Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Bleach.

Crimson Edge

Chapter 3

"Withering flowers."

It was a strangely surreal sight, in its own way.

The orange jumpsuit was torn and blooded, ripped in a series of cris-crossed lines, most of them tinged with red, some still letting the crimson liquid run freely.

The sunny mane was matted with grime and sweat, the face nicked and cut, eyes tired. Not dull. Not vibrant either but... There was something there. Something Sakura didn't recognize. And that scared her a little, because it didn't burn, it didn't blaze - it just was.

The steps were even worse. Measured. Slow. Inevitable.

Naruto didn't walk like that. Naruto ran. Jumped. Swaggered confidently, albeit a tad comically.

This tired, yet strangely confident gait, even as the blood dripped slowly from his wounds, staining his hands with fresh rivulets of crimson...

Sakura swallowed.

Even in those ridiculously orange and now quite ripped clothes, Naruto looked... Confident. Unyielding. Proud.

With that beautiful sword, edge that almost glimmered with its own light he was...

Dare she say it?


Sakura swept her eyes over the bloody hand that gripped the beautiful weapon, somehow managing to avoid staining its ornamental handle with blood despite the droplets staining the floor every few steps.


If somebody had told her a week before that Naruto - Uzumaki-freaking-loudmouth-idiot-Naruto! - could look like that she'd laugh. Then she'd have he person committed to the mental ward.

Now... Now she didn't know what to think anymore.

Sasuke was the regal one, the handsome fairy tale prince. Powerful, confident and strong, descendant of a noble clan marred with just enough of a dark, angst-filled past to make him oh-so-attractive. A perfect fit for a teenage girl's fantasy.

Naruto? Naruto was the clown. The jester, the village idiot that nobody in their right mind took seriously. No girl, that's for certain. Loud, obnoxious, stubborn as a mule. A fool. An annoying fool, at that. Dobe. Dead last at everything. Like always, Sasuke's label summed him up perfectly.



Naruto didn't look like a clown anymore. Not when he walked with that unhurried gait and brandished that sword as if he had held it all his life. The weapon, regal, beautiful and deadly was so out of place in hand of the blonde teenager in the ripped orange jumpsuit that she wanted to laugh. She would if it didn't look like a part of him, like it was in just the place it should be. There, in Naruto's bloody grip.

If Sasuke was a fairy tale prince, Naruto looked like some kind of fierce knight or a samurai straight out of some epic.

Not that she'd admit it out loud, of course.

Sakura blinked as Naruto walked up to their platform and stopped.

The blond sighed, lowering his head and hoisting the sword on his shoulder, balancing it there as if he had done nothing else his whole life.

'You know... He looks kind of cool when he does that.' Muttered Inner Sakura, for once not screaming on top of her lungs.

"Now that..." Naruto said lowly "That..."

Sakura inched closer to hear his words.

Naruto raised his head, allowing her to see his blue eyes sparkling wildly, wide and slightly demented grin on his face.

"That was SOOOOO DAMN COOL! I GOT to do that again!" He crowed with glee "I wonder if Tenten has some time to spare after the exams..." He muttered, eyes squinted in his thoughtful frown.

Sakura just stared.

For once Inner Sakura was out of things to say.

"Hey, hey... Sakura-chan... You all right?"

Sakura just twitched.

As much as Kakashi wanted some words with Naruto, he quickly found it was not to be.

"My youthful rival." For once, Gai's voice wasn't a booming, exuberant tone he usually used "I must commend you on the youthful skill of your pupils. But teaching a genin something like that... Aren't you going a little too far, my esteemed rival?"

Kakashi blinked.

"Huh? You said something?"

Gai's eyebrow twitched.

'Good reaction, my rival. It's somewhat modern... And it pisses me off.'

"As much as I hate to admit it Gai is right, Kakashi-san." Said Kurenai, her beautiful face in a frown "Teaching something so powerful to a genin... This is way out of line, Kakashi-san."

The Copycat looked at Kurenai blankly. Though he didn't like the situation much himself, what he taught his students was his business alone. No rookie jounin had any right to say otherwise.

"What I teach my students is none of your concern, Kurenai-san." He said impassively "Please, stay out of matters that don't concern you. Those kids are my soldiers. They will learn whatever I deem necessary for them to learn."

