Chapter 15: I, Your Father, am Forward Thinking
Whileescorting Wu to the temporary clinic, Tenten couldnt contain her curiosity, asking, “Is it true youre the grandson of Lord Hokage And can you really deflect kunai with your face!”
Maintaining a half-lidded expression, Wu lazily replied, “Technically, and yes…”
Tilting her head to the side, Tenten was curious what Wu meant when he saidtechnically, but decided to focus on the far more interesting matter, remarking, “Your skin must be pretty durable. Or is it just your face…”
Shaking his head, Wu answered, “Nope. With the exception of my eyes, I can harden my entire body. The only downside is that I cant move freely while using the technique.”
Though her eyes sparkled with curiosity, Tenten forcibly calmed herself, asking, “Is it okay for you to be telling me that Such a big weakness, you should probably keep it a secret.”
Snorting through his nose, Wu retorted, “If I couldnt work around such asimple weakness, I wouldnt be much of a warrior, much less a Shinobi…”
Spurred by Wus confidence, Tenten regained her smile, remarking, “Well, you should be careful. Your face might hold up against ordinary weapons, but the tools forged by my Tou-san will cut through you like butter…!”
Hearing Tenten indicate that her father was a Blacksmith, Wus impression of the dango-haired girl improved, albeit marginally. He had come to learn that tools and weaponry were incredibly expensive, not just to acquire but to maintain. By that logic, Tentens family should be fairly wealthy, even if her distinct lack of a surname implied otherwise.
Catching the slightly taller girl by surprise, Wu gave her a quick once over, evaluating the condition and quality of her clothes. She didnt blush, but her expression became somewhat bashful as she half-turned away from him and asked, “What is it Why are you staring at me like that”
Instead of making excuses, Wu openly admitted, “I thought you might be wealthy if your father was a famous Blacksmith, but your clothes are fairly modest.”
Furrowing her brows, Tenten puffed out her cheeks as she asked, “What are you trying to imply That my Tou-sanisnt a great Blacksmith Ill have you know that our shop serves several famous Jonin and has even been visited by Lord Hokage himself! What do you think of that, huh!”
Resisting the urge to point out that Hiruzen visited most of the civilian-owned businesses, presumably to make them feel valued, Wu pacified the moderately incensed brat by raising his brows and remarking, “Wow. Even the Hokage visits your shop Ill need to check it the next time Im looking to purchase tools or equipment.”
Grinning wide enough to reveal a few missing teeth, Tenten puffed out her chest with pride, stating, “Its good that youve realized just how amazing my Tou-san is! After all, he was able to my Kaa-san, and she used to be a Jonin!”
Adding an imaginary 1 to Tentens value, Wu was almost genuine as he remarked, “Wow, you have a pretty amazing background, dont you You must be at the top of your year.”
Puffing out her chest even further, Tenten was all smiles as she replied, “Thats right~! I might not be as Neji-san when it comes to Taijutsu, but Im the best when it comes to academics, Shurikenjutsu, and Bukijutsu. After all, Im the Kunoichi that will one day surpass Tsunade-sama, one of the Legendary Sannin…!”
As most of the girls in his grade were pretty much useless, Wu was fairly impressed by Tentens ambition. She kind of reminded him of Naruto, but she clearly had a much better head on her shoulders.
Catching the slightly older girl by surprise, Wu adopted his most sincere and charismatic smile as he asserted, “Keep that attitude, and its only a matter of time until you succeed. Its a shame were not in the same year. We would have gotten along.”
Feeling somewhat embarrassed, Tenten averted her eyes from Wus, a faint blush coloring her cheeks as she said, “Were only a year apart…if you really want to, we can still be friends. I cant give you any discounts on ninja tools, but my Tou-san might help you with maintenance…”
As it was actually Tentens parents that Wu was interested in, the latter was pleased by thesensibility of the young girls proposal. He was also curious to see if her claims had merit, so his expression softened slightly as he replied, “Id like that…”
Faced with Wus charismatic smile andsincere expression, Tenten found herself swallowing a knot that had formed in her throat. She wasnt really interested in things like love and romance, but Wu was giving her second thoughts on the matter. At the very least, Wu gave her the impression that spending time with him wouldnt be a waste…
After promising to stop by Tentens family-owned shop that weekend, Wu parted ways with the dango-haired dame and spent the remainder of the morning napping in the infirmary. Afterward, he met up with Naruto, Kaia, and Hinata at their usual table. This time, however, Ino and Sakura were also present.
With her patented pouty expression on her face, Inoglared at Wu as she asked, “Why didnt you tell me you were leading private training sessions at the Hokages estate, Wu-kun Dont tell me youre trying to give Sakura an advantage over the rest of us”
Furrowing his brows, Wu retorted, “Are you listening to yourself Im notgiving Sakura an advantage. Shes making an earnest effort to improve herself. No one is stopping you from doing the same.”
