Longer AN at the bottom!


"I accept." Shinji declared, stepping towards the opposing genin.

"Shinji, it is ill-advised to waste your energy before the exam. It would be illogical to do so for something so pointless." Shino spoke up. The Aburame taking the initiative to give his opinion in something that didn't directly affect him was a rare sight, and when he did do it, it meant he was serious. Though he was rarely un-serious anyways.

Hinata turned to her teammate with a knowing smile, "Don't worry, Shinji-kun won't take long. That boy's chakra reserves are as small as an academy student's."

Her Byakuugan had already been activated the moment Lee appeared, instinctively activating them to assess a possible threat to their team, or more specifically a possible threat to Shinji. But she immediately relaxed upon seeing how tiny his reserves were.

An experienced Hyuuga, or any experienced shinobi really, would have known not to judge a book by its cover. Nine times out of ten, the size of one's chakra reserves were a pretty accurate measurement of their strength and ability. After all, nearly every form of the shinobi arts required chakra in one way or another.

It was also why Neji never took Lee seriously. Every time the Hyuuga prodigy activated his doujutsu, he was reminded of Lee's meagre chakra reserves and lacking proficiency in manipulating it. As a result, no matter how much effort Lee had put into his training, Neji never once saw him as anything other than a 'failure' who could never defeat a 'genius'.

That one time out of ten, however, was usually what got the inexperienced and the conceited killed in their moment of carelessness. And unbeknownst to almost everybody else in the world, Lee embodied that ten percent like no other.

Lee heard her comments but chose not to respond in any way, steadfastly watching Shinji's every movement.

Shinji himself could only chuckle inwardly, mocking how wrong she really was, but similar to Lee, he did not comment on her theory. He did, however, use [Observe] on Lee to check out who he was going to face.

Rock Lee Lv 41
HP: 28170/28170
CP: 3350/3350
Lee is a genin of Konohagakure and a member of Team Gai. He is unfortunately born with a unique constitution, resulting in a deficient chakra system. As a result, he is unable to manipulate chakra outside his body and only able to control chakra within his body or on the surface of it, but to a substandard degree. However, owing to his strong will and relentless dedication to training, he has overcome this deficiency and established himself as a prominent taijutsu specialist.
He admires you and thinks of you as his rival.
Lee is
as strong as you.

It was immediately apparent from his status that Lee's stats leaned overwhelmingly towards the physical, possessing a high HP in exchange for low CP. He even had higher HP than Shinji who was of a higher level than him and who generally had higher stats than those with similar levels. Furthermore, Shinji knew Lee wasn't just tanky with high HP and nothing else – his strength and speed was on another level as well.

And just as Shinji was analysing his opponent, so too was Lee examining the other person.

'I am lucky. To be able to contend with the number one rookie who has defied all expectations and surpassed the publicly recognized genius, Uchiha Sasuke. I am certain I will learn much from this experience!' Lee thought to himself with a slight smile. His smile was not born from condescension nor conceit. Rather, it was one of respect and gratitude for his opponent!

"Wait a minute, Lee! Are you actually going to fight right before the exams!" At this time, a feminine voice called out from the sidelines.

Lee turned to see his teammate, Tenten, standing some distance away from Shinji's teammate.

For a moment he looked guilty, looking like a child who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but his determination replaced any hesitance that had appeared.

"Please forgive my selfishness, Tenten. But this is something I have to do!" Lee declared, before turning his eyes back on to his opponent.

Tenten gritted her teeth, her eyebrows twitching, "Seriously what is wrong with this team! Why do I always have to be the rational one?"

However, seeing that Lee was no longer even paying attention, she huffed and folded her arms, "Tsk, you're not even listening to me anymore. Fine, just quickly win and don't drag things out. We don't want to be late to the exam after all."

Hinata eyed the newly arrived girl with palpable rage, but the look of intense fury was just as quickly replaced with a slight smile.

"Don't worry, I'm sure Shinji-kun will make it quick. It won't take long for him to win." She gently spoke, although there was a discernible edge to her tone.

Tenten frowned and turned to the other girl, who in her eyes was just a mindless fangirl ignorant of the realities of the world, "A Hyuuga huh? Tch. Listen kid, you guys may have been big shots in the academy or whatever, but we're your senpai. We graduated a year before you kids, which also means we have had a full year more experience and focused tutoring than you. Honestly, I don't even know what your jounin-sensei was thinking entering you into the chuunin exams, there's no way you kids are at all ready for the big leagues."

The gentle smile faded. Hinata now spotted a cold look of silent dissatisfaction. She honestly didn't care about what anyone said to her, even if they insulted her to her face. But there were two things she could not tolerate – someone speaking ill of her clan, and of Shinji.

Hinata was raised as the heiress of the elite Hyuuga clan, and as such a certain degree of pride was ingrained in her from her heritage. More so than even the other heirs and heiresses of the other shinobi clans. The Hyuuga were a prideful bunch; in fact, they were proud of the fact that they could be so proud. Because their clan was one that had the privilege to do so after so many years of contributing so much to the village.

It was no exaggeration that the Hyuuga clan, with their vaunted doujutsu and renowned Gentle Fist, was one of three clans that contributed the most to Konoha's current prominence. The other two being the Senju and the Uchiha – both of which now only had one remaining member still officially loyal to the village.

Furthermore, the former of which could only barely be considered still part of Konoha, with the Senju Princess roaming the world and not on active duty, while the latter only had a genin as the sole inheritor of their entire legendary legacy.

Hence, of these three clans, only the Hyuuga still remained flourishing and prosperous. Which also meant that they were the de facto, by process of elimination, number one clan of Konoha. And that title also came with a certain level of prestige and awe that demanded respect.

Hinata was not a person that thought so highly of herself on the sole basis of her heritage and position of privilege that she was disdainful of any non-clan shinobi. How could she be when the love of her life was one raised as an orphan, even if he did turn out to have Uchiha blood. But when she heard such disrespectful words directed so blatantly in front of her, it was that very position of privilege that demanded her to come to its defence.

"You. I don't like the way you spoke the name of my clan. Have some respect, you fool." She spoke, with the pride, dignity, and superiority that was expected of her in a manner that condescended someone who had just disrespected her clan.

Tenten quirked an eyebrow, "Hoh, it seems you do have some claws of your own. Either way, I know your type. And trust me, I am more familiar with the Hyuuga than I'd like to be. I have one as a teammate after all."

