Chapter 6: As Indomitable as Mt. Tai
With their classmates lined up at the side, many standing with their arms crossed or with smirks on their faces, Wu and Naruto made their way into the circle. It was way too small for Wus tastes, but, as he wasnt planning to move so much as a single centimeter, he just smiled at Naruto and said, “Ready when you are.”
Before Naruto could charge at Wu, Iruka interjected to explain, “That isnt how we do things, Wu. While it is true youll be pitted against one another, everyone in the village is a family. To highlight this, we start and end each spar with a hand sign known as the Seal of Confrontation. Here, this is the first part.”
Seeing Iruka raise his right index and middle fingers in a half-ram seal, Wu obediently emulated his Sensei before asking, “Now what”
Adopting a somewhat wry smile, Iruka advised, “Patience.” before going on the explain, “Once both parties demonstrate the Seal of Confrontation, the spar officially begins. Afterward, the winner extends his fingers to the defeated, joining them together as a sign of respect.”
After demonstrating the second part of the seal using both hands, Iruka took a step back and added, “Now, once youve both formed the seal, you are free to begin.”
Raising his own index and middle fingers, Naruto stared back at Wu with the most confident expression he could manage, asserting, “By the end of this spar, Im going to make you fight back. Believe it…!”
Narrowing his eyes, Wus smile broadened as he mused, “You know what they say, seeing is believing. Show me what youre made of, traffic cone.”
Without the need for additional taunting, Naruto charged at Wu as fast as his feet could carry him. His initial lunge left a deep imprint in the ground, but from the perspective of Wu, he may as well have been moving in slow motion.
As Narutos punch impacted his face, causing more damage to the fiery youths fist than Wus face, the latter thought, (“Perhaps Kurenai isnt as weak as I thought she was…”)
Retracting his hand, Naruto looked like he was about to throw another punch but stopped short before squatting on the ground and gripping the wrist of his right hand. He had thrown all his weight into his initial punch, and Wu hadnt budged. Upon closer inspection, one of his knuckles was visibly shattered, and the skin between his index, middle, and ring fingers had been split.
Staring down at Naruto, Wu briefly considered taunting him by asking if he wanted to continue. The jeering and cheering of his classmates made it pretty obvious Naruto wasnt especially popular, but Hiruzen had asked him to try and befriend each of his classmates. Thus, after a brief moment of hesitation, Wu extended his hand toward the teary-eyed youth, asking, “Are you okay…”
Not anticipating Wus actions, Narutos mouth hung agape as he stared up at the former. Before he could respond, however, Iruka loudly cleared his throat, saying, “Please form the Seal of Confrontation. This match goes to Sarutobi-san. As for you, Naruto…remember to never underestimate your opponent. You were given reliable information addressing Sarutobi-sans exceptional durability. You should have considered that and attempted to lock his joints or grapple. Striking him directly was foolish…”
Averting his eyes from Iruka, Naruto wanted to protest but couldnt find the words to do so. Instead, it was Wu who interjected, saying, “While I agree with Iruka-senseis evaluation, I dont believe Naruto did anything wrong. Youll never understand your limits if you dont test them against the unknown. If people based their actions on what others told them they could or couldnt do, the termexceptional wouldnt exist.”
Punctuating his words, Wu extended his index and middle fingers toward Naruto, a toothy grin plastered across his face as he said, “I look forward to seeing you break through your limits, Uzumaki Naruto.”
Seeing Wu in action, the eyes of several girls were filled with stars, a stark contrast to many of the boys present. As for Naruto, he just stared blankly at the fingers right in front of him for several seconds. When he eventually came to his senses, he quickly linked his fingers with Wus before smiling so broadly it threatened to tear the muscles of his face.
“Just you wait, Wu! Im going to surpass you and everyone else! You can count on it…!”
Resisting the urge to inform Naruto that he wouldnever surpass him, Wu helped the giggling blonde to his feet before turning to Iruka and asking, “Are we allowed to participate in multiple spars, or do I need to leave the circle”
Stepping out before Iruka could respond, the raven-haired youth that had previously glared at Wu firmly asserted, “Ill be your next opponent. Lets see how your defense measures up against my Uchiha Clans Intercepting Fist…!”
Seeing the raven-haired youth step forward, the largest gathering of girls responded with various shouts, cheers, and squealing. Their leader was a girl with neatly styled platinum blonde hair and peculiar blue eyes lacking visible pupils. Her clothing and accessories were of much higher quality than everyone elses, and her voice was by far the loudest of all the girls as she shouted, “Kyaaa~! You can do it, Sasuke-kun! Kick Sarutobi-kuns butt~!”
Though he winced due to how shrill the girls voice was, Wu did his best to conceal his annoyance as he looked to Iruka and reiterated, “I promise not to attack.”
Hearing Wus remark, many among the overzealous girls expressed their derision while Iruka just exhaled a sigh and replied, “This is the only time Im allowing this. Take your positions and form the Seal of Confrontation.”
As the raven-haired youth took his position across from Wu, he went out of his way to reveal what the latter had already deduced, declaring, “My name is Uchiha Sasuke. You may be strong, but Ill show you there are no talents that exceed the Uchiha.”
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Wu formed a Seal of Confrontation and said, “Talk is cheap. Show me what you got, duck butt.”
