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Blah Blah Blah basic text (i.e. description, speech, etc)

Blah Blah Blah Thought or some transaction within someone's mind

Blah Blah Blah Kyuubi or other biju talking... or something very very loud

BLAH BLAH BLAH yelling or emphasis of some sort


Naruto of the Nine Tails

Rated M for language, violence, adult content, and graphic imagery


Chp 26: First Blood

Konoha Coliseum…

"Next one is the Kazekage's son against Shibi's boy, right?" Asuma asked, glancing over to Gai for confirmation.

"Indeed!" Gai crowed. "A member of our prestigious friends the Aburame against the genius scion of Sunagakure's puppet arts, the first known battle between the two vaunted diciplines since the second shinobi war! It promises to be a most youthful match!"

"Will Sabaku no Kankuro and Aburame Shino please report to the floor!" Genma called, turning his gaze to the competitor's box.

"In fact…" Gai continued enthusiastically. "In fact, I am sure that young Kankuro will-"

"I forfeit!"

Gai instantly fell silent, frozen in horror as he stared at the Kazekage's son.

"…duck out like a punk?" Kakashi finished.

Asuma frowned, staring down at the little puppet user as he argued with his sister. "Kakashi…"

Kakashi nodded. "Yeah, I know."

"You noticed too?" Gai asked, completely serious.

"I know I'm the newbie and not as versed in the cloak and dagger bullshit as the rest of you lordly elites but would someone care to clue me in?" Kurenai growled, sparing a particularly venomous glare for her prospective boyfriend.

"Forfeiting makes no sense," Kakashi explained quietly. "He's had a month to prepare with knowledge of who he's facing, that should have been plenty of time to prepare appropriate counters… like a really big can of raid or something. True it probably wouldn't end well anyway but it's been so long since someone's seen an Aburame flip their shit that there's no way he could know that. No, something about this stinks and I'm reasonably sure Asuma took a shower this morning."

"Hey!" Asuma cried indignantly.


Meanwhile…

"Oh, that's not suspicious at all," Genma grumbled to himself. Forfeiting in the first round of the finals without even putting on a show? Really? Did kids these days have no sense? What the hell were those windbags teaching their children? Because subtly obviously wasn't part of the curriculum. "Oh well…Will Hyuuga Hinata and Sabaku no Gaara report to the floor please?" he called, adding several scathing, but silent, comments about the mental fortitude of their sandy allies.

Fortunately, both contestants (and furry friend) turned and made their way out of sight toward the stairs that lead down to the arena.

Genma shivered in anticipation. The first two matches? Those had been interesting. This one though… this was what he had been looking forward to. If their intel was correct, the Suna brat was the Jinchuuriki of the Ichibi and, like all the other vessels before him, was murderous and highly unstable. That alone would make for a pretty interesting fight but when Genma pictured the brat turning that attitude on an opponent guarded by their resident jinchuuriki… Well, it was safe to say that he hadn't had such promise of an awesome show since Kushina-sama found out she was pregnant and literally attempted to kill her husband.

"Contestants ready?" Genma asked, glancing both ways as he got calm nods from the two gennin. "Match four, Hyuuga Hinata of Konoha verse Sabaku no Gaara of Suna. Hajime!" he called, slicing his hand through the air.

Then he got the hell out of their way.


Several minutes later…

Asuma frowned staring down at the arena. "Why aren't they doing anything?" he asked, more to himself than to anyone else. Seriously, aside from Naruto's tails, they hadn't moved! How boring…

"Whoever moves first yields a significant advantage to their opponent," a newcomer explained. "If Gaara attacks with his sand, Naruto disperses it and Hinata closes into close quarters. Whereas if Naruto or Hinata attack first, Gaara can strike at them without compromising his defense."

The jounin—minus one certain porn-reading somebody—all looked to the side to face the speaker.

"Jiraiya-sama? I didn't think you had any interest in the chunnin exams. What brings you here?" Gai asked curiously.

"Why wouldn't I come to watch my students kicking ass and taking names?" Jiraiya replied, feigning confusion.

"Your students?" Asuma asked, confused.

Jiraiya gave him a deadpan expression. "…You're kidding, right brat? I might have expected a dumbass question like that from your hot friend there, she at least has the excuse of being new to the whole Jounin thing and isn't really in the loop, but you? No excuse! I am ashamed to have changed your diapers all those years ago!"

Asuma blushed a fantastic shade of red as Kurenai giggled at his expense.