The Hyuuga who had kept her Byakuugan active spotted someone else watching them from the veranda of the second story but scoffed when she recognized who that person was – someone who she would not give an ounce of her attention when Shinji was about to fight right in front of her.

Neji, who similarly had his Byakuugan activated, seethed in anger when he saw Hinata's dismissive attitude. He had arrived a few moments before Lee, and so he had been hiding and watching Lee's entire interaction with his cousin's team from a distance.

Hinata rolled her pupilless eyes and turned away from Tenten, no longer tolerating any further waste of her time and attention. There were more important things to focus on, like Shinji's impending clash with the failure of a shinobi with pitiful chakra reserves.

Shinji and Lee exchanged looks, neither saying another word and both waited for the other to make the first move. Their eyes flickered between their opponents' eyes, arms, legs, shoulders, hips and toes, vigilant of any slight twitch of a muscle. The air was filled with a palpable tension like that of a taut bow string pulled to its maximum limit, ready to snap at any moment.

The silence in their makeshift arena might have fooled a layman observer to think they were just pointlessly checking each other out. The reality, however, was that Lee and Shinji had already exchanged a dozen blows in their heads! Both were simulating how their foe might respond to any action taken and how they might counter that response and so on and so forth.

Hinata, Shino and Tenten backed away, giving the two fighters space to conduct their duel. The teammates of the two parties had the utmost confidence in them. Hinata and Shino had seen for themselves how strong and talented Shinji was, and similarly, Tenten knew how much effort Lee put into his training. What's more, Tenten thought of that one year gap between them to be an immovable disadvantage for the younger genin. To them, their teammates' victory was already a forgone conclusion.

Shinji moved first, a tactical consideration. The one who made the first move was always in the advantageous position. Just as it was in Chess or Shogi, so too did that apply in battle.

He sped towards Lee, who decided to meet him in the middle as well. Shinji threw a high kick that was easily evaded by the bowl-haired genin who returned his own.

Shinji side stepped from the kick, simultaneously launching a hook directed at his opponent's jaw. His punch was parried as Lee threw a counter.

This exchange went on for several seconds, with both sides throwing their own attacks while evading their adversary's. Their movements were smooth, looking almost choreographed. Most taijutsu battles between two individuals proficient in the martial arts who were also at a similar level often resembled like a rehearsed dance. A sequence of steps, an arrangement of moves and a composition of techniques that smoothly blended together until one could no longer distinguish between the two.

Shino and Hinata, after having spent so many months with Shinji, were not at all surprised at their teammates' skill and technique. Although, what was out of their expectation was Lee being able to keep up with their prodigious teammate.

Yet precisely because they were so familiar with Shinji's strength that they also understood – Shinji had yet to become serious. Their teammate was only utilizing the Konoha Academy Taijutsu style they were taught when they were still students, and not his deadly and insidious Shinkyoken. Additionally, his true speed and strength was nowhere near what he was currently revealing.

It was even clearer to Hinata, whose eyes could see through the mysteries of ephemeral chakra. Shinji wasn't enhancing his muscles with chakra, and neither was his opponent. Both were only using their base speed and strength to contend with one another, merely feeling out their opponent through an exchange of technique.

Of course, no observer would be clearer about the exact details of their exchange than the two who were personally in it. Shinji was moving as fast as, and his strikes as strong as what he was physically capable of without using [Chakra Enhancement]. However, it was also abundantly clear to him that Lee was still holding back.

More than once he had blocked an oncoming blow only for his arm to shake in response to Lee's strength and penetrative ability of his fists. Furthermore, the bowl-haired genin's stance was steady, never fluctuating, revealing supreme confidence in his own skills.

'This guy's physical stats are higher than mine!' Shinji concluded, noticing that Lee still looked as calm and collected as a motionless lake. He was parrying and evading Shinji's strikes effortlessly while slowly increasing the intensity of his own, as if asking through fists and kicks 'is this all you have?'.

Furthermore, although Shinji had always been proud of his instincts and combat sense – forged through the hundreds of undead lives he had reaped in the Uchiha Natural Dungeons and life or death battles against the Bosses and Hidden Bosses of said dungeons – he had to admit that Lee's talent for physical violence was very simply superior to his!

'Who has the audacity to claim Lee was a failure? Such combat instincts are not something that can be trained. And unless Team Gai regularly undergoes life-threatening missions where they put their lives on the line that I did not know of, this is pure talent!' Shinji grimly concluded in his head.

And as this thought was formed, a fist snuck through Shinji's guard and landed on his cheek, pushing him back several feet.

Shinji rubbed against the spot where Lee's fist impacted. It was only a graze since he was able to barely turn his head the moment he saw it coming, dealing little to no damage that was already being recovered from his natural regeneration. But it was a solemn representation that Lee was one notch better than him in terms of physical combat.

Lee frowned as he settled back into his trademarked Goken stance, his round eyes narrowing slightly as if questioning whether Shinji really had the privilege to be so absentminded during their fight when he was only barely able to keep up. It was a faint look of disappointment and provocation.

Shinji grinned. It seemed like Academy Taijutsu was no longer going to cut it.

"Sorry. I will take this seriously from now on." He offered without any prompting from Lee. A sign of respect and self-deprecation that was rare coming from him.

Blood would certainly be shed now that Shinji decided to make full use of this dangerous instrument of violence. Shinji justified that he could just heal up any injuries Lee were to suffer. After all, the consequences to losing this battle was far too punishing to take lightly.

Lee nodded, "Thank you. Otherwise, this would have been a disappointing match."

Hinata saw chakra shuffling into the green spandex wearing genin's muscles, sluggishly and lethargically – a symptom of Lee's deficient chakra system. However, his manipulation of chakra was peculiar in a manner she had not been expecting.

'It's slow, clunky and lacking in both quantity and quality. Yet, why does it feel so… refined? Like a diamond in the rough, very slowly but surely being polished into brilliance.' She noted while observing with her Byakuugan.

'Shinji-kun's on the other hand, is like a raging inferno that is simultaneously controlled like a hurricane rotating in place. However, as much as I hate to admit it, that boy's mastery with chakra enhancement is undeniably more outstanding than Shinji!'

There was not a single iota of chakra being wasted – not a testament to Lee's talent in controlling his chakra, but rather, it was evidence of hundreds and hundreds of hours invested in to the very act of layering his disadvantaged body with chakra. An act the genin have become so intimately familiar with, it had become almost second-nature as though stemming from the same part of his nervous system that controlled breathing while asleep.

