Chapter Twelve: Chunnin Exam Finals: Round One – Part One

Asuma moved quickly through the seats, managing to find a place in front of the Clan Section next to Anko and Zabuza, "Hey guys, is this seat taken?" he asked as he sat down.

"Actually it is."

Asuma turned and smiled up at Kurenai, though it was Anko who spoke as Asuma moved over for Kurenai, "Nai-chan! Did you know that other then you Asuma's is the only rookie team that got through?!" Anko asked.

Kurenai raised a brow at Asuma, "Really? And here I thought you were just a lazy smoker." she said with a smirk.

Asuma chuckled, "Well, after leading the Twelve Ninja Guardians for ten years I thought I was entitled to a little leisure." he said as he shrugged off her pay-out, something she often did to show her dominance… but he didn't really care.

Kurenai pouted at Asuma as he took out his pack of smokes, holding the packet up behind him as he took one for himself.

"No thank you Asuma, it took me a while but I noticed your cigarette's special side effect last time."

Kurenai looked up to see Hiashi sighing at Asuma who only shook the pack again, "These are just Winnie Blues Hiashi-sama, thought we could commemorate the occasion." Asuma said with a smile.

Hiashi smirked and took the offered cigarette, waving off the concerned look of one of the clan council members before clearing his throat, "Thank you Asuma-san. If you don't mind, I'd like to ask Shikaku-san to join us."

From the Clan Section next to the Hyuuga, Shikaku Naara raised his head, "Huh? For a smoke? I haven't smoked plain tobacco in a few years." he said with a chuckle.

Anko stood, using Zabuza's head to balance on her chair as she pointed at Shikaku, "Yeah! Ever since I put him on the good ol' green he's been stoned 24/7!"

Shikaku scoffed, "Shows what you know Anko, I don't smoke during the work week anymore." he said before glancing at Hiashi, "But I guess as a show of good faith between our children and clan it'd be fine." Shikaku said as he waved to Asuma.

Asuma tossed a smoke to Hiashi and Shikaku before holding the pack towards Anko, "You want to join? This is for our kids and the Team they've made together."

Anko blinked before grinning, "Sounds great!"


Asuma quickly finished passing out their cigarettes and lit his before tossing the lighter behind him to Hiashi. The four people having a smoke as the Third Hokage spoke from above the arena…


"Welcome to the Hidden Leaf Village's final round of the Chunnin Exams!" The Third Hokage said, earning a cheer from the crowd, "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Kazekage for coming to see his Shinobi," he said with a gesture to the face-covered leader of the Hidden Sand sitting right behind him, "As well as the many contestants who tried to reach this point and those that actually made it to these Third Exams!"

The crowd cheered at Hiruzen's words, causing the old man to smile, 'Even if Orochimaru tries something… the Will of Fire will live on in all of you.' he thought proudly before clearing his throat.

"Now I'd like to introduce the proctor and officially declare. Let the Third Chunnin Exams Begin!" he said with a gesture towards the arena floor.



Genma cleared his throat as he appeared in a plume of smoke, "It's my pleasure to introduce the contestants for this year's Konoha Chunnin Finals! My name is Genma and I'm proud to be your host and exam proctor for this event!" he said with a smile.

The crowd cheered in unison at Genma's arrival and subsequent speech, he waved to the side of the arena as they began to quiet down, "Please join me in welcoming the contestants!"

"Our guests from the Sand Village and the only foreign team to make it all the way to the finals! Temari, Kankuro and Gaara of Team Three!" Genma announced.

The Sand Trio marched out into view proudly as they received a loud cheer. Kankuro and Temari waved in recognition while Gaara merely stood with his eyes closed.

Genma waited for the crowd to calm down, "And now for the first team of Leaf Ninjas! Students of the A-ranked Jonin Maito Gai," he said before waving to the entrance, "Tenten Higurashi, Rock Lee and Neji Hyuuga of Team Nine!"

The three aforementioned Gennin walked into view, Rock Lee jumping and waving in excitement as Tenten waved with a smile. Neji bowed once they lined up with the Sand Gennin behind Genma.

Genma cleared his throat one last time, "We want to give these next two teams a special round of applause for not only making it to the final round, but doing so only six months after graduation! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Teams Eight and Ten of Konohaaaa!"

Shikamaru led out Hinata and Naruto while Shino led Sakura and Choji, all six of them waving awkwardly to the thousands of people watching them, "Why are we being paraded around like this?" Naruto asked Hinata.

Sakura was the one that answered though as she glanced over her shoulder at him, "Naruto, you realise we're likely the only non-clan Shinobi to do something like this is in like, over a decade?"

Naruto's chest swelled with pride as he continued marching into the arena.


Naruto blushed bright red at Anko's shout, causing Hinata to giggle and look back at him with a smile as they lined up with Team 8 next to Team 9.

As the crowd finally began to quiet down, Genma raised his voice, "Now without further adieu, I'm proud to announce the beginning of the First Round! Starting with our First Match! Tenten Higurashi of the Leaf against Naruto Uzumaki of the Leaf!"

The rest of the Gennin filed back inside the Arena wall and began to move to their viewing room as Naruto and Tenten stepped forward, Tenten pulling out a kunai and a scroll before taking a stance facing Naruto, who widened his stance and aimed his claws forward.

Tenten smirked as she winked at Naruto, "Good luck."

Naruto smiled and nodded, "You too."

