I shook the boys hand warily. "I'm Matsuo Arata."
"It is a pleasure to meet you!" Lee beamed.
I glanced at the bench. "So...um...did you like, fall out of the sky or something?"
He laughed. "No, no. I was training, and I went to do a backflip, and then...bench." he gestured at the shattered wood. "I must pay the Hokage for that tomorrow." There was an awkward silence. "So, why were you sitting all by yourself, Matuso - chan?"
My face flushed. "I was just...getting a breath of fresh air."
he eyed my suspiciously. "Are you sure? You seemed upset when I crashed here."
"I was kind of panicking," I laughed. "But I'm fine. Just stressed. Tomorrow I'm assigned a team."
"Ah." Rock Lee nodded. "I remember being assigned to my team. I loved it!" He made an excited fist in the air, and for the first time I noticed his outfit was all green spandex. And he was wearing a red headband around his waist. "You will love it too, Matuso-chan! But you must not be nervous! Come! Let's take a walk around the village!!" With this he hooked my arm in his and took off running.
I yelped. "But i need to get back-"
"don't worry! it will not take long!" Lee grinned at me. "I took this same route before my team assignment. There is something you should see."
With a sigh, I followed. He wasn't actually that bad. A little creepy, but his overly large heart was in the right place.
Kakashi's head popped out to see what was happening. "Long time no see, Guy," Kakashi said. I watched both the ninja's stare at each other for a while. Kakashi with his calm, collect look, and Guy's face, which was becoming annoyed.
"I challenge you to a contest!" Guy yelled pointing a finger. His students groaned knowing their teacher wouldn't let up on his challenge. I didn't know what to do, I just stood there till someone started talking to me.
"You're new here?" It was the white eyed boy.
"Yes, I am. I came from the Sand to live, and graduate from here. My names Akane Makoto," I answered back.
"Oh well I'm Tenten, and that's Neji. The our sensei is the one who knocked you over his names Guy," Tenten explained giving out names. "Seems like Guy sensei isn't going to help us find Lee," She continued.
"Who's he?" I asked.
"Just another annoying team mate," Neji answered.
"I could help," I told them looking at the ground. "I still have to get more acquainted to the village and all, so yeah," I got my answer faster than what I expected.
"Thank you! That's be such a greet help!" She then hooked her arm around mine, and started walking.
"She should at least know what, Lee looks like," Neji said making her stop dead in her tracks.
"Ha ha yeah, well tinier version of Guy sensei. Let's go!" She started dragging me. I unhooked my arm from hers. She looked confused as to why I did this.
"Sorry not much of a touchy person," We began to walk when I felt a breeze go across my shoulders. Why did it feel like something was missing? Oh right! "Miki, Sho stop eating and get back here," I yelled back towards the shop, where both my ferrets, came jumping back to me, and sat on my shoulders. "That's better," I said looking at them. Neji and Tenten looked at them for a while, Neji left after one second, and Tenten waited for me to catch back up to her to look.
"Wow didn't know you had animals with you," She said, intrigued.
"Yeah they were a gift from my brother, back when I was training to become a ninja," My face fell at the thought of my brother. "Okay let's find your teammate Lee!"
"Why are you taking me here?" I asked dryly as Lee sped towards the platform where you could view the faces of the Hokages. he stopped and unhooked arms when we reached the top.
"Look at the Hokages," Lee said, eyeing them with awe and respect.
I scanned the faces. They all looked so somber. I wondered faintly why there were four heads and we only had the Third Hokage. I folded my arms. "Whoa."
"See, they were all Genin once, too." Lee said, glancing at me. "They were as nervous as I was, and you are. But look what they became!" He smiled. "So there's no need to be nervous."
I smiled at Lee. "Hey, I just met you, but thanks, Lee." He smiled at me again and we started walking away, back the way we had come. "Tell me again how you crashed into the bench?"
"Well, I was doing a backflip..."
"Can you teach ME how to do a backflip?"
"er...uh...I suppose I could! yes, most definitely!" Lee nodded his head vigorously. "See, you just-"Not right now!" I laughed. "Later. Are you good at Taijutsu?"