The crimson eyed jounin glared at her colleague. Kakashi gave her his famous lazy, bored stare in return.

"Kurenai is right, Kakashi." Asuma's calm voice broke the contest of wills like one of his trench knives "Something so powerful... This isn't something a genin with so little control like the Uzumaki brat can handle. This was no genin technique. Not even a chuunin one. This was jounin-level. Easily. What if he lost control of it? Have you even thought of that?"

Kakashi's one visible eye narrowed.

Asuma was angry, though he had no idea why. But the symptoms were there. His usually carefree, lazy posture was stiff; face calm but oddly cold, as were his eyes. The ever present cigarette was gone from his mouth, to Kakashi's surprise, meaning Asuma was serious. A little more and Asuma would twirling one of his knives lazily, a habit he had observed during their ANBU service. And when he did that it meant Asuma the Edge was in and somebody was going to die. To be so close to that state...

Asuma stared at Kakashi, anger simmering under surface before he turned away.

'He just doesn't get it, does he?' He thought angrily 'This kind of technique isn't like a jutsu that can be directed by a seal or two. If he looses control he can easily cut himself. And with that amount of power he displayed he'd be lucky if he just lost his arm. He could have killed both himself and that girl with it. This isn't something for a genin to learn, damn it! I wouldn't trust a chuunin with that kind of stuff! What the HELL is he thinking?!' Asuma frowned thoughtfully 'Though just how Kakashi taught him something like that that I have no idea. This kind of thing looks like the air type. He's lightning type, something like that isn't possible for him to do. Sharingan can't copy things like that either...'

He turned towards the copycat, opening his mouth before Hayate's cough interrupted him.

"Kinuta Dosu, Akimichi Chouji... Please get down to Arena."

Asuma threw a quick, grim look to Kakashi.

'This isn't over, Hatake.' He thought turning to his student 'Not by a long shot.'

Naruto ran a hand through his dirty and sweaty mop of hair.

'Damn, I'm bushed.' He thought tiredly and winced at the shot of pain made itself known. 'Those cuts aren't helping either.'

The medic nins healed the most dangerous ones and he didn't bleed on the floor anymore but they still stung like hell. Sweat getting under the bandages wasn't extremely pleasant either.

He needed a bath, a bowl of ramen and some sleep.

'Well that and new clothes.' Naruto thought ruefully, fingering cuts on his ruined jumpsuit. 'Damn. I can't fix that. It's practically falling apart. I'll need to get something new to put on myself.' He thought with a sigh.

He liked that jumpsuit goddamnit!

'Might I suggest something red?'

'Red?' Naruto blinked 'Ah, you mean like you?'

Benihime fell silent for a second before chuckling.

'As much... fun' Naruto shivered when he felt Benihime's hot lips on his neck 'that would be, no. I meant something in red. Maybe burgundy. It would go with your hair and would be a good color for a ninja.'

'Doesn't red kinda stand out?' Naruto scratched his head.

'Doesn't orange stand out more?' Riposted the woman 'Besides, burgundy would serve you well at night - it's almost as good as black.'

Naruto scowled.

He liked orange. But she had a point.

'Of course I do. I have plenty of... points.' She chuckled darkly, though there was something in that husky chuckle that made swallowing a problem.

'So innocent...' She hugged him tightly, sighing in contentment 'We're going to have so much fun ridding you of that, my beloved!'

Naruto, clueless as he was, didn't know if the shiver that ran through him was one of happiness or one of fear.

He settled for both.

Benihime's wicked purr echoing in his ears didn't help at all.

Sakura looked at her strangely behaving teammate.

Naruto looked a little pale and somewhat nervous, licking his lips as he stood stiffly, his eyebrow twitching slightly. His hand was gripped around the handle of that weird sword, thumb gently caressing the curved end in an almost unconscious move. His eyes were half lidded and... Was he blushing?

Did he just shiver?

'Maybe it's exhaustion?'

Inner Sakura 'looked' at the Outer part of herself with disbelief.

'Exhaustion. Right. Suuure it is. It's not that hot babe fondling him at all. Nope. He's not nearly having sex while fucking STANDING on the platform near you. No. Oh no. It's exhaustion.'

