"What the hell was that?" Kushina said when the din of the crowd died down a little bit. There was a short break at the moment; a rest for the final four fighters and a chance for new bets to be placed. Minato grinned before pulling his eyes away from the small crater that his brother's foot had created. He glanced over at his beautiful girlfriend and almost laughed at her raised eyebrow.
"That," Minato started, "is the rasengan. A jutsu I thought of a while ago and Naruto helped me finish it. He was really helpful actually; he must have been thinking something similar since it was something he did that inspired me." Kushina glanced back down at the arena. Minato continued, sounding cheerful and proud, "It's made of pure chakra so you need larger reserves, but it packs a punch. All of the trees we tested it on are mostly sawdust."
Kushina whistled. Pure chakra that was visible like that with enough control to throw it, all at the age of 14. Naruto was going to grow up to be a monster. Kushina smiled. He might even rival her natural reserves one day. Glancing over at Minato's brood she saw Obito and Rin talking excitedly about the fight and felt a small sliver of relief when she saw their third teammate, while he wasn't talking, he was clearly involved in the conversation, nodding every once in a while when he agreed with something. Leaps and bounds from when she first met the boy a week ago. The dark bags still hung heavily under his eyes, but ever since the day she had pushed Himawari a little bit too far, he seemed a little less severe.
Down in the dusty shed Naruto sighed and sat down. His fight had not even last ten minutes, but now that the adrenalin was fading away he felt like it had lasted ten hours. His back ached and burned from the welt. The medic had healed it enough that it felt more like a moderate sunburn with a few small blisters. Both Aya and Himawari were trying to talk to him, but Himawari was edging around directly talking to the wispy haired girl. Aya looked confused but didn't mention it.
Naruto raised his hands and said quite smoothly in his opinion, "Ladies, ladies. Please. I'm fine, there's no need to worry. I'm still able to go all day long." He finished with a wink that was directed at both of them and was satisfied with the results. Himawari blushed fiercely and turned her gaze while Aya laughed loudly.
Aya recovered first leaning forward with interest. "What was that you did back there?" Naruto smiled proudly. Being able to use the rasengan in public again was a huge relief. It was his favourite jutsu, perhaps one of the few gifts he had received from his father in his other life.
"It's called the rasengan." Naruto said, "I helped my brother develop it while I was recovering from my last mission." Aya looked immensely curious. She started to ask him questions about it but Naruto feigned her off claiming that it was probably not prudent to reveal his techniques until after the competition. He then went and said something that would continue to plague Himawari for the next couple of days. "We could talk about it over lunch tomorrow if you want?" Aya had immediately agreed and Himawari felt her heart writhe with jealousy. She was going to kick this stupid blonde girl's ass if it was the last thing that she did.
Withdrawing from the conversation the Hyuuga gazed out at the clock. Three minutes until the proctor would call her name and she could take her frustrations out on something. She watched the seconds tick down slowly, and when there was just less than 30 seconds left, a hand gripped her shoulder. Himawari started and turned to see Naruto foxy grin stretched across his face. His eyes were not closed as they usually were when he grinned, but open and staring her straight into her own milky eyes. He lowered his voice and said, "Aya is friendly, but she's not you. Kick her ass. I fully expect to see you in the finals." His confidence in her inspired a small fire in her gut. She clenched her fists and nodded, giving him a small grin of her own. Of course he wouldn't toss her aside. They were family.
Then the blonde did something that Himawari would relive in her dreams for years. He leaned in and gave her a chaste kiss. "For luck." He said. Her heart jumped into her throat and her stomach flipped upside down. Before she had a chance to react the buzzer rang and Naruto turned her around and gave her a shove out towards the door of the shed. Aya had already started walking out onto the field.
She made her way out to the centre of the arena robotically. All she could think about was the way his lips felt on hers and the way he smelled like sunshine, sweat, and dirt. Glancing back at the blonde he was smiling proudly and she felt her determination swell. She'd show him how good of a kunoichi she was. She bowed when her name was called, as did Aya, and settled into the standard stance of the gentle fist. The proctor raised his arm, paused, and let it drop.
Both girls moved immediately. Himawari rushed towards her opponent, while Aya moved backwards, fiddling with a kunai and her spool of wire. The blonde girl sent the kunai flying past Himawari, missing her by a few feet but the quiet thunk the Hyuuga heard let her know that it had struck the single tree in the arena. Himawari activated her Byakugan and was submerged in the high contrast black and white world. A short moment of dizziness passed quickly as her brain switched from seeing the world with a limited field of view to going to nearly 360 vision. Aya's chakra laden wire whipped out at her, intent on slowing her down or giving her welts at the very least.
