Extreme Training Methods
Extreme Training Methods
Disclaimer: I do not own the Naruto franchise, nor do I own any of the merchandise or spin-offs associated with the concept. These belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
Summary: After hitting a stumbling block in her efforts to learn a new jutsu, Hinata takes a leaf out of Naruto's book and decides to try some rather unorthodox methods…
Note: This story is set roughly a year or two after the war with both Naruto and Hinata around seventeen or eighteen years old, give or take.
Hinata stood absolutely still, eyes narrowed with complete focus as she concentrated as hard as she could on channelling her chakra. She'd been practicing for over a fortnight and this time she was absolutely determined that she was not going to fail. It was late afternoon already, so there wasn't going to be much more time to get it right before nightfall, but she was resolved to do it before then.
She flicked a loose strand of hair out of her eyes. Yes, her mind was totally made up; today, for the very first time, she was going to summon a toad.
"Go for it, Hinata!" encouraged Naruto, standing on the sidelines of the training field she was using to practice. "I know you can do it this time!"
Hinata smiled her thanks across to the blonde-haired Jinchuuriki. Having his support made the world of difference, even though she still hadn't managed to summon anything bigger than a tadpole. He hadn't missed a single one of her attempted summoning sessions and he didn't have to be here at all – she knew that he'd brushed off training Konohamaru and his friends in favour of helping her, which she felt a little guilty about – but when she'd told him last week that he didn't have to feel obligated to stay he'd instantly dismissed it.
"You asked me to teach you," he pointed out. "I want to be there to help you if you have any problems – the other stuff can wait. Just because I've already given you the contract to sign and shown you the hand seals doesn't mean I'm just gonna leave you to do it on your own. And besides, I like training with you, so nothing's gonna keep me away-ttebayo!"
Remembering his words brought a smile to Hinata's lips. He was right; their nindo was to never give up, so she wasn't going to let her lack of success so far stop her from trying.
She thought back to how their training together had begun. She'd had the idea after seeing Naruto summoning a toad to deliver a message – if she or Naruto were assigned a long term mission then sometimes they could go weeks or even months without seeing one another, but if she learned how to summon toads then they'd be able to stay in touch by having the toads act as a relay system.
Shaking her head to clear her mind she raised her hands. Slowly, taking extra care not to make even the slightest mistake, she raised her thumb to her mouth, bit down just hard enough to draw a drop of blood and began making the necessary seals. 'Boar… dog… bird… monkey… ram!'
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" Hinata slammed her hand down on the ground and a puff of white smoke billowed upwards, obscuring her vision. She waited with baited breath to see the result of her efforts. Had she managed to do it this time? She tried to temper her hopes slightly – she certainly wasn't expecting anything as big as Gamabunta, the largest toad in Naruto's arsenal – but maybe this time she'd managed to call forth a decently sized one?
The smoke finally began to clear and Hinata eagerly peered in closer… only to see a fat orange tadpole staring back at her.
Hinata groaned and flopped to the ground with a disappointed sigh. Why? Why couldn't she do it? She'd had trouble learning certain Hyuuga techniques in the past, but this was the first time that such a relatively simple jutsu had proven so difficult to master.
Naruto jogged up alongside her, trying to think of something helpful to say. He knew how frustrated and dejected she must've been feeling about her lack of progress. "Umm… I think this tadpole might be your biggest one yet?" he offered. "Oh and look, this one actually has legs, that's definitely an improvement! You're only two arms away from a full toad!"
Despite herself Hinata smiled wanly at his attempts to cheer her up as the tadpole vanished in a smaller cloud, no doubt returning home. Naruto could be oblivious at times, but when it came to saying the right thing to make her feel better he could be so sweet. "Thank you, Naruto-kun," she said softly.
Naruto dropped down beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "C'mon Hinata, don't get too downhearted," he said sympathetically. "You'll get there. You just have to keep trying."
"I know. I just don't understand what I'm doing wrong," she mumbled, her annoyance at herself obvious. "I'm trying so hard and I'm doing everything I can to make it work – the hand seals, the chakra control, everything."
