Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. This is a non profit work meant only for entertainment.
Ino walked the long road to the academy. She supposed it really wasn't that long, but it seemed to be this time. It was her second day to the academy. It was also the second time she was experiencing this day. It was a surprise to come back at all. She normally avoided any of Naruto's crazy schemes, but there had been no one else. She felt her emotions rapidly overwhelm her, but she held on with nothing but stubborn Yamanaka will.
Even with her best, she could not fully suppress it. She had begged him to run away with her; begged him to not do this; begged him to not sacrifice himself on what she thought was a Hail Mary attempt at best. She still couldn't believe it had worked. Even now, she could hardly believe and she had been back the better part of a week.
Her father knew. In a family of mind walkers she had two choices run or wait. The first time he entered her mind to practice he could tell that she was his daughter, and yet not his daughter. He had watched fascinated as an older mental avatar of his daughter packaged a bunch of memories and delivered them right to him as if she was every bit as old and experienced as her mental avatar suggested.
They were working on a plan, or rather trying to at least. They had the beginnings of one, provided her father could pull it off. Her part began today; well today at recess. She regretted the delay, but it had taken her time to get her bearings, and she had deliberately put off training with her father till he had insisted.
She walked out to the school practice yard. Naruto was trying and failing to practice kunai throwing, while Hinata, even now was watching him from behind a tree. She debated on where to begin; the princess or the rogue. Hinata seemed the more difficult case, but perhaps she could lead by example.
She walked over to the blond. She could hardly believe the man she had wanted to run away with started like this. She bent over and picked up one of his practice kunai. "Garbage," she said absently.
"Huh?" Naruto asked.
"Your practice kunai are garbage. That is partly why you are doing so badly."
Naruto blushed obviously embarrassed.
"Here, try one of mine." She reached into her pouch and handed him the first one she came to. He took it and examined it for a few seconds before shrugging and throwing it. He hit the target, though no where near the middle.
"Would you like me to show you how to improve your accuracy?" she asked.
"Sure." He looked around and sure enough Mizuki was coming towards them.
Mizuki said, "Is there a problem here?"
Ino, knowing who this was, said, "Yes, you are interrupting our training."
"I'll be telling your family about this."
"Do so. Now leave."
Mizuki hesitated. "I could assign you detention for this."
Ino turned to him, her expression hard as she let a little of her killing intent hit him and only him. "Yes, I would like to have you in detention."
Iruka wandered over. "Is there a problem?"
Ino said, "Your so called assistant just attempted to stop me from helping my new friend and threatened me with detention."
Iruka was puzzled. Then he noticed who her new friend was and his eyes narrowed. "Mizuki, why don't you take a break. I'll help these two."
Mizuki hesitated before nodding and walking away.
Naruto looked like he wanted to run and hide.
Ino smiled a small smile at him while slowly and carefully talking him through how to throw a kunai and then correcting him one step at a time. In less than ten minutes he made a throw that was in the middle third.
Iruka said, "We'll done Miss Yamanaka. Early clan training I take it?"
"Let me know if there are any further issues."
"I'm a bit curious. It is unusual for new academy students to be quite like you."
Ino said, "My father made some suggestions."
- o -
Mizuki considered his options. The Yamanaka surprised him. Their family was always known to be opinionated, and Inoichi was to be feared. He didn't really see an option but to leave them alone, but he hated it. He even considered informing the Hokage, but inform him of what, that an academy student intimidated him? That the head of torture and interrogation's daughter was maybe an imposter. The idea was absurd. If you're going to take someone's place, it isn't going to be a member of the mind reading family, well unless you wanted to live a very short life.
- o -
Iruka also considered the odd encounter. It didn't seem to warrant action as of yet, and if his senses didn't entirely fail him, then ANBU already noticed, and if he had to guess then Kakashi noticed. No, if anything needed done ANBU would do it. It wouldn't be an issue at all, except anything odd happening to Naruto was automatically an issue. A random kunochi offering to help him and then giving him half of her practice kunai was odd. What's more is her training was spot on. He seriously doubted he could have done better. In fact, he had picked up a few details that he didn't normally think about. Curious indeed.
- o -
The old Hokage considered what Kakashi just told him, as well as the much longer discussion from Inoichi. His idea made sense, yet it was puzzling. Sure, he had no great objection to Inoichi training a future potential team for Ino. The one on one training would likely do them good. Well, he had no objection but one. Naruto Uzumaki was involved. He also didn't like the idea of Inoichi taking time away from his duty to T&I, though with Ibiki coming along well, it probably was okay. Inoichi assured him he could always leave shadow clones and he did have other clan members who could help. Apparently he had already gotten the agreement from Shikaku and Chosa. They were even considering doing the same thing with their children. He was sure he wasn't being told something, though he had no idea what.
