Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
"Fighters and weapons."
Hyuuga Neji fights because that is his legacy. Within the milky shine of the Byakugan, within the soft movement of the Jyuuken there is the strength and pride of generations. Hyuuga Neji hated the Hyuuga clan, but loved the ancient blood in his veins and the fluid death of his taijutsu style. The ancient style of the Hyuuga was a foundation of Hyuuga Neji' genius pride even more so than his bloodlimit was.
Cold, precise and hateful, Neji's Jyuuken was like poisoned needle. His fight with Uzumaki Naruto has shown him will and passion beyond the cold blaze. From the needle, Hyuuga Neji has become a spear bearing pride in himself. His eyes don't just see - they pierce.
Tenten is in some ways more complex and simpler than anyone. Though both her teacher and her teammate call themselves the 'Green Beasts', she is the closest to a true beast. Not because of savagery - she isn't. Not because of rage - she doesn't feel it.
Tenten fights for love.
She loves the sound of the edge cutting the air. She loves the weight of the sword in her hand as she strikes. She long ago fell in love with the sun reflecting of the pure and uncorrupted steel. That is what she loves, that is what she wants. She wants the perfect weapon. Tenten is a beast. Pure. Direct. Deadly. Weapons are her claws, but the pure spirit is her fang.
Lee fights, because that had always been his dream. Lee chases his dreams with single minded ferocity worthy of the Azure Beast. Lee is, in many ways, a perfect living weapon. He knows doubt, but not hesitation. He understands feelings, but doesn't let them stop him. Lee knows death - save Uzumaki Naruto he knows it better than anyone - yet he does not, will not stop.
If Neji is like a spear, offering the dazzling possibilities of attack, reach and power, Lee is like a knife. Simple. Crude. Deadly. Lee cuts through expectations of others and doesn't waver from his goal. This single minded devotion will kill him, but it will also make him a legend.
Shikamaru didn't fight until he learned to treat it as an intellectual exercise. Like shogi, like go, like chess or hundreds of other games. The game of advantage, of strategy, of tactics of gain and loss. The game of war.
Shikamaru learned to lead when his first mission failed. but his teacher's death had taught him to fight. And under the lofty promises of protection, under the noble guise of caring... Shikamaru is scared. Because that fight, that one, fatal fight against an S-rank missing nin wasn't fear. It wasn't vengeance or even uncertainty.
It was the pure moment of clarity, when the world made sense for that one fatal moment. When the plan crystallized in his mind's eye and had been made reality by the slightest of nudges. It was an arrow that had been shot by Shikamaru's mind to the bullseye known as victory. Deep in the shadows of his mind, Shikamaru longs to pull that string again. He has many arrows left.
Kiba, among rookie nine, fights to protect. For Inuzuka the pack is all, the pack takes precedence, it must be protected and kept strong. There is no finesse or philosophy in Kiba's brutal, uncompromising style. It is victory. It is guts. It is bestial and pure. Konoha has no idea just much of a boon Inuzuka Clan is to their village. They have no idea why Kiba is the one who crushes three older chuunin who dared to talk trash about the Konoha's jinchuuriki. The pack is the pack, and while the whole village can't be one, a small group can.
The rookie nine have no idea they had just become a part of an extended family. But when Hyuuga Neji unleashes his Jyuuken on that day and shadows block people's moves and the insects buzz... Kiba smiles. And howls as he breaks bones. He might be simple, he might be blunt like a mace, but he won't break.
Shino fights because it is required of him. He doesn't particularly like violence, nor does he enjoy death. It is a waste. Shino hates waste. His fights are quick, simple, direct. No waste, no fuss. Simplicity and logic are his power. The insects give the sophistication and the means. Sometimes it is better to let the things flow its own way.
He doesn't judge, he doesn't try to be moral. He does what he has to and keeps his thoughts to himself until it is time to act. Danzo is very surprised when his shinobi explode around him in an orgy of black death. Uzumaki Naruto is an important part of the village. Shino hates waste. He absolutely detests it. And while Inuzuka know the pack, Shino knows the swarm. His loyalty can be even more deadly than any fang. It comes in thousands and is as swift as it is final.
His last few hours in ANBU prison Danzo spends huddling in the corner and hysterically killing any cockroaches he can find. When Tsunade kills him, he is almost glad to die. Shino is like an executioner's axe. Calm, sharp and final.
Hinata fights for will. For will to know victory, for will to become the victor that no one can argue with. She is a creature of absolutes - which is why her fear and doubt hold such a powerful grip over her mind. She longs to know no fear, to shed the darkness and walk within the sun proudly.
