After the proctor started the match, Naruto and Neji squared off for a few moments, then Naruto made the first move. His first jutsu was a surprise to no one in particular, as he created no less than a hundred clones.
Neji stared at the huge number of clones in front of him, then snickered. "It's no surprise you'd use that. It is your signature jutsu, after all," he said arrogantly.
Naruto glared at the Hyuga, held out a fist, and snarled, "I vow to win!" as the clones rushed at Neji.
Neji let a large number of clones approach him, attacking them as they came into range. Neji was feeling no pressure at all so far, and he wasn't worried as he dispelled one clone after another.
Hinata, watching the fight progress, kept getting weird flashes of images in her eyes. One was a close-up look at Neji's face; another seemed to be a collision between two clones. She couldn't figure out what was going on at first, but then she noticed that she was getting a flash every time a clone dispelled. Once she realized this, she leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes, and relaxed as she watched the fight from the perspective of the clones. It was oddly exciting and relaxing at the same time.
As he dispelled clone after clone, Neji was watching. He saw one Naruto who was holding way back away from him. Grinning, he moved, tearing through the horde of clones and hitting that one specific one straight in a chakra point. "Got you," he said with a smile. "You kept yourself out of my range, which just made you stand out."
All of the clones began to dispel, verifying for Neji that his guess was right. Naruto grinned at Neji and grabbed his hand. "Did you really think I wouldn't attack you myself?" he asked, yanking downward on Neji as he suddenly burst into smoke!
Neji was thrown so off-balance, the kick from directly behind him was something he couldn't defend against, and Neji was thrown across the arena by the strength of the blow.
Turning and standing up, Neji snarled. "You kept a clone back to trick me," he said. Naruto grinned at him from where he had been standing to kick Neji. "Good strategy, but it won't work again."
Naruto shrugged. "What difference does that make?" he asked. "I already kicked your ass!"
The stands erupted into laughter at Naruto's quip. Even Hinata giggled a bit at this. Naruto grinned as he saw the anger in Neji's eyes, and he formed more clones and rushed Neji again before the older boy could regain his composure.
Naruto grinned as he saw one of his clones hit Neji's cheek, then froze for a moment when Neji didn't move. Neji suddenly spun rapidly, sending out a wave of chakra, which sent Naruto and his clones flying.
Hinata gasped as she witnessed this from the dispelling clones' eyes. "No, Naruto," she said softly. "Don't give up!"
Naruto felt Hinata's worry, but he also felt her confidence in him. Neji was walking across the arena to where one last Naruto was sitting in a small crater. He wasn't quite to it, and he was talking to Naruto. He stopped a moment to berate the blond. "You should have given up. It was just bad luck you drew me, but you were fated to lose the moment you got here."
Neji was about to turn to the proctor to demand he call the match when the stands gave a collective gasp. Neji didn't even have time to move as Naruto suddenly burst from the ground no more than an inch in front of him. Naruto was moving very fast, fist-first no less, and hit Neji square on the chin, knocking him out in one punch. "Screw fate," Naruto said. "I told you I would win, and you know, Neji, I was dead-last in my class, and my absolute worst jutsu was the clone jutsu. You shouldn't underestimate what failures can do." Neji groaned and fell into unconsciousness after hearing this.
Naruto grinned and held up two "v for victory" signs to the audience. After a moment, the blond began running around the arena, blowing kisses and generally acting like an idiot.
Hinata giggled. "Good, Naruto, you won," she said to herself. After a moment, she built up her courage and reached for their bond. Finding it was still there, she sent a burst of pure joy through it.
Feeling the joy through the bond, Naruto gave a heartfelt smile to where he knew Hinata was. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so relieved. "The bond is still there!" he thought to himself. "I'm so glad! I was really worried I'd lose that if I won the fight."
Hinata smiled, then stood up to leave. "You okay, Hinata?" Kiba asked from his seat beside his teammate.
Hinata turned to her friend and smiled. "I'm fine, I just don't feel up to watching any more fights, and I think I should go talk to Neji anyway," she said back.