It was the only method for Lee to overcome his deficient chakra system, and his only weapon to surpass shinobi who did not suffer from what many others would consider a crippling disability. An ability he had to master to keep up with everyone else around him who achieved the same results with a third the effort.

"What do you see with those eyes of yours?" Tenten remarked to Hinata, eyeing the fight with a satisfied smile on her face, "His chakra system must look like a mess to you, doesn't it?"

Hinata glanced at the fellow kunoichi but remained silent. She was not willing to give her any modicum of satisfaction.

Seeing her kouhai's quiet attempt at defiance, Tenten smirked, "Your Byakugan can see many things, but you can't see a person's history. You may be able to see Lee's small chakra reserves and inefficient chakra control, but you know not of the hours he put into his training. But I have seen it with my own boring and inferior eyes - the blood, sweat and tears he has shed pounding away at a training dummy unceasingly. Day after day, weeks after weeks and months after months. There is no way greenhouse flowers like yourselves can match Lee."

Hinata bit back the retort stuck in her throat. There was an element of truth to what the kunoichi said, but her words were also chock full of hypocrisy. Even if she didn't know how hard the bowl-haired genin trained, Hinata knew how hard Shinji trained despite his prodigal talent. So for her to condescend him as though he had never once worked hard a day in his life was simply conceited.

Though she felt indignant on Shinji's behalf, Hinata also didn't think it necessary to debate the other girl. Results were all that was needed to disprove her half-baked theories and mistaken assumptions. Shinji will defeat the other genin – that, she had no doubt of.

Shino similarly said nothing in response, as was standard for the Aburame. He was clearer than anyone else the rate of Shinji's improvement. It had only been a mere six months since they graduated, but already, Shinji had grown leaps and bounds ahead of their entire graduating class. Asuma had remarked on more than one occasion his praise for Shinji's talent, after all.

In his own taciturn manner, Shino had competed with his prodigious teammate only to see the gap between them widen further and further. Shinji's speed and strength grew constantly, to an almost unnatural extent.

Shino had tried investigating his teammate's body once or twice before using his Kikaichu. It was just a surface analysis over the secret behind Shinji's abnormal growth rate, nothing too intrusive. His findings were… inconclusive. Shinji bled like any other person, there was nothing special in the food he consumed nor in the excrements he discharged. By all appearances, there was nothing unique that stood out about Shinji.

Yet, there was also something definitely odd about his physique that made no sense to the Aburame. However, with his clans' methods, there was no way for him to investigate further. As such, he could only deem his investigations as inconclusive.

Which also meant that Shino had yet to give up competing with Shinji. Because inconclusive findings also meant that the future was not set in stone. Shinji's rate of improvement might possibly slow down in the future, and Shino could eventually catch up. Or at least, that was the only way the Aburame could justify it in a completely rational and logical manner.

Shinji's fingers straightened and flexed, the veins under the skin of his digits bulging as chakra was channelled into his hands. Shinkyoken was deadly and insidious. A bloodthirsty martial art of which its sole purpose was seeking the lives of the practitioner's enemies, in contrast to the blunt and straightforward but honest Goken Lee practiced.

"Do not treat this as disrespect, but I must warn you – my martial art is designed to cut and pierce, not an instrument fashioned for friendly spars. Thus, it will be inevitable for blood to be shed. Although I am proficient in medical ninjutsu and as such will be able to heal injuries that are not too severe, I will still insist on having the decency of giving forewarning. Do you understand?" Shinji warned.

Lee glanced at Shinji's hands which now emanated an aura that was completely different from the Konoha Academy Taijutsu stance he had used a moment before. Although the bowl-haired genin could not compare to his master's command over taijutsu, he could still unabashedly boast that he was the premier taijutsu expert amongst their generation. Yet, he had never once seen such a strange martial art. One that oozed sickly killing intent just from its activation. Clearly Shinji was being serious with his comment.

The taijutsu specialist smiled brightly, "How convenient, medical ninjutsu must be wonderful for training purposes! After the exam is over, we must train together, Shinji-kun!"

Shinji couldn't help but chuckle when he heard Lee's enthusiastic response. Not only did his warning go unheeded, but Lee's reply was also one of utmost confidence, as if politely implying that such a warning was simply unnecessary. Instead, he paid more attention to the fact that Shinji could use medical ninjutsu, and even emphasized that it would be incredibly useful for training.

Not only did such a statement firmly but politely shoot down Shinji's condescending concern for his opponent, it highlighted Lee's incredible dedication, nay, his obsession with training. What a pity, Shinji remarked inwardly, that he had to defeat this admirable individual who despite his deficiencies still achieved this level of strength – a level of strength that would have been considered number one amongst Konoha's genin had it not been for Shinji's transmigration and subsequent intervention.

As such, he could only laugh and agree, "Yes, I look forward to training with you after the exams are over."

Lee nodded in appreciation at the reciprocated gesture. His fists tightened and his feet shifted into the primary stance of the Goken.

For a moment, they were quiet. Under a shared silence of mutual respect and recognition. Before that very silence was broken as the two of them launched themselves at each other.

Their observers watched as the two genin sped towards each other their speed several times what they had been before. Although Shinji was noticeably faster – a result of him activating [Whirlwind Steps]. The current Shinji, with all of his buffs and perks that either passively or actively increased his speed, was of a higher league when compared to Lee who was still weighed down by the heavy chunks of metal strapped to his ankle.

Lee rotated his body as they neared, a tell-tale initiation of his signature move.

"Konoha Senpuu!" He announced, as an orange blur flew towards Shinji's face, a backwards high kick using his left foot. Now that his body and kick was being empowered by chakra, it was multitudes stronger and faster than before. Not to mention those very same weights that held him back also contributed to the devastating power his kick would hold crashing into his opponent – that was only if it landed of course.

Shinji had also similarly enhanced his speed and strength with chakra, and the difference between the two was that Shinji was not limited by a low chakra capacity like his opponent. His chakra reserves were not only larger, but it was also of a higher quality.

Despite the fact that Lee's mastery over chakra enhancement had already surpassed many chuunin, Shinji could similarly achieve the same results via the brute force of his high INT and various perks that amplified the potency of his chakra. If Lee was using 100 CP to enhance himself every minute, Shinji only needed 50 CP to achieve the same results. It's amplifying effect would even be further enhanced if he injected more chakra than was necessary to match Lee.

Shinji swung his arm to intercept Lee's kick with a blade palm, and had it connected, might have sliced into Lee's shin bone.