Interrupting before Ino could blow a gasket, Naruto inserted himself into the conversation, questioning, “Huh Since when are Wu and Sakura-chan training together”
As it wasnt really a secret, Wu revealed, “When everyone started leaving our study group, I decided to return to my usual training. Sakura, Hinata, and Kaia all asked if they could join in, so, after receiving permission from their parents, they all came over to my—I mean, the Hokages place.”
Appearing visibly relieved, Naruto exhaled a faint sigh before regaining his usual smile and asking, “Can the rest of us come over I dont know about Shikamaru, but Kiba and Choji might want to join in.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Wu was about to say he didnt really care, but his response was interrupted by Sakura asserting, “No. If the three of you were to come over, youd only get in the way. Were not going over to Lord Hokages house to play around, Naruto-kun.”
Though Sakuras words were unnecessarily abrasive, they hit fairly close to home. Narutos presence would undermine Hinatas progress, and the inclusion of several boys would inevitably shift the trainings focus away from them. She also knew that Naruto would badger her incessantly if he were to join them, so shehad to put her foot down.
Feeling cowed by Sakuras intensity, the smile on Narutos face became visibly strained. He would be lying if he said he hadnt wanted to go over and have some fun, so he ultimately remained silent and just endured his crushs ire. Hinata attempted to speak up for him, but then it was her turn to endure as Naruto promptly assured her everything was okay and that he was actually pretty busy in the afternoons.
With Naruto unwilling to stand up for himself, Wu saw no reason to speak out in his defense. He did, however, suggest, “Im busy this Saturday, but if you want, we can start meeting up on the weekends. Just us guys.”
Though he would have preferred to have Sakura tag along, Narutos smile regained its vigor as he replied, “Sounds good, Wu! Ill let the guys know, and we can meet over at Chojis place! The food his family makes isnt as great as Teuchi-Ojiisans, but its still super delicious…!”
Nodding his head in approval, Wu was about to say, “Sounds good.” when Ino reintroduced herself to the exchange, asking, “Hey, Wu-kun. Is it okay for me and the other girls to come over after school If Sakura-chan believes she can sneak an advantage behind our backs, she has another thing coming!”
Earning a disproving stare from a certain pinkette, Wu responded with a noncommital shrug, answering, “If your parents are fine with it. Sure, why not Just make sure you show up with the intent to train seriously. Anyone who gets in the way of the groups progress will be disbarred from future training sessions.
Adopting a triumphant grin, Ino pumped her fists and said, “No worries! If its a contest to determine whos the best suited for Sasuke-kun, Ill prove to everyone that Im the number one candidate! Just you wait and see! Ill knock your socks off…!”
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Wu repeated the same words he had said to Sasuke weeks prior, “Seeing is believing. Last more than a month, and Ill remove them myself.”
Believing Wu was underestimating her, Inos expression became serious as she asked, “What, you think Ill give up Sakura may be better than me when it comes to studies, but Im the best in our grade when it comes to our skills as a Kunoichi. I just dont like getting my clothes dirty.”
Instead of denying Inos claim, Wu suggested, “Then make sure not to show up for our training in brand-name clothing. Lord Hokage may have told me to take it easy on you, but youre guaranteed to get sweaty and covered in dirt. Thats what happens when you genuinely exert yourself.”
With her frown deepening, Ino seriously reconsidered her decision to attend Wus training. However, as if Sasuke seemed to go to him to trade information, she believed his training had to be effective. It wasnt for no reason that people speculated that Wu was the best student in the entire Academy. Many believed he was receiving specialized training from Lord Hokage himself, so, if nothing else, Ino wanted to confirm it for herself…
Forming her resolve, Inos expression and tone were serious as she said, “I wont quit…that is, assuming your training isnt just a complete waste of my time…”
Adopting a snarky smile, Wu countered, asserting, “Theres no such thing as wasted time, just wastedpotential. Even without my help, you, Sakura, and everyone else could become strong. You just lack the willpower to do it without someone lighting a fire under your ass.”
Blushing slightly due to Wus uncouth words, Ino wanted to retort but was interrupted by Naruto laughing loudly and repeating, “Hahahaha, Wu said ass! Thats hilarious…!”
Though Wu had said it first, Ino and Sakura gave Naruto a withering stare. When Wu used such language, it almost sounded natural. When someone like Naruto used the exact same language, it came across as childish and annoying. His incessant giggling didnt help…
With Ino needing her parents permission before she could join them, Wu returned to the Sarutobi Estate with Kaia, Sakura, and Hinata in tow. The latter was in low spirits after Sakura declined to let Naruto join them, but she showed up regardless. When she returned home the previous day, her Tou-san asked her to demonstrate what she had learned before informing her that she would continue attending Wus lessons. In other words, she no longer had a choice in the matter…
Though Wu noticed the state Hinata was in, he didnt force her to disclose the reason. Instead, he allowed Sakura to believe she was at fault, hoping it would form a rift in the group that eventually led to its dissolution. Until then, he would continue training the girls seriously. After all, there werea lot of eyes on him…