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redeyedavenger in narukorp

Use your stomach, not your lungs [Sachiko, Hinaji]

[happens before This won't hurt. Really.]

Sachiko chose to spend her free time doing nothing but rarely. Today was one of those days. Another session with her team was concluded, and she had nothing scheduled save her own self-prescribed training. She'd thought she'd heard rumors of some bruhaha going on with the Hyuuga but she'd given them little attention. Whatever that bunch was up to, it certainly was their own business.

Though, it could explain why there'd no word from Hinaji for the past--she ticked off the time in her brain--wow, five months? That could be part of it. And also, maybe their first fire-jutsu lesson had gone off worse then she'd thought, and he decided that he didn't want to continue. She scowled at the sky from her prone position on a bench. Well, hell, he could've at least told her something.




Truthfully Hinaji had forgotten about his lessons with Sachiko. Mastering the kaiten seemed such a little thing lately when his family was falling apart around him. He never had much confidence in learning fire jutsu, anyway.

So when he spotted Sachiko laying on the bench, he very nearly turned around. Moving forward with his family exhausted him of almost all his courage for outclan, but he couldn't stop the guilt tugging at him. He'd left off contact with her suddenly, which was rude at best. Perhaps she wouldn't want to speak with him, though...?

He took a breath and continued walking, although he stopped a few feet from the bench. "Sachiko-san?" He was proud he didn't fidget much. "It's been a long time..." All his fault, and he cringed a little at how callous he sounded. "H-how've you been?"




She turned her head when a voice addressed her, surprised to see Hinaji while at the same time cursing her own lack of awareness at not detecting his approach. Was she getting too complacent? That could be a problem... (Still, interesting how she had been thinking of him and then bam! he shows up.) Sitting up, she pushed the thought away and dipped her head in acknowledgement. "I've been fine. Yourself?" He wasn't fidgeting that much, but the stammer did give a little away.




He dipped his head in return. "I've been...well. I'm sorry about not contacting you." He dipped his head farther in apology, awkward and embarrassed out in the open as they were. "I didn't mean to." Well, not entirely.

He straightened himself out after a few more seconds, but remained standing in place. There were many things he could ask, and many more he didn't think he had a right to after basically ditching their lessons. He wasn't sure if it was really alright to ask anything. But still... "Why are you here?"

A simple question that hopefully wouldn't be seen as rude after all this time.




Sachiko smirked. "I could ask the same for you, but I won't." The smirk melted away to a more typical, more serious expression. "Apology accepted, though why didn't you contact me?" A simple answer would be fine; she wasn't expecting him to elaborate. But she wanted something.




His face reddened and he bowed his head again. "...I'm sorry." She deserved an answer, and he wanted to give one, but he wasn't prepared to air family problems in front of her. But he needed to give her some answer.

"...Things have been busy at home. I let this training slip my mind." He kept his head bowed while he bowed from the waist. "I have no excuse. I'm sorry."




"If it's family issues, then I can understand. Don't apologize." Certainly, she wished she could have what amounted to 'normal' family problems instead of the strange...thing she had with her sister. "But things have calmed down enough that you might be interested in resuming training?" she prompted.




Had things calmed down? The initial shock was over, but he didn't think they'd ever truly calm down. But a distraction would be nice, so he nodded and lifted himself out of his bow, a very small, very weak smile on his face.

"I would like that, yes."




People and their smiling. Would she ever really understand either of them?

In reply, she gave him another smirk of her own. "Excellent. Doing anything right now?"




He blinked and stared at her a split second before Hyuuga control took over. That was the last request he'd been expecting. "Ah, no, I'm not. I was just walking." Kiba was busy until later and he didn't want to stay home right then. Hanabi was in a meeting so there wasn't much for him to do.

Although, wasn't this perfect timing to get back into this training? He needed everything he could learn to help protect his brother. He didn't put stock in Fate the way Nejiko-neesan or the rest of his family did, but the coincidence was rather high.