"Maybe that's it," Naruto pondered, rubbing his chin and looking up thoughtfully at the sky. "Maybe you're just trying too hard and it's become a sort of... I dunno, a sort of mental block? Kakashi-sensei says that you should never force a jutsu. You have to practice to learn it, obviously, but once you're doing the jutsu it should be natural, not something you have to push for. So it could just be that you need to stop overthinking. Just relax and just go with the flow a bit more."
Hinata shifted closer to him. "I didn't know you could be so sagely."
Naruto laughed. "Hey, I did train to be a toad sage. And besides, if I'm gonna be Hokage I have to be wise, right?"
He pulled a face that was clearly meant to look profound and Hinata giggled, her previous irritation at her lack of success all but evaporated. She rested her head against Naruto's chest, closing her eyes with a hum of contentment and listening to his heartbeat. Naruto hugged her closer and for a few minutes the two of them relaxed together in silence, basking in the warmth of the late-afternoon sunlight, the light breeze rustling the leaves of the trees and the feel of the other's presence.
As much as she was enjoying simply leaning against her beloved, Hinata still wanted to get back to practicing – she was starting to get a little drowsy and although she was much more confident around Naruto now that they were a couple, falling asleep against him was still an embarrassing prospect. Rubbing her eyes, she got back to her feet.
"Aww, can't we just relax for a while longer?" grumbled Naruto. "I was really comfortable." He grinned impishly. "And you seemed to be enjoying using me as a pillow."
Hinata's face went pink. "You enjoy teasing me, don't you?"
"Definitely," admitted Naruto shamelessly, wiggling his eyebrows at her and earning a half-amused, half-exasperated roll of her eyes in response. "But you know you love my teasing. It's just one of the many things that make me so great."
Hinata shook her head with a genuine, affectionate smile. "You're incorrigible, you know that?"
Naruto's own smile became shyer. "Yeah," he mumbled, feeling oddly bashful all of a sudden. Even though they'd been dating for well over a year now, something about the way she looked at him with such a loving gaze still made his heart skip a beat. "I act like such an idiot all the time. To be honest, I dunno how you put up with me."
Hinata reached out and with only the faintest blush took his hand in hers. "It's because I love you," she said simply, meeting his gaze without flinching despite her slightly reddened face.
Naruto's trademark grin returned, if anything even brighter than before. "Thanks Hinata!"
"You're welcome," she smiled. "And you're not an idiot either. Well, not all the time at least."
"Hey!" Naruto spluttered, indignant.
Hinata giggled. "Come on. Training, remember?"
"Oh yeah, right," Naruto chuckled sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "You sure you're ready to do it without overthinking things and go with the flow this time?"
"I'll give it my best shot. I'll do whatever it takes to get beyond tadpoles."
Naruto nodded approvingly. "That's the spirit! If it makes you feel any better, it took me ages to get past tadpoles too. Ero-Sennin got so fed up that he ended up throwing me off a cliff!"
Seeing Hinata's horrified expression, Naruto quickly added, "As part of the training, I mean. He got me to use up all my regular chakra and then put me in a situation where there was real danger so I'd need to use Kurama's chakra." He grinned proudly. "The first actual toad I summoned was Gamabunta, the boss. How cool is that?"
"Hmm…" Hinata looked thoughtful for a second. "How did it feel? Summoning him when you were in such peril?"
Naruto closed his eyes, trying to think back. "I guess… exhilarating. It was like one of those moments where your life flashes in front of your eyes, except I was super focused on getting the summoning right. There was no time to think about it – all my chakra just kinda burst outwards all at once, instinctively."
"Maybe that's it!" Hinata wondered aloud, excited. "Maybe, by not treating this training as life-or-death, I haven't been able to push myself enough! If I put myself in a dangerous situation, maybe that could be what I need!"
Naruto raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Are you sure?" he asked tentatively. "It seems a bit extreme just to learn summoning."
"But you did say to do it instinctively," the Hyuuga girl pointed out, warming to the idea more and more. "And maybe this training has been too safe. I know I'm learning to summon so we can stay in touch easier, but what if I need to summon a toad to fight?"
Naruto shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "I guess that's true. But I don't wanna see you get hurt."
