AN: This chapter has been slightly tweaked and revised on 4/22/2016. Please check it out if you haven't read it yet!
"Stupid Sasuke. Why can't that prick get his own team to show off on?"
Naruto picked at his lunch and grumbled as he sat on a rooftop railing, looking over the Academy's entrance. Today was supposed to be awesome, the day he finally started getting respect around the village. He could still feel the relief and excitement from this morning, when he woke up and realized that last night's events had really happened. Iruka-sensei's beaten up old headband sitting on his dresser proved that he was a ninja.
And when he walked outside with it on, people actually looked at him, but not with pity or apathy like before. Their eyes were different now, if only for a few moments. Whether they liked it or not, Naruto was no longer the Nine-tailed Fox, but a Leaf shinobi.
He was going to stop being the class loser, always lagging behind everyone else. He'd surpass them all now, and then they'd be forced to acknowledge his worth at last! But now that he was attached to a couple of prodigies, how was he supposed to look any good in comparison? He couldn't even impress Sakura, because she was assigned with Kiba and Shino. How bad could it get from here?
The school's side door slid open, and he looked down as his second teammate left the classroom. What was her name again? Right, Hinata.
"Hm... What took her so long?" Naruto watched her walk for a second or two before shrugging and going back to shoveling ramen into his mouth. And then an idea struck him.
Sasuke definitely wouldn't want to be anywhere near him, but Hinata never directly fought with or insulted Naruto before. Well, she didn't really talk to anyone in class, including him, so there wasn't much opportunity to be a jerk, but still. Even then, she was more icy and hard to walk up to than mean. There was the slimmest chance that she hadn't written him off, or was at least willing to work with him. It wouldn't kill him to try to get along with at least one out of the two members of his team, right?
Naruto abandoned his half eaten food and climbed back down the building as fast as possible, failing to notice Sasuke leaning on another porch across the street.
"Hey, Hinata! Wait up!" He caught up after a few minutes of running full tilt down the path after her, earning him a raised brow from his target before she stopped.
"Naruto." Her voice caught him off guard. It wasn't hostile, but it wasn't really welcoming either. "...What do you want?"
"I was thinking, since we're on a team and all now...you wanna have lunch with me?" he asked, flashing her a grin. He had eaten lunch with a classmate much, and he had a feeling she hadn't either, so they had something in common. If she was as lonely as he was all those years, then she would certainly-
"No." She turned around and walked away again, leaving him to pick his jaw off the floor. He'd never been shut down so fast in his life. After recovering, Naruto's eyes narrowed as he watched her go. He was going to get to know her even if it physically hurt them both, dammit!
He ran to catch up again and grabbed her shoulder. Hinata's arm twitched, as if about to retaliate, but he didn't allow himself to flinch away as she turned to say something to him. They locked eyes for a long moment, and his thoughts wandered even as she glared at him. Her eyes were actually kind of interesting up close, like those fancy marbles that looked like there was liquid inside of them. Wait, he needed to focus! How to get her to agree with him… As much as it stabbed his pride to say what he was about to say, he swallowed it and continued.
How did Hinata end up sitting next to the dead last in the middle of the training field again? Right, because he had said please.
It was more complicated than that, but she still given in and said yes in the end. When he had asked that second time, she was fully prepared to refuse again just so she could do what she always did during break period. Alone. After being actively avoided by pretty much the entire class for a few years, she had gotten accustomed to doing things by herself. The concept of someone wanting to follow her seemed absurd now. Hinata wondered if he was just messing with her as a prank. Wasn't Naruto usually preoccupied with irritating Sakura?
And then he was obnoxious enough to force her to pay attention to him. As soon as his hand touched her shoulder, she almost instinctively lashed out with an open palm before she turned around instead. At first, she just glared back, but then she started to look deeper. His cheerful demeanor was gone, replaced by a familiar sadness that was strong enough to make her pause. Not many people were willing to expose themselves like that in front of someone whose entire fighting style was finding and exploiting weaknesses. After all those years of thinking he was just a stupidly optimistic orphan...
Neither of them said a word for what felt like hours to her, until she finally pulled out of his grip and mumbled yes.
