A month had passed since the preliminaries and now nine of the ten finalists stood in the arena. The only one missing was Naruto but no one had seen him, Zabuza or Chōjūrō since the day the preliminaries ended.
The spectators were talking amongst themselves and some were making bets on who they thought would win. Within the crowd three women were looking for a sign of their future husband, wondering where he was while the fourth one was in the arena.
'Where is he?' Sakura thought, she was beginning to get nervous. After the first chūnin exam Naruto had told her about his mishaps with Konohamaru and a stampede but she doubted the same thing would happen now. 'He was probably training and lost track of time.'
"What's wrong, are you worried for your loser of a boyfriend?" Sasuke asked with smirk on his face.
"Don't talk about Naruto-kun like that or I'll…"
"You'll what? You wouldn't even be able to touch an elite like me."
"Hopefully we'll be able to see if you're wrong or not," she returned while thinking. 'How could I have ever liked that guy?'
At that moment the Hokage announced the start of the exams and when he finished Genma explained the rules.
"Seeing as Naruto isn't here I'm gonna have to…"
"Wait!" someone shouted as they ran into the arena. It was Naruto but he shocked a lot of people. His normal orange jumpsuit had been replaced by a black short sleeved long coat similar to the Yondaime's under which he wore a black long sleeved shirt with the Uzumaki clan symbol on the right sleeve, black shinobi pants and his blue sandals had been swapped for black ones. However everyone noticed that his usually tan skin seemed paler and he had bandages around his neck which ran down under his shirt and they had blood stains on them. "Did I…make it?"
"Barely," Genma replied. "Will everyone other than Neji Hyūga and Naruto Uzumaki please go to the waiting area."
"Good luck Naruto-kun," Sakura said cheerfully as she walked past him.
"Thanks Sakura-chan," he replied with a smile. After the others had left the two opponents faced each other.
"Begin!" Genma shouted while jumping off to the side. Naruto threw three kunai at the Hyūga prodigy and when Neji tried to block them they turned into clones of the blonde shinobi. Each of the clones threw a punch at the Hyūga but he managed to dodge and then dispel the clones.
"Don't think something like that will be enough to beat me," Neji stated arrogantly. Naruto simply smirked and took out a scroll from his pocket.
"This is what I've been working on for the last month and with it I'll be able to beat you easily," the blonde declared.
"It doesn't matter how much you try, you were destined to lose this fight."
"If that's true then you'll let me open this scroll."
"Go ahead, it won't matter," he said adamantly, Naruto grinned and opened the scroll revealing it to be a storage scroll. He bit his thumb and smeared the blood over the seal. A small cloud of smoke emerged from the scroll and Naruto pulled a sword out of it. The sword looked like an oversized elegant cleaver that had a black blade with a silver edge, and it had no guard or hilt, only a cloth covered tang.
"You think an oversized knife is going to beat me?" Neji asked sarcastically before he could continue however Naruto rushed forward and swung his sword forward. The Hyūga dodged it and the blade sunk deep into the ground. While Naruto was pulling his sword free Neji darted forward and attempted to strike a chakra point only for his fingers to smash into the flat side of the blade. Naruto then tried to slash him across his chest but he jumped back. Naruto went after him and brought his sword down only to be stopped inches away from Neji's face; the Hyūga then proceeded to spin creating a wall of spiralling chakra around himself blowing Naruto off his feet.
'I almost forgot about that,' Naruto thought as he watched Neji stop spinning.
"I told you it's impossible for you to win," Neji said. "Give up while you still have some dignity."
"Wind Style: Getsuga Tenshou!" Naruto shouted sending a blast of concentrated wind at the Hyūga prodigy but he blocked the attack with Rotation. While he was distracted Naruto ran forward and just as Neji's move finished the jinchūriki brought his sword down on his neck but stopped before it landed. "I win; if I continued with that attack you'd be dead and headless by now."
"I-Impossible," Neji stuttered like a certain cousin of his used to. "H-How did y-you?"
"I figured your jutsu used a lot of chakra so you could only use it for a short amount of time and when you finish you're left vulnerable for a few seconds. I simply timed my attack to take advantage of that time frame," the blonde explained. Left unsaid was that he figured out the window of opportunity from spars against Neji in the past/future.
"Naruto Uzumaki wins!" Genma announced, most of the crowd cheered for the impressive fight while others were left speechless at how fast the match was. Naruto resealed his sword then he and Neji walked off of the battle field as Gaara and Zaku walked onto it.
(I don't feel like going into detail about each fight so I'm gonna put quick summaries.)
As soon as the match started Zaku attacked but Gaara blocked and then sent most of the sand shooting towards Zaku overpowering him easily ensnaring him in sand. When he didn't give up immediately Gaara slowly began to crush the Oto nin until he finally surrendered.
In the next match Sakura, a close range specialist, was easily able to defeat Temari, a long range specialist, by getting close and using her enhanced taijutsu to knock her out.
Kankurō forfeited his match against Dosu.
The final match between Sasuke and Chōji was over quickly. Sasuke placed a genjutsu over the Akimichi and then knocked him out.
"The next match is between Naruto and Sasuke," Genma announced.
"What? I'm supposed to be fighting Gaara!" Naruto shouted.
"The Hokage decided it would be best to have a random selection instead," Genma said. "The new line up is Naruto vs. Sasuke, Sakura vs. Dosu and Gaara will fight the winner between the second fight."
'I get it,' Naruto thought after thinking about it. 'The old man doesn't want two jinchūriki fighting with so many civilians around.'
"It doesn't matter, the dope won't be able to beat me," Sasuke said arrogantly.
"We'll see," Naruto said before jumping into the arena with the last 'loyal' Uchiha behind him. They turned to face each other and waited.
"Begin!" Genma shouted. Immediately they jumped away from each other and Sasuke started going through hand seals.
"Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu," he shouted, sending a ball of raging flames at the blonde. Naruto avoided the attack by jumping over it and then threw ten kunai at his opponent. Sasuke dodged all of them using his Sharingan before sending another fireball at Naruto, who was still in the air. The blonde created a shadow clone and used it to jump out of the way leaving the clone to take the attack. While he was in the air he unsealed his sword and sent a Getsuga Tenshou towards Sasuke who dodged it but got hit by some of the debris from the where the attack impacted the ground. Naruto landed on the ground and prepared another attack to end it but stopped when a large cloud of smoke enveloped the Kage Box and the Kazekage leapt onto the roof with the Hokage as his hostage. Suna and Oto ninja jumped out of their disguises in the crowd and started attacking Konoha ninja.
"You're mine!" Dosu shouted as he leapt towards Naruto with his melody arm at the ready. Just before his fist hit it stopped centimetres away from his face exactly the same way as before the first exam.
"I told you not to attack my friend if you value your life," Gaara said coldly before he crushed Dosu with his sand.
"You traitor," Dosu managed to wheeze out before the sand crushed him completely.
"Gaara what are you doing?" Temari asked in surprise.
"I'm helping Uzumaki, that's what friends are for after all," he replied. "If you try to stop me I'll kill you."
"I-I don't have a problem with it," Temari and Kankurō both said nervously.
"Hey Gaara you think you could help me save the old man?" Naruto asked while gesturing to the Kage box.
"Sure," the Suna nin said while sand poured out of his gourd and accumulated under their feet.