AN: I feel like I should get the next chapter down now or I'll have a hell of a time later. Maybe I should do some sort of…yeah, I forgot what I was going to put here. XP
fanficbrowser: Yeah, alright. As long as there's an apology, I'm good. However, in the future, you might wish to try to choose your words a little less harshly. Also, once again, it's either Gormim (plural) or Gorem (singular). As far as I know, Gormen isn't even a thing.
Guest 1: I know all these came from the same person, so I'll just answer them all here.
Ch 3. In order, she might be, that won't be a problem, and who the hell are you to tell me what to do with my characters?
Ch 4. Ruins the story? An author cannot ruin their story, they can only write it. Your comment is invalid.
Ch 9. You know, if this were the most recent chapter, that comment MIGHT be taken under advisement. However, it's chapter 9 out of 29. You can do the math.
Ch 10. So what if it's a lie? That's what ninja do, they lie. Also, don't you fucking call me stupid.
Ch 10 (Again?). How about a 'please?'
Ch 13. ...No, it isn't. A virus is an organism that lies dormant outside of a host. Once in a host, it parasitizes the host's cells in order to gain nourishment and multiply, causing illnesses. So yes, germ can be another name for it.
Ch 13 (Again). I got two words for you, and only one of them is considered polite.
Ch 17. Oh, well thank you for the ringing endorsement. [/sarcasm]
Ch 22. Oh who cares about the number at this point. Although I will admit that leaving Mido behind was a dumb decision. Which, you know, was kinda the point.
Ch 27. Again, can I get a 'please?' No?
Vin: If you think you and you alone can convince people to stop reading with a single denouncing comment, you've gotta be higher than a kite. The only thing you're destroying is your own credibility.
To everyone else reading this, I apologize for sounding like a dick. However, I have little to no tolerance for people who think they can trash my fic without even trying to be constructive. It also mystifies me as to why they think they can tell me I should change my fic only after reading the early chapters.
Guest 2 (chapters 9 and 11): Thanks!
Chapter 14: Too bad, it's there to stay.
Chapter 17: If you're not going to make any suggestions for how to make it better, then I don't want to hear it.
Chapter 18: Whatever.
Chapter 24: I have not abandoned the story. This chapter is proof of that.
Chapter 25: This story is not screwed up.
Disclaimer: I own neither Naruto nor Prototype. I do, however, own the concept of this fic and the Gormim.
Inner Being to Outer Being
Chapter 30: In Which There is Resolve
It was with reluctance that Naruto stayed at the arena once the medic had extracted the shards of metal from his mouth. Fortunately, the wounds left behind had healed up right away, so he needed no further treatment and resumed his normal form. However, since the final battle had started already, the blond Blacklight was forced to wait at the mouth of the exit, arms crossed as he watched. Of course, with the distance it was hard to see what was happening; all he could really see was a dark green blur shooting all over the place, along with the occasional glint of light over broken glass.
He also couldn't listen properly, because his tenant was currently drowning out all external noises. After Hinata had been taken away, Kina had started wailing so loudly that Naruto couldn't think straight. The only reason he hadn't made her shut up yet was because he wasn't in a position to throw stones himself. In all honesty, if he weren't in a room full of other Genin and Jōnin, he would've broken down and cried too. Over and over the scene replayed in his mind: Hinata had seemed to get the upper hand in her fight, only for Neji to suddenly turn the tables on her, and then deal a terrible open-handed blow to her chest. The blast of chakra exiting her back, along with her scream of pain, made him flinch, his fist clenching tightly.
"Did I…change…after all?"
That simple, plaintive question had briefly broken his resolve to not cry in front of everyone. It wasn't fair, that she could get injured so badly and only ask a question like that so sincerely. It hurt, just standing around waiting for the fight to end. He wanted to be out of there, with Hinata. Naruto didn't really know what he could do for her…situation, but knowing that she could be dying in the hospital, without him there to…to…well, it made him feel terrible, to say the least. Absolutely horrible.
A blinding, almost sickening agony exploded from Naruto's forehead as he smashed it mercilessly into the wall next to him. All thoughts and sensations were driven straight out of his head as he felt something crack against the stone. Warmth dripped down his face and his knees buckled numbly. He slid down to a kneeling position, eyes squeezed closed reflexively and his teeth bared in a grimace against the sheer pain in his skull. Dimly, he realized that Kina had fallen completely silent, and that someone was shaking his shoulder urgently.