"Is there anywhere we could train, though?"




"Same place as before," she answered, meaning the secluded part of the river where she had first run into him working on the Kaiten. "You'll need a refresher on the breathing exercises before we start playing with fire, and even then we're not going to do anything that is considered 'advanced' by the village. So the water in the river should be enough."

She got to her feet and motioned with her hand for him to come along. "Tell me what you remember of the last lesson," she said.




Hinaji followed obediently like a puppy, his mind working quickly to remember that lesson from months ago. "Mostly breathing," he said, a small frown on his face as they picked their way through the village toward the river. "Different forms of breathing--deep, shallow, heavy--and making sure there's no dizziness with any of them." He barely dodged the little kids who shot out of an alleyway, chasing each other with toy shuriken as they played ninja tag. "Um... You had to correct me a lot," he added, blushing darkly.

Breathing wasn't necessarily a problem for a Hyuuga; concentration was big with the Byakugan. But this kind of breathing, and the intensity with which Sachiko taught left him nearly at a loss. She never yelled, which was good, but her displeasure was palpable whenever he messed up. In that way she reminded him of his mother, and he wanted to do his best to be correct. Sachiko differed in that while she was hard on him, she also was patient and explained things after showing her displeasure. It was a welcome change from being drilled and drilled until he could barely stand.

"I think we did just a little bit of fire, at the end. But mainly you had me breathing."




"Right. Breathing's more important than the actual fire because what fire jutsu basically is, is chakra energy turned into everyday combustion energy." Sachiko felt proud of that explanation; reading the archives was looking to be helpful after all! "Only fire jutsu, starting out as chakra and thus a kind of 'pure' energy, burns hotter when directly mixed with oxygen." And considering people exhaled carbon dioxide and not pure O2 it made you wonder (or it made Sachiko wonder) how much hotter it could really burn. Thankfully, she wasn't curious enough to experiment with a canister of oxygen.

"That's why the breathing is so important," she continued. She knew she had covered some of this already, but after five months? T'was refresher time. "Fire is like a living organism on its own. It is born, it breathes, it consumes, it leaves waste, and it dies. It's the only element that does this. Breathing is the way to exercise some control over it. If you can't control your own breathing, you certainly can't control your fire."

And, they were arrived. Pity it was only February, otherwise she would encourage an exercise that involved one's head being forcibly dunked into the river. That could wait for warmer weather.

"Since you were having problems with the deeper breathing exercises before, we'll start there. Do you swim much?" she asked with seeming randomness.




Hinaji listened attentively, nodding at intervals as she spoke. Most of what she said he vaguely remembered from before, and honestly it was just good advice in the long run, anyway. Breathing was important whether or not fire was the end result. He filed away the information again, and repeated it in his mind whenever there was a lull in the conversation.

They reached the water not too long after. The air was cooler around there, the wind blew unchecked, and he shivered slightly. "Swim?" That question came out of nowhere. "Not much, but I can." When he was younger he swam more often, but he didn't exactly have such a luxury now. He did miss it a bit, though. "...It's too cold for swimming, though."




"Ehh, give it a few months and it'll be hot enough," Sachiko said dismissively. "When it does come, though, I'll be poking you to start swimming as part of training. It's water, so it's one of your own elements, and secondarily it'll help you with regulating your breathing." And actually, she should start swimming more again, too. She used to do it a lot while still living in the compound, but not so much since moving out. It would do her good. In the meantime, her running jaunts were almost as good.

And despite her having to correct him a lot during the first lesson, he wasn't bad. He was just learning, and he applied himself with a focused intensity she approved of. Given time, so long as he maintained that level of discipline, he'd turn out good.

"All right. As this is something of an impromptu lesson, I don't expect it to be terribly long. Just a kind of reminder of what we'd already done. Do you remember the stance?"




He sagged a little in relief. Sachiko wasn't crazy, but she was a tough taskmistress. He wouldn't put it entirely past her to make him swim in the cold.