Thoughts, emotions and fear make her lose. Yet still she stubbornly tries to walk the path to the sun, inspired by one who is like she wants to be. Hinata loves Naruto. She loves him the desperate, unstoppable love of a devout priest loving his god, a possessed man loving his icon. She loves Naruto like a thirsty man water. Hyuuga Hinata doesn't want to be with Naruto - she wants to be Naruto. That love is her love of the sun, of pride and refusal to give up.
Paradoxically, it is when Naruto is gone and she has on respite, no way of drawing strength from his presence, is when Hinata takes her steps to the light. The fight is quick, cold and brutal - so like Hanabi. Hinata breaks. Her fight is raw, savage beyond thoughts or doubts. Hinata reaches her zen in the eye of the storm. Her Jyuuken is far from artistic, regal precision of Neji's, or almost clinical power of Hiashi's. It is a hammer - savage, direct and brutal.
Chouji fights because he is a shield. It is his belief and his power. He is not so arrogant to believe that he can protect everyone, but he can shield those by his side as best as he can. That is what he does, time and time again with unwavering determination.
Despite the mastery of his family's fighting style, he is not a good shinobi, nor a great killer even if his powers alow him to kill enemies by the score. He shields his friends knowing death, ever since the retrieval mission. He doesn't let it stop him. As far as he is concerned he is living on a borrowed time and he intends to make the best of it.
Sai used to fight because he was trained to. Crafted into a soulless tool, not even a weapon but simply a tool. As shapeless as the ink he uses, but without its color. Sai remains efficient, deadly and expertly trained, but now he is an artist, if a pragmatic one. But there is nothing pragmatic in some of his actions, even though Sai would disagree.
He is swift, quick, deadly and his smile is as eerie as it used to be, his manner just as disturbing. His smile was still eerie and his manner just as disturbing when he walked into Tsunade's office and gave her a detailed report on Root and even more detailed account of Danzo's plans.
Sai is an artist, an artist who had found inspiration. Protecting its source was very pragmatic from his point of view.
Ino fights because such is her pride. Not pride as a kunoichi, nor pride as Konoha's soldier. Her pride had been laid low once - it shall never happen again.
Power is not her way and it never will be, but Ino becomes one of the sharpest weapons in Konoha's arsenal following her own path. Quick, deadly and precise, Ino dances. Her dance is intricate, her ripostes quick and her blue eyes read deeper than Byakugan can imagine and predict better than Sharingan ever could. Before it begins, before it fully forms, Ino knows. Ino can see things as they happen, her mind and eyes see with unnatural clarity of a born killer.
She has no need for fancy taijutsu or grand ninjutsu nor power to crumble mountains with bare hands, as Sasuke learns as he dies. She lures, she dazzles and kills. Her pride is sharp like a perfectly honed edge wrapped in silk.
Sakura fights because she is afraid and because she hates. She is afraid of being the useless waif of Team 7, afraid of rejection, afraid of love, afraid of herself and great many things. She is afraid of Ino's pride and always had been, for her sharp eyes see Sakura better than she herself ever could. When the blue eyes of her best friend gain that almost otherworldly clarity, she quietly steps aside, allowing Tenten to take her place as Ino's best friend.
She is afraid of Tsuande's pity and she is afraid of the lack of jealousy in Shizune's eyes. But most of all she is afraid of love. Every time she sees Naruto, every time she smiles, she hates herself and her fear grows even stronger. The young medic longs to tell him, to kiss him, to say a simple 'I love you' and her gut wrenches each time she sees his sunny smile.
Because she sees Sasuke, she sees the traitor who left her, love that should never be and she desperately fights, loathing the fact that she can't tell the man she loves she loves another as well or that she cries herself to sleep sometimes. It is why she doesn't begrudge Naruto when he moves on, nor does she criticize his choice. Nor does she begrudge Tenten's cold eyes each time the weapon mistress sees her or Temari condescending, dismissive attitude. She forfeited that right long ago. Driven by her fear she fights and improves, but she still fears that little girl inside and hates her with every fiber of her being.
Temari is much like her battle fan. At first glance blunt and simple, until it opens and unfolds more beautiful and more powerful than one might imagine. Her mind is quick, her powers formidable and her spirit unyielding. She learned the lesson of fear early in her life, but that only made her learn the lesson of courage and power.
While her weapon might seem elegant, it is deadly and brutal, much like Temari herself. She wears no extensive make-up nor jewelry, her hands have calluses and her nails are cracked from handling her battle fan.