Genma smiled at the show of camaraderie, "Match one!" he began, causing the crowd to cheer, "BEGIN!"

Tenten used her teeth to partially open her scroll, "Let's see how good those claws are!" she shouted as she charged forward while throwing her kunai.

Naruto smirked and barely turned his wrist, deflecting the kunai upwards so that he could catch it on the fall and throw it back at her.

Tenten's eyes widened as she span, timing her spin to catch the kunai perfectly before she stopped, now half the distance closer to him, "...You're fast." she said with a slight grin.

Naruto smirked, "Don't pretend you're not."

Tenten's eyes narrowed before she nodded and sheathed her Kunai. She opened the scroll more and ran her hand along it, causing Naruto's eyes to narrow as he noticed she had knicked her thumb on the Kunai to activate her seals.


Naruto's eyes widened as Tenten pulled out a large double-headed axe, "Let's see how sturdy those things are!"

Naruto frowned and formed a hand seal, making a single Shadow Clone that sat down behind him as he ran forward.

Tenten leaped up, swinging her axe down at Naruto from above with a shout.

Naruto merely crossed his claws above his head while he continued running, blocking and then shredding the head of her axe before he dug his left claw into the ground, turning back and launching himself at Tenten from behind before she had even landed.

Tenten looked over her shoulder with wide eyes before sending Chakra into her scroll.


Naruto's leap took him through the cloud of smoke, pushing Tenten out the other side as she parried his claws with a broadsword.

Naruto and Tenten landed and spun to one another again, he with a grin on his face and her with a scowl, "You BROKE my favourite AXE!" she shouted as her sword disappeared in a plume of smoke, being replaced with a large hoop-blade.

Naruto raised a brow but grinned as Tenten built up speed by spinning the hoop on one arm while running forward. She tossed it forward at full speed while sending Chakra into her scroll again.

Naruto dropped his stance and leaned left, letting the blade cut past him by a hairs breadth before settling into a relaxed stance.


Tenten rushed out of the smoke cloud, a sword clasped in each hand as well as in her mouth as she dove at Naruto, a blade aimed each at his head, stomach and shoulder.

Naruto leaped forward while spinning, causing an audible gasp to ring through the audience as his claws cut the two swords from the hilt in each hand, allowing the sword in her mouth to move past his head instead of through it, managing to only be cut across the cheek as he moved past her.

Tenten's mistake, was using her one moment to looking back for him.


Tenten shouted in surprise, letting go of her two sword hilts and the one in her mouth as Naruto's hair grew out and formed a lion's mouth, biting down on her shoulder and pulling her into Naruto's spin. The momentum threw her back to her starting position as Naruto landed in a crouch and his hair returned to normal.

Tenten stood with a scowl as she took her scroll out once more, flinching in pain at the shoulder wound, 'Dammit…' she thought before taking a deep breath and calming down.

Naruto took a defensive stance as his wound closed, causing an audible whisper to ring through the audience. 'Something changed...' Naruto thought as he saw her swap her scroll out for a different one.

Tenten leaped upwards, "NINJA TOOL: EXPLOSIVE KUNAI RAIN!"

Naruto's eyes widened as she summoned and launched fifty Explosive Kunai down at him, he formed a single hand seal before being covered in smoke and explosions.

Tenten landed and blinked, "Shit… did I kill him?"

The smoke began to clear, showing Naruto completely wrapped up in his hair as it stuck out like spikes, it began to recede, returning to it's ponytail state and revealing Naruto's face as he spoke, "That was my Needle Jizo. What're you going to try next?"

Tenten grit her teeth angrily before taking out two other scrolls, unrolling them slightly on the ground in front of her before leaping up into the air, causing the scrolls to come up with her, "TWIN RISING DRAGONS!"

Naruto scowled as he knelt, the motion being the signal for his Shadow Clone to form a hand seal and start using the Hidden Mist Jutsu, summoning a thick mist that began to fill up half the stadium. Meanwhile, Naruto began to run to his right, outrunning Tenten's weapon rain until he got to the wall of the arena and began to sprint up the wall, glancing over his shoulder in surprise as she continued to throw more weapons, 'How many of these does she have?' he thought as he built up Chakra.

The audience leaned back as Tenten's weapons buried into the arena wall, kicking up dust and smoke while one shuriken even bounced up towards the audience only for Genma to appear and catch it.

Genma frowned as he looked at the fight, seeing Naruto had immediately changed course when he realised the audience may be in danger while Tenten merely continued her attack, 'Well, one of these two is keeping their mind on track and remembering these are just exams… that Tenten girl seems to be purely focussed on winning.'

Naruto finished building up Chakra before leaping up towards Tenten from the arena wall, causing everyone to gasp in surprise as his use of Wind Chakra allowed him to maintain the angle and shoot towards her head-first, his claws held in front of his face to deflect the weapon onslaught up until he was in her face.

Tenten's eyes widened as she used her next two weapons – a one handed axe and a spear – to stab at Naruto, but his claws tore through them like paper before headbutting her stomach, the two of them diving into the mist and towards his clone.

Naruto kicked Tenten off of him and rolled to his feet as he stood up, "Time to show you..." he began with a grin.

Tenten rolled into a kneeling position and glared at Naruto, pulling out a kunai and tossing it towards him.

The mist swirled in front of Naruto as the kunai went through his visage, moving the mist and thus the optical illusion, "...the power of the Hidden Mist's Silent Killing..." Naruto's voice echoed around the arena.