"Your students?" Jiraiya continued, mimicking Asuma's confused voice with 'slight' embellishment. "Who the fuck do you think I'm talking about, wonder monkey? Sleepy McSandpants down there? Or, just maybe, could I be talking about the mythically epic little Hyuuga and her equally epic furry friend that I have had regular contact with over the past few years? Hm?"

"Jiraiya-sama, be nice," Gai admonished… as he fought valiantly to contain his mirth.

"Nice?" Jiraiya asked, seeming confused. "I'm being very nice! I haven't started spanking him for the sheer stupidity of that question, have I?"

"So!" Asuma interrupted as Kurenai was forced to hold a nearby railing to support herself. "What have you been teaching them?"

"Oh, not much. Just taught her a few tricks, worked on his chakra control. That sort of thing," Jiraiya replied, shifting gears so quickly it would have made gennin dizzy.

"Chakra control?" Asuma asked curiously. With Naruto's… condition, no one had ever really bothered to teach him much. Firstly because it was dangerous; no one knew what might set him off. Secondly… well, the kid was ridiculously lethal enough already. The thought that it might be a good idea to make him more so never really crossed anyone's mind.

"Yep, he made considerable progress considering we only had a month," Jiraiya said proudly.

"Really?" Gai asked, sounding impressed. "Has he been able to make any progress ninjutsu training or is he still restricted to the sorts of spatial manipulation that Miss Hyuuga has reported in the past?"

"Oh, he's capable of ninjutsu, now."

Kakashi blinked, glancing at Jiraiya out of the corner of his eye at the sennin. "Really? Has he been able to learn any yet?" he asked, more than a little curious. Both of Naruto's parents had been ninjutsu prodigies.

"Just one," Jiraiya replied looking… absolutely, positively, angelically innocent.

Now very curious, Kakashi turned to ask what sort of ninjutsu Naruto had been able to learn in a month without any prior training in hand seals or, well, ninjutsu in general. But just as he opened his mouth something floating above the old Sennin's head caught his attention. 'The halo…' Kakashi realized, a sense of utter and complete doom spreading slowly up his spine. The last time Jiraiya had used the halo…oh… oh no.

"…Only one?" he asked, dreading the answer.

"A very special one!" Jiraiya laughed as he turned and skipped away from them humming a jaunty tune.

"Uh… what's wrong with Kakashi?" Kurenai asked, suddenly very nervous as she watched the silver haired man begin to sweat through his mask and headband as he stared after Jiraiya in unadulterated horror.

"…Oh that can't be good," Asuma mumbled, lighting another cigarette. He had a feeling he was going to need it.

Gai snorted, shaking his head. "I believe, my youthful friend, that you have just made a spectacular understatement."


Meanwhile

Hinata frowned as the standoff continued.

'What is he waiting for?' she wondered. She had been hoping that Gaara's bloodlust would force him to attack sooner. Waiting like this… it seemed out of character.

Suddenly, Naruto growled, his posture shifting ever so slightly.

Hinata's eyes went wide, her Byakugan flaring to life even as she felt the buildup of chakra coming from their opponent.

"Jump!" she barked, launching herself off of the arena floor as she saw the ground shifting beneath them.

Hinata silently cursed her carelessness as Naruto followed her, his tails sweeping away the wave of chakra infused sand that burst out of the ground.

Why the thought of her opponent possibly being able to make more sand hadn't crossed her mind she would never know. Did it really matter at this point? No, but it annoyed her because it meant that her strategy was almost completely null and void.

"Suna Shuriken," Gaara said, lazily waving his hand and summoning a storm of shuriken from his sand.

Hinata silently cursed as she tracked the course of the projectiles. 'Can't risk blocking them. Two ways to dodge. Stop or jump back into the arena. Both put us within range of his sand,' she thought, calculating the best course of action. If she kept moving she'd get shredded. If she went back, she went right into his sand. If she stopped the sand caught her. If she went back into the arena… Hinata frowned. She didn't really have any good options.

Fuck it… time for Plan B.

"Naruto! Give me an opening!" she ordered before suddenly changing direction and charging straight at Gaara and, by extension, his sand.

Naruto's only answer was to smile viciously, his tails flaring out behind him as the air around them just barely shimmering with chakra.

"Is she insane?" Asuma demanded. Running straight into that sand? More importantly, putting herself between her greatest weapon and the enemy? It was the pinnacle of tactical idiocy! "What in the name of-"

For a split second the hairs on the back of every veteran's neck stood on end, then…

KABOOOM!