At this, Rock Lee had a distant look. "I cannot do Gen or Ninjutsu, so I depend solely on Taijutsu. Yes. I am very good at it."
I gaped at him. How could someone not be able to use Jutsu? I felt so bad for him. But he was so happy - and he had graduated, regardless of the disability. He was strong, determined. And here I was being a little bit shaky about getting assigned a team. Whoop de do. "Oh." I glanced at the ground, shuffling my feet a bit. "Will you teach me a bit of Taijutsu? I'm really bad at it," I added truthfully. I don't know how I had passed it.
"I will certainly help you," Lee beamed. "But right now, my team is coming, with that new girl from the Sand Village."
"And I have to get back to Iruka," I said, waving at him. "See you around, Lee."
With a sharp nod from him, we seperated and went our different ways.
While me and Tenten had been walking around for Lee, Neji left on his own search, and I told Miki, and Sho to go search around. Neji had found him up by the Hokage heads. While walking up there we had ran into Matsuo. She nodded towards us, and I waved. Having trouble mustering up the courage to apologize about me planning revenge on her friend I finally pushed myself too. Turning around I spoke, "I'm sorry for planning against your friend Matsuo! It's just I felt like she didn't make me belong, when I got here, and that I should get back, but when I started thinking about it I sounded like her, and now I'm not going through with the plan," She turned around while I had spoke fast to her about what I was doing.
"Thanks, maybe you can still be friends someday too," She said smiling. "Uhm.........." Some how I could see that she thought I missed something.
"What?" I asked.
"You did tell Naruto right? Because he might go on without you to sabotage Ino," My face went to horror.
"No..................." I was silent. "I got to go," I looked back at Tenten waiting for me. " Tenten's taking me to meet Lee. Bye," I waved, as me and Tenten ran to get up to the platform.
I started back to the ramen shop, oddly pleased. Akane had broken out of her shell, my best friend wasn't going to be attacked, and I had made a friend in Rock Lee. Kind of a friend. When I got back to the shop Iruka practically tackled me, taking me by the shoulder. "Where were you?" He demanded. "Kakashi and I were looking all over!"
"I was at that platform. Where you can see the Hokage faces." I said innocently.
"Didn't I tell you not to panic?" Kakashi said, walking over. "Geez, let go of her, iruka. She's losing circulation to her arms."
iruka let go, but he still looked kind of mad. I shrunk away. "Naruto," i called. "Akane isn't going to ambush Ino any more."
"Aw, man!" Naruto came out from the shop. "I was looking forward to that."
i folded my arms and glared at him. he grinned sheepishly. "No offense?"
I shrugged. "Ah, well." i smiled. "Do good on your test.'
He nodded. "I'll ace it, for sure! Believe it!' with this, he untied the headband and handed it back to me. "Thanks, Matsuo!" he turned. "I need to go find Akane now!" With this he whirled around and took off.
I sighed and shook my head, before returning to where Iruka argued with Kakashi. Iruka turned. "Matsuo. Come on, lets get home."
"Alright." I slumped my shoulders and waved goodbye to Kakashi, before walking home with Iruka. On the way back, he looked at me, trying to look angry.
"Why aren't you wearing your headband?" he demanded, lip twitching with the effort of frowning.
"I don't know. It feels like Naruto's now." I looked at him wearily. "And I'm just tired. Too much stuff in one day, you know?"
his look went from angry to an expression of...well...awe. Understanding. Point is, he didnt look mad anymore. And then he smiled and reached back, untying his own headband.
"Give me that one," he said. "Here. Take mine.' When I opened my mouth to object, he went on. "I know it doesn't feel like its yours. But you earned it, Matsuo. In more ways then one." I took the one he offered me, gazing at it in awe as he tied mine on his own forehead. "And I'll keep yours."
eyes watering, I tied the headband around my neck in choker sort of fashion. "and I'll keep this one forever, Iruka." I stopped and hugged him. "Thank you."
"Ah, Neji told me you'd get up here soon Tenten!" I heard a similar voice to Guy's call from the top of the platform. There was the sound of running and then a giant smiling face infront of me. "So your Akane! It's a pleasure to meet, you! I'm Rock Lee," His hand was in front of my face before, I had a chance to answer back.
