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redeyedavenger in narukorp

[AU] Affinities [Hinaji, Sachiko]

takes place after Asuka paper-tests Hinaji

Hinaji wandered around Konoha for a while after leaving Asuka, his thoughts going every which way. So Sachiko'd been right about his affinities, but to have it confirmed like that was still a big blow. He clenched and unclenched his hands at his sides, the movement unnoticed.

Eventually he found himself heading towards the place he trained with Sachiko. He knew he'd have to find her eventually, but he never could seem to find her when he meant to. He could wait there a while, get his thoughts in order, and then go out to search. When he reached the place, though, he stopped and stared at the dark-haired girl already there.

Apparently he wouldn't have to search after all.

Hinaji fidgeted a bit before slowly going over to join her. She sat with her eyes closed, meditating, and he silently sat beside her, his legs pulled up close to his chest and his arms draped across them. He kept silent for a long while, trying to piece his thoughts back together, and when he did finally speak it was with a soft voice.

"...You were right."

The day's training session had been nothing new (for Sachiko, anyway). Asuka still refused to do anything with genjutsu, which Sachiko thought to be profoundly stupid. On the other hand, she could understand the elder Sarutobi's reluctance as even Sachiko could see the trouble Asuka had with it. Sachiko had successfully cast a genjutsu on Asuka twice already without her knowing. Once as a test for Kureno's test, and once as part of Kureno's test. So genjutsu wasn't Asuka's thing. But cripes, kai couldn't be that hard, could it? Sachiko was sure she could teach Konohako and Moegi the kai even if Asuka neglected it. Or, at the least, teach them to get very very good at recognizing when in an illusion.

How she would accomplish this was the focus of her meditation. The location she chose for its relative seclusion. The only person who might think to look here would be Hinaji, and with all the people that had in one way or another become embroiled her life it was nice to simply get away. Of course, then her train of thought switched tracks with that inner feeling of if she didn't mull it over then it wouldn't leave her alone. How in the world she had managed to make so many bonds without realizing it? It didn't make sense!

Not that she could really say it was a bad thing. Not anymore.

She exhaled a sigh and tried to get back to the task at hand. Moegi would be easier to teach; he was more demonstratively intelligent and thus could potentially grasp the fundamentals better. Konohako acted a lot like Naruko and Asuka, which...didn't exactly bode well. So Konohako would be a bigger challenge. And it would be a good test at how well Sachiko could teach. Provided she didn't strangle anyone, which was always possible. Except said stranglings could wait until after the chuunin exam they would eventually take. Kinda needed a three-man team and all.

She registered Hinaji's presence probably a few moments before he got close enough to see her. She didn't say anything, though, and listened as he walked over and sat. Her own pose remained calm, hands resting lightly on the knees of her crossed legs. When he didn't say anything for a while, she started stepping back into deep thought.

Which would figure that that would be the time he spoke.

"About your affinities?" she asked, her voice just as soft.

"...Yes." He hugged his knees closer and rested his chin against them so he was facing Sachiko. His bangs fell in his eyes but he didn't brush them away. "Water and fire."

His thoughts jumped about again and he closed his eyes. The kaiten felt farther and farther away, and so too did his ability to become a good Hyuuga. How rare was it, to not be born with a wind affinity? How could he explain that away if ever asked?

"I'm not sure what to do now," he finally admitted and turned his head, his chin on his knees as he stared out in front of him. "Would giving up be the best route?" His stomach clenched at the thought. Giving up was the last thing he wanted to do, but Asuka made it quite clear that wind was going to be very difficult for him. And very few Hyuuga techniques focused on water outside of control--which wasn't bad at all, but that still only left him with half of his clan's abilities.

Although having such a strong affinity would help with defense. The Hyuuga waterways were there for such a purpose, and having a strong affinity would make manipulation that much easier. And perhaps he'd become better at blocking chakra paths if he focused exclusively on his water attribute.

But he still felt like only half a Hyuuga without any wind affinity.

Sachiko opened her eyes and looked at him and how he stared out at the water. He looked lost and despondent. Unsurprising; he had been so hopeful of getting to master the kaiten, and yet neither his primary nor secondary element was what he needed to have.

"That would depend highly upon what you're giving up on."

He needed to realize or at least acknowledge that being different wasn't the be-all and end-all, though she could certainly understand his plight. She had never matched up to her sister in her mother's eyes. Hinaji couldn't seem to match up to any of his clan's prerequisites on what it meant to be a Hyuuga. She felt for him, she really did.

He sighed. "...I don't know. I don't want to give up anything, but..." But the kaiten was out of reach now. Without that he really was nothing more than a Branch member. He'd have lost to his family in the biggest way.

