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Chapter Twenty Two: The Timeskip
One Month Later.
"There's no way blondie wins this, right?" Ino said with a contemplative frown.
"Don't even think about it," Kiba snorted. "He's stronger than me, sure, but that Lee guy is on a whole other level."
"B-but he could have g-gotten b-better in a month!" Hinata argued quietly.
"Nah. Maybe it's possible, but it's also way too far-fetched. A month isn't enough to cross a gap so wide. Besides, even if he did improve, Lee didn't just waddle around this past month, ya' know? I've seen some of his training…" Kiba shuddered. "That guy is a different beast."
It seemed like his beat down a month prior had made Kiba lose some of his excessive ego, which was a plus. Sakura watched with trepidation as the crowd eagerly waited for the first fight of the final stage of the Chuunin Exams.
There was one thing for sure.
These guys were seriously underestimating her teammate.
"Naruto can win this," Sakura stated as a matter of factly.
Ino raised an eyebrow. "Huh?"
Shikamaru shook his head. "Naruto Uzumaki is a wildcard. I think he'll surprise us more than you think."
"Ehh?! You too, Shikamaru?" Ino asked, bewildered. "What's with you guys? I mean, having faith in our classmate is alright, but you have to be kidding!"
Shikamaru shrugged. "Let's just see the fight."
Ino crossed her arms. "Yeah, if he actually comes to the fight. Time is running out."
That was mostly the main reason Sakura was getting worried. She hadn't seen Naruto in a week. Not a single speck of him. Sure, he was training for the big fight which would decide his future for the next few years, but so was Sasuke, and she had seen Sasuke a couple of times, however fleeting they were. She hadn't seen the blond at all for a week.
Some say he got stranded in a dangerous forest, and would never come back again. Others said he had died in a training accident. Obviously, they didn't really know anything. Kakashi sensei was deceptively quiet about everything, but Sakura had an inkling that he had an idea, or else he would have been a lot more worried about it all.
She had a small urge to ask Fuu, the petite girl who would probably know where her teammate was, but for some reason the girl kind of terrified her. She was just so…uncaring about anything.
"We have allotted two more minutes for Uzumaki Naruto to arrive!" A loud voice announced from the top of the tower. "If he doesn't arrive in that time period, it will be considered as immediate disqualification."
Lee was already gathered in the center, waiting impatiently for his opponent to arrive. At this point, he was doing one hand pushups on the center stage as a way to warm up.
Time passed by in relative silence as Sakura just watched worriedly.
Sakura yelped as she suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder, but calmed down when she realized it was Kakashi sensei. "You didn't have to do that."
Kakashi shrugged. "Where's Naruto?"
"How am I supposed to know?" Sakura asked confusedly. "I thought you knew!"
"I never know where the brat is these days."
"Where's Sasuke then?"
Kakashi chuckled. "I don't think he's coming."
"THIRTY SECONDS LEFT!" The proctor yelled once more.
"It's over," Sakura whimpered helplessly. "There's no way he's coming now."
"I knew he would lose, but I didn't think he would lose before the fight even started," Ino drawled sarcastically.
Sakura closed her eyes.
Where the hell are you, Naruto?
The silence was deafening.
Sakura let out a long sigh. Oh well.
The proctor seemed to be frowning. "Naruto Uzumaki is officially—"
A dark-figured body leaped down to the stage from the hood of the roof above, flipping continuously in the air as he or she dropped down. The mysterious person landed onto the stage with a loud bang and a cloud of smoke.
The crowd erupted into murmurs.
The smoke slowly revealed itself like the curtains of a theater, and the figure stood tall and proud in the middle of it all. Orange and black jumper, black trousers, roguish grin, and—wait. That had to be…
"Naruto Uzumaki is here, ya fool! Now prepare to see me take Mr. Lee to school!" Naruto rapped chaotically as he moved his hands rhythmically to his lyrics.
The audience just sat in silence, equally shocked and confused.
"Naruto Uzumaki, you're awfully late," the proctor stated blandly.
"Late or early, I don't care. Start the fight and see how I fare!" Naruto barked back.
"What…is wrong with you, brat?" The proctor said, shaking his head. "You were a lot more tolerable a month ago."
Naruto smirked. "I guess you're really not a fan. You were a lot younger around a few decades ago, old man!"
