Author's Note: -sigh- I should have quit while I was ahead. Alas, no loyal fanbase will clamor for this fic's continuance, even though I penned, in a fruitless spree of free time a few months ago, three sagas...what a reality. I just enjoyed a more enthusiastic fanbase before (and I actually met one of them at a convention), so now I'm moping.

But no one's reading this, so nobody knows what I say...

-whispers- I wish Karin would be barbequed in celebration of Lee's glory...andGai-sensei has a really nice physique! :)


It was stupid, just like every great vendetta of the age. It wasn't even noble, as the demise of the Uchiha clan along with it's tangled webs was.

Yoshida Hashiro had died a traitor of Konoha, executed alongside the common criminals of uncivil civil felonies. His limbs had fallen off, one by one, and then they took his head with the executioner's final stroke; that was that.

He had deserved death; and that's what Gisuke tried to tell himself when little Ryuuichi hit the ground on his knees, screaming to his father as his detached head somersaulted across the dusty ground; when Kazeki clung to his friend, weeping, behind a wall that had been slowly growing up between the Yoshida and Shigiri families. Gisuketried to gather that little boy up, and be the father that he'd watched be executed; he'd tried to patch up the black center growing inside his son's friend. Gisuke had done his duty and carried the Shinobi torch until his feet had been eaten off, but being the one who had to turn in his childhood companion (Hashiro with cinnamon-sparkling hair, the genjutsu master on par with Yuuhi Kurenai) but by the time it all blew up, there wasn't much left of him to support Ryuuichi.

Ryuuichi was never supposed to know who had blown the whistle on his father; but Gisuke knew that Ryuuichi knew, and Gisuke also knew that things were boiling down to a crisis.

He was simply tired of being someone's father- and on the fateful mission where Ryuuichi flung off his masquerade of loyalty to Konoha, where Izanagi Minami had died in his place, Shigiri Gisuke disappeared into the raunchy underworld where men go toforget their lives. He died in a dumpster, which he'd thought befitting, seeking warmth from a bottle and from someone's discarded newspapers.

He could forgive what he'd done as feilty to Konohagakure; it was what he couldn't do that killed Gisuke, and that was carrying on. And so his child grew up, fatherless- and without the one age-mate who might have understood what that state was like.

----

After noting what was before him for a few, delusional seconds Lee hiccupped and began scraping his feet like a bull preparing to charge. His coordination being what it was, he looked more like a Russian dancer in reverse. "Yer gonna- yer gonna…" Blinking his wide eyes several times, Lee suddenly expelled Suzuki's name with wonder and clarity.

"Nevermind me!" she shouted into the dirt. "Kill him!"

Lee blinked a few more times, before crawling to his hands and knees; somersaulting into her same position, he called, "Hey, Szuzuki… what are you doing down here?"

"What are you waiting for!?" she pealed, before Kimimaro's foot smashed against her temple and began to grind her face painfully against the rocky earth.

"The bus, of course. What're yoo waiting for?"

"For the love of god, Lee!-"

"God didn't say nuffin' about the, about the..." Lee asked her unconcernedly as this show went on, taking interest in his own wrist once more. "God didn't make the green beasts, the green beasts made... Hic! Umm…"

"I'll free your mouth in order to answer me: what is his technique?"

Suzuki gasped as her head was freed; her response, though, was to spit a mouthful of red dirt into Kimimaro's face and snatch simultaneously at his ankle. Grabbing for the end of her snare from his opposite hand, Suzuki used her captor's offset balance to flip herself backwards, regaining her stance as well as her weapons. Hand aloft, she studied Kimimaro's spavin-spiked arms as she scooted slowly towards her best friend. "… Lee?" she inquired, never taking her eyes off of their deathly opponent.

"BAP. Yes." Lee answered enthusiastically, craning his head sideways. After realizing that she was standing on the other side of him, Lee hiccupped and smiled as he located the wavering vision of Suzuki.

"I'M NOT-T-T DRUNK!" he shouted abruptly, balling his fists and swaying.

"I'll take that as an indication that this is Suiken, Drunken Fist." Kimimaro said, more to himself; without further ado, the tall man braced himself. In an instant bone spikes had ejected from the pattern of his thin ribs, dripping fluid in the grainy sunlight; the spiraling pattern over his heart darkened, branched out like the fledgling arms of a small sapling eating his thin flesh.

"Woah, woah, woah- wait. Waid." Lee called uselessly. "St-stop the room, I wanna get off."