Slowly, he peeled his bleeding forehead away from the wall and tilted it to look at a medic, who was looking scandalized at him. "What?" he asked woozily.
"What the hell is wrong with you, boy?" the man asked in horror.
Naruto did not answer right away. Instead, he looked back at the red stripe he'd accidentally painted on the wall. Before his feverish eyes, the blood began to fade away, along with the pain in his head. "Apparently," he muttered, both to the medic and himself, "More than I thought."
The man opened his mouth to ask what he meant, but stopped at the look of fear dawning on the boy's face.
"Winner by Knockout!" Alex's voice suddenly announced, making them jump, "Rock Lee! Medics, if you would come over here?"
The medic called for some comrades and picked up a stretcher. "Been needing these a lot, today," he muttered, walking over to where both combatants lay.
Naruto did not reply. Instead he just stood next to the exit, arms crossed and face pale. What the hell was that? He thought, looking down at a shaking hand, What the fucking hell was that?! Why would I feel hungry about Hinata dying? This has gotta be a Blacklight thing, but… his whole body started shaking, But it's Hinata! I'd rather die than consume her! I…
"Alright!" Once again Alex's voice interrupted Naruto's downward spiral into insanity, "All of the winners of the previous matches, please come down here!"
Jerkily, Naruto pushed off the wall and walked towards where all the other Genin were gathering in front of the elder Blacklight. The only odd one out was Gai, who was standing in for Lee.
Once they were all lined up, Alex nodded in satisfaction and spoke. "Congratulations to you thirteen. You have all passed the Preliminary round of the Third Exam and will be moving on to the Finals!" Reaching into a pocket on his jacket, he pulled out a small pouch. "Now, I want each of you to take a piece of paper from this bag. The number it carries will determine what order you fight in."
Silently, they each stepped forward and reached into the bag, then went back to their place and unfolded the piece of paper. When Naruto got his, he saw that it carried the number 1.
"Good," said Alex firmly, "Now, for the order. Sound off!"
And so it went on, until finally Omoi announced with some trepidation, "Thirteen!"
Alex nodded, looking serious. "Very well. With that, the fights will be…"
The board on the back wall lit up again, this time listing a number of matches.
Finals Round 1
1st: Uzumaki Naruto vs. Hyuuga Neji
2nd: Nara Shikamaru vs. Temari
3rd: Len Ferro vs. Kankuro
4th: Carlos Binarius vs. Samui
5th: Uchiha Sasuke vs. Gaara
6th: Rock Lee vs. Aburame Shino
7th: Winner of 6th vs. Omoi
Naruto's eyes narrowed as he saw his match at the top. So, I'll be fighting that prick from the get-go. Good. I won't need to wait too long. The sound of a clearing throat made him look up. Alex was raising an eyebrow at him, while the other Genin were subtly shuffling away from him. Unknowingly, he had started to leak killing intent with the thought of fighting Neji. Said boy frowned at him, while Gaara was looking somewhat interestedly at him. Chuckling nervously, Naruto scratched his cheek and let the KI disperse.
"Anyway…" Alex muttered, "The Finals will be happening one month from now! You have one month to sharpen your new skills, develop new tactics, whatever! However, while you can see who your opponent is now, this will go on for several rounds. Be prepared to fight anyone else on this list."
Despite the turmoil stirring in his gut, Naruto smiled grimly. Plan for the worst, huh? That's not surprising.
Finally, Alex crossed his arms. "The Finals will be conducted at the arena in the village center. That is all. You are dismissed!"
The gathering broke up, individual members wandering to join the remains of their teams. Kakashi came up to Naruto with Sakura and Sasuke in tow. "You don't look so good, Naruto," Kakashi pointed out casually. His eye, however, showed that he was genuinely concerned.
His student tried to smile reassuringly, but managed only a weak one. "Yeah…there's a reason for that."
The Jōnin sighed, rubbing at his head. "If you want to check on Hinata-chan that badly, you can go. As for training, we can talk about it later."
"Oh, and Naruto."
