I'm not usually the type to write fan fiction. It doesn't really appeal to me, since I usually have a lot of IPs of my own that I want to dive into. For some reason though, this story has been infesting my brain, and constantly evolving a life of it's own. Admittedly, the majority of the main characters are entirely original, so it's not like I'm writing a typical slash fic. Also this is a first draft, it's gotten long enough now that I'm confident that I'll be allotting time later on to rework portions I'm not happy with. Now without further ado... actually what the fuck am I gonna name this? Aww well, I'll deal with that later.
PS. I try not to add gratuitous Japanese, but I still kept some conventions. The names are introduced last name first, I know it may seem confusing, but bear with me, it's just how the characters would say it. Also, Sensei means master or teacher and is a title. -sama, is an honorific, which generally means something along the lines of my lord, but since it isn't a stand alone word it's something that is attached to someone's name or title to show that they are high above you in rank. (Also if you have a particular crush on someone but aren't close enough to them to use any of the cutesy honorifics, but that isn't how I used it so don't worry about it.) The rest should be fairly obvious to Naruto fans, Jonin = elite ninja, Chunnin = middle rank, but qualified to lead teams, Genin = well you graduated from the academy and that has to count for something... Kekkei Genkei is a blood line trait or in other words an ability that is unique to only certain families. Kunai are knives with knothole handles that allow them to be used in close combat, thrown, or with strings/goodies attached. Kunoichis are female ninja... just ask and I'm sure I can explain anything I missed.
Three kunoichis lounged around an aging Buddha statue by the side of the road. A light breeze wafted over them, tugging at the edges of their clothes, but not leaving a lasting impression. It was obvious the three were agitated by something, one was already pacing while another preferred to leave it at a look of annoyance. The third's face was swathed in bandage, but the slight tapping of her foot gave her emotions away.
A tall, unkempt man approached the group, idly swatting his overlong black bangs away from his eyes. "Hey! Good you're all here!"
"You're late, Sensei! It's the first time we're meeting and you're late. What kind of impression do you think your giving here?" The pacing girl bit out.
"Oh come on, it's only a few minutes... or half an hour, somewhere around there. I think. Anyways, what way is that to talk to your sensei? Not even a week old and already that headband is blocking the flow of chakra to your brain, you little brat." He folded his arms and looked down at the girl haughtily. He could tell she was biting her lip, but silence reigned for a few moments while the other two just watched in growing annoyance. "Well then, let's get on with introductions. I'm Hanaki Noano, that's Hanaki-sensei to you brats. I'll be the leader of this little train-wreck we're calling team eleven. Don't even think of giving me less than an hundred and ten percent on these missions or I might feel tempted to kick you back to the academy forever. Now then let's go in a circle, starting with the loud mouth, just tell me your names and your ambition."
The loud mouth leaned against the wall, readjusting her kunai pouch so it wouldn't interfere with her cargo shorts. "Well I'm Anato Kyoko, and my ambition is... to be more famous than even the legendary Sanin!"
"Glad to see you aim low," Hanaki cut in glibly.
Despite Kyoko's reversion into a dangerous scowl, the second girl took a slight step forward and began her introduction fluidly. "My name is Hyuuga Hanabi, and I simply wish to be one who is considered important to the Hyuuga clan." At the end she shifted slightly, as though her tan chest protector was suddenly uncomfortable.
Well, I have to say she certainly does look like a Hyuuga, Hanaki thought. He turned to the third girl when the silence seemed to be going a moment too long, "and you would be?"
"Renki Erisia, and there is somebody I must find some day. Somebody who I must be strong to find though." The bandages on her face made her mostly unreadable, but her voice was clear and intense.
"What's up with the bandages, you loose a fight with a sunburn or something?" Hanaki asked.
"She's always been like that," Kyoko added out of turn.
Erisia turned to look at Kyoko for a short moment before speaking. "I'm not sick, if that's what you are concerned with. I'm just fine with keeping them on for now, if it's all the same to you."
Hanaki looked her over in more detail, looking for any signs she might be lying about her health. The clothes she wore were generally loose, some baggy cargo pants and a long t-shirt. Her boots and gloves seemed slightly over sized though, almost as though they were padded in some way.
