Brought to you by 263px
Ten Minutes After Lee's FightEdit
Lee's eyes cracked open and he winced as he realized his hand and foot really hurt. Then Guy wrapped him in a hug, "LEE YOU GLORIOUS IDIOT! WHAT POSSESSED YOU TO USE THAT? YOU COULD HAVE DIED! I'M SO HAPPY YOU'RE ALIVE!" he bawled. Lee blinked and suddenly a hand pushed Guy off of him, a medic leaning over him, "Back up Guy, I'm trying to operate. If you keep shaking him like that his bones will heal crooked and we'll have to re-break them if they're ever going to heal properly."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself Guy," the medic scolded him, "Teaching him a technique like the Eight Gates." "I know," Guy said, hanging his head. "Do not be sad Guy sensei," Lee told him with a weak smile, "I used it of my own free will. I knew the risks." "And you still won," said a woman who Lee couldn't see, "and against the strongest of the genin sent from Hidden Rain no less." "Fat lot of good it'll do him if I can't heal his bones properly," the medic grumbled. The medic went on, "Your bones are going to be very fragile after this young man, absolutely no fighting for three months, and if you don't hold still a year!"
Lee immediately stopped trying to raise up and froze. "I'm afraid you probably won't make the final tournament," the medic continued, "They usually give a month off between the second exam and the third, but your bones won't be healed enough for you to fight in a month." "Surely Lord Hokage will not hold it against him," the woman protested, "Dai was trained by Lord Hanzo himself! His whole team was!"
"Lord Hanzo is training students now?!" Guy asked in horror. "Lord Hanzo II," the woman corrected him, "Hattori Hanzo, the man you met in the Land of Waves that recruited me to the Village Hidden in the Rain." "The Rinnegan user is the son of Hanzo of the Salamander?!" Guy asked in shock. "Yes," the woman replied a little irritably as though that were completely obvious, "Now if you will excuse me, I will go convey your concerns to Lord Hanzo. He values determination and hard work a great deal, so I'm sure he will advocate Lee's advancement."
Lee raised his head, "He will?!" Then his eyebrows rose as he saw it was the girl from the bridge, "You!" Haku smiled, "Yes Lee, I'm certain Lord Hanzo would promote you if you were a Rain genin, and I am certain he will advocate your advancement with Lord Hokage. Dai was his apprentice the way you are Guy's; defeating him is an extremely impressive feat, one that even I would have trouble with." She leaned forward and touched Lee's cheek with a smile, "So rest up, I'm sure everything will be fine."
As she walked away, a still blushing Lee looked at Guy, "Um Guy sensei, what just happened?" Guy blinked and then burst out laughing.
An Hour LaterEdit
Lords Hokage and Hanzo walked into the infirmary behind Gecko, Anko and Ibiki Morino, the remaining Jonin instructors and candidates. Those in bed sat up a little straighter if they could. Kiba was sitting up on his bed with Akamaru, not much worse for wear despite the pounding Naruto had given him. Wakai was wrapped almost head to toe in bandages with both hands and both legs in casts. Lee had a cast on his left arm and leg. Temari's hands and one arm were wrapped in bandages and she had a gauze pad on one cheek. Kita was sitting up on her bed which was right next to Temari's where they had been chatting, getting along quite well now that they weren't fighting.
Neji was in the bed next to Lee, covered in mint green paste that made him look like he was at a spa, a fact that had earned him a fair deal of good natured teasing from Guy and Lee once they were certain he was okay. Sasuke and Chirru were at opposite ends of the ward, Chirru was still unconscious with his face completely covered in bandages. Sasuke was still pale and hadn't let go of Sakura's hand since his match, shaking every time his thoughts drifted to what he had seen. Zaku's yowl of pain when his shoulder had been forced back into socket had left him shaking for almost five minutes. Choji was still out cold from his fight with Dosu.
Lord Hokage cleared his throat, "I commend all those who have advanced to the final round of the third stage of the Chunin Exams, and now I will begin the explanation of the final round. In the final round, each of you will put your battle skills on display, you'll demonstrate all the power and control you've achieved in your respective disciplines. Accordingly, the final battles will commence one month from now. This is to provide a suitable period of preparation, so that we can announce the results of the preliminary matches to each country's leaders, we must also have time to prepare and distribute the summons for the final selection, not to mention that you examinees are going to need time to prepare for something this important. Up until now you've fought not knowing anything about your opponents beforehand, that will no longer be the case. By now everyone here knows your techniques. So take advantage of this month to learn new techniques and develop new strategies. Using your old tired tricks is a sure way to lose in the finals, and be sure to remember to get some rest as well."