"I'll be fine, I promise," Hinata reassured him. "You said I was strong, right? I want to do this."
Naruto grinned lopsidedly. "Never go back on your word, right?"
Hinata nodded with a determined smile. "That's both of our nindos, remember?"
Naruto laughed, his doubts lifting. He wouldn't have let anything as silly as worry get in the way of his own efforts to get stronger, so who was he to stand in Hinata's way? Of course she knew it was going to be dangerous – that was the whole point, after all – but if her gut feeling was that she needed to take a risk to get over her mental block then he was going to support her.
"Ok," he said, punching a fist into his palm. "If you've made up your mind then it's settled. But we can't do it here. We're going to need to go somewhere high up, where there's a long fall…" He clicked his fingers as an idea struck him. "And I know just the place!"
"You ready, Hinata?" Naruto shouted up to her.
From the top of the Hokage monument, her toes just barely dangling over the edge of the Godaime's head, Hinata was beginning to have some second thoughts. It was an awfully long way down – Naruto was just a small orange speck from his position at the foot of the mountain – and it hadn't seemed quite so risky in the heat of the moment. It was hardly like learning to summon toads was so vital that it was worth risking her life over, after all. Maybe she should just go back to the training area and…
'No!' she told herself firmly. That was precisely the sort of attitude she wanted to overcome. Taking the easier route hadn't worked so far, so she was going to give it her all. It was what Naruto would do.
"Ready!" she called down, trying to sound more confident than she felt.
"Ok then, on the count of three!" Naruto yelled. "One…"
Hinata clenched and unclenched her fists, taking a shaky breath.
She wetted her lips nervously, trying not to look directly down at the dauntingly sheer rock face.
Before she could second guess herself any further, Hinata jumped.
The air instantly rushed up to meet her, howling in her ears like a hurricane as she plummeted downwards, and her eyes screwed up against the stinging wind. Her jacket felt as though it was being snagged by thousands of grasping fingers and her hair was lashing all around her. The weightless sensation of falling was nauseating and disorientating – with her eyes shut she couldn't even tell which way was up and which way was down.
How long had she been plunging towards the foot of the mountain? A second? Two seconds? She was going to collide with the ground – she had to act, now!
Something flared inside of her and her eyes snapped open. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"
For half a second there was nothing and Hinata was terrified that she'd made a mistake and was about to become a smear on the bottom of the Hokage monument. Then without warning she was surrounded by an enormous puff of smoke and landed extremely ungracefully, face first, onto something soft, squidgy and damp.
"Hey," she heard a deep voice say, emanating from beneath her. "You don't happen to have any snacks, do you?"
A giant head loomed into view through the cloud of smoke. Picking herself up gingerly, her legs wobbling slightly beneath her as her brain tried to process that she was indeed still alive, she made out a face; flat, bright orange, inquisitive eyes and a big smile.
"G-Gamakichi-san, I assume?" she enquired, trying to bow as respectfully as she could manage whilst her whole body was trembling. Her teeth were chattering with a mixture of exhilaration and disbelief that she'd actually done something so reckless as throw herself off a cliff face.
"Yep, that's me," the toad answered good-naturedly, seemingly oblivious to Hinata's lack of composure. "You're Hinata, right? The one that summoned me?"
The words sunk in and Hinata gasped, giddy with elation. "Y-Yes! I did it!"
At that moment Naruto jumped up onto Gamakichi's back too and before Hinata could do so much as blink he wrapped her into a bear hug. "Hinata, that was amazing!" he shouted with excitement, jumping off the toad and spinning her round. "You totally pulled it off! That was a perfect summon!"
The Hyuuga girl just beamed wordlessly, burying her face into Naruto's jacket. Suddenly she felt very tired. Emotionally she was drained beyond anything she'd felt before.
Turning to address his amphibious friend, Naruto gave him a smile. "Hey Gamakichi, how've you been?"
The toad raised a hand in recognition. "Oh, hey Naruto. Not too bad thanks. Ma Toad's been trying out some new recipes on me. Her nightcrawler lasagne is incredible; next time you come visit you've gotta try it! The only thing better is her woodlouse casserole!"