However, Konoha Senpuu was an ingenious set of moves within the Goken martial art. It was designed with theoretically countless variations, meant to counter an enemy's counter through sheer speed and flexibility of its practitioner. Although Lee's position looked awkward with one foot high in the air directed towards his opponent's face, his hands and other foot could still maneuver to catch Shinji from another angle.

As such, Lee was able to effortless twist himself in mid-air with the help of his hands acting as a fulcrum to rotate his lower body like a break dancer and allow his other leg to fly in from another direction.

Lee could recognize the danger Shinji's deadly looking fingers posed, so though he was curious about the details of his opponent's martial art, he was not willing to test it out. At this point, he was fully treating Shinji's hands as though they were holding knives and approaching him with the same caution as one would an armed attacker.

Thus, Lee's right foot was able to carve right through Shinji… without him even being able to feel any resistance. Shinji's figure faded away as a slight breeze blew past Lee.

'An afterimage!' Lee realised, before his foot even made contact. In truth, he had already noticed Shinji rapidly moving away after launching his second kick. But his body was too slow to react properly, a consequence of the weights holding down his feet that at his moment felt more like an anchor.

The moment Shinji sensed Lee's other foot coming at him from a direction he could not properly block, he decisively used [Flash Step] fuelled by wind nature chakra to disappear from Lee's sight to reappear behind the bowl-haired genin who was helpless to stop his next move.

Unlike Lee, from the audiences' perspective, all they could see was Lee kicking through Shinji, only to realize that it was only an afterimage, and the Rookie of the Year was already behind the spandex-wearing genin.

"LEE!" A feminine voice yelled out, cutting through the silence in shock, but that verbal warning could extend no aid towards the target of her concern.

Shinji extended a finger enhanced by [Shinkyoken] and poked his opponent's torso. The finger, unnaturally straight like that of an estoc, pierced through Lee's defenceless back.

Lee immediately reacted by furiously swinging back, a continuation of his initial Konoha Senpuu, but Shinji had already retreated, evading the kick that was more of an emotional response than any sort of measured, rational retaliation to the surprisingly brutal attack.

However, vicious though it may have been, Shinji's attack was neither ruthless nor sadistic. The point of impact was chosen specifically, a result of Shinji's medic-nin training, to deliver a non-lethal and superficial injury, even if it was a tad bit bloody.

Sure, he could have thrusted his entire hand through the back of Lee's torso like a hot knife through butter and crushed his heart right at that very moment of vulnerability, but such an act would have been exceedingly senseless and pointedly idiotic. Shinji would have gained nothing from fatally wounding his opponent when they were only engaging in a friendly duel.

The only reason why he was even willing to shed blood was the knowledge that he could close up the wound after the fight was over.

Feeling his flesh being pierced, Lee leaped away from his opponent at the surprising turn of events, who graciously elected not to pursue. The genin reached back to nurse his injury and flinched when he felt piercing pain on his back, shocked to find the unmistakable crimson hue of blood staining his fingers when he brought his hand back to inspect it.

A martial art that could cut and pierce with one's hands as easily as it would with a knife… what a terrifying taijutsu style, Lee grimly observed.

"So this is what you meant by a deadly martial art. My eyes have been opened." He sighed in admiration, but his sharp eyes found its way on to the hardwood floorboards. More specifically, the point at which Shinji had used his [Flash Step] had been shattered, leaving splinters and shards of wood in his wake.

'That speed, I saw him moving but my body wasn't fast enough to react. How hard must he have trained to achieve such an agility? I have been too conceited… to think that there was another who have similarly pushed himself to the extremes of human limitations!' Though Lee's thoughts were self-deprecating, it contained admiration and delight. It was also very wrong.

"I warned you." Shinji replied and knowingly eyes Lee's ankle warmers. Though he may have won that exchange, Shinji was still very aware of just how fast and strong Lee could really be once he removed the weights around his ankles. However, that was also precisely his goal since he had a bonus objective to complete.

The flesh wound he gave Lee as well as the knowing look was a statement, one that said 'I will only make you bleed more if you don't get serious.'

Lee's thick brows furrowed, but he also had on an expression of delight. 'As expected, he must have noticed that I was still holding back due to my training weights. I was worried that I would only be disappointed by the supposed Rookie of the Year, but instead of disappointment, all I can feel is excitement!'

"I understand, Shinji-kun. Allow me to reciprocate your sincerity." Lee spoke with conviction, before sitting down. He then slipped off the orange ankle warmers to reveal a pair of ankle weights strapped to his leg.

Amongst the audience, Hinata had on a mocking smirk, "Weights? Futile. Does he think removing some measly little weights will be enough to deal with Shinji?"

Tenten returned that jeering with her own confident smile. "It's a clichéd training. But one that has been taken to the extreme by Lee. Don't underestimate him just because he can't use genjutsu and ninjutsu, because in terms of taijutsu… Lee is a monster!"

Instead of throwing it to the side, Lee gently placed down his weights on the floor of their arena, not revealing to the audience the full intensity of his extreme training routine.

"YOSH! Now I can finally move freely!" He exclaimed as he stood back up while staring excitedly at his opponent.

Shinji felt his muscles tighten, fully aware of how fast Lee was going to be now that he was getting serious. As a result, he knew that before Lee warmed up to his new speed, he had to strike first!

[Flash Step]!

Shinji reappeared next to Lee, his hand already layered with chakra that was both penetrative and protective.

'I shouldn't hurt him too badly. So aiming at his vitals are out. Somewhere that can be easily healed… okay, I will tear up his arm then!' Shinji decided as his knifehand sped towards Lee's appendage.

Until a kick crashed into his torso and sent Shinji flying backwards.

'Fast…!' Was his only reaction before Lee reappeared behind Shinji and threw another kick towards his opponent.

This time, Shinji was able to react properly by blocking it with his arm. The impact was several times stronger than before, showing just how much those weights had really been holding Lee back. But just an instant after the connection, Lee disappeared again and his fist slammed into Shinji's sides.

Shinji flew away but was able to catch himself in mid air and land on his feet.

The damage wasn't significant, but it was also nothing to scoff at. He had layered protective chakra all over his body, so it was really only the momentum that had sent him flying rather than any sort of real damage.

But what surprised Shinji the most was how fast Lee really was. He had the bitter realization that the only way for him to match that speed was with the activation of his Sharingan.

"Amazing." Shinji breathed out a heartfelt praise.

Lee smiled in reciprocation, a feeling of pride blossoming within him. Hearing such a compliment from someone he was quickly starting to see as a rival was cathartic. This was vindication! It was proof that all the blood, sweat and tears he had put into his rigorous and painful training was worth something after all.

