AN: So my promises to have updates out during the summer were pretty much shot to shit. And for that I once again I apologize. That seems to be the only thing I know how to do cause typing a story fast and efficiently obviously isn't something I know how to do. Same thing for keeping promises T_T
Anyway enjoy the chapter people, I hope this doesn't disappoint.
Oh and btw, Habu2010. For being a punk wise ass with your last review. Fuck you piss off and you're blocked now.
TALK: Biju demon form
Talk: Biju human form
"Talk": Minato, Toads
Chapter 20: Finals
"Fate has already determined the outcome of this day Uzumaki, you will lose."
Naruto chuckled at the proclamation.
"You're a broken record you know that? Seriously what Ten-san sees in you and how you can possibly tone your ego down enough to actually get involved with a woman is so far beyond me."
At this moment everyone who knew Tenten that was next to her in the stands all cast a curious or suspecting eye. The panda-haired girl did her best Hinata impression and blushed crimson.
"I won't repeat my reasons that I have previously stated to you Uzumaki." Neji responded rather quickly trying not to sound upset.
Naruto cocked an eyebrow. "Saying that cause you want to sound like a badass? Or are you saying that because you don't want Ten-san to hear exactly what you said last time about her and the reason for being with her?"
Neji's eyebrow twitched and Naruto smiled underneath his mask. The match hadn't even started and he was already striking a cord. However the crowd was getting anxious and wanted to see a good match already, not a verbal brawl.
"I know what you're trying to do Uzumaki and it will not work." Neji said with a smirk.
"Oh are you implying I'm trying to get you mad? No I'm just asking a question is all. Though if I really want to piss you off I'll just put your ass in the ground and make you look like a novice in front of everyone." Naruto spoke with a vicious grin underneath his mask.
"Enough! It's time you were humbled and shown to watch your tongue around your better." Neji snapped for just a moment, his agitation ever increasing now.
"All you had to do was say please." Naruto responded with a bow and immediately started stretching his arms out.
Neji dropped into his Jyuuken fighting stance with an open palm pointed at Naruto.
"Nothing you've done will help you in this match against me. I know what you're capable of and I am ready for it." Neji smirked confidently.
Some people in the audience saw this as the cue for Naruto to start to feel the pressure of his opponent, to feel his confidence get zapped or at least faded, hell some were hoping for Naruto to panic. Instead the blonde broke out laughing.
"You know what I'm capable of?" Naruto quoted with a bark of laughter as he took off his Bo staff and planted it into the ground.
"You don't know jack, hell you don't know the first thing about me and what I'm capable of? Ha! I can count the number of people who know what I'm actually capable of on one hand." Then Naruto paused, looking thoughtful, "I must be getting old, every time I turn around I'm lecturing someone and now I've got to beat some sense into you like I'm you… meh I'll just kick the crap out of you and be done with it. And just so that no one can go whining about me having an unfair advantage or some shit…" he said, taking a step away from his planted Bo.
"No bojutsu…" Naruto took another step unhooking and dropping his kunai holster. "No Kage Bunshin…" Now he was standing right in front of Neji.
"…No tricks, just you and me."
In a different section of the stadium Hiashi and his youngest daughter Hanabi watched the two Shinobi verbally lash at each other. Hanabi found some amusement and confusion by the way the two acted. Hiashi only looked irritated.
'That Uzumaki, spewing such things from his mouth once again, I have no doubt in my mind Neji will display the true strength of the Hyuugas.' Hiashi thought.
"Hanabi watch carefully and you will see your cousins strength, the clan's strength crush this loud mouthed buffoon."
'Father really doesn't like Nee-san's boyfriend, figures.' Hanabi thought after hearing her father.
It seemed the anticipation was starting to build into impatience. Quite a few in the crowd couldn't wait to see the village pariah beaten down by a Hyuuga. Others just wanted a good match. Those who wanted Naruto to win were few but not absent. Hinata and Kurenai got seated with the rest of the Rookie 9. Coincidentally at about the same time Gai showed up with Lee who was in crutches.
"Ah my youthful student it seems we have made it in time to see the match." Gai said happily.
"I apologize for being such a deadweight for you Gai-sensei. For my punishment I will run around Konoha 300 times when I am able to do so!" Lee yelled out in the crowd getting those in the audience's attention.
"Ah my youthful student I will just have to hold you to that!" Gai said as he flashed his signature grin and gave a thumb up.
'Idiots…' Everybody nearby thought at the same time as they tried to focus on what was going on in the center of the arena and not on the bowl cut Nin.
Moments after Gai and Lee's arrival Haku showed up in her favored pink sleeveless kimono and behind her coming up the stairs were Rin.
"Looks we made it just in time Haku-chan and it looks like Kakashi as usual is late…" Rin sighed as she saw that Kakashi was nowhere to be found.
"Rin-chan over here!" Kurenai signaled Rin and Haku over to where she was sitting with Hinata; there was some empty space, enough for both women to sit down.
"Looks like you made it in time Rin. You were almost late; could your boyfriend's bad habits be rubbing off on you?" Kurenai teased.
"Nai-chan, don't say something like that, that is such a scary thought!" Rin said with a mock shiver. Haku and Hinata giggled at Rin's statement.
"So it looks like they're about to start now, I wonder how Naruto will do…" Rin looked around to see Gai seated not too far away from her.
"…So Gai, any idea how this is match is gonna go? Neji is your student and you trained Naruto for the last month."
Gai smiled and held his own chin in between his index finger and thumb of his right hand. "Yes as a matter of fact I did train those two youthful warriors, more so one over the other." Gai's face took a more serious expression.
"Naruto-kun is going to be in for a challenge that is certain. Neji is a skilled Jyuuken specialist and that in itself already spells out the kind of damage that can be dealt here. I'm afraid there was only so much I could teach Naruto-kun in a month despite his endless pool of stamina, his determination and stubbornness. It may not have been enough; I explained that to Naruto-kun when we first started training and also brought up to his attention that I could not render vital information about Neji to him either." Gai said as he gazed down to his student.
Those of the Rookie 9 felt surprised at hearing this, even knowing that Naruto wouldn't be able to master everything that Gai could teach him, the spandex clad Taijutsu specialist didn't give any important information on Naruto's opponent. However among the group, Hinata and Haku did not feel any shock. More so Hinata, she believed in Naruto, she always had. Now was no different she had every bit of faith in her lover.
