Disclaimer: Naruto is Kishimoto's toy. I'm just playing with it.
Warning: Language and anticlimactic-ness.
My eyes widened as I stared at the screen in a flash of horror. One of my least favorite fights in the history of Naruto—not the Shippuden series, but Naruto.
My eyes darted towards Hinata, who stared at the screen in absolute terror, before she gulped and headed towards the center of the room. My heart plummeted when I saw how hesitant she appeared.
I raised my voice and called out to her, "Hinata-chan! Just like we practiced. Don't let that arrogant prick beat you down."
Hinata glanced over at me, a relieved expression crossing over her face before she smiled hesitantly. I gave her a thumbs up and a smile.
But when she looked back at Neji, who now descended the stairs, her expression flickered back to a fearful one.
I gripped the handrails tightly. Beside me, the others were discussing the Hyūga family history. How it was a fight between relatives yet at the same time a fight between very bitter segregation in the family, etc, etc.
Hinata would be fine. She's trained extra hard just for this match. She could take Neji. She could. I believed in her.
Don't underestimate Neji.
Don't underestimate Hinata!
"Please begin the match," Hayate said.
Neji took a fighting stance, bringing his right foot back. I leaned forward over the railing to catch what he was saying. "Before we fight, let me warn you about one thing, Hinata-sama."
Hinata glanced up at him, her eyes wide and filled with worry.
"Give up," he said, ignoring her appalled look, he continued, "You're not suited to become a kunoichi. You are too kind. You seek harmony and avoid trouble. And you just go along and follow someone else's idea. And… you have no self-confidence. You always feel inferior. That's why you thought it would be fine to remain a Genin. But, you cannot register for Chūnin Exam unless there are three people. You couldn't refuse the offers from Kiba and your teammate and as such you're taking this exam unwillingly."
"Am I wrong?" Neji asked.
"You're wrong… You're wrong!" Hinata said, her eyes widening before she glanced away from Neji. "I just… I j-just wanted to-to changed myself, so I-I willingly came."
Neji continued to watch her for another moment before he spoke again. "Hinata-sama, you are indeed a spoiled child from the head family."
I gripped the handrail tighter, glaring furiously at Neji.
"W-What…?" Hinata asked, looking back up at Neji.
"People cannot change," Neji replied. "A failure is a failure. His personality and power will not change." Beside me Naruto glowered, gripping the handrail tightly. "People cannot change, so that's why terms like 'elites' and 'failures' exist. "
Hinata continued to stare at Neji, hurt flickering across her face. He continued, "Everyone judges you by how good your face, head, abilities, body shape, and personality are. There are things that cannot be changed. People suffer due to their limits, and lives. Just like how we can't change the fact that I am from the branch family and you are from the head family. My Byakugan has seen many things. That's why I know! You are just trying to be tough. You are really thinking about how you want to leave this place right now."
Hinata shook her head. "That's not true! I really want to…"
Neji shook his own head, a thin line of concentration crossing over his features until finally… "Byakugan!"
Veins popped out around his eyes, his vision increased to his three-hundred-and-fifty-nine-degrees.
Hinata was shaking with fear now. My hands clenched as tightly as I could onto the handrail. I didn't mean to pour chakra into my hands, but my worry and frustration got the better of me. Before I knew it, I had dented the handrail. Not that it really mattered.
"You understand now, that you will lose," Neji said, his voice cold as steel. Beside me, Naruto gritted his teeth. Hinata raised her arm, almost in a defensive position. Neji noticed it.
"You raised your arm, showing you want to put a wall between me and yourself to create some distance, yes? It's an action that shows that you don't want me to look through your true feelings. Because you are afraid," he continued.
The handrail broke underneath my hand. I tour my gaze away from Hinata and looked down at it.
Calm down girl, Hinata-chan isn't going to die.
No. Just lose all shreds of self-esteem she has in this fight, fail miserably in front of her crush and friends, and be mocked as a disgrace by her strict father who refuses to acknowledge her as his eldest child. Oh, and pretty much be threatened to be disowned.
… She won't die…
This is why I didn't like Neji in the beginning. Sure he becomes kick ass later, but right now he's just a flat out jerk face.
"…so you know that you cannot change."
