Snap Back To Reality 4
If I wasn't already a workaholic before, I deﬁnitely was now. I woke up at the crack of dawn, somehow managing to force myself out of bed, and then I ran. I did more running than normal. Once I felt like I could collapse, I decided to practice with my shuriken and kunai. I sucked at throwing kunai, ﬁnding it easier to throw shuriken, and so I decided to focus more on my shuriken throws.
Once my morning training was done, I'd go to class and sit next to Guy. We would get through the class silently and obediently, sparring each other during our tests. Guy who had always defeated me with ease now suddenly found himself getting hit a few times. I got completely wiped when ﬁghting against the Hyuga kids in class for a few weeks until I got used to the Jyuken and then after a month or so of sparring with them I managed to ﬁnally beat them. Suffice to say the Hyuuga weren't so pleased with those kids. I felt sympathy for them, but honestly it was their fault they weren't working themselves to the bone.
I was spending all my time practicing and training that before long, I was standing out in the courtyard looking at our class rankings and I was ﬁrst. I blinked in surprise. First! I grinned. It felt good to be good. The ache in my bones, the callouses on my hands, the scars on my knuckles, they were a testament to my work. The leader board was a testament to my work.
"Congratulations Hi-chan!" Guy said giving me a ﬁst bump. I grinned back at him, a wide smile on my face.
"I couldn't have done it without my Green Beast!"
"You honour me Hi-chan!"
"Eh, how did vegetable girl get ﬁrst place?!"
I turned around with an irritated look etched on my face to see Obito. Rin jabbed his chest rather harshly causing the boy to sputter. He then noticed me and looked extremely guilty.
"Don't be rude Obito. Apologise!" Rin berated.
"I'm so sorry I didn't see you there," he said sheepishly.
I snorted. As if it was better to say it behind someone's back. Apparently, Rin thought the same because she jabbed his chest again. Obito ended up apologising rather profusely to me.
"It's honestly alright Uchiha-san," I said holding out a placating hand. "Being called vegetable girl is hardly the worst insult I've heard."
"Yeah but I'm still sorry."
"Pfft, she's not as cool as Kakashi-kun though!"
The rest of the girls nodded in agreement and I rolled my eyes. They were at the age where the girls fawned over boy's, and the boys thought the girls had cooties. In about 6 years it would reverse, but until then the fangirls would be fangirls. It wasn't like they were wrong either. There was no way in he'll I'd match up with Kakashi.
I turned around to see Tsyuya-sensei gesture at me, her normally angry expression oddly muted. The kids, as immature as they were snickered and went 'ohhh vegie-chan is in trouble'. Honestly being trained to be professional killers didn't change the fact that they were immature children. I rolled my eyes as Guy made a fuss about protecting me. I followed sensei into the empty classroom. She turned to me, her expression serious.
"Suzuki-san, why do you want to be a Shinobi?"
I was a little caught off guard by the question that my answer was a confused 'eh?' until I realised, she was waiting patiently for me. I narrowed my eyes trying to pin it down to one reason. I couldn't lie to her. I was a scientist in my previous life, not a politician or a lawyer. I sucked at lying.
"There's a few reasons Tsyuya-sensei. I guess you need to be a Shinobi to get access to some scientiﬁc material for study. I also want to be able to protect myself, become a capable independent adult."
"Is that why you stopped holding back?"
Oh she noticed. Of course she would. She was a Chunin.
"No, not really. Actually if I'm being honest my family are civilians and after a year or so they won't have any money to continue. I need to get a stable job to support them."
Apparently telling the truth warranted suspicion in this world. Should I have just lied and said I wanted to protect my previous people or something? I mean I technically did.
"You're very mature for your age Suzuki-san, but what makes you think this war could last more than a year?"
Oh shit, I didn't think about that. I tried to wrack my brain for a reasonable answer to that question. Gosh how long did the last great war last?
"The last war lasted more than a few years," I opted to say instead, before sighing. "I know it's going to put a lot of people on the streets and I will not let one of those people be my family."
Apparently, that was a good response because sensei smiled, which was a rare thing. It was a sad smile. Then she turned to her table and to my surprise held out a hitaite. I took it almost reverently, feeling the metal weigh down the dark cloth.