"Well that's good Gai-sensei. Honestly I was about to call you a traitor to your own student." Tenten said bluntly. "I already know that Naruto isn't going to stand a chance." Tenten said openly despite Hinata and Haku's threatening stares. She merely followed suit and gave a confident smirk. Gai pretended not to hear or see what just happened and continued.
"Despite how his recent behavior has been, Neji is still my student. And although I have nothing against Naruto-kun, I cannot give any sort of information away that would set my own student up for failure. But despite what you might assume from what I am saying, this does not mean Naruto will lose this match. It is not like what he has learned will yield no benefit. Whoever will win is yet to be determined."
"I told you before I know about your training with my Sensei. And as I've said it will not make a difference. Gai-sensei is after all…my sensei and I have on many occasions fought his star Pupil." Neji smirked as he dropped into his signature stance, open palm forward.
"Still so sure of yourself aren't you? Well last I checked you looked quite surprised when Lee-san busted out the Big Guns against Gaara. Sides here is a bit of information for you…" Naruto took a stance, closed fist forward, his wrist parallel to Neji's forward arm's wrist.
"No weights on my body…" Naruto eye smiled at Neji. "Before you say anything I'm telling you this because I'm not a copy cat nor am I clone of Gai-san or Lee-san after my one month of training with Gai-sensei."
"No matter to me, it's all irrelevant." Neji said agitatedly.
"Ehmm, if you two don't mind. Crowds getting restless, can we start?" Genma said while chewing his senbon.
Both shinobi glanced at Genma and nodded. For Genma it felt like the temperature dropped by a few degrees rather quickly. 'Jeez those two really wanted to keep up that verbal berating that bad?'
"Alright! Match 1, Uzumaki Naruto versus Hyuuga Neji…Begin!"
Naruto and Neji stared at each other and held their stances for a few moments longer. Naruto grinned under his mask. For just a fleeting moment scenes of Neji's relentless assault against Hinata during the Preliminaries flashed through his mind. It angered him to no end. Naruto understood now that Hinata never wronged him, she loved him with every fiber of her being. She loved him first and he almost took that away from him.
"Remember what he did Naruto, do not let that go. It is only understandable that one would be mad. But don't let that anger control you. Control your anger and use it like a weapon. Like tensing your muscles on impact of your strike, release your anger in controlled bursts. Show him that your fists and feet will be the ones expressing your true anger, your feelings, and your will."
Stepping forward and striking with his right fist in a fast and fluid motion. Naruto's fist struck the right side of Neji's forehead, just above his right eye. The speed and force of the impact snapped Neji's head back, forcing Neji's stance to break for just a second. There were those in the crowd that gasped at the sight before them. Naruto got in the first strike on Neji. Others however simply thought that it was just a lucky hit.
Neji recovered and shook off the blow to the head rather quickly. He only gritted his teeth for a moment and assumed his fighting stance once more. While Naruto followed suit. They were once more wrist to wrist. Neji wasn't going to let this quick strike to the head go without returning the favor and showing that he could be just as fast. No words were exchanged, both opponents focused on one another.
"Hiya!" Naruto shouted moving just a little faster than he did earlier, repeating the same step and strike movement.
Neji's head snapped back harder this time, the additional speed and quickness to the second strike proved to make the force of impact greater than before. Not only was Neji's stance broken again, he stumbled a step back.
"Hell yeah!" Someone in the crowd above actually shouted in excitement and even a few clapped.
The reaction from the crowd was more excited. Naruto had landed a second blow and had merely sped up what he had done earlier. Those of the Rookie 9 were in awe especially. Hiashi was starting to feel some anger, feeling that his clan was now being embarrassed in front of the whole village.
Once more no words were spoken. But Naruto did let out an audible exhale and kicked up his legs for a moment to stretch just a bit more. It was as if he was warming up again. Naruto and Neji once more assumed their respective stances. Neji bared a strong look of determination and focus. He wasn't going to let it happen a third time. He knew Naruto would attempt to strike fast once more. He would be ready to counter and retaliate in kind.
"Ready for it this time Neji?" Naruto asked in a calm voice. "Because here it comes…"
Naruto struck low, Neji quickly blocked. The blonde retracted his forward right arm and went higher for the chest. Neji did not hesitate as he blocked the second higher strike. At the moment of contact Naruto had not tense up his muscles, the second strike wasn't meant to hit but to distract. Naruto whipped his right fist back just a split second and sent out a third strike. Naruto was now close enough and moving fast enough that Neji could not react to the next attack.
Neji stumbled back further once more he was struck in the head. With greater force and speed, Naruto sent the Hyuuga back. Nobody was expecting Naruto to be successive in a third direct hit. More in the crowd gasped and even more started to cheer in excitement. This time the Hyuuga Prodigy noticeably gritted his teeth. He then noticed something about the area of his head where he was struck.
"He's bleeding…" Hinata and Haku said at the same time.
Those sitting around the two women took closer look and saw small drips of crimson were coming out of a gash just above Neji's right eye.
"To state the obvious my youthful compatriots, Naruto-kun has struck the same area of Neji's head three times in a row." Gai said observantly.
"Quite impressive, developing his "twitch muscles" was well worth the training."
"Twitch muscles?" Kiba asked.
"Well to be more specific fast twitch fibers, they contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue very fast. Which is why Naruto-kun's weights focused on those areas more, I knew there wouldn't be enough time to develop Naruto-kun's muscles the same way Lee's were developed. So instead of working on his overall strength and speed, we worked on his body's ability to react and the time it takes to react. In manner of speaking it's not that Naruto is physically that much faster than Neji. It's that his body is responding faster."
"Looks like I drew first blood." Naruto stated calmly.
"You'll soon follow…" Neji wiped the blood away from his head.
Neji activated his eyes, the veins around his eyes bulged out, his pupils were visible now.
"Well let's go! Come on!" Naruto shouted as he started hoping on his feet like a professional boxer with his right fist forward and pointed towards the charging Hyuuga.
With hands glowing brightly with chakra, Neji would strike with lethal intent. An open palm came at Naruto.
