Chapter 12: I, Your Father, May Have F**cked Up
Awakening shortly after the compress was applied to her head, Hinata weakly muttered, “Where am I…”
Catching Hinata by surprise, a slightly husky voice replied, “Youre at the Hokages house. Were supposed to be training with Wu, remember…”
Looking toward the source of the sound, Hinata found Kaia sitting in seiza, using her thighs to prop up her feet. The young Inuzuka adopted a catty smile in response, explaining, “Wu told me to elevate your feet. He said it helps get blood flowing to the brain and heart.”
Recalling what had transpired before her collapse, a faint red hue colored Hinatas cheeks. This was one of the things she hated most about herself, a timidity that bordered on uselessness. Her father once believed she had chronic anemia, but that was ultimately disproven after months of medical screening.
Reaching up, Hinata moved the cold compress from her forehead to her eyes and cheeks, concealing the rest of her face with her hands. The chill had a sobering effect on her mind, but she still couldnt believe she had fainted over something as simple as a boy asking to look at her eyes.
Just as Hinata was beginning to hope she was in a dream, reality set in as Wu came over, now wearing a sleeveless top, asking, “You awake Youve been out for a few minutes. A while longer, and I would have had to carry you to the hospital.”
Removing the compress just enough to see Wu, Hinata exhaled an internal sigh of relief when she saw he was no longer shirtless. She then tried to sit up, but Wus expression and tone became firm as he said, “Stay down. If you try to sit up so soon after recovering, you could pass out from the blood vacating your brain. Give it a few minutes, and then you can sit up.”
As Wus tone reminded her a lot of her father, Hinata responded with a meek nod and stayed down. Seeing this, Wu nodded his head in approval before turning to Kaia and adding, “Look after her for me.”
Smiling broad, Kaia replied, “You got it, Aniki~!” in a spirited tone. She was a little annoyed that she had to watch him train from far away, but looking after members of the samepack was important. Hinata might not see it the same way, but Kaia regarded everyone in Wus group as a member of his pack.
Nodding a second time, Wu gave one last look at Hinata before making his way over to the reinforced wooden post. Sakura was there waiting for him, so he offered her a curt, “Sorry for the wait…” before picking up his staff and preparing to continue his practice.
Before Wu could begin, Sakura gave him the urge to change the recipient of his attacks, asking, “Do you like Hinata…”
Looking at the green-eyed pinkette as if she had lost her mind, Wu asked, “What kind of question is that How many people do you know that would invite over someone they didnt like”
Believing Wu was being intentionally daft, Sakuras face morphed into a half-lidded expression as she asserted, “You know what I mean. Do you like her in the way Ino and I like Sasuke”
Closing his eyes, Wu took a moment to consider his response before opening them, adopting a serious expression, and declaring, “Were eight years old, Sakura. All I care about, at least for the time being, is enjoying myself and being the bestme I can be. Things like romance That can wait. Besides, we both know who Hinata fancies. I hate drama, so why the hell would I target a girl who already has a crush on someone else”
Feeling chastised, Sakura averted her eyes and lowered her head slightly, her hands linking behind her back. She had always thought it, but Wus response made him sound somature. It almost made her feel like there was something wrong with her, pining after Sasuke when she should be training.
Breaking Sakura from her thoughts, Wu smacked the oversized log with enough force to leave a visible indentation on its surface. The loud sound caused Sakura to startle, but she only pouted for a few moments before losing herself in the rhythmic intensity of Wus training…
By the time Wu had completed one set of his usual routine, Hinata had recovered enough to rejoin Sakura alongside Kaia. Noticing this, Wu set aside his bo staff and approached the girls, pausing to accept the water and towel proferred to him by Kaia before saying, “Now that youve seen what my training looks like, I want each of you to demonstrate your usual routine. Kaia, you can start.”
Thumping her chest, Kaia exclaimed, “Leave it to me~!” before taking off at a full sprint. Then, after a few seconds, she dropped onto all fours and began going even faster, circling the clearing several times before coming to a stop in front of Wu, her breath ragged and an expectant look on her face
Realizing what the sweaty girl was after, Wu eventually extended his hand to ruffle the girls hair as he asked, “Thats how you normally train”
Nodding her head enthusiastically, Kaia explained, “The foundation of the Inuzuka Clan…is the Four-Footed Technique…Kaa-san-”
Before Kaia could finish her panting explanation, Wu returned the water bottle she had given him previously, saying, “Go rest in the shade. Well talk more once everyone has completed their warm-up.”
Grabbing the half-emptied bottle with stars in her eyes, Kaia downed the entire thing with a single mighty suck, crushing the plastic in the process. Then, as if the ruined bottle was some kind of treasure, she held it close to her chest with both hands and scampered over to the nearest tree.
Ignoring the poorly domesticated girls antics, Wu shifted his attention to Sakura, saying, “Youre up.”
Though she knew her turn would come eventually, Sakuras expression morphed into an awkward smile as she took a few tentative steps forward and demonstrated the basic forms of the Academys Taijutsu. When she was finished, she looked toward Wu and Hinata with a nervous smile and said, “Thats all I know…”
Tilting his head to the side, Wu questioned, “You dont do any other forms of training Like push-ups, sit-ups, and crunches…”
With her smile becoming even wrier, Sakura nervously scratched her cheek and revealed, “I do calisthenics and stretching exercises in my room, but I dont want to demonstrate those in front of a boy…”
Instead of asking Sakura to explain her reasoning, Wu just shook his head, saying, “Take a break…” before looking to Hinata, silently urging her to begin her demonstration.
