Two figures stood in an abandoned field. "Are my terms acceptable?"
The one figure nodded.
"Do you have what I need?"
The figure held out a fist-sized ball.
"Great let's get this show on the road, I've got research to do!"
"Neji Hyuuga Vs Rock Lee!"
The ninth match of the preliminaries for the Chuunin Exam's 3rd phase began rather strangely. Neji Hyuuga, a haughty, white-eyed boy with an aristocratic look about him, calmly and unhurriedly went down to the arena, though not before giving a dirty look to a shy, lavender-eyed girl who looked to be related to him.
Rock Lee, the green-spandexed mini-me of Maito Gai (better known as Might Guy), immediately shouted to the world that while he had yet to win a spar against his 'unyouthful' teammate, he'd beat him, or failing that, run around Konoha a thousand times on his thumbs. Upon hearing that declaration, Might Guy boomed that he'd join his 'most youthful' apprentice, whereupon the two embraced in a manly way while crying waterfall tears. Everyone from the Leaf in the vicinity immediately dove for cover, however, before the dreaded 'Sunset of Youth©' could form, the two were separated by an exploding tag thrown by an irritated Naruto, the blast sending Lee landing flat on his back in the middle of the arena. The self-proclaimed Beautiful Green Beast looked up at a seething Naruto.
"Less scarring people for life and more fighting, damnit!"
Lee jumped to his feet. "Yosh! While your actions were unyouthful to stop the sunset my friend, your words have a youthful ring to them! YOSH! Come Neji, let us engage in youthful combat!"
Neji sighed heavily. "When will you learn that fate decrees that you shall never defeat me, Lee?"
Hayate coughed before raising one arm above his head. "The ninth match of the Preliminaries will now begin. Rock Lee and Neji Hyuuga of Team Guy from the Leaf. HAJIME!"
The fight between the two taijutsu prodigies was brutal and short. Lee, despite his overwhelming strength and speed, was unable to get a solid hit on his teammate, while Neji had no need for a solid hit, the slightest brush of a chakra laced hand cutting off chakra flow and pressure points. Lee's signature technique, the Omote Renge (Initial Lotus), may have brought Lee victory, he was loath to use it against an ally, as the Omote Renge had a very high chance of crippling or killing both target and user. As such, Lee lost to Neji as he face planted into the dirt, his arms and legs numb and unable to move. As soon as the tenketsu were reopened though, Lee jumped to his feet. Declaring that he'd win the next time they sparred, Lee got into a handstand before running out of the tower on his thumbs. Might Guy followed in suit, leaving most, if not everyone in the tower baffled by their strange behavior.
Soon, the jumbotron began to rattle, announcing the opponents for the final match.
Hinata Hyuuga vs Gaara of the Desert
Hinata Hyuuga gasped. She had witnessed what this…boy was capable of in the Forest of Death from a distance as she used her Byakugan. Her clans' bloodline, also known as the all seeing eye, had allowed her to witness the boy brutally slaughter several teams of genin, even after they had apparently surrendered. The young Kunoichi has terrified of the boy.
Hinata Hyuuga was a lavender-eyed girl with inky-blue hair and a gentle soul, considered weak by her clan because she routinely lost in spars against her little sister, the thought of hurting her little sister unbearable to her. By the time she entered the Konoha Shinobi Academy, Hinata's confidence had nearly been crushed and wiped out by the cruel and callous treatment of her father and the main branch her clan. However, on her first day there, Hinata saw a young blonde who received much the same stares she received from her clan, yet he seemed unbowed by the opinions of others. Curious, Hinata had begun to follow the boy, and while she never quite figured out how he dealt with the cold looks, the shy girl discovered that she had a crush on the boy. While she couldn't approach the boy without passing out from nerves or for fear of rejection, Hinata had decided that as long as that boy was able to continue on in the face of adversity without backing down, then so would she.
Though her family still considered her weak, Hinata persevered. Looking to her crush, she saw him glowering at her opponent as he used a sand shunshin down to the arena. Steeling herself, she made her way down to the arena floor. 'I need to do this, win or lose, I'll be strong, for him.' Coming to a stop before her opponent, Hinata looked into his cold, almost lifeless eyes.