The proctor continued to ignore him. "Are both participants ready?"
Naruto looked over to his opponent.
Lee stood his in Taijutsu stance, and simply smiled in greeting towards the blond, before his eyes hardened in determination once again. Lee needed to win this. Deep in his heart, he knew he was the favorite here. But that didn't mean he was going to underestimate the Uzumaki. No, he wasn't going to make such a rookie mistake.
Naruto simply smirked at Lee.
"And to begin the first match of the final stage of the International Chuunin Exams, I can proudly say—Hajime!" The proctor exclaimed loudly.
The blond rushed forward without a second thought.
[Skill: Uchiha Clan Taijutsu- Lvl 5 Activated!]
[Usage drains 8 MP Points each minute. User can use this skill for 2 minutes without draining MP.]
Naruto met Lee in the middle, partaking in the classic Taijutsu fight which he usually found his fights starting with.
Lee's Taijutsu had definitely
But Naruto's had as well.
He leaped over Lee's first punch, before blocking the other with his own kick. He transformed his body into a lower stance, lunging for a lower kick that managed to graze Lee on his way backwards.
Lee wasn't as fast as Naruto thought he would be.
Of course, he knew why.
Lee rushed forward without a second thought, not wanting to allow Naruto to get an aggressive streak in.
Naruto couldn't help but smile.
This was nothing compared to Bee.
Naruto calmly parried Lee's first punch, using his opponent's momentum against him to quickly plunge an open palm right into Lee's stomach.
Lee ignored the pain entirely, instead preferring to attempt a short wheelhouse that managed to tag Naruto.
Naruto allowed Lee to take a few steps back, thus letting both of them reassess the fight for where it stood.
Naruto was going to win this.
He knew it.
At this rate, anyways.
"Take them off, bastard," Naruto growled.
"What?" Lee asked, his voice dazzled.
Naruto pointed at Lee's legs. "Your weights. Take them off or I'll forfeit this match right now."
Of course, that was a sheer bluff. But it was enough to scare Lee, whose eyes widened in panic. The Genin in question definitely didn't want to advance to the next round in such a manner.
"Why?" Lee questioned.
Naruto shrugged. "I really don't know. I could probably beat you before you take them off, but there really isn't any fun in that, huh?"
Without another word, Lee reached for his ankles.
The seals looked small. They were dainty little things attached to his legs, and when Lee picked them up, they looked almost weightless.
He then threw them into the air behind him.
The seals fell to the ground with a massive boom, bringing up shrines of dust and shocking everyone in the crowd.
Naruto just grinned and cracked his knuckles.
It was finally time to start going all out.
When Lee moved, it was almost impossible to see him.
It was only due to Bee's torture/training that he was even able to react to the boy's sheer speed. The blond was surprised—he didn't expect Lee to be this fast, actually. He wasn't as fast as Bee when he used more than fifty percent, but Lee was closer than Naruto at the very least.
He blocked the first punch by putting an x-shape with his arms and preventing his face from getting smashed open like a treasure chest. Naruto felt a horrible feeling as he didn't feel anything hit his hands, and instead a second later a leg smashed through his abdomen, knocking him back several meters.
"Ugh!" Naruto groaned in pain even as he felt the regeneration start back up. He needed to ignore the pain.
He rolled and pushed himself up. "Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Clones of Naruto began to fill the stage in puffs of smoke as they all rushed towards the single figure of Lee, who watched calmly as they began to swarm him. Unsurprisingly, the clones were like ants to the Taijutsu expert, who quickly dismantled the roaring copies of Naruto with single kicks and punches each, not wanting to waste any energy on the extras.
Naruto wasn't sure what this feeling was, but it was something akin to dread.
He shook his head, removing those emotions from his body. He couldn't afford to back down now or get scared—that was the first step to failure. He needed to think that he was going to win this.
Lee rushed forward, his speed seemingly increasing as a result of his raw need to win this fight and end it right here. Naruto wouldn't let that happen.
[Skill: Iron Skin- Lvl 4 Activated!]
[Usage takes 7 MP and lasts for one minute before a skill cooldown of ten minutes applies.]
Naruto quickly disabled his Uchiha Taijutsu in tandem with his Iron Skin—those two abilities usually didn't match up well.