"You can!" Naruto interrupted Neji from his harsh analyzing on Hinata. Slowly, Neji turned his head to look back up at Naruto, and Hinata's eyes widened as she looked up at her crush.
"Don't label people like that, you idiot!" Naruto snarled. "Hurry up and kick his ass, Hinata!"
"Show him who's the true heir to the Hyūga Clan, Hinata-chan!" I shouted, shooting Neji a venomous look.
Hinata's eyes widened briefly, as she looked between the two of us. Ever so slowly, her shaking stopped and her eyes watered for a moment or two before she blinked back her tears.
Her hands clenched tightly to her side before she relaxed and turned to look back up at Neji, a determined look on her face.
"So you're not going to give up? Don't blame me, later on," Neji said after seeing her face.
Hinata didn't respond, instead she activated her own Byakugan. She assumed a fighting stance.
"Nejinii-san, now let us fight," Hinata said, her voice unwavering.
I felt a rush of pride swell through me.
Neji gave the barest hint of a nod before he assumed his own fighting stance. "Very well."
They lunged forward.
Hinata brought her first hand forward, her palm facing towards Neji as she attempted to block his chakra network. He dodged, bringing forward his own palm to attempt to block her own network. The two began a furry of attacks, neither one of them being able to land a hit at first.
Their feet slid across the floor as they both fought, trying to assume a better stance than the other. When their palms were deflected, blow to blow, a loud slapping hum could be heard. Almost like a slap, but much more deep, and much more strong. Blue chakra swirled around their hands as they attacked.
Hinata managed a graze against Neji, he grimaced, disengaging from combat. He scowled before they both engaged in combat again. Blow to blow, they fought until…
Neji struck a blow against Hinata's chest, directly hitting her heart. Hinata choked and coughed up blood.
In episode 47, it was that move that pretty much decided the match. In episode 47, Hinata continued to fight a hopeless battle against her senior cousin, despite the odds. In episode 47, Hinata had her ass handed to her on a silver platter with the words 'YOU FAIL AT LIFE' scrawled across Hinata's heart, forever dragging her down.
Up until now, it had been following episodes 46 and 47 perfectly.
It was that blow, that was the turning point.
Instead of continuing to attack Neji in close range, like she had before, she quickly disengaged from Neji, jumping back and away from him and out of his range. She clutched her chest, gasping and breathing heavily.
Neji narrowed his eyes at her.
Hinata winced slightly before she closed her eyes briefly, her face screwed up in concentration.
Holy shit! I bet she's having a flash back.
Shit, I think you're right. Which one though?
Which flash back would come in handy for a time like this?
Freak! That one!
FLASH BACK TIME!
(Epic Flash Back During A Training Session With Hinata)
My breath came out in short, ragged gasps. I struggled to stand for a moment before another wave of exhaustion decided for me it was time to sit down.
My knees buckled underneath me and I fell to the grassy floor with a thump and a groan.
A moment passed and Hinata fell right beside me, her own breath coming out in short pants.
"Dear… Pein… That… Hurts, Hinata-chan!" I complained, my arms twitching as I tried to move them. Only sharp pain and flashes of numbness danced across them.
"That's… the… point… S-Sakura…" Hinata gasped before she groaned and rolled over on her back. She turned her head, wincing slightly. "I… d-disabled… a-all of y-your chakra in y-your arms…"
I groaned. "I can't… I can't feel my ass now."
A moment passed before a giggle bubbled out of Hinata. "I-I didn't t-touch th-there, S-Sakura-chan."
"Lies," I half shouted, too tired to fully shout. "You literally… kicked… my ass…"
"I-It w-was… supposed to be… you're st-stomach… I didn't kn-know you'd turn a-around... and b-bend over… like that," Hinata defended.
I groaned again. "Stomach… Yes, because that's so much better."
She giggled again and I shot her a tired glare before smiling to myself. Then I realized how much pain I was in and moaned.
"So… So what would… happen if something like that… the whole chakra blocking shit… hit my chest… my heart….?" I asked, my mind wandering towards that dreaded match that I knew was coming up.
"Y-You're s-screwed?" Hinata asked, her face turning even brighter red at the word choice. Hell yes! I was rubbing off on her.
"No… seriously…" I grumbled.