Genma smirked at the tactic as he leaped into the mist to keep an eye on the fight.

Tenten looked around as her hands filled with Shuriken, she span in a circle while throwing them out to try and hear him react.


"Nice try."

Tenten turned in surprise as she unsealed a bo staff and swiped through the mist, seeing no one but feeling something move past her head.

Tenten gasped suddenly as her hair fell in her face, causing her to look down at the ground and see that Naruto had cut the bands from her hair.

"I could've killed you. You should forfeit."

Tenten scowled and reached into her back pocket, "No way!" she shouted as she threw a ball into the air.


The Explosive Sphere activated with enough force to clear the mist around her, causing her to grin until she looked down, seeing Naruto was crouching in front of her.

Naruto leaped upwards, his knee slamming into her stomach and causing her to gasp again, this time completely winded. He followed up the knee strike with a kick to the side, sending her flying back into the mist.

Tenten rolled with the momentum, ready to retreat back to the wall to recover only for her to hit something else as she entered what little remained of the mist.

Naruto's clone held her hands behind her back as the last of the mist dissipated, allowing Naruto to land in front of her and aim his claw at her face, "Give up." Naruto ordered.

Tenten glared at Naruto as she opened her mouth, "NINJA TOOLS: NEEDLE BARRAGE!" she announced before a seal underneath her tongue let out thirty senbon at his face.

Naruto raised his arms, blocking them as they perforated his forearms and chest. Tenten kicked back, dispelling the clone with a kick to the nuts before she held her sore shoulder with one hand and took out a kunai with the other, "I'll win!" she exclaimed as she charged at Naruto.

Naruto scowled as he looked down at the senbon in his arms, 'She's reckless, but I guess that's good for some ninjas.' Naruto thought as he stood tall and dropped his guard, 'Then again, maybe I'm a little reckless too.'

Tenten shouted as she thrust her kunai at Naruto's chest.


Tenten finally seemed to stop as she buried the kunai up to the hilt into the right side of his chest. She looked up in surprise at Naruto's face as he seemed to chuckle, ignoring the cough of blood he directed to their side, "You should've given up earlier," he said with an apologetic smile, "Now this is gonna hurt."

Tenten let go of the kunai and went to step back, but Naruto grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him, head-butting her on the headband and knocking her out with a resonating clang.

Naruto lay Tenten down as he pulled the kunai out of his chest, causing everyone in the audience to audibly gasp and cheer at his wound healing in less than ten seconds.

Genma grabbed Naruto's hand and lifted it up, "Winner: Naruto Uzumaki!"


Naruto directed a bloody grin at the cheers they were making for him, he bowed to the audience, causing the cheers to get louder. He bowed once more to the Hokage booth as Genma spoke softly, "Great work Naruto, you can head off now."

Naruto nodded and walked towards the exit, passing a medic team that came out to get Tenten, 'Match one down,' he thought as he glanced up to the viewing area, 'I wonder if we'll get our match Hina-chan.'


Hinata took a deep breath as she turned to leave, feeling Neji's glare on her back the whole march out. The two passed Naruto, who smiled at Hinata before whispering to Neji as he passed, "She dies and you're next."

Neji shook off Naruto's killing intent and refocussed on Hinata's back. The two of them marching into the arena as Genma spoke, "And now for Match Two in the first round, Hinata Hyuuga of the Leaf against Neji Hyuuga of the Leaf!"

The crowd began to cheer as Neji took a stance facing Hinata, though the girl had yet to turn around and face him, "Are you two ready?" Genma asked as he raised his arm.

"Not yet Genma-san," Hinata began without turning around, "May I please say something before we begin?" she asked.

Genma blinked, "Umm..." he mumbled before looking up to the Hokage and seeing the man nod, "Sure, you have two minutes Hinata."

Hinata nodded and looked up to the audience, "Good day everyone, as I'm sure you noticed my opponent and I have the same last name, which means we are both of the Hyuuga Clan," she said as the crowd went silent, "Since the event today is an exam I would like to use this match to demonstrate the skills I have learned, as such, I choose not to instantly incapacitate my opponent even though I understand that if this were a mission, to do so would be my best option for the sake of the mission."

Hiashi raised a brow from his place in the audience, 'Interesting...'

Hinata turned to Neji and took her stance, "So for this match, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Caged Bird Seal and it's effect on my cousin. This match, Neji-niisan and I fight as equals." she said as her Byakugan activated.

Neji scowled at Hinata, "Like I'd fall for the lies of the Main Branch." he mumbled angrily as he coiled his muscles.

"Alright," Genma said, regaining the attention of the audience, "Match two! BEGIN!"

Neji and Hinata stayed still as they sized up each other's stance. Hinata's technically having a few more flaws to it than his, causing Neji to smirk as he confidently charged at her, "Main branch or not, fate is on my side this day!" Neji exclaimed.

Hinata held her stance, allowing Neji to run at her before she lowered her stance slightly and used her defensive hand to hold a single handed seal.

Neji began with a palm thrust that Hinata parried with one hand before pushing her hand seal towards the ground, causing a large amount of water to form from the moisture and push the two of them apart.

Neji scowled as he regained his bearings, "You've strayed from Hyuuga Teachings?!" he exclaimed in genuine disgust and surprise.

Hinata smirked and shook her head, "No, I've just expanded upon them." she said before moving her arms and taking a defensive stance, "WATER WHIP!"