"Thank you." Lee replied, a genuine appreciation for Shinji's one-word comment.

As much as Shinji wanted to compete with him over their taijutsu, he also decisively came to the conclusion that unfortunately he just could not compete with his opponent solely with martial arts.

Lee was someone who had dedicated the better part of his career to taijutsu because he couldn't use ninjutsu or genjutsu. Therefore, he channelled all of his time, all of his energy, his entire being into taijutsu. On the other hand, Shinji distributed his time equally to all three major facets of the shinobi arts. So in comparison, Shinji's own comprehension towards taijutsu could only be considered as trifling.

However, that also meant Shinji had methods aside from taijutsu that could be used to deal with Lee.

The other genin, upon seeing the initial success of his taijutsu, did not want to surrender this opportunity. And so Lee sped forward, his motions looking less visible than a blur to the other genin watching their fight.

"I-impossible, he is even faster than Shinji-kun?" Hinata exclaimed, hardly trusting her own all-seeing eyes. Yet, the truth was undeniable.

Shino's eyes widened, though the sight of his astonishment was hidden behind his dark shades and high collar. He was one of the few people in the village who was truly familiar with how fast Shinji could be, having seen him go all out more than once or twice. As a result, seeing this unknown genin who he had previously thought little of surpass that speed was simply astonishing.

Tenten quirked an eyebrow. Although what she wanted to do so dearly right now was to gloat and rub it in the faces of her cocky kouhai who was so cocky, she herself was rather surprised at how the fight was progressing.

Firstly, she didn't think that Lee would have been pressured so heavily to the point where he would have to remove his weights just to gain an advantage. Secondly, Lee's opponent was actually fast enough to keep up with Lee when her teammate was only just a few steps away from going all out.

Thus, she couldn't find it in herself to gloat when she was also caught by surprise.

Lee arrived next to Shinji a backfist rocketing towards his opponent, who parried with a knifehand while simultaneously delivering a razor sharp kick towards Lee. A less proficient martial artist would have had their hand shredded by Shinji's parry using a Shinkyoken-enhanced knifehand, but Lee was skilled enough to block without having his own digits bloodied.

The bowl-haired genin moved underneath the kick, only to realize that the kick was only a ruse. Shinji used a one-footed [Flash Step] at that moment to reappear behind Lee, who was busy evading the attack.

In that one second Lee took to realize Shinji had disappeared and reappeared behind him before turning around, Shinji's hands blurred, forming several handseals in an instant.

'Genjutsu: Nise no Kage Doto-Sei!'

A surge of invisible and ephemeral chakra shot towards Lee like a spike, piercing through his cranium and entering his brain. The chakra worked through his neural pathways, layering a coat of chakra on certain parts of the brain to re-wire what Lee would see and hear.

The one second Lee took to realize Shinji had disappeared and turned around was a second too long as within that moment of diversion, Shinji had already performed and executed his genjutsu without Lee even seeing or knowing about it.

The bowl-haired genin turned and rushed towards Shinji, who was already prepared to face him. The two exchanged blows, chakra enhanced fists met chakra enhanced kicks, and together they formed a veritable whirlwind of taijutsu moves. The hardwood floor beneath them cracked under the sustained pressure of the two fighting upon them, while shockwaves occasionally exploded out from particularly powerful connections.

'Amazing, even after I took off my weights he can still match me blow for blow! Truly, he is the person who have managed to surpass geniuses despite being of civilian birth!' Lee thought to himself in admiration, excited to be trading blows with Shinji who he was quickly starting to view as a rival.

On his peripheral view, he could see his teammate Tenten shouting something, but he couldn't decipher what she was saying. The sound was too muted, likely from the blood rushing to his ears from his excitement. But even if he couldn't hear what she was saying, he knew she was cheering him on.

Or at least, that was what Lee believed.

In truth, what Lee saw with his eyes were vastly different from what the rest saw with theirs. False Shadow Equivalency; it was a genjutsu technique Shinji found and learned from the Uchiha Jutsu Repository. It created a phantom opponent, the duplicate of the user, in order to mislead the target while simultaneously hiding the actual user away from the target's sight.

Genjutsu functioned by controlling the chakra flow of a target's cerebral nervous system, and in doing so influenced their five senses. False Shadow Equivalency targeted three of these five senses – sight, sound and touch. It was not only able to create a phantom doppelganger for Lee to clash with but also replicate that sensation of flesh hitting flesh every time they exchanged blows.

The entire time Lee thought he was fighting with Shinji, he was actually just fighting the air!

Of course, any genjutsu master would have scoffed at such a substandard genjutsu. A true illusionary technique was able to replicate and deceive all five of the target's senses. The False Shadow Equivalency, being able to influence only three of those five, would only be considered second rate.

This was not something Shinji could do anything about, however. The Uchiha Jutsu Repository had a wide array of jutsu scrolls stored in them, and that was precisely the case for genjutsu. However, a vast majority of the genjutsu techniques located in the Uchiha Jutsu Repository was ocular genjutsu! Meaning, these genjutsu required the Sharingan in order to activate and use them, which was a pre-requisite Shinji obviously could not make use of – not now.

"Lee, you are under a genjutsu! Snap out of it!" Tenten yelled from the sidelines with little effect.

The other auditory effect of False Shadow Equivalency was, aside from recreating the sounds of fighting an imagined enemy, masking noise in the background, to further minimise the chances of the target breaking out of the illusion.

In truth, False Shadow Equivalency was not an overtly complicated genjutsu. For most chuunin, and even some genin, it was not difficult to break out of. Lee as well, despite his chakra system deficiency, could have also broken out of the genjutsu had he known about it. That was because his defective chakra system could still allow him to control and mold chakra inside of his body. Most genjutsu only needed for one to disrupt the chakra flow within themselves in order to break free of the illusion.

No, what stopped Lee from breaking out of the genjutsu was not his inability to do so. Rather, it was his inexperience!

His genin team consisted of Neji, another taijutsu specialist, Tenten a weapons specialist and Gai, who was a jounin that leaned heavily towards taijutsu. He simply had too little experience dealing with and countering genjutsu.

As a result, even if Lee was a monster in the martial arts and everything else physical in the shinobi arts, without sufficient experience dealing with crafty illusions and scheming genjutsu users, he was not able to perceive the genjutsu he was under and subsequently break himself out of it.

