When an Author Gets Terribly Embarrassed
Himawari slapped away Naruto's hand as it sped towards her torso. In retaliation she pushed her own hand in the direction she was sure it had come from, but met nothing but hair. A small part of her wanted to give up here and now. Putting her hands up in the sign for 'time out' she let them fall to her knees and tried to catch her breath. Both teenagers were covered in sweat and relatively red-faced. Himawari was more so than Naruto.
"That was really good!" Naruto started, but Himawari shook her head. "It's useless. It will take me years to relearn everything without sight. I'm going to resign tomorrow." The inky haired girl said, still struggling to catch her breath. Naruto frowned but didn't say anything.
"Do you still want to spar or should we break for food?" The blonde glanced at the sun. It was just starting to rise over the trees, casting a pleasant golden hue over everything. He wished his partner could see it. Himawari wiped her forehead and said, "I'm pretty hungry actually. Dango?" Naruto smiled and agreed verbally, almost forgetting she couldn't see him nodding with enthusiasm. As much as he would love ramen, he was in the mood for something sticky and sweet.
The streets were empty save for the few ninja here and there either already eating at the early places, or patiently waiting for some of the slower places to open. Each of them nodded at Naruto and Himawari and he returned the nods as he saw them. The pair were not wearing their hiteate and Naruto found that while they were still treated as outsiders, the anonymity of just being a plain old shinobi among other shinobi was refreshing.
Indigo hair flashing in the light of the sun, Naruto watched as the Hyuuga made a few rather adorable faces as she took in the sounds and smells of the morning. When he slightly pulled on her arm to direct her to one of the many places he had marked in the guide book they were given as part of the first test Himawari closed her eyes and let herself be guided in.
Naruto moved the curtains with his hands without thinking and stooped slightly to get through the doorway. He would later apologize to Himawari for not thinking, but she would always brush him off. It had been the best injury she had ever had. Naruto turned to look and make sure Himawari had gotten through the door ok, but he had completely forgotten to tell her to duck.
SMACK! Himawari let out a yelp as her forehead collided with the doorframe. Naruto apologized quickly and pulled her down onto one of the stools. He pulled her hand away from her head and was horrified to see blood running down her face. Grabbing a few of the napkins set out on the counter and pressed them against Himawari's forehead, ignoring her complaints. After a few moments he eased on the pressure and peeled back the napkins to see if he could possibly fix the damage himself or if she needed stitches.
The gash was short, about a centimetre long, but a little deep. Naruto sighed in relief. This was totally something up his alley! Nothing like learning medical jutsu so he could totally help his friends out in times of need! A few other people in Naruto's life, Kushina in particular, would be constantly ragging on Naruto, teasing that he deliberately would let his friends and teammates be injured just so he could show off his skills. Naruto always argued against this, but he had caught himself thinking about it a few times. It just felt so wonderful to be able to have the power to save someone's life!
The blonde's hand lit up in green and after only a few minutes of some pretty intense concentration, the gash was completely sealed up and the Hyuuga complained no more of any pain. By now the restaurant owner had handed him a wet towel, and both of the Chuunin hopefuls had ordered breakfast. Himawari snatched the towel from Naruto's hand and scrubbed at her face.
She heard the dango being placed on the counter for them before she smelled it, and her stomach gave a loud growl. Glancing in the general direction of the dango she realized she was so hungry she was starting to hallucinate what the dish must look like. It wasn't until she reached out for the dish that she saw a very fuzzy skin-coloured object move into her peripheral vision that she nearly shouted in alarm.
Naruto had his kunai out before she could blink, but he was still shoving the last piece of dango into his mouth. "Wha? Whaf wong?" He said, relaxing the blade slightly. Himawari looked to her left and saw Naruto in all of his yellow glory. Her mind quickly compared the quality of what she was seeing with trying to look through a foggy window. Colours and shapes were a go, but detail was something she couldn't make out just yet. Still, tears were springing to her eyes. Maybe she wouldn't be ousted from the family after all!
"I can see!" She exclaimed. Naruto nearly dropped the knife, but instead stashed it away from sight where it came from. "What!" he said after he swallowed his food. "Yes! It's all fuzzy, like looking through a misty window but I can see!" She looked down at her dish and picked it up with next to no fumbling. Her depth perception was a tad off, but she hoped that her vision would get better as the days went by. Naruto enveloped her in a hug which she gratefully returned.
"That's awesome! Does your Byakugan work?" The blonde said, practically beaming. Himawari pulled away from the muscular body of her partner with a tiny blush, but to be perfectly honest she didn't even care at the moment. She wasn't blind! Throwing her fingers up she pushed a bit of chakra into the veins beside her eyes, causing them to bulge up under her skin. Naruto always thought it made the members of the Hyuuga clan look extremely angry, scary, or a combination of both. Himawari was no exception.
