Lee and Hinata stood in the middle of training field number thirty one bent over holding their knees both were panting.
" Hinata you have greatly improved. Your youthful energy is impressive."
Lee looked up and smiled at Hinata who he now considered one of his best friends.
" Thank you Lee. You have been very helpful. I am still not as fast as you so I will have to try and work harder and do my best." Hinata said
" You are now probably the fastest kun oichi in this village Hinata. You can almost keep up with me in every task."
Lee gave her his nice guy pose. Hinata smiled a little back.
" I still have to get stronger. I need to be able to be the best. If I can at least bet you in two of these challenges. I will feel like I have improved my endurance enough. Are you ready for the challenges Lee ?"
"Yes Hinata. I am thankful that you are doing this to help my Dojo. The beautiful Sakura has told me that we are both slightly crazy and obsessed with training. However that has not stopped our Lady Hokage from taking bets on the competitions since we cleared them with her."
" Well it has been said that our Hokage does like to gamble Lee. I will see you tomorrow at the river for the first event."
" Yes Hinata, I can not wait. Though I have to wonder what my youthful team mate Neji would think of this. But since he has been out of the village on that mission with Sasuke and Naruto it doesn't seem to matter."
" Thank you again Lee."
Hinata walked back to her apartment she had been allowed her own place however it was right outside the Hyuga compound. She thought back to when she had approached Gai and Lee right after Pain had attacked the village, to help build her endurance and stamina. The challenges between her and Lee would start tomorrow and a small part of her was very excited. Hinata had trained so hard this would be a huge test of her endurance and speed. She had chosen two events and Lee had chosen two as well. Gai had picked the last event incase they needed a tie breaker. The five challenges would be swimming, kicks and punches, laps around the village on their hands, sparring and then the mountain test. It had been unexpected that the villagers found out about the challenges and most could not wait to see the two high ranking Jonin put their skills to the test. It wasn't a secret that Hinata Hyuga had become training obsessed. She would train with Gai and Lee first thing in the morning, Team 8 during the day, Neji before dinner, and then Hinata would train in the dead of night when everyone else was asleep. Lady Tsunade had to reprimanded Hinata for training to much quite a few times but it had been worse since Naruto, Sasuke, and Neji had left for there mission. Lady Tsunade had stumbled upon Hinata one evening throwing punches at a post while her fist bleed. Hinata recalled what Tsunade had said that night.
" Hinata Hyuga you have always been very diligent with your training. But lately you have been training as though a demon was chasing you. We all have things that hurt Hinata we all have our inner demons."
" I wish a demon was chasing me Lady Tsunade. I would let him catch me. It would be easier then the way things are now. I consider this taking my inner demons and annihilating them. I will be stronger, I will never ever fail this village, I will never ever be weak or a burden again. I will always be there in the shadows as a friend and ally. I will become better then her."
Hinata punched her fist into the log again. Lady Tsunade had sighed knowingly.
" Hinata go home that is a Hokages order. Please try not to exhaust yourself."
" Hai my Lady."
Hinata had grown so much and tomorrow she would prove just how skilled she really was to the whole village. She was more then well aware that not many could keep pace with Lee or beat him at an endurance task. She could and tomorrow she would. Has she laid down to sleep, she tried to keep her thoughts from wandering to him. But some how his smile, his bright blue gaze, his whiskered marked cheeks, would always penetrate into her dreams. Hinata resigned herself she needed to actually rest tonight tomorrow began two weeks of grueling competition.
Kakashi had been chosen as and announcer of sorts for these events though he wasn't under the impression that one was going to be needed. As he neared the river he realized that he was wrong a huge crowd was gathered down by the river this morning even some vendors had come down with carts to sell goods to the villagers. Bets had been taken and placed an a series of whoops and yells rung out as Lee and Hinata came up to the river. The rest of the Konoha twelve had come to support their friends with the expectation of Neji, Naruto, and Sasuke who were all on a highly classified mission.
" I still can't believe that Hinata challenged Lee to do this. Neji is not going to react well." Tenten remarked
" Are you kidding me Tenten ? I can easily believe Hinata would do this she has been obsessed with her training even more so then before. An that is something that is hard to believe. Shino and I love to help her out but she has been so intense ever since that fight with Madara. At least this way I can finally see her in a swim suit." Kiba said
" Kiba that is awfully you do realize that they will both have to be monitored and that they could exhaust themselves." Sakura said
As she gave Kiba a punch to his arm. Ino flicked her ponytail.
" Oh come on Sakura. Haven't you ever wondered what she would look like every time we have a beach outing she never goes in the water and wears that beach t-shirt and Capri's. I kind of want to see to. It is kind of a mystery just like what is behind Kakashi mask." Ino said
Sakura looked over at Tenten for some sort of back up. All Tenten did was shrug her shoulders.
" You know I wonder how Neji would feel about all of you wanting to oglge his cousion." Tenten said
" Troublesome is what this is." Shikamaru added
" Oh come on it isn't bad at all. Plus we can grab snacks at the vendor booths." Choji mentioned.
Hinata stood by the water with Lee next to her. She was kind of getting nervous with so many people watching but she knew most of the villagers would get bored soon. Hinata and Lee could swim for a whole day and not get tried.
" Are you ready to begin Hinata? Let's show this crowd what the power of our youth can do."
Lee gave her the nice guy pose has he had small flames in his eyes. Hinata giggled just a little.
" I promise to do my best Lee."
Hinata nodded at him as she began to pull down the zipper of her jacket. She suddenly felt like she was being stared at intently. She undid her ninja pants and shimmed out.
" You have got to be kidding me." Kiba yelled
For Hinata and Lee both stood by the river in full body wet suits. Lee had a green and black one while Hinata's was purple and black.