Lee's punch landed—but it didn't feel as tough as before. Lee's eyebrows raised as he felt the pressure on his fist, but he didn't seem too affected by it. His knuckles were a dull red that faded away, but Naruto didn't care about how much affect his ability had. He just needed to decrease the effectiveness of his speed.
Right now, he needed to use everything he could to beat Lee.
But the question remained.
Would everything he had be enough?
He watched Lee begin another motion forward.
It was time to bring out the big cards.
Naruto kept a finger forward. "Listen here, Lee! Lesson one of becoming a ninja: Kenjutsu!"
He plunged a hand into his utility pocket.
A second later, the blond threw four, pin-pointed swords into the air.
[Skill: Seven Swords Dance, Acrobat Kenjutsu- Lvl 2 Activated!]
[Usage drains 15 MP Points each minute. User can use this skill for 30 seconds without draining MP.]
He paled at the sight of the MP usage, before catching the swords in each of their targeting locations. One in his forearm, one in the crook of his leg, one in his mouth, and the other just in his hand. It was different from Bee's own, mostly because Bee's required a shit ton more experience to master and the man had been doing it since birth. Naruto found that a mere four weeks to perfect this was way too less, that too with the Kenjutsu style he had to copy from Bee.
Without the copying ability of his system, he wouldn't have gotten this far.
The main reason he requested Bee to teach him this was because it was a perfect counter to Lee.
Kenjutsu was the standard antithesis of Taijutsu. Weapon versus hand. In a versus between the two, the weapon usually won. Lee couldn't really get inure hits in with the fear of getting slashed rampant in his mind, and Naruto would use that to his utter advantage.
He spun rapidly as his swords followed through with him, making him look like a spinning ball of metal as he neared towards Lee. Lee pushed forward regardless, not one to easily get frightened from new techniques like other, more vulnerable Genin.
They were both the best you could really ask for. It was a shame they were forced to fight so early on.
Lee swung a fist at Naruto, who quickly spun past the fist, and at the same time scratched Lee with the sword which was snug in his leg. Blood. Lee managed to dodge the second kunai, which Naruto responded by dropping the sword in his mouth by opening his jaw, catching the weapon with his right hand, and striking Lee with it all in the same motion. Lee groaned as he felt the pain register in his left hand, which had a flowing slash going through the skin.
In a moment of desperation, Lee spun into a frenzy of kicks and punches that seemed too out of control for him, surprising Naruto into retreat.
This was good.
He could do this.
Naruto smiled as he bounced energetically around his side of the stage, waiting for his opponent to make a move. Right now, he had the advantage. Of course, he knew Lee could do something to make that advantage promptly go away, but he wasn't going to let that happen.
He definitely wasn't gonna let that happen.
For now, he had a few more tricks up his rather long sleeve.
He dropped his swords and disabled his Kenjutsu style. Lee was an adaptive fighter, that much he knew. If he were to continue to use the same technique over and over again, eventually Lee would find that hole in his plan, and he would make sure to punish him for that. Plus it would be nice without his MP being brutally used by the Seven Swords Dance. Twenty MP per minute was absolutely insane!
[Taijtusu has increased by a level.]
The timing was too impeccable.
Naruto couldn't help but feel giddy when he realized what he was about to do. He had waited a few months for this to occur, after all.
Ever since he first fought Lee.
He had this ability in his drawer since the beginning.
But his Taijutsu level was never high enough.
[Taijutsu: Gōken is available.]
[Do you wish to learn this Taijutsu?]
[New Skill Achieved: Gōken Taijutsu Lvl 1]
[MP Usage is 25 MP per minute. User can use this technique for thirty seconds without any MP used.]
Naruto rushed forwards with a burst of speed as he met Lee in the middle of his own trajectory.
And when Lee went in for a signature jab…
Naruto did as well.
Both of their jabs met in the middle colliding with each other in a symphony of pain, though it wasn't really on both sides as Naruto's Iron Skin resulted in more damage from Lee's end. Their wavelengths were on the same field as they continued to synchronize their attacks, and Naruto could feel Lee's confusion emanating off of him as he most likely wondered how in Kami's name Naruto was able to read his moves so easily.
His technique wasn't fair.
To gain so much knowledge, experience, and the time spent into the technique with just one broken ability that he had the fortune of attaining through some sheer cosmic luck…it was blatantly unfair.