Kakashi was still standing before him. He told him of Inoichi's plan. "Your opinion?"
"Inoichi is loyal. All I've got is perhaps a desire to make sure Ino has a very strong team and doesn't end up dead, though adding Naruto adds a potential target, as does Hinata. I'd have almost have expected him to try to duplicate the well proven Ino, Shika, Cho trio rather than this. It is puzzling."
"Can you think of a reason to deny him?"
"No, but I'd like to know more. Do you mind if I continue to remain as his ANBU shadow?"
"Agreed. Now, all I need to do is figure out how to break the news to Hiashi."
Kakashi smiled. "It is curious. Did you know that Naruto saved Hinata once from some bullies and she keeps stealing glances at him?"
The Hokage frowned. Kakashi quickly continued, "I would have stepped in had anyone been in actual danger."
"No. It is curious. Inoichi puts together a team for his daughter that just happens to have considerable potential, perhaps including Hinata's crush as a deciding factor. Naruto may need bonds if he is to resist the demon. Continue your duty Kakashi, but first can you stop by the Hyuga compound and ask Hiashi to stop by my office when he gets time."
"Of course." Kakashi waved.
- o -
Hiashi walked in less than an hour later. He bowed formally, but not an inch more than protocol demanded. He then waited for the Hokage to motion him to sit and did so.
"I know your wondering why I called you here. One of my most trusted Jounin has proposed a plan to train his heir and a potential team for his heir. Your daughter is on that team."
"It's Inoichi's plan. He wants to personally arrange the instruction of his daughter, Naruto Uzumaki, and your daughter."
"He says he wants to insure his daughter has a team that is strong that she can trust. I cannot fault him there."
"I am uncertain if my daughter..."
"He was very adamant about getting them both."
Hiashi's right eyebrow rose, but he gave no other acknowledgement.
"Will you allow it?"
"Why?" asked the Hyuga clan head.
"I'm not sure I understand," dodged the Hokage.
"Do not play me for a fool. I can assume Inochi's daughter must have some potential, but to put two Kunochis on a team is rare; to put two on a team like this is quite odd, is it not?"
"I thought of that, but Inoichi explained it to me. His goal was one of balance."
Hiashi looked at him in curiosity, obviously waiting for elaboration.
"Inochi's daughter is bound to be an information specialist. She also has a potential emerging ability at battle coordination, which while not unheard of for a Yamanaka, is nevertheless rare. Naruto will likely be heavy combat, and may someday be able to do S class jutsu the way most do A class or simply create armies of clones to destroy Konoha's enemies. Finally your daughter has all the abilities your clan is known for. Simply put, there is no mission a team such as this would be unsuited for. Combine your daughters eyes and say several hundred shadow clones and they will find their target and eliminate it. Add in Ino's skills and no information can be kept from them and if her battle coordination works, then even their weaknesses will be covered for."
"Interesting, but there were several other possible teams. The Nara for instance, could likely create plans that work with the Yamanaka's battle coordination and Naruto's possible clone army, and you have a strong team. For that matter, Naruto could be at the heart of a heavy combat team. Of course with the current crop that would probably require the last Uchiha and maybe Shibi's son."
The Hokage sighed, and it wasn't over the strong sense of scorn Hiashi had whenever the Uchiha clan was mentioned. He wasn't honestly sure if Hiashi was just fishing or not, but he needed the man's cooperation. He hadn't wanted to mention the final reason. Inoichi had mentioned it first, but it was, if anything the most important. He said, "First, I think if you'll think about it, you'll agree those choices would not be ideal for Konoha. For one thing, putting someone as crafty as young Ino is said to be on the same team as a Nara would be a waste."
Hiashi gave a short nod, not really agreeing but at least indicating that he heard.
The Hokage asked quietly, "How much do you know about how typical Jinchuriki seals work?"
"Not a great deal, though I have no doubt Minato did an excellent job."
"His life was sacrificed for that seal. It is his best work combined with the power of the Shinigami. For now it is fine. In fact, had Minato designed it differently it might actually keep even the nine tails sealed up tight until the day Naruto dies of old age, which for an Uzumaki could be a long time from now."
