Temari's Journal

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It's hard to look back through my journal entries. Allied as we are with Konoha, there exists just one passage which shows just how wrong some of my perceptions can be. How wrong I was, about a great many things. As I paged through the worn notebook, my eyes fell almost unconsciously on that passage. I must have read it a million times.

"Some blonde kid, a stupid gennin, tried to pick a fight with Kankuro. I doubt the idiot could even hope to pass the tests… if this is the best Konoha has to offer, the fight will last five minutes."

That blonde kid was, of course, Uzumaki Naruto. He constantly surprised me after that first meeting. Throughout the exams, he just wouldn't give up. He never surrendered, not to that kid and his dog or the guy with the white eyes. I'd figured he'd be one of the first eliminated: Instead, he was one of the finalists. I imagine he probably would have clawed his way right to the top, if that little tournament hadn't been interrupted.

I'd again written him off when the real battle began. When my brother faced Sasuke and unsealed the Shukaku, I knew the battle was over... or I thought it was. Even Sasuke seemed to realize it. He put up a good fight, of course… but he just couldn't keep up with Gaara even with just the arm and tail unsealed. Even with that weird tattoo spread across his face and body, Sasuke couldn't do anything as my brother closed for the killing blow.

Then he was there, just as Gaara was about to strike Sasuke. Trembling with fear, unable to meet my brother's eyes without his own widening in terror, he was there. He screamed for his friends to run, perhaps hoping to buy them time with his own life, but my brother caught that pink-haired girl in his trap… and it was like seeing the furies of Hell unleashed as they clashed.

I've known for a long time just how powerful my brother is. I've known that the only reason he was even left alive was that our father, the Kazekage, feared to pit the ninja of our village against the might of Shukaku. I've known that my brother should have been a jounin long ago. I've known that my brother had been quietly labeled an S-rank ninja. I am his sister, and even I stepped lightly around him. When he spoke, I listened well. When he asked me to do something, I obeyed. That was the way of things, because my brother could destroy me in an instant.

Yet every time my brother unsealed just a little more of the Shukaku, Naruto would meet him. Terrified, barely able to keep his fear in check, Naruto met my brother with as much force as my brother gave. I watched, eyes unblinking, as the chakra they both used continued to increase. Somehow that kid was managing to match the one-tailed demon under my brother's control. I was afraid for myself, and I quickly realized I couldn't get far enough away to escape this battle.

I hate to admit it even now, but I was beginning to be afraid for my brother. Naruto never gave up, never quit. Even as the full Shukaku was unsealed and towered above the forest, as the sands enclosed him, Naruto began a summoning technique without a care for the danger he was in. I'd never seen anyone such a casual look on their face as my brother's desert coffin closed on them.

I could barely summon Kamatari, and I'd had three years training to do so. To see him summon Gamabunta was astonishing. Legends of this toad circle among many different villages, and to see him casually summoned by a boy… Still, the giant toad initially seemed not to care for the boy, though Naruto somehow convinced him to fight.

Gamabunta clashed with my brother, and I was surprised to see that the large toad could fight well enough to match him. I'm amazed, even now, that Naruto had the chakra to summon him.

Then my brother unchained Shukaku's mind and allowed himself to sleep. The battle was very fierce, and several times Naruto and Gamabunta came very close to being obliterated. Entire swathes of forest were destroyed as Shukaku tried to obliterate the duo facing him.

Then Naruto used a henge to transform himself and Gamabunta into a nine-tailed kitsune. They closed, and Naruto leaped atop Shukaku and struck my brother. It was here I knew my brother had the advantage. Shukaku's bloated form is made entirely of sand, something my brother can control very well. The sands closed, and I knew the battle would be finished.

I was right. The battle was over. Naruto seemed to come unchained, the very force of his chakra tearing his clothes and blasting away the sands holding his feet. He jumped… and my heart leapt to my throat as the sands raced to stop his blow. They did, but that didn't stop the yellow-haired ninja. He used his forehead to slam a blow into my brother and I heard a cracking, as far away as I was.

Had he split his own head in two? No … It was far more effective than that. He'd shattered my brother's control. Shukaku's form splintered and cracked and they both plunged to the forest canopy amidst a torrent of sand and rock. Even Gamabunta seemed to be finished, and he disappeared.

I saw them leap towards each other, but couldn't see the result as Gamabunta's sword followed him home. I raced towards where the trees ruffled from their fall… That must have been the last of the fight.

"Temari…" Barely a whisper, Kankuro's call. I landed beside him, checking his wounds. He'd be fine, but his chakra was almost gone. I grabbed him and we moved again, this time with more urgency.

Who had won? Gaara or Naruto? I still couldn't believe I even had to ask the question, but here I was… Witness to a fight which had left miles of forest obliterated.

"No, don't come any closer!" That was Gaara's voice! Kankuro seemed to sense this and broke free of my grasp, moving on his own.

When we arrived, we found the end of the battle and I was amazed. Both Naruto and Gaara seemed to be completely drained of their chakra… but the scraped ground behind Naruto bore mute testament to what would have happened. I tensed for battle as Sasuke glared at us, that freakish black tattoo still covering half his body. A match for my brother he was not, but for the two of us?

"That's enough… I quit." Gaara's voice, but never his words. Never before now, anyways. Kankuro picked him up and I stood, glancing once more at the ninja who had fought my brother to a standstill. The blonde haired boy was now unconscious… but I knew he'd finally let himself go because he thought the fight was over. I couldn't ever imagine this one giving up.

Some stupid gennin, indeed.

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Author's Notes

Just a little piece of work inspired while I was watching some Naruto the other day. Comments and criticism are welcome.