Naruto blanched – his tastebuds still hadn't recovered from the trauma of his last trip to Mt Myoboku. "Erm… yeah, maybe. Anyway, thanks very much Gamakichi, you've been a huge help. I'll definitely treat you to a whole load of snacks next time I summon you, I promise. Tell all the other toads I said hi!"
Tired though she was, Hinata straightened up respectfully. "Thank you very much again, Gamakichi-san. I'm in your debt."
Gamakichi looked sideways at Naruto. "Your girlfriend's polite – I like her. How come she treats me with more respect than you do?"
Naruto stuck his tongue out in response with a grin. "'Cos she hasn't gotten to know you yet!"
"You're lucky my dad's not around to hear you say that. He would've squashed you!" Laughing, Gamakichi waved goodbye and vanished in a wisp of smoke.
Seeing her summon return home, Hinata let out a small sigh. As frustrating as learning the technique had been, having Naruto teach her had been wonderful from start to finish. Now that it was over she was really going to miss spending even more time with him.
"You ok, Hinata?" asked Naruto, picking up on her sudden downswing in mood. "Are you feeling tired?"
Hinata mentally tried to prod herself out of her stupor. "Oh, I'm fine, thank you. I guess I'm still just a little shocked I had it in me to do something so reckless."
Naruto looked pensive for a moment. "It was hard just standing back and watching you," he admitted. "I know you're tough and I didn't doubt that you could do it, but I really was worried…"
Seeing his expression, Hinata reached up, gently placing a hand against one of his whiskered cheeks and leaning in on tiptoe to press a brief, tender kiss against his lips. "Sorry for making you so anxious," she apologised in a murmur, her face a faint tinge of red at being the one to initiate the contact. "But it's because you were there and all the time you spent helping me that I was able to make the summoning work at all. I feel really privileged to have had you to teach me."
Naruto laughed, embarrassed. "You're gonna make my head swell up if you keep saying stuff like that."
Hinata couldn't help but find his modesty endearing – it was so different from his usual loud bravado. "Why not? It's the truth."
Touched by her sincerity, Naruto wrapped an arm around her waist. "You really liked me teaching you?"
"Mmmhmm," Hinata nodded. "I'm just sad it's over. Now that I've managed to summon a toad, I guess –"
"Hey, who says it's over?" Naruto interrupted with a grin. "I don't have any plans on stopping any time soon. You may have summoned Gamakichi, but you still haven't managed Gamabunta, right? That means there's still plenty more training in store! And I haven't taken you where all the toads live yet either. I bet you'd love it on Mt Myoboku – it's really bright and colourful. Plus I'm sure there's loads of stuff you could teach me as well. I wanna see your Juuho Soshiken up close!"
Hinata blinked with surprise, then slowly a big, glowing smile spread across her face. "I'd like that, Naruto-kun," she whispered, hugging him close. "I'd like that a lot."
Author's Notes: It's so nice to be fanfiction-ing again! After having had so little time recently, a fun little oneshot seemed like the perfect way for me to get back into the swing of things, heh. First things first, thanks to all of SoulFire1111, MichaelInsanity and Hochmeister for being kind enough to look through my first draft and offer critique, it was much appreciated. Onto the fic itself, this is an entry for the NaruHina Fanclub on Naruto Forums, where we're running a contest on the theme of 'Training Partners' (I'm actually in charge of running the contest myself, heh, so this entry could well be exempt from winning, but I still wanted to submit something anyway!). Initially I was struggling for an idea to use; I wanted to put a unique spin on the whole 'Training Partners' theme rather than just doing a simple sparring session or something like that. Then this little idea popped into my head when I remembered how, way back at the start of the series, Naruto had been incapable of pulling off the Bunshin no Jutsu – I know it was because he had so much chakra it was hard to let it out in a small enough burst, but it also seemed like he'd developed a mental block for it. So it made me wonder if there was a technique Hinata would find difficult… and voila! I'm pretty happy with the result, but if anyone has anything they'd like to point out or critique then feel free. Reviews of any kind are always welcome! Hope you all enjoy the read!