"Y-yes! Kind of! I can see flashes of blue in your chakra system, but the Byakugan is mostly black and white except for chakra. I can't really see any details." Himawari released the technique with a grin. She felt like jumping for joy! "Should we go back and tell the others after we finish eating? We might want to get you checked out to make sure everything is healing properly since you did just hit your head again…" Naruto said, feeling slightly guilty. Himawari glanced at him, almost directly into his eyes this time, and nodded with a grin. She stuffed the first piece of Dango into her mouth and wiped off a bit of the sauce from her lip.
The sun was fully up by the time they finished their snacks, but the sky and clouds still had the pleasant colours of dawn still lingering in them. A few more people were out, but it was still mostly shinobi. Each of them still giving him and Himawari nods as they strode past. Just when he thought they would make it to Jiraiya's apartments a clear voice rang out in the morning air.
"Himawari-chan! Is that you?" Both Himawari and Naruto spun. Two figures with long dark hair made their way to the pair. Himawari squinted at them with a worried looking expression. She recognized the voice, she really hoped it was not who she thought it was. When they got closer and were just a tad clearer than blobs of dark brown and cream she had to put more effort into keeping her gasp to herself that she would have liked to admit. Dipping low at her waist she stared at the ground. What was he doing here?
Naruto was struggling to place the faces of the two men that stood before them. They had almost the exact same faces, being twins, which is what started the gears in his head. What had also struck him was that they were both Hyuuga, and at least one of them was main branch. He couldn't tell if the one with the bandage on his head was just injured or covering a branch seal. He saw Himawari bend at the waist, and he saw the look of approval pass over the brother with the clear forehead. The other brother had no expression. The main branch member looked at Naruto as if expecting him to bow, but the blonde just slightly inclined his head in acknowledgement. Neither twin reacted.
"You may rise." The colder looking twin finally said. Himawari rose and held her hands straight at her sides. She met the bandaged brother's eyes with a small smile. He in turn made a weird looking face before throwing his arms out and pulling her into an embrace.
"Oh I'm so excited for you, my dear favourite cousin! The finals! Even ole' stick-in-the-mud here is happy for you, even if his face is made of stone." The bandaged brother nudged his twin who just grunted and looked away. If Naruto had looked closely he would have noticed the tiniest reddening of his ears. Himawari pushed away slightly and said, "Thank you, Hizashi-ni, and thank you for coming to see me fight, Hiashi-sama." She said with another small bow of her head and a small but genuine smile. Naruto blanched. This man standing in front of him was Hinata's father. Glancing at Himawari worriedly he tried to say something but it got stuck in his throat. Himawari noticed and turned to him.
Clearing her own throat she said, "Oh, how rude of me! Naruto-kun this is Hyuuga Hizashi, a dear friend of mine, and his older brother Hiashi-sama. Hiashi-sama is the heir to my clan." She glanced at him and paused before saying with as much confidence as she could, "He is my future husband." The colour drained from his face enough that Hizashi was sending him a weird look. "U-uh, nice to uh, meet you both. Um, Himawari, is it ok if I meet you at sensei's place? I just remembered I had something really important to ask him. Do you remember how to get there?"
Himawari was almost taken back by the formality he had used in his tone and the honourifics he chose to use. She nodded slowly and he spun on his heel and took off down the street at a brisk pace. Himawari watched him until his blurry figure turned the corner and felt a small pool of apprehension rise in her stomach. "Whoa he was in a hurry. Do I have something on my face?" Hizashi said, giving her a silly little smile. Himawari couldn't help but laugh. She was closer to Hizashi than anyone else in the clan.
"So have you had breakfast yet? Me and Ni-san here are starving!" the younger twin finally said after a few tense seconds. "Um, yes but I could go for more food. I'm r-recovering from an injury and today is the first day that it finally looked like it was going to be OK, so I'm in a bit of a celebratory mood." Hizashi made a face, and even Hiashi showed an interest in what she had to say. Himawari had known the twins all of her life, but her shyness had led to only Hizashi, who was a lot more carefree than his elder brother to ever talk to her. Hiashi was little more than a stranger. "Oh well you'll have to tell us all about it! Here look, this place looks good!" Hizashi herded the two other Hyuuga into the restaurant. She glanced over her shoulder once more hoping to see a blob of yellow, but saw nothing of the sort. Sighing slightly, she wished he was here for moral support.
Naruto all but broke down Jiraiya's door. The sennin was sprawled out on his back, the covers of his bed twisted around his legs, snoring loudly. Naruto moved to wake him up, but he stopped. Maybe he should think about his situation before he did anything. Jiraiya had a kitchenette and a sofa in his room, so he put on a kettle of water for tea and sat himself down on the small sofa.