Hiashi said, "He must have done something else. I can hardly think he would have made it weaker without reason. The seal must be designed so Naruto can eventually use the beast's chakra." Hiashi frowned. "Why would he do that? Of all the tailed beasts the Kyuubi is easily the most dangerous, and I rather doubt it will ever agree to work with its jailer like the ones in Kumo are said to do. Frankly, while I think the idiots who want to kill Naruto are a level of stupid that warrants their execution lest they get us all killed, I also don't necessarily think having him use the beasts chakra is advisable. Foxes are said to be clever, and the Kyuubi is from all I've read no exception."
The Hokage said, "Suffice to say, Minato had a reason, and it is a reason I agree with.''
Hiashi looked into the Hokage's eyes and seeing he was not going to elaborate simply nodded.
The Hokage said, "The key to resisting the Kyuubi's corruption is for him to have bonds with others and with Konoha."
Hiashi looked at him in disbelief.
"I know well my own failings. Do not repeat them!" the Hokage said sharply.
Hiashi said softly, "Forgive me."
The Hokage said, "Forgiven," in a tone that seemed to not really mean it. He then said, "The strength of the seal will in time partly depend on the strength of Naruto's will. Simply put, they are the only two Academy students that have really shown an active interest in helping him. Sure he has gotten along with a few others, but there is no real feeling or interest there. He needs people that are willing to give a damn about him. He needs to see and know there are reasons for him to hold back the demon's hate. Yes I know it puts your daughter in danger, but it also protects her. Now will you allow it?"
"Provisionally. While I agree of the need, I am less than certain of your choice in my daughter. Let us see where they are in a month or two."
The Hokage sighed. "Then why allow it?"
"Why? The answer is simple. I have failed to instill in my eldest the strength that she requires to lead the Hyuga. Now I haven't given up on her, but it is clear that my current approach is not working. At the same time, I have little faith in the academy. They are not strict enough and do not push hard enough. I have watched the so called genin that place graduates. The genin in my graduating year would have crushed them."
"Minato was in your graduating year," the Hokage said dryly.
"Very well, I will tell Inoichi. I take it you will tell your daughter."
"I will, but you should know that as of right now Hinata is not considered a worthy heir. She has the softness of her mother, and in many that would not be a bad thing, but she would be eaten alive if she managed to become heir."
"What do you mean if?" the Hokage asked softly.
"I mean precisely that. If the elders do not see significant improvement in her abilities then I do not know how long I will be able to protect her from the caged bird seal, and if she has the seal..."
The Hokage finished, "If that happens, I'll probably have to split the team up. I can't have Naruto indirectly controlled. Having an angry Jinchuriki slaughter the Hyuga elders is also less than desirable. Fine, I will make sure Inoichi knows the stakes. Now, he also mentioned that he might hire certain trainers to expedite the process, and that donations to that cause would be greatly appreciated."
"Let us see results first. If I am satisfied I can authorize a significant sum, particularly if I can bring the elders positive news. For a larger sum the elders must be satisfied. That will be quite difficult. Skill will not be enough."
- o -
Naruto could hardly believe that he was no longer going to the academy but instead meeting with Ino and Hinata at the Yamanaka clan's training hall.
Inoichi said, "I have already given my daughter extensive training, so some of your training will by necessity be from her. My first question goes to Hinata. Can you activate your Byakugan?"
"Do so. Compare my chakra levels to Naruto's and my daughter's."
Hinata made a hand sign and then her eyes changed with veins sticking out around them. She looked at Inoichi before moving her eyes to Naruto. Her eyes widened. "Naruto-kun has almost double sir." She deactivated her eyes, but not before glancing at Ino with her eyes widening again.
"Hinata, I assume also that you have unlocked your chakra coils?"
"Naruto, I assume you have no idea what that means?"
Naruto hesitantly said, "No, I don't."
"Good, we have our first task, but first I'll give you all an overview of chakra again. Pay attention. The details matter."
He talked for over an hour and gave many examples of chakra manipulation. He even covered Yin and Yang chakra and their applications to medical ninjutsu including giving many situations where a qualified medic meant the difference between not only a mission succeeding or failing, but of the people coming back alive.
Hinata asked cautiously, "Can I learn medical ninjutsu?"
"Eventually yes, though it is difficult. You may not be familiar, but the Hokage trained a team. His team had a kunochi on it named Tsunade Senju. She learned chakra control to the point that she could enhance her punches enough to shatter the Earth and her medical skills are still second to none. People any other medic would write off as hopeless she brought back and healed fully."
Hinata's eyes widened as a hope she seldom allowed herself to have took hold.
Naruto said, "I don't get it. Why do I have so much chakra?"