He nodded at her question and backed up a little as he slipped into the stance, his legs spread a little past shoulder width and bent slightly at the knee. He held his hands in front of his stomach and closed his eyes as he released his breath, then he opened his eyes to look at her to gauge her reaction. The stance felt a little odd--either from the months of not practicing or perhaps he was standing slightly wrong.

"First is shallow breathing, right?"




"Close your eyes; don't worry about me but worry about yourself. I'll let you know when you're doing something wrong," she told him. She waited for him to close his eyes and then she manhandled him into correcting his posture. Mostly, prod him gently in the back of the knee to bend his leg a little more, and reposition his hands so that had he been reaching inside his own body, he would be holding his diaphragm with the flats of his palms. "Better. Before we start the breathing, I want you to really feel that stance. Memorize how your mind registers it. Does it feel awkward? Practice it at home until it becomes more comfortable. Do you feel unbalanced? Find your balance, without moving your feet. Does your breathing feel restricted in any way? Then relax. The stance is not constrictive," she continued, not allowing for any answers had she even asked for them, "it's your own muscles that unused to this."

She continued to circle him, gradually increasing the distance, her feet making no sound and her voice the only indication of where she was. Finally, she stopped circling and watched him from behind, hands in her pockets.




He wouldn't have answered if she gave him the chance, anyway. He frantically tried to take everything in, and spent a good five minutes after she finished speaking just to make himself comfortable. The stance wasn't one he normally took, although it wasn't too far off from a simple jyuuken stance if he thought about it. Some changes in position and the way he held his arms and it would be much more comfortable. He ignored the small bits of discomfort in his thighs, though, and simply concentrated on his breathing.

The breaths were difficult at first, slightly too deep. He felt the air resonate in his lungs, felt the way his body seemed to open up with each new breath, but something still didn't click. He shifted himself again, leaned forward ever so slightly, and his breath evened out and he fully relaxed.

He remained like that for a long time, not sure of the passage of time at all, and without Sachiko's movements it was impossible to tell where she'd gone. He itched to know, to open his eyes, but he focused on his breath, pushed the energy through him, and gradually moved from the simpler exercises to the harder ones he vaguely remembered from five months ago.




She waited until he seemed to find a rhythm, then she began a quiet cadence: "In-hale, ex-hale; in-hale, ex-hale; in-hale, ex-hale; in-hale..." She kept her pace steady, starting purposefully with the shallower breaths and using a bit of circular breathing herself so she didn't have to pause in her speaking to draw in more breath. She felt some questions cropping up, too, so she thought them now to keep in mind for when they finished. First and foremost was, if the Hyuuga were supposed to have hereditary knack for wind jutsu, did they ever do breathing exercises of their own? So much could be done with a breath of just air. At least, that was her thought. She hadn't much exposure to wind jutsu beyond the basics taught at the academy and then reinforced by Kakami and Asuka, and the Rasengan wasn't exactly 'learned' though she practiced long and hard with it in order to get it right.

After two minutes, Sachiko began slowing the pace until she reached what she wanted him to really work on. "Inhale. ... Exhale. ... Inhale. ... Exhale. ... Inhale. ..." Purposefully, she had him exhale for as long as he inhaled. Most people tended to force out used air in one big whoosh. Sachiko was at times guilty of this herself, usually when she pushed herself way too far past her own limits. When he messed up, she created a regular bunshin to do the talking for her. "Make sure you exhale for the same amount of time as you inhale. Exhale too fast, and a fire jutsu could literally blow up in your face." Reprimand given, the bunshin poffed! away and Sachiko's cadence continued, though she sped it up a smidgen to accommodate his mistake. She'd keep it there until he kept that an even pace, then she planned on slowing down more again.




Hinaji's forehead felt damp despite the crisp February air, but he tried to ignore it and listen to Sachiko. The bunshin appearing nearly distracted him, and his breath skipped slightly, but he caught himself quicker than the other times he messed up in their first lesson. Keeping a steady rythm was difficult at best, and it burned to hold the air in so long to exhale. Usually he worked in quick bursts of breath to match the jabs and flow of the jyuuken.