Then he smiled, "Now there is one final matter to attend to before we advance to the finals. In a calm orderly fashion, those of you who have advanced are each to take a slip of paper from the box Anko is holding." "Everyone just stay where you are," Anko instructed cheerfully, "I'll come to you." She went around the room to those who had advanced, and when she got to Sakura and Sasuke, Kakashi reached out and caught Sasuke's hand before it could get to the box. Sasuke and Sakura looked up at him in surprise, but he shot them a look that told them they would discuss it later and they immediately fell quiet.
When she finished handing them out, Morino looked at a clipboard, "Good, everyone has one. Now going from left to right, tell me the number that's written on your slip of paper." He pointed to Tenten who was closest. "Four," she declared. Morino pointed to Sokushi who declared that she had gotten five. Dosu had twelve. Gaara had seven, Kankuro two, and Temari ten. Naruto had one, Hinata had three and Sakura six. Lee got eight, Shikamaru nine and Shino eleven. Lord Hokage nodded, "Good. We will now explain how the final selection tournament will work." "Is that what the numbers were for?" Shikamaru asked, "Drawing lots?" Lord Hokage ignored him, "Ibiki you may now announce which ninja have been paired up." "Yessir," Morino replied, stepping forward and showing them all a strange diagram that all of them could tell after a minute to be a bracket, albeit a three branched one.
Shikamaru raised a hand, "Can I ask you a question?" "You may," Lord Hokage replied. "So if the final exams are a tournament, does that mean there'll only be one winner? Only one of us will become a Chunin?" Shikamaru asked. "Actually it's quite the contrary," Lord Hokage grinned, " There will be a number of judges for the final round, including myself, the Kazekage, Lord Hanzo and other shinobi leaders from various nations that will ultimately be assigning your missions to you. Through this tournament, the judges will be able to make a thorough evaluation of your abilities. They will then decide whether any or all of you possess the qualities required of a chunin. Even if someone loses the first round, they could still become a Chunin."
"So there's a chance everyone who competes in the final tournament could become a Chunin?" Temari asked. "Correct," Lord Hokage replied, "Conversely there is also a chance that none of you could become Chunin. The advantage of fighting more rounds in the tournament is having more chances to display your talents in front of the judges who will decide your fate. Does that answer your question Shikamaru?" Shikamaru nodded, "Yes sir."
Lord Hokage nodded, "Then let us adjourn until next month." With that, the speech was done and the competitors and Jonin instructors went to their teams, Lord Hattori following along behind the instructors from the Rain village with Suigetsu and Haku behind him looking reluctant to be in the same room with him. Several sets of eyes followed him, curious to see what he was going to do. He walked down to Chirru's bed and looked at the medic, "How long will he be unconscious?"
The medic shrugged, "It's hard to tell with head wounds. It could be anywhere from minutes to days, his skull was fractured during his fight, we've been checking for brain damage. We haven't found anything yet, so he should be alright, but there's really no way to know when he'll wake up until he does." Hattori nodded, "Alert me at once when he wakes up. He's in for an ass chewing that'll make him wish we had let the Uchiha kid keep pummeling him."
The medic looked like he wanted to protest but then decided against it as Hattori turned to Wakai, and his mentor, "How is he Yori?" Yori's expression was grim, "He'll heal, but he won't be able to practice for at least six months, and he won't be fit to return to the field for at least a year and a half, if not two." Hattori lowered his head grimly, "I see. Has he woken up yet?" Yori shook his head, "No. He's still sleeping. The doctor's say it's best to let him." Hattori nodded, "Then that's what we'll have to do."
He sighed, his expression inscrutable behind his mask, "Would you like to oversee two fresh genin, or place Teibo under my direction while Chirru and Wakai heal?" Yori and Teibo's heads snapped up, and then Yori looked back at Wakai, and then at Teibo who nodded, "It's okay Yori sensei. You need to be with Wakai. You're brothers, you've gotta look out for each other." Yori nodded, "I would like to request a leave of absence to deal with a family medical emergency." Hattori nodded crisply, "Granted."
He turned to Teibo, "Teibo, you are being assigned to Bofu's tutelage for the duration of this exam. You will henceforth function as a member of Squad Thirteen, and next time someone says they've poisoned you, Draw. It. Out. With. Your. Mushrooms. That. Is. What. They. Are. For!" Teibo snapped a salute, "Yessir!" Hattori turned to the second Jonin instructor, "Bofu, you've got a new student." The young dark haired woman nodded, "Okay."
He walked over to Kita, "Kit." Kita flinched and turned to him nervously, "Hi Big Bro." Hattori reached out and patted her on the shoulder, "Good job." Kita blinked in surprise as he turned to Sokushi and Dai who were sitting on the bed next to Kita's. His hand snapped out and flicked Dai in the forehead protector hard enough to rock his head back, "Blockhead. How many times do I have to tell you not to underestimate your opponents?" Dai hung his head, "Sorry Hattori sensei. I'll do better next time." "You'd better," Hattori growled, or you'll be doing one handed inverted pushups until Yori gets tired. Dai flinched.