Kakashi eye-smiled. "You did well. After what you'd just seen, no one would've blamed you for fighting recklessly, but you managed to keep calm."
Naruto's weak smile took a decidedly more savage turn. "Oh, I'm still pissed off. I'm just saving the anger for next month."
"I figured as much," muttered the silver-haired man. He watched as the blond walked away without another word. Honestly, I don't know what's worse, him suppressing that anger or…. Of course, even as he thought that, Kakashi wasn't so sure what was supposed to be 'worse.'
Naruto found the infirmary easily, as it was located right by the arena for ease of access. He waylaid a nurse and asked where he could find Hyuuga Hinata. After checking the records, she told him that the girl had been taken to the Intensive Care Unit and would be transferred afterward to the hospital. Naruto took a second to thank her, then ran. He moved so fast, those he passed in the hallway gave exclamations as the orange blur shot past, stirring up a wind.
When he reached the ominous double doors, however, he was unable to enter. The nurse standing outside told him that disturbing the doctors while the surgery was progressing would be disastrous. He would have to wait.
After being told so, Naruto numbly stumbled over a nearby bench and almost collapsed onto it. He stared listlessly at the ceiling, pale and shaking, before finally closing his eyes. When he opened them he was in the dim, enormous chamber of his mindscape. All the while, he felt…something. Like a large, dark, empty bubble was swelling up inside his chest and up his throat. Even as he continued to stare upward, he felt a heavy warmth suddenly settle over his torso. He looked down blearily and saw that Kina had sat down on his lap.
"It's okay," she murmured hoarsely, hugging Naruto tightly, "Hinata-chan will be alright. She'll get out of this, okay?"
Slowly, Naruto encircled the fox-girl with his own arms and pulled her even closer. Then, finally, the bubble burst. A howl of emotions erupted from his throat, full of fury, misery, fear, and helplessness. In the absolute privacy of his own mind, the young Blacklight finally gave vent to the feelings of uselessness that had grown from watching the one girl who cared about him get struck down repeatedly, the anger from listening to her own flesh and blood denounce her without a second thought, and the terror of wondering whether she'd die and why he felt hungry by thinking about it.
As he lamented, on and on, Kina silently held him. She had already given voice to her fears, so she let him carry on alone, but gave him support with her embrace, burying her face in his shoulder.
Sometime later, Naruto came back to himself and found a thin woolen blanket draped over his body as he sat on the infirmary bench. Looking up sleepily, he saw that the ICU door's light had gone out.
"Ah, you're awake." It was the nurse from earlier. Standing next to her was Alex, who was looking sympathetically down at him.
"The surgery was successful," the older man told him, "Hinata's fine."
Naruto said nothing, but the smile of relief that spread across his tired face said it all.
"C'mon, let's get you home. You can go visit her tomorrow."
"…'Kay," he mumbled.
Alex took him by the shoulder and steered him down the hall. However, with his back turned and his hood up, Naruto was unable to catch the look of guilt that came over his other tenant's face.
The next day, Naruto lay still in bed after waking. Try as he might, he couldn't work up the desire to get up.
Hey kid. Enough moping already, you've got a month to get ready to face Neji.
…Yeah. Slowly, he lifted himself up and heavily moved about the room. A knock at his front door snapped him into a stronger state of consciousness and he crossed the apartment to open it.
Standing at the door was a familiar white-haired man. "Yo, Naruto," greeted Jiraiya cheerfully. The smile on his face faded slightly as he took in the younger boy's glum countenance. "You look terrible," he observed.
Naruto shrugged listlessly, then paused to gather himself. "Yeah, well...I've been better," he managed. He forced a small smile onto his face. "So, what's up, Ero-Sennin?"
"Gh-!" Jiraiya blanched at the nickname, but quickly composed himself. "Hmph. I'll let that slide because your girlfriend is in the hospital, but in the future you'll address me with a bit more respect. Got that, kid?"
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah, keep dreaming, Ero-Sennin."
"Why you little-! Tch. Fine. I guess if you're gonna be like that, then I guess I don't feel like training you!" the Toad Sage crossed his arms and glanced away disinterestedly.
However, this gambit did not work the way he hoped it would. "'Kay, bye," Naruto grunted, starting to push the door closed.