The fact that she allowed her will to be bent by her own sympathy like that bothered her, but what was done was done. Emotions were not as easy to crush or ignore as she had thought long ago.
Which brought her back to her current position, leaning against a tree while Naruto sat on the other side, listening to him slurping what was probably cup ramen as she contemplated in silence. She certainly wasn't sulking. This was one of those times when she hated having a soft side. If someone caught her spending time with him and it got back to her father...she could feel the embarrassment now.
"Are you okay?" She hadn't realized that her eyes had closed as she thought, and she was greeted to Naruto's face a few inches from her own when she opened them again. She cut short the gasp that escaped her lips. What happened to respecting personal space?
"I'm fine," she said, pushing him back with one hand. He complied, to her relief.
"Really? Because you looked kinda red there for a few seconds..." Hinata couldn't tell if he was truly concerned, or just trying to make a joke out of her flushed face. She sighed and sat down, crossing her legs to try to meditate. Training in front of someone was not what she wanted to do today, and Naruto would ask endless questions that she didn't feel like answering.
"It's just the heat." After studying her, he nodded before sitting beside her. For a while, silence reigned, interrupted only by the distant sounds of people and the occasional bird.
"So..." Naruto started. Hinata sighed. So much for silence. "What's up with your eyes? They're all...pearly and stuff."
"Pearly and stuff?" She gave him a sidelong glance. Naruto huffed at her jab.
"You know what I'm talking about! They're pale, and I can't really see the black part."
"It's because of my bloodline limit. My eyesight is...sharper than normal." Hinata explained. Had he really not heard of the Hyuga clan's abilities? If they were going to be stuck together, she might as well tell him about the Byakugan, if only in broad terms. Revealing exactly how it worked to a non-clan member was out of the question though, unless it was necessary for a mission. As long as he didn't probe further…
"Sharper, huh?" Naruto said to himself, nodding. "Is it like...X-Ray vision or something?"
"...Partially, but it's more than that." After another drawn out silence, he grinned.
"Show me." She looked back at him, this time with more interest than annoyance.
"I mean, if it's too complicated to explain, then show it to me! Demonstrate," Naruto challenged her. "Unless you can't do it..." At first, Hinata was tempted to just ignore him again. What was the point of getting sucked into his childish game? But on the other hand, if she couldn't back up her claim, it would reflect badly on her reputation.
Looking up at the sun's position in the sky, she saw there was still an hour left for their extended lunch break. Maybe she would humor him for a while, and get some real training in too.
"If you insist, I can prove it to you," she said, getting up. "How about we play...hide and seek? You can hide in trees somewhere, and I'll track you down. Anywhere is fine, as long as you don't leave the training grounds." Naruto was already on his feet.
"Alright! Wait...can I use jutsu?" Hinata shrugged.
"It doesn't matter to me." He smiled wider before turning to leave. Just what was he up to?
"Just don't expect me to make it easy!" he yelled back, and charged into the woods. Hinata waited a few minutes before starting her search, assuming he would need all the help he could get. Confident that it would be a very short game, she formed a single hand sign to mold her chakra.
"Byakugan!" The veins around her eyes bulged as her vision shifted, her pupils changing color from light purple to white. The world turned into shades of black and white, only the flickers of chakra in the air and seeped in the training grounds having any color.
Hinata's vision extended to look deeper into the trees, picking up a much larger chakra signature farther ahead. It was most likely Naruto judging by the familiar outline, and the fact that he was attempting and failing to scale a tree with just his hands and feet. How exactly did he pass again?
But just as she was about to go after him, Naruto's chakra spiked dramatically. In a burst of smoke, a small mass of clones appeared. "Hm...So he can use the clone technique after all." Not that it even mattered in this situation, as the jutsu was easily seen through with the Byakugan. Her eyes jumped from each of the slowly spreading clones. Except now. Every single clone matched the original's appearance, including their chakra levels and internal organs. It was impossible to tell them apart, no matter how hard she looked. "That's not an Academy technique..." It looked like something much more effective. But how could Naruto have come across and learned such a technique in a matter of days? She'd have to ask him about that later, but first…
"Hey! Aren't you gonna find me?" A multitude of voices called out from multiple directions. The strange clones had scattered around her in a short time, and Hinata had no idea which one was the original anymore. Realizing that she was now stuck looking for the equivalent of a needle in a stack of other needles, Hinata condemned herself to searching the old fashioned way, feeling far from intelligent. This was going to take a while.