Sakura blinked.

'What?' She thought already devoting most of her attention to watching the Arena.

Inner Sakura fell silent.

The moment was lost as Sakura concentrated on the match below them.

Naruto sighed tiredly, leaning over the railing.

He had a bad feeling, though he had no idea why. Sure, Chouji's fight with that Sound guy was... well, pathetic, and Shikamaru's win was unexpected. Not because the lazy bastard was weak - Naruto knew that Shikamaru was always more than he let on. He did help him avoid ANBU after that one prank and that took some skill.

But Shikamaru was just that - lazy.

It honestly amazed him he even bothered enough not to quit. Competing just wasn't a thing that Shikamaru tended to do. Fighting in some tournament was just a hassle to the shadow user. Hell, even breathing was a hassle.

And fighting against a girl, of all things...

Naruto had a good laugh at that.

But then things stopped being so fun anymore.

Gaara was bad news. It wasn't that cold, yet strangely malicious look in his eyes or that vicious yet apathetic confidence.

There was... something about the redhead that just raised Naruto's hackles. Something fierce and... wrong... that he had felt the first moment he laid his eyes on the sand master. If you asked Naruto, he wouldn't be able to give the exact reason.

It was fierce, primal, unsettling...

And it made the furball in his stomach... react, for the lack of better word.

Like then, on the bridge, he felt a spike of malevolent, vicious power flowing inside of him like a blazing torrent. Had he used any jutsu, he was sure the red would overwhelm the blue. His whole body itched and he felt the pressure behind his eyes building with the same gnawing intensity like during the fight with Haku. He was sure his eyes would be crimson if he used the tiniest smidgen of chakra when he first met Gaara.

It wasn't rage, something he was accustomed to feeling when dealing with Kyuubi. It was a primal, savage need to utterly crush the red-haired sand Nin, to break his bones, rip his flesh and grind his face under his sandal to show who was superior, who held more power.

It scared him because Kyuubi never reacted in this way before. Not that he was an expert or anything, but ever since using the demon chakra on the bridge the beast was more... vocal. The Youko didn't speak, or anything remotely similar, but emotions were enough. Like that time he was angry at losing to Sasuke during the sparring match. The sudden torrent of red chakra was... amused. And he didn't reach for it. It came on its own. With pure rage of Kyuubi and his own anger buzzing in his head he barely resisted clawing at Sasuke's sharingan that day. And that was just a sliver of Kyuubi's chakra. What he felt when he saw that Suna Nin... It was a whole another ballgame.

Lee, quite frankly amazed him. The spandex-clad boy just jumped in, almost deliriously happy. He even said so out loud without any apprehension whatsoever. And once he got going...


Naruto, at that point, didn't care just how freaking ridiculous and bushy-eyebrows was.

The guy was powerful.

When Gaara revealed that 'ultimate defense' sand shit of his, Naruto was sure that Lee was done for.

Penetrating something like that...

But then Lee released those weights and really got a move on.

He thought Sasuke was fast but what he saw the spandex-clad genin do... That kind of speed... It was freaking ridiculous.

He saw Kakashi-sensei moving like this during the fight with Zabuza. Some weirdo genin moving like a jounin was freaking incredible.

And then Lee opened those Gate thingies... Things went from ridiculous to bloody unreal.

With emphasis on bloody.

Because despite the unreal speed, blows that shattered concrete like tissue paper and kicks that nearly left an after image, things went to hell in a hand basket.

Gaara just went nuts, the calm veneer dropping like a cheap genjutsu, revealing a fucking raging psycho. Psycho with plenty of power to throw around.

Naruto thought the Wave mission hardened him. He saw a kid ran through the chest with the Chidori, for gods' sake!

But Gaara was on whole another level.

That sand ripping through Lee's defenses, smothering, suffocating, ripping flesh and crushing bone... And then the guy smiled with glee. Like a demented child playing with a toy. As if crushing his leg and a hand wasn't enough, Gaara went after Lee again. If Gai-sensei didn't step in...

Gritting his teeth, Naruto scowled.

He didn't care what it took; Gaara was going down, one way or another, and he was going to be there when he did.