Kiba smiled, then said, "I'll come with you. You never know what could happen with all these foreign ninja around here."
Hinata smiled back at her friend. "It's okay, Kiba, you don't have to do that," she said. "I wouldn't want you to miss the fights because of me."
Kiba laughed. "The only one I wanted to see was that one," he said back. "I'm not like most of these idiots, all obsessed over Sasuke." As Kiba said this, they heard a thump and saw from their perch that Shikamaru had been pushed into the arena, landing square on his head. "And really, if he doesn't care about his own fight, why should I care about it?" Kiba added, indicating the disgusted look on Shikamaru's face.
Hinata giggled. "All right, then," she said. "Thank you, Kiba." With that, the two Genin made their way out of the arena.
Jiraiya was actually doing his job, for once. He was using his best invisibility jutsu to spy on one of the many visiting dignitaries in the village for the Chunin Exams. Even though he was doing his job, and doing it well, he couldn't get what Naruto had told him out of his mind.
He kept going over and over the whole hospital thing in his mind. Naruto had said they hadn't done one single thing, and that neither of them had been thinking about sex, yet they both got aroused, more or less at the same time.
Taking a step back mentally, he realized there was one thing they had both done. They had eaten those cookies! He mentally went over how Naruto had said he'd made the cookies, and it dawned on him. "Ah-ha! So, that's it, is it? Naruto, you're a bloody genius, and you don't even know it!" he thought to himself. His mind began to go completely crazy with the sheer possibilities of this, and he got a slight nosebleed, although no one would have known it thanks to the invisibility jutsu.
Sasuke looked around the arena as he and Kakashi sat in a nearby tree, watching the fights. He snorted in disgust as he saw how many people were waiting for his fight. "These fools. They're pathetic," he commented ruefully.
"It's really not that surprising, you know?" Kakashi responded. "You are the prodigy of the Uchiha, and you're expected to do very well. Of course they're excited for your fight."
Sasuke shook his head. "Yeah, I know, but are they all such a bunch of pathetic loser stalkers that they can't see the awesome fights happening right in front of them?" he asked back. Kakashi shrugged. "And why the hell are we sitting here, anyway? I could get disqualified."
Kakashi eye-smiled at his student. "Don't you see, Sasuke? You have a chance to gain a huge advantage here. You can see how the others are fighting without them knowing it. Also, if we show up too early, it'll ruin my image. I won't let you get disqualified, don't worry."
Sasuke considered what his teacher had said. "Maybe you're right. And it is rather fun to have a view this good," he said after a moment. With that said, the two Sharingan users settled into the tree to watch Shikamaru's match.
Temari and Shikamaru were facing off. The match had already officially started, but neither had moved yet. "Okay…you can start, you know," the proctor said.
"We know," Temari responded. "I'm just letting the hopelessness set in…and maybe he'll forfeit and save me the trouble."
Shikamaru snorted. "You really think we Leaf ninja can't put up a fight?" he asked. "I mean, I don't really want to, it's too much of a pain in the ass for me, but we can if we have to."
"Well, that last fight was a bit stupid," Temari responded. "I mean, it took what, one punch for that Neji guy to be laid out flat? I guess the rumors we heard that your village is full of a bunch of losers were true."
For some reason, this really pissed Shikamaru right the hell off. He wasn't really sure why, but hearing his village be insulted like that just made his blood boil. All the same, he knew if he gave in to his anger, he would be playing right into this girl's hands.
"All right, fine, if that's how it's going to be, I'll show you how much of a fight we Leaf ninja have in us," he snarled at her, letting her think she had gotten to him. Temari smiled a bit as Shikamaru threw a kunai at her and jumped backward at the same time.
Temari blocked the kunai easily with her fan, then saw Shikamaru's shadow coming toward her. "Right, he uses shadows. Can't let him catch me with that," she thought, jumping backward. The shadow stretched out, but eventually stopped. "So, you have limited range," she said aloud. She drew a line in the dirt.