"Congratulations Suzuki-san. Your knowledge of the material and your ability in both taijutsu, ninjutsu and shurikenjutsu is top of the class, even beating the ﬁnesse of the older students. However you aren't the strongest, far from it. What you have seen in this academy will be nothing in comparison to what awaits you out there Suzuki-san. The level you are at right now you could easily kill you. Are you still willing to go?"
I didn't hesitate to nod. "Hai!"
"Then wear that hitaite with pride."
I stood a little taller and nodded, feeling almost as if this moment was monumental. It really was. Tsyuya-sensei nodded too and to my surprise she bowed, lower than necessary and I found myself ﬂustered, which wasn't often. I bowed too. Then almost as if sensei never did that, she straightened her back and handed me a scroll.
"Since you will not be graduating with a Genin team, you will be assigned a Jounin to work under. You are to meet them at training ground 3."
I nodded, bowing after taking the scroll. I walked outside to see the class had been trying to listen into the conversation. I got a bunch of kids screaming in disbelief as they saw the hitaite I had tied around my forehead. Guy hugged me, practically picking me up off the ﬂoor and screaming, "YOU'RE YOUTHFUL TRAINING HAS SUCCEDED!"
"Hehehe thanks Guy, but can you put me down."
"Congratulations," Asuma said rather amiably.
"That's awesome!" Obito agreed as both Rin and Kurenai nodded. Even the other kids were giving me looks of approval, although the girls who picked on me and Guy looked like they ate something sour.
"Thanks guys, I'll make sure to visit once in a while," I said with a soft smile.
Some of these kids had grown on me. Of course Guy was the closest but Kurenai, Asuma, and even sometimes Obito and Rin were acquaintances that should I have spent more time with, would probably be friends with. I wondered if I'd ever see Kakashi again. I probably would eventually down the line. I mean we were year mates, and I assumed we were the closest things to friends during the whole time he was here. I wasn't so sure Kakashi understood the concept of friendship though, being the stunted man-baby he was.
"We should celebrate. Let's go for some dango tomorrow," Kurenai suggested.
"Yeah, that sounds good with me," I nodded. It would probably put a major dent in my meagre savings, but graduating was a big thing and I thought I deserved one day of at least.
"Good luck Hina-san!"
"May the power of YOUTH guide you!" Guy cried.
I snorted at his antics and waved the kids goodbye. They were going to have a hard future, but hopefully not as challenging as mine. I walked out of the Academy, garnering a lot of attention, because really I was just a midget you barely reached an average adults' knees and here, I was wearing a hitaite that marked me as a Shinobi of all things. Also it was a serious crime wearing a hitaite without the rank, so even children didn't dare pretend with it on. It was probably why everyone was looking at me like I'd grown two heads.
Who's my sensei going to be? Minato? Would I break up the dynamic duo and make it the terrific threesome? That was likely. I could also technically get a Jounin I'd never heard about, considering that Konoha was a very big place and that had more Jounin than the manga talked about. I found myself at training ground 3 eventually. It was a relatively isolated grounds, nearing the outskirts of town. It had a nearby water source, some tall trees, a mandatory clearing and some training posts around the edges. A rather quaint little place.
No one was here… wait that made no sense. I narrowed my eyes, pushing my senses out and trying to pinpoint the chakra around me. It was hard considering there was chakra almost everywhere. Heck each blade of grass had its own call! I scanned through the whole area and found nothing. Maybe he really wasn't he—what!
I quickly rolled out of the way, my hands going for my shuriken almost instantly when a large dog jumped on my chest and began licking me. I let out a startled cry as it slobbered all over my face. The heavy dog didn't let up as it nipped at my face. My sounds of protest eventually turned into giggles. A deeper laugh took my attention and I craned my head back to see a large man come over me. Huh. I didn't recognise him, but I knew what Clan he was from. Those triangular red markings, that chocolate brown hair and large primal grin was the markings of an Inuzuka!
"Yama really likes you," the man grinned. "Now get off her mutt."
The large dog whined before panting and getting off, slumping on its butt and giving me the biggest puppy eyes ever, which was a feat in and of itself because this dog was taller than me even when sitting down. I wiped the slobber off on my kimono shirt sleeves, before turning to my new Jounin sensei and bowing.