Sasuke stared at the classroom's entrance, waiting at his desk for someone to show up to collect his team. Lunch had ended a while ago, and all the other genin had left with their respective new teacher, group by group. Kiba, Sakura, and Shino were picked up by a woman with dark hair and bright red eyes that made Sasuke look twice at her, just to be safe. Ino, Shikamaru and Choji went off with a tall, bearded man smoking a cigarette. The room had slowly but surely cleared after that, leaving Squad 7 behind. Whoever their sensei was, they were late. Three hours late. His eyebrow twitched at the thought. What was taking them so long?
Naruto had long forgone sitting still and was now pacing around the room, grumbling insults about tardiness under his breath. Hinata watched him go back and forth from her position in the back of the room, following their teammate with her eyes out of possible boredom. She was as stoic as ever, unlike when she had first come back from break. Seeing her walking behind Naruto of all people, looking like she had been dragged through the woods, was definitely new.
Come to think of it, today was the first time Sasuke had seen her flustered at all. Maybe she wasn't as emotionless as he had first believed. He filed that information away for later use.
"That's it!" Naruto exploded. "If he wants to be late, then he's gonna get punished, Sensei or not!" He picked up a chalkboard eraser and eyed the door with a crooked grin. "Now if I set this there..."
"Put the eraser down before you do something stupid, Naruto." Hinata said. Her patience seemed thinner today.
"Hey, my pranks aren't stupid! I put a lot of effort into them," Naruto responded. Sasuke smirked despite himself after hearing his complaining. He talked about his pranks as if Hinata had just insulted his museum worthy artwork or something.
"Do you really think a joke like that would work on an elite ninja?"
"Shut up, Sasuke! It would have worked!"
Hinata sighed before perking up and turning to face the door, the blood vessels around her eyes standing out as her irises disappeared. The Byakugan, Sasuke recognized. Her eyes were the only natural distinct advantage she had over him, Sasuke noted. As soon as he unlocked his own bloodline…
"Quiet idiot, someone's coming," Sasuke cut their argument off. Footsteps could be heard from down the hall. Hinata narrowed her eyes before she let the Byakugan fade.
"There's a Jonin approaching," she said.
"It's about time!" Naruto dropped the eraser and waited wher he stood, just as a silver haired man in standard ninja attire walked in. He had one eye covered by his tilted headband, and a cloth mask covered his nose and mouth. The jounin rubbed the back of his head.
"Ah, sorry about the wait, I got turned around in the hallways. I haven't been to the Academy in a while."
"No you didn't! Who gets lost for three hours in a building?" For once, Sasuke agreed with Naruto. The jonin didn't seem to care either way.
"How about we just meet up one the rooftops?" He teleported away, a few leaves fluttering to the ground in his wake. Sasuke grunted and got up to follow. He might as well get this over with as fast as possible. Hinata blinked in surprise at the Body Flicker technique before trailing after him, Naruto running to catch up.
Kakashi flipped through a book as he stood on the roof, spying on his assigned genin as they sat down in front of him. To be honest, he had no real desire to train a team, but the Hokage had insisted he take one again.
The same thing happened year after year. He'd get recommended to train a promising group of kids, and then Kakashi would fail them for not meeting his standards. And this time, he'd been handed the last Uchiha, the Hyuga clan's heiress, and Konoha's Jinchuriki. If Kakashi did automatically fail them like the rest, he'd get complaints from the higher ups who wanted extra power to showcase for the Chunin Exams, and that didn't even cover the backlash from the Hyuga for not promoting their Main house prodigy.
It was like Lord Sarutobi had set it up like that on purpose. The crafty old man probably did. He hated politics sometimes…
Oh well, he'd just evaluate the genin based on their profiles and performances during his test, and base his decision off of that. If Kakashi claimed they were unfit to become active ninja, no one could argue with the facts and they would have to let him off the hook. And based off the personality and behavioral information Iruka provided, this team was built to fall apart.