Neji charged forward before she could fully finish her technique, using his eyes to see a weak point in each whip and land a strike on them, throwing the water loosely through the air around them. He turned to face her again and charged forward as Hinata took her Gentle Fist stance again.

The two entered a bout of trading blows, causing bursts of Chakra to shoot off into the air. After about two minutes straight of them exchanging blows, Neji looked like he was about to land a strike to her shoulder.

Hinata smirked as she thrust forward the same one handed seal as earlier, pushing him away from her in the same manner as the first water push. She took her stance once more, as she saw his heart rate increase.

Neji seemed frustrated as he charged in once more, this time throwing a handful of shuriken ahead of him.

Hinata send Chakra to her hand in a masterful display of control, thrusting forward and letting out a pulse of Chakra that deflected the two shuriken closest to her, allowing her to easily slip through the last three. She caught the two deflected shuriken before they fell and tossed them back at Neji and charging to meet him.

Neji leaped up and over the shuriken, diving at Hinata with a palm thrust only for it to be pushed aside. Hinata tried to counter, but he parried the strike in return, causing the two of them to once more enter the quick motions of the Gentle Fist.

Genma leaped back as he watched Hinata and Neji's deadly dance.

Hinata parried a strike and instead of continuing to attack, she stepped back while forming the same seal once more and attempting to separate them with water. But Neji sent an extra burst of Chakra ahead of him, separating it around him with the force of the pulse before taking a stance that caused Hinata's feet to stick to the ground suddenly, "EIGHT TRIGRAMS!" Neji began.

Hiashi's eyes widened as Asuma leaned forward in interest, "Not possible..." Hiashi mumbled.

"SIXTY FOUR PALMS!" Neji exclaimed as he leaped at Hinata.

Hinata's eyes were open in surprise as Neji's first strike landed, "Two Palms! Four Palms!" he exclaimed as he hit her stomach and chest before blurring around behind her, "Eight Palms! Sixteen Palms!" he shouted before blurring once more to be in front of her again, ready to attack her arms and chest, "Thirty Two-"

Hinata managed to bring her hands upwards, bringing up water around her as she formed a single hand seal. Neji was forced back, but redirected the rest of his attack at the water and burst it apart as he took his final stance.

Hinata finished her jutsu as Neji leaped at her, "DEFENSIVE WATER BELT!"

"SIXTY FOUR PALMS!" Neji shouted as he struck.

The audience gasped as Hinata's water belt struck out with small strings of water, intercepting each and every strike while Hinata formed more hand seals, "STEAM STYLE: BOILING DRAGON JUTSU!"

Neji couldn't believe his eyes as the belt blocked almost all of his strikes, causing him to panic and make his last strike far too over compensated with Chakra. But Hinata's Water Belt had already taken form of a dragon before it turned mostly to steam and shot at Neji's chest.

"AH!" Neji exclaimed as his chest was burned while being thrown through the air, being thrown into the wet ground back first as the dragon dispelled, letting out a burst of boiling steam.

Hinata looked down at her stomach and hit herself with Gentle Fist strikes, undoing the damage she could reach and taking a deep breath of air, 'It took a lot of Chakra to do those two techniques in a row with most of my Chakra points locked, I have to be defensive.' she thought as she knelt and channelled energy into her waterbending.

Neji climbed onto his hands and knees and breathed through the pain, forcing himself to his feet before charging at Hinata once more, this time sending Chakra to his hand and focussing it in a way that he had only succeeded in a few times, "EIGHT TRIGRAMS!"

Hiashi stood up, causing many of his clan to stare at him as he activated his Byakugan, 'Incredible… her skills with waterbending and his mastery over the Hyuuga arts… how did I not see their potential?' he thought in awe.

"SKY PALM!" Neji shouted as he thrust forward the near-invisible attack.

Hinata raised her arms, using the water that rose after her motion to make a wall and block the attack. Neji leaped through the gap, causing Hinata to flung her arms forward again.

Neji gasped in surprise as she brought up water to grab him and bring him close to her. He tried to bust out, only to be held tight and forced to stare at Hinata, "I have mastered the Hyuuga teachings to a level beyond yours! Fate should be with me in this fight!" Neji shouted as he glared at her, "But you.. you've deviated from our arts and spit in the face of our clan!"

Hinata merely shock her head, "Just because I've learned things differently from you doesn't mean I dishonour the clan! My father has had me learn the skills of our clans' Bloodbenders, so the tradition I'm upholding is as righteous as yours!" she said before pushing a hand into the water holding Neji.

Neji looked down in surprise as the water began to freeze around him.

"I've studied your team," Hinata said with a smirk, "You all are focussed on speed, the boys have pushed that entirely into Taijutsu while Tenten focussed on Ninja Tool Techniques. I have studied the Hyuuga arts so I know now to expect these things from you. I can counter every attack, so why don't you give up?" she asked with a chuckle.

Neji grit his teeth as he sent Chakra to his limbs, "In that case, then you're ready for this! ROTATION!"

Hinata's eyes widened as Neji's Chakra burst out in a circle, allowing him to spin and collect her in the technique, grinding into her for a moment before flinging her back.

Hinata bounced along the moist ground before bringing forward her arms, causing some water to rise up and catch her before lowering her down gently. Neji came out of his spin and fell to his knees for a moment before standing up and charging at her again, sending Chakra to his fingertips as he rushed at her downed form.