"Suzuki Hina, nice to meet you!"
"Oh, gotta lot of spunk girl. It's Gaku Inuzuka, and that mutt is Yama. I'm your new Jounin sensei because apparently I don't have the patience for more than one kid," he laughed heartily.
"Well you're in luck Gaku-sensei," I grinned.
"Oh and why's that?" he asked amused.
"Why, well I'm not a kid," I replied fully seriously.
He snorted but he didn't look angry. I took a good look at him. He was wearing his hitaite like a bandana. His face and body were broad, muscles well defined even under the flak-jacket, so he was a close-range fighter. He kept his beard in a goatee, or at least what I assumed to be one because it looked like he hadn't shaved in a while and there was stubble surrounding his face. Judging by the way he wore the standard Konoha gear, he was either a serious Jounin, or he wasn't into styling himself up. I grinned. Just from presentation alone, I already liked him.
"Well let's get to know each other then. I'll start," he said, sitting down crossed legged in front of me and humming in though. "As you know I'm an Inuzuka, which means I work well in teams, especially with Yama here. I'm mainly a taijutsu expert, but I'm also an exceptional tracker. I'm weak against genjutsu, but I can easily dismiss a low to medium level illusion."
I nodded, taking in the information. So a tracker and a close-range fighter too. I fought back a wince. This world must hate me because that sounded like the perfect person to be sent into the front lines. Well I just better not die… right…
"I wasn't born to any ninja clan or parents, so I don't have any clan jutsu. I have however, managed to perfect everything taught to me in the Academy as I couldn't acquire any material outside of it. I have above average stamina and strength for my age, and I like to think I'm smart and a quick thinker."
Gaku was nodding along, a serious expression on his face. I hoped that expression he gave me at the start was him being impressed and not him grimacing at just how mediocre of a 'prodigy' I was. I just hoped I wasn't hyped up ability wise. Beating up a bunch of 5-6-year-olds wasn't exactly a good measure of strength.
"I'm honestly surprised you managed so well without any ninja family kid," he said with a smile.
"I was raised by the Nara until last year," I admitted, to which he raised a brow for me to continue. "I was born with an excess of spiritual chakra, and was set to die by the age of 5 if I didn't raise my physical chakra to par, but I didn't receive any ninja training."
"Does it affect your chakra control?" he asked.
I shook my head smiling. "Actually the only good thing about it, is that I have exceptional chakra control. I learnt the Academy three in just a week."
I was still proud about that. Hey, I was allowed to be, especially when the other kids were still struggling with it, and even Kakashi took a month to learn it with the help of his legendary dad. Maybe I should be a ninjutsu specialist too, although I had only above average chakra pools.
Gaku stood up, towering over me almost comically. He stretched his arms, cracking his back before letting out a breath. He made a move looking like he was pepping himself up. What was he nervous about? Maybe he was just nervous that he had to keep a little kid from dying now that I was under his tutelage. I would be too.
"Ok, let's do some stretches and then a quick spar. I want to judge for myself where you are at, and then I'll sit down with you and write down a training plan. We've been given 2 months of preparation time to get used to each other before we're being deployed out."
He smiled, probably liking my professional yet enthusiastic attitude. Then we began stretching, and by kami, how did a man that big manage to bend like that? Gaku was a surprisingly awesome sensei. I imagined someone eccentric like Minato or Kakashi from the future, where they practically threw you into D ranks and hoped you learnt on the way. Despite being an Inuzuka, he was actually quite patient, and helped push me during stretching. I thought I had mastered stretching, having done it from the moment I could walk, but apparently there were more impossible ways the human body could twist than my tiny brain could imagine.
"Come on let's do a quick spar. Keep it taijutsu for now."
We made bowed as is customary before I jumped into my Academy taijutsu stance. I made my move first, finding it really awkward to fight against an opponent as large as him in taijutsu. Was I just meant to hit his knees or something? I instead decided to use a chakra enhanced jump, throwing a reverse kick at him which he blocked easily. His eyes were on my body. He was calculating my form. I decided to roll behind him, to maybe sweep his legs but man was it embarrassing when my kick didn't even move him an inch. And I thought I was strong!