The blonde snapped to. His right fist launched forward and met with and stopped Neji's attack. Naruto wasn't blocking he met strike with strike. His fist struck Neji's arm making sure not to make contact with the radiating chakra from Neji's palm. The whole time Naruto was hoping back drawing Neji back and towards him.
Neji's right palm strike was stopped; he immediately followed up with his left hand sending another open palm.
With precision reaction Naruto moved back, still maintaining his hop. Naruto put enough distance to force Neji's second attack to travel further. It was muscle memory for Naruto, right fist retracted, left fist deployed. Naruto intercepted blow with blow. Neji's stance had an opening, a small and short opening. And Naruto would exploit it.
"Waataah!" Naruto screamed.
Naruto's right fist led the assault, straight through the small opening in Neji's stance. He knew where to hit and the blood that stained his gloves proved it.
Immediately following impact, Naruto retracted and sent his left fist out for a two-hit combo. Neji closed his right eye in pain, the same spot on his forehead that was already hit, now took a fourth and fifth blow. Neji was pushed back by the two hits; Naruto kicked with his left leg, the metal sole of his geta crashed right into Neji's face, the tip of the attack was directly focused on his opponents open wound.
Naruto let out another cry as his left foot retracted; planting it back to ground he pivoted on the foot and spun around unleashing his right foot on Neji.
He stayed on his feet but that didn't mean he wasn't disorientated, Neji stumbled back and was losing balance. He had his right eye closed, the drips of blood that had come out of the gash over his eye had now become a steady stream of blood and that blood was now in his right eye. It was making it very hard to keep that eye open.
"Impressive defense…" Gai commented.
"What "defense?" All I see him doing is throwing punches and kicks." Kiba barked at Gai.
"This is only my assumptions for now; I'll need to observe some more before I have more to say." Gai said contently.
"Not bad Naruto-kun." Sarutobi said as he took a puff from his favored pipe.
"This is getting very interesting."
'Damn my eye is bothering me now…this blood just won't stop…' Neji thought as he wiped away more blood from his forehead.
"What's a matter Neji? No pain, no gain." Naruto gestured with his right hand to come forward before he closed his fist and resumed his fighting stance.
Neji stood back up in response, despite the slow growing disorientation from the open head wound. The Hyuuga Prodigy reassumed his stance. He wasn't going to show any weakness or vulnerability in front of the village and the other nations watching.
The young fighters made eye contact for only a brief moment before they dashed right at each other. No words were exchanged, just the sound of battle cries. They both struck, attack met with attack. Neji made multiple attempts to strike Naruto's tenketsu. But just as before, Neji's attacks were met with equal force or greater force. Every finger jab or open palm was immediately stopped by Naruto's fists. Any kick was stopped with a fast and fierce kick of his own. Naruto was meeting force with force.
The blonde wasn't letting up at all against Neji. He was on the offensive against himconstantly. He wasn't giving the Hyuuga any opening at all with his attacks. This forced Neji to attack without any real opening to exploit. And when he struck, Naruto reacted with his own strike to halt Neji. Naruto was forcing Neji to fight back on his terms.
"Impressive…" Gai said with his eyes still focused on the exchange of punches and finger jabs between Naruto and Neji.
"As the saying goes ladies and gentlemen, "The best defense is a good offense." Gai said wisely. Gai's speech caught the attention of the ninja around him.
Rin suddenly had a thought occur. "You didn't know he was gonna do this didn't you?"
"The style seems similar to Goken. However there are the slight differences that indicate that this isn't Goken. The stance would be the first indication of the difference. He holds his strong arm in a closed fist towards his opponent. As I said he has an impressive defense. His defense is a fast, fierce and strong offense. Naruto-kun doesn't need to know what his opponent can do; he doesn't need to distract himself with trying to predict his opponents attacks nor is he going to over think things with waiting for the right time to execute a complicated counter or arm manipulation." Gai gave an appreciative smile.
"All he needs to do, all he has done is to see the attack coming and stop it dead in its place with his own attack. He hasn't committed a set style of moves to his own memory. He's has committed an instinct, an understanding to his body, to his muscles…"
"An understanding on what to do, to act upon an incoming attack by stopping it with his own attack, it's so simple and yet not an easy feat to accomplish. It seems Naruto-kun didn't spend a month learning to master Goken. He spent that month taking in what he needed from that fighting style and added it to his own move set."
Rin took all that Gai had to say and smiled warmly at Naruto down at the arena. 'Naruto-kun you are amazing, I've seen what your kenjutsu style is and what you can do with it. It's a wild and unpredictable force and yet it has a method. It shows your free spirit, shows that you are not willing to bind yourself, to limit yourself. You've taken what you've learned from Gai and made it your own.'
For just a moment Naruto and Neji held their distances against one another. Both taking deep breathes. Neji saw the calm and controlled expression in his opponent's eyes. He saw unclouded focus, but he knew better than that, Naruto's eyes said nothing. But his fists spoke volumes. Naruto's fists and feet carried all his anger and rage.
Focused like a precision weapon. Naruto didn't allow any attack of Neji's to get through. Like a dog tied to a post, Neji felt so restrained and trapped. Every time he got closer for the kill, it felt like a leash on his collar was forcibly yanking him back with every single blow Naruto landed on him. The concept was simple and even the execution. It was making him irritated and annoyed, he was getting mad.
'Damn this dobe…' Neji took another deep breath, his right eye twitched as the wound above it continued to bleed. Everything he could see with his right eye was becoming a red haze. It was like a particular spot of his sphere of vision was now colored red. 'And damn this blood, getting hard to focus my right eye.'
Naruto noticed the twitching in Neji's right eye was becoming more and more rapid. 'Looks like it's time to put the little theory to the test. Now the real offensive begins.'
Naruto went from hoping on his feet in his fighting stance to a running dash forward. He delivered a series of quick punches with his leading hand. Neji was on the defense blocking every incoming attack from Naruto. At the moment of being blocked, Naruto quickly retracted his fist and sprung it forward in mere milliseconds.
Neji decided he needed to counterattack quickly. Catching Naruto's right fist, he held firm as he delivered an open palm strike ready to strike multiple tenketsu in Naruto's chest. Naruto's lips curled just a tiny bit, just enough to look like a small smile.