Hinata stood up and raised her arms defensively, managing to block his first strike before his second one slammed into her chest, sending her back as he knelt to regain his breath, "You don't know anything, you claim one thing then do another. Just like your whole family." Neji began.

Hinata got to her knees and waited, seeing Neji was winding up for a speech, she began to circulate her Chakra manually to filter out the locked Chakra points. Even though it was a longer process, she didn't have the option of undoing the locked points in her back.

"When I was young, you and I were close. But ever since the day you were kidnapped, I've seen the hand of fate due to the actions of your father and our Clan Elders," he said as he stood, "They chose to kill my father and send the body off to the Hidden Cloud Village. When really we should've declared war against them!" Neji shouted, "They attack us while we only offer protection and then when they betray that trust we have to pay the price?! What world is this that we must suffer through?! Why must we pretend to fight the Fate we've been dealt and pretend to live in peace?! Why must YOU represent the clan?! Such a weak person who has to depend on lies to maintain her image, Blood Benders are a myth!"

Hinata stood up tall, causing Neji to glare at her, "You realise that if Fate were deciding this fight then it would end with this exchange?" she asked as she moved her arms into her new taijutsu stance, one of the true blood benders of the past.

"Hinata!" Hiashi shouted, causing almost everyone to stare in surprise at the usually stoic man, "Show him the power your shared with the Legendary Korra! Teacher of the Second Hokage and Mother to all Blood Benders!"

Neji looked over his shoulder at Hiashi, seeing the Hyuuga Clan as a whole standing and cheering for Hinata, "What is this? They all believe this myth?!" he asked in surprise.

"It's no myth," Hinata said as she focussed her Chakra for a tchnique she actually had yet to use on a real person, "This… is my fate!" Hinata shouted as she spiked her Chakra, "HYUUGA ART: WATER STYLE: BLOOD PUPPET!"

Neji gasped as his body's will was taken from him, forcing him to bow to her as he looked at her with wide eyes, he gasped out in pain and awe.

Hinata was sweating, 'Even though it doesn't take much Chakra, this is so hard to focus!' she thought before trying to clear her mind and focus on the task at hand.

Hinata made him sit back before dropping her technique, causing him to slump and deactivate his doujutsu to stare at her, "You.. were right… that move decided this fight..." Neji looked down, "Maybe this is my fate… to always be a slave to the main branch family."

"I said it before and I'll say it again, if that move decided it then fate would have decided this fight," Hinata said as she took her waterbender's stance again, "But I'm asking you to fight me as an equal. Try as hard as you can regardless of fate, fight with your will, like I am." Hinata said with a smile.

Neji stared dully for a moment before looking down at his hands and forcing himself to his feet, "A fight… of will." he mumbled before his Byakugan reactivated, "Then I will push to fight my fate!" he shouted as he charged at her.

The rest of the audience cheered at his sudden burst of energy, causing him to gain courage as he charged.

To make a point of avoiding the Hyuuga arts he knew, Hinata formed three hand seals, "BOILING FOG JUTSU!" she exclaimed as she spewed forth the scalding mist.

Neji stopped his charge and leaped to the side around the technique, throwing his kunai at Hinata.

Hinata used her water bending to pull water up and stop the kunai before he recreated her Defensive Water Belt and charging at Neji.

Neji charged at her while throwing shuriken with deadly accuracy, but her belt used it's tentacles to catch them and drop them into her hands so she could throw them back at him.

Neji took out a kunai, dodging most of the shuriken while deflecting the three he couldn't move between. He wrapped a tag around the handle before throwing it at her feet.

Hinata's belt ignored the kunai, causing Hinata to look down in surprise and clap her hands together in a seal, created a Water Ball around the kunai so that the majority of the explosion was dampened and just caused her to be wet.

Neji attacked with taijutsu, sweeping her feet from under her and destabilise her water belt. He pressed the attack with taijutsu, but she swept water under his feet to push him away. She stood and charged back at him as water swept under her feet, "STEAM PROPULSION!" she exclaimed as she shot forward.

Neji built up a large amount of Chakra, bringing him down to nearly empty as he took a stance, "EIGHT TRIGRAMS: SIXTY FOUR PALMS!"

Hinata smirked, 'Got you!' she thought as she swept her arms upwards.

All of the remaining water rose up, throwing Neji into the air and ruining his technique as Hinata formed another series of hand seals, "WATER PRISON JUTSU!"

Neji held his breath as Hinata caught him in a pressurised sphere of water. He struggled to move before being forced to look forward at Hinata again, he raised a brow as she was smiling.

Hinata giggled at his bewildered look, "You know, this is reminding me of when we used to spar when we were younger," she said with a smile, "My favourite part was when you would take me to the bakery after and we'd get cinnamon rolls."

Neji's eyes widened as he recalled the memory, but Hinata's chuckle brought his attention back to her.

"You said that if I ever won, you'd buy me a whole cake." she said before pushing forward.

The Water prison rolled for a moment before it burst open, giving Neji a chance to breath as he stood, sopping wet and panting heavily as he couldn't help but smirk at her, "If that's what this is… then if I win, you have to get me some cinnamon rolls."

Hinata nodded and took her stance, "Really Neji?" she asked hopefully.

Neji sighed, "I guess so…" he began before smiling gently, "Whether or not my fate is chosen, at least I can follow my own will," he said before taking a stance, "I only have enough Chakra for one last technique Hinata, so come at me." he said as he built up the last of his Chakra.

