Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. This fanfiction is not really worth any money.
So, yeah, this takes place right after Gai gets his team. No pairings, no point, no reason for writing, really.LAUNDRY DAY
Gai was stumped.
It was not very often that such a thing happened, as he considered himself to be very on top of things in most... oh, hell, every situation. But today, it seemed, had to be different.
"I could've sworn!" Gai scratched his head in confusion, head swiveling this way and that, poking through his once-tidy closet. His hair, not shockingly, stayed exactly how it was.
... run out of clean bodysuits. For that matter, all his golden leg warmers were dirty, too.
Thirty minutes later, Gai found himself walking through the streets on his way to the Konoha Laundromat, carrying an impossibly large sack of laundry and a jug of detergent, whistling to himself happily. The villagers around him on this sunny weekend were reduced to stutters and Gai was making an obvious effort to ignore the gasps and whispers.
For the first time in years, he had left his house wearing a tee shirt.
It was a simple tee shirt (for Gai, at least), printed with over-decorative letters reading 'Konoha Green Beast' across the front, and looked it fine with the green sweatpants he was wearing. But the shirt... well, it was white.
Even Kakashi, who was walking by, nose in his ever-present favorite novel, looked up from the pages to gape. Had Gai not made a mental challenge to himself to ignore all the attention (with the consequence of failure to scale Mt. Hokage with only his tongue and teeth), he would've stopped to proclaim victory in finally getting the attention of his eternal rival.
The Laundromat was now in view, just a block away and Gai wondered to himself just how he could've failed – FAILED – to pay attention to this important detail in his life. He prided himself in being able to manage the busy and dangerous life of a ninja as well as keep his house clean, keep his body fit, get his weekly shopping done, uphold a healthy social life, and bake a mean peach pie.
Well, he thought, perhaps it had to do with his new responsibilities. He smiled as he thought of his new team. Being the jounin instructor of three genins certainly meant less out-of-town missions, but the opportunity to mold such shinobi as TenTen, Neji, and Lee in this springtime of their youth was too great to pass up! Gai was especially proud of their passing of survival training.
Gai stepped through the door of the Laundromat and walked right over to the nearest empty washing machine, dropping his things before striking up some pose or the other to no one at all. Then, he started loading his clothes, all of it noticeably monotone in color, before adding the detergent and sliding coins into the slots.
He sat down on a bench next to the window and realized he had nothing to occupy his time. Blast! To punish himself for this lapse in memory, he vowed to add 250 extra push-ups to his usual training repertoire. Gai settled himself, for now, and slapped on his widest grin and allowed the room to be blinded momentarily by his picture-perfect teeth.
He leaned back against the window, losing his thoughts to his new genin team once again. TenTen seemed like she would be a good, fast learner. Her goals were solid and she had chosen herself an excellent role model. The Legendary Sannin, Tsunade, was someone any kunoichi should strive to be like! Gai placed his chin in his fist in thought. However, he, as her teacher, should encourage her to walk her own path as well! It would not do to only be a mimic (besides, TenTen did not seem quite like a medical type), she should strive to surpass history and push herself to the limits of her youth! And Gai-sensei would be there the whole time, guiding TenTen to her dreams!
Anyone watching Gai right then would've seen a very familiar and determined sparkle in his eyes.
Just then, the first washer buzzed, followed soon after by the others, and Gai busied himself with loading the clothes dryers. Separating his fashionable bodysuits from his, ahem, intimates and leg warmers, Gai set up the machines, but was distracted by someone entering the Laundromat to collect their clothing from the neighboring dryer.
Gai smiled at this, impressed. Not every boy his age did his own laundry, right? Neji's face displayed independence, responsibility...
...a frown at Gai's enthusiastic wave. Neji gathered his clothing up quickly and turned to leave.
Shy, was he? Well, there was no way Neji would be able to go through a shinobi's life as introverted and shy as he was! Gai would have to change this!
"Neji! No hello for your sensei?" Gai flashed another bright smile. Neji had stopped, back turned, and visibly twitched.
There was a pause. "Hello... sensei."
"Enjoying your day off completing the everyday tasks that make our lives what they are?"
Another pause. "Not really."
"Oh," Gai frowned, "How unfortunate. Neji-"
"I must be going now, sensei."
Gai pretended not to notice the impatience in the last word. "Oh, all right, Neji. I'll see you tomorrow then, bright and early with the sun that dawns on the springtime of your youth! We're going to start some tough training!"
"Really now?" The sarcasm was going to have to go, Gai decided. Such a gifted young man should not... scowl so much. Gai was sure that a few years under his wing and Neji would be a bright, energetic, upstanding ninja of Konoha.
"What," Neji continued, "could you possibly train me in?"
The arrogance and bitterness could go, too.
"You are still young and inexperienced. You could do well if you learn to open up to advice and hard work."
"You haven't answered my question, sensei." Neji's back was still turned to Gai.
Gai paused. "Well, judging from your performance in survival training, not too much."
Neji revolved slowly on his heels, incredulous when his eyes finally met Gai's. He hadn't expected Gai to admit that, then.
"You have a very different style of taijutsu from my own. However, your speed and agility, your work etiquette, and your general attitude are all going to need help."
"You are already very good, top of your class, if I remember correctly, and a very talented ninja. However, you are still composed of more potential and possibility than experience and certainty. I promise," Gai struck the 'Good Guy' Pose, "to help you traverse the road to your own personal greatness!"
For a moment, Neji's face looked twisted, undecided between scoffing and smirking (at least that was close enough to smiling). That, instead, became a simple nod and the young Hyuuga prodigy turned to walk outside again.
"Would you... like a Fluffy Dryer Sheet?"
Gai blinked, "Why, thank you, Neji!"
The pale-eyed genin genius sighed and handed Gai a sheet of softener before leaving for good, his bag of laundry thrown over his shoulder.
Gai added the Sheets to his laundry and shut the doors, thoughts still locked on Neji. He hadn't looked too happy about being told his weaknesses, but he did seem to want to succeed. Neji wanted to achieve something, Gai sensed, but he wasn't sure what. He would prove to be an interesting student.
Gai sat back down again; he noticed the Laundromat was nearly empty now, just himself, a few tired-looking shinobi, and one older woman Gai recognized as the housekeeper and maid to the matriarch of the Inuzuka clan. She was mumbling something about dog fur.
The other ninjas included Genma who was napping on the opposite bench, his toothpick-thingie bouncing along with his snores, and Anko who was munching on something deep-fried and yapping at Ibiki, who looked tired of ignoring of her and ready to test some new methods of torture.
Gai sighed. These people were all excellent jounins, like him. But was that good enough? Could he really do it? Could he really mold these youngsters and turn them into something greater?
No! Self-doubt would not be his downfall! Gai had to trust in his own ability and face this challenge head-on!
His last student, then, was Rock Lee. That boy seemed rather... hopeless. Kind of like Gai, actually, at that age, which was exactly why he was sure Lee would succeed in the end.
He was determined and he was a hard worker. He had confidence, but not arrogance. He had goals and role models, but he new how to pave his own path. He didn't let hurtful words get to him for too long and instead turned it into fuel to drive him further.
Lee was Gai's ideal student and he was not going to waste an opportunity like this to show the world what hard work could do. Lee would be a great shinobi without genjutsu or ninjutsu. He would show everyone.
Oh, the dryers were finished! Gai enthusiastically began to sort and fold his bodysuits and replace them in the sack. He opened up the next dryer and...
Mingled with his leg warmers and... other things... was one of Gai's bodysuits. This was bad. The bodysuits were only supposed to be put on Tumble Dry