"It's a, uhm................ nice to meet you too Lee," I took his hand slowly, and we shaked. "So........?" I had no idea what to say. Meeting so many people at once was a little overwhelming for me. Well at least I was making some friends, I looked around, and then noticed the rock face's carved into the land. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed them till now.
"So you’re the Sand girl that I knocked over earlier?" It was Guy sensei sounding as confident as ever. Turning I found his hands on his hips, and then a thumbs up, and his blinding smile. How am I going to make it through the Leaf, if I'm with this guy?
We walked into the house, flicking on the lights. Iruka locked the door and sighed, unzipping his vest. "It's been a long day," he remarked. I nodded and crossed the room to the bookshelf.
"I cant believe I just thought of this, Uncle Iruka," I said, peering at the spines. "Do you have any pictures of my mom and dad?"
Iruka turned, slinging his vest over the back of a chair. "Somewhere. The photo album is on the second shelf. There should be one of their wedding."
I tugged out a suspicious looking book and flipped it open. The first page read, LITTLE MATSUO. I grinned. "You took pictures of me as a kid?"
Iruka blushed. "Everyone takes pictures of their kids. Your parents sent me a few, as well."
I looked at the page of a little baby me, grinning up at the camera in a woman's arm. In another I was wearing a purple headband around my waist, right above the diaper. Someone held my arms up so I looked like a ferocious sumo wrestler baby. "Oh my gosh. This is so embaressing," I laughed. "So..." just then I opened to a faded picture of a wedding. There was a beautiful woman with long black hair, holding a boquet of lilacs against her white dress. A beaming man stood aside of her, in a black tuxedo. He had light brown hair tied in a masculine ponytail behind him. "What were their names?"
Iruka opened the fridge, scavenging for food. "Your mom was Natsumi Umino. Your father was Takashi Arata."
I touched the picture longingly. "I'll find him one day," I said. "You can bet your life on it."
"Yes I am," I answered back. People asked to many questions when your new in the village. "May I ask why I was taken up here?" Seeing as they weren't going to let me leave, and go back to my house I was going to get answers. I heard Neji grunt in displeasure.
"Ah yes, well seeing as there is an odd number of ninja this year, and your skills as one are high enough, Iruka has told me that you've been assigned to my team. We haven't taken the Chuunin Exams either since I thought my team could use more training, to get their skills more advanced," Guy explained to me. I looked at him surprised, seeing as I wasn't getting my team assigned tomorrow like everyone else, but today by my own sensei now.
"Huh, she's just going to be more useless baggage, on our team, Guy we don't need her," I looked over to see Neji leaning up against a pillar, and his milky eyes looking at me with distaste. "She's probably going to be a failure like everyone else," He finished off his sentence, probably thinking that take my self esteem even lower than what it was.
"How would you know Hyuuga, that I'm not as strong as maybe even you?" I challenged him. "For all you know my jutsu's might be weak, or I'm stronger than you'd think," He turned around and looked at me straight in the eyes. "I want to fight you to prove my strength to not only you, but give a demonstration of what I can do for Guy sensei," Afterwards Guy Sensei erupted with enthusiasm.
"What a great idea Akane! Yes this should happen tomorrow, at Noon! So you two be ready to show me what you can actually do. Also so Tenten and Lee aren't left out of anything you two shall fight against each other as well," He finished off his sentence with a laugh. "No everyone go home and get some rest," With that he disappeared with a poof of smoke. Neji was already walking away, while Tenten, and Lee stood beside me on either side.
"Do you know what you've done?'" Tenten questioned
"Uhm........ Challenged Neji to a battle?" I questioned back to see if I was right.
"Neji's the strongest fighters, that I've seen," Lee gave the answer to Tenten's question. "Not only that but he's stronger than the Main Branch of the Hyuuga clan," Lee continued. "You should be careful as you don't know his fighting style yet," I cut him off.
"Yes, but Lee he doesn't know anything about me either," I said waving as finger in front of my face. "Good night," I told both of them, and started walking off.
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