Neji fell for the bait, his attack was not only intercepted with Naruto's left fist, and he found his wrist locked in an iron grip. Right behind the interception of Neji's attack was Naruto's left leg closing in for a quick and powerful kick to the hip bone. Neji clenched his teeth tight, feeling the pain shoot through his body. Despite his Byakugan showing him everything that Naruto was doing. It failed to help him stop Naruto's offensive. Neji could then see Naruto's head come crashing into his own forehead, directly on his open head wound.
"Ahh!" Neji yelled in pain and anger. He was instantly reminded of how his first meeting with Naruto and fight with the blonde had gone. Reminded that it was this same unorthodox attack that had struck him down, and now the second time around the pain from the attack hurt more. The gash Naruto left on his head was gradually widening and deepening with each and every successive hit to the wound, drawing out more and more blood and further staining Neji's once pearl like right eye, turning it into a crimsoned orb.
Naruto let go of Neji, stumbling back on his feet, struggling to recover and recompose his stance. Naruto wasn't done with his opponent, not by a long shot.
The Hyuuga could see Naruto coming, he was after all still in his field of vision. So far it didn't seem to help much at all. But suddenly as Naruto made a bee line towards him, the blonde ninja started look like a red hazy figure. It almost looked like he was fading away. He could see Naruto's outline but his body almost losing detail. Naruto was like a red blur.
'What the hell is this? Is he moving faster? Or is he using some sort of genjutsu?'
From what he could tell Neji could make out that Naruto was sending out more strikes. Neji did what he could to block and hit back. His efforts were met more fierce opposition. And having difficulty being able to fully see Naruto further complicated things for Neji. He could feel his head spinning in all directions with punch after punch being piled onto his right eye and the head wound he had. With every successive hit, it became harder and harder to see Naruto. He was becoming more and more blended with the red that his right eye could only see.
To finish up the chained attack, Naruto kicked Neji in the side of his leg forcing it to bend. No longer standing erect, Neji's head was closer to the Naruto's lower body. Another kick was unleashed, this time driving right into Neji's skull, in particular his right eye and open head wound.
Knocked down with the side of his head in the dirt, Neji struggled to push himself off the ground. He was worn and weary at this point. All of Naruto's counter-offensive moves were taking their toll on Neji's body. His forearms and shins were bruised and battered, and his head was spinning out of control. Those in the audience who had a good enough look, could see the mangled condition the right side of Neji's face, the impact zone of most of Naruto's punches and kicks was in. What started off as a gash just a few millimeters big was now widened and stretched along the outer line of Neji's eye socket. The head wound was bleeding rapidly was easily invading Neji's right eye as well as causing an alarming dizzying and disorientating effect.
'Holy crap! Nee-san's boyfriend has seriously kicked the crap out of Neji. It could be luck but even luck has its limits doesn't it? Neji-nii was always looked at as the Hyuuga Prodigy; he was the clan's counterpart to Uchiha Sasuke. And now the guy that was considered the dead last just kicked and punched the snot and blood right out him. I guess the labeling of dead last was a misconception.'
Hanabi was lost in her own thoughts before her father sitting next to her made a low growl.
"That's enough out of you Neji, stop fooling around and destroy this buffoon already." Hiashi said in a low but extremely angered tone.
'Wow…good thing I kept all that to myself, Otou-sama obviously isn't too happy about this.' Hanabi had a sudden sweat drop down the side of her head.
"H-how…" Neji struggled to say as he got back on his feet. "How the hell did you do that…what sort of Genjutsu was that?"
Naruto gave a confused look to Neji, not one to mock but an honest confused expression. Others in the audience namely the Rookie 9 and Jounin with them were also thrown off by Neji's question as well. Naruto suddenly realized something from Neji's sudden question.
"What genjutsu? Didn't I tell you I wasn't gonna use any tricks? Maybe I hit you a few times too hard in the head." Naruto said in a matter of fact manner.
Neji then had a thought occur; he could see Naruto now in his field of vision. But then he tried to focus on Naruto with just his right eye alone. It was next to impossible to see Naruto with his right eye, the red spot in his field of vision was now a blind spot for him, one big enough for a person to hide in.
"How did you do that? How did you do that to my eye?" Neji exploded at the realization of what was happening.
Naruto's honestly confused expression returned to his face. "Honestly I don't know what you're talking about. Not like I used something on your right eye, I just kept hitting it. Go figure you'd have a hard time seeing me with that eye all busted up now and covered in blood."
"Genius…" Gai mumbled softly. Nobody was sure what Gai meant by what he had just said. Hinata on the other hand made a slight gasp when everything was coming together.
"Simply genius! Naruto-kun's youthful mind has come up with a plan so simple but so clever." Gai said happily while clenching his fist.
"What the hell are you babbling about you green spandex freak!" Kiba yelled.
"Ah Inuzuka-san, it's alright if you do not understand. But I'm rather sure Hinata-san here has already figured it out. After all only those that know of the Hyuuga weakness would be able to figure out what has just happened. But I will explain."
Everybody just looked Gai like he went off the deep end. Accept for Hinata, and Rin who was getting a pretty good idea on what was happening.
"You see over the years of training Neji-kun. I've learned a few things about the Byakugan. Among those things is one of its weaknesses and that is the small blind spot the field of vision the eyes create has just above the neck. Whether or not Naruto-kun knew of this weakness does not matter, for it is not an easily exploitable weakness. But it seems Naruto-kun needed an opening to truly unleash his offense, with no opening available, he created one. He made a blind spot that could be exploited."
"But how did he do that?" Sakura asked not fully understanding how Naruto could accomplish such a thing.
"Sakura-chan, Naruto just said it himself. All he did was keep hitting Neji in his eye. True the Byakugan can see through just about anything that tries to block it. But Naruto wasn't trying to block anything. He's damaged Neji's right eye and now it's created a blind spot. All that blood that's been getting into his eye, it isn't something that Neji's right eye can see through, it's not an obstruction, it's something that is directly affecting it." Rin smiled like a mother proud of her child.
"Damn you…this ends now. This fight is over now; I'm going to finish you!" Neji yelled as he prepared to strike down Naruto with everything he had.
"Funny I was about to say the same thing to you Neji."
"This isn't some joke! I've been holding back against you long enough. Your little ploy to disable my right eye will not guarantee you anything. I'll crush you right here and now with my own hands. You're within the field of my Hakke!"