"Well, now that I've got you sorry lot, how about we have a little test."
"A test... aww man, I just got over the last one!" Kyoko complained.
"No whining. Here's the deal, I'm going to give you a test. If you pass the test, we get to start doing missions, if you fail the test, you train for a week before I get you guys an actual mission."
Kyoko seemed visibly perturbed, but the other two just nodded.
"Good, lets meet at training ground seven in an hour!"
The training grounds were deathly still when the last member of the trio, Kyoko, arrived. The other two were sitting with their backs to a large boulder watching a blond haired boy about their age doing warm-ups by a large tree. Kyoko raised an eyebrow at the pair who had already arrived, their shrugs their only response to the unasked question.
"Hey kid, what are you doing here? This training ground was supposed to be reserved today," Kyoko called.
"Oh hey, it's like the three I was told to wait here for," the boy responded. His auburn t-shirt was at least two sizes too big, and his shorts seemed a bit too long to be regular shorts, the overall impression being rather goofy.
"Did Hanaki Sensei send you," Hanabi asked levelly.
"Oh yeah, he said there were some students he wanted me to give a good beating to. He said it would be like a test, and you would all have to beat me in a sparring match to pass."
"Any particular order we should go in," Erisia asked.
"Order? Nah nothing like that, I'm taking all three of you on at once!" The boy dropped into a fighting pose and motioned them to come at him.
Hanabi and Erisia exchanged glances, but Kyoko barged straight forward. "Doesn't sound very fair to me," Kyoko shouted. "I'll give you a go first then."
The boy shrugged, "whatever, your funeral you know."
Kyoko charged forward, not quite in a straight line, bouncing to the side and throwing a kunai at the final moment. The boy jumped back slightly letting the kunai strike and stick in the ground in front of him. Kyoko charged in from the side throwing a punch at the boy's head. He ducked out of the way, grabbing her arm and pulling her into a tight hold. "Not bad you know, but not too good either. Left yourself way open."
Hanabi appeared off to the left of the boy, aiming a blow straight at the exposed section of his chest. He let go of his previous prey and dodged out of the way, taking a quick survey to make sure he wasn't dodging into Erisia. She stood in exactly the same spot she had occupied at the beginning of the fight, but her eyes were intently locked onto him, sizing him up. The two girls who were ready to regroup became his foremost concern again.
Hanabi rushed forward while Kyoko began the hand signs for a jutsu. The Hyuuga style was well known for being deadly with even a single glance, forcing him to keep a constant stream of dodging. Somewhere between her blows came an opening and he struck inward. His fist connected heavily with the substitution, knocking the log backwards slightly. Almost too late he saw the stream of high pressure water being shot at him by Kyoko.
The water tore through the mud clone, leaving only a vague brown shape in it's wake.Kyoko turned to check her back in time to see the kick coming, but not soon enough to dodge it. Erisia intervened this time, physically placing herself between her teammate and the boy, blocking his kick with her shin.
The two exchanged a furious volley of kicks and punches, neither gaining an upper hand in the battle. Slowly the boy was being pushed to his right though, never being given a moment to breathe and assess. Hanabi lept from a bush to his side, ambushing him with a blow aimed to his body. In an instant he shifted balance and jumped to the tree limb above them.
"Not bad. From that beginning speech I thought you'd be a bunch of push overs who wouldn't know a thing about teamwork. Well if this is how it's gonna be, I might even be pushed to treating you guys like average." Erisia didn't wait for the speech to finish, crashing her fist into the branch where he had been standing. All this elicited from him was a laugh as he disappeared backwards into the bushes below.
The three looked after him for a moment. "We need to stick together, if we get separated in there, we'll just make it easier for him," Kyoko said. "Hanabi, can you detect him with your Byakugan?"
The Hyuuga looked at Kyoko with slight unease. "I haven't quite mastered it yet... but I'll try." She made the requisite hand signs slowly and carefully, before screaming "Byakugan!" The veins around her eyes bulged and her iris seemed to crack. "I... can see a few chakra sources, but I can't see well enough to know if it's him. Their all too far away."