Hinata smiled as he called her by simply her name, but she nodded as she wanted to see who was actually stronger. Hinata formed hand seals and began to build up Chakra, "Alright Nii-san! Here I come! WATER STYLE: FLYING FISH!"

Neji smirked as Hinata used her Chakra and Waterbending to make over fifty flying fish that began to charge at him, "ROTATION!" Neji exclaimed.

Hinata formed another hand seal, "FROST!"

The many fish froze over into a drill shape, slamming into Neji's Chakra sphere but not penetrating it. Neji's Byakugan allowed him to see Hinata continuing with her motions, causing him to send out the last of his active Chakra as she did her technique.

"WATER STYLE!" she began as she formed a series of hand seals for a technique she shouldn't even be able to do.

Zabuza smirked, "Get him Hinata." he couldn't help but mumble as he sat forward.

Hinata's Byakugan shone as all the water in the arena swirled around her with her movements before she formed a Hare Seal, "GIANT VORTEX JUTSU!"

By using her waterbending for most of the work, Hinata's use of the jutsu took only as much Chakra as her Hidden Mist Jutsu while still being the A-rank jutsu that flooded towards Neji.

Neji's Rotation kept up with the initial impact, but was slammed into the wall, causing his jutsu to falter under the water pressure and become disrupted by slowing down his spin. Hinata let go of her technique as Neji's broke, letting both of them fall to the ground in exhaustion, though Hinata's was merely from Chakra use and a few bruises, Neji's was from genuine injuries and Chakra pains.

Genma smirked as Hinata stood tall and Neji fell on his face, "Winner, Hinata Hyuuga!"

Hinata ran over to Neji and helped him to his feet, unable to help the smile that came to her face at the crowd's cheers.

Neji smiled sadly as he nodded to Hinata, "I'll visit you as soon as I'm able." he promised.

Hinata nodded as the medic team came to great them, giving Hinata a Chakra recovery pill on their way past.


Naruto smirked at Hinata as she took her time leaving the Arena. He looked over to Lee as the green-dresed boy performed a few stretches. Naruto then glanced over to Gaara, seeing the boy was still standing with his eyes closed as he had been since they all first entered the room.

Lee finished stretching and instead of moving to take the stairs, he leaped out into the air above the arena, causing the many cheers that had began to die down to suddenly become much louder.

Lee flipped to land in a crouch before taking in the cheers of his audience. He then took a moment to calm his breath before kneeling.

"Welcome to the ring! Our first fighter for the third Match will be the Hidden Leaf's Rock Lee!" Genma began as Lee undid some latches, "The only Gennin in Hidden Leaf History to attain a level of Training weights higher than that of any Kage of the same village!"

The Kazekage turned to the Hokage with a raised brow, "I find that hard to believe, to my knowledge you used to have over one thousand kilograms as your training weights."

The Hokage smiled and nodded as Lee took the weights from his arms and legs and threw them behind him, "Yes, that's all of my old weights on his right arm there." he said with a smile that caused the 'Kazekage's' eyes to widen in amazement.


Lee took off his leg warmers and tossed them aside, causing Genma to pause as he noticed something with weight seemed to bring them to the ground as well. But instead of commenting on that, he looked to the area opposite Lee as Sand began to swirl, "And our first contestant of the First Round from the Hidden Sand Village, the youngest son of the Kazekage, Gaara of the Sand!"

Gaara appeared from the swirl of Sand as his eyes opened, his gaze resting on Lee as the green clad man took a stance, "Tell me… will you prove your existence today? Or will you just confirm mine?"

Lee raised a brow, "I will show you my Flames of Youth!" he shouted with a grin as his stance lowered.

"GO LEEEEEE!" Maito Gai shouted from the audience.

Genma chuckled as most of the audience began to cheer alongside Gai, "Alright here we Go! Are the two contestants ready?!"

Lee nodded while Gaara just closed his eyes, causing Genma to smile.

"Round one Match Three, BEGIN!"

To the shock of everyone, Lee literally disappeared.


Gaara's eyes snapped open and he looked to his left, seeing Lee standing with a curious expression, "Your Sand acts as a shield?"


Gaara looked to his right as the sand that had shielded him burst past his eyes. Gaara didn't even turn in time to see Lee as he disappeared again and kicked out at Gaara's stomach. Gaara barely managed to look forward as his own sand was blasted away, allowing Lee to use the millisecond of time before it regrouped to step inside the sand ring and punch Gaara square in the face.

Gaara stumbled backwards, registering the impact but not really feeling it thanks to his Sand Armour. Lee swept Gaara's feet from underneath him, but then retreated as the sand wall reached for him.

Gaara was still on his back as the crowd cheered. His sand lifted him up onto his feet as he glared at Lee, "You… hit me…." Gaara mumbled before his body began to shake.

Lee's eyes widened as five tendrils of Sand reached for him, forcing him to flip back and run as he began to dodge and weave between them, but after a few minutes. Gaara actually lifted his arm, causing the tendrils to speed up and one of them to hit Lee in the back.

Lee stumbled, but pushed himself into a hand stand and pushing off the ground, allowing him to dodge Gaara's next strike and get ahead of the sand for just one more moment before sprinting at Gaara head on.

Gaara pulled his hands back towards him, trying to get some to him as a defence but Lee had beat it back, punching at Gaara's chest.