Himawari was Hinata's mother. Naruto shook his head and ran his hands through his hair. He felt bad that he just took off on her like that, but he had panicked. Oh man oh man. Himawari was his best friend, and he knew of her feelings for him, as she had been brave enough to tell him of them a few months ago. That's when they shared that single kiss too. Naruto moved his hands to his face. Everything just got a thousand times more complicated. She was his mother-in-law in another universe and everything seemed so wrong now.
The whistle on the kettle started to blow and Naruto pushed all thoughts away for the moment. As he rifled through the cupboards for a tea bag a sleepy voice made its way over to him. "What're you doin' here so early?" The blonde glanced up and saw Jiraiya sitting on the edge of his bed rubbing his eyes. "Making tea for us. I need to talk to you about some stuff." Jiraiya glanced at him and sighed. "Second cupboard to the right of where you are." He said. Naruto opened the mentioned cupboard and pulled out the tin of tea bags. He pulled out a bag of green tea and a bag of black tea. Naruto found green tea to be too bitter for his tastes if he could help it.
Handing the mug to his teacher the white haired man blew on it before lifting it to his mouth and draining nearly half of it. Years of drinking hot sake had made his mouth impervious to hot beverage burns. The blonde however, had to drink it in small sips. He rarely drank tea and usually only brought it out when he needed to seriously think about something.
Jiraiya yawned and said, still sounding sleepy, "What can I do for you?" Naruto kept his gaze to his mug when he said, "Himawari is getting married to Hyuuga Hiashi." Jiraiya sucked his breath in. "How do you know this?" The blonde tightened his grip on the mug. "We were on our way here actually. Himawari hit her head again and knocked a bit of vision back into her eyes. But we ran into Hiashi and his brother Hizashi. Himawari introduced us. I panicked and left her with them." Jiraiya sent him a disapproving look but Naruto was still in semi-panic mode.
Jiraiya finished his tea and set his mug down. "Ok, you knew she was getting married. What's the problem? He's more high class than you expected?" Naruto tried to take another sip of his tea but it was still too hot. "Hiashi is Hinata's father. That makes Himawari her mother." He turned to Jiraiya who had to take a second to dredge up that Naruto was speaking about his past life. Not something that was easily coerced out of the blonde. Months ago when Naruto had unloaded on the sennin, the blonde had told him almost everything, but neglected to tell him names, other than a few given names, and no clan names other than the two Hinatas.
"Oh that's a bit different. Are you sure?" Naruto nodded grimly. "Didn't you guys like make out a while back too? Ha-ha this is awkward. She's like your mother-in-law." Naruto turned a dark red. He sputtered out, "We didn't make out! She just kissed me once to thank me!" Jiraiya pushed his lips out into a duck face and nodded with that look of 'sure, whatever you say' written all over his face. Naruto grit his teeth but didn't say anything. "Well what's the problem? You are her best friend, is this going to change anything? Did you just remember that she treated you like crap in your former life like most people did?" This was a slightly sore point for Jiraiya. Naruto had let on that he himself didn't know Jiraiya was his godfather until he was 13 and seriously injured, and that Sarutobi had all but let him live by himself for most of his life. He was going to make sure to be around this time. Especially if the Naruto that was going to be born in a few years' time was going to be anything like this one.
Naruto shook his head. "She died. Hinata told me she died when her younger sister was born. Himawari contracted some kind of illness towards the end of her pregnancy and died during childbirth. Hinata said that that was when her father turned into the huge asshole I remember him being." Jiraiya sucked in his breath. "And she wasn't able to be helped by medicine?" Naruto tightened his fists. "Hinata said that they tried to contact Tsunade-baa but she was still running away from her debt problem." Jiraiya sucked his breath in. That was partially his fault then. He had basically told Tsunade last time that they met that she could do just that as long as she continued to do some sort of research for Konoha's hospital.
"How long did she run like that for? Tsunade-hime, I mean." Jiraiya finally asked. "We," Naruto motioned both of them, "finally convinced her to come back for good when I was 13. I almost died to cure her of her hemophobia (A/N I'm so embarrassed! Sorry to all those who caught it!)." Jiraiya didn't say anything at first, but a lot was running through his mind. So far, he had thought that he and Orochimaru were the only ones she had confided into about her newfound hemophobia. Maybe her little apprentice she just meandered off with as well. Maybe he would have to think about tightening his reins on the slug princess, just a little bit.
Jiraiya reached over to his nightstand and pulled out a casual looking outfit. As he put it on, he started talking, interrupted occasionally by clothes being pulled over his mouth. "Listen, its fine. I don't think she's the kind of girl to just dump her best friend after she gets married. She might not be able to go on as many missions, or train with you as often, but I really doubt anything will change about her. Trust her." Naruto was still nursing his mug of tea, but he looked a lot less worried.