But still, even with his leg crushed, body mangled, Lee stood on. Lee faced Gaara with all he got, got tossed around like a doll, a broken doll at that... and still got up for more. He stood there, unconscious, broken and bleeding... And still ready to fight.

As much as his taijutsu was impressive, as much as his Gate trick was frigging awesome, that one thing assured Naruto that ridiculous spandex and bowl cuts aside, Lee was cool.

Pity his other male teammate wasn't nearly as cool.

Naruto gripped his hand on Benihime's hilt, his knuckles white from pressure.

Even her loving touch didn't help as Naruto watched the slaughter on the arena. He didn't know much about Hinata. They were in the same class, sure, but she didn't even register at best of times. She was the shy, stuttering weirdo so withdrawn even Iruka sometimes forgot she was there, no matter the rest of the class.

He didn't know much about her, but she was a 'fellow outcast', so he probably knew more than most. Not that it was much, really, since the one time he approached her to skip the class with Kiba and Shikamaru she squeaked and almost ran into a wall. But he knew that Hinata, despite being the 'dark weirdo' was a gentle and kind person. Too shy and odd for his tastes, but good person none the less.

What that... that BASTARD was doing...

Naruto growled.

It wasn't the vicious beating. It was the chuunin exam. They were ninja. Family, friends... That didn't matter here. They were here to fight. They were here to win by any means necessary.

But the words... The caustic, painful barbs almost dripping with venom...

The way Neji clinically, hatefully, arrogantly and without a shred of remorse ripped Hinata to shreds verbally before and during the fight...

It went beyond the pale.

Hinata didn't deserve this. Nobody deserved this.

Neji calling her a loser, his hateful speech about that 'fate' crap...
It touched a chord within Naruto, a deep, unpleasant chord that rang with hate, loneliness and failed exams. The same one that rang every time he saw Sasuke's arrogant smirk, heard Sakura's angry rebuttals, or suffered Kakashi's lazy dismissal.

It rang with 'demon brat' and 'loser' and 'dead last'... and it pissed Naruto off. His shout to Hinata to not even think about giving up was as much for her as for him. Because what he saw down there wasn't the gentle 'dark weirdo' getting crushed with hateful arrogance and overpowering skill.

He saw himself. He saw Sasuke, arrogant smirk on his bishounen face that all of Konoha loved so much. He saw a back with the Uchiha fan. He saw spinning sharingan taunting him with power of 'noble blood' and a history of invincibility. He saw jutsu he didn't have, skill that made the top rookie who he was, and the smug belief in the superiority of the bloodline limit.

She couldn't win. He wasn't stupid. Despite much of the macho crap he spouted, he understood early on that you couldn't win with guts alone.

Wave taught him that. Haku taught him that.

But not giving all you got, lacking the will to step up against the odds, no matter how badly they are stacked against you...

Benihime was right on so many levels.

Nothing could be born from fear. Especially not victory.

But victory wasn't always in winning. His match with Tenten helped him to realize that. She lost but she didn't look like she did. She was, as strange as it was, happy. And, oddly enough, so was he. He knew, without a doubt, that even if he had lost to Tenten, he would be happy, and not just because swinging Benihime against that cool Youshin of hers was damn fun.

Hinata stood up. Faced the overwhelming odds with determination. She stepped forward.

That kind of person he could respect. Even like.

Neji, on the other hand...

Naruto frowned watching Neji's face.

'What is that bastard...?'

His eyes widened as the rage flashed through Hyuuga prodigy's face, his legs already taking the steps, his hands moving in the now-familiar pattern.

If you asked him later, Naruto wouldn't be able to tell when he vaulted over the railing or how he shrugged of the bandages covering Benihime. All he would remember would be standing still at one second and rushing through the air, Benihime howling ominously the next.

He didn't notice Gai, Hayate and Kakashi holding the Hyuuga genius back. He didn't pay attention to Kurenai's attractive form crouching next to him. All he saw was outstretched hand. His hand, and the gleaming edge, Benihime murmuring a slow dirge barely a centimeter from Neji's eyes.

"Bastard... One fucking move and I swear... Benihime will make you fucking cry blood." The blond growled

Gai was saying something, but Naruto ignored him, staring into the lavender orbs with barely restrained fury. Neji returned the stare without flinching, though he did pull his head back slightly.