Gaara's aqua eyes regarded Hinata briefly before he spoke to her. "Your blood is weak, but it should still be able to satisfy mother."
The proctor raised his hand. "The final match of the preliminaries between Hinata Hyuuga of the Leaf and Gaara of the Sand shall now commence. HAJIME!"
Hinata dropped awkwardly into her clan's taijutsu stance, the Jyuuken (Gentle Fist) as Gaara sent a wave of sand at her. Eeping as the sand drew close, Hinata reflexively jabbed a chakra laden Jyuuken strike at the tendril of sand, causing the chakra holding it together to dissipate. As the sand fell to the floor, Hinata thought that she might have a chance. Emboldened by her initial success, Hinata went on the offensive, trying to get close to Gaara. Making use of her natural flexibility and judicious application of the Jyuuken, Hinata got within striking distance of the Suna shinobi.
"Hakke Shou! Thirty-Two Palms!" Hinata began to strike at Gaara, attempting to hit enough tenketsu to cause Gaara to pass out or collapse from numbness. As Hinata finished her technique however, a tendril of sand wrapped around her ankle. Her eyes widening in horror, Hinata was wrenched away from Gaara and thrown across the arena. Shakily getting to her knees, Hinata looked into her opponent's murderous gaze.
In the stands above, Naruto watched as Hinata fought the Tanuki boy from Suna, contemplating the girl. He honestly didn't know what to think about her. Back in the academy, he'd often sit by her, as no one else seemed to want to and it was often the only seat left. As soon as he'd sit down, she'd turn a bright red and start stammering. If he talked to her? She'd turn crimson and pass out.
At first, he thought it was because she was afraid of him, told to stay away from him by her parents, that he was dangerous. That had initially depressed him, more so than usual, much to his confusion. However, one day Naruto noticed that she was following him around. He honestly didn't know what to think about her. She never said anything mean to him, nor would she run away, but if he got close to her or talked to her, she'd faint. But the most confusing thing of all was the tight feeling he got in his chest whenever he thought about her.
'OH, FOR THE LOVE OF—She likes you, you idiot!'
'Of course it's me, who'd you think it was, the Easter Bunny!?'
'What do you mean, she likes me'
'The girl likes you!'
'You mean, she like-likes me?'
'YES! I've been waiting for you to figure it out, but you're the densest person I've ever met! And considering how long I've been around, that's saying something.'
'But, I, I don't know if I feel the same way.'
'Eugh, you know that feeling in your chest you get whenever you think about her?'
'You like her.'
Before Naruto could question the Kyuubi further, he saw something that made his blood run cold.
Hinata desperately fought for survival against Gaara's relentless onslaught, a crazed look on his face the entire time. While she was able to dodge the sand and deflect with Jyuuken what couldn't be dodged, it was only a matter of time before—
A column of sand shot into Hinata's abdomen, crushing her diaphragm and slamming her into a wall. Unable to breath, Hinata could only watch as sand began to creep up her legs. With a psychotic grin plastered to his face, Gaara clenched his outstretched fist. "Subaku Sou—"
"Fuuton: Senpuu! (Wind Style: Whirlwind!)" A great typhoon of angry, displaced air scattered the sand in the arena, as well as knocking Gaara around.
The last thing Hinata saw as unconsciousness claimed her was a flash of blonde and two concerned pools of the clearest blue.
Naruto sat quietly in the waiting room of the hospital. While some of the nurses and doctors may not have liked him for what he carried, they stayed professional and treated him like any other visitor to the hospital. But Naruto didn't care about that at the moment. All he cared about was finding out if Hinata was going to be alright, and trying to unravel the knot of emotions that had twisted around his heart. When Gaara had gone in for the kill, even after the proctor had declared the fight over, Naruto had intervened. Had it not been for the threat of disqualification, Naruto would have attacked Gaara. As it was, Naruto had picked up Hinata and rushed her off to the hospital, not even bothering to stay for the results of the prelims.