Shinji stood a fair distance away from Lee who looked as though he was shadow boxing, fighting an invisible enemy who wasn't really there and evading fists and kicks that did not exist. He sighed with discontent, 'This is the reality of the world. There is no perfect jutsu. Everything has its strengths and weaknesses. Although Lee is strong in taijutsu, when faced with other aspects of the shinobi arts, he is still lacking. And though I sincerely wanted to face him and contend purely with martial arts, I too am still lacking, at least when compared to him.'

Enough time had passed, and Shinji was no longer willing to let Lee continue making a fool of himself. It's time to end this, he decided. But at the same time, it was difficult. He wanted to fulfil as many bonus objectives as he could, from his quest to defeat Lee in a spar. One of which was to knock him out.

The second bonus objective he had already completed, by forcing him to remove his weights, whereas the third he held little hopes for. It would be impossible to push Lee to such a corner where he was forced to open his chakra gates during a friendly spar.

However, knocking Lee out would be difficult. Lee was someone who had trained his body extensively. Scratch that, he only trained his body. As such, he also had high HP and by extension a resilient physique.

It wasn't like in the movies where he could just deliver a swift chop to the back of the neck that would instantly knock him unconscious. At least, not against someone like Lee who was currently enhancing himself with chakra that held both offensive and protective properties. Knocking someone like that unconscious would require a prolonged battle that would exhaust his energy and strength before he could deliver the finishing blow that would render him unconscious.

That was something Shinji did not want to resort to, since the chuunin exams were going to be starting soon. For Shinji, recovering HP and CP was not an issue, especially after his last power up when he pumped in all his free stat points. It would take an hour or so for him to completely recover, and the first stage of the chuunin exam would be longer than that. So he would already be fully recovered by the time the second stage of the exam started.

His concern was actually for Lee, someone he thought truly deserved to progress in the chuunin exams even if he would inevitable be defeated by Gaara in the preliminaries.

But then, Shinji had an idea. Knocking someone out didn't always mean beating them into unconsciousness.

He stealthily approached Lee, still throwing kicks into empty space, before quickly using [Flash Step] to get behind the other boy. He then activated [Bull's Strength] that increased his STR stat by 20% before lunging and wrapping his arm around Lee's neck. Shinji was using one arm to asphyxiate Lee while the other pinned down one of his arms.

The other genin who had been busy attacking the illusionary enemy Shinji had created immediately reacted upon feeling an arm snake around his neck and another arm wrap under his armpit.

'Who is interfering in our honourable duel!' Was Lee's first thought, but at that moment, he understood. Lee had eccentric behaviours, and he also clearly favoured the physical might of taijutsu, but that did not mean he was stupid. He may have lacked experience in discerning illusion from reality, but he was smart enough to realize at that moment everything that had happened was only an illusion, as well as the fact that it wasn't a third party who was interfering in their fight but his opponent's real body!

Lee leapt backwards with Shinji still attached to his back, bringing them both across the room in a single leap. Lee crashed into the wall, with Shinji taking the brunt of the impact but the younger genin only took minimal damage from it. In fact, his grip had tightened, constricting Lee's blood vessels and restricting the supply of oxygen to his brain.

'Ten seconds.' Shinji mentally counted down from his head. It took an average of nine seconds for someone to be choked into unconsciousness upon initiation off the strangulation. Shinji added one more second as a leeway for a total of ten.

The brain needed oxygen to function – that was an immutable fact. But Shinji's strangulation method was even more vicious. It constricted the bloodflow from reaching Lee's brain! No matter how hard Lee trained his body, he could not train his brain.

Even if shinobi could perform superhuman feats using the mystical energy known as chakra, they were still intrinsically human. That too, was an immutable fact. And a human body had its weaknesses that one could exploit if they had sufficient knowledge and technique.

Lee struggled intensely, his one free arm first trying with all his might to pry Shinji's arm away from his soft and vulnerable throat. But with Shinji's increased STR from his [Bull's Strength] perk, his physical prowess had temporarily surpassed Lee's. Failing that, Lee then swung his clenched fist back, punching Shinji repeatedly in the face, but in such an awkward position that left little room to maneuver, these punches could do little damage.

As Shinji counted down in his head, Lee's resistance also quickly faded away. The bowl haired genin's vision started blurring, a blackness closing in from the outside. He could also feel his control over his limbs weakening, his arms and legs growing feeble, as well as an innate panic originating in the deep recesses of his mind - the human instinct of self-preservation. His thoughts petered out, his mind no longer being able to sustain any more mental activity.

Before Shinji reached zero in his mental count down, Lee had already slumped down in unconsciousness like a rag doll, prompting him to let go of his vice grip around his neck.

'Lee is not yet at the point where he is strong enough to smash apart ninjutsu and genjutsu like he will be in the future. To the current him, everything other than taijutsu can be considered a critical weakness. It is unfortunate that he chose the wrong opponent. Otherwise, even the current Sasuke would find it hard to deal with Lee.'

Shinji gently let Lee down before quickly administering medical ninjutsu to first diagnose Lee's condition. The only significant injury was at his back when Shinji poked a hole into it. Other than that, he was actually relatively unscathed. The strangulation that took him out at the end would only have At the same time, a system alert popped up.

Quest [Genius of Hardwork] Completed!
Spar with Rock Lee

Defeat Rock Lee in a spar (√)
(Bonus) Knock out Rock Lee (
√)
(Bonus) Force him to remove his weights (
√)
(Bonus) Force him to release his chakra gates (X)

Rewards:
+5000 EXP
(Bonus 1) +5000 EXP
(Bonus 2) +10 DEX
(Bonus 3) New Skill (X)

You have levelled up!

He only took a brief glance at it before dismissing it.

"Lee!" Tenten ran forward to check on her teammate. When she saw Shinji using medical ninjutsu to treat Lee, her first thought was one of concern, then of condemnation.

'Devious scum! How could you use genjutsu against Lee!?' She wanted to scream out, but on second thought held her words back. Neither Lee nor Shinji had ever declared that they were only going to be using taijutsu, though Lee didn't really have a choice in that matter. Furthermore, genjutsu was one of the three main branches of the shinobi arts, using it in a duel that did not forbid it was normal.

And as a result, her subsequent impression turned to one of amazement. Seeing him defeat Lee who she considered to be very strong was already astonishing to even consider.

One had to realize that Shinji's team had only graduated the Shinobi Academy six months ago. In other words, they were only official genin for only half a year, whereas Team Gai had been on active duty for one and a half years. That year more of training and experience could not be discounted, especially for their team that had been one of the few who passed the 'real' graduation exam and was thus selected for special grooming by the village.