The white-haired man quickly pushed it back and snapped, "Alright, alright, no need to be testy! And I really am here to train you, though."
Taken aback, Naruto blinked at him. "Wait...really?"
"Heheheh, I know what you're thinking. 'Why would the most handsome member of the Sannin want to train a mere Genin like myself?'"
"Actually," the boy deadpanned, "I was wondering why I can't just train with Kakashi-sensei or Alex."
Jiraiya sputtered for a second, then drooped disappointedly. "Alex can't train you," he mumbled, "He's the Proctor for the Third Exam, so he has to stay neutral."
"Ah. That makes sense."
"And as for Kakashi...he said he has to focus on that Uchiha kid for his fight against that guy from Suna."
Naruto's eye twitched. "...Imagine that," he grunted. In truth, he wasn't that surprised. If he was honest with himself, he had to admit that Gaara would be a much more dangerous opponent than Neji. "Okay, so you want to train me instead. Why's that?"
For a moment, the white-haired man kept quiet. He glanced off to the side, an uncomfortable look on his face. Then, he said, "Well...I haven't been that good of a Godfather."
"We already went over that, yeah," agreed the boy, shrugging, "And?"
"And, I figured, why not try to make up for my mistake now by...you know, helping you get stronger," he finished, almost lamely.
Naruto stared at him for a long time, his eyes reflecting turmoil. Finally, he smiled slightly, eyes turning damp. "I think I'd like that," he said softly.
"Great!" said the Sannin brusquely, "We'll start today. I'll need to see what you can do first, so-"
"Actually," Naruto interrupted him, still quiet, "If it's alright, I'd like to wait until later to do all that. I still need to see..."
Surprised, Jiraiya blinked at him, but realized what his new student was talking about. "Ah," an understanding smile appeared, "That girlfriend of yours. Alright, we'll start later in the afternoon; get on over to Training Ground 54 once you're done. Just don't get up to anything that I would!" He winked at the blond and vanished in a puff of smoke.
Said blond's eyebrows shot up at the unexpected innuendo, followed by an irritated grumble. "Tch. Freakin' perv."
Well, it's not like he said anything bad, said Kina cheerfully.
Ah, clam up.
Alex put in his own two cents. If you want to see Hinata, we should go now.
Yeah, yeah, no need to tell me twice! Naruto finally snorted and set out through his still-open door, making sure to lock it behind him, of course (he wasn't that stupid).
He reached the hospital in what seemed like no time at all, and quickly located the room where Hinata was being kept, up on the third floor.
Upon reaching the room, Naruto knocked on the door. A faint "Come in" prompted him to slide it open and enter.
The inside was pretty much what he'd expected; small and clean. Being a private room, the bed was positioned directly next to the window. Propped up on the bed, looking pale and tired, was Hinata. She smiled faintly at him. "Hello, Naruto-kun," she greeted, "I knew you'd be coming around."
"Hinata," Naruto began. But his throat suddenly felt constricted and he couldn't figure out what to say.
"Come here," she said simply, beckoning him over. Wordlessly, he did so, coming to stand by her bedside. "I'm alright now," she told him, offering him her hand, "I'm just feeling tired. Even if you sleep through it, surgery is exhausting. But that's enough about me…what happened after I was taken away?"
Naruto stirred a bit, seemingly lost in thought and finally said, "My fight was immediately after yours. I fought that red-haired girl from Kumo and won, obviously. So I'm moving on to the Finals next month."
Immediately Hinata's eyes widened at the news. "Ah! That's really good, Naruto-kun! I'm glad that you got through."
"You didn't, though," he pointed out gloomily.
She rolled her eyes and smacked his lower arm. "Oh, don't be like that. Even if I had gone on to the Finals, we would've ended up fighting each other at some point. Ah, who's your first opponent?"
Hinata stilled. "Oh," she murmured. After a moment she quietly, almost pleadingly said, "Please don't kill him."
"I won't make any promises," Naruto growled darkly, "He nearly killed you! Family or not, I'm not gonna let that slide."
"I'm not asking you to let it go," she corrected him soothingly, "It's a fight; you're going to end up hurting him regardless. Just please…don't go too far."