She smirks as she fights, unafraid to draw pleasure from the humiliation and death of her opponents. She laughs as she unleashes the storm and rides the wind with savage glee. She knows subtlety, but she has little use for it - she will break, cut and rip apart with the power of a hurricane until she achieves her goal, which Tenten learns twice. Despite that, she can be rejuvenating and calming like a warm breeze, which Naruto learns intimately. Temari knows what she wants and is not afraid to go to any lengths to take it.
Naruto fights. As much as he screams of his goals, of his ninja way and parrots the words left him by the Sandaime, he knows. He fights. He fights because that's what he is and who he is.
Combat is his zen, the battlefield is his carnival and war is in his blood. He is no killer, but he is a warrior down to the smallest particle of his being. The seductive song of war echoes in his mind with every fight and murmurs even in a time of peace.
Naruto is a sword - simple, sharp and lethal, but offering hundreds of options despite it's apparent simplicity. He isn't a tool - for tools have other uses. He is a weapon of war. It calls to him and he is afraid of losing himself in a way that has nothing to do with Kyuubi. It takes Akatsuki to draw him from the sheath of fear and discard it along the way.
Naruto doesn't lose himself - he finds himself and feels more complete than he ever had in his life. The future is a shifting thing and he cuts like a blade through it.
Itachi fights because he doubts. Has doubted, ever since one day when he heard, in his father's voice, in the customary words of "As expected of my son" a mockery instead of an affirmation.
He doubts himself, his achievements, his goals, even his own eyes, while he dreams of climbing until he can look down on the world and shout out: I am!
And be able to believe it.
Itachi is like the silk cloth that you discard out of hand when you unrap it from around your priceless blade ... and when the dust has settled, and the Akatsuki's Seal-beast lies broken into a million pieces, and red clouds are bathed in equally red blood one remains unstained.
Kisame doesn't. He is an oddity, because he doesn't wonder. He doesn't worry. He doesn't doubt. He doesn't justify.
He knows. And doesn't care.
He fights because it's what he is, and it's what he loves, and he won't stop until he lies broken. Shattered. Grinning like a maniac, even as blood froths at his lips and his heart stops beating, and Uzumaki Naruto briefly bows his head in respect.
A sword can only comprehend peace after it is shattered, after all.
Madara is a word. A word spoken into the right ear. A word spoken into the wrong ear. A word that turns the tides and cuts as deeply as any steel, and wants to bind the world itself.
A word which wants to be a sentence. A sentence which dreams of being a book.
A word which dies as it is smothered, choked, and strangled into death by the tattered silk of a simple cloth.
Gaara, not entirely unlike the Konoha Jinchuuriki, fights because that is his nature. He fights to live, and lives to fight, and that is the one truth that the very core of him is built around.
Against the Ichibi, against those who would try to harm him, or against himself ...
When one day the Elders congratulate their newly elected Kazekage and compliment him on this change in him that had taken root after his return from Konohagakure, he merely shakes his head ruefully.
Because these fools don't see that he hasn't changed at all. He was merely shown things from a different perspective.
Gaara is a fire, roaring unstoppably forward, because he knows that - were he to ever stop - he would die.
And, truth be told, he wouldn't have it any other way.
If asked as to why he fights, Sabaku no Kankuro wouldn't give you a straight answer if his life depended on it.
Were anyone who actually knew him to find out the truth, they would likely spend the next several days in a shocked stupor.
Kankuro fights because he loves. Because he sees it as his obligation, though he knows that he would have been content with simply spending his days on perfecting his art. In his room, locked behind the bars of a cage and covered by a white tarp, lies porcelain. Fine dyes, silks, spooled strings and preserved blocks of even finer woods. Half-finished, they linger in a half-life, and there are moments when the Suna nin is tempted to unlock that discarded section of his life again.
He's a feint and a parody that didn't used to be a weapon once, but had to become one. And he dresses and acts like one, all kabuki-clad and made-up ...
Kankuro is a Manrikigusari, and his self-made chains make him stronger for it, as he winds his way and striked from odd angles, throwing himself and his puppets into battle like counterweights.
Because Kankuro, for all his perverted posturing and mockery, loves his brother and sister more than life itself, and turns his passion for creating beauty into a grotesque art of death.
And, at the end of the day, he firmly believes it was worth it.
Uchiha Sasuke once fought because he was guilty.
For failing his parents. For failing his brother.
He fought because duty said he had to.
Now, he fights because he is ashamed. Because if he didn't, he would have to take a moment and look at himself. And he knows he would see something he'd just as soon spit on as look at.
Uchiha Sasuke is a kunai. Chipped and rusted in places ... still well balanced, still somewhat useful, but wasting away being flailed to and fro, indiscriminately, in the vain hope that if he does just a bit more, his edge would somehow be honed ...
Uchiha Sasuke is a kunai that dreams of being a sword.