"The other jounin... Even you..." he muttered through clenched teeth. "I see... More special treatment for the Main family."

Naruto glared.

'What an asshole...'

He heard a gurgling cough and his eyes widened.


Naruto turned only to see the pale girl fall to her knees.

He jumped to her.

"Hinata! Are you all right?! Hinata!"

The medic nin swarmed the arena immediately and Naruto scowled as the fussed, taking her away until he heard Neji's voice

"Hey, loser..."

Naruto stiffened, turning to the Hyuuga prodigy.

"I'd like to tell you two things." Neji said coldly, "First off, if you think yourself a shinobi, stop cheering for others. It's pathetic." The Hyuuga looked at him with a tiny smirk "And second... Losers are just that. Losers. No matter what they do, they can't change."

Naruto lowered his head, gripping Benihime tightly.

His knuckles went white and his hand started to shake.

'Hand..? No.' Neji's eyes widened 'It's that sword!'

At any other time Naruto might have thrown an insult, a brash word or two. Here and now, with Benihime's angry growl and ominous song running through his mind there was only one answer.

The edge gleamed, letting off a low, menacing sound. Smoke stained with a crimson haze rose from the blade, coiling around her graceful form like hungry snakes.

"Okiro... BENIHIME."

The pulse of power resounded through him like a bell. Bluish arcs tinged with tiniest flash of crimson danced through the air.

Step up.

And like that one time on the Forest of Death, bright azure turned cold. The world kicked into high gear.

He went nearly half of the distance before a gloved hand caught his shoulder while another took the wrist holding Benihime into a vice grip.

Kakashi looked down on his student impassively.

"That's enough, Naruto."

The blond raised his head, revealing pair of frozen lakes glimmering with cold fury.

"Let. Go." The words were said in an odd, toneless monotone that made Kakashi raise an eyebrow slowly. He heard such voices before. Only never from a rookie genin. That characteristic, strangely calm tone of man about to kill...

Kakashi frowned inwardly, but kept his outward emotionless visage.

"Stand down Naruto." He said calmly, but increased pressure on the wrist slightly. "That's an order. Or do you want to be disqualified?"

The blond stared into Kakashi's eyes unflinchingly, fury dancing deep inside the arctic chill.

Kakashi returned the cold rage with his indifferent gaze.

The contest of wills went on for a few moments before Naruto reluctantly lowered his head, ceasing his struggle.

Cautiously, Kakashi let his student go.

Hinata's cough cut into the silence like a wet knife.

The Copycat threw a warning glance at his student.

Naruto saw the blood flowing from the Hyuuga heiress' lips and grit his teeth, his head lowering even more.

The Hyuuga prodigy turned to walk away until Naruto's words stopped him.

"Neji..." Naruto's tone was soft. But it was the kind of softness that raised your hackles and made you look for a knife to your throat that you knew was coming. "If I were you, I'd start praying."

The Hyuuga looked at the blonde in the ripped jumpsuit and raised an aristocratic eyebrow.

"Cause she" he hefted the sword on his shoulder slowly, the edge gleaming sinisterly" is kinda pissed. And so am I." Naruto raised his head, his blue eyes blazing in barely restrained fury "If we meet in the finals... We will break you."

Neji snorted before turning and walking away.

Naruto looked up at Kakashi impassively.


The jounin raised an eyebrow.

Hayate coughed.

"Haruno Sakura, Sabaku no Temari. Your fight is now. Please report to the Arena." He said looking at Kakashi pointedly.

The jounin let out a small sigh, looking back to his student and blinked.

'When did he...?'

He turned his head to see his blonde pupil already on the stairs and walking towards their platform.

He sighed again.

'Some days I think Shikaku is right. So... troublesome.'

"So... I am a loser too in your eyes. Good to know."

Neji halted, turning to look at his female teammate quizzically.

"Well I lost to the loser. So that makes me one as well, you know." she said calmly.

Neji stared.

"What are you...?" He muttered incredulously.

"Though if that is a loser in your eyes... Then I'd gladly call myself one." She looked at him, her gaze holding no emotion whatsoever. "I thought I knew you, Neji-kun, I really did. But it seems loser like me can't know you at all... Hyuuga Neji-san."