Himawari caught the wire and with a burst of scalpel like chakra from her finger tips she severed the connection and the wire fell limp to the ground. Good. She thought; it had been exactly like she had suspected. She controlled the wire the same way puppet users controlled puppets, albeit since she was in contact with the wire most of the time she had a bit more manoeuvrability. If Aya was surprised, she didn't show it. Her face was tight with concentration, but held no anger or worry.
Aya wiggled her fingers and the wire came alive. Himawari jumped over it and took a swipe at the blonde girl. Aya raised her elbow to block and Himawari closed the tenketsu from her elbow to her shoulder before the other girl managed to swing her other fist around, catching Himawari off guard. The result was both girls jumping back from one another, Aya holding her mostly useless left arm and Himawari touching her left eye gingerly. In the morning she was likely to have a large black eye.
It was as if losing her arm stoked a fire in the blonde. Her attacks with the wire came harder, more often, and with multiple ends at once. Himawari was finding it harder and harder to keep all of them away. Her legs, back, and arms were covered in small welts; some were deep enough to have drawn blood. Aya was not uninjured though. Himawari had managed to seal the rest of her arm up and half of her leg as well. She had gotten in a few pokes on her torso. If the amount of sweat that was pouring off the girl was any kind of indication of how much pain she must be feeling from them as well as the effort of keeping her chakra mixing evenly, she didn't know what was.
Himawari was running out of chakra though. Aya was a long distance fighter and the Hyuuga found it a challenge to get close enough to do direct damage. Much of her chakra had been wasted on the wire and other thrown objects. Sweat was pouring off of her as well, stinging the welts on her back.
Rushing in again, Himawari saw the lag in Aya's actions and took advantage of an opening she had created. Slamming an open handed palm into the back of the girl's ribs Aya screamed hoarsely. She dropped to one knee and swiped out of her kunai, catching Himawari deeply in the leg. Himawari let out a yelp of pain and pressed her hand over the bleeding gash. Aya tried swiping at her again with the blade but Himawari met Aya's wrist with her knee, sending the kunai clattering on the ground.
Suddenly Himawari's world had colour and for a dizzying second the world tilted, putting her off balance. Dammit, of all times to run out of chakra… She still had enough chakra to close a few more tenketsu… If she could reach the girl's head or neck she could knock Aya out.
Aya was sliding in the dirt as fast as she could away from the Hyuuga. She wanted to hold her throbbing side, but her other hand was hanging uselessly in front of her. Her leg was dragging unfeelingly through the dirt as well. A small part of her mind was afraid that she would never be able to use them again and that her shinobi career ended here in front of hundreds of people. Pushing the fear away she saw the Hyuuga girl recover her stance from whatever had been affecting her and she pinched her face. She had one last thing up her sleeve.
Himawari took a step towards Aya with her hand outreached. Her fingers were blazing with the last bit of chakra she had left. She was not even a foot from the girl when Aya tossed a handful of wire fragments at her face. Had her eyes been active, Himawari would have seen the subtle motion of Aya's arm and could have prevented herself from flinching. However, she did not. She jerked her arms over her face to protect her eyes. The wire fragments wrapped themselves around her raised arms and Himawari saw Aya reach for another wire lying on the ground.
Aya grabbed the wire that was attached to the kunai thrown into the tree at the beginning of the match. She knew Himawari had forgotten about it. Yanking it taught so it wasn't touching the ground anymore, Aya gritted her teeth and said, "Sting of the Ten Tails jutsu!" Electricity coursed through her relatively painlessly since she was grounded by the tree and knew how to direct it, but it passed right into the wires wrapped around Himawari's arms.
Himawari's mind was screaming in place of her mouth that felt locked shut along with the rest of her body. For a few agonizing seconds, Himawari jerked and stood still until Aya ran out of steam and released the technique. Himawari sagged to her knees and slumped forward. She didn't lose consciousness but she couldn't move. Angry tears came unbidden to her eyes. She watched as Aya struggled to her feet, a challenge with only one of them functioning, and saw her smiled tiredly when the proctor announced the winner of the match.
When they loaded her onto the stretcher, she managed to see Naruto's face. The Hyuuga had been afraid to see disappointment written across it, but when all she was pride and a huge thumbs up she burst into tears. The paralyzing effect had worn off her extremities mostly by now and she draped her arm over her eyes to hide them from the medics.
Aya managed to drag herself back to the shed where she sat, tired and sore, as the medic checked her over, but was unable to do much for her besides relieve some of the pain. Her arm was starting to feel like pins and needles were poking her and she was half relieved that whatever the Hyuuga had done it wasn't permanent.
