Here we go! Chapter 20, the start of the prelims.
I hope you guys enjoy what I did with it.
As the proctor was speaking, Ryuto eyed the third hokage. His speech when everyone had finally showed up hadn't been especially interesting, and the part about teamwork was especially dull for Ryuto. He'd made sure a while ago that he wouldn't need anyone for anything. It was just a bonus to have the extra help.
Once while the proctor was explaining about the extra fights that would be held to see who'd actually make it to the final round, the hokage locked eyes with Ryuto. They were dark, intelligent, and seemed to be laughing at him. Ryuto wondered how much he knew about Naruto and what his goal in all this was supposed to be.
One person decided to drop out, they were on a team that'd barely made it, alongside team 10.
Their attention was directed to an electric screen, where two names were already on display.
The proctor coughed, "Okay, everyone except Hinata Hyuuga and Rock Lee go ahead and take the stairs up to the second level."
Hinata didn't look very different from when Ryuto had last seen her at the graduation, although she did seem a bit less shy. There was a serious expression on her face that me
When Ryuto passed Lee, the genin turned to him and said, "I'll make you pay for the way you treated Sakura in the final round, so you cannot run away."
Ryuto shrugged, "You might want to focus on the opponent in front of you, she's no pushover."
Lee's round eyes narrowed, "I do not doubt the flames of her youth, but I am no stranger when it comes to fighting the Gentle Fist!" Lee settled into a stance, "I will deal with you later!"
Ryuto waved his hand as he made his way to the stairs, "Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out."
Lee turned to Hinata, "I am terribly sorry for my rudeness, Hinata! You are my opponent, yet I challenged someone else before we even began our fight. Please forgive me!"
Hinata settled into her own stance, "I don't know why you have problems with Ryuto or what Sakura has to do with it, but I'll let you know right now." Hinata's expression intensified as the veins around her eyes bulged, "I won't let you beat me."
Lee smiled, "I admire the flames of your youth."
On the balcony, Sasuke cast a glance at Ryuto, but it was Kakashi who spoke, "Hm? What did I miss happen between my genin?"
Ryuto shrugged, "It's none of Lee's business, that's for sure." Sakura said nothing.
Kakashi sighed and put a hand on Ryuto's shoulder, "We'll talk about this later."
Kiba leaned on the railing to look at Ryuto, "Are you okay, man? You seem tense."
Ryuto crossed his arms, "I'm just want to get my fight over with."
Kiba made a dissatisfied sound in his throat, but he dropped the subject. He looked down at his teammate, "Go Hinata! Kick his butt!"
The proctor coughed into his hand, "If everyone is done, then we'll start." He did a chopping motion with his hand, "Begin!"
Hinata surged forward with quick hand strikes, but Lee leapt backward and was able to avoid them all.
Lee spoke as he continued to dance around Hinata's attacks, "I will repeat what I said earlier. I am no stranger when it comes to fighting the Gentle Fist, your fighting style. I can tell that you are quite good just from your attacks so far, there are no openings for me to counterattack. But, I have fought against a prodigy of the gentle fist again and again. I have lost every single time I challenged him, but I have never given up!" When Hinata came at him again, Lee didn't dodge. He caught her wrist before she could touch him, "Every time I lost, I have come back stronger." Hinata tried to pull her arm out of Lee's grip, but his fingers wouldn't budge. She tried to hit his arm, but Lee caught her other wrist. Lee stared at Hinata, "I mean no disrespect, but your moves are nothing compared to what I aspire to defeat." Lee closed his eyes, "I am sorry, but I have worked too hard to let myself be defeated now." Without letting go of Hinata, Lee lifted his leg and kicked her in the stomach.
"Ue!" The kick lifted Hinata off of the ground and sent her flying a few feet. She landed with a thud.
Lee stood with his leg still extended, "Take this defeat to heart and work hard. I'm sure that you too can become a splendid ninja." When Lee put his leg back down, he flinched in pain, "What?"
Up in the balcony, Sakura leaned forward, "What just happened?"
Sasuke crossed his arms, "He let go when he kicked her, that was a mistake."
Sakura turned to Sasuke, "What do you mean?"
"What Dusty means to say," Sakura looked past Sasuke at Ryuto, "Is that when Lee let go Hinata used that opportunity to do something to his leg. We may be of the same village, but we're still ninja."
Sakura's eyebrows furrowed, "What? That doesn't make sense. It had to have crossed his mind that she was going to counter somehow. Why would he let go?"
Kakashi put a hand on Sakura's pink hair, "If Lee hadn't let go, Hinata would've died."
Kakashi nodded, "By letting go just before the kick landed Lee stopped the kick from causing as much damage to Hinata's internal organs, because most of the force from the kick that was transferred into Hinata's body was dispersed by her movement through the air. If he had held on and kept her from moving, Hinata's body would've felt the full force of that kick throughout her body."
Sakura stared at Kakashi, "You're talking about physics."
Kakashi eye-smiled, "Indeed I am."
Sasuke stared down at Lee who was massaging his leg as Hinata struggled to stand up, "He's pretty strong, but how did Hinata do that kind of damage to Lee? She didn't pull a kunai, there's no blood. No way she did that kind of damage with a plain old strike."