"Tenten..." He said frowning. It wasn't quite... pleading. He was a Hyuuga, after all, but...

"Please, do not refer to the loser so familiarly, Hyuuga-san." She said with chilling calm "You might get dirty."

"You are... overreacting." Neji said, doing his best to remain calm.

Tenten looked at him for a second, something odd flashing through her eyes briefly.

Even priding himself on reading people like he did, Neji couldn't quite make out just what it was. Though that it wasn't pleasant he was damn sure.

"I beg to differ, Hyuuga-san." If her voice was cold before, now it was downright chilling, her brown eyes like frozen icicles. "And I think it would be prudent if you found someone to... aid you in mastering your Kaiten. For a loser like me is not fit to help someone of your station, I'm afraid."

Neji froze.

"So you... refuse to help me? To do what? Spend time with your... boyfriend?" He snapped out venomously, his patience too frayed to hold his temper in check.

Tenten eyes were thoughtful for a second.

"That is a truly excellent suggestion, Hyuuga-san. I thank you for it." She bowed to him, formally. "After all, we losers must stick together. Unlike people of your station, we can't be alone. This is your... privilege." She bowed again, before turning to the arena.

Neji stood there, only his Hyuuga pride and discipline holding him back from grabbing her and asking just what did he do to warrant such ire.

'What is she so angry about?!' He thought gritting his teeth. 'I won. I might have been little brutal... but that main house weakling deserves anything she got. She's a disgrace! And Tenten knows this. She knows how I feel about the main house so why?'

But he was a Hyuuga. The decorum was to be maintained. Always.

Though he couldn't help but feel so terribly alone when he looked at Tenten's back.

"Hey forehead girl! Don't you dare to lose to this Sand bimbo, you hear me?!"

Sakura grinned, widely and confidently in almost narutoish fashion (though she would fervently deny that if asked) and waved at Ino.

"Worry about yourself, Ino-pig." She shot back "I'm going to win this, no problem."

'I hope.' Thought the pink haired kunoichi worriedly, looking at her opponent.

The blonde Amazon leaned on her huge fan with a frown.

'Bimbo?' She thought, her eyebrow twitching 'Who's the bimbo here, you preening Leaf slut?'

The pinky was going down for that comment alone.

Temari smirked.

"Well, well, well... Look what the cat dragged in." She drawled lazily "Red dress. Arms like twigs, no weapon to speak of. And... My gods... That hair... is it... pink?" Temari raised her eyebrows in mock amazement "What could possess a kunoichi, of all people, to dye hair pink?" She tisked, "And such a bad dye job as well." The kunoichi looked at the steaming pink haired girl with a lazy smirk "Don't you know that pink kind of clashes with whole ninja motif?" She waved her hand carelessly "You know, the whole 'silent assassin' bit, stealth... Ever heard of it?"

Sakura gritted her teeth, eyebrow twitching.

"Hey, examiner..." Temari turned to Hayate, ignoring Sakura entirely "Are you sure she's a ninja? Cause she looks..." Temari turned to Sakura, cocking her head thoughtfully "I don't know... Kind of like a waitress. Or a florist. Though you need some taste and brains to make a good bouquet and she doesn't strike me as having too much of both. What with that awful dye job and all..." The fan wielder trailed off, before putting palm on her lips. "Oh it isn't a dye job! I'm so sorry! I didn't notice, what with that awful color and all." She said in mockingly apologetic tone.

"Shut up and FIGHT!" Sakura snapped, brandishing a kunai in menacing fashion.

Temari looked at the small dagger incredulously.

She looked at her fan.

She looked at the dagger again.

She snickered.

Then she guffawed.

A second later she was nearly bowled over, laughing like a madwoman, only thing preventing her from rolling on the floor being her fan.

Sakura stared at her opponent, her face burning with embarasment and shame.

'That...that BITCH! I'm gonna KILL HER. I'll fucking KILL. HER. DEAD.' She thought venomously, gritting her teeth so hard a grinding noise could be heard up in the stands. 'I'll peel her fucking skin off an inch at a time... I'll fucking squeeze her intestines through her nose and hang her with them from the Hokage Tower! I'll boil her alive! I'll... I'll fucking use Kakashi-sensei's Thousand Years of Pain on her!' I'll...'

