As soon as her name appeared on the electronic board, Sakura had frozen up.
She stared at her name displayed on the screen like a deer caught in headlights.
"Looks like it's your turn Sakura-chan!" Naruto didn't read her mood very well and thumped her on the shoulder happily, "All you need to do is kick this guys ass and all three of us will have made it through!"
"….Yeah…" she replied dazedly, biting her lip.
Kakashi didn't say a word to her, not that Daiki blamed him, while Sasuke looked at the pink haired girl with a raised eyebrow and didn't say a word either, he was just waiting for her choice.
She should have known it was coming at this point when Hinata and Kankuro got called up, it had left only three possible options for her opponent and prepared something at the very least.
Her head turned almost mechanically and she glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes, meeting his own.
She seemed to want to say something to him.
"…What are my chances of beating this guy with that jutsu you gave me?" she asked.
He'd like to tell her she had a chance. Maybe give her some advice that would let her gain an advantange-
"Close to zero," he replied bluntly and truthfully, "If you could get an actual hit on him with it, you could win, the problem is, you're nowhere near fast enough, experienced enough or skilled enough to do so right now."
As much as he'd like to do that, he couldn't, because he didn't have a solution for her right in this very moment that could allow her to defeat Neji.
Sakura's shoulders slumped, "…I see." she grimaced.
Sasuke's eyebrow rose a bit higher, but that was all the reaction he gave. Naruto on the other hand-
"What the hell do you mean Daiki!?" the blonde sputtered, "Sakura-chan can totally take this guy."
"No she can't," Daiki denied, crossing his arms, "Frankly, even if you went down there and helped her, fought him two on one you'd still lose."
"No way!" Naruto growled, "I can take him." he declared, but even as he did, Daiki caught his blue eyes flickering over to Lee who was cheering Neji on as the Hyuga made his way down to the arena and grimacing.
Yeah, Naruto should already be aware right now that he couldn't beat Lee right now and that Lee had declared that Naji was stronger than him.
So bluster then?
Hyping himself up because nobody else would.
Well, Daiki understood that part at least, and he'd be a bit of a hypocrite to look down on him for it.
He was the exact same after all.
Daiki sighed, "Neji is the Hyuga's big prodigy these days, as far as taijutsu goes there probably isn't any genin here more skilled than him right now, I think I'd even lose out to him," he informed, looking at Sakura, he'd give her this much at least and see what she made of it, "His Byakugan allows him to see chakra, through solid objects, have three hundred and sixty degree vision meaning he pretty much has no blind spots and see far off into the distance. On top of that his taijutsu style is the gentle fist, one poke of his fingers can close your tenketsu and lock down your chakra and stop you from using it. On top of that, there's a good chance he probably knows the Hyuga's famous defensive jutsu the Rotation, he'll spin in a circle and unleash chakra through his tenketsu and create a rotating dome of chakra to use as a shield, even my jutsu won't be able to break through it."
"Hmm…" Sasuke smirked as he digested the information for Sakura himself while Naruto clicked his tongue.
"…That's bullshit!" Sakura huffed, giving him a dead look, "There's no way I can win this."
"Right now, yeah, you've got little chance," Daiki agreed with her, before reaching forward and placing a hand on her shoulder and giving it a soft reassuring squeeze, "If you had an extra year under your belt like he did, I'd give you much better odds, but sadly life isn't convenient like that. Best advice I can give you? Just do your best, show off your skills and try to earn your promotion, winning isn't the only thing that matters here."
"…Oh right." her pretty emerald green eyes widened in realisation and she nodded, "That's much more doable." she agreed.
"Get in there then and show us what you can do." he grinned lightly.
She returned the look before leaving them behind and making her way down to the arena to face off against Neji.
"Quite the pep talk," Kakashi commented as she left, not even looking up from his book now that she was gone, "And as usual your knowledge is something else."
"It's really not," Daiki snorted, rolling his eyes before glaring at the man, "But just as usual, I'm doing your job for you, why didn't you speak up and give her advice?"