Neji exploded from the ground; he was within arm's length of Naruto in mere moments. Naruto stood his ground holding firm to his fighting stance. Neji made sure to keep Naruto within his field of vision, making sure not to focus his right eye on his opponent to keep him from hiding in his blind spot.
"Two strikes!" Neji yelled as both his arms zoomed in on Naruto, index and middle fingers extended, ready to close off vital tenketsu.
Everything seemed to slow down for just a few moments. Neji closed straight in for the kill. He would strike and close down 64 tenketsu and shut down Naruto's chakra flow. Naruto stood there as the first jyuuken strike closed in. As if springing to life Naruto hoped on his feet, moving just a step back to give himself all the space needed. Naruto's left fist shot straight into Neji's right hand, directly into his extended fingers.
There was a loud sickening series of bones snapping and breaking. The pain was fast and relentless, Naruto's fist plowed straight in between Neji's index and middle finger. They were broken and bent in ways a normal set of fingers wouldn't be. If it wasn't for flesh and skin, Neji's two fingers may as well have fallen off on their own.
The counter-attack itself wasn't without its fall back for Naruto. Chakra at the tip of Neji's fingers still struck into Naruto's left fist. The tenketsu in Naruto's hand were shut off and a profound numbing feeling affected Naruto's hand. However the young nin was going to bite the bullet and move forward. Breaking Neji's fingers wasn't the end of it. It seemed that Naruto's right fist was still held firm and extended forward towards his opponent.
Neji moments ago wasn't concerned that he was less than an inch away from Naruto's right fist. He felt that it wouldn't matter because he was going to strike down Naruto with a chain of jyuuken strikes. But now that his special technique was stopped so abruptly by a simple punch. Neji was now in Naruto's range.
"Hyyyaaahhh!" Naruto yelled at the top of his lungs as his right fist with only an inch of allotted space exploded into Neji's chest.
"Guuuaaahhh!" Neji choked out saliva and air from his mouth.
It all happened so fast for Neji. The whole scene before everyone had all taken mere seconds to occur. At the moment of stopping Neji's attack, Naruto's fist struck so fast that there wasn't enough time for Neji to scream in pain from his two broken fingers. And now Neji was literally off of his feet, thrown into the air. So much force and power had struck Neji that as he fell onto the ground; his body tumbled and rolled across the dirt from the sheer force of impact.
'Damn that was one hell of a hit…' Genma thought to himself as he was the closest person to the fight to see everything happen.
The Proctor watched closely as Naruto started hoping on his feet again. Genma could see how deeply Naruto's feet were dug into the dirt. The blonde had barely moved at all as he hit Neji right then and there harder than he had the entire match.
Neji clenched his teeth tightly trying to bear with the pain that assaulted his body. Two of his fingers were broken in such a way that it would take a miracle to make them usable again. And his chest was going to have the largest and nastiest bruise Neji would ever see. Naruto had literally punched all the air out of Neji's chest. The Hyuuga was forced to exhale from the overpressure.
'Damn you…damn you…how can this be happening…' Neji thought angrily struggling once again to get back on his feet.
It seemed Neji was now becoming quite acquainted with the ground considering how many times he was knocked down. He looked at Naruto; he was expecting him to say something. He was expecting Naruto to have something to say after once more making him look like a novice in front of the whole village. One punch, one punch was all it took for Naruto stop one of Neji's best techniques. And it took another punch to send him back into the ground. Neji looked at Naruto's eyes and once more only saw calm control. There was now anger in his words or his eyes. But every single blow he received conveyed the anger that Naruto used like a weapon.
Neji forcibly repositioned his broken fingers, snapping broken bones back into place to look less dangled. Neji grunted and coughed in pain, his right arm shaking uncontrollably.
"I…I will not lose to you. Fate cannot be defied and I will crush you. My force of will and my destiny will not be stopped by you!" Neji said with determination through the fatigue and pain that riddled his being.
Neji rushed towards Naruto. Determined to win, determined to move forward. He knew using the finger jabs with his right hand would be ill advised, but he could still do open palm strikes. Once he neared Naruto he struck.
Naruto quickly delivered a swift kick with his right foot that struck the outside of Neji's right arm, once more stopping the Hyuuga's attack. Soon as Naruto's foot touched back down to the ground, it went right back up and smashed into the left side of Neji's head. Once more he was off balance but Neji stayed on his toes and recovered as quickly as he could.
'You're going down, no way around it. This ends now.'
Naruto charged in, letting out a cry as he launched another high kick. Neji this time blocked, keeping the leg from striking his head. His foot touching down quickly, Naruto continued his assault.
A chain of punches came at Neji who tried to block all the strikes. He was successful in blocking the hits until pain shot through his right hand. Blocking the hits had caused more damage to Neji's already broken two fingers.
Another opening, another left and right hand combo, Neji's chest was pelted with hit after hit. Naruto finished up his assault with a two hand shove that forced Neji to stumble more on his feet. Pushing him away and giving space for a dead charge. Naruto ran in low and tackled Neji. Locking his arms around Neji's waist, Naruto stood up straight picking Neji off his feet for just a brief moment.
Naruto brought Neji up into the air for just a second and brought him crashing down into the dirt like a ton of bricks. Neji choked once more as the air in his lungs was forced out by impact. Naruto was now on top of him and immediately started pummeling his downed opponent. Naruto was on his knees above Neji who had his back on the ground and he was now receiving the beating of his life.
Everybody watched the brutal beating Neji was receiving and listened to the loud and audible sound of flesh impacting flesh. Neji's face was getting bruised and cut from every single punch dropped down on him. There wasn't much to be said by anyone, they were in awe at how someone like Naruto could have Neji in such a predicament, in such a postion.
Naruto continued to lay down the beating on Neji, he had to counter or end up having his head beaten into a bloody pile of meat. Using his left hand Neji caught and held Naruto's right hand. The blonde attacker was struck in the upper chest by an open palm Jyuuken strike. Neji shut down multiple tenketsu in Naruto's chest. Still holding firm Neji rolled on his back and forced Naruto onto the ground. It seemed it was Neji's turn to pummel Naruto and he intended to shut down as many tenketsu as possible.
'Big mistake.' Naruto thought as he grinned for just a moment.