After five or so more minutes of this embarrassingly one-sided fight, he swept my feet and I found myself on my butt. I groaned as I got back up and he chuckled. Wow, I was absolutely shit.
"That was… oh my god I was terrible!" I voiced my complain.
Yama bent over to lick my face, which I loathed to admit did raise my spirits a little. To my surprise Gaku sensei didn't look all too disappointed, instead his face was in a thinking pose, hands on his chin as he hummed to himself.
"It's not your fault kid. I'm a taijutsu master and a Jounin. You're just a fresh, out of the Academy Genin."
I huffed. Didn't make that pathetic display any less pathetic. I knew I was no Kakashi, or a real prodigy at that, but I thought I could do at least something, even if it was landing one hit that did nothing, but apparently the gap between a Genin and a Jounin wasn't a bridge but a whole goddamn sea!
"You were raised by Nara, did you say?" he asked, a glint in his eyes.
"Yes," I replied, eyeing him.
"What would you say was different when sparring me compared to sparring a classmate?"
"Besides the fact that I got my butt kicked," I pouted. He chuckled as that and waited for me to continue. I took in a deep breath and then it came to me. "I'm small. You're really big, and I was used to fighting against opponents my height or smaller, with much less speed and size."
"Bingo," he said grinning. "The Academy taijutsu is simply designed for the basics in mind. It's predictable and made so that anyone within the same level can fight each other. Taijutsu used in the field is actually a mix of more than one style. There are several forms for many situations."
"Oh, I see now! Academy taijutsu is heavily focused on parrying and disarming. It's broad in the sense that it can be used for any situation when you're stuck without kunai or shuriken," I said, eyes widening in realisation.
"You do have a good head there," Gaku grinned as he poked my forehead. I made a sound of indignation as I stumbled back a little.
"What styles do you have in mind Gaku-sensei? I have no idea where to start if I'm being honest? Can you show me now?"
"Wow, wow calm down there, kiddo. Today I'm just going to be measuring out your skills so I can come up with a plan for the next two months."
I couldn't help but pout. My sulking was quickly fixed when he got me to demonstrate my stamina and speed. I was more than happy to know that my new sensei was the kind of guy who would go down the more positive reinforcement route than the drill sergeant one… although today was just a test run so I had no idea what he was like during actual training.
"So my little Kohai, what would you want to specialise in if you could?" Gaku asked as we went about our final stretches.
I scrunched my face in thought. I had thought a lot about this before. "I would like to get better at Taijutsu and Ninjutsu as my main focus, but I also want to learn Fuinjutsu one day," I admitted.
Gaku looked mildly surprised at that. "Not a lot of kids want to learn Fuinjutsu. What brought about the interest?"
I smiled sheepishly. "I really like studying. I mean I love exercising and fighting too, but I've always wanted to do research too, get really into chakra and how it works. Fuinjutsu seems interesting because the strokes, I assume channel chakra, and that in itself means that chakra is something you can quantify and study."
Gaku blinked at me in absolute shock before laughing. I huffed, "What's so funny?"
"Nothing kid, it's just that with all that cute muscle I didn't think my new Kohai was such a nerd!"
"Hey, there's nothing wrong about being a nerd," I protested with a grin.
"Sure, sure," he waved my comment away. "Come on kid, if I'm going to be your very awesome, and very cool sensei, I'm going to have to get to know you better. Let's go grab some ice-cream."
"Aren't all the sweet stores closed?" I asked.
"No, actually all the restaurants in the Akimichi District are open as per usual," Gaku sensei supplied.
So basically Clans were decked with money. That made sense. All the civilian stores were forced into war effort mode, but the Akimichi Clan was famed for their food, and it would lower Village morale if there wasn't a joint with any sweets or alcohol in it. I was torn from my musings on war time economy when Yama nudged at my stomach, practically dropping his whole head under before pulling up. I yelped in shock and realised that I was sitting on top of him and oh by Hashirama's saggy tree sack, was his fur soft!
"Yama, I can't believe you betrayed me so soon," Gaku said in mock hurt.