Clicking his tongue, Sasuke pulled out a dull, wooden kunai and threw it directly at Wus face. Weapons were allowed during spars so long as you didnt aim for the softer vital points, so Sasuke reached into the pouch at his lower back and followed the initial kunai with a half-dozen Shuriken.
Though many expected him to dodge or use a Kunai to deflect the thrown projectiles, Wu surprised even Iruka by closing his eyes and letting themding against his skin. Afterward, he raised his brows, a confused look on his face as he questioned, “Were those fake If so, did you seriously think they would be able to penetrate my skin…”
Instead of answering Wus queries, Sasuke closed the distance between them and attempted to sweep the formers legs. Unlike Naruto, however, he made sure to restrain himself. This was the correct decision, as kicking Wus leg was like kicking a tree trunk.
Undaunted by his failure, Sasuke took advantage of the fact Wu was just observing him, grabbing the latters ankles and pulling with as much force as he could manage. He wanted to knock Wu onto his back, but the same thing as before happened. Wu just stood there, motionless, almost as if he had been adhered to the ground by cement.
Realizing he wasnt going to achieve anything by tugging on Wus legs, Sasuke took a moment to create a bit of distance between them before glaring back at the former and asking, “What kind of trick are you using to stick to the ground”
Recalling the surprise on Kurenais face when he demonstrated his ability to stick to trees, walls, and virtually any other surface, Wu just smiled and replied, “Wouldnt you like to know~”
Feeling as though his pride was being trampled, Sasuke began forming a series of hand seals. Before he could finish shaping the Jutsu, however, Iruka stepped between them, a disproving look on his face as he crossed his arms and said, “Uchiha Sasuke…you know very well that Ninjutsu are forbidden during friendly sparring matches. Please come and see me after classes.”
Clicking his tongue, Sasuke turned away from Iruka and Wu, putting his hands into his pockets before storming off. Iruka could have stopped him, but he and the other instructors were under strict orders from the Hokage to give the young Uchiha some space. It had barely been a year since the boys entire Clan had been massacred, leaving him as the sole survivor. It was expected that he would be at least a littletemperamental…
Turning his attention to Wu, Iruka forced a smile as he said, “Well done, Sarutobi-san. You performed exceptionally well today. Now, please join the rest of your classmates. We still have quite a few matches to conduct before the period ends.”
Nodding in affirmation, Wu turned away from his Sensei and walked over to his classmates. The group of girls that had been cheering for Sasuke was giving him death stares, but that didnt stop him from walking right past them and joining his deskmates, Kiba and Kaia.
Exhibiting much greater vigor, now that he was no longer trapped in a classroom, Kiba extended his first toward Wu, saying, “That was pretty cool. Ive never seen anyone take a Kunai to the face like that.”
After staring at Kibas extended fist for several moments, Wu extended his own, bumping knuckles with the sanpaku-eyed boy as he said, “It was no big deal. My face is tough enough to resist actual kunai, so there was no chance of those piercing my skin.”
Inserting herself into the conversation, Kaia asked, “Really” before reaching up to pinch Wus cheek. She was wearing strange white gloves with plush material sewn into her palms and fingers, resembling the pads found on the feet of canines, but she still managed to get ahold of Wus cheek, pinching it without issue.
Before Wu could politely ask the girl to release his cheek, Kiba softly yet sharplybarked, “Kaia…!”
Releasing Wus cheek, Kaia appeared to shrink into her own body as she backed away from Kiba. The latter was baring his teeth like a wild animal, but, more importantly, he was the son of the Inuzuka Clan Matriarch, the leader of theirpack. Kaia had been told time and again never to oppose him, so she began to tremble like a scared puppy until Wu waved his hand in front of Kibas face, asking, “Whats with the hostility”
Though he relaxed his expression, Kiba continued to glare at Kaia as he explained, “The Inuzuka get a bad wrap because idiots like this have no common sense. Even a toddler knows not to touch other peoples faces without permission.”
As Kaia shrunk further into the coat she wore to make herself look more like a boy, Wu exhaled a light chuckle and retorted, “Does that mean I have to ask permission every time I want to punch someone Id rather not.”
Confused by Wus words, Kiba finally tore his penetrating gaze away from Kaia, questioning, “Huh What are you talking about”
Shrugging his shoulders, Wu asserted, “I just dont think its a big deal. It would be one thing if she did it after I asked her not to, but being curious is never a bad thing. It might get you into trouble, sure. But Id rather face the consequences of my actions than limit how I can act.”
Though he didnt comprehend what Wu was saying, Kiba understood that he wasnt upset by Kaias carelessness. Thus, rather than harping over it, he ultimately shrugged his shoulders and reiterated, “Youre really weird, you know that You dont speak the way a normal kid does.”
Emulating Kibas body language, Wu shrugged his shoulders and pointed out, “Most kids cant take a kunai to the face, wooden or otherwise. Guess Im just built different.”
Shaking his head, Kiba forced a smile as he retorted, “Yeah, whatever you say, man.” before looking to Kaia and asking, “Whats the matter with you Did you break…”
Returning to her senses, Kaia tore her eyes away from Wu, asking, “What do you mean” while tilting her head to the side.
Narrowing his eyes, Kiba was about to point out how Kaia was behaving strangely when the next match began, drawing his attention. Wus gaze followed his own, so, with the conversation suddenly coming to an end, Kaia took one last glance at Wu before shifting her attention to the spar, a cat-like smile plastered across her face.