And on top of that Shinji was even proficient in medical ninjutsu as well, that was simply unbelievable. Tenten who idolized Tsunade of the Sannin was well aware how extremely difficult medical ninjutsu was. She herself had once thought about embarking on the same path as her idol, being a medic-nin who could kick serious ass at the same time.

However, once she learned of the enormous complexity that was medical ninjutsu, she realized that it would take years, decades even to even begin approaching the realm of Tsunade's expertise. Instead, she 'settled' for what she was most familiar and comfortable with, being a weapons master instead.

It was precisely because she was fully aware how difficult medical ninjutsu was that she was so amazed at seeing Shinji using it. Taijutsu, genjutsu and medical ninjutsu, those were only the few of the shinobi arts Shinji chose to reveal, and it was already mind-blowing to her how incredibly versatile he was.

Lee then shot up, gasping for air, his eyelids flung open as he took stock of his surroundings. Seeing Shinji and Tenten looking down at him with concern in their eyes, he realized that he had lost.

"So… I lost in the end?" He muttered, more for himself than any others, while his countenance looked downcast.

Seeing his dejection, Tenten spoke up in consolation, "Y-you did well, Lee! Just that your opponent used a genjutsu and put you in to an illusion. Otherwise, you would have won!"

Shinji frowned slightly, at her implication that the only reason he won was because he used a genjutsu. Honestly, he was already holding back quite abit. Ninjutsu, kenjutsu, and elemental chakra manipulation, all of these he had held back on using. Did she even understand how badly Lee would have been torn up if he applied Wind Nature chakra to his Shinkyoken?

But of course, he also knew Lee was holding back too. Specifically, in the usage of his chakra gates. Lee could open the first five gates, and which one provided a tremendous boost in power. If Lee disregarded courtesy and treated the fight as a life or death match, Shinji wasn't sure how he might fare against Lee with all of the five chakra gates released.

Shinji did not verbally express all these thoughts. Instead, he bowed respectfully at his dejected opponent, "Thank you for your guidance. I have learned a lot from this fight."

Lee turned to Shinji, his previously dejected appearance brightening up at Shinji's heartfelt gratitude.

Shinji continued, "I look forward to the next time we spar, when you will not hold back like you did this time."

The bowl-haired genin's eyes watered upon hearing that. He understood Shinji's intent. His opponent was consoling, but at the same time trying to reassure Lee that the only reason he won was because Lee was still holding back. Simultaneously, Shinji was extending a hand in friendship by promising a next time they would spar.

Though Lee might have his own thoughts that Shinji had similarly held back, he could feel the sincerity in Shinji's remarks.

"Shinji-kun, you…"

"WHAT AN EXPLOSION OF YOUTH!" A sudden loud shout pierced the room as an older version of Lee appeared in the room without anyone even realizing when he had arrived in the first place.

"Gai-sensei!" Lee quickly stood up but winced from the pain of his still open wound on his back.

"Ah, wait, let me heal your injury first." Shinji moved to support him as the unmistakable green glow of medical ninjutsu appeared on his hand. He then hovered his hand over Lee's wound, letting the medical chakra slowly infuse into Lee's injury.

"Yo, Lee. I was watching. It was a superb display of youth!" Gai announced, before flashing his signature thumbs up and bright smile.

"Gai-sensei! But, but I lost…" Lee responded dejectedly.

Gai approached and put a hand on his apprentice's shoulder, "Lee! Haven't you understood by now, losing is not a failure. Real failure is when you give up after you have lost!"

"I… I understand, Gai-sensei! I will never give up!" Lee declared with tears in his eyes.

Gai nodded firmly although his eyes briefly glanced towards Shinji's hand covered in the warm green glow of medical ninjutsu. However, what he was looking at was not Shinji's prodigious use of medical ninjutsu. Rather, his mind was thinking back on the taijutsu style Shinji had used against Lee.

'He was using… the Shinkyoken! Asuma, why would teach him that taijutsu?' Gai gravely thought to himself.

"All done." Shinji reported to Lee, as the medical ninjutsu finished healing up his injury. The wound was a shallow one to begin with, since Shinji had purposefully avoided hitting anywhere major. The finger had precisely pierced through some layers of muscle, and not even complicated ones. The large stretch of muscles were easily woven back together by Shinji.

"Wow, I don't feel any pain at all! That's amazing, Shinji-kun!" Lee exclaimed, stretching and flexing his back with wonder.

"Well, that's the least I could do after doing that to you." Shinji replied, "Although, I do hope you brought a change of clothes, otherwise you will have to go compete in the chuunin exams with a hole in your suit."

Lee's already big round eyes widened further, "Ah! I didn't think to bring a change of clothes! What should I do? Hmm, the exam starts in half an hour, that's more than enough time for me to run home and grab a pair…"

At this point, Gai laughed and interrupted, "Don't worry Lee! A good ninja always comes prepared, especially when it comes to this suit of ours!"

From behind him, he pulled out a pair of the green bodysuit both Lee and he wore.

'Where did he even pull that out from…' Shinji thought to himself.

"Ah! Now I understand how important it is to carry spare suits with me! Gai-sensei, thank you!" Lee shouted back, with appreciation and fire in his eyes.

Gai laughed even louder before turning to Shinji, "How about it, do you want a pair as well? This gorgeous suit is specially made so it is durable, breathes well, always fits perfectly and not to mention incredibly fashionable as well! It is the perfect bodysuit! It is a highly sought after item that is very difficult to get your hands on! I guarantee that once you wear it, you will never want to wear anything else ever again!"

The inner fashionista in Shinji screamed in horror, but out of curiosity, he casted [Observe] on the suit.

[Maito Gai's Bodysuit – Grade: Unique]
The perfect bodysuit designed specifically for ease of movement and combat effectiveness. The material it is made of is a special blend of nylon, cotton and a unique fibre doused in chakra in the production process. As a result, it is exceptionally durable despite it being made of such a thin and flexible material. For it's practicality, all concept of fashion and aesthetics have been abandoned. It is the epitome of function over form.
Durability: 200/200
STR +5%
DEX +10%

'A-Amazing… it's a percentage increase in stats! I have never seen that in an item before! But… but it's hideous!' An epic battle between two different parts of Shinji's psyche raged on in his mind, similar to when he had previously debated on whether or not he should consume the Legion Zombie's heart.