"I'm surprised you don't know, Dusty."
Sasuke turned to Ryuto, "Don't call me that."
Ryuto rolled his eyes, "Whatever. She uses a special fighting style unique to the Hyuuga clan, the Gentle Fist. With it, they use chakra to strike at the muscles and tendons. It's a vicious martial art that completely bypasses a fighter's defenses. They can shut you down from the inside, and all they need is a light tap. Heh." Ryuto's laugh held no joy, "Ironic, isn't it?"
Hinata coughed as she finally made it to her feet, "I'm not done yet."
Lee looked at her, "I see. If you wish to continue, I will oblige. But I must warn you. I will not let my guard down again."
Hinata raised her arms and flared her Byakugan, "Come at me!"
Lee nodded, "As you wish." Then they engaged once more.
Sakura squinted at the fight, "Hey, Lee isn't moving as good as before. It's not much, but he's slowed down." She smiled, "Hinata might have a chance!"
Kakashi hummed in thought, "Maybe. Lee can still take a few hits, depending on where they land. But in Hinata's case the next hit will be her last. Look at her legs, they're shaking from the effort it takes just for her to keep up. She's still in pain from that kick to the stomach, too. If she makes even one mistake she's done for, while Lee has a relatively large margin for error. It's possible that she could win, but not likely."
Lee hadn't stopped moving. He would feint to the right, then to the left, then at her face, and then back to the right. Every move he made was a feint, and it was making Hinata paranoid. Every time Lee moved Hinata moved to block, and then Lee moved again.
As Lee continued to feint, he said, "I admire your drive not to give up. It reminds me of myself, and my goal to become a splendid ninja without the use of ninjutsu or taijutsu." He feinted at Hinata's side, then quickly feinted toward her stomach again, "I am curious, what drives you to never give up?"
Hinata took a chance and attacked Lee, but he dodged around it, "Stop it."
"I am serious. Will you tell me?"
The room was silent except for the scuffling of their sandals on the floor.
Then she said, "...There is someone that I admire, and I want to be strong enough to stand by their side."
Lee nodded as he feinted again, "Hold on to your reason, and your ninja way. I want to fight you again someday."
Lee feinted toward Hinata's face and she moved to block, but at the last moment he punched her in the stomach with his other arm. This time she fell limp.
"Winner, Rock Lee!"
After Hinata was taken to the infirmary, Lee walked up to team 7, "Ryuto what you saw just now was only a taste of my full power," Lee's eyes narrowed, "I hope you do not lose on purpose to try to avoid me."
Ryuto faced Lee, "You don't even know me and you're trying to fight me because of an issue between the members of my team. If we happen to be up against each other in the final round then I'll fight you, but it's none of your business what goes on in my team."
"I will make it my business when it is someone precious to me who hangs in the balance." Lee sent a look at Sakura.
"I-I don't know how to feel about this." Sakura took a deep breath, "Look, Ryuto and I have a problem that needs to be addressed," She sent a look at Ryuto, "And I appreciate the support and all, but you don't really know-" Sakura made a vague hand gesture, "Well, about any of this." Lee slumped, "On top of that you beat up Hinata. I know it's the exam and you're supposed to do that, but Hinata's still my friend." Sakura's brow furrowed, "Look, I just- I think it'll be better for us all if you just stay away for awhile."
Lee pouted, "If that is what you want, then I will do as you say. Still," A fire lit in Lee's eyes, "If we are matched against each other in the finals, I will not hold back! And if I lose I will do 5000 knuckle punches! And if I cannot do that I will do 300 squat hops around the village! And if I cannot do that-!" Ryuto stopped listening after that.
"Hey." Sakura glared at Ryuto, "After this is all done you and I are going to sit down and have a talk, you got that?!"
Ryuto marveled at the aura Sakura was projecting for a moment, then he looked at the electric screen, "Hey, check out who's next."
"Oi! Don't change the-"
"Will Sasuke Uchiha and Kiba Inuzuka come down to the fighting stage?"
Kiba hopped over the railing, "We're up against Sasuke, huh? Well, we'll have to show him just how much stronger we've become since the academy, right Akamaru?" Kiba's little white dog yipped in agreement.
Sasuke crossed his arms and walked down the stairs like a normal person, "Like you'd ever beat me, dog boy."
Kiba cracked his knuckles, "Oh, I am gonna make you eat those words."
And that's a wrap with 2007 words of story content. I know it's a little bit shorter than I usually publish, but I did a completely random and unique setup for the preliminary matches(I didn't just switch Hinata and Lee's opponents for shits and giggles), so I want to do a chapter for each fight, or at least for most of them, in order to illustrate how each one would go down.
As always, please review. Your comments only contribute to my motivation to write and the story overall.
Before you go, I'd like for you to enjoy another omake.
Omake - Just Another Prank
One of the sound ninja was in the mess hall, they had just grabbed lunch and where about to sit with the rest of their team. He pulled his chair out, but when he went to sit down the chair darted backward. The sound ninja fell on his butt, and his female teammate laughed so hard she blew her oatmeal all over the guy wrapped in bandages.