Chapter One: Hyuuga and Uzumaki; The First Meeting
Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Sandaime Hokage, smiled as he looked down on his recent program for the Ninja Academy of Konoha. It took a bit of pushing, but luckily, not much, to get a mentorship rule issued. It was a stroke of luck that no one in the civilian council knew of his intention behind the bill, or it may never have passed.
See, Hiruzen Sarutobi wasn't stupid. A little naïve and a bit too trusting yes, he would freely admit that. However, he certainly hadn't gained this position by being stupid. No, the Hokage knew how his surrogate grandson would be treated when he stepped into the school.
He would hope otherwise of course. He always prayed that people would get over their ridiculous hatred and fear where Naruto was concerned. Nevertheless, Kami had yet to answer his prayers, so he prepared a contingency plan instead.
Naruto would need a friend through his years, and a more mature boy would be perfect. He couldn't be too old or they wouldn't forge a strong bond, but if he was Naruto's age, than he might be influenced by their shared peers. And to minimize conflict, he should probably come from a ninja clan too…
Ah… this would be perfect. The boy was a year older than Naruto. A bit too mature from what the reports said, but it should be a good balance for Naruto's exuberance. His clan was neutral where it concerned the boy, and while he had a difficult life so far, if anyone could help him, it would be Naruto. To add on to it, he was also quite gifted and had the potential to be a strong ally in the future.
Yes, Naruto's mentor will be…
"…Hyuuga Neji," the teacher announced the name with a smile that quickly faded when he saw the name next to it, "You will be mentoring Uzumaki Naruto."
Naruto jumped a few times on the balls of his feet as the teacher continued calling out pairs. He was trying to look over the heads of the kids in front of him so he could see his new partner. Despite his exited jumps, his attempts at a glimpse were in vain.
"Ugh," Naruto scowled. Kami curse all of these tall people standing in front of him! Never mind that they were his own age, but how did they get so big, so fast? How was a kid without a growth spurt- such as him for example- supposed to see with weeds like this in the way.
"-Tenten will be mentoring Hyuuga Hinata, and Rock Lee will be mentoring Nara Shikamaru. That will be all." The teacher declared as another stepped up.
"Hello, I'm Umino Iruka," the kind looking man introduced himself with a small smile. His dark brown hair was held back with a piece of cloth, and a scar ran down his nose. "This is a new mentorship program initiated by Hokage-sama as I'm sure you all know. Students will be partnering up- 1st with 2nd years and 3rd with 4th- as a mentoring initiative."
He held up a hand to stall all questions, "The mentor will spend an hour every day tutoring and assisting his or her mentored student. This is mandatory and all partnerships will stay the same throughout your years at the Academy, with an extra year of genin training. There are no exchanging mentors and yes, this is mandatory."
"So," Iruka concluded, clapping his hands together with an encouraging smile, "Why don't you take a few minutes or so to meet your partners?"
When the kids started trading wary- and slightly exited- looks, Iruka just smiled understandingly and let the kids befriend each other at their own pace. The more courageous ones, like Inuzuka Kiba, were quick to go searching while the more shy ones, like Hyuuga Hinata, had to be dragged away by their exited mentors.
Shikamaru was the only one who was sleeping while a frustrated Lee kept trying to get him awake.
Naruto himself was beaming as he looked around the packed courtyard. He wasn't sure what this mentoring thing was at first, but his jiji-san said it would be fund, so it must be. He might even make his first friend today!
That single thought exited him considerably and he started looking around for his mentor. Hmm, his mentor was supposed to be a Hyuuga right? Weren't those the clan with the creepy, pupil-less eyes? Maybe, it was that red-faced girl in the corner there? No, she was talking to an older girl with buns on her head, and besides, Naruto's partner was a boy.
Now where the hell was he?
"Uzumaki Naruto?" a polite voice requested, and Naruto turned to find a pretty girl looking at him. The girl gave him a stiff nod, and Naruto stood, transfixed on the most beautiful person he had ever met. She had long, silky-looking black hair and pretty, lavender colored eyes. Her clothes were simple and a dark band covered her forehead. She was even prettier than that Sakura girl he had seen.
He was completely unprepared for what she said next, "I am your mentor, Hyuuga Neji."
"What?" Naruto blurted, "But you can't be a boy! You're too pretty!"
Naruto regretted not keeping his mouth shut when the older boy suddenly shot forward, catching him totally off guard. His breath suddenly whooshed out, and his legs buckled as a fist made contact with his stomach. The other boy stepped back as Naruto sank to his knees, arms clutched against his stomach, and lip bitten in pain.
"I am a boy, you idiot," Neji snarled quietly, before turning on his heel and stalking out of the yard. Naruto's eyes smarted from the pain, but he managed to stand up anyway and hurry after the angry boy.
"Hyuuga-san wait!" Naruto yelled, deciding that being respectful would be the best right now, "I'm sorry!"
Neji gave no sign of having heard- or indeed stopping- until Naruto stumbled into him. The boy turned to regard him, an icy calm in the lavender depths.
"Your pathetic," the words were short, cold, and to the point. Their uncaring bluntness cut into the blond harsher than any obvious cruelty, and Naruto paused, looking hurt.
"What the hell do you know?" Naruto erupted, injury transforming into fury, "You're the pathetic one, you bastard!"
Neji's expression didn't change at the sudden vehemence, but a small prick of interest was formed in his mind.
"I will see you straight after school in front of the building," Neji cut in what was sure to be a long tirade, "Don't be late."
With those final instructions, the Hyuuga turned and followed the rest of his class into the building. Naruto, who wasn't quite sure what the hell just happened, stood there with his mouth hanging open. And that was the first meeting between Hyuuga Neji, the Byakugan prodigy, and Uzumaki Naruto, Konoha's notorious prankster.
It would prove the beginning of a long and interesting relationship.