"That is a question I can't answer. It will make much of your training more difficult, but it will also help you when you actually become a shinobi. You just have to work hard to master it."
Naruto looked determined.
And so the lessons continued, day after day, for three four hour sessions interspersed with one hour breaks. Physical exercise was generally followed by mental training which was followed by more physical exercise. Such was their schedule that at Inoichi's suggestion, both Naruto and Hinata moved in.
- o -
Inoichi looked on as her daughter tried to get Hinata to engage seriously. She was even more hesitant with Naruto. This would not do. She didn't do this to him, perhaps because she believed he was too strong to be hurt, yet she refused to go all out against them. Did she really fear hurting them this badly? He called a halt to the practice.
"Hinata," he asked quietly. "Do you care for Ino and Naruto?"
She hesitantly nodded.
"Then why are you not taking your and their training seriously? The kunai we use are training kunai. We have a hospital seconds away by shunshin. I also know that you have enough control not to accidentally cause them mortal damage, so why do you risk their lives?"
Hinata was suddenly dumbfounded.
"You are risking their lives and your own by not taking training seriously. One day it will not be training, and if your training now is not done correctly the odds of you and your team surviving then is little, so what will it be? Will you work hard to grow stronger to become the kunochi, and possibly even the medical kunochi that saves your friends and help them be stronger in the process, or will you not?"
Hinata's face suddenly grew determined as she faced Ino again, this time lashing out with a glowing palm.
Ino smiled. "Excellent. Keep it up."
Hinata's face, if anything, became even more determined. She was utterly surprised when a chakra point she was sure she had closed reopened.
"You'll have to do better than that Hinata-chan," grinned Ino.
Hinata didn't miss a beat continuing her attack.
- o -
The Hokage invited Hiashi to a meeting where he unveiled his crystal ball and his telescoping jutsu. They watched an entire four hour physical training session where Hinata fought first Ino, then Naruto, before facing Inoichi himself.
"Remarkable," Hiashi said quietly. "Her progress is remarkable. They are already genin level, are they not?"
"We will keep that bit a secret, won't we?"
"Of course. Do you mind if I continue to observe their training?"
The Hokage showed him how to continue feeding chakra into the jutsu, but not how to change it.
Hiashi was astonished when two hours later Ino was showing his daughter how to, for lack of a better term to heal a dying flower with medical chakra. He was even more surprised when his daughter's chakra flared green for a moment. Sure it wasn't medical grade, but just to hit that transformation even for a moment was a notable accomplishment. It signaled possible potential with yin-yang release, which was not an area the Hyuga were well known for, though there had been exceptions. Is that what his dear Hitomi gave his daughter?
He watched her try for another hour without duplicating the burst. Ino continued to obviously encourage her and his daughter never lost focus. It was not genius so much demonstrated by his daughter, but more of an absolute focus that was frightening. Why had she not showed this focus in their training?
He was a bit surprised when Naruto and Inoichi carried in styrofoam targets, arrows, and high end compound bows, followed by Inoichi's wife.
She slowly walked them through aiming and firing. She, herself, consistently got a bulls eye.
His daughter actually did better than Ino. Naruto didn't have much luck. He read Naruto's lips. "Why arrows? They don't cause much damage."
Inoichi's wife grinned and quickly spun a paper seal around an arrow and fired. It resulted in smoke briefly filling the room. He read her lips, "Think what would happen if that was a paper bomb."
Their eyes all widened at that. She spoke again. He continued to read lips. "Tags tend to interfere with the flight of an arrow. It is possible to embed the seals right into the arrows, but it typically requires someone with an extensive knowledge of sealing. I can do it, but I'm not the best at it. I can, however, teach what I know. Naruto in particular may benefit from it."
"Me?" he asked.
"Yes, you may not know much about your clan. They were all but lost in the last war, but they did have one skill that set them above most. They were experts in the art of seals. Some say the Uzumaki were so skilled that they could do almost anything with seals, even seal living beings into seals without harming them."
His daughter seemed particularly interested in her words. That bore watching. He knew she hated the branch family seal. He didn't necessarily disagree, but he would not allow his daughter to die in any foolish quests. If she was jounin level and they had a workable plan was one thing, but for now it wouldn't do for certain parties to know about her interest in seals, or medical chakra for that matter.
That was one area he knew the elders were beyond stupid. Tsunade was considered the best medic in the world. That honor should go to a Hyuga. Their eyes made them far better suited to the field than an ordinary medic ninja and Hinata seemed more so, if what he saw was correct. That they had few medic ninjas was just stupid. Tsunade had shown that being a medic ninja didn't mean being weak.