Kakashi shrugged, "Her best option is to surrender here and try again another time, this was just bad luck on her part."
"…Maybe if you did your job properly she would have had a better chance." Sasuke cut in with a huff.
Kakashi rolled his singular visible eye at them, "You do realise being a Jonin-sensei isn't about teaching you all jutsu and the like, right? That's something you can learn on your own time," the elite jonin pointed out, "My job is to get you guys experience on the job, show you how to do your jobs and make sure you don't die on the way, teaching new jutsu isn't required for that, getting taught new jutsu is not a privilege you're entitled to."
"Excuses," Daiki scoffed, "You're just a lazy bastard."
"Well you're not wrong." Kakashi shrugged the accusation off.
Daiki rolled his eyes and looked away from the scarecrow looking jonin and turned his attention to the pink haired girl making her way down to the arena.
She was going to have a hell of an uphill battle, that was for sure. 'But if she can just make some decent moves, and then-' he paused as a thought came to mind.
He extended his chakra outwards in a rippling wave, directing it towards Sakura while he focused chakra to his eyes.
'Sakura.' he said with the chakra transmission jutsu he learned from Fu.
Sakura froze in her steps for a moment before continuing on, 'Daiki…?' she replied.
'Yeah,' he he said, 'Look I've already told you pretty much all you need to know, but if you want to maximize your chances for a promotion to chunin, I've got a decent idea for you.'
If Shikamaru could be promoted for it, then despite how much he disliked it, then he would take advantage of it.
'How?' the pink haired girl asked.
'Just go with any plan that fits what you've decided on from everything I told you,' he replied, 'Show everything you can, and that's all, when you're totally out of options just surrender.'
'…Surrender, but won't that make me look like a coward?' she asked in her thoughts.
'To some,' he confirmed, 'But to others looking too much into it, they'll see you making the smart choice to disengage from an enemy you can't defeat and it'll put marks for maturity and intelligence in your favour.'
'…Ah, right, just like what Iruka-sensei said about heaven and earth, neither one is good enough alone, I can't just be strong, I have to smart as well,' the pink haired girl replied in realisation, 'Right, I can do this…thanks.'
'Don't mention it, I've got your back.' he waved her off.
'Heh, you've made no attempts to hide that.' she giggled.
Daiki raised an eyebrow at her words, before shrugging them off and cutting off the flow of chakra.
Moments later, Sakura took her place in across from Neji and wasted no time falling into a loose ready stance that would allow her optimal chance to spring forward or backwards depending on how things went.
Neji in contrast gave her a dispassionate glance, his arms crossed in an almost bored fashion.
He wasn't taking her seriously at all.
Not that Daiki could blame him, there wasn't much Sakura could do to him at this point in time without him being taken utterly by surprise.
Hayate looked between them and nodded before lifting his hand into the air and bringing it down, "Sakura Haruno versus Neji Hyuga, begin!" he declared aloud.
For a moment, none of them made a move, Sakura was tense, ready to move at a moments notice, but Neji didn;t make a move.
"This is foolish," the older white eyed boy scoffed, "You should just surrender while I'm feeling generous, you have no chance at all at defeating me."
"I won't know that unless I try." the pink haired girl replied tightly.
Neji scoffed again, "Utter stupidity, I have already seen all you are capable of and you fall vastly short of the level needed to even make me sweat," he replied, "The only thing of note you have to your name is one singular jutsu that was given to you by someone else, a jutsu you can't even use without hurting yourself. Do yourself a favour and accept your fate and give u-"
As Neji was getting into his insulting tirade, still not taking the girl seriously at all and demeaning her with every word.
Sakura used that chance to act.
Her right arm, extended outwards was flicked into a rapid jab. It wasn't anything blindingly fast and was actually very slow by Daiki and even Neji's typical levels.
But it wasn't meant to be anyway.
Chakra rippled and a split moment later, a large compressed shock wave of pure force erupted from her fist and tore through the air towards Neji rapidly.