Naruto looked up to find a nurse coming out of the operating rooms. He bit his lip. "Is-is Hinata going to be okay?" The nurse nodded, causing Naruto to shakily fall back into his seat with relief. A shadow fell across Naruto.
Naruto looked up to find Kakashi was standing over him. "Oh, hey Sensei."
Kakashi gave his eye-smile. "Hey, you going to be alright?"
"Yeah." Naruto nodded. "The nurse said she'd be fine."
They stayed there for a bit, letting the silence continue for a while before Kakashi pulled out a slip of paper. "Here. You'll be going up against Neji Hyuuga in the finals. The boy's considered a prodigy with the Jyuuken, so you'll need to take your training extra seriously." Kakashi handed the slip of paper to Naruto. "There will be someone there at that location and time to help you train. I'd do it myself, but I need to prepare Sasuke for his match so that he doesn't die, and someone else requested that they train you. Anyways, take care, and I'll see you at the finals. Ja ne!"
Kakashi walked off to find his other male student. "Kakashi sensei?" Kakashi stopped and looked to his blonde student. "Who's Sasuke gonna be fighting?"
Kakashi coolly considered Naruto for a moment. "Gaara of the Desert."
Naruto nodded. "Tell Sasuke to kick his ass." Kakashi nodded as he left, leaving Naruto to read what was on the slip of paper.
Training Ground 23, 7:30 am
Naruto looked at the clearing in front of him, then looked back to the piece of paper he had. "Yeah, this is the place, but there's no one here. Aw man."
"Well, I wouldn't say that I'm no one, now would I?"
Naruto spun around, eyes practically sparkling in happiness as he saw the three standing behind him. "Lucario-sensei! You're going to be helping me train?"
Lucario smiled as Rin and Rai chuckled at Naruto's enthusiasm. "Partially. There is someone else who requested to help you train. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost track of time." Lucario sighed, then looked to Rai. "Rai, could you go to the hot springs and fetch our friend, he seems to have lost track of time while doing his research, again. No need to be gentle this time, either."
-Got it! Good to see you again, Naruto!-
With a somewhat sadistic grin, Rai sped off into the brush. Lucario shook his head, then returned his attention to Naruto. "Now while we're waiting, I'll go over what we'll be working with you on. For the most part, we will be focusing on what you already know, and get it perfected to where you will be able to perform through instinct alone. Oh, don't give me that look, we'll be learning something new as well."
Naruto immediately lost the pout on his face, eyes practically twinkling in anticipation. "Really? What is it, what is it?"
Lucario chuckled. "Easy there, all in due time. But first, we have a gift for you. Rai is getting it right now." At that moment, the sky darkened as a bolt of lightning struck a mile to the west. Lucario looked up with a smile. "Oh look, here it comes now."
Naruto looked up in time to see an older, slightly charred, white-haired man wearing what seemed to be a kabuki getup fall from the sky. Getting up, the man brushed himself off while muttering about rodents and thunderbolts as Rai returned to Lucario's side, slightly out of breath.
Naruto tilted his head at the man. "So, who's this guy?"
The man seemed to take offense at that. "Who am I? WHO AM I?" The man was suddenly engulfed in smoke. The sounds of kabuki blocks clacking together could be heard.
"From the crags of the north to the beaches of the south! Men look at me with envy, women swoon at my feet! Evil trembles before me! I am the great Toad Sage of Mount Myouboku! I am the Gallant Jiraiya!" The smoke cleared to reveal the man standing in a ridiculous pose on top of a large, man-sized orange toad. Naruto could see a red vertical line under each eye on either cheek, as well as the horned hitae-ate with the kanji for 'oil' on it. All in all, it was a very strange sight.
A thrown rock smacked into Jiraiya's head, knocking him off the toad. The toad just shook his head and dispersed back to the home of the toads summons. Naruto looked over at the Pokémon, noting Rin's smug look as a strangled 'traitor' could be heard from where Jiraiya lay. Naruto turned back to the spread-eagled man. "So, you're Jiraiya?"