The chanting eventually faded to a drone as he forced himself to comply, and while the burning never entirely went away it was easier to hold out his exhale. Keeping such close tabs on what he did actually felt good, as well. The swirl of chakra moving through him smoothed out some, his mind didn't feel heady, and he visibly relaxed. Even when the chanting slowed down again he didn't have too much trouble, although he did feel slightly dizzy at first. A quick shift to adjust his stance fixed that.

The air cooled more as they continued, slower and slower until his chest felt on fire and each breath barely filled his lungs. He refused to back down and forced himself to relax, to keep his eyes from squeezing shut in pain. He would get this.




A few moments after he felt his lungs burn Sachiko began to gradually speed up the pace, taking her time so he could adjust internally to the intake levels, until they reached normal breathing again. She kept him at that pace a while before stopping. "Not bad, not bad," she commented before going to the river to scoop up a handful of water to wet her throat. The water tasted very mineral-y and the sediment in the water scraped at her throat a little, but it was cold and wet and that's what really mattered. It helped; end of story. "How do you feel?"




"...Tired," he admitted and opened his eyes. Sweat beaded on his skin and he moved out of the stance to join her for a drink. He opted first to splash the water over his face, though he was sure doing so wasn't the smartest of things while the wind kept up like this. But he felt dirty and gross.

Once his face was clean he eagerly drank up some water. When he finished he leaned back near the bank for a few moments and then glanced over at Sachiko.

"One more time, or do we move on?"




"Let's do it a second time, since you feel so inclined," she replied, half her mouth pulling into a smirk again. She didn't wonder why she was smirking; it was her way of 'smiling', she would have guessed if asked. Plus, she had intended to give him a little more time to rest, but since he was so eager why should they stop?

She waited for him to assume the stance and close his eyes. She started the cadence again, but this time when she got to the deep breaths she added in a "hold" command between each inhale and exhale. The holds were for half the time of the in-/exhale, just long enough for him to really feel how fully-inflated lungs feel, and how it feels to have no breath at all.




Hinaji settled into the stance easier this time, his body and lungs accustomed to the training already. The holds were not entirely unexpected, but they did begin to take their toll after a while, and each breath seemed not to fill his lungs enough. He continued without complaint, his skin once again covered in sweat. When Sachiko finally sped up her chanting he swayed a little, dizzy, and when they finished he nearly beelined for the water.

He landed on his knees on the bank and happily splashed water over himself. His vision swam slightly, his head felt heavy, but he didn't mind. Hopefully those things meant he did well with the training (that or he performed horribly). Either way it felt good to be training again in some way.

He gulped down some water and then lay back against the bank and closed his eyes and just breathed in and out. He peeked an eye open when he heard Sachiko move around.

"...I think I'm done for today," he admitted.




"That's fine," she replied as she came over to check on him. She hadn't missed how he'd wavered in the stance. "I didn't really have a lesson plan or anything, so this is a good start to getting back into training. How do you feel?"




He smiled, albeit weakly. "Tired. But good." He sat up and wrapped his arms around his knees. "I didn't keep up with the training, so it really showed." He would be sore for the next few days as well, he was sure. "Is there anything you noticed that was really bad?"




She shook her head. "Nothing I haven't already pointed out. Owing to how long it's probably been since you have done this sort of training, I'd say the only thing that needs the work will be your endurance. That'll come with practice. Maybe it's something you might do as a cool-down after your other training?" she suggested.




He nodded. Breathing was important in the jyuuken as well, just not quite to this extent. "I'll do that."

He flopped back down again and threw a hand over his eyes. The clouds were parting. "...Thank you. For taking the time to train today. It was a neat coincidence that we met, though." He closed his eyes but didn't move his hand, and just listened to the wind as his breathing slowly calmed down more and more.