"I really don't know what to do."

"How about working on jutsu involving the affinities you do have?" she prompted. "I'm still offering to help you with the fire jutsu, and the water as well if you want, though I'll bet good money you're better on the water jutsu than I am."

Hinaji smiled shyly and pressed his face into his knees. "...Yeah, I know. Thank you." He stared ahead for a few more moments and then turned to look at her, his cheek pressed against his legs. "I'd like that."

She was right. He had affinities to focus on now, and all he could do was make the most of them. It still hurt, though, and he was sure it would take a while before he became comfortable enough to put all of himself into them. But just giving up hurt just as much. He had a teacher right here with him; there was no need to throw it all away.

"For now...I think I won't worry about the kaiten anymore."

His smile wasn't big, but if he could smile then things weren't completely horrible. (Sachiko felt oddly relieved by that...)

She nodded acknowledgement. "That sounds like a good plan. Who knows - maybe you'll make your own version of the kaiten that works with fire, as that's easier to create instead of praying you'll be near a water source." Though, if anyone was going to be able to create (for lack of a better word) water, like the Nidaime had, it would probably be a Hyuuga.

"Some of the training is still going to need to wait until it gets warmer as it involves swimming," she said as she turned her head to look at the river herself. She chose not to mention that as he improved, the weather wouldn't save him from a cold dip. Her own self-training involved swimming in the lake in winter (and too many colds and flus to count, and a case of pneumonia) and the resulting excellent control of her breathing showed. Not just in her fire jutsu, but in her ability to hold her breath underwater (or above, in the case of shit-smelling swamps) exceeded the norm. "But not all of it will."

"Do we have to wait until it's warmer? I'm not afraid of cold water." Some of the ponds and lakes he'd practiced with in the past had been quite cold. But then again, he'd always done so at the height of summer. But he didn't want to wait now that he'd made a decision. He was tired of waiting.

But wait a minute.

"...Swimming?" As much as he practiced with water, he rarely swam. Suddenly he didn't feel too confident. Swimming meant mostly naked.

This time an eyebrow was lifted when she looked at him. "I assume you know how?" He should; after all, that had been part of the training in the academy. But the way he sounded so nervous was suspect. Better to clarify.

Hinaji blushed. "O-of course! Just... I don't often swim with other people..." Last time had been with his team, and even then that was before he'd become involved with Kiba. His face burned brighter. "I just hadn't thought about it..."


"Swimming's the best way to force you to control your breathing and how you inhale and exhale," she said. Her mind worked on figuring what in the world about swimming could make him blush. It was only swimming, after all!

Unless he was just that self-conscious? She considered. It was possible, and he was so very very polite. "And you can always wear a shirt when you swim, too."

If anything he blushed more. And coughed slightly. "I-I know." Right. Breathing control. Don't think about Kiba in a swimsuit. Don't. ...or Sachiko, for that matter, because otherwise he couldn't stop the cold chill that crept up his spine.

He shook his head quickly to clear it and took a long, deep breath. "We were working on breathing control before too, right? So swimming is the next step?" He was rather proud of how even his voice was.

"Swimming is the next step. It will probably be the longest step." It wouldn't hurt him to get his breathing perfected. She truthfully couldn't remember everything she had learned from her parents that involved breathing, before her mother showed her the goukakyuu. Remembering that that technique was considered advanced by the rest of the village was something she had to remind herself of. Maybe she would get better at it in working with Hinaji, because she needed to figure out what the village considered to be base-level fire jutsu so that she could start Hinaji on those.

"...would you mind teaching me any water jutsu?" she asked after a few moments. She wouldn't make it a condition of teaching him, but if he wouldn't mind...

It might give him more confidence with a Hyuuga element, she realized. Thus making the instruction beneficial to both of them. He would improve with an affinity he had greater skill with than her, and she would get a chance to learn more jutsu.

The biggest step, huh? It did make sense. And more exposure with his element was far from a bad thing.

He smiled a bit at her request. When was the last time anyone ever asked him for help? "Of course. I still don't know very much, but what I can I'll teach you." Teaching could only build his strength in the jutsu anyway. And he felt a little jolt of excitement at the thought of being able to help someone.

"When would we start training again?" He glanced up at the bright sky and shaded his eyes. "It should start warming up within a few weeks, don't you think?" And once he started seriously focusing on these techniques the few remaining doubts left by his lack of wind affinity would quickly fade away. He was anxious to have something else to focus on.