Returning a slight nod, Hinata emulated Sakuras actions by taking a few tentative steps forward. However, instead of demonstrating the piss poor techniques taught by the Academy, she lowered her body into a reactive posture, palms facing outward with her left hand extended and her right closer to her body. Then, she began performing unexpectedly swift and precise strikes, her index and middle fingers emulating tiny daggers.
Though Wu couldnt imagine the strike packing any power, he knew that the Hyuga Clan specialized in a Taijutsu known as the Gentle Fist. He had yet to experience it directly, but they could use apparently their Byakugan to see through objects and target the invisible Tenketsu(Chakra Points) in a persons body. Doing so crippled their opponent and made it impossible for them to mold Chakra, so it was widely regarded as the most powerful and efficient Taijutsu style.
With nothing to compare Hinatas techniques to, Wu just nodded his head and said, “Pretty interesting technique. Good job.” once she was finished. His words elicited a faint smile from the purple-haired heiress, but before she could be too happy, Wu asked, “Is that all you do…”
Pressing the tips of her index and middle fingers together, Hinata averted her eyes and replied, “Tou-sama says the Hyuga have no need for things like physical conditioning and weight training. We polish our skills through active sparring…”
Tilting his head to the side, Wu asked the first question that popped into his head, “Then why are you so bad at it You clearly have the form down, so why not use it during our spars at the Academy”
Shrinking into herself, Hinatas voice became so faint Wu had to strain his ears to hear her reveal, “I…I dont like hurting people…”
Resisting the urge to retort with a, “Yeah, and…” Wu remained silent for several seconds before responding with an equally faint, “I see…” while really thinking, (“This brat shouldnt be a Kunoichi…”)
Shaking such thoughts from his mind, Wu surprised Hinata by saying, “If anything, thats even more of a reason to become strong. Your position as the heiress of a founding clan doesnt give you many options, so the best way to avoid a life of harming others is by being so powerful that nobody can force your hand. Now, hit me.”
Just as she was beginning to consider Wus words, Hinata was left feeling confused by his subsequent command. She just revealed that she didnt like harming others, so why would she attack him
Adopting a serious expression, Wu explained, “I want to experience the effects of your Gentle Fist Technique. With a better understanding of it, I might be able to help you develop a technique that can disable someone without harming them. Now, hit me. Right here. Come on…!”
With Wu patting his chest, seemingly suggesting she hit him in one of his central Tenketsu points, the expression on Hinatas face went from worry to reflective as she asked herself, (“Can he really help me develop such a technique…”)
Growing annoyed with the Hyugas inaction, Wu issued a disdainful snort before looking off into the distance and muttering, “This village is doomed if the wife of the future Hokage cant even attack a willing opponent…”
Though she blushed crimson at the insinuation that she would become Narutos wife, an uncharacteristically severe expression adorned Hinatas face as she asked, “Can you really help me become so powerful…enough to decide my own fate”
Without needing to consider his answer, Wu shook his head and admitted, “That depends entirely on you. I can help, but the truly powerful get there by merit of their conviction. Nobody can make you powerful unless youre willing to exert yourself and put in the effort.”
Furrowing her brows into an even more severe expression, Hinata found herself seriously considering Wus words. They were similar to Narutos Nindo, the personal creed by which all Shinobi lived, but they were also different. Wu wasnt speaking of believing in oneself, but believing in the effort one makes to attain their goals. If she wasnt willing to seize what she wanted, how could she ever expect to obtain it
Forming her conviction, the veins around Hinatas eyes began to bulge as sheglared back at Wu. The latter felt his skin crawl, but he still managed a cocky smile and asked, “Do you need another invitation”
Shaking her head, Hinatas voice was soft and serious as she lowered into her stance and replied, “No…” Then, without the need for additional dialogue, she lunged forward, her feet sliding across the ground as she landed a swift, precise strike on Wus diaphragm.
Overestimating his pain tolerance and durability, Wus eyes became round as saucers as he dropped to his knees, clutching his abdomen. It felt like every muscle in his torso was seizing, forcing him to take rapid, shallow, and painful breaths.
Seeing the state Wu was in, regret and worry replaced Hinatas transient conviction. However, before she could even think to offer her assistance, Wu made a stopping gesture with his right hand, glaring back at her as he growled, “Im…fine…this…is…nothing…!”
Using his Mystical Monkeys Palm, Wu began trying to forcibly unseal his Tenketsu point. He couldnt see it, but he could sure as hell feel where the pain was radiating. It was like a tiny, red-hot needle had been jabbed into his diaphragm, so he utilized the Monkeys Palm technique with the image of removing it. The effectiveness of Iryojutsu was heavily affected by the users knowledge and intent, so a properimage went a long way toward guaranteeing the desired outcome…
Seeing what Wu was doing, aided by her Byakugan, Hinata couldnt help thinking back on his previous words. She still had numerous doubts, but seeing a boy her age do something that should have been impossible, at least according to her father, she couldnt help thinking there was some merit to his words…at the very least, Wu appeared to practice what he preached…