The dog yipped and barked at him as if unamused and Gaku just laughed. I smirked at the silent banter. It was like watching Han Solo and Chewbacca. We made our way into the Akimichi district talking amiably to each other about random things, although I was more than certain that Gaku was picking my brain to see just how compatible we were and how smart I was. I was in no mood to be disingenuous to the man I was going to put my life under, so I decided to be completely honest in everything I said.
I turned around surprised to see Shikaku at the sweet store eating a whole lot of ice-cream… an unhealthy amount of ice-cream. I wasn't going to ask, but he noticed the question just from my expression and sighed. Gaku just chuckled.
"Gaku," Shikaku said with a quick wave.
"Drowning your sorrows in sweets I see," Gaku laughed.
"You two know each other?" I asked, getting off Yama's back.
"We've been on a few missions together. So Shikaku, you wanna meet my kid?"
"Your kid," he asked raising a brow.
I sent Gaku an odd look. Why was he acting like a proud dad? Weren't Jounin sensei's meant to be mean to their students or something? Maybe I was just stereotyping. I felt his large hand pat my head making me bop it down a few times from the sheer weight. Did I mention this man was big, because he was at least 7 foot tall? I barely even reached his knee.
"Yup Hina-chan here is my cute little Genin," Gaku said.
"Genin?" Shikaku sounded genuinely shocked. "Where's the rest of the gakis?"
"It's just me, and I'm so glad you have so much faith in me Shikaku-san," I said sarcastically, crossing my arms and looking fake hurt.
"Graduated early, eh," he said, with none of his usual easiness. He looked a mix between disappointed and angry. I had to remind myself that even in this world a kid my age was not often thrown into battle. War was war though. Do what you gotta do and all that pizzazz.
"Ah don't worry your pointy little Nara head. Yama's already got his protective paw on her, thinks she's a pup," Gaku chuckled.
"Hey, I am not a pup."
As if to embarrass me further Yama picked me up by the scruff of my shirt. I let out a groan before crossing my arms petulantly. Kami, why did I get the one Jounin sensei who could make me blush and splutter in embarrassment? Gaku's laugh turned serious when he looked back at the Jounin Commander.
"I'm serious Shikaku. I'm taking this very seriously."
The two seemed to settle into an understanding and then Shikaku went back to eating his triple decker sundae. I let out a sound of protest as Gaku picked me up from my underarms and plopped me in a chair between him and Shikaku. He passed me a menu and I looked through the pretty pictures of delicious looking chocolate, ice-creams and desserts when my eyes squared in on the price. I gaped. That was way too expensive! One thing was worth like my entire life's savings. I pulled out my deflated wallet and let out a cry.
"Don't worry little Kohai, it's on me."
"You're the best Jounin sensei ever," I said in relief.
"You bet I am. So what do you want kiddo?"
I looked through the menu with wide eyes. Chocolate. I hadn't had chocolate in years. It was rare and expensive since it was an imported product from the Land of Rice. Of course the Akimichi managed to get their Clan funded paws on it. My mouth was literally watering looking at it all.
"Um, can I have the chocolate nama cake?" I asked, probably drooling a little at it.
Gaku ordered while I turned to Shikaku, who I hadn't seen in quite a while. He looked tired… well more tired than the usual. His deer vest was a little more ruffled than usual, and while he was wearing make up to cover the bags under his eyes, make up did not cover the deep lines of tiredness. Plus the fact that a grown as Jounin, scary Clan head was sitting in a sweet shop eating more than a large serve of ice-cream screamed 'I'm currently a mess'.
"Shikaku-san, you look like shit," I said bluntly.
"Why, thank you Hi-chan," he said scooping in another spoon.
"What's got you all like this? Lady troubles?"
Shikaku spluttered, completely caught off guard. Gaku gawked at me before breaking out in laughter. The Jounin Commander quickly pulled at his collar before collecting himself again. He gave me an irritated look.
"I don't remember you being so pesky," he groaned.
"You're just making it easy right now," I pointed.
"The kid's gotta point. You look like shit," Gaku agreed.
Shikaku sighed, holding his head and then he nodded. "Actually it is lady problems."
It was my and Gaku's turn to splutter and make sounds of shock, because what? The Nara Shikaku, master mind, all round genius, Jounin Commander at 25 was having girl troubles. Our shock turned into giggles, and Shikaku let out a sigh, looking like he wondered why he told either of us.