"How do you know?" Naruto asked with genuine interest. Jiraiya sighed. "It's a little different but mostly the same for me. My teammates, although we fought a lot when we first formed, we are very close in my opinion." Jiraiya ignored Naruto's face. He knew that the blonde didn't have a very high opinion of Orochimaru, although he didn't know why just yet. "I thought I had almost had Tsunade willing enough to start dating me when Dan stepped into the picture. Tsunade was an excellent drinking partner, and when I had heard that the two were planning on getting married I was really sad and worried that I would lose her as a friend." Naruto looked captivated. Tsunade didn't like to talk about her life to him very much. He had no idea that any of this had happened. "Did you?" Naruto asked. Jiraiya smirked.
Sitting back down on the bed, now fully clothed, he said, "No. She stayed my drinking partner on the grounds that I didn't hit on her as much." Naruto gave a chuckle. "I was fine with that. I didn't much like Dan at first, but he was a good man." The blonde knew that tone very well. "And yea, so I don't think Himawari will change very much." The older man finished lamely.
"Is he dead?" Naruto asked, unable to let the topic drop. "Yes." Jiraiya answered. When Naruto didn't say anything else, but kept up his look of curiosity the frog sennin sighed. "Do you know where I was during your recovery period there?" Naruto shook his head. "I was out fighting the first few serious battles in what the old man is thinking is going to turn to war soon if we aren't careful. Konoha's prosperity in peace is really pissing some countries off. Anyway, it was only about two weeks after you woke up, me, Tsunade-him, and Orochimaru responded to a distress call of sorts from Amegakure. Turns out it was a trap and the leader of Amegakure, Hanzo, and his force slaughtered almost everyone in our squad. It was a long and hard battle, but in the end we won and Hanzo was the only survivor. He named us the Legendary Sannin and fled." Naruto could hear the pride in his voice when he said that. "But don't go around telling that to people. We are still trying to keep it quiet for a few more months, to give Tsunade-him some time…" Jiraiya frowned. "Dan died in that attack. He bled out despite Tsunade's best efforts to save him. That's where she developed the hemophobia. I decided it would be in her best interest to leave Konoha for a while and heal herself. But now you're saying that she never comes back? I'll have to change that."
Naruto had wondered where she had developed the fear, but after she was cured it never came up again and he had pushed it out of his thoughts. "What did you do after that? You didn't get back until right before we left. What tied you up for six months?" Naruto said; Jiraiya pursed his lips. "Maybe another day." He said and Naruto pouted. "I, however have a question for you, dear boy. How did I die?" Naruto paled.
The blonde stammered out a reply, "W-what?" Jiraiya rolled his eyes. "You said when you first woke up that someone named 'Pein' killed me." Naruto gulped. "It's fine, I am a ninja and we face death every day. I'm not going to be offended." Naruto gripped his mug even tighter.
He didn't say anything for a few long moments, but just when Jiraiya was about to speak again he said, "Your official cause of death was drowning." Jiraiya narrowed his eyes. As if he would drown. "What was the real cause?" Naruto glanced at him. "Technically, you did drown. You were defeated in battle and they tossed your dying body in a lake." Jiraiya opened his mouth to ask more questions but Naruto interrupted him. "Please, it was one of the worst days of my life." Jiraiya snapped his jaw shut, but he couldn't keep it closed for long. "How old were you?" he said. "I was almost 16. It happened right before Konoha was blown up." Jiraiya sighed. If everything went the exact same way he still had at least 16 or 17 years left on this earth if Kushina announced tomorrow that she was pregnant. Not a pleasant thought, but a calculating one.
The white haired man placed a large hand on Naruto's shoulder and said, "Listen, I realize this conversation has turned grim, so let's go out and find your partner. I promise you she's not the kind of girl to turn her back on a friend so you have nothing to worry about at all. Got it?" Naruto nodded and let Jiraiya lead him out of the apartment.
End Chapter 23
EDIT: Oh my god I am so embarrassed you guys. My face is terribly red right now. My word program kept auto-correcting hemophobia and I thought I had caught them all. I didn't even see it when I read through it again! Sorry if I cause any offense, and I guess laugh on if I made any one laugh from this. :P
Whoops, sorry I tried to get a bit of background in there! Fights next chapter, I promise I can't stall any longer! I am also going to ask for some creative leeway here. I've read and read and read the backstories of all the characters I'm using and since they don't provide dates or anything I'm kind of trying to fit what I want to use in as best as I can. So if it seems weird to you, sorry. Naruto's presence can change things to make them occur faster or slower though! Let's think of it that way!