"It should," she agreed. She smirked some in amusement. From depressed to cautiously eager in such a short time. It reminded her of something she couldn't quite recall but which still managed to strike a cord. "Training will begin when I have a better lesson plan and a better idea of a training ground. The lake in the Uchiha compound would be the best place, what with all that water and with the seclusion..." She trailed off, thinking already on where a good spot might be. The Uchiha compound was ideal as it tailored to a clan who specialized in fire jutsu. The lake she talked of was big enough and deep enough to handle a good many fire jutsu. The building surrounding the lake - her house - was also set back enough from the water as to not be in so great a danger of combustion from the intense heat. Heat-resistant building materials helped as well, and there were other smaller ponds within the compound that had no buildings around it that they could potentially use. Sachiko was just biased towards 'her' lake.

He had to agree the Uchiha Compound was the best place, although he'd begun to grow a bit attached to this small training ground. But being secretive was definitely best especially if there was swimming involved when training together.

"Is there anything I can do to help with plans? Or anything I should do beforehand to help with training?" He already planned on raiding what he could of his family's library and looking up as much water jutsu as he could, but there was always more he could do. Of course he'd continue with what breathing techniques she'd already shown him, but he wasn't sure how to prepare for learning fire jutsu. Was there special clothing he should wear?

"You should definitely keep training with the breathing exercises I've been teaching you already, only vary it up by doing them stationary or doing them as you go about your normal daily routine. As far as plans... I have a few things I think we may be able to start off with, jutsu-wise. I just want to check to make sure they are beginner-level." She glanced at him with a mixture of apologetic amusement. "Since Asuka-taichou and I have differing opinions as to what constitutes 'basic' fire jutsu, I think going by the village's tier system might be better for now." It wasn't just Asuka with whom she had had talks about what was beginner stuff and what wasn't. Sachiko had had similar talks with Kaka-sensei and with Tentsuke-sensei as well. But if Hinaji started showing real promise with fire jutsu, then she'd train him in the way that she read an Uchiha was trained. (She just wouldn't tell him that. No reason for him to get his Hyuuga pride all affronted.)

On an entirely different note, since Hinaji had finally been tested, Asuka could have extra testing papers. She'd wait a few days before seeking out the elder Sarutobi. Sachiko hadn't forgotten how when they had talked about testing for affinities, Asuka had implied she didn't believe Sachiko was asking for a friend. Sachiko smiled inwardly at the remembered conversation. Asuka had offered to test her, hadn't she?

Village's tier system? Hinaji blinked--did that mean there was another system?--but he let it pass and nodded. "Alright. I'll work on those." Truthfully he'd been a bit lax lately, but he didn't want to tell her that. It would be bad to disappoint her before they even really started doing any proper training. And he wasn't about to use his time spent with Kiba as an excuse--he didn't think it was anything that needed excusing.

"When should I meet you again? Do you want to practice breathing and such before we tackle fire?" Breathing they could continue here for a little while longer, right?

Why the blink? she wondered. She assumed the Hyuuga clan did things different from the village with family-affinity jutsu, since the Uchiha had done the same. Of course, Sachiko hadn't realized the difference herself until fairly recently so Hinaji was probably in the same boat. So she let it go without comment. "Yes to the second, and as for the first..." She trailed off as she concentrated on mapping out her schedule in her head, and figuring out what she could rearrange. "I'll be free in the afternoon two days hence, around 4-ish."

She most definitely wanted to practice breathing before she let him start working with fire. Their training was pretty sporadic (kind of like hers, with Kakami) and fire was nothing to fool around with. Most importantly, he needed to have so much control over his breathing that it became like breathing - done expertly without conscious thought. And she had some ideas on how to test him...

Two days... He raised his eyes slightly as he remembered his schedule and then nodded. "That's fine for me, too. I have a meeting with Kiba and Hoshino in the morning and then I'm free." Two days to work himself sore with breathing exercises and what water jutsu he knew. He could do it.

"So... Your compound, then? In two days at 4?" He paused. Saying it like that sounded vaguely like a way to set up a meeting he might make with Kiba. The thought took him by surprise and his stomach clenched. But this was Sachiko, and the feeling passed quickly.

Sachiko shook her head. "Let's meet here at four. That way I can show you an alternate entrance to the compound that will double as an exit. Less a chance of you being seen and all." She paused and cocked head to the side, still feeling a bit of warm self-pride at your compound. It was her compound. And someday, she'd live there again, with a new family---with her family. "So how dead do you think your mom'd kill me if she found out about this?" she asked lightly. Hiashiko, Sachiko fully admitted from the one time she had had to deal with the woman, was even more stern than Fugako had ever been. Add in the freaky eyes and just the woman's sheer indomitable presence and you had one person Sachiko would as soon as completely avoid rather than even walk down the same street as. Hell, even Hinaji's cousin didn't have the steel rod shoved as far up her ass.