Hattori turned to Sokushi, "Sokushi," He extended a thumbs up, "BRILLIANT." Sokushi blinked and then gave a dazzling smile, "Thanks Hattori sensei!" Hattori's thumbs up turned into a wagging finger, "Now no getting complacent. That Tenten girl's no slouch, and you might have to fight her again. There won't be any draws in the final tournament unless you both go until you pass out, and nobody's got time for that. The others here are tough too. You're going to have to be at the top of your game if you're going to beat them."
Sokushi kept smiling anyway, "You got it boss!" Hattori nodded, "Good. All of you enjoy your time here in the Leaf Village, but do not neglect your training. That goes double for you Sokushi. Kit, Dai, Teibo, make sure she's at the top of her game for the tournament."
Then he turned to the Shiroihebi siblings, "And you three each beat one of my genin. I look forward to seeing you fight in the finals." They all three bowed slightly, "Thank you Lord Hanzo." Hattori nodded and headed for the door, pausing as he drew level with the teams from the Leaf Village. He turned and pointed to every one of them in turn, except Team Asuma, "I know you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you," his finger landed on Sakura, "And I'm glad to see that healing took properly."
Sakura blinked and then nodded with a smile, "yes thank you, it's like the wound was never there." Hattori nodded, "I'm glad." Then he turned to Neji and Hinata, "You two are Hyuga's are you not?" They nodded, "We are." Hattori nodded, "Be proud of yourselves, you've done your clan proud today." They both bowed, "Thank you Lord Hanzo." Hattori turned to Lee and extended a hand, "Congratulations, not many can hold their own against Dai, let alone beat him." Lee's eyebrows rose and he shook the hand in slight awe, "Thank you."
Then Hattori turned to Sasuke, "Sasuke Uchiha, correct?" Sasuke nodded mutely. Hattori was silent for a moment, "I am sorry. If I had known Chirru was going to disobey orders and use that jutsu, I would never have let him fight. You should be proud of yourself, I've seen Jonin reduced to helpless lumps by that jutsu. To have been able to remain standing, not just remain standing, but fight and win while still shaking the jutsu off is a feat that any and every great Uchiha warrior would applaud you for. The ghosts of your clan are glowing with pride today."
Sasuke stared at him for a moment and then smiled slightly and nodded, not sure quite what to say. Hattori nodded and turned to Sakura and Naruto, "I am looking forward to seeing you two fight as well. I feel like I've seen your face somewhere before Mr. Uzumaki and although I can't place it, I have a feeling your fight is going to be quite the spectacle. You Miss Haruno I am also looking forward to seeing fight, I can't wait to see what all you can do when you're actually exerting yourself." They both bowed, "Thank you Lord Hanzo."
He turned to Shikamaru, Shino and Tenten, "Good job to you three as well. I look forward to seeing your full arsenals in the final tournament." They all bowed, "Thank you Lord Hanzo." Hattori nodded and turned, "And Dosu Kinuta," his eyes glowed behind his mask, "That's a most interesting arm you have there." Dosu put a hand over his arm, "Thank you Lord Hanzo, I'm quite proud of it." Hattori nodded, "I look forward to seeing it's full capabilities at the tournament, and if you could convey to the Master of Hidden Sound that I'm looking forward to seeing him too, I'd be grateful." Dosu's eye widened in surprise, then he bowed, "Of course Lord Hanzo, I will be sure the message is conveyed." "Good," Hattori replied as he stepped past.
He turned and surveyed them all, "You should all be proud of yourselves and your students. They have all fought very well today. I look forward to seeing you again in one month's time, until then, I must be getting back to Hidden Rain. Good luck to all of you." He nodded, turned, and strode out, Haku and Suigetsu hot on his heels.
A Few Moments LaterEdit
Ibiki Morino erected a silence barrier around Lord Hokage, Kakashi, Sasuke and Sakura for privacy. Naruto assumed it was to explain to Sasuke why he had been booted out of the exam, and Sakura was only being allowed in on it because Sasuke would need her. Naruto turned his attention to Neji, who was quietly conferring with Hinata about what Hinata had told him after their fight.
Neji bowed his head solemnly, "I see. I am sorry I insulted you Lady Hinata." Hinata laid her hand over his, "It's alright Neji, you couldn't have known." She suddenly tapped his forehead protector, "And even if you had, you couldn't have done anything about it. I'm going to have to do something about that once I regain my position." Neji blinked, thought about getting mad at her for bringing up the cursed seal so casually, then he realized what she had said, "Do you really mean that Lady Hinata? You would, undo the seal?" Hinata nodded, "It's allowed much foolishness to bloom in our house. I will not let it continue to do so. I'll need some help though."