"What is he doing?" Suzuki asked quietly; it's kind of funny how they're all talking to Lee like he's still reasonable, isn't it?

"Whyyy are we shpinnink arrrooouunnnddd!" he wailed in response, twirling limply.

"This is my kekkei genkai." the elder Shinobi obliged, graciously spreading his arms that she might further behold the anatomical wonder of his talent. Calcium-fortified armor. Geez. Someone's been drinking their milk…

"AGH-BAA, STOP TALKING!" Lee, by this time, had flopped into a stance more resembling of Bruce Lee than anyone is willing to admit. "You waida second, you fat, stoopid…" Lee then reached over and tried to snatch Suzuki's wrist in midair; failing, he grabbed on empty air for a while, until Suzuki took his wrist and directed his fingers to her arm.

"Sankyoo, baby." Lee said, turning to the purple-haired girl, eyebrows floating sweetly. "I needta buy yoo a drank sumtime…"

"Maybe later." Kimimaro suggested, to which Suzuki agreed; swinging beneath Lee and sending him careening into a full-on attack, the second half of this new pair let her wire play out in a wide arc which the young follower of Konoha's destroyer was obliged to quickly evade, on top of avoiding the graceless, flying feet of an inebriated Green Beast.

----

Tenten had sat back a mere inch, and found herself cushioned against Kazeki's heaving chest.

"Why would you?" he asked her with pause, the saber slashes across his face bleeding lightly.

Her gasp had been enough to alert Ryuuichi, though; with a swipe of the blade, he nearly took off both of their heads. Tenten felt the bits of hair pinned to her scalp being slashed free of their bands, so close passed the sword to her.

Kazeki bolted backwards with precision, landing upside a branch and slapping his palms together; without the former spark of apprehension, the boy's arm blades began to glow voraciously, chakra arcing across the polished surfaces.

"Ryuu- Kazeki, stop!" Tenten called helplessly, her voice high and eyes wide as she gazed from teen to teen.

"I will-" the shorter of the pair responded, before the other slashed at his light-footed opponent with enough strength to bring the limb he had stood on crashing down through the forest, demolishing a path in the canopy in it's wake. Kazeki bounced towards Ryuuichi, slung from another dead branch, and flung to swing at the vulnerable back; Ryuuichi ducked the kick, sweeping around to have an arm snagged by the blades Kazeki carefully whipped about, avoiding injury himself. Without effect, the dark-haired boy lifted his sword and brought it squarely down; the surface which they precariously clung to shattered, and Ryuuichi fell on Kazeki with blade pointed ground wards. As they thundered to the ground a dozen feet below, only a swift block saved Kazeki from being bisected; they were locked for a moment in this way, every muscle in Kazeki's corded body thrown against the massive guillotine blade which lurked less than a foot over him; then Ryuuichi put his foot on it, and stepped hard. Kazeki's own foot didn't escape the crunch, although he sprinted up with surprising athletics, and half of his left foot was nearly cut off in that moment. The forest rang with a scream of anger and agony, as without pause he plunged ahead again on this lamed foot. Ryuuichi was just waiting, sucking on the gash in his forearm, grinning.

"Good," he said, before throwing his blade like a spinning javelin to meet the approaching Genin.

What happened next was a sheer miracle; Kazeki skidded to a halt as he took in the weapon, and flung up his crossed arms in vague protection; steeled to the ground, the blade struck the length of his body at the transversal of his arm weapons, deflecting the attack but shaking him badly. In spite of this, Kazeki shot up and snatched blade's thick, wrapped handle as it careened away from him, swung to adjust to the weight and stood on his uninjured foot, pointing the thing towards his enemy while attempting to catch his breath.

"Who the hell have you been training with?" Ryuuichi whistled.

The answer was Suzuki: a long while had he spent learning evasion in close-quarters. Those strings could be death, and he had quickly learned that the only way to beat a person with a weapon was to render it useless or turn it against them. Now a virtual blockade of blades, Kazeki locked his right blade against his arm via their straps, and spread his legs, holding Ryuuichi's sword like a baseball bat; it was coming. And he was listening.