"...Have you seen Naruko-chan or Sakurai-san lately?"




"Sakurai and I have been making it a point to get to see each other for a while at least on Sundays," Sachiko replied as she sat down near him, but made sure to maintain personal space. "More if we can, our schedules permitting. Asuka-taichou'd said she'd start taking us out on missions that go outside the village so that could change, but that's not happened yet. As for Naruko..." She sighed quietly. "She's been busy with Jimaiya. Training, she says, and I have no idea what kind of training it is but I can only hope it's going well. She pops in so infrequently, usually when Jimaiya needs to report to Tsurude-sama, and then they're gone again."

She looked out at the tree line with a kind of resolute look on her face. Naruko'd still been herself, happy and bouncy, but every time they left again, Sachiko worried. She had to tell herself so long that no real news came back, Naruko was doing okay and not having problems with the Kyuubi. Mentally or physically. If something was going wrong with her body, Sachiko knew Sakurai would be among the first to know or to find out. As for the Kyuubi itself... Nothing to imply the seal was weakening more than what Naruko had already said. Jimaiya was a seal expert, said Tsurude. Jimaiya also hopefully knew about the mindwalking thing, at least so far as it pertained to keeping the Kyuubi muzzled. If something happened to change the situation to the point that Sachiko was needed...

Hopefully that wouldn't be for a long time. No, what was more important was for Naruko to be able to learn how to control that chakra on her own so she could defend herself against any Akatsuki. Jimaiya was Team 7's "great-grandsensei". If anyone could help Naruko, it was her.




"That's good you can see them." However infrequently. He was lucky that he saw Kiba as much as he did, but Hoshino was almost always busy. And Kureno had other relationships things to worry about (and about time, too, Team Eight wasn't that stupid). "I don't know what I'd do without my own team." And not even being able to leave the village would be doubly hard without someone close to you to visit. He didn't envy Sachiko her position at all.

Although, now that he thought about it... "How is Asuka-sensei?" He glanced around and lowered his voice just a bit. "Kureno-sensei always seems distracted. Is it the same for her?"




"Presuming you mean during training, I'd have to say that alas, there looks to be no discernible change in Asuka-taichou's general personality," Sachiko replied. Then she smirked. "Though she's been a lot less tolerant of 'comments from the peanut gallery' about anything even remotely involving her and Kureno-sensei. Which considering she and I have a bit of a history combined with the fact her niece is also her student... Hm." Konohako styled herself a prankster. Asuka might be expecting something to happen on Valentine's Day, so that would be a bad time, but maybe after... She'd have to plot. "Though it's good they're finally recognizing what practically the whole village has known for years."




He smiled at that. Team Eight didn't pick on Kureno too much, but his relationship with Asuka definitely fell into the public knowledge area. "Yes. I think they needed that a lot." Especially after all the problems they'd gone through over the past few years. Some old-fashioned closeness was good.

Old-fashioned closeness could also be distracting. "I wish they'd done so earlier though. Maybe it wouldn't be so new to them around now then." As amusing as it was to speculate, there was something weird about catching the two teachers out together on the lover's holiday. Hinaji wasn't sure he was ready for that.

...He still hadn't gotten Kiba anything.




"Eh. Everyone moves at their own pace. But if they're happy, then that's what matters." She glanced at him. "How are things on your team?" Because in some ways, it seemed like they were having problems of their own a while back. Sachiko was pretty sure things were mended (Kiba and Hinaji had looked quite happy at the Christmas party, after all), but it couldn't hurt to have a little more info so she could put it fully to rest.




"We're doing well." He blushed a bit. "I see Kiba-chan the most, but we're all doing alright." He actually meant to go see sensei again sometime soon and properly explain everything that happened over the past few months with his family. "We mostly take separate missions."

He brought his hand down to his side and glanced over at Sachiko. "You know, we never did find out why each other was out here. ...I didn't interrupt anything for you, did I?"