Could he perhaps find the legendary medic? Rumor has it she was wasting her families fortune on gambling. It might bear looking into. He looked back at the crystal ball only to see Ino punch through a stack of boards. He could tell that she didn't cheat by aligning the grain favorably. That was clearly chakra enhanced. Was Tsunade or someone already teaching them? His daughter was watching very closely with her Byakugan while she did it.
His eyes bugged out when he saw his daughter punch right through a one by four. Sure it was something he could do, and it could also be done with a sledge hammer, but this was a first year academy student, and for that matter what was up with Ino? That level of control was absurd for an academy student to have, no matter what the training, particularly for no one to have heard of it. Then again, Inoichi was no fool and as the head of the Interrogation department he well knew how to keep secrets.
He saw his daughter's pained face. Obviously, despite her surprising skill she had not executed it perfectly, even if she had not felt it right away due to adrenalin. His surprise expanded when Ino took his daughter's right arm in her hands and gently ran medical chakra up and down it using what looked to him like a flawless mystic palm technique. As soon as Ino started his daughter somehow just ignored the pain and watched the entire process with her Byakugan activated with absolute focus.
- o -
It was near the end of the day when Hiashi stepped back into the Hokage's main office. He said simply, "They are doing quite well. Contact me if you need anything. Just know that the more obvious help I provide, the more attention may be drawn to this training."
"Noted. So, are you satisfied with your daughters progress?" asked the Hokage dryly.
"Yes," was all he said before stoically walking out the door.
- o -
Hiashi considered late at night what to do. Sooner or later the elders would learn of Hinata's progress. Then they would demand he seal Hanabi. He was personally seeing to Hanabi's training. While she was clearly not becoming as well rounded as Hinata was, she was a prodigy in her own right. He needed a solution where both of his daughters remained unsealed.
He spent much of the night trying to think of one.
- o -
Hiruzen was not surprised to see the old war hawk in his office.
"You are running an elite training program."
"Not I. It is his pet project, as I'm sure you no doubt know."
"What is the status of it?"
"They are doing well."
"So, you are not going to tell me."
"Correct," replied the Hokage.
"Very well. It at least must be an improvement on that academy."
The Hokage rapidly considered his words. They were hardly the first complaint he heard. He recalled a similar complaint from Hiashi not long ago. "Perhaps you could help me with that?"
Danzo's one visible eye expressed surprise. "You want me to run the academy?"
"No. I want you to come up with a set of revisions to the academy that improves it. I will of course reject anything that destroys emotions or any such nonsense, but I do think we can agree on some things. I suggest you tailor the list with that in mind, so as not to waste both our time."
Danzo nodded. "You will have it in the morning. As a gesture to show you my good will, I will point out something you may have forgotten."
"What is that?"
"One of your more recent academy instructors was a student of Orochimaru."
"Is he a traitor?"
"He is fairly stupid. I do not think Orochimaru is in active contact with him, though I think he would be receptive."
"And do you know of anyone who is in contact with my former student?"
Danzo simply smiled a small smile, saying nothing before walking out the door.
Hiruzen once more considered killing the man. He sent for Ibiki and repeated what he knew. He was uncertain how many resources to devote to Mizuki. Perhaps if he had an excuse to fire him, an actual interrogation could be arranged. It was also possible that Danzo knew of some more dangerous scheme and was pointing him to a small fish to distract him. A better question was how where they to implement whatever fraction of Danzo's ideas were reasonable? Not that many chunin wanted the teaching jobs. Perhaps he could make a D-rank job for advanced genin to help with some training, maybe with a bonus for most improvement? That would require some thought.
Actually, if he passed word to the current Jounin sensei they might be able to coordinate something. Perhaps they could even make it so that to finish the D-rank they must successfully teach a skill they are weak at? Of course the Jounin would have to insure that the genin didn't waste the academy students time, which would mean the Jounin made sure the genin knew it inside out first, but for a vital skill, that the genin might otherwise neglect. Yes. This had potential. He might even have to bump it to a low C-rank given the relative value.
Far too many genin technically learned the academy three, but not to a useful level. Still, while he agreed that regular bunshin were almost useless, and standard henge were mostly only useful against civilians and other genin, being good at simple kawarimi was the stuff that separated a good ninja from a dead ninja.
- o -
The other clans heard of Inoichi's training, if few details of it. They quickly stepped up the training of not just their current academy students, but everyone, as if they feared to be showed up by those not yet even genin. It was an odd competition, but it was what it was.