An audible crack echoed through the room as Sakura's wrist once again snapped from the sheer force behind the jutsu and the girl gave a muffled scream of pain.
Sakura chose the perfect time to attack and took advantage of Neji's arrogant grandstanding.
Neji's eyes widened as the jutsu was on him in a split moment and quickly he spread his leg back, arms going outwards and wide before rapidly rotating like a spinning toad. Chakra sparked into existence, howling out of his tenketsu and forming around him into a large spiralling dome.
The shock wave slammed into the dome of chakra and an explosion of sound blanketed the room drowning out everything else for a few moments
"What the heck was that!?" Naruto sputtered as the jutsu was dispersed, "It looked just like your Jutsu Daiki!"
Daiki barely paid attention to the blonde jinchuuriki, instead his eyes were on Sakura.
She hadn't stayed idle, as soon as Neji started spinning and unleashed his ultimate defensive jutsu she rushed towards it, even as her right arm dangled useless at her side.
'Smart.' he nodded approvingly.
Neji, arrogant as he was being in regards to Sakura and not taking her seriously.
Hadn't activated his Byakugan yet, so his vision was currently obscured within his jutsu and he couldn't see her getting close.
When Neji spun to a stop and his dome shield of chakra flickered away, it was just in time for Sakura to reach him, getting within just a few feet of him.
Neji's eyes widened in shock as the pink haired girl once again took advantage of him not taking her seriously and threw a rapid punch out with her remaining non damaged arm, "Shannaro!" the pink haired girl roared.
Once again the air rippled as a a massive concentrated shock wave of pure force erupted from her fist at near point blank range.
Normally, this would have been the end, even as Sakura's second wrist snapped and the force of the jutsu jettisoned her back, this should have been checkmate.
The problem though was in the sheer speed difference between her and her opponent.
On seeming instinct alone, Neji spun, chakra erupting and roaring forth from his tenketsu.
He didn't manage to form a shield of chakra even half the size of his previous one, but it did do its job.
Even if the force still travelled through.
Neji gagged noticeably as pure force slammed into his stomach and bodily lifted him into the air and threw him back, the chakra forming around his body bursting apart.
It hadn't been properly formed after all.
Neji spun through the air before landing on his feet over twenty feet away, clutching at his stomach and glaring fiercely at Sakura who had landed in a crouched position, pain visible on her pretty face as her arms hung limp at her sides, already purpling deeply with bruising.
"Tch, taking advantage of me speaking, how trivial," the Hyuga scoffed, "Though a decent plan for trash like yourself, it doesn't change that it is my fate to defeat you." he added, letting go of his stomach and narrow his eyes.
Veins visible throbbed around his eyes and his white irises became more pronounced as he activated his doujutsu.
He was just about to spring forward towards Sakura, no doubt rushing her down before she could even do anything and give her a mighty beat down.
Only, he never got the chance.
"I give up." the pink haired girl took Daiki's advice and surrendered.
"…What?" Neji was so shocked by the call that he actually stuttered forward a step.
"WHAT?!" Naruto shouted.
"Sakura Haruno has surrendered, the winner is Neji Hyuga." Hayate declared, before calling for the medic ninja to make their way in.
While everyone was busy being shocked over what just occurred, the pink haired girl instead looked over her shoulder and met Daiki's eyes.
He smirked and gave her a nod of approval.
It was a very, very short bout. But it went a long way to showing Sakura's strengths and few of her many weaknesses.
'Clever girl.' he broadcasted to her with his chakra.
The smile that splayed across her lips was almost blinding.
For a moment, nobody really said anything.
The most telling reaction of anyone's though, was Neji's. The frustration on his face was plain as day, his lips pulled back half way between a snarl and a frown.
He was clearly not happy with how things turned out..
Not that Daiki could blame him. He may have one, but he barely displayed anything beyond the Kaiten in that fight, he never even landed a hit before Sakura used up her cards and gave up.