Inner Sakura just stared. Then silently, reverently, she started taking notes.

For the more timid part of herself, Outer Sakura was... very inventive. And had a really vicious mind.

Through Sakura's inner monologue of death threats, Temari managed to finally recover, though she still let loose an occasional snicker.

She wiped the tear from her eye and looked at Sakura in amusement.

"I really should just whack you with my Dai Tessen and be done with it." She said with a snicker "But since you were nice enough to make me laugh harder than I did in years and I'm feeling generous, I'll make you an offer, hon. Turn to that nice examiner fellow," she pointed at Hayate "say that you forfeit and walk back to the stands under your own power and without broken limbs. What do you say, pinky?"

Sakura snarled, taking a fighting stance, her eyes blazing.

Temari looked at her for a second, before shrugging.

"Oh well. Don't say I didn't try to be nice." She said with amusement, snapping her fan open slightly.

Sakura lunged, kunai first, with a growl.

Temari just rolled her eyes, raising the fan.

'Head first, war cry, kunai in hand... Is she even a ninja?' She thought with disgust 'And she lacks speed to do even that properly... Slow. Clumsy. Even that kunai she holds... Whole palm on the handle, grip tight... What does she thinks she is holding, a spear? What a drag. No matter how you look at it, she just sucks.' Temari sighed, waving her fan half heartedly.

The Kamaitachi ripped through the arena with a hiss of displaced air, striking at the pink haired girl head on and sending her into the nearest wall.

Sakura cried out as her back hit the stone, air forced out of her lungs violently.

She coughed, sliding down slowly like a limp puppet with cut strings.

"Hey, examiner-san. I think the match is over. She doesn't look like she'll be standing anymore." Temari said lazily to Hayate.


Temari halted, before turning slowly to Sakura and raising an eyebrow.

The pink-haired kunoichi rose slowly using the wall as the support, her emerald eyes half lidded and determined

"Well, well, well... It seems you do have some endurance after all. Who would have thought?" Temari muttered curiously "Though you don't look so good. Just stay down, little girl. I'm way out of your league."

"Says... WHO?!" Snarled Sakura, sending a volley of shuriken at the blonde woman.

Temari sighed, lazily dodging the projectiles.

"You're really stubborn, honey." The older woman said rolling her eyes when Sakura charged again "You just don't get it, do you?" She snapped her fan open to the one third of its capability, though it was still overkill for such a weak opponent and blinked as the Kamaitachi hit a chunk of stone.

"Kawarimi, huh?" Temari said closing her eyes "But it won't help you. You are just TOO SLOW!" She snapped, swiping a vicious backhand to her left without so much as looking, sending Sakura crashing into yet another wall.

The blonde shook her head as she watched the dazed kunoichi try to use the wall as support to draw herself up.

"Hopeless." She muttered with disgust. "Girl... Make yourself a favor and just quit. You are so weak it feels like kicking a puppy. Geez."

"Shut UP!" Sakura shrieked, blood from her broken lips splattering the ground "What the HELL do you know?!" She screamed lunging at the Suna kunoichi.

Temari looked at the charge apathetically.

'She's so weak... Gods. Even taunting her isn't fun. How did she survive even a c-class mission?' She snapped her fun shut, hooking it on her back holster. 'I won't need this.'

She side stepped the clumsy charge and gripped the wrist.

Sakura cried out in pain as Temari twisted her wrist viciously, kicking under her thighs and bringing her to her knees.

Sakura's teeth rattled and she shrieked as her knees hit the stone floor hard enough to make them numb, though she felt the bones were more or less intact.

For now.

"What was that supposed to be, sister?" The blonde sneered "Don't they teach Konoha kunoichi proper taijutsu anymore? Charging like some kind of a bull... You're so clumsy it'd be hilarious if it wasn't so sad."

Sakura growled, grabbing another kunai with her left hand only to whimper as Temari's knee struck her shoulder, making her whole arm go numb.

"Gods you're pathetic..." Temari muttered with disgust before she bowed her head, her lips near Sakura's ear. "Quit, you damn fool! Or I'll fucking break you to pieces." She hissed.

"Not...on...your...LIFE...!" The pink haired kunoichi hissed back through her pain. "My... teammates... They... would... NEVER QUIT!" She screeched bringing her head back in a vicious head butt.