"How about you all tell me about yourselves?" Kakashi suggested, leaning on a railing as he slipped his novel away. No one responded at first. Sasuke looked at him like he had just been asked what color the sky was, and Hinata didn't appear interested at all. Kakashi was starting to feel ridiculous standing there in front of them, waiting for an answer that would never come, but then Naruto spoke up.
"Uh, what do you mean, Sensei?" Kakashi grasped onto it like a lifeline.
"You know, what you like and hate, hobbies, dreams, goals..."
"Why don't you show us how it's done? An example would help." Well, at least the Jinchuriki was participating in the conversation. Hinata didn't say a word, but he could tell she was more attentive now. He shrugged.
"Why not? My name is Kakashi Hatake. I like not talking about my likes and dislikes. My dreams are none of your business, and I have many hobbies. Your turn!" His genin didn't find it as funny, but Naruto bounced back the fastest.
"Okay! My name is Naruto Uzumaki! I like instant ramen, but Ichiraku Ramen is even better! I hate waiting three minutes for my ramen to cook." Sasuke snorted, and Naruto stuck his tongue out at him in response before fiddling with his head band. He did that a lot, Kakashi had noticed.
"And my dream is...to become Hokage!" Kakashi raised a brow at his bold statement, but didn't comment on it. So he wanted to be the Hokage? It'd be ironic, at least. "Then this whole village will acknowledge me at last! Oh, and my hobby is pranking, I guess." He scratched the back of his head and grinned. Kakashi sighed. Naruto's maturity level was still low. He'd take a huge amount of effort to get anywhere near the mentality of a chunin, let alone a village leader. Oh well, a boy could dream, couldn't he?
"Well then…next!" Sasuke started his own introduction.
"My name is Sasuke Uchiha," he said in a low tone. "I dislike many things, and there are very few things I like. I have no dream, for what I want to accomplish will happen one day." His words were colder now, tinged with unmistakable hate. "I plan to revive my clan, and kill a certain someone who wronged me." After a few seconds of silence, Naruto scooted away from Sasuke a little. Kakashi made a mental note about Sasuke's apparent aggressiveness when it came to the circumstances of his dead family. It could become troublesome later on if not kept in check. He moved on to the last person.
"And you…?" Hinata had been staring at the Hokage monument since Naruto had finished, only half listening until Sasuke had revealed his ambition.
"...My name is Hinata Hyuga. I like...training and bettering myself. I dislike people who don't try their hardest. My dream is..." She hesitated longer than Kakashi expected her to. "My dream is to succeed my father as head of my clan. My hobbies are flower pressing, and playing string instruments." Both Naruto and Sasuke seemed surprised at hearing the last part, but neither questioned it. It did sound more to Kakashi than the rest though. He hummed thoughtfully. At least his temporary team wasn't boring, unlike a few other groups he could think of.
"Alright, I think that's enough sharing for one day. We'll have a mission tomorrow."
"Ooh! What are we gonna do, Sensei?" Naruto was already on his feet again.
"It'll only involve this squad, and I'm running you through a survival exercise."
"Yes, but this one will be much more difficult than the Academy classes. I will be your opponent. Oh, and this simulation has a failure rate of about...66%. If you don't pass, I have to send you back for more training." Sasuke scowled.
"Then what was the graduation test for?" he asked.
"Yeah, we passed fair and square! What gives?"
"Kakashi-sensei, is every other team going to take a second exam?" Hinata cut in. Kakashi nodded.
"Out of the 27 graduates of your class, only nine will be allowed to become part of a genin squad. We will meet up tomorrow morning on the 32nd practice field just before dawn. Be fully prepared for battle, and try not to eat breakfast, or else you'll just end up throwing it back up again!" Kakashi said in what could be called a cheerful tone. He gave a fake salute before teleporting away again. He reappeared across the street on top of another building, out of sight from the three he left behind.
From his new vantage point, he could see Sasuke getting up and walking away, and Naruto yelling something at his retreating back. Hinata was just observing the two as they fought, not seeming too concerned with the tension they had. Kakashi shook his head at their interactions before departing for real this time. If his "team" didn't pull it together tomorrow, they were in for a rude awakening.