"There shouldn't be any animals in here, so the others are probably decoys," Kyoko observed. "Who is this guy?"
Hanaki watched his trainees closely from a fair distance. They were working together so well, and their taijutsu skills were exceptional. He had been right, he knew it now. The question was would that be a good thing or a bad thing.
His memory dredged up his conversation with the Hokage on the issue.
He stood in the Hokage's office, standing with the ease he always showed the outside world.
"There is a fair amount of competition between the Jonin for this position. Team Eleven have all proven themselves to be top class students in the academy. Some are saying those three will be the village's new Sanin. Why should I give a squad like that to a slacker like you?" Tsunade wasn't looking directly at him, but rather out one of the windows as if unconcerned with the answer.
"Yes, they are exceptional Hokage-sama. Anyone can see that, and I'm betting even if they won't admit it to themselves a fair number of Jonin want in on their inevitable fame. But, that's no way to train a squad. The worst thing you can do with geniuses is spend all your time fawning over how good they are, eventually you just spoil them into complacency."
"So, you'll be the guiding rod to keep them in line? You know some magic way to foster both their spirits and their skills?"
"Yes. Give them the worst assignments, work them dogs, train them till they drop and never accept what they give you as their best."
"That's insane! With an attitude like that you'll just break them without every giving them a chance!" Shizune slammed her hands down on the desk. An annoyed look from Tsunade convinced her to hastily retreat them with a blush.
"I'll consider your request Hanaki. I know you're talking from personal experience, and I respect your opinion. If I do give you this squad I will have conditions of my own for you, and you'll need to be ready to accept those. But I haven't decided yet. You'll know the assignment in due time, just like the others."
"Yes, Hokage-sama. I wouldn't want it any other way."
The terms worried him somewhat, but for now he was glad to have the assignment. The three seemed to make up their mind on something and proceeded with some modicum of stealth into the underbrush. He turned his attention back to the test at hand, the first part of his plan coming into play.
The three broke into a small clearing surrounding the chakra source. The chakra points matched that of a crouching human, but the outwards appearance was that of a raggedly cut stump. Just to be sure Hanabi threw a hard punch into the trunk shattering it into splinters of wood. She turned her attention to the final chakra source, which was suddenly moving towards them.
"That's him, here he comes!"
Kyoko and Erisia assumed fighting stances facing the direction of her gaze. A kick suddenly landed on the back of Hanabi's neck, throwing her past the two. Erisia turned first and closed the distance with the boy. All signs of the stumps existence and destruction were gone.
"Genjutsu!" Kyoko began on a series of hand signs, but a few casually thrown kunai from the boy forced her to dodge backwards interrupting her concentration.
The boy disengaged backwards from Erisia, using hand signs at lightning speed. "Earth Tidal Wave!"
Erisia turned and ran as the Earth rose up between them, quickly rising above her head and continuing to grow. Kyoko was already running as well, but Erisia had to pick up Hanabi as she passed due to the girl still being dazed. Erisia held her tightly, and carried her as though she weighed less than a feather. The wave of mud behind them had grown almost thirty feet and now came crashing down at extreme speeds overtaking the runners and carrying them forwards into the receding forest.
Hanabi was thrown away at the last second, skidding across the surface of the now slowing mud. Kyoko and Erisia were both buried at least up to their chests in mud, each began struggling to break free. Hanabi began running out onto the mud to help, but the boy appeared before her. She struck forward almost slicing the air, but he ducked below the blow. A powerful uppercut ripped into her stomach, followed by a heavy kick to her chest throwing her into a nearby tree.
He looked back over at the two trapped in the mud, "looks like you three failed this test. Sorry but that's the life of a ninja. The situation can change on you in an instant." He lifted on hand and muttered a quick canceling jutsu, dispelling the transformation jutsu. Hanaki looked at the three with mild disinterest. "You hot shots look like a bunch of wet socks right now."
"Sensei!? But... you're a Jonin, how could we possibly defeat a Jonin! We're only Genin," Kyoko exclaimed.
"That's right, and don't you forget it. But while we're on the subject, that stunt you pulled early on was plain stupid. In this world of ninja there are people of all shapes and sizes who are powerful and brutally deadly. Just because your opponent looks young doesn't mean they are a lightweight."