Grimacing, the blond glanced away. While he very much wanted to take the Hyuuga boy to task for what he'd done, the sad expression that his girlfriend gave him made him want to curl up inside to get away from it. His face twisted bitterly. "…Yeah, alright," he sighed, reaching out to pat her on the shoulder, "I'll try to...keep a lid on it. But if he starts going on about that predestination crap again-"
The girl took his hand, squeezing it. "Feel free to lambaste him in that case," she told him patiently, "Verbally."
Naruto glared at her without any heat, before sighing. "Jeez, and just the other day I was the one comforting you...things are so fucked up right now."
"Naruto-kun...?" she asked, taken aback as she blinked.
The boy stilled, face contorting as he considered telling her what he had felt the previous day. "You…you were amazing, when you fought that guy," he said finally, softly, "I was proud of you…"
Hinata smiled warmly at him.
Her expression became alarmed as Naruto slowly, haltingly, told her about the dark, gnawing hunger he had experienced while thinking about her. The boy flinched at her reaction and looked about ready to bolt, even as he said, "I-I don't want to feel that way, but I did…for a second, I wanted to eat you, Hinata-chan…" He looked away, eyes watering. "I don't…I don't know what to do…"
Hinata sat back, watching him with a neutral, but not cold face. "That's…because of your Blacklight abilities, isn't it?" she asked finally.
He nodded jerkily. "Y-yeah, of course. I mean, what else could it've been?" he answered, voice shaking.
The blue-haired girl smiled slightly. "Then, if I give you my DNA, you won't have to worry about that, right?"
"Huh?" Naruto finally looked back at her, confused, "What're you-?" He broke off suddenly as his girlfriend's arms wrapped around his neck and pulled him close. The next thing he knew, her lips were against his and she was kissing. He barely had time to dazedly think, S-soft… before a soft, small tongue slipped through to rub against his. He fell back with a yelp, his mismatched eyes wide with shock as he stared at the blushing girl. "W-what the hell?!" he protested.
Hinata ducked her head shyly, but smiled. "S-sorry. I figured that if your powers wanted my DNA, my saliva would do and you wouldn't have to w-worry about wanting to eat me anymore…did it work?"
The blond boy blinked, looking inward. To his shock, he actually could feel something new seeping into his being; new capabilities and memories, ways of altering his own body and eyes. "H-Hinata-chan…do you know what that means?" he asked slowly, "You just…gave me your skills. Your Byakugan. I'll be able to copy everything you can do. I'll…I'll know all of your memories."
She nodded, smiling. "That's fine. If makes you not be afraid to look me in the eye, then I'm fine with it."
"But," Naruto felt a sense of panicked confusion rising in his chest, "But, aren't I just stealing your hard work by doing that? You must've-!" She spun on her feet, bending as far as she could and lashing out with glowing fingers, night after night, eyes activated to see as much as she could. "No…you trained so hard to make these…"
"Like I said," Hinata spoke loudly and slowly, making sure he paid attention, "If it's you, I don't mind that. Your power is to use the experiences of others as your own…it would actually make me h-happy," she blushed, "If you used my techniques and my eyes."
The boy gulped. "You…" he muttered, a sore lump in his throat, "You're so sweet, Hinata-chan…I promise, I'll take those precious techniques of yours…and I'll show Neji just how wrong he was!" He looked into her eyes, so she could see the resolve in his. "I promise!"
The pale, round-faced Hyuuga felt a thrill pass through her at the intensity of his gaze. Why were you so scared? she thought distantly, You're still Uzumaki Naruto, to the core. "Un!" she acknowledged, smiling widely. A thought occurred to her and she added, "Er, but don't rely on just those, okay? You're still you, so you should use everything you have."
"What, even Kina? That's a bit overkill, don't you think?" he asked dubiously. Then his face twisted into a faux-thoughtful expression, "But, if you insist…"
"Eh? Uwaaa, no! No-no-no! Don't point the Kyuubi no Yoko at my cousin!" Hinata yelped, flailing her arms in panic.
Naruto cackled gleefully. "Hehah! Don't worry, I won't kill him! I…" his expression faltered as he tapped his head, "I can see…how much he means to you, now."
Both of them fell silent for a moment. After that, Naruto stood up. "Well, I think I've said everything I wanted to," he said brusquely, stretching his arms, "I'm gonna go find that Ero-Sennin. He's offered to train me for the month until the Finals, so I guess I'll be going now."