"Here, then." That made him feel better. He really did like this place.

He couldn't help smiling shyly at her question, though. "...I think she'd do us both in, honestly." He had no desire to feel the seal again, at any rate. Perhaps Sachiko would get the better end of that deal. "She wouldn't like it at all," he continued, his expression serious. "...Which is why I don't plan on letting her know." He grinned and looked down at the ground and scratched the back of his head. He'd definitely spent too much time with both Kiba and Sachiko. He never thought he'd see a day like that happen.

"Mother's been busy though, so we should be fine either way."

Busy is good, Sachiko thought, his grin causing her to smirk in reply. (She was working still on the whole smiling thing.) If Hiashiko was distracted that made things a little better. And Hyuuga tended to avoid her compound the way she avoided theirs, so discovery was more likely to happen from a non-clan who might remark to one of Hinaji's family. "Good to know," she said aloud.

Another benefit to all this training was maybe she could find out more about the Byakugan for comparison to Sharingan. Not competitively; whatever else she was biased to Sharingan being superior. She was more intellectually interested in the differences and similarities because it was another doujutsu and also because Byakugan was one of her bloodline's parents. And she had to admit she liked the talks with Hinaji for him, too. He was quiet, for one, and he also wasn't lacking intellectually, so he could usually grasp more of what she said, and the whole doujutsu factor gave them a bond she simply didn't have with Naruko or Sakurai or Kiba or anyone else.

"When you see Kiba and Hoshino..." She hesitated, then continued: "...just say hi to them for me? I've been so busy I haven't seen much of Kiba." Unnecessary to say that Hoshino sightings were even more rare.

Hinaji smiled. He rather enjoyed that he could in situations like this. Who ever thought he'd be friends with an Uchiha? "I'll tell them you said hi, definitely." Kiba would be happy to hear from her. He wasn't sure how close she was with Hoshino, but then, Hoshino was difficult to read even among her teammates.

"Is there anything else you would like me to do?" He shifted a bit to stretch his legs. Now that they had a plan he felt a bit restless. He didn't realise he'd missed these lessons and was definitely looking forward to some more discussions and practice. It was nice to be able to open up about things most out-clan could never understand.

Sachiko chuckled. "The curse of fire-types: quite impulsive," she teased, knowing full well it described her all too well. It amused her to see another chomping at the bit to learn, if only because she could identify with him so well in not just the desire to learn but the reasoning (proving oneself to one's family) behind it. "Breathing's a good start. Without it, you can't do anything."

"Impulsive?" Was she saying he was impulsive, or did she just mean herself? Although he was acting it now, wasn't he? He blushed and scratched the back of his head again. "So what does the water-type make me?" Maybe in the end they canceled each other out?

"Not sure. I'm fire and lightning, so I can't say. Maybe it means you're calm most of the time and when you need to be, but when the situation calls for it you can flare up and surprise people. Not a bad thing in my opinion. Now I'm wondering what lightning says about me." She looked to him and saw the touch of red on his face. "Thoughts?"

Hmm. She could be right. He scratched his cheek thoughtfully. "Lightning... Well, maybe it means you're hard to predict? You're impulsive and quick to change your styles to best suit your situation, maybe?" He wasn't sure, but she was a very good, competent fighter. And before everything happened she'd been the best of their age group and showed the most talent. Maybe fire and lightning complemented each other to make a fighter like her.

He blushed. "...But I've just learned my own affinity, so I'm afraid I don't really know what the other ones mean."

That roused a slight smirk from her. Put it that way, it could be both a good thing and a bad thing. But the changing of styles comment suited her. Sharingan and the ability to use a wide variety of different jutsu (element or not) meant her fighting 'style' was a mishmash of what she learned or copied from other people. There was nothing really hers unless you considered her fire mastery. Even then, she only beat out other people because she had the access to all of the Uchiha jutsu that was written down and also unavailable to outclan.

"I guess we'll figure it out. And when you get good enough with the fire, I'll see if I can't teach you a couple lightning. As soon as Kaka-sensei starts working with me more on the basics." ...God, her training was really spotty, wasn't it. She could do the chidori but was having to go back to more of the basic jutsu because Kakami had skipped over that to teach her chidori for that long-ago fight with Gaara. No wonder Asuka was always so frustrated.

"True." He grinned and then bowed his head slightly. "I'll look forward to that." The formality still felt strange being directed at her, but he couldn't be otherwise. Hyuuga always paid their respects properly. "Thank you for continuing to train me." It was more than he could hope for, and more than he could repay. But he was definitely greatful.

"It's my pleasure," she told him truthfully.