Naruto was going to say something to her, but he saw her rest her head against the wall with her eyes closed and decided not to. He felt conflicted. He was very proud of how Himawari had done, but he felt a little bad that he was impressed by Aya as well. He had just met her, but she had been nothing but friendly and interesting to talk to. In all honestly, he hadn't expected her win. With just her wire techniques the fight had gone mostly how he thought it would have gone, but that last technique… He was impressed and eager to fight her, although it looked like she might have fainted if he breathed on her. He didn't have time to think about it anymore as the proctor called his name out along with his opponent.
Walking out towards the centre of the arena, he glanced back at the shed to see who his opponent was, but was mildly surprised to see no one. The remaining people in the shed were competitors that had lost but didn't require medical attention. Naruto stood in the centre of the arena as the proctor called the other name several times, before declaring Naruto winner by default. The crowd expressed the disappointment Naruto had felt. The proctor had announced that they were doubling the rest period in between rounds to give Aya a chance to breath since Naruto didn't have to fight and the blonde boy took off down to the infirmary.
Turning the corner into a large room that buzzing quietly with conversation, he carefully peeked into each curtained 'room'. Himawari was in the last one underneath a small window. He pulled the curtains back with a large smile and was going to say something to the Hyuuga girl when he noticed she wasn't alone. Standing beside her bed were two identical looking men. All three Hyuuga swung their gaze over to the blonde whose smile dropped a fraction. Quickly apologizing he backed out of the 'room' and promised to come see her after his last fight. He disappeared before Himawari had a chance to say anything.
"That was your partner?" Himawari glanced at the brothers. For a second she wasn't sure who had said that, but the coolness of the question left her almost no doubt it was Hiashi. She tilted her head down slightly. "Yes, I don't think he's met anyone from out clan save my parents." Hiashi nodded slightly, but Hizashi was still looking in his direction.
Crossing his arms, the younger twin asked, "What was his name again? Namiruto?" "Namikaze Naruto." Himawari replied, "He's Namikaze Minato-san's younger brother." Hizashi snapped his finger. "Right, right." He said, "I remember Minato-san from his Jounin exams a few years ago. Pretty damn impressive for a teenager. He took out nearly everyone who fought him. It seems his brother is trying to follow in his footsteps." Himawari nodded slightly and tightened her fingers around the stems of the flower bunch on her lap.
Hiashi and Hizashi appeared shortly after her leg had been stitched up. She could sit herself up now but her legs and parts of her hands were still mostly numb. Hiashi had awkwardly presented her with the bouquet and she almost dropped it. The most interesting part about the interaction was that she saw Hiashi's ears darken as Hizashi laughed at them both. She hoped it was embarrassment over anger; she didn't want Hizashi getting into trouble.
She had managed to make small talk with the Hyuuga men for the better part of half an hour but when the booming voice of the proctor announced that the final fight was to be taking place in 5 minutes Himawari swung her legs over the edge of her bed.
Hizashi grabbed her arm and said with a worried voice, "Woah, Himawari-chan, where are you going?" Himawari shrugged her arm out of his grip and said, "Where do you think? Do you really think I'm going to miss Naruto avenging me?" She didn't mean to sound quite so spiteful about it, but to her surprise it was Hiashi who let out a small chuckle. He held out an arm for her and waited for Himawari to loop her own arm through it.
Hoisting her up Himawari could barely walk but with a twin on either side of her she had no problem making her way to a section of fence to watch the fight. Hizashi pulled away to get a better view himself and the sudden shift it weight made Hiashi move his arm down to her waist. Himawari barely noticed. Naruto was standing in the centre of the arena opposite Aya who looked bedraggled but a lot more energetic than she did when she had finished their fight. They both bowed and the proctor raised his arm and let it drop.
She had expected Naruto to go straight in for the kill but instead he jumped back and waited for Aya to move first. Aya didn't even try to be subtle. She threw a handful of lines out at Naruto as fast and hard as she could. Each line streaked past the blonde as he avoided every single one of them. Aya yanked backwards and Naruto had to dodge them all over again as she continued to whip the lines back and forth. Sweat was pouring off of her already and she had only managed to touch Naruto once, letting him and everyone in the arena know that the lines were already charged with electricity.
After a few minutes of dodging, Himawari realized that Naruto was playing with the girl. Anytime a wire came close he would knock it away with a small burst of air from his palm or his foot, but he had yet to even try to attack Aya. The blonde girl was realizing this as well and frowned.
Aya suddenly dropped her hands down and the wires followed whipping the ground hard enough to create a small dust cloud. As soon as the wires were on the ground she sped off towards him, slipping her kunai out of its holster. Naruto coughed from the dust but it otherwise didn't affect his performance. He caught Aya's wrist and spun her around him before twisting her wrist hard enough to cause her to cry out and drop the Kunai. He contemplated finishing the fight here and now with a rasengan to the gut but hesitated as he didn't want to hurt her more.
