"Stupid Sasuke. Why can't that prick get his own team to show off on?"
Naruto picked at his lunch and grumbled to himself 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 a little respect around the village. He could still feel the relief and excitement from this morning, when he woke up and realized that he really did become a ninja. Iruka-sensei's beaten up old headband sitting on his dresser proved that it was all real. 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.
It was the day he was going to stop being the class loser, always lagging behind everyone else. He would surpass them all now, and then they'd acknowledge his existence at last. But now that he was still stuck with the prodigy, two no less, 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?
He heard the sound of a door creaking open, and he looked down to see his female teammate finally leaving the school. What was her name again? Right, Hinata.
"Hm...Wonder what took her so long?" Naruto watched her walk for a second or two before shrugging and going back to eating. 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. One could argue that she wasn't friendly with and didn't really talk to anyone in class, including himself, so there wasn't much opportunity to be a jerk outside of forced interaction, but still. Even then, she was more cold and kind of scary to people than insulting. There was a slim chance that she actually didn't hate him, or was at least willing to work with him as part of a squad. It wouldn't kill him to try to get along with at least one out of two members of his team, right?
It was decided then. Naruto shoved his half eaten food back into his pouch and started climbing back down the building as fast as possible, not even noticing the inattentive Sasuke leaning on someone's porch and eating a rice ball across the street.
"Hey, Hinata! Wait up!" He caught up after a few minutes of running full tilt through the village after her, earning him a slightly surprised look from his target before she stopped. Her usual unfazed expression returned as soon as he got closer.
"Naruto." Her voice had a hard edge to it, catching him off guard. He was expecting something...softer, maybe. He hadn't really heard her speak in a few years, so it had probably changed from what he remembered last. Oh well, that wasn't important. "Well...what do you want?"
"I was thinking, since we're on a team and all now...You want to have lunch with me?" he asked, grinning in anticipation. He had never eaten lunch with a classmate before, and he had a feeling she had never done so either, so they had something in common there. If she was as lonely as he was all those years, then she would certainly-
"No." She turned back around and started to walk away again without missing a beat, causing his jaw to drop. Naruto's eyes narrowed, now even more determined. He was going to get to know her even if it physically hurt them both, damn it! Running up to her again, he grabbed her shoulder and forcefully turned her around. Hinata's arm twitched, as if about to retaliate, but he didn't allow himself to flinch away and stared her dead in the eyes. This seemed to confuse her into staying put, so he kept eye contact as he thought of how to convince her. Her eyes were actually kind of interesting up close, like those fancy marbles that looked like there was liquid inside of them, except pearl colored. Wait, he needed to focus! How to get her to agree with him... Now what did Iruka always tell him to say when he was asking something important?
How did Hinata end up sitting next to the dead last in the middle of the training field again? Right, because he said please. Well, it was more complicated than that, but she still 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 alone, to the point of someone wanting to follow her seemed absurd. Hinata started to wonder 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 locked eyes with him. At first, she just glared back, but then she started to look deeper. His usual 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 who's entire fighting style was finding and exploiting weaknesses. After all those years of thinking he was just a stupidly cheerful orphan... Neither of them said a word for what felt like hours, until she finally pulled out of his grip and said yes. The fact that she allowed her will to be so quickly bent by her own sympathy bothered her, but what was done was done. Emotions were not as easy to crush or ignore as she had originally 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 silently contemplated. This was one of those times when she hated having a soft side. If someone caught her hanging around with him, like her father...she could feel the embarrassment now.
"Are you okay?" She hadn't realized that her eyes had closed in thought, and she was greeted to Naruto's face a few inches from her own when she opened them again, startling her. Whatever happened to respecting personal space?
"I'm fine," she said curtly, pushing him back with one hand. Thankfully, he complied.
"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 that she was attempting to gain some control over. 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 a moment of 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 mentally groaned. 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 colored, and I can't really see the black part."
"It's because of my bloodline limit. My eyesight is...sharper than normal." Hinata explained. 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 slightly. "Is it like...X-Ray vision or something?"
"...Partially, but it's more complicated than that." After a few beats of quiet, 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 of dare? 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 could humor him for a while, and get some real training in too.
"If you insist, I guess I can prove it to you," she said, getting up. "How about we play...hide and seek? You can hide in trees somewhere, so I can track you down. Anywhere is fine, as long as you don't leave the training grounds." Naruto got up in an instant.
"Alright! Wait...can I use jutsu?" Hinata shrugged.
"It doesn't matter to me." He smiled wider, as if he were already planning something, before turning to leave.
"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 she could locate him without too much effort, 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 badly attempting 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 narrowed as she glared at 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 jutsu..." she mumbled. It looked like something much more complicated, but how could Naruto have come across and learned such a technique in a matter of a few 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 spread themselves around her in a short time, and Hinata had no idea which one was the original anymore with so many running around. Realizing that she was now stuck looking for the equivalent of a needle in a stack of other needles, Hinata started to search on foot, 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 ther sensei was, they were late. Three hours late, to be precise. His eyebrow twitched at the thought, wondering what could possibly be taking so long.
Naruto had long forgone sitting still and was now pacing around the room, impatient as usual and grumbling insults about tardiness under his breath. Hinata watched him go back and forth from her retaken position in the back of the room, just following their teammate with her eyes out of possible boredom. She was as stotic as ever, unlike when she had first come back from break. Seeing her walking behind Naruto of all people, looking as if they had been dragged through the woods, was an unusual sight. Come to think of it, today was one of the few times Sasuke had seen her flustered at all. Maybe she wasn't nearly as emotionless as he had first believed. He filed that information away for later use. Knowing his rival's potential weak points could win him a battle someday, not that Sasuke wasn't winning already.
"That's it!" Naruto's outburst broke him form his musings. "If he wants to be late, then he's gonna get punished, Sensei or not!" He picked up a chalk board eraser and smiled mischieviously, eyeing the door. "Now if I set this there..."
"Put the eraser down before you do something stupid, Naruto." Hinata said, giving him an irritated look.
"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! He would of totally fallen for it!"
Hinata sighed before suddenly turning to face the door, Byakugan activating. 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 Jounin approaching, judging by appearance," she said.
"It's about time!" Naruto said, 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 jounin didn't seem to care either way, as he continued to talk.
"How about we just meet up one the rooftops?" He teleported away, leaving a few leaves behind. 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, discreetly watching his assigned genin as they went to sit 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 young bunch of kids, and then Kakashi would fail them for not meeting his standards. And this time, he managed to recieve 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 to make the Leaf look stronger, 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. 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 us about yourselves?" Kakashi suggested to them, leaning on a railing. No one responded at first, Sasuke looking at him like he had just been asked what color the sky was, and Hinata looking just plain bored. 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?"
"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 seemed to be listening to Kakashi more attentively 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 looked extremely unamused with him, 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 tounge 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 the keeper of the Nine-Tails wanted to be the Hokage? It'd be an interesting thought, 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 inwardly 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 kage. Oh well, a boy could dream, couldn't he?
"Well then…next!" Sasuke grunted and started his own introduction.
"My name is Sasuke Uchiha," he said in a monotone. "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 a sudden 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…interesting 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, as if not entirely certain of her own goal. "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 less generic 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 jumped up.
"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, 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.
AN: Yes, this is continuing. I just don't have a steady updating schedule. As usual, tell me what you think of the characters, and what improvements could be made. Next chapter should be Kakashi's test, as long as I stay on track. And once we get past that part, we should see some more diverging plot from Canon. Hopefully, the original content will be interesting for everyone.