"I… d-don't know. I-I suppose m… maybe…"
"Could… could you reverse the effects?" I asked.
"Hyūga chakra blocked it… maybe Hyūga chakra could unblock it," I muttered, my mind already lost in the la-la land of medical fields.
That would make sense, though, wouldn't it? Direct chakra puncturing through the chakra network and jabbing the heart… that's what really caused Hinata's damage in the episode. The chakra network around her heart was ruptured and kept up residual damage throughout the entire match. Every time her heart overworked itself, it was getting stabbed and punctured by the ruptured chakra.
With that in mind, couldn't she simply reverse the effects? Couldn't she redirect the ruptured chakra to flow away from her heart and towards a different part of her body?
Granted, it would be extremely difficult, and very much temporary. She wouldn't be able to control her chakra flow for that long unless she was like… Madara or Pein and had beyond natural chakra control.
But… if she could…
I glanced at Hinata. "Hey… Hina-chan… I want to show you something…"
(Flashback Over D: )
Is she going to use what we taught her?
I hope so, that would be seriously kick ass! But…
Ah, yes… the infamous but.
Hinata's hand slowly raised towards her chest, hovering above her heart before she pressed it against herself. Her hand glowed a dull blue and her eyes stayed shut and focused.
I stared down at her, my emotions momentarily conflicting with relief and worry. She was going to do it.
Neji watched her with narrowed eyes, his Byakugan scanning over her as he tried to figure out what she was doing.
"Eh? What's Hinata-chan doing?" Naruto asked, looking down at Hinata. "Why's she so still?"
Kakashi and everyone else had followed Naruto's gaze, each holding an indifferent or a questioning look.
"She's redirecting her chakra flow," I said quietly.
"Eh?" Naruto asked, wide eyed.
"And how is she doing that?" Kakashi asked. I figured he probably already knew the answer. Kakashi was just simply that smart, though he probably asked for the sake of his 'Eternal Rival' and Naruto.
"She's pushing in chakra from her hand and into the ruptured network. She's then forcing her chakra from her hand to guide the ruptured chakra into another area—most likely her hands. Once she's got the flow going, she'll merely have to keep her concentration on the flow for the rest of the battle. But, it shouldn't be hard," I answered.
"After all, it's something we've both been practicing on," I hummed. "She can hold her concentration for eleven solid minutes in the middle of a match before it slips."
"What happens when it slips?" Naruto asked.
My eyes lowered, a frown pulled my lips down. "Game over. Because the chakra is fighting against its regular flow, the moment its released, it springs back with quite a bit of pent up force."
I winced, recalling my own memories of training with it. Subconsciously, my hand drifted up to rub my right shoulder. Our shoulders were the areas we practiced our techniques on.
"She'll either be knocked unconscious immediately or…" I trailed off, my frown deepening as I recalled where exactly she was hit.
"Or?" Shino asked, his voice unnervingly quiet.
"She'll go into cardiac-arrest," I answered quietly.
"What?" Naruto shouted. "Are you serious?"
"Very," I muttered. I shook my head.
"Seems like a very risky move," Kakashi said.
"I suppose. But, Hinata will be able to finish this match before her eleven minutes are up. I'm sure of it," I said, my voice sounding more confident than I suddenly felt.
She can keep her concentration for eleven minutes when fighting me. When fighting someone who will not kill her. When fighting with a wound that will not threaten her life. When fighting without an ounce of pressure on her.
The question then begs, how long can she hold her concentration in a situation like this?
"If you say so, Sakura-chan," Naruto exclaimed, grinning his trademarked grin.
Hinata's eyes snapped open and her hand fell away. She rushed forward at Neji, swinging her right palm forward towards him. He sidestepped her, launching his own palm towards her.
She ducked and spun out of his way, swinging her left leg towards his knee. He scowled at her as he jumped up above it. Her leg made a full rotation around her by the time Neji touched the ground again. She brought her left palm, jerking it towards him. Again he dodged her, twisting to the left(her right), but Hinata predicted it. Her right palm jutted out, connecting solidly with Neji's left shoulder.
His eyes widened briefly in shock before they narrowed again. Faster than Hinata—before she could retract her right arm—his left hand, single index finger and middle finger at a point, jabbed into her wrist.
