the elder said as he handed a scroll to Hiashi.

"I think this will be most helpful," Hiashi replied as he glanced at the scroll in his hands.

"Of course, we will not be attending tonight you understand… we have other matters that needs our attention."

"Yes I understand. I'm elated that you won't be there; you would have been just in the way. Elders, thank you for your support and confidence," Hiashi said with a slight bow.

The elders merely returned the bow and walked away in silence, leaving Hiashi to his thoughts as he looked down at the scroll in his hands.

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~Later that afternoon~

Neji is walking to the branch family common building for a meal, (the branch family shares common areas [i.e.: kitchen, dining room, living room, recreation room, & etc]) from his room in the branch family residential building, (the branch family live in one barrack style type of building. Each person gets their own room, unless they are a married couple, than they share a room) when he meets Hiashi.

"Neji, I need to speak to you," Hiashi commands as he starts accompanying Neji to the common building. "Are you aware of the test of fitness that Hinata has to undergo this evening?"

"I heard a rumor that Hinata's position as heiress was being questioned, nothing else."

"The clan elders want her to undergo a test of fitness and they recommended that you be the one to go against her."

"I was not aware that I was chosen. Yea, baby, payback. Are you concerned about my professionalism," Neji asked with as straight and somber a tone that he could manage in order to hide his thoughts.

Hiashi kept silent as another main family member walked by and resumed talking when the member was out of hearing range.

"No, I am not concerned with your professionalism. I just hope you don't look too obvious with your enthusiasm. I just wanted to let you know that if you defeat Hinata that I, personally, will remove your cage seal."

"Why would you do this?"

"If you win, I feel that you will have displayed your fitness to become a member of the main family. I will place you in a leadership role over many of your present fellow branch family members as a reward for your service to the main family. All of this is conditioned on you having a decisive victory. Can you do this," Hiashi asked as he placed his hand on Neji's shoulder."

"Yes…but what about Hanabi?"

"Your sole duty in the main family will be to protect her, if any harm comes to her that causes her death or makes her incapable to rule, you will die. However, as a member of the main family… you will be entitled to all of the power and privileges of a main family member, as if you were my own son, all but the right to be an heir. Is this acceptable to you?"

"How can I trust you?"

"I already took the liberty of putting it all down in writing," Hiashi stated as he pulled out a scroll and presented it to Neji, "It already has my signature and seal, it only requires yours to make it official."

Neji doesn't say a word as he accepts the scroll, opens it, reads it and quickly signs it.

"No, you can keep that with you," Hiashi says with a raised hand as Neji tries to return it. "That way you can feel reassured that I will keep my agreement," Hiashi said as he turned and walked away. "I will see you again later tonight."

Neji merely stands there not knowing what to do, or how to react to his new fortune.

"Hopefully, that removes a possible future threat to Hanabi," Hiashi connives as he walks away, "by allowing him to pour his vengeance on Hinata and tying his future to Hanabi's, hopefully he will be satisfied and not crave more power, and privilege."

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~Later that evening~

"What are they doing here?" Hiashi thinks as he walks to the training dojo.

Hiashi had thought that everything was going too smoothly, when he was told that Hinata's guests had arrived. Hinata greeted them personally at the main gate and was escorting them to the training dojo.

As Hiashi entered the dojo, he saw Hinata waiting on one side of the ring with the Hokage, Mito, and Lee. While on the other side Neji stood alone.

Hiashi strolled over to the Hokage and bowed to him, which the Hokage returned.

"I didn't think an inter-clan matter would concern you, Hokage-sama," Hiashi casually replies after he bowed to the Hokage.

"Normally, I wouldn't concern myself with internal clan affairs, but I was invited and since the resolution of this trial will affect the security of the village, I decided to accept the invitation," the Hokage coolly answered.

"How would it affect the security of the village?" Hiashi asked with a feigned surprised expression.

"If a ninja is displaced from their clan, they would need to be place somewhere to prevent the village from losing a valuable asset. I wanted to be present to help me reach a decision in this matter, Will any of the elders be present," the Hokage asked as he looked around.

"No, they left the matter for me to resolve. They informed me that they had other matters to attend to. Why are the other two shinobi present?"

"Mito is present in her capacity as a medic-nin and Lee is here to assist her, if help is needed," the Hokage replied as he pointed to them with a wave of his open hand.

"If you will excuse me," Hiashi replied as he once again bowed and walked over to the center of the ring on the mat situated in the center of the dojo.

Hiashi motioned for the two contestants to enter the ring. Hinata and Neji entered the ring and faced each other.

"This bout is to decide whether Hinata is fit to be heiress of the Hyuuga clan," Hiashi explained in a monotone voice.

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As Hiashi explained the rules of the contest, Hinata's mind kept wandering.