Neji kept his left hand pinning down Naruto, making sure to avoid Naruto taking advantage of Neji's broken fingers. Naruto quickly used his left hand to grab Neji's wrist. Not fully knowing what Naruto was going to do, he assumed he was going to try and pry his hand off of him. Neji drove his right hand forward ready to hit Naruto with another open palm strike. However Neji's attack was stopped short. Naruto's right hand was underneath his own left forearm, having caught Neji's right arm by the wrist.
"Gotcha again!" Naruto yelled.
With his arms crossed over Neji's arms, Naruto brought down his own arms, securing Neji's arms to his chest. Neji tried to pull out but he was trapped, his arms were locked against Naruto's chest. Neji attempted to stand up but soon found out that Naruto interlocked his legs around his back, there was no escape. Naruto kicked the sole of his left geta into the side of Neji's waist, shifting and moving his own weight to the left side of his body.
Naruto chopped Neji in the side of his neck with his left hand. This forced Neji's head to move to the left. The blonde nin brought up his legs, keeping his right leg against Neji's ribcage, his left leg moved up and around Neji's head, trapping Neji' cranium in the crease of his left knee, Naruto kept Neji's arms trapped. Pulling on Neji's arms and pushing his head with his leg. Naruto rolled Neji over, his opponent's back on the ground once again. Naruto had Neji's left arm between his own legs. Neji's head was trapped underneath Naruto's legs. He was trapped in an arm bar.
"This is where things come to a close!"
Naruto slowly leaned back applying slow and painful pressure to Neji's left arm, bending it in a direction that a person's arm normally wouldn't go.
"This is where things are really gonna start hurting!" Naruto yelled.
"This won't stop me!" Neji yelled as he brought his right arm to close the tenketsu in Naruto's legs.
"Idiot!" Naruto screamed out as he forced Neji's left arm all the way.
Neji screamed bloody murder after Naruto snapped his left arm like a twig. Naruto let go of the broken arm and rolled on his back and was on his feet again. Naruto kept his stance up while Neji struggled to get up, pushing off the ground with his right arm trying to avoid using his broken fingers. Using his right hand, Neji did the best he could to firmly grip his broken left arm. Only able to use his thumb, ring finger and pinky. Neji squeezed and pulled as hard he could in one go.
Neji looked like he was about to pass out after he just barely managed to put the broken bones in his left arm back into place. He was a complete mess now, half his face covered in blood, his right eye black and red out, two fingers and an arm broken.
Naruto on the other hand was faring better. He was breathing a bit hard; the Jyuuken strike to his chest was taking effect. But other than that Naruto was ready to keep going.
"T-this…i-isn't…over…" Neji said between strained breaths.
"So you want to keep going huh?" Naruto asked his tone showed no sarcasm.
"Far be it for me to tell you to give up or stop here and now. If this is what you want then so be it. I wouldn't give up either. But know this, from here on in; I'm going to beat you into the ground." Naruto dropped into his fighting stance ready to deliver the next attack. It took a few seconds and Naruto within striking range of Neji.
"Hakkeshou Kaiten!" Neji yelled out as visible blue chakra was released from his entire body; he spun in a rapid speed creating a whirlwind vortex.
Naruto was thrown off his feet and onto the ground rolling across and kicking up dirt. As he rolled Naruto slammed his hands into the dirt and pushed off, recovering and landing on his feet in a crouch. His body was showing disorientation from taking the brunt of the surprise attack.
"You w-won't be able…to hit me…again…" Neji struggled to say while having a weak grin on his face.
'That knocked the wind out of me, pretty damn strong despite the ragged condition he's in. He shouldn't have held back against me like that. He might have been able to even the match out.' Naruto thought to himself as he shook off the attack he was caught in moments ago.
"Are you sure about that Neji? How long do you think you can keep that up?"
"I'll keep this going until you lose!" Neji yelled with flames in his eyes and throat.
Naruto gave a genuine eye smile. "That's at least one thing I can respect about you. Even if it's just one thing, your stubbornness, your refusal to give up, I can respect that about you."
"However that doesn't change a damn thing. This match is gonna end with one of us still standing." Naruto said with a dead serious tone. His eyes locked onto Neji, Naruto blew right at the broken Hyuuga like a bullet.
"He won't break through that technique, that thing threw his ass like a ragdoll." Kiba said as he saw Naruto get knocked back a second time by Neji's Hakke.
Suddenly a chill shot down Kiba's spine as he realized some deathly glares were focused on him. He saw Hinata and Haku give him a cold stare. No words were spoken but Kiba got the message.
"It's a desperation move." Shino said calmly. "There's nothing else Neji-san can do. His body is past the breaking point. Of course that doesn't mean his chances of victory are nil. It really comes down now to who will outlast the other. Naruto-san intends on keeping to what he stated earlier. He will not use anything other than his fists. So who will fall first, Naruto to Neji's Hakkeshou Kaiten or Neji to his own worn and beaten body?"
"Good observation Aburame-san. That is precisely what it boils down to now." Gai said with an anticipating smile.
It was a test of stubbornness now. By this time Naruto was starting to show his own weary condition. It was at least the sixth time he was tossed off his feet and bounced off the ground trying smash through Neji's defense with his bare fists. And Neji was looking more worn than ever. He could barely stand, with every passing second his knees were dropping lower and lower.
Naruto shook off his own disorientation like a dog shaking the water off his fur after a bath. Neji forced himself to stand up straight. This was the deciding moment now. The final blows would be struck.
"AHHHHHHHH!" Naruto screamed as he came at Neji like a raging bull.
"AHHHHHHHH!" Neji screamed with every ounce of energy he had as he prepared to unleash another Hakke, determined to knock Naruto down for good.
Naruto's fist smashed right into the rotating sphere of chakra. He kept pushing his fist and himself forward refusing to let the technique throw him back like it had before. Neji put all he had into his Hakkeshou Kaiten, his clincher, his show stopper that he had no intention to use against Naruto but was now his desperation move. He put all he had into it…
And it was not enough; there wasn't enough chakra in the technique. Naruto was in front of him and his fist was dug into Neji's left cheek. He retracted his arm back and struck Neji in the abdomen with his right foot.