"Ah…" Hinata looked torn for a moment, but only said, "W-well, good luck. Um, ac-actually! Could I talk with Alex-san for a bit, in private?"
"Alex?" asked Naruto slowly, frowning, "Why…? I mean, yeah, okay, sure."
There was a blast of black smoke and the tall, dark-clothed man appeared, arms crossed. He eyed Hinata with an inscrutable gaze, before saying, "Alright, if you want it to be private, then I'll talk. Naruto, if you don't mind?"
The blond nodded, casting a slightly confused look over his shoulder as he left the room.
The warm atmosphere that had occupied the hospital room previously cooled slightly as the two remaining people examined each other. "You're holding up pretty well," Alex noted idly.
"Yes," Hinata agreed, hand wandering too her gown-covered chest, "I wanted to thank you for what you did during the s-surgery."
Alex shrugged. "I only made sure you wouldn't die," he replied simply "The virus I left in you ought to have degraded and dispersed by now. It's a wonder Naruto didn't notice you thinking about it after you decided to swap spit with him."
The girl squeaked and ducked her head, while he chuckled. After a moment, though, he stopped to give her a thoughtful look. "That can't be all you wanted to say to me, though," he mused, "Otherwise you wouldn't have sent Naruto out."
She nodded, her face becoming serious. "Y-yes. I…I have a favor to ask you, Alex-san."
Hinata bit her lip, indecision flickering in her pale eyes, before she finally said, "I want…to not fall behind Naruto-kun."
I wonder what she wanted from him, Naruto thought to himself. He was making his way to the Training Ground Jiraiya had told him about.
Well, he can't train you for the month since he's refereeing, Kina pointed out, Maybe she wants him to help train her for something.
He frowned. That doesn't make sense. What could she learn from him in the first place? Naruto briefly thought about the skills and abilities he'd acquired from his girlfriend. …Yeah, that doesn't add up. Her style doesn't fit Alex's…
The foxgirl shrugged inside his head. I dunno. Just throwin' out ideas.
With a thoughtful grunt, Naruto continued on his way. After another few minutes, he took to the rooftops, bounding through the air, as was normal for ninjas. As he traveled, the young Blacklight took the time to mentally parse through the gift Hinata had given him. He did his best to not peek at her more private memories, but the other information interested him. He'd gotten a glimpse at how she saw the world with her Byakugan in the first exam, but to have that ability directly was a different experience. He could see for many kilometers in nearly all directions, independently of where he looked. Examining his body, he realized that rays of chakra were being emitted from a series points all along his body. Searching Hinata's memories and knowledge, he realized that those must be his Tenketsu. Huh. So the Byakugan's ability is to turn all their Tenketsu eyes, he realized, That's cool. Oh, except for that one spot on the spine…oh well.
Not only could he see in all directions for great distances, his vision could pierce through the environment unhindered, letting him easily spot the blue, flame-like auras of other people. In fact, that blue was the only color he could see. Everything else was monochrome. Well, it's not like I can't make out the details anyway, thought Naruto, Hm…can I find Ero-sennin this way? He said he'd be at a training ground, so maybe over in that direction…?
And so he turned his senses towards the outskirts of the main village, searching for any particularly powerful chakra signatures. Spotting one, he went to investigate.
"Back already?" asked the white-haired old man when he arrived. He stood on a small hill overlooking the other training fields, with a small forest behind him. "I thought you wanted some quality time with your girl."
Naruto shrugged. "I did. She gave me a bit of a present to help me out with my match…anyway, let's get down to it."
Jiraiya snorted. "Jeez, so impatient. For now, tell me what you can do, then show me."
The boy grinned, cracking his knuckles. "Alrighty! Where to start…"
AN: And this brings the chapter to a close. Kept you all waiting, huh?
So in the end I decided to skip the Lee/Olivia fight. Given how much of a pain it was to get out this chapter, I think that was the right decision.
Naruto's Blacklight hunger does not discriminate between loved ones and enemies. If they are strong, he must feed.
And thus Hinata gives Naruto her DNA, creating a bond between them that can never be truly broken.
…So yeah, that's about it.
As always, if you have comments or questions, send me a PM or leave a Review.
North South Out.