One side reasoned that min-maxing was obviously the right decision, and the stat boost it gave was too precious to lose out on for as shallow a reason as fashion. While the other side screamed, 'Are you outside of your fucking mind!? Look at how tight that suit is! You want to show our cock and balls to the entire world?'

'Just wear other clothes over it then.'

'Oh… yeah that could work.'

"Really? Well, if it is as amazing as you have made it sound then I would gratefully receive your gift, Gai-sensei!" Shinji responded, as Gai handed over the green bodysuit.

"Trust me. Once you go green, you will always be keen!"

Hinata, Shino and Tenten watched their exchange with slack jaws.

'Shinji-kun is going to wear… that? I mean, if anyone could pull it off, it would be Shinji-kun of course.' The Hyuuga princess was incredulous for a moment but she still managed to perform some mental gymnastics that Shinji could do no wrong.

'T-there's three of them now? Sigh, what a shame. And I thought he was pretty cute too.' Tenten sighed and shook her head in pity.

"Shinji-kun, shouldn't we start heading to the exam venue. We wouldn't want to be late, after all." Hinata spoke up, not wanting Shinji to receive any further adverse influences from garish duo.

"Ah, sure. Give me five minutes, I need to go change first. See you at the exams, Lee. And your team too. Next time we fight, don't hold back, alright?" Shinji responded before waving and running off to the toilet to change into the green bodysuit.

'EH!? Does he really like it so much that he is going to change into the suit right away!?' Tenten stared after Shinji's retreating figure in shock and disbelief.

"As expected of Shinji-kun… After hearing that the suit would boost his combat performance, he disregards others' opinion and seeks only strength. He is indeed admirable!" Lee breathed out in admiration. "YOSH, wait for me Shinji-kun, we will go change together!"

"That's so weird! Can't you phrase it another way!?" His teammate shot back.

Though none of them noticed Hinata's cold gaze on Lee, 'Change… together? Oi you green freak, stay away from Shinji-kun.'

And so the duel between Shinji and Lee concluded, with Shinji adopting the usage of Gai's bodysuit. Though thankfully he wore it underneath his other clothes, much to the disappointment of Lee and Gai and the delight of every other person.

.

.

.

*Shinji POV*

We stood outside the door leading to the exam room of the first stage of the chuunin exams. Team Gai had opted to enter after them, possibly due to some weird tension between Hinata and Neji. But I shrugged it off. What came after entering this door was far too important to be bothered about the internal matters of the Hyuuga clan.

"You guys ready?" I asked, though it was an unnecessary question to begin with.

"Of course, Shinji-kun!" Shino remained silent while Hinata enthusiastically responded.

I put both hands on the door and pushed. Chuunin exam, I am here!


It has been a month since I last updated. My worst fears have come true – I am beginning to have less and less time to write this story as things start getting back to normal vis-à-vis the whole Covid situation. Nevertheless, I will try not to make this tardiness a habit. Hopefully the past few weeks were an exception and not the rule.

This entire chapter was dedicated to Lee vs Shinji, which some of you may not enjoy. I have realized that certain chapters of mine that are heavily focused on fight scenes don't tend to do as well compared to others that have more plot progression. Unfortunate, but this is just the objective truth, based on the reviews I have received.

Well, I can't really do much about it though. I like what I like. Forcing plot progression would only stifle my motivation to continue writing this story, so I hope you understand. That said, without further ado, let's get to the chapter breakdown.

Chapter Breakdown

I think you guys can tell how much I favour Lee in this chapter. But putting my bias aside, I had to write according to how I really thought their fight would actually conclude.

Shinji versus Lee is a no-brainer, outside of Lee opening his chakra gates. And even then, it really depends on how much Shinji wants to win. Shinji has the Gamer's Body, meaning he is always at 100% combat effectiveness no matter how low his HP gets. So in a battle of attrition, Shinji wins every time. It all depends on whether Shinji is durable enough to withstand Fifth Gate Lee before Lee's timer runs out.

Pure taijutsu Shinji vs pure taijutsu Lee on the other hand, is like how you read in this chapter. Shinji is not a taijutsu specialist. He is actually a jack of all trades type shinobi. Ninjutsu, taijutsu, genjutsu, kenjutsu and other assorted weapon mastery, those are the skills that form the foundation of his strength, not just martial arts.

Lee on the other hand, as mentioned in the chapter, has dedicated his entire being to taijutsu. So it really shouldn't be a huge deal that Shinji can't win solely with taijutsu.

Now, Shinji catches Lee in a genjutsu. This was something I really had to research on. But not much concrete information could be found outside of Quora and Reddit, which aren't exactly official. So I kind of had to come on my own how Lee's chakra system works in this story.

Lee can use chakra. He is shown to be able to water walk in the manga. So him being completely unable to use chakra at all is kind of an incorrect assumption some might hold. The only problem is with the externalisation of his chakra.

While other shinobi can mould chakra and expel it, like breathing fire or whatnot, Lee is limited to controlling the chakra within his body or on the surface of it. And even then, his chakra is really bad. Not bad as in not being able to tree walk, but bad as in it is qualitatively inferior to someone like Shinji. Which is why Hinata describes it as 'sluggish' and 'lethargic'.

If we follow this logic, then theoretically Lee should be able to break out of a genjutsu on his own by disrupting his own flow of chakra. But as Shinji correctly identifies, the reason Lee didn't do that this time was because he is still inexperienced. A more experienced shinobi would have been able to identify the tell-tale signs of being caught in an illusion like when Tenten yelling at him being muffled.

Speaking of Tenten, I really tried not to write her dispute with Hinata as being a catfight. Both of them are proud kunoichi, capable and confident. While Tenten was antagonistic, she had a right to be, as their senpai who was trying to give them advice, albeit in a condescending manner. And on the other hand, Hinata was also rightfully defending Shinji and her clan from what she perceived as disrespect. Both had misunderstandings of the others' intent, and neither are perfect people.

I like to sprinkle in bits of world-building and characterization even during long drawn fight scenes like this chapter. So things like Hinata being a proud heiress of the Hyuuga clan defending her clan's honour is something you can only catch if you actually read the entire thing and not just skip it like I know how some of you do.

Gai ominously comments on the Shinkyoken. What does that mean? If you have forgotten about the origins of Shinji's preferred taijutsu style at this point, feel free to read chapter 9 again when it was first introduced. Y'know what, just go ahead and re-read the entire thing. Review every chapter as well while you're at it :D

I think that's about it. Like always, thanks for reading my story and if you liked it, smash that like button and hit subscribe for more content!