Erisia slowly broke free of the mud, and ran over to Hanabi's unconscious form. She quickly checked the major vitals for signs of permanent damage. When it was obvious that Hanabi was coming around she turned to her sensei, "I don't see the point of giving us an impossible test."
"Of course you don't, you've never lost before in your life. Even without the chakra to use complex jutsu, you've been able to beat all your opponents with just your taijutsu. Well out on a real mission that may not be good enough, hell you may not be good enough. If you're lucky an enemy will be as stupid as you three and pass you off as just kids, stupid genin out of their depth. If you're not lucky, they'll quickly make you as dead as possible just in case."
"Sensei... when did you get here?" Hanabi asked, semi-blurrily.
"He was our opponent all along," Kyoko blurted out, finally freeing herself from the mud.
"What, but that kid...?"
"A transformation jutsu. For a while there I was afraid you'd see through it Hanabi, but you didn't use your Byakugan until the very end. And I can tell why from the way that genjutsu so easily fooled you, you still haven't mastered it. You may have pulled a fast one on your instructors at the academy, but not with me. First part of your new training regimen is to perfect your Byakugan, there is no point in having a kekkei genkai if you can't even use the damn thing," he rattled off at her.
"Erisia, you're going to be focusing on chakra control. You may not have tons, but you've got to have a jutsu or two up your sleeve. For now though, it's all gonna be chakra control. If you can't get it down to the point of controlling individual chakra points, you might as well give up your headband and go home. As for you Kyoko, not only is your chakra control sloppy, but so is your taijutsu and kunai aim. What the hell was the point of even going to the academy if you weren't going to learn the basics. Starting tomorrow, you do three hours of taijutsu practice followed by three hours of target practice, and end your day with four hours to perfect that stupid jutsu it takes you three years to use. There's no point in having a jutsu if you can't even use it during a battle."
He looked at the three thoroughly dejected faces for a few moments. "Well that's it, go home and rest up. Contemplate what happened today and how to make it not happen again. Tomorrow the real fun begins."
The sun had set, but three restless souls all gathered inside a small tea shop. Kyoko's mother and father owned the establishment, running it jointly with great enthusiasm. It was customary for Kyoko to do most of her private practicing in the large yard behind the shop, and due to the on again off again rivalry she and Hanabi had shared, Hanabi was well aware of the location. Neither of the two had known Erisia very well, the girl had always seemed apart from everyone in class. Now that she thought about it, she hadn't even realized in the academy that Erisia had never lost a sparring match. The fact that she had always struggled with the ninjutsu had always overshadowed the fact somehow.
For her part Erisia had been watching the other two with a certain amount of admiration for a while now. It was easier to watch Kyoko practice from a back table of the tea shop than to get anywhere near the Hyuuga grounds, so it had become one of her preferred hang out spots without Kyoko ever even realizing it. Tonight though, it wasn't Kyoko's training that brought them together. Instead they sat around nursing various teas and picking at a shared cake in the middle of the table. An air of defeat hung palpably around the table.
"Well... that went just swimmingly, and now we won't even have any missions for the next week," Kyoko bemoaned.
"But what he said is true, we do need the training," Erisia said quietly.
"Still, it's unbelievable to expect a few rank genin to defeat a jonin..." Hanabi didn't sound particularly into her observation.
"Man, this sucks. I mean, I've lost sparring matches before, but never had somebody play around with me like that... It kind of pisses me off," Kyoko observed.
"I am... unaccustomed to failure. It is not the Hyuuga way," Hanabi added.
Erisia just sighed and leaned back, not even needing to add her assent to the mix.
"I think... Hanaki is going to be a pain in the ass sensei. But I also know now, I want to get a whole lot stronger. It's not good enough to just have high grades from the academy. I'll get stronger, and I'll beat Hanaki fair and square someday!" Kyoko stood up as she exclaimed.
"I don't ever want to loose again, either," Hanabi added, Standing more slowly.
"I'm not where I want to be, and I'll get stronger, much stronger. So strong that nothing will be able to stop me from accomplishing my goal!" Erisia stood with the other three looking into the space above at some vision of her final goal.