The girl from Kiri took advantage of his hesitation and spread all of her fingers out. The wires she had left on the ground suddenly sprung to life and wrapped themselves around both her and Naruto pinning them together. Naruto saw her shut her eyes tightly before realizing what she was intending on doing.
His arms were trapped but his hands weren't. He quickly sped through a few short seals and just as he felt the hair on his body rise in response to the electricity that was rising and voltage he spun on one foot leaking blades of air creating a mini tornado. The blades sliced the wires to ribbons and threw Aya a few feet away where she landed harshly on her back. Using the momentum to roll into a kneeling position she stopped to catch her breath.
Naruto was relatively unaffected. His hair was on end on some parts of his head from the static electricity but he wasn't even sweating. He brushed a few pieces of wire off of him and glanced at Aya. Sweat was pouring off her and every muscle in her body ached. She glanced around at her ruined spool of wire. She had virtually no chakra left and her affinity was naturally weak to his and he had already swatted her limited taijutsu aside like she was a child. Glancing down at her hands she got to her feet and raised her hand.
"I give up. I have nothing left in my arsenal that would be able to do anything." Naruto looked not as shocked as she had expected, but the audience was screaming. She wasn't sure if it was positive or negative, but when the proctor announced Naruto the winner of Kusa's first Chuunin exams they screamed twice as loud. Naruto had made his way over, shook her hand and said, "Still wanna catch lunch?" He grinned widely and Aya smiled. "Of course. After the ceremony?" Naruto nodded and she dragged herself off of the arena with the help of the medic nin.
Himawari had nearly jumped with joy when Naruto was announced the winner. Her legs were still a bit of a mess and she would have fallen over if Hiashi hadn't had her waist in a death grip. She spun to face him, wordlessly making an excited noise to go along with her smile that threatened to split her cheeks. Hiashi gave her a small twitch of his lips and she spun back, her fingers entwined in the fence.
The Hyuuga girl realized that he was being led to the infirmary for a final check up and took a clumsy step backwards. "Oh we have to go back!" She said excitedly. Hizashi helped hoist her up again and the twins half dragged her back to her bed.
She barely beat the blonde back. When he came into the room there was a medic waiting for him to check him over. After she determined that he had sustained no new injuries she drilled into his head how to care for the few blisters that had formed from the burn on his back. Naruto slipped into Himawari's curtain and despite the presence of the older Hyuuga twins the Hyuuga girl took her partner into a tight embrace, being careful to not go too far down his back. When he pulled back she said, "Congratulations! I saw the whole fight!"
Naruto rubbed the back of his head and smiled. "Thanks! It wasn't really much of a fight. Aya was still super tired from her fight with you, so it's really because of you that I won!" Himawari blushed but was unable to say anything further as a spiky black haired head rammed into Naruto at full force knocking some of the breath out of the blonde. A brown haired girl was close behind him, albeit she didn't run into him.
"Teach me that throwy-explosion thing!" Obito said when he pulled his face out of Naruto's stomach. Naruto laughed, but didn't respond as his brother's face appeared through the curtains. "It's a party!" Naruto exclaimed as he saw that the rest of Minato's gang was trailing behind him. The look of utter pride on Minato's face nearly made Naruto cry with joy so he turned to Himawari.
Pulling the black haired boy off of him he said, "I'll meet you back in our room, I need to take a shower really badly. We are doing an early dinner at that restaurant with the green dragons above it." He glanced at Minato who simply said, "4." Naruto turned back to Himawari. "At 4 o'clock. Hyuuga-san you are more than welcome to join us as well." Hiashi and Hizashi both dipped their heads. Himawari wasn't able to get in another word as Minato grabbed his arm and tugged him away. He apparently had some sheets to sign before doing anything.
Himawari was distracted from the sight of Naruto's fleeting back by Obito reaching up and wrapping his arms around her waist, burying his head in the side of her arm and chest. Hiashi narrowed his eyes at the familiarity the Uchiha was showing towards a Hyuuga, but it was ignored by both Himawari and Obito. "Sensei, you were awesome!" Himawari smiled warmly and Obito scampered off after everyone.
Turning to the twins she was slightly surprised to see Hiashi looking at Obito as he left with hardness in his eyes, but her shift in attention was noticed quickly. Looking down slightly in embarrassment she said, "U-um, if it's not too much trouble could I have some help to my room?" Hiashi didn't reply but instead stuck his arm out. He'd have to think about his fiancée's relations later.
End Chapter 26
Sorry, started university, it's been busy. This will probably be my last chapter for a while until I start procrastinating from studying again. The Chuunin exams have concluded!