"…Holy hell," Kurenai whispered, voicing the thoughts of most of the crowd as the floor of the arena literally exploded in a shockwave of visible chakra.

Hinata smirked as she darted forward, completely unaffected by Naruto's attack. It was one of the advantages of Naruto's bite mark that she and Jiraiya discovered over the last month. Somehow the mark perfectly synchronized their chakras in such a way that made Naruto's otherwise caustic chakra ambiguous where she was concerned.

In English? Whatever the mark was, after a little help from Jiraiya, Naruto's chakra couldn't hurt Hinata unless he tried really hard at it… among several other nifty things.

Gaara's eyes went wide in surprise as Hinata burst out of the cloud of dust.

"Hakke Kusho!" Hinata barked, releasing a concussive burst of chakra to scatter the sand that was gathering to protect Gaara. Then following her momentum tapped him once in the chest before planting a foot on Gaara's shoulder and spring boarding herself straight up into the air where Naruto's tails were waiting to pull her out of harm's way as the sand reformed.


Meanwhile…

Up in the competitors' box Temari and Kankuro could only stand with an ever increasing sense of trepidation as they watched the Hyuuga heiress and her partner continue to pick their "invincible" brother apart with their terrifyingly effective guerilla tactics.

"That makes two of their gennin that can breach Gaara's defense," Kankuro muttered as Hinata managed another Jyuuken strike to Gaara's midsection before dodging out of reach.

"She has a Jinchuuriki helping her and the other boy was using a dumbed down suicide kinjutsu," Temari reasoned as she leaned tiredly against the rail.

"And you don't think the green bean's sensei can use it better?" Kankuro hissed, clearly angry. "You don't think the other Hyuuga are as strong as her? She's good but she's a rookie! What if she tells fox boy to cut loose? Their children are fucking monsters! What do you think their parents are like? Their elites? What about the Hokage? That old bastard is pushing seventy and still rumored to be the strongest Kage currently alive."

"That's why Gaara will be using his full form," Temari replied tonelessly, sounding as if she'd rehearsed this argument several times before.

"Baki said intel had spotted Jiraiya of the Sannin in the city. What the hell use is Gaara going to be when his sand is soaked in toad oil?" Kankuro growled.

"The invasion is-"

"Fuck the invasion! This is a suicide run!"

"You think I don't know that?" Temari whispered, suddenly glaring at her brother, her tone low and cold. "What the hell do you want me to do? You know I don't have the political pull, let alone the time, to call this madness off. Run? We'd be branded as traitors or worse. Besides…" She turned back to the arena, her eyes glassy with unshed tears. "I'm not leaving without Gaara… and Gaara won't leave."

For a long time Kankuro didn't say anything. He just stood with his sister as he stared into the arena, watching Gaara grow progressively more enraged. When he finally spoke, he sounded so resigned you'd have thought he was attending his own funeral. "We're fucked aren't we?"

"We were fucked the day we were born into this gods forsaken world," Temari murmured, a sad resignation coloring her tone.


Pain was a… strange and singularly unpleasant sensation Gaara decided as he felt the sting of the Hyuuga girl's fingers against his back. Snarling, he whipped around, lashing out with his sand but his quarry had already darted out of reach.

It would be coming any second now…

"Ghn!" Gaara gasped, gritting his teeth as a burning pain bloomed in his left side.

So this was the famed and feared Jyuuken, able to penetrate the most hardened armor and deal crippling damage with the barest touch. If it weren't for the chakra in his sand armor disrupting her attacks, Gaara was certain he would be dead by now. It was a horrible thing to experience firsthand, and yet... he had never felt more alive. These two were actually a challenge! He actually had to make an effort to defend himself or attack them! It was so, so…

Exhilarating!

"Why is he smiling?" Hinata murmured, eye narrowing dangerously as she and Naruto circled the arena, staying just out of Gaara's reach. Then, much to Hinata's confusion, the sand started to recede, returning to Gaara's side where it began to whirl around him like a sandstorm even as the sand closest to him rose up to form a shell around his body. "Oh that can't be good. Naruto!" she cried, directing him to disrupt Gaara's technique.

Smiling in anticipation, Naruto swung one of his tails, releasing an enormous wave of chakra.

Boom!

The chakra wave collided with Gaara's sandstorm with tremendous force… unfortunately, the storm's size and motion was enough to disrupt the wave and prevent it from doing any real damage to Gaara's shelter.