Naruto didn't let Neji stumble back very far without delivering a four hit combo with his left and right fist into the Hyuuga's face and chest. Neji made a futile effort to try and stop Naruto with his right hand. Naruto didn't bother to even counter; he punched Neji in the gut with his right fist and quickly connected another punch to Neji's face, blood and saliva flying out of his mouth.
Another chain of punches showered Neji's face. Naruto grabbed the collar of Neji's jacket and threw him to the left keeping Neji from falling back. As he grabbed and threw Neji by the collar Naruto punched him across the face. The blonde was completely relentless as he quickly followed with another kick straight into Neji's chest. Without saying it, Naruto wasn't going to let Neji fall back onto the ground, he wasn't done yet. Grabbing his collar once more Naruto unleashed a chain of kicks to the Hyuuga's chest. After multiple kicks, Naruto brought his foot down and immediately kicked with his other foot right across Neji's head.
Neji fell face down into the ground; he managed to tilt his body enough that gravity would roll him onto his own back. He coughed up more blood and spit, he wasn't going to be able to stay conscious for long. Neji feebly tilted his head up just enough to see Naruto as he ran right at him. Naruto jumped into the air just above Neji.
Everybody in the audience held their breathes watching what was about to happen. Naruto was going to deliver the final blow. He would bring down the full force of his body right down on Neji's chest.
Neji was too tired and beat to facially express the surprise he felt. Naruto's feet were at the sides of his chest as oppose to being directly atop crushing it in. Naruto snatched up Neji's collar with his left hand.
Naruto drove his right fist into spot of dirt next to Neji's beaten head. Almost his entire fist was buried in the ground.
"…W-why…? Fi…finish it!" Neji screamed feeling like death was the only appropriate end to this match now. It took all this unrelenting abuse to make him accept that the match was over and wouldn't end in his favor.
"No…" Naruto said firmly.
"As much as I would want to, there are some people who would be sad with you being dead. And that includes Hinata. You treat her like crap and you even tried to kill her. But she still cares for you. You may have turned your back on your own blood but she refuses to do the same. I know why you act the way you do…"
As if a spark of energy ignited some small reserves Neji still had somewhere in his body, he snapped. "Shut up! You don't know a damn thing about what I've had to…"
"No, you shut up." Naruto said calmly as he smacked Neji across his bruised and battered face.
"She told me what happened to your father. Hinata told me how he was executed in place of Hiashi. Listen to me, you have every right to be mad and to hate others. But it's the wrong people you are aiming your hatred at…" Naruto narrowed his eyes on Neji.
"But what do I know? I won't waste my time trying to convince you that you need to hate someone else for your tragic loss. No…" Naruto said.
"But I will tell you I defied…no I crushed your so called "fate." This belief you had that the outcome of this match was already decided. Maybe you could have won if you had put your all into it. This wasn't a clash of wills. This was a clash of my will to win and your blind belief that your victory was already decided. Maybe if you had fought with true determination, showed you truly were willing to do what you had to win, instead of just saying you would win, the outcome might have been different. If you needed someone to blame for the loss and the beating you received. It was you and you alone."
Naruto let go of Neji and walked towards his Bo staff, he pulled it out of the ground and then kicked his kunai holster into the air and caught it with his other hand.
"One more thing…" Naruto turned his head to glance at Neji.
"Besides my will to win, you should know I had to get you back for what you did to Hinata. Don't ever even think about laying a single hand on her again, because next time I will kill you. No one tries to hurt my Angel. No one…"
"Winner: Uzumaki Naruto!" Genma declared.
Everyone in the audience cheered at once. No one accept for a select few were expecting Naruto to win. Not only did he win, he beat his opponent into the ground. In the end many in the crowd enjoyed the brutal match and yelled in excitement. The first match in the Finals did not fail to meet expectations.
Hinata and Haku happily clapped and held warm and affectionate smiles towards Naruto. They knew that their lover would win and they were right. The medics rushed to the center of the arena and carefully brought Neji onto a stretcher and quickly carried him away.
Naruto made his way into crowded stands to meet up with the others. Along the way people were still cheering for Naruto. In the back of his head he felt these feelings wouldn't last for long, after all more than 12 years of hatred doesn't just disappear after one match. But Naruto couldn't help but smile though.
"Congratulations Naruto-kun…" Hinata said warmly as she stood from her seat seeing Naruto approach.
The blonde nin pulled his mask down and gave a genuine smile. Hinata blushed and melted at the sight. She wrapped her arms Naruto as he neared and gave him a deep loving kiss. Rin and Kurenai "awed" at the couple in front of them. Kurenai took as many snapshots with her mini-camera as she could. When Naruto and Hinata broke the kiss, Haku was standing beside the couple.
"You were amazing Naruto-kun, there was no doubt you would win." Haku kissed Naruto lightly on the lips. She smiled at Naruto.
"I'll give you a real "congratulations kiss" later. For now we should take our seats." Haku said happily.
The three of them took their seats. Hinata and Haku were on each side of Naruto; both had their arms wrapped around Naruto's arms.
"Lucky bastard…" Kiba mumbled as he enviously watched Naruto sit with two women that loved him.
As the Finals moved forward, a decision between the Kages was made and the match between Sasuke and Gaara was pushed back to the end. Both participants were given until then to show up. The next match was between Shino and Kankurou. However because preparations the Puppet Master had made for the planned Invaision. He couldn't afford to waste his resources against one man. Kankurou declared a forfeit. Although Shino remained his calm stoic self, he was deep down disappointed to advance forward in the Finals in such a way.
The following match between Temari and Shikamaru proceeded. Initially Shikamaru was going to forfeit as well not wanting to deal with a troublesome woman as he called her. However as he was about make his declaration when Naruto did a forward kick straight into the Nara's backside. Knocking him right into the arena and the match started from there, Shikamaru quietly cursing Naruto.
The match went on and it quickly became a strategic game of cat and mouse. Shikamaru proved his calculating and strategic ability was effective in this match against Temari. It also helped that his opponent was somewhat distracted with her own thoughts about her younger brother. In the end however despite his win being nearly at hand. Shikamaru declared defeat for himself once he made it apparent he exhausted all his chakra using his Kage Mane throughout the match trying to trap Temari.