Neji bowed what little he could, "Whatever service I can provide will be yours." Hinata smiled, "Thank you Neji, you are actually one of the ones I want backing me up the most. Everyone thinks highly of you, and we will need a great deal of support to bully my father into this. With my status being what it is, I cannot rally that support alone." Neji nodded then looked up at Naruto before looking back at Hinata, "But what about your relationship with Naruto? You know your father only allows you two to continue seeing each other because you were kicked out of the line of succession. What if he forbids you from seeing him?"
Naruto opened his mouth to reply, but Hinata beat him to it, "Naruto is the son of the Fourth Hokage, the godson of one of the legendary Sannin, the host of the Nine Tailed Fox and an extremely formidable shinobi in his own right. Let Father try explaining to the clan how that's not good enough for him. If anyone takes his judgment seriously after he is proven so wrong about his own daughter, they certainly will not after that." Neji blinked and stared, "Naruto is the son of the Fourth Hokage?" Naruto smiled and sighed with cheerful exasperation, "Why is everyone always so surprised by that? I paint his face on the monument all the time and I look just like him!"
Neji blinked and then thought about it before nodding, "You do."
Suddenly Kakashi stepped out of the silence bubble, "Naruto, we've got a mission."
Since someone out there is bound to be wondering, no I cannot confirm any crush Haku might have on Lee. Lee does however definitely consider Haku attractive. Whether any romantic feelings will develop between the two remains to be seen, but at this point it seems unlikely given that they are from different villages and Haku is three years older than Lee (Haku is twenty, Lee is seventeen) although it is too early in the story to rule it out.
Yes, Hattori is a nice guy, but he's also a world class hard ass. He was Team Bofu (Kita, Sokushi and Dai)'s first Jonin instructor. He turned over their instruction to one of his best friends and former teammates Bofu when he was promoted. He does care about his team, and he knows they have tremendous potential, which is why he gets tremendously frustrated when they do stupid things because he knows they're better than that. This care is likewise extended to everyone in Hidden Rain, although his former teammates and students are by far the closest to his heart.
He ordered Chirru not to use the genjutsu he did because Hidden Rain is in the middle of arbitrating negotiations between their current allies and Hidden Mist, so psychologically breaking their genin could theoretically hurt their chances of the negotiations going well if they accidentally break someone important. The Kazekage for example would've been livid if one of the Sand Siblings had been on the receiving end of that jutsu.
He didn't scold Kita for losing because she is in fact his adoptive little sister, and because she gave it as much as she could without running undue risk of killing Temari, which would have put quite a strain on Hidden Rain's relationship with the Kazekage. Kita is actually roughly Temari's equal, but they were both holding back significantly. Why and what Temari was holding back is a surprise for the final tournament.
Yes Hattori does know who the Master of Hidden Sound is, and no the Hidden Sound had not figured out yet that Hattori and Haku were the ones who busted Suigetsu out. Hattori admitting to it is almost a declaration of war.
Yes, if Hinata proves her father wrong about something as important as his own daughter, then it will massively undermine his credibility. If Neji has rallied support for her birthright being returned to her when she does it, Hiashi will be virtually powerless to stop it, shy of fighting Hinata to throw her out (a move which would make him tremendously unpopular, and would make her popularity skyrocket if she won). If he has it sprung on him who Naruto actually is after he tries to forbid Hinata from seeing Naruto on the grounds of him not being good enough, his credibility will be almost completely destroyed because everyone will want to know just exactly how he didn't realize his daughter was dating the son of the Fourth Hokage, the godson of a Sannin who is also the Jinchuriki of the Nine Tailed Fox. He is aware of that last one, but the other two have escaped his knowledge thus far. Yes the relationship between Hiashi and Hinata is probably going to stay rather strained for quite some time.
Yes Neji is very popular within the Hyuga clan due to his strength, intelligence and good manners. Yes Hinata is currently an outcast among the Hyuga clan. She hasn't been totally disowned or thrown out of the clan, but she's not far off. Hiashi only chaperones her and Naruto's dates and disapproves of their relationship on principle. If he knew who Naruto was he'd be much more accepting, but he's too busy looking down his nose at Naruto and Hinata to realize what is so very blatantly obvious.
Yes Squad 7 does have another mission already. This is at the urging of Hattori Hanzo and Ibiki Morino, who have both vouched for Sasuke's need to rebuild his confidence in wake of that genjutsu utterly destroying it. Also, there will be a fifth member on this mission who will be quite crucial to the mission and who has known Naruto longer than just about anyone.