" While it may not be a swim suit but you can still see that Hinata has a great body under that jacket."
Ino commented as she linked her arm with Choji's. Tenten was laughing so hard.
" Looks like you won't see Hinata in a swim suit after all." Tenten teased
Kakashi looked at Tsunade who gave the signal.
" This is a challenge of Rock Lee's Dojo. There will be five endurance task in total. The victor will be decided by the person with the most wins. The fifth event will only take place in the event of a tie in the first four events. Hinata Hyuga and Rock Lee are you ready?" Kakashi asked
Lee gave him a thumbs up and a smile. Hinata just nodded.
" Alright the winner of this event will be the one who swims the most laps up and down this river. BEGIN."
Hinata had been told not to wear any charka weights for any of these events. However she had been practicing with them on and she knew Lee wouldn't use the little charka he had. So she had added the weights and hide them under her suit. Both Lee and Hinata started out at a fast pace and the crowd whooped and cheered. Eventually the crowd dissipated through out the day. When the moon came out almost everyone was gone Lee and Hinata were still swimming.
" I can't believe how long they have been doing this for." Ino said
" They have now swam six hundred and thirty two laps up and down this river."
Shino commented. Sakura sighed out loud.
" I am beginning to think that Lee and Hinata have a death wish. I am not leaving here until they are both done. Even if it means sleeping out here. I want to give them both a check up as soon as they leave the water to make sure they are okay and not putting to much strain on their bodies." Sakura said
" Shino and I have no intention of leaving either Sakura unless Tsunade gives us a mission." Kiba responded
He smiled at her and then glanced at Shino who nodded in agreement.
" I also plan on staying till the end of every event as well." Tenten remarked
Sai of course didn't say anything but he had his sketch book and paints out it was apparent he didn't plan on leaving. Choji had brought enough snacks. He looked at his lazy best friend who appeared to be asleep on the ground. An then glanced over at Ino who was smiling at him.
" I think it goes with out saying that we all plan on watching these events. Unless called away on a mission. We are all friends and we all always support each other that is the way it has always been." Choji said.
He looked over at Ino and winked. Which caused her to giggle.
" How long do you think it will take them to finish?" Ino asked
" My guess is sometime mid-day tomorrow the most I have ever seen them swim is two days straight. But they started off really fast in the beginning show offs. Lee is starting to slow down a little. Hinata will win this one she is better in the water then Lee. She did teach him how to swim though it was her way of saying thank you for this crazy obsessive training Lee helped her with." Tenten said
" Since it is going to take that long why don't you all get some rest. I already took a nap plus we have some awesome night time clouds this evening." Shikamaru said
" Alright Shika."
Ino didn't need to be told twice. She laid her head on Choji's shoulders and snuggled into him. As everyone else found a spot to rest. Shino did not move though. Shikamaru glanced at him.
" I have to keep count. An I am not tried Shikamaru." Shino said
An the two sat in silence and watched there friends in the water. When dawn broke Shikamaru woke them all. Hinata and Lee were still in the water swimming..
" How many laps now Shino?" Sakura inquired
" One thousand and twenty seven."
Some of the villagers wandered down to the water again and they were in awe of both Lee and Hinata. They started to cheer again and by mid-day just like Tenten predicted both Lee and Hinata were slowing down. Finally Lee looked at Hinata and smiled and she knew he was getting out. All she had to do was swim one or two more laps and she had won. Her whole body ached and she wanted something to eat but she had said she would do her best and she never went back on her word. Then Naruto invaded her mind. Hinata loved him so very much and he had hurt her. She wasn't sure if Naruto knew exactly what he had done.
" Come on Hinata! You can do it."
" Hinata your awesome."
" Hinata you are amazing."
" You know that you are strong to Hinata."
Naruto's voice was her motivation and right now she didn't want it to be. Hinata wanted Naruto to notice how much she still loved him and would always love him. Hinata had even thought that Naruto loved her back. But something had made him pull away and that was why Hinata now had a wall up around her heart where Naruto was concerned. Finally brought out of her inner musings. Hinata realized that she had already had out swam Lee by at least ten laps. Hinata swam her last lap and got out of the water.
" The winner of the First task is Hinata Hyuga. Both contestants have one day of rest before the next task Kicks and Punches at training ground twenty three." Kakashi said
Applause and cheers could be heard up and down the river.
Tenten came up and gave Hinata a huge t-shirt and held a towel in front of her as she slipped out of her wet suit and threw the t-shirt on. Sakura began checking her vitals right away.
" You were so awesome Hinata." Ino said
" Thanks Ino."
" I still think this whole thing is crazy. Hinata you have nothing to prove to anyone you are great just the way you are."
" I have a lot to prove to myself Sakura. I have to become stronger. I want to be the best I can be. I need to know that there is nothing wrong with me. I need to be worthy of respect. Please don't worry so much about me. I will be fine."
Hinata smiled weakly up at her friends. All three looked at each other and sighed at the same time.
" Alright Hinata. But we all already think you are amazing." Tenten smiled at her
The rest of their friends made there way over to the girls
" What a powerful display of our youth Hinata." Lee said
He gave her two thumbs up.
" Hinata your endurance is now beyond impressive it is simply outstanding." Shino said
Kiba swung an arm around her.
" Come on Hinata I will walk you home."
Kiba supported her on the walk home.
" Did you sleep enough before this challenge Hinata?" Kiba asked
" Yes a little Kiba"
" I swear you are so much more amazing then anyone. You know that Hinata he is and idiot." Kiba huffed
" Kiba don't worry so much about me. An thank you for walking me home."
Hinata waved good bye and went inside her place. After she had showered and ate. Hinata fall asleep with ease for the first time in a long time.