Erisia and Hanabi left the tea house together, their houses both being in relatively the same direction. For a few moments, they walked in silence, neither breaking the heavy silence between them. Finally Erisia stopped at an odd moment, causing Hanabi to pause and turn to her.
"Hanabi... the Hyuuga are supposed to be famous for their chakra manipulation right?"
Hanabi turned away slightly, but nodded.
"Would you, I mean if you have the time, maybe help me practice my chakra manipulation? You don't have to teach me any family secrets or anything, obviously, I mean it's not like I'm putting up a front or any- aww crap I'm rambling. Mom get's mad at me for that all the time." Erisia began slow but after the initial question she was mostly sputtering the words out in a single long string.
Hanabi blushed slightly, and then nodded again, "maybe after regular practice, I suppose."
Erisia visibly brightened, or at least as visible as the bandages allowed, "oh, thank you! Thank you so much! I won't take advantage of your kindness, I swear!"
Hanabi raised an eyebrow and turned to keep walking. The two finished the walk to where they parted at Erisia's house in silence, though a slightly less oppressive one this time.
As Hanabi walked through the door to the dojo to do some practice before bed she ran directly into her father. Though they didn't literally run into each other, she took a step back anyways, looking up into his unreadable hard eyes. Neiji and Hinata were behind him, looking somewhat ragged as though coming from tough training. The Jonin and the Chuunin turned to regard her, Neiji as unreadable as her father, but Hinata with a shy, but genuine, smile.
"Hinata," her father said sharply, "stay and practice with Hanabi a while." The leader of the Hyuuga main branch didn't need to add that it was not a request.
"Yes father", Hinata said, blushing slightly as she did every time she was given direct attention. Her father left, followed quickly and quietly by Neiji. Hanabi followed the implications her father had left and walked quickly to the center of the room and assumed a fighting stance.
The two sisters faced each other with tense fighting poses. Their relationship had never been that of normal sisters, her father's shunning of Hinata and subsequent favoring of Hanabi had put immense strain on their relationship. Still Hinata gave her a genuine smile before getting serious about the practice match. Each of them brought forth Byakugan to fight in the true Hyuuga fashion.
They circled each other for a few moments before each one went in for their blows. Hanabi's blows were sure and confident, picture perfect from the outside, and without even the slightest quaver in chakra release. Hinata was more graceful, slicing ever slightly around the expected path, and releasing a longer, almost blade like finger of chakra with every blow. The difference in experience between the two was too great for Hanabi to land any blows, but years of their father's personal training allowed her to also avoid every blow, even if just barely.
Hinata moved slightly to one side creating an opening, Hanabi attacked without hesitation striking at the older girl's kidney. The blow landed, but Hinata stood unfazed.
"You can't see as well, can you?" Hinata gave her a level stare.
Hanabi backed away, unable to completely hide the bitter surprise from her face. "That blow should have been right, that's the right location."
"You were about half an inch high, not much, but enough that I wasn't seriously damaged," Hinata said matter-of-factly. She lowered her voice slightly, "does father know about this?"
Hanabi looked at the door their father had just left, then lowered her voice slightly, "not yet."
"Spectacles may help a normal person to see, but I doubt they'll be any use in assisting the Byakugan. You need to tell someone right away, Hanabi. What if your vision gets worse?" Hinata looked at her with concern.
"I'm fine, okay. I'll handle it, nobody else needs to know, at least not yet." Hanabi gave her sister a pleading look.
Hinata looked her younger sister over sternly, obviously trying to decide. Finally she spoke, "Okay, I'll let it go for now, IF you promise to get checked by someone in the medical corp. Also, if you get any worse, and I mean any worse at all, the first thing you do is tell father. It can be dangerous for you to go into combat if you can't accurately hit a target."
Hanabi gave her sister a thankful look and then hastily excused herself before the Chuunin could change her mind. Her dreams that night were strange and frightening, of a world of pure blackness and menacing presences, but partway through she could feel the embrace of a familiar figure. Someone she felt she knew so well, and yet couldn't attach an identity to.