Jiraiya flipped to his feet and looked Naruto over. "Yep, and you must be Naruto Uzumaki, eh?"
Naruto nodded. "I am. You're going to be teaching me?"
"What are we doing first? Will you teach me how to walk on water, or how to breath fire! Oh wait, I can already do that. How about—"
"Whoa, whoa, hold on!" Jiraiya cut off Naruto's questions with his arms crossed in an x in front of him as the Pokémon laughed quietly. "Yes, we will be teaching you how to walk on water eventually, but we're going to be teaching you something else first."
Naruto was almost vibrating from barely contained excitement. "What?"
Jiraiya went into a pose, his right index finger pointed into the air. "The art of summoning!"
Naruto grew wide-eyed, then spun around to face Lucario. "Did you…?"
Lucario chuckled again. "Yes. It took a while, but I finally managed to get enough signatories during my absences."
"So that's why you kept going on trips!"
"Yes. Fortunately, Jiraiya here was willing to get us into contact with the toad clan. They agreed to make a blank summoning scroll for us to fill out in exchange for an alliance and some of our more unique techniques." Lucario then produced a large scroll the size of Naruto from seemingly out of nowhere. "So, are you ready to become the first ever Pokémon summoner?"
Naruto was bouncing with energy. "Yes!" Lucario smiled as he unraveled the scroll.
"All you have to do is sign your name in blood, and you'll be able to summon any non-legendary you want."
Naruto signed the scroll, then paused. "Wait, why won't I be able to summon the legendaries? They're like, the bosses. What's the point of having a summoning contract if you can't summon the bosses?"
Lucario laughed, cutting off Naruto's rant at the knees as Rin and Rai silently agreed with him. "Well, summoning the legendaries is extremely difficult. The few times it has been attempted has involved an entire countries power supply, and even then, it didn't work. As such, Lord Arceus provided me with this." Lucario produced a glass flute. "This flute was infused with the energies of Lord Arceus himself, allowing whoever plays it to summon one of the legendaries if they add chakra to it. Of course, one has to have signed the Pokémon contract first to be able to use it."
Naruto looked at the flute skeptically. "What if I lose it or it gets stolen?"
"Jiraiya was kind enough to put a seal on the flute that makes the flute return to a storage seal on the contract scroll if someone not on the contract uses it or applies chakra to the seal on the scroll."
Naruto grinned. "Cool."
Jiraiya nodded in agreement. "There is also a repair seal incase the flute gets broken. All one has to do is put the pieces together, add chakra, and voila, it's good as new!"
He smiled as Naruto fiddled around with the blue, glass flute. "Now, we need to set up a training schedule. We've got a month until the finals, so we need to be prepared. So, who's your first match against?"
"Um, it's against Neji Hyuuga."
Jiraiya rubbed his chin. "Hyuuga, eh? Hmm, we'll have to work on long range attacks, that would be smartest, followed by taijutsu to make sure you can survive if he manages to get close in to you, but what to do if manages to get you?"
Lucario smiled. "There are several Pokémon that know techniques that remove any and all negative status changes. Skorupi's acupressure, for example."
A large smile threatened to split Jiraiya's face in two. "Excellent. I've got the perfect schedule in mind. But first, Naruto, do you know the secret to shadow clones?"
AN: Well, another chapter done. Next time, Chuunin Exam Finals, Naruto Vs Neji, who will win? Also, I'm having a poll on who Naruto should summon during the Sannin fight in the Tsunade Retrieval arc. Poll is on my profile page. Lugia is currently in the lead. And now, for a sneak preview!
Naruto swallowed dryly as his gaze slowly traveled up the giant tanuki made of sand. Dodging a massive sandy fist, Naruto leapt into a tree. Licking his lips, Naruto pulled out a blue flute made of glass. Breathing deeply, he channeled chakra to his mouth and began to play. As the music swelled and dipped, the ground around Naruto erupted.
All across Konoha, the fighting stopped as the combatants on both sides turned their attention to the forest in the west.