The pink haired girl not only got the chance to strut her stuff a bit and show multiple traits from ruthlessness to pragmatism and of course intelligence in knowing when to retreat from a superior foe, but she also stopped Neji from showing off what he could do for the most part as well, dropping his promotion prospects.
His pure white eyes follows Sakura right up until she was escorted out of the room by the medics to heal her hands.
Just before she disappeared through the doors though, the pink haired girl looked back, her emerald green eyes meeting with Daiki's own.
The large happy smile on her face practically made her glow.
And then she was gone.
And it was time for the final match.
"Alright, I suppose we don't even need to use the board now," Hayate declared, looking up at all the assembled shinobi and kunoichi, "The final match will be between Rock Lee and Gaara, so both of you come on down."
"Tch." Neji turned away from the doors Sakura had left through at the announcement, clicking his tongue.
The Hyuuga began making his way back up at the same time Gaara impassively began making his way down and-
"Yosh!" Lee happily cheered bouncing on his feet and rapidly shadow boxing in place, bandages fists scything through the air like bullets, "It is finally my turn, what a splendid time to be alive, I sha-"
"Lee!" Gai shouted cutting the leotard wearing genin off and grabbed the boy around the neck, "Listen carefully, I have made quite an astute observation I feel I must share with you before you explode with the power of youth."
"Yes Gai-sensei!" Lee gave him his full attention.
Gai nodded before looking around almost suspiciously, "Your opponent….that gourd on his back…is suspicious." he not so quietly revealed.
Daiki snorted as Kakashi palmed his face at his side, "I mean, he's not wrong." the tan genin laughed lightly.
Gai was always a riot.
In small doses.
Neither Lee nor Gai seemed to notice all the dry gazes sent their way.
"Gai-sensei, thank you for your wisdom, I shall keep your words in mind!" Lee happily took his words.
"Oh Lee!" Gai swept the boy into a tight hug, tears streaming from his eyes.
"Gai-sensei!" a hug that Lee was all too happy to return, tears budding in his eyes as well.
"…These guys are weirdos." Naruto commented.
"Like you're one to talk." Daiki snorted.
"And the hell is that supposed to mean?" the blonde turned to him with a glare.
"You're the one who likes turning into a hot busty female version of yourself." Daiki shrugged.
"Hot huh?" Naruto snorted back at him, "Can't be weird if it works."
Daiki opened his mouth to respond, before pausing. That was pretty sound logic to be honest. Not something he'd ever do, but the blonde wasn't wrong.
"No it's still weird dumbass." Sasuke scoffed.
"Shut the fuck up bastard," Naruto gave a sneer, "You're just saying that cuz' you know you'd never be able to match up to my sexy jutsu even if you did know it."
"As if!" Sasuke growled stepping forward to glare straight into the shorter stockier blonde's eyes, "I could do it far superior to you, I just won't lower myself to such stupidity."
'Are they seriously basically arguing about who would be hotter as a chick?' Daiki thought blandly.
"Maah maah, calm down girls, you're both pretty." Kakashi interjected with an eye smile.
…How the fuck did he even do that? It was kind of creepy actually.
"Shut up Kakashi-sensei!" both Uzumaki and Uchiha snapped at him together with twin glares of sapphire and onyx.
Kakashi merely laughed and looked back down to his book.
It was a good question to ponder though.
'I wonder if a female Sasuke could actually measure up to Naruko.' Daiki mused inwardly.
And what would his female version even be called, Sasuko? Satsuki?
Whatever the case, Sasuke would have an uphill battle. If Naruto was actually Naruko, Daiki would have been all over her.
That was just how hot she was.
It was almost disappointing Naruto wasn't a girl in that sense.
And a weird thought to have to be honest.
Thankfully one he didn't need to ponder long, thanks to Lee leaping from the platform they were standing on to land below facing opposite Gaara.
"Gaara-san!" Lee greeted the redhead Jinchuuriki with a wide grin and a thumbs up, "Facing you here and now makes me very happy."