Shikamaru pulled his shadow back. He grinned privately to himself. "Well, yeah, I have limited range, but what she doesn't know is, I wasn't using the wall's shadow to do that," he thought. Shrugging, he made a show of not caring and even turned his back. Temari dug her fan into the ground, blocking his view of her. "Perfect!" Shikamaru thought, quietly sending his shadow out again.
Temari was about to make a clone to distract her opponent, when suddenly she realized she couldn't move. Looking down, she saw a shadow coming out of the hole in the ground in front of her. She hadn't even realized it was there. After a moment, she realized it was where Naruto had come out of when he hit Neji. Even as she realized this, she was forced to stand and turn around. Shikamaru made the motions, and Temari picked up her fan.
"Shadow Possession complete!" Shikamaru said as he faced his now-trapped opponent. Temari snarled at him. "You know, you really shouldn't insult the Leaf," he told her, then made a fist and punched himself in the face! Temari was shocked as she did the same thing. She thought when she saw him doing this, it wouldn't hit hard, but no, she damn near broke her own nose. Of course, Shikamaru did this, as well, although he didn't seem bothered by it somehow.
"Why the hell would you hurt yourself like that?" Temari asked. Instead of answering, Shikamaru punched himself in the stomach. This punch knocked the wind out of Temari, and yet Shikamaru was oddly not bothered by it. "What is your problem?" Temari gasped out as she tried desperately to catch her breath.
Shikamaru snarled. "I told you not to insult the Leaf!" he yelled at her, then made her pull her fan off her back and smack herself in the face with it, hard. This knocked Temari out cold, and since Shikamaru didn't have a fan, he obviously wasn't hit by this.
The proctor came out and called the match. Turning to Shikamaru, he asked, "Okay, how the hell did you do that without hurting yourself?" he asked.
Shikamaru chuckled. "She hit herself, but I stopped a tiny bit short of both punches. She's a tiny bit bigger than I am in both her face and belly regions," he explained. "And if you tell her I said that, I'll kill you."
The proctor chuckled, and Shikamaru left the arena. "Man, that was a drag," he grumbled as he climbed the stairs back to his seat.
Hinata saw Neji coming around. "Hello, Neji," she said as he came to.
"Lady Hinata," he said, somewhat bitterly. "Well, I guess your friend avenged you. You must be pleased."
Hinata sighed. "Neji, I never wanted to see you beat, I'm surprised you don't know that. Hell, if I wanted to beat you, I could have just activated your seal. I do know how, you know," she said.
Neji sat up straight in surprise. "You…know how to do that?" he asked. He had assumed his meek, timid little cousin would have refused to learn that.
"Father insisted I learn it, just in case," Hinata said. "I really didn't want to, but he wouldn't let me get out of it. I think he was planning to seal Hanabi back then, but that obviously didn't happen." She shook her head and sighed. "Neji, you should be the head of the clan, we both know that."
Neji was stunned to hear her say all this. "You know, Hinata, I think you're one of the good ones," he said after a moment of silence. "Still, this doesn't change anything about my fate or the future of the clan."
Hinata chuckled. "You know why I don't believe in fate, Neji?" she asked. Neji shook his head. "Naruto was dead-last in our class. He struggled with the simplest things. For crying out loud, his worst jutsu, and what made him fail our Academy exam TWICE was the freaking clone jutsu. And yet, you saw how good he is with them now. He put in the hard work, and you saw the results." Neji was pondering all this. "You can change your fate, too. I mean, really, if a dead-last like him can, you certainly can."
Neji sighed. "You have given me much to think about, Lady Hinata," he said.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I have more you need to consider, Neji," a voice said from behind Hinata. Turning, they found Hiashi Hyuga, Hinata's father, standing there.
"You do?" Neji asked.
Hiashi stepped forward and handed Neji a scroll. "Please read this," Hiashi said.
Neji was about to make a snide remark, when he saw the writing on the scroll. "This is…my father's handwriting," he said. Opening the scroll, Neji read a story that would change his life forever.
A/N: Yeah, sorry this one is a little on the short side. And the story Neji reads is the same as in canon. I'm not really going for a cliffhanger here. Gaara's fight with Sasuke will be next time. Hope you all come back for that one.