She cried out in pain, quickly retracting her hand.
Neji's left arm hung limply by his side. He twitched his fingers before he scowled dangerously at Hinata. Hinata attempted to move her right hand, but she was only capable of twitching her fingers.
Hinata's eyes widened as Neji rushed towards her. He reached her far too quickly for her to react. His right palm brought it forward and jabbed her in her left shoulder. She cringed from the blow, it was enough to force her to stumble backwards.
Before she could recover herself, Neji was before her again. This time, he brought his right palm forward, completely jabbing it into her stomach (Not actually into her stomach, but… you know). She retched, coughing up blood. She twisted away from him and fell to the floor in a heap.
"Hinata-sama, this is the difference in our unchangeable powers," Neji said as he walked towards her. "It's the difference that separates the elites from the dropouts. This is the unchangeable reality. You were destined to regret this when you said that you didn't want to run away. You should be in despair right now. This is your last warning. Give up."
Hinata trembled from her own body demanding that she do exactly as Neji suggested.
"I'm… not going to…" She struggled, her left arm refusing to work from Neji's previous attack. Her right hand trembled as she placed all the pressure she had on it, attempting to get back up.
"…to take back… my…" She forced herself up, her legs wobbling slightly. "... words…"
She turned to face Neji, her eyes hardened with determination. "That's my nindo."
As she said that last part, her eyes glanced over at Naruto before she quickly looked away.
For a flash, I could have sworn I saw Neji's own eyes soften. But, that could have been my imagination.
"I didn't know Hinata was so tough," Naruto said beside me, his eyes slightly wide.
"She's very similar to you," Lee said, turning to look at Naruto.
I nodded my head. "She's always been watching you, Naruto."
"What?" Naruto asked, glancing over at me before looking back at Hinata.
"Come then," Neji said, assuming a fighting stance. His left arm remained to dangle uselessly.
Hinata mirrored his stance, her own left arm dangling uselessly, and her right hand twitched as she forced it to work despite its very clear protests not to.
She rushed forward.
Her right palm jutted out and Neji ducked below it, bringing up his own right arm. She dodged out of the way before dropping down to the ground and kicking out her right leg. Neji jumped above it, swinging out his left leg. She rolled underneath it before popping right back up and aiming another palm-thrust at Neji.
It became similar in the beginning, neither one landing a direct hit or graze. Only this time they had lost the use of their left arms and Hinata's right hand refused to form the correct hold for more than a few seconds before it relaxed and she had to force it back again.
Neji managed to deflect Hinata's attack, forcing her right arm to shoot downwards while she stumbled forwards. He quickly twisted his body, his hand reaching out and his palm smashed against Hinata's lower jaw, forcing her upward. In the same motion though, Hinata kicked her legs. Neji ducked away from her right leg, but her left leg connected against his own jaw.
Hinata twisted in the air, landing a little ways from Neji and stumbling. Neji rolled with the kick, stumbling a little ways, as well.
Hinata choked and spat, spitting out blood. Her body trembled violently and panic burned through me.
Did she break her concentration already?
I prepared to launch myself over the railing and catch her, but her body stopped trembling before I could do anything.
She was breathing heavily and her face screwed up in concentration. Neji twisted his head, his right hand rubbing against his bruised jaw.
Hinata ran forward again.
Another bout of blows between them. I watched it all with anxiety washing over me.
How much time had passed?
How much longer could Hinata last?
Neji ducked out of the way from Hinata's right palm when seemingly out of nowhere Hinata's left palm jabbed forward and connected against Neji's chest.
The force sent Neji stumbling back and clutching his chest as he breathed heavily, his face a perfect mask of shock and disbelief.
I didn't blame him. Mine was, as well. Neji had sealed off Hinata's chakra network completely in her arm when he connected with her shoulder. Her arm was supposed to be virtually useless.
There was no possible way, unless…
Dread and horror settled in the pit of my stomach.
Oh please, Hinata, tell me you didn't.
"H…How?" Neji asked, his voice sounding ragged as he struggled to breath. Hinata had successfully ruptured a chakra network around his heart.
"I… forced the redirection of chakra… around my heart… t-to my arm…" Hinata said, her voice barely holding enough energy to be heard.