Gaara, arms crossed didn't even blink or utter a sound, just staring completely impassively at the bowl cut bearing teen.
There was a popping sound, but before the sound had even finished echoing outwards, Lee's hand shot out, grasping the cork of Gaara's gourd that had shot across the distance between them in almost just a blink of the eye.
"Calm down kid," Hayate huffed, rolling his eyes, "Wait for my call before you two start fighting."
"Yes, let us not rush things Gaara-san and enjoy this battle to our hearts content." Lee nodded, eyes going serious as he dropped the cork to the ground.
'That's the opposite of what you should be doing here.' Daiki mused, leaning over the railing and eyeing them both.
"This should be a good fight and I'll be able to see what Gaara can do." Sasuke grinned, copying him.
"That guy gives me the creeps," Naruto frowned, "Something just wigs me out about him, but it'll be good to see what bushy brows can really do."
Daiki already knew how this would go. Though he admitted; 'It'll be good to see the gates in action.' he mused.
It was just too bad he hadn't completed his new seal yet and sealed Shisui's Sharingan within him.
It meant he wouldn't be able to copy the usage of the gates. Though, he'd still be able to see how Lee did it and perhaps puzzle it out himself.
It couldn't be too complicated he supposed if Lee could actually do it. If nothing else, Daiki wanted to learn how to open the first gate. Actually, it was the one he was most interested in of all.
"Begin." Hayate declared.
As soon as the beginning of the match was declared, Lee sprung forward as a blur of speed, twisting his whole body in a single motion and lashing out with a flying spin kick, "Leaf Hurricane!" he declared.
His foot met a wall of sand that sprung up almost instantly, The sand swelled further, shaping into an almost fist like shape and bashed Lee backwards.
The force of it sent the boy rolling across the ground before he sprung up, landing in a crouch.
'That should have been the end right there.' Daiki grimaced. If Gaara had wanted to, he could have easily crushed Lee's leg right then and there.
He only didn't, because Gaara liked to play with his food.
"Sand!?" Naruto cried in shock.
Sasuke wasn't really all that better. While he didn't make a sound, his wide eyed stare spoke volumes, "He was repelled so easily." the Uchiha commented.
Lee's eyes narrowed and he pushed off, speeding to the side and winding around Gaara in a blur of motion that the vast majority of genin in the huge room they currently occupied probably couldn't even follow.
Lee's fist whipped out, the air parting around his hand and slammed into the wall of sand once again that swept around to block, sand went flying and Lee lashed out with a rapid kick that sent even more spraying through the air.
But it was like a bucket pale from a lake.
Hardly making a dent.
Before the sand could swarm over his body, Lee quickly retreated, bouncing back in a set of quick hops and fell into a ready stance, eyeing Gaara wearily.
Gaara meanwhile just continued to stare impassively, boredly even.
"Even bushy brows can't get through that sand with just taijutsu." Naruto grimaced.
"He's not fast enough to," Sasuke clicked his tongue, "He should switch to ninjutsu for a bit, test the waters."
"He can't," Daiki informed, "Lee's pretty much incapable of any worthwhile ninjutsu, he has absolutely no talent for either ninjutsu or genjutsu so he's a pure taijutsu user."
It wasn't that he had something wrong with him and was unable to use ninjutsu or genjutsu. Lee was just terrible at them and thus gave up ever being good with them and focused only on taijutsu.
Though even then, this match was still far from over. Even if Daiki was still very sure of who was going to be walking away the winner in this fight.
'Lee just lacks the mindset to use his abilities properly and take the win.' Daiki mused.
If it were him in Lee's place, he would lose the weights and open the first gate and just absolutely pound Gaara's head in.
No hitting him all over and wearing him down, he'd just target the same spot over and over again and crush his skull.
It would not only be the best way to deal with that sand armour, but it would also pose the least risk with using the gates themselves before he could handle them.
And Lee couldn't handle the upper gates as he was right now, his body wasn't strong enough to withstand them currently.