Gaara was thrown back from the punch as his sand raced towards him and set him back on his feet. Gaara looked down at his chest and sighed as the cracked armour sealed shut, 'No matter how fast… you're existence is still meaningless.' Gaara thought as he placed a hand on the ground and aimed his other hand at Lee.

Lee took his stance and drew a deep breath, 'Looks like Gai-sensei was right,' he thought before glancing past Gaara towards his left leg's leg warmer, 'Time to try my first back up plan, but this will take half of my limited Chakra…' he thought before grinning, "Time to show you the power!"

Gaara's fingers curled towards Lee, sending five tendrils of sand that suddenly doubled in size and speed as they shot towards Lee.

Lee's stance lowered as he readied himself, "My Flames of Youth Explode!"

Lee shot forward like a bullet, sprinting along the ground before flipping over the first tendril and punching it once to use the momentum to reverse his flip, dodging the next three tendrils and landing on his feet before the fifth reached for his chest.

Only for it to fade through his after-image.

Gaara brought his second hand up from the ground, forming a wall of sand from the minerals underground to defend himself from whatever was coming next.

But nothing came.

Gaara put a hand over his left eyes, forming a Sand Eye in the sky above the arena to look down at Lee.

Off to the side, Genma nodded in appreciation of their skills, 'With Lee's limited potential he's come so far in only a year… I'm not sure I could keep up with him in pure Taijutsu…' he thought before glancing at Gaara, 'Then again, this boy is using only his one Sand Skill and keeping up with everything. The tendrils he utilises are both a powerful attack and an adaptable defence, the Sand Eye he's been using throughout the Exams is incredible to say the least, connecting his optic nerve to sand? I couldn't even fathom how to begin making such a skill… and then there's his Sand Shield.' Genma thought with a smirk.

Lee appeared next to one of his leg warmers and reached inside, turning it inside out and revealing the seal on it before he put the warmer over his right arm and took his stance, "Prepare yourself Gaara-san!" Lee shouted before disappearing in a blur.

Gaara's Sand eye moved to keep focus on Lee, causing Gaara's brow to furrow as he could barely comprehend the odd blur that was his opponent. So Gaara put his hand against the Sand Wall surrounding him, "SAND BULLETS!"

Gaara sent out fifty small sand pellets in a ring around him, catching Lee off guard as he managed to block and dodge most of them though two hit his thigh and pelvis. Lee rolled with the momentum before darting in a Gaara again.

Gaara stood up as clapped his hands together, causing his Sand Wall to rise up at the cost of thinning out while sending more sand to use the minerals underground to bring up even more sand.

Lee frowned as he saw no way to get at Gaara from his current angle, but after a second of thinking he smirked and dashed backwards. Lee picked up two of his weights and tossed them high into the air.

Gaara's normal eye widened in surprise as he looked up, seeing with his real gaze that Lee had used his airborne weights as stepping stones to get above Gaara, looking down the circular sand wall and diving towards him while spinning like a ball.

Gaara's clapped hand clenched into a joined fist, causing the sand wall to retreat towards him as fast as it could, barely managing to make a small shield as Lee's foot shot out, "LEAF FALLING BRANCH!"


The impact from Lee's kick caused the Sand Wall to burst out around the two of them, revealing the kick to the audience.

Having impacted the top of Gaara's head, the redhead was slammed face first into the ground and cracked the Sand Armour on his skull as the sand in the area was thrown away. Lee landed hands first beside Gaara and pushed himself into a side-flip, sending another kick at the back of Gaara's head.


The audience gasped as Lee's kick hit Gaara and caused his head to explode in a cloud of sand, the sand wrapping around Lee's leg as the Sand Wall fell and wrapped around Lee as well, causing more then three quarters of Gaara's Sand to condense around the airborne Lee in a sphere.

Gaara rose up out of the ground, showing that when he had knelt the very first time that he had replaced himself with a Sand Clone. He raised an arm towards his Sand Coffin that held Lee in the air, "SAND BURIAL!" Gaara shouted as he clenched his fist.


Gaara's eyes widened and the audience gasped at the large plume of smoke, allowing Lee to fall to the ground safely as he took his stance once more with a grin, "Rock Lee… what did you do?" Gaara asked with a furrow of confusion in his brow.

Lee smirked as he took off the leg warmer on his arm and rolled it up, "My team helped me come up with a few plans for your techniques. Tenten helped me come up with a Storage Seal I'd be able to activate so that I could take away some of your sand." Lee said as he held up the leg warmer and turned before throwing the leg warmer into the audience.

Gaara knelt to place his hand on the ground once more, but Lee appeared in a crouch underneath him, "LEAF RISING WIND!" Lee shouted as his rising kick hit Gaara's chin.

Gaara gasped as he was actually hit, the armour on his face cracking under the pressure as he was kicked into the air. Gaara barely managed to flip around and look down at Lee, seeing the boy had run to his weights and began to throw them one at a time up at Gaara.

Since he didn't have much sand left, Gaara turned around and allowed his Gourd to dispel into a cloud of sand, defending him from the heavy weights but still being pushed through the air towards the arena wall.

Gaara's eyes began to pulse and become more bloodshot as he felt his heart rate increase, 'This is it...' he thought as his sand cushioned his impact into the wall before latching him to it. Gaara put one hand on the arena wall before using his other hand to bring up the sand that was holding him into the air.

Lee's eyes widened as Gaara began to float in the air above the arena, the small amount of sand he had left on the arena wall beginning to work it's way around the arena and use the minerals in the surface of the wall to form more sand.