Inside the stadium infirmary Neji sat upwards in his bed. He left arm was bound up in bandages and put in a temporary cast. His broken fingers were also wrapped straight up together. Most of his head was also wrapped as well. Some Medic-nins had managed to heal up Neji's head injuries with some jutsus enough that his face was recognizable.
Beside him on the bed was an open scroll written by his father and addressed to him, Hiashi had come by and given the scroll to him feeling that it was time for his nephew to read it. Neji was deep in his own thoughts sitting there. His father wasn't murdered and betrayed, he had given up his life willingly to protect his brother. His father chose to defy fate as well.
"Knock, knock." A woman's voice said as the door to the infirmary opened.
"Tenten…" Neji said his teammate's name.
"The one and only." Tenten took a seat on the bed Neji was on.
Neji gave a light smile. "Tell me Tenten. Why did you fall in love me?"
Tenten blinked a few times, she was surprised to be asked such a question out of nowhere. "Why the sudden question?"
"Because I want to know why you would fall in love with a fool like me…" Neji said slowly.
"Neji-kun you're not a fool, what would make you…" Tenten was cut off.
"I am a fool. I spend so many years making claims about fate and destiny and yet my father defied fate and his destiny so many years ago. He chose to die freely, not bound by the ways of the clan." Neji said as a single tear rolled down his left eye.
Tenten smiled warmly and wrapped her arms around Neji carefully, making sure not to cause any pain for her lover. She gently kissed Neji's lips.
"Nobody's perfect Neji, nobody. I have my reasons for falling in love with you. Just accept that for now."
Back at the stadium the crowd was getting restless. For quite a few, disappointment was apparent. The crowd was psyched up by Naruto and Neji's match. But Kankurou forfeiting his match and Shikamaru declaring defeat in his near victory, people wanted to see the Last Uchiha against the son of the Kazekage. They wanted a spectacular match. But at the moment that may not come.
"If Uchiha Sasuke and Sabaku no Gaara do not report to the arena in 5 minutes, both will be disqualified!" Genma announced.
Everybody watched and waited for someone to show up. In the Hokage's booth Sarutobi couldn't help but feel that the Kazekage only chose to have his son's match postponed just to please the crowd. To him it felt like the Kazekage was buying time for something.
The minutes ticked away till only one minute was left. Genma counted down the seconds, with neither shinobi having shown up yet. With only a few seconds left Genma was ready to declare both nins disqualified. Until suddenly a swarm of leaves blew in and swirled in the center of the arena, Genma paused as he looked at the spinning foliage.
"Sorry we're late everyone." A familiar laid back tone spoke. It was Kakashi and next to him was Sasuke dressed in a black version of his usual outfit, he had his ninjato strapped to his back and bandages wrapped around his arm and legs.
"Uchiha Sasuke reporting in." Kakashi said for his student.
"Che…" Genma agitatedly chewed on his senbon. "You have no idea how close you were going to get disqualified Uchiha-san. So then…"
"Uchiha Sasuke is the Winner!" Genma yelled to the audience.
"What?" Sasuke said surprised. Kakshi's eyes widened just a bit in reaction.
"Your match was pushed back to the end. Neither you nor your opponent were anywhere in sight. You showed up at the last moment but no Gaara. Because of that you're winner by default." Genma said calmly.
"Wasn't expecting that…" Kakashi said honestly while rubbing the back of his head.
"Now then! Uzumaki Naruto, please report to the center arena. The next match shall begin momentarily!"
"Well now looks like I get to fight Sasuke-teme now. Tenshi-chan, Haku-chan, time to go fight another stubborn and ignorant ass, time to go." Naruto said as he got up out of his seat. He then made eye contact with both Hinata and Haku.
Before he could say anything both Hinata and Haku kissed Naruto on each cheek. "Good luck Naruto-kun, I know you'll win." Both women said at the same time.
Naruto gave a return kiss to each of the girls; he then quickly made his way to the arena to meet his opponent and sensei.
"Tardy much?" Naruto asked sarcastically as he stood before Sasuke and Kakashi.
"Mou we did have to build up the suspense, though I suppose I miscalculated the entrance time. And I wasn't expecting Gaara-san to not show up." Kakashi said a little embarrassed.
"Go figure you'd say something like that." Genma retorted, showing his obvious distaste with Kakashi's reasons for being late.
"I suppose this is where I make my way to the stands." Kakashi said as he took off to join Rin before he would incur his junior's wrath.
"So then Sasuke-teme…" Naruto pulled his Bo staff off his back. "Been keeping up with your sword play?"
Sasuke gave a slight smile. "Dobe you'll be surprised at what I can do now with this blade." Sasuke drew out his ninjato.
Both shinobi had their weapons pointed at each other. Genma positioned himself ready to declare the start of the match.
"Uzumaki Naruto vs. Uchiha Sasuke, begin!"
The moment the match started a very loud explosion shook up the arena. The sound of more explosions followed. Naruto and Sasuke looked around to see that the blasts were nowhere near the stadium. Naruto looked up to see the audience in the stands was falling unconscious and the Hokage's booth covered in a large cloud of smoke. From the smoke the Kazekage jumped out with a kunai to Sarutobi's neck.
"Not good!" Minato yelled.
"Oh fuck." Naruto mumbled.
AN: There you go ladies and gents. I finally updated. My promises fell apart but hey at least I finally got another chapter out. I have the new Anberlin and Linkin Albums to thank for that. That's what was playing while I was doing what I could to finish this update. I know I chopped up a lot of important parts that were shown in canon. But to me I think I would have wasted a lot of text typing what I couldn't make my own.
Omake: Why Kyuubi's so quiet
"Remember what he did Naruto, do not let that go. It is only understandable that one would be mad. But don't let that anger control you. Control your anger and use it like a weapon. Like tensing your muscles on impact of your strike, release your anger in controlled bursts. Show him that your fists and feet will be the ones expressing your true anger, your feelings, and your will."
Minato finished speaking to his son. From here on in Minato would let Naruto go it alone. Minato then turned around to see his fellow "roommate" tied up with his mouth wrapped up in tape.
"You…" Minato pointed at Kyuubi. "You're gonna keep your damn trap shut Furball. Don't need you ruining this."
"Bastard!" Kyuubi managed to gargle out.
Minato swatted Kyuubi on the head with a rolled up newspaper.
"What the hell did I just say you damn flea bag!"