Even beyond the damage Gaara had done to him, the most damage had been done to Lee by himself.
"…How boring." Gaara commented for the first time and lifted his hand towards Lee.
As he did, the sand around him surged out rapidly and shot towards the older genin who quickly sprang away, jumping up to the top of the giant hand statues making the seal of reconciliation to escape the wave of sand.
"Lee, take them off!" Gai shouted as he landed.
'He should have taken them off from the very beginning.' Daiki scoffed inwardly. As much as he found Lee a pretty cool guy, that didn't change that his choices were stupid and he put himself at a handicap for his opponent with those weights.
A massive negative black mark towards a promotion. Lee after all, was the complete opposite of Shikamaru. While Shikamaru had the intelligence to be a chunin but lacked the strength and ability, Lee had the strength for it, but not the mentality.
"But Gai-sensei!" Lee shouted back, completely taking his eyes off of his opponent, "You said I must never take them off unless defending someone or something precious!"
"It's okay Lee, I approve of it in this instance!" Gai grinned and flashed him a thumbs up.
…This was stupid.
He'd loved this fight before. But watching it here in person, and being as he was now, it was frustrating him.
'He's a fucking shinobi, why would he never take his weights off unless for something like that?' Daiki scoffed inwardly, hands gripping the railing to tightly the metal of it warped beneath his grip.
He was lucky to never have been killed from that sheer stupidity. And even as he sat down to take off his weights completely disregarding Gaara still, Daiki couldn't help but shake his head.
…The only reason he was even getting the chance to take them off right now, was because Gaara had stopped attacking and was eyeing him with curiosity.
If the redhead jinchuuriki was as pragmatic as he was ruthless, he'd just keep attacking and not give Lee the chance to show off, he was a freaking sitting duck right now.
Watching this right now, Daiki came to a conclusion.
…Lee was far more stupid than Naruto ever was and it was a wonder he ever made it to Chunin.
"Yosh, here we go!" Lee stood up after a second, carrying his weights in hand, before promptly dropping them.
There was a mass of widening eyes as they slammed into the ground and send debris flying as they created a pair of huge craters from their sheer weight.
'Another stupid move.' Daiki scoffed inwardly again. Seeing how easy he could carry them, he should have thrown them as hard as he could their sheer weight would have forced quite a bit of the sand to Gaara's defence and left his back just a bit more vulnerable.
"What the hell!?" Naruto gaped.
"…Aren't you over doing it Gai?" Kakashi mused dryly, looking over at the leotard wearing sensei.
Gai merely laughed, "Haha, that's the way Lee, explode!" he cheered.
Yo, sorry about being awol the past little while guys. Honestly, had quite a bit on my plate and then I got sick from a bug going around the last lil while, been stuck in bed over a week recovering. A pain in the ass for sure.
Anyway, here we are back with chapter 39 and some shit went down. Sakura...actually, technically got the better of Neji, for a brief few moments, at the expense of her arms. She made a good showing and that will go towards her possible future promotion. But the real meat of the chapter, is the battle woven into the stars by fate, Lee vs Gaara. One of the best fights in the entire series, one of my absolute favourite. Though Daiki definitely has some stuff to say about it.
And I'm sure some of you will be very happy to know, that the prelims end next chapter and we can move on to more fun stuff. And I definitely will never write the chunin exams again. Fuck them man. They do not mesh well at all with how I like to write.
We're up to chapter 44 on the Pa-atreon, and I'm in the middle of finishing a part of it at the moment which should hopefully be done in the next few hours. It's about Anko actually, and some bouncy bouncy fun time. Hmm, I wonder how well people will receive how Daiki dealt with the shard of Orochimaru? There's no kill like overkill after all.
Anyway, shameless Pa-atreon plug. I've got one, go by the same username on there, easy to find and all that jazz. Support me if you want, it'd be swell, but don't feel pressured lads and ladies, I'll be uploading my stuff outside it regardless and not keeping it all behind a paywall or anything like that.