From Lee's perspective, as Gaara rose up into the air, the walls around him began to become a wall of sand, 'So much for getting rid of his sand, that Seal was one time use.' he thought before looking over to his other leg warmer, 'Time to try Neji's idea, but that means I need Gai-sensei's permission...' he thought as he looked up to the audience.

As the sand wall finished spreading around the arena, Gai's voice echoed across the Arena, "It's time Lee! Ignite your flames of youth and show them all the power of being a genius of hard work!" Gai shouted.

Lee crossed his arms as his grinned, "Hai Gai-sensei!" he shouted while crossing his arms.

Gaara thrust a palm at Lee, "SAND SHURIKEN!"

From the walls around Lee massive Shuriken made of sand began to shoot out, coming within inches of striking him before his Chakra suddenly burst, "THE FIRST GATE OPEN!"


Lee disappeared as he backhanded the shuriken out of his way and continued to run in circles, his voice echoing as he suddenly increased in speed, "THE SECOND GATE OPEN!"


This time creating a sonic boom with his speed alone, Lee's circling of the arena began to blow away any sand that came close to him while forming a weak whirlwind.

Gaara scowled before clapping his hands together again, this time using the sand to form layer upon layer of sand stone that were thrown at Lee.


Then he was gone.

Genma's eyes widened as even he was unable to keep track of Lee's movements.

Lee leaped up and stepped off a piece of sand stone, managing to leap up at Gaara and punch at his face with a right straight.


Gaara used a Substitution Jutsu to swap with some sandstone, causing Lee's fist to burst it apart and give the opportunity for the sand to compress around his arm before he could run.



"AAAHHHHH!" Lee shouted in pain as his forearm was crushed, but he managed to run away with a burst of Chakra.

Lee gasped in pain as he sprinted away from the sand, unable to truly focus due to the pain and unable to see where Gaara had been hiding. He spot his other leg warmer and immediately sprinted towards it, doing his best to ignore the pain throbbing through his limp arm.

Gaara rose out of the sand wall and pulled the sand towards him from around the arena, sending part of it in a small wave towards Lee.

Lee reached into his other leg warmer and pulled out a shield, using his immense speed to shake it at high frequency with the odd metal vibrating in tandem. The Sand hit his shield and due to the vibration, burst out of shape, allowing Lee to run at Gaara and leap towards him as his limp arm's bandages came loose.

Gaara barely managed to blink.

"HIDDEN LOTUS!" Lee shouted as he kicked the real Gaara into the air.

Gaara shouted in surprise and pain as Lee leaped after him and slammed his shield into Gaara's chest, causing the sand armour to burst out of shape and fall off of him, giving Lee the chance to appear behind him and wrap him up in bandages, "LET THE FLAMES OF YOUTH EXPLODE!" Lee shouted as they span down towards the ground.

Gaara twitched his fingers upwards, causing sand to reach up towards him and Lee as they spiralled towards the ground.


Genma stared in disbelief, 'These two are certainly ready to be Chunnin...' he thought as the dust cloud cleared.

The sand was shown to have reached upwards while spinning along with Gaara's momentum, catching and slowing their attack while trying to separate the two combatants, putting pressure on Lee's broken arm and doing irreparable damage.

Gaara's Sand wrapped around him and picked him up as blood dripped from his forehead, "B-Blood?" Gaara began before glaring at Lee, "You drew my blood!" he roared angrily.

Lee dropped the shield and held his now completely numb arm, all he could feel was a painful throbbing that nearly numbed all his other senses. He went to raise his other arm to take a stance, but the damage from using the Eight Gates had begun to damage him so much that his shoulder dislocated and he pulled a muscle. Lee shouted in pain as the Eight Gates slammed shut inside his Chakra network, causing him to fall to his knees, 'I've shown all I can do… he managed to stop even that.' Lee thought sadly as he looked up to Gai for guidance.

Gai stood with a proud smile on his face as tears poured from his eyes. He gave Lee a thumbs up as his teeth pinged.

Lee smiled slightly, 'I… did it?' he thought as he looked around the audience, suddenly becoming aware of the cheers being directed towards him. Lee's smile grew as he turned to Genma and cleared his throat, "Genma-san, I'd like to forf-"


Lee gasped as he was swallowed up by sand.

Genma's eyes widened as he ran forward with his senbon glowing with Chakra, seeing another blur moving towards the sand, Genma redirected towards Gaara.



Gai stood with a glare on his face as the sand burst from around him and Lee. He dropped the shield as Genma stopped in front of Gaara with his senbon aimed at the boy's throat, "You move and I'll end this before your sand can even twitch. He was clearly about to forfeit. If you stop now, I'll allow you to continue."

Gaara glared at Genma as his bloodshot eyes pulsed with rage. But after a tense few seconds, Gaara closed his eyes and stepped back, his sand seeming to follow his lead even though it was hesitant.

Genma sighed in relief as he turned to see Gai dashing off with Lee in his arms, "Winner of this match: Gaara of the Sand!"

The audience gave a polite cheer, though some openly booed Gaara's performance as they had heard Lee was about to forfeit.

Gaara turned away and disappeared in a swirl of sand, retreating back to the waiting area to try and regain his energy as he licked his lips at the taste of blood.

Genma looked up at the Hokage, receiving a nod from the man, "And now for the next match...Kankuro of the Sand against Shino of the Leaf!"


Chapter End.

Next chapter release – 1 month from 30/11