But Naruto didn't particularly give a shit.
Unfair was his middle name.
He continuously met Lee's attacks in the middle, until eventually he decided to take advantage of it. The next jab that Lee threw, Naruto caught with his palm, and forced both of their hands into a seal. Then the next seal. Then the next. And soon enough…
He jumped backwards before putting his hand to his mouth. "Water Release: Surging Sea!"
The fountain of water which erupted from his mouth flew like a bullet towards the stunned Rock Lee, who tried his best to evade the close ranged attack, but promptly failed. The water bulldozed him straight on the chest, forcing Lee backwards with a pained grunt.
Naruto propelled chakra to his feet before rushing forward once more on the water before him. Lee was already up and running, admittedly much slower than before.
It was time to finally end this.
He disabled his imitation Gōken.
"Shadow Clone Jutsu," Naruto said calmly, before saying another command in his head. He summoned ten or so clones.
[Skill: Iron Clones- Lvl 1 Activated!]
[Usage takes 7 MP and lasts for one minute before a skill cooldown of ten minutes applies.]
Lee ran forward, keen to still win this fight without the use of that, he would only use that if he was forced into a corner, or if he knew for a fact that he couldn't win this fight without it. For now, he could still fight. And he had hit Naruto more than a few times. He could endure the blond out.
Or so he thought.
Naruto made his clones line up horizontally, before he made one order, pointing a finger up. "MIX!"
The clones moved completely randomly along with the original Naruto. They mixed and matched in ways that made it impossible to tell which was the real by the end of it all.
Lee just watched confusedly as he tried and failed to keep track of the eleven moving bodies. Eventually, he shrugged, giving up. It wouldn't matter anyways. The clones were a mere shadow of the original, and weren't as durable either. It would be easy to dismantle them one by one and get to the real Naruto.
And once again, or so he thought.
The clones attacked as one.
The first clone reached him with a determined look, which Lee almost felt bad for erasing when he spun a simple kick at the clone.
The clone didn't go away.
The original already? Lee thought, shocked that Naruto would be first.
Then the next clone struck. This time, Lee truly attempted to get rid of the clone.
His leg struck with solid skin, and the clone didn't go away. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. Lee tried not to groan. This would take a long time to get out of.
The swarm of iron clones was tough for even Lee to handle, as the green-clad Genin found himself expending a lot of energy to escape the corner he was being forced into, and instead began to brute force his way through them all. Naruto watched (or felt) with a grin as he felt one clone disappear. Iron or not, they were still clones. There was a difference between the original becoming iron and the clones becoming iron, after all.
It took around two minutes for Lee to dismantle nine of the clones, leaving only one which didn't want to attempt to rush the Genin.
The thought was crossing Lee's mind. Where is the original?
He shook his head.
He needed to open the Gates—he had stalled long enough. Though he would have preferred to win the first round without showing his trump card, he was being forced to use it this time around. Noting that the clone wouldn't aggress, Lee bent his knees and his arms, and began to focus.
An aura of green chakra erupted from his body as he felt his blood boil and face redden. Yes, I can win! The power flowing through his body was unimaginable, but it made sense with the consequences that would follow it.
A few more seconds…
"OH, NO YOU DON'T!"
Was that…from under him?
Lee couldn't react in the middle of his powerup as he felt a hand erupt from the concrete below and grab onto his leg, before yanking down toughly. Lee felt his body blow through the floor to the point where his head was the same not thing emerging out of the concrete.
Naruto emerged from a hole underground behind Lee, before sliding downwards so he was face to face with Lee, and placed a kunai to his neck.
The proctor nodded. "Winner: Naruto Uzumaki!"
If you really want to read the next chapters of this fic and my two other fics, shameless plug time, check out my Pa treon. It's a cheap way to support me and get some chapters early on. Please don't feel any pressure to do so! My pa treon—search my username or Pa treon PaladinKaladin
It's been a long time. Most of it has been planning for the next major part of this story where it diverges from canon. From now on, this fic is bi-weekly. I hoped you enjoyed the fight!
Question one: Which Naruto character do you think was the most underutilized? I think it's Sai for me. He had cool powers but lame execution.
Cya' guys next chapter! Two weeks, I think.
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