"Yea, yea… 'no ninjutsus or genjutsus will be allowed, will be a match of taijutsu skills alone', when did he become such a bore?" Hinata thought as her mind wandered, "I've been getting weird mental signals all morning. Hmm, it seems to have started last night. I've seemed to be getting these strange feelings of unease, almost as if I'm in danger somehow. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out what these feelings are or what is causing them. Oops, almost missed something… something about the contest continuing until one of us is knocked out of the ring or unable to continue or something like that. Well I better get my head in the fight, because it looks like it's about to start," Hinata thought as she saw Hiashi motion for the two of them to begin.

Hinata quickly assumed her fighting stance, but as she did so, she noticed something strange about Neji.

"What is he doing," Hinata thought when she noticed that Neji did not assume a fighting stance but simply had walked part way to her, stopped and stood there with a creepy smirk on his face. "Where did he go?" Hinata thought as Neji gradually, but completely disappeared.

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"What in the world is he doing?" Mito thought as she watched Neji do some weird kind of subtle swaying side to side as he continued to slowly walk towards Hinata. Even Hinata seemed bewildered by his actions. She looked around and noticed that the Hokage was watching the battle with intent interest, while Lee looked just as confused as she felt.

"I'm not quite sure of what Neji is doing, but I think I might know," Akane mentally reported to Mito, "If Hinata doesn't hurry up and figure out what he is doing, this fight may end faster than you think."

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Instinctive warnings of danger were blaring in Hinata's mind, but she could not figure out what to do with the information. Hinata suddenly had the feeling that she should lean back to dodge something. As she did so, Neji suddenly appeared in front of her making a swipe to her face with his hand formed into a claw.

"What the…?" Hinata thought as she saw the hand starting to come toward her face.

Another warning came screaming in her mind, but it happened too quickly to be helpful, as it occurred just before an explosion of pain exploded in her mind from her shattered kneecap that Neji had destroyed with a chakra enhanced punch.

Another warning came to mind that she needed to duck. This time she obeyed her instincts, as Neji tried to box both of her ears.

As Hinata was ducking, Neji suddenly grabbed her head, pulling it down to meet his rising knee and kneeing her in the nose.

More pain exploded in her mind, as she was trying to recover from the last blow.

While she was staggering from the busted nose, Neji boxed both of her ears, thereby breaking both of her eardrums and stunning her in the process.

While Hinata was swaying side to side, Neji did a round house kick to her face, knocking her out, as well as breaking her jaw in the process.

Hinata fell like a tree in a hurricane.

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Mito quickly ran into the ring, just behind the Hokage, who had stepped in front of Neji, thereby stopping the fight.

"Is this how you expel your members from your clan? What's next… you want me to revive her so Neji can finish the job or are you finished? Just sentence her, so I can take her to the hospital," Mito yelled at Hiashi, who was just standing there watching everything.

Hiashi sauntered over and stood looking down at Hinata with a disgusted expression.

"She is from this moment on expelled from the Hyuuga clan, to be considered dead to us forevermore. Just get this disgusting specimen out of my sight," Hiashi said with a snarl as he walked away.

Mito nodded towards Lee, who came over, lifted Hinata up, and ran with her to the hospital. The Hokage walked over to Mito, placed his hand upon her shoulder, and with a nod of his head towards Hiashi, shushined both of them to the hospital.

"I never saw you use those techniques before, why now?" a bewildered Hiashi asked Neji as he walked over to him.

"I knew that we shared fighting styles, so I wanted to throw her off by using some techniques that I had learned recently when I was reading some old scrolls in the village library," Neji replied with a small smile, "So about the cage seal?"

"Yes, let's go take care of that right now," Hiashi answered as he started to walk towards the dojo's exit with Neji following behind him. "I guess knowledge really is power," Hiashi thought to himself with a chuckle.

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~At the Hospital~

As soon as the Hokage and Mito arrived, she quickly walked over to the gurney where Hinata was lying and began to help her.

"Do you think you will be able to help her?" the Hokage asked.

"Yes," Mito replied as she continued her work, "You will make her induction into my clan official?"

"Yes, I will make it official that she is to be considered part of the Senju clan, since you, as the clan's acting representative, accepted her into your clan. However, I am concerned about where she is to live."

"Oh, I already thought of that. She will share my room with me. Calm down Lee, and sit down, you look like you're about to faint," Mito said in Lee's direction, when he began to have a nosebleed over the news of Mito and Hinata sharing a bedroom.

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~Present~

It is another morning in Konoha and several teams are arriving at the academy to get their next assignment at the assignment desk. The Hokage seems bored as he mechanically hands each team's sensei their next assignment. A strange sight catches his eye (like a fishing hook), as his wandering thoughts catch up to a blast from the past that blows his mind.