The attack from above nearly had him; there was only time to fling the sword in front of him as he dove, and Ryuuichi landed squarely against the deathly edge of the sword, crushing Kazeki beneath it's heavy weight. Only his shaking arm, protected by his stationary blade, stood between the soft flesh and the hungry weapon; when Ryuuichi shifted his weight, he weighted the sword so as to tumble painfully from Kazeki's grasp, dragging him head over heels into the dirt; but he was up in an instant, springing to his feet with a cry. He was slashing on air, though, for the dance he and the now unarmed Ryuuichi kept up was a rapid-fire string of misses and flying tendrils of blood from small cuts, Kazeki flinging his twin tools with the fervor of a mad man but the precision of someone who had waited for this day. "FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU," he shouted, even if the rasping hardly matched the tempo of his blows. At length of this exchange Ryuuichi stopped an attack by sacrificing his left shoulder, and spun around in order to grasp Kazeki with the good arm. Locking his chakra-fed fingers within the boy's eye sockets, Ryuuichi threw his weight forward and slammed Kazeki into the ground, face first, with enough strength to shake the trees for a thirty-foot radius.

In the high branches of one of them, Tenten clutched her shirt collar and watched with horror-filled eyes.

----

When Lee woke up, there was no air.

Kimimaro, sprouting horns and tails, was there; you better believe he was there, all-consuming and all-destroying. But Gaara of the Sand stood behind him, the sand crawling like insects over Lee's various wounds and scrapes; the pair stared at each other, monsters in their own like, with violent ill, and Lee knew that only one of them would be leaving this field alive.

One person. Suzuki-

As if she could read his mind, it was her who's small arms knit thickly around his neck- and her careful step which brought Lee down to the ground in a clatter, pinned down as Suzuki sat squarely on his back.

"Don't let him up," Gaara reminded her, stepping forward; Suzuki showed she had heard by clamping her knees against Lee's sides and snatching for his bandaged hands. With hardly a thought, Lee rose up and flung her off with a violence Suzuki hadn't anticipated; she was thrown several feet, and landed directly on her tailbone with a hushed shriek of pain.

Gaara gave him a look, before taking the job into his own hands; a ring of sand encircled Lee's sandal, tripping the taijutsu master flat on his face. He began to shout at the indignity of it all, before shutting up with the realization of how much pain he was in.

"Okay, go follow the little one," the Kazekage now decided. It was with an anxious look thrown towards them both that Suzuki went about this, trailing the path Hirako had taken roughly twenty minutes before. She was gone before Lee could pick himself up off of the ground.

By the time the bullets of bone began flying, Lee had convinced his captor that no supervision was required; he would sit and be good while Gaara took care of this guy. If Gaara had known how Lee had reached this deciding field in the first place, maybe he wouldn't have trusted him so much. Sure enough, the Suna-nin looked over his shoulder not a half a minute later and swore in a fashion typically unlike the Gaara we have known. Lee was gone.

----

Hirako was racing as though the ground would disappear beneath him, practically hyperventilating from effort. The blade at his side snagged awkwardly once or twice, and finally sent him tumbling back to earth. Mouth full of leaves, he bolted back up and continued the chase.

There had been blood, he knew; there had been violence and death and Kimimaro- his brother, finally standing before him alive, and he had left him. It was a mistake, he knew- he should have stayed behind and protected what he had so long pursued, instead of blithely following the command of Orochimaru.

Kabuto. No- Kabuto had given him this order.

It struck him so fast and hard that he bowled over again, blade dragging against the peat and shirt in shreds from the thorns about him; Kabuto had said he would kill Kimimaro if Hirako didn't find and destroy Uzumaki Naruto, but Kimimaro was here- Kimimaro could hold his own, against Kabuto. But not against…

The boy's mind flashed back, to an instant in time where a long-faced man lay upon cheap tatami matting, heaving torrents blood from his mouth. That Kaguya had been thin, as bony and unhealthy-looking as Kimimaro had been. Yes, his brother did not look right-

Remembering what had become of that uncle, that family member with the rotting, coughing sickness that the Kaguya were so prone to, was enough to make Hirako drop the sword. No, no- this couldn't be happening, no-

But when he turned around, a young girl with wild hair and a sweat-soaked shirt was mere feet from him, growling with rage as she plunged forward to attack him.

----

On a cliff somewhere, a single hawk sat, beak tucked peacefully within it's wing. It reclined with great talons slung around the top branch of a scruffy, towering evergreen, secure in it's ownership of the forest enough to sleep in midday.

The bird awoke with a start, as the sounds of Rasengan meeting Chidori blew from across the mountains and valleys, forever echoing; as Kazeki and Ryuuichi struck the bottom of a canyon together and Tenten screamed, as a jungle of bones exploded up around the prone form of Kimimaro, his younger brother shouting his name out before the sobs froze in his throat.