"Damnit," Hinata hissed. It would be easy for Naruto to break that thing with a larger wave… along with half of the arena and the audience with it. Oh well, that's what their newest trick was for. Hinata smiled grimly, calling Naruto to her before placing a hand on his back, syphoning chakra even as she helped him guide and regulate his chakra as he used his hands and tails to focus his technique…


Meanwhile…

"I don't fucking believe it," Kakashi murmured, staring down into the stadium with a look that was stuck somewhere between amazement and horror as he watched a glowing orb of chakra slowly appear in Naruto's hand.

"What is it? What's he doing?" a nearby chunnin demanded.

"Jiraiya. He… somehow that crazy son of a bitch taught Naruto to use the Rasengan," Kakashi explained looking absolutely, totally, completely, and irrevocably flabbergasted, slightly jealous, and reasonably freaked out.

Asuma's cigarette fell out of his mouth. "You've gotta be shitting me!"

"Nope," Jiraiya said, looking extremely pleased with himself as he… appeared out of nowhere.

"But-but it took me years to learn that!" Kakashi shouted, completely losing his cool, jabbing an accusing finger at the arena as he frantically waved his Special Limited Edition signed copy of Icha Icha: Paradise in every direction.

"What can I say my teaching skills are second to none… and the kid's pretty awesome too, I suppose," Jiraiya admitted, stroking his chin sagely.

"Um, excuse me? What are those two talking about?" Lee asked, scratching the side of his head confusedly.

"Jiraiya-sama taught Naruto one of the Yondaime Hokage's signature techniques. If we include Naruto… there are only four people known to have ever been able to use it," Sakura explained before returning her attention to the arena.

The air was suddenly charged with anticipation. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, craning to see, not wanting to miss a single second of what promised to be one of the most fantastic and exciting matches in recent history… What they hadn't expected was for one of Naruto's tails to wrap around Hinata and fling her at the sandstorm.

Shrieks of freight filled the air, wives clutching their husbands as Hinata tumbled through the air...

"Shugo Hakke: Rasengan!" Hinata roared, conjuring a whirling maelstrom of chakra around her in a protective shell as she carved an enormous hole through Gaara's storm even as Naruto followed close behind her.

Sakura blinked bemusedly. "Um… better make that five people," she corrected as Naruto's technique tore through Gaara's shelter.

Then all hell broke loose.


End Notes

I AM ALIVE!

Anyway, it's official. I'm admitting defeat. I've been fighting it for a while now but it has become abundantly clear to me over the past few chps that I've lost my zeal for this fic. What does this mean for you my lovely readers? Well, it's not that I'm going on Hiatus or Abandoning this fic so stop freaking out. Stop it right now! I have a newspaper and I know how to use it, damnit! Calm? Okay, what it does mean is that I'm going to start focusing on other things for awhile. I will continue working on Naruto of the Nine Tails but it will most likely be an inordinately long time between posts so… yeah. Honestly, it won't be a whole lot different than what was already happening, I'm just giving you forewarning this time.

Now for story related bits and bobs.

The "Halo" that Jiraiya had is a very low level joke ninjutsu/genjutsu that I made up. As you might think it conjures a halo above the user's head.

The thing between Naruto and Hinata where his chakra doesn't affect her is because of the bite mark Naruto gave her. I won't really go into the hows or the whys but suffice it to say that it makes working with Naruto a lot safer for Hinata... but that's it for the most part. She's got a few tricks like being able to borrow some of Naruto's chakra but she's not going to start sprouting tails or develop some epic version of Byakuugan.

Rasengan... what can I say about rasengan? My logic on this is that Naruto can perform this jutsu because there are no handseals. This is because, while Naruto is theoretically capable of ninjutsu, he is limited by having no practice with the handseals and therefore would not be able to perform them in battle effectively. That said, ALL of his chakra based attacks so far have been variations of shape manipulation which rasengan is based on so I figured it wasn't a stretch... I also figured Hinata would have to help him so she would learn it by extention and mayhaps experiment a little so I added her little variation.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions. I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Please review, they are my crack.

Delta (^.^)V


Rant

…And you call Kankuro a punk? Making excuses so that you don't have to update for months at a time?

Fuck you! You bugged out on me years ago!

…I did?

Yes!

Then how am I still part of this rant?

Because I find these rants amusing to write and the readers find them amusing to read… which is essentially the entire point of me writing this in the first place.

You mean I've… you turned into just some fictional voice that you talk to like all those other fanfiction writers use?

Yes.

I… I'm a cliché?

Yep.

You're a monster!

Dude, I'm part Greek, remember? We have our own classification for literature based on sadistically fucking over everyone in the story. Are you really surprised?