"If I did not know any better, I would have thought that I was seeing ghosts," the Hokage thought as he watched team seven enter the room. "Naruto (wearing a long sleeved blue uniform, a collarless blue jacket with orange trim, a white belt, and shinobi sandals) and Mito are almost the spitting image of Obito and Rin."

As Kakashi approaches the desk, the Hokage gives him a bewildered look as he motions with his eyes towards Naruto and Mito.

Kakashi merely rolls his eyes in answer as he asks for the team's next assignment.

"There is a D-ranked mission available in town," the Hokage suggests.

"Come on jiji… there has to be something more exciting than just a D-ranked mission. We've had way too many already!" Naruto loudly complains.

The Hokage watches the reactions of Naruto's other teammates, ranging from shock that Naruto would address the Hokage in such a manner (Mito), to annoyance that he is stuck with the dobe as a teammate (Sasuke).

"Naruto… the reason your team is assigned D-ranked missions is because your team is not ready for anything else yet. I wonder if he has matured enough to be ready for a more dangerous mission yet," the Hokage thought as he explains the mission rating and the mission selection system as they pertain to the shinobi ranking system to Naruto.

"I know all that jiji (he didn't, but he wouldn't admit it)," Naruto yells in exasperation as he interrupts the Hokage. "I'm not the loud-mouth dobe you think I am. I've gotten a lot better," Naruto grumbles with a pout as he sits down with his back turned to the Hokage.

The Hokage looks towards Kakashi for his reaction, which would be none at all to almost everyone in the room. However, the Hokage knows how to read Kakashi's minute reactions and notices that Kakashi agrees with Naruto, that team seven has been on too many D-ranked missions and they need something more strenuous to test their skills in order for them to mature as shinobi.

"He has changed," the Hokage thought as he was watching Naruto hunch over in frustration, "He used to hide his feelings and tried to only get attention thru pranks… maybe…? Alright, perhaps team seven is ready for a C-ranked mission," the Hokage grudgingly admits to the astonishment of his listeners. An escort mission came in that I want your team to handle," the Hokage said to Kakashi, as he motioned to a nearby ninja to have the client come into the room.

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~Meanwhile back in Wonderland~

Tenten, while every so often glancing at the empties on the floor, once again counts the jars of food that is left on the shelves.

"If hunger didn't drive me to eat this green glowing food, I never would have realized its hydration properties," Tenten said to no one in particular. "Well I have twenty jars left, if I pace myself," she said as she licked her fingers that she used to finish off the jar she is holding, "I can hold up for a little while, while I wait to be rescued. Now I feel like that I had forgotten something, what was it?"

"Water"

"Yes, that's right I've got to remember to save my water for when I have nothing else left to consume."

"You could eat Mrs. Ishii," Tenten thought as she argued with herself.

"No, that wouldn't be right, she was a nice lady and that would be gross."

"Not as gross as she will be once she really starts rotting."

"Well, that's why I sealed her body away in a scroll."

"Well, I think you'll change your mind once the food is all gone. How did Shirō make it taste like sesame dumplings anyways? The mushrooms somehow just enhance the flavor."

"Yes, you're right the food is delicious, so we don't have to decide on Mrs. Ishii right away."

"We can't hold off on the decision forever," Tenten thought as she continued her internal debate.

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~Later in Mito and Hinata's room~

"Thanks for helping me pack, Hinata," Mito said as she was packing her backpack, "You've been a great roommate this last week."

"I-I'm the one who should be thanking you," Hinata replied, "So tell me again where you guys are going?"

"It's just an escort mission to wave country. We shouldn't be gone long," Mito replied, "Just keep up the training Akane suggested to you regarding your newest skills. Since as the newest member of the Senju clan, she wanted to welcome you by making you the next avatar in this dimension. In case anything should happen to me that is."

"It's cool that we share this bloodline," Hinata blurted. "Don't worry nothing is going to happen to you, Naruto's right, you do worry too much. And yes, I will keep up with my training," Hinata relented when Mito started giving her a serious expression."

"So are your wrists still itching," Mito asked with a concerned expression.

"Don't worry, I said. It's probably nothing," Hinata replied as she covered the two red skin blemishes that was on her wrists, "Why can't I accompany you guys on your mission?"

"One- you're supposed to be still recovering from your injuries. Two- Just because I am very good at healing people, doesn't mean that I want everyone breaking down my door for my services," Mito said with a huff as she finished packing, "so stay hidden for at least one more week. I told everyone that you were not in the mood for company and that you were well stocked for food."

"Yes ma'am," Hinata sarcastically replied with a smart salute.

"Come on, you," Mito replied with a chuckle as she started pushing Hinata towards the door, "Let's go get something to eat."