Sachiko laughed once, more an amused exhalation than anything. "If you had, I wouldn't have really offered for a little training. No," she continued, "I was actually just taking a break, really. Kaka-sensei once told me that I needed to have some free time where I wasn't training. So I thought maybe I'd give it a try."

No need to mention that Kakami's suggestion had been offered back when they were rookie genin and she thought Sachiko was pushing herself too hard.




"Yes but, you still trained anyway. Well, sort of," he said and grinned back. Now that he was fully relaxed from the training, he felt comfortable lying on the bank as he was. Talking with Sachiko wasn't bad, either. He still wasn't sure how to take that, but he didn't mind so much. The rest of his world was turned upside down anyway; friendship with an Uchiha really didn't matter much on the scale compared to that. Just don't tell his mother that.

"I was just walking around, really," he said. "So it was a nice coincidence to meet. It's been a while, and..." He paused. "Did you ever get things figured out with your family records?"




"...Actually, I've been so busy with stuff I haven't been to the archives in a while," she replied after a moment's realization. "But, it's still...the same." Her scalp itched, so she scratched it. "The only way I'm able to keep track of what I've found and read is because I make sure to glance at what I'm currently reading and where it goes with Sharingan. And though there seems to be little rhyme or reason to placement beyond 'Oh hey, there's some shelf space here', I..." She shrugged. "It kind of feels like some things are missing, but I've checked all the likely places to see if stuff was hidden somewhere. And disorganized as everything is, it'd be impossible to tell if something was actually missing. Unless you were the one in charge of the records."

She watched the water and wondered why she was telling him this. Probably in part because owing to the possible explosion of his mother and/or clan if anyone found out was a good reason not to mention their training or talks to anyone. Probably also, too, that coming from a similar background as far as certain things went helped too. Like when they had had their doujutsu talks, it was nice to have someone who could really understand some of those things that others wouldn't get. Not because they didn't try, but they didn't grow up in a clan that used doujutsu and who also was very particular about a great many things.

Though there was the very strong likelihood that Kureno'd find out, via the mindwalking training. She was sure that Kureno would keep it confidential, but at the same time she didn't exactly feel comfortable with him finding out.




"...Could anything be missing? Someone may have stolen something long ago, or during the time when the compound was closed down?" He didn't want to think of theft, especially not of an abandoned compound, but the possibility was always there. Even with the security system set up, this was a village of ninja. Someone might have gotten through.

The Hyuuga files were carefully guarded, and only a few were able to enter. Getting to those was indeed difficult; but Sachiko hadn't lived in the compound for a couple years. "I hope that's not the case, though." History was important, especially about doujutsu. His own family was in turmoil because of the secrets of their bloodline. To have information stolen was devestating.




She shrugged. "I don't know. There's no way of really telling, like I said. Everything's so disorganized. So I could just be thinking something's missing simply because I haven't found it yet." And there were a LOT of records to go through, plus there was only so much she could stand to sit and read before she needed to get away from it. Therein lay the reason she didn't go there every day, but more along the lines of a few hours each week.




He nodded. "Hopefully." He shivered a little as the wind picked up for a second. It was getting late. He sat up and stretched. "If there's anything I can help you with I'll try." He wanted to do something to help her for everything she did for him. And learning more about the Uchiha was always a nice unexpected reward.

The wind blew past again and he stood and brushed off his pants. "...I should probably go now, though. Thank you for today." He bowed politely, as a student does to a teacher.




"You're welcome," she said, getting to her own feet and feeling that bit of discomfort again at the deep bow. She wasn't a sensei, she was just...helping. "Practice those breathing exercises. Then we'll see about moving along from there, okay?"




He straightened up and nodded. "I will. I'll get in contact with you again soon, if that's alright?" The more they trained the faster he could advance, and that was the least he could do for his brother. He had a lot of catching up to do.




She nodded. "Sure thing. See you later, then."




"Yeah. Goodbye." He turned and headed for the compound feeling much better than when he'd left.

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