"I'm getting married," he sighed.
"She's a demon," he continued, groaning.
"We have definitely got to meet her," Gaku said with a downright feral grin.
Shikaku just sighed, groaning into his arms and looking completely done with the world. Gaku and I pestered him about his future wife. Yoshino, from the way he described her, sounded entirely like she could raze Konoha to the ground with just the flick of her finger. Considering that she wasn't in fact One Punch Man, I was sure he was joking. She actually sounded like a riot. We ended up chatting about her, until Shikaku expertly changed the topic and then we ended up talking over the most delicious chocolate EVER. By the time we were done it was getting late and I needed to go home.
"Thank you again Gaku-sensei, and I hope to see you later Shikaku-san," I said bowing lightly, before giving them a salute, and Yama a quick pat.
"Get home safe kiddo." Gaku waved a goodbye while Shikaku grunted in agreement, giving me one of his rare smiles and waving as well.
I waved back, in high spirits. My Jounin sensei was actually… awesome! Sure he wasn't the goddamn future Hokage or anything, but he had a level head and it looked like he'd put some thought into figuring out the best way for me to learn. It didn't hurt that Yama was amazing too. My good mood continued until I got home. The bakery suddenly looked uninviting. I touched my hitaite, narrowing my eyes a little at the ground. Yua was going to lose her shit. I was doing this for Taichi and dad. I was also doing it for her ungrateful ass too. They were family, and while I did admit in rare cases family could be found in the people around you, blood still mattered to me.
"Tadaima," I said softly as I entered the store.
"Okaerinasai," Taichi greeted, stacking some bread away before he turned around and gaped at me. "Hi-chan is that—"
"Yeah I graduated today," I said grinning.
"Oh so cool! Wow you must be so smart since you're only meant to graduate at 9, right?"
"Yeah top of the class actually," I grinned.
I saw mother come out from the door, ready to ask me about something when she said my name and paused, her eyes resting on my hitaite. She gaped for a second before she just stood there in shocked silence.
"I graduated," I said, hoping it would snap her back to the real world.
Yup that was all I got before she looked at me like I was the one stabbing her in the heart. Then she walked away and went upstairs. Taichi looked up at Yua and back at me with a confused frown on his face. He still didn't understand, and to be honest neither did I. Yua hated Shinobi. She lived in a Shinobi Village. I did not understand her one bit.
"I'm going to bed," I said, my expression kept neutral, although I felt sour.
"Oh ok… um Hi-chan?"
"Yeah?" I asked sparing him a glance.
He gave me a smile, a shy one. "Congratulations imouto."
I gave him a small smile back. His smile was all I needed in the first place. I was a selfish fucker, right?
A/N Ah, I just wanted to clear something up from my last author's note :") So when I was talking about romance in the future, I mean that there would be none at all, at least not until Hina is about 23 in the timeline. I guess I was just being antsy about it because there's a scene that can be misconstrued as me going down the romance route, which I was worried people would take as a ship. I don't often write romance, just because it doesn't interest me, but I admit that romance is a part of life and so if kids get crushes and all that, it's just a natural thing. In saying that Hina is definitely NOT interested in anyone.
Also Inuzuka Gaku is not an OC, he's actually a minor background character. I think he was in that one episode where Minato confronted the Raikage during the flashback. He's only seen a few times in the background though… so his characterisation is all on me XD I didn't want to give her an important sensei because Hina isn't an important person in this world. She doesn't have any famous ninja parents or blood line, so she won't be noticed until much later when she proves herself.
Bakkughan- Thanks! Yeah Hina is the protagonist so shits only going to get worse XD
Lirg123- I guess you're right, but in this context Konoha has just gone through the 2nd Great Shinobi War, and now that they're going into the 3rd their economy is already pretty shit. Any support for civilians is sparse, and Hina's family has borrowed money from their cousins before so they're in a tight financial spot. Thanks for the thoughtful review!
JingleCat- Yes, Minato will definitely be seeing Hina in the future!
Amatsumi- Of course! I'm sorry if my earlier authors notes suggested otherwise. There will be no romance for Hina until she's around 23
Unlimited Cookie Works- I hundred percent agree! No romance for Hina until she's 23! I'm so glad you like the character interactions!