"That's so cool!" Naruto said, "Now Hinata has both her arms again."
"No," I snapped, fear for my friend causing my temper to flare. "That was a onetime deal and a very, very stupid choice."
"What do you mean, Sakura?" Kurenai asked.
I gripped the handrails, gritting my teeth for a moment before I answered. "The chakra around her heart was ruptured and she's been forcing the flow of chakra someplace else so it wouldn't attack her heart. Most likely into the palms of her hands or the bottom of her feet. Those are safe places where she can safely exert the raw chakra without hurting her body."
My grip tightened. "What she did there was forcibly push chakra from her heart straight into her blocked hand. It's like… a tiny little dam made up of sticks and twigs built on a little creek. When all of a sudden a huge river of water rushes towards that dam. Neji created that dam. Her chakra in her arm was that creek and what she did was force a river into her already damaged and small system. Do you suppose that the river would be a nice river and not completely destroy all the wildlife surrounding the small creek? No. What she did there for a single good hit, was completely rupture her entire chakra network in her left arm."
"She…" Lee said, his mouth hanging slightly open. Whether it was in awe or horror, I would never know.
"Not only that she redirected her first flow path around her heart," I whispered, my voice tight. "Meaning if she doesn't quickly direct her flow of chakra from her heart back to her feet or hands, it'll continue to barrage down her blasted arm, completely eating her arm from the inside out. Raw chakra is never a good thing to have running loose inside your body. Not to mention… simply changing the flow too suddenly like she did… and suddenly again like she needs to do… risks the chance of the chakra backfire and attacking her heart. Meaning she could immediately send herself into cardiac-arrest or worse…"
"Worse?" Naruto asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Destroy her heart in an instant," I uttered.
Beside me, everyone tensed.
For a very tense, very heart pounding moment, Neji continued to stare at her in shock while Hinata closed her eyes.
When she reopened them, her arm dropped lamely to her side and she continued to breath heavily.
I let out a relieved breath. She safely redirected her chakra. Thank God/Pein/Jashin/Kami/Madara's Sexiness.
Neji retched, coughing up blood, his face contorted into a scowl. He dashed forward. Hinata rushed forward, as well.
The last round of fighting. Already I could see the effects of Hinata's attack on Neji. His reaction time slowed, and he had to disengage on multiple times, only to be racked with a fit of blood-filled coughs. But, Hinata was not much better. Her own reactions were slowed, and her right hand refused to work at all now so she had to resort to mostly kicking.
Finally, Neji re-entered combat, his right arm jutting out last minute to connect against a slow Hinata.
I saw the rush of blue chakra enfold and wrap around his hands as he connected solidly against her.
We all heard the sickening thud and Hinata retched up blood.
Neji stumbled away from her, breathing heavily and clutching his own chest.
Hinata fell forward, almost in slow motion. My eyes widened in fear and panic as I saw her eyes roll to the back of her head.
Already my body was in motion, I swung myself over the handrail and kicked off from the balcony, pouring in as much chakra as I could into my feet. The railing I kicked off from shattered from the force.
She hit the floor and her body began to spasm. She was in cardiac-arrest.
"Medic!" I screeched, my arms wrapping around Hinata as my hand found her chest.
Calm down! Focus!
Despite my best friend going into cardiac-arrest in my arms, a wave of clam washed over me. Just a wave though, and just enough to get my chakra flowing as I poured in as much as I could around her heart, wrapping it in a safe cocoon. Her chakra network was exploding inside of her chest, sending in waves of raw chakra. I tried to wrap my own chakra around it, trying to seal it off, but I couldn't do it.
I couldn't do it.
All I could do was wrap my chakra around her heart and most of her lungs like a shield and pray to whoever was listening that she would be okay.
I didn't even notice the medics beside me with a stretcher until one touched my shoulder.
"We have her," one of them said.
"I-I c-can't move my hand; using-chakra a-as cocoon," I said, my voice shaking and sounding oddly high pitched.
They nodded. Their hands wrapped underneath Hinata and glanced at me. I nodded my head.
They lifted her on the stretcher, my hand never left her chest as they raised the stretcher.
Another hand fell over my own, and I felt the rush of another person's chakra wrap around my own chakra. Their chakra replaced mine and I finally retracted my hand, my eyes wide with worry.