Temari staggered back, letting go of Sakura's wrist.

The leaf kunoichi smirked viciously, which looked a little grotesque with her bruised face and broken, bleeding lips.

"Who's pathetic now... sister?" She taunted the blonde.

Temari didn't answer; she just touched her nose gingerly.

It wasn't broken, but...

She raised her bloody hand to her eyes and stared at it for a moment.

Slowly, unhurriedly, she wiped the rest of the blood with her hand and looked at Sakura, her eyes darkening visibly.

"Girlie... Since you're so fucking pathetic and you made me laugh, I was trying to be nice and just send you crying with a few bruises. My mistake." The wind mistress said calmly, unhooking her fan. "You just crossed the line. I hope Konoha has good medics, you little bitch." She snapped her fan halfway open and...vanished.

'What...?' Sakura blinked.


The pink haired kunoichi's eyes widened as she snapped her head down, to see crouching Temari just in front of her.

"Ninpou: Kamaitachi." She intoned calmly, swinging her fan in the vicious upward arc.

Sakura didn't even have time to scream as the violent current slammed into her, sending her up.


She snapped her open, using it as a platform as she viciously kicked Sakura even higher.

The girl wasn't even given a courtesy of falling as another kick hit her, followed by an uppercut as Temari twisted in the air once again.

Still falling, she snapped her fan shut and using her momentum slammed the girl with all its weight, sending her crashing down.

"And fucking stay down!" She snarled, landing gracefully and stalking away.

Only to be stopped by a whimper, followed by a weak cough. Followed by the scrapping sound.

'Oh don't tell me...' Temari thought turning slowly, only to see Sakura on her knees, one arm clearly broken in at least two places, but standing up none the less, her teeth gritted.

Temari's eyes narrowed.

"You just don't know when to stay down, do you?" The blonde Suna kunoichi said slowly, walking to her leaf counterpart. "You know... When I first saw you, that ridiculous hair, that stupid, red dress and all, I thought 'How does she even survive missions?'. My first guess was you were strong. Because no weak nin would dress so flamboyantly. No kunoichi would dare to unless she could back it up. Since you didn't exactly look strong and your chakra was nothing to speak about, I thought you a genjutsu specialist, probably."

The suna kunoichi said calmly.

"But then I saw your teammates and I realized that you aren't strong at all. You just lucked out to have two damn powerhouses on your team so you can play the cute little princess and ride on their backs to victory. And that... pisses me off!" She snarled, and, grabbing the handful of pink hair, planted her knee in Sakura's gut viciously.

The younger kunoichi's eyes became wide as she coughed blood on the floor.

"Have you ever seriously fought, my little pink princess?" Temari hissed, pulling Sakura up viciously by her hair "Scratch that... Have you even fought at all, you fucking disgrace?! Have you ever dirtied that cute dress of yours with blood of your enemy? Or even your own? Have those fabulously manicured hands ever taken a life? Stained themselves with blood?" She cooed before grabbing the remaining unbroken arm by the elbow, snapping it viciously with an awful sound of cracking and dislocated bone.

"Has that pretty, pretty hair matted itself with grime and sweat as you trained to fucking survive?" She twisted her hand pulling at the hair viciously before grabbing Sakura by the throat, hefting her up.

"Of course not. Why should it? After all, you have that Uchiha and his famous sharingan. He'll be there to bail you out. You have that blonde guy and his fucking powerhouse of a sword; he can cleave anything that would endanger our sweet little princess. The only thing you have to do is to look nice, comb that pretty hair, giggle inanely and play at being kunoichi while batting eyelashes at the bishie Uchiha and salivate at the rugged appeal of that blond guy."

Temari stared at the 'kunoichi' in her grip with contempt for a moment before throwing her towards the nearest wall that Sakura hit with a whimper, before sliding down like a broken puppet and crumpling on the floor.

"I guess I'm through... There is nothing more to break. This match is over." She turned to Hayate who nodded.

"Winner, Sabaku no Temari." he said apathetically. "Medic nins to the arena please."

Temari looked at the crumpled, bloodied and broken form before snorting derisively.

"Just die as you are, you fucking disgrace." She muttered with disgust before walking up back to her platform.