"Don't worry, we have her," one of them said.
They began to walk away, that third medic never once wavering in healing Hinata and I began to follow before I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.
I turned around, my eyes felt oddly wet. I didn't realize my bottom lip had been quivering until I bit on it with worry. I stared up at Kakashi.
"I know you want to go with her, but you're not allowed to leave yet," Kakashi said gently.
I shot a panicked look over my shoulder. He squeezed my shoulder reassuringly. "Don't worry, Sakura-chan. She'll be fine."
"B-But," I whimpered, "it-It's all my fa-fault… I-I'm th-the one wh-who…"
He squeezed my shoulder again.
"She was a stubborn person to begin with," Neji said quietly, though his voice carried over to my ears. "She was destined to lose, as the drop out she was."
Before I could violently kill Neji Hyūga, Kakashi wrapped an arm around me and placed a hand over my mouth. I thrashed for a moment or two, before I sagged in his arms, my eyes closed as bitter tears escaped me.
If I had never shown her how… if I had never… her life wouldn't be in danger. She was fine in the show… physically, at least… now… what if she dies…?
She won't die. She's stronger than that. Why else do you think we helped her endurance? She'll live through this.
It's my entire fault. Hinata I'm so sorry.
Stop it! Stop it right now. Hinata will pull through this. She's become so much stronger than before, she will live through this, so you need to stop all your damn worrying.
I'm so sorry Hinata-chan…
Bah! You damn praise-whore.
Shut up! Can't you see I'm having a moment here?
Our moment is over.
IT'S NOT OVER UNTIL THE FAT LADY FRIGGIN' SINGS YOU LITTLE—
I was cut off from my would-be-cursed-filled-insult-at-my-Inner from the sound of sandals hitting the concrete floor.
I opened my eyes, only to find Naruto kneeling beside Hinata's pool of retched up blood.
Neji had noticed Naruto too, for he stopped walking away and turned to face him. "You… Let me warn you about two things. If you're a shinobi, stop with that unsightly cheering for a stranger. And one more thing, a drop out is a drop out. They cannot change."
"Do you want to try?" Naruto challenged, his voice low and dangerous. He rushed forward, Neji smirked.
Before he could reach him, Lee intercepted, holding out his arms in a blocking stance.
Naruto barely managed to stop himself from punching Lee.
"I understand how you're feeling, Naruto-kun," Lee said, his voice rough. "But you should fight in a proper match. A dropout will defeat a genius with hard work… The main matches will be exciting. But I may be his opponent."
Neji—the proclaimed Hyūga Clan prodigy—scoffed at Lee and Naruto.
"I will hold no grudges if you were to match up with him," Lee finished.
Naruto continued to give Neji a hard glare before he scoffed. "Fine."
He turned away, heading back to the pool of blood. He glanced over at me, and I felt my tears slowly stop. I was still shaking though, shaking with worry, and fear for Hinata. But, also with absolute rage and frustration at Neji, and myself.
He looked back down at the blood. He knelt down to it, his fingers reaching forward as he touched the blood. "Hinata… I promise…"
He stood back up, his bloodied hand clenched into a fist as he glared at Neji. "I promise, I will win."
I felt a small twinge of satisfaction rush through me. I knew Naruto would. I knew Naruto would avenge Hinata. I knew it, and I knew Neji was going to get his ass handed to him in the most Naruto-way.
Surprising, with a touch of humiliation for the other Naruto's opponent 'cause they finally got sense knocked into them and realized how shameful they were.
I still wanted to be the one to kick his ass.
I sniffled and looked back up at Kakashi. He looked down at me. "You can visit her when we're finished here. Come on, let's get back to the balcony."
I closed my eyes and nodded, relaxing in my sensei's comforting one armed hug.
And slowly, I allowed my sensei to lead me back up to the balcony, Naruto trailing behind us.
An entire chapter dedicated to a fight scene. This was a bitch to write.
I can't decide if it's too short or not. Oh well.
I'd like to say now that you guys are wonderful and I heart you all. :) Seriously, 64 reviews in only 11 (now 12) chapters? Amazing! I updated today as I wouldn't be able to on Friday.
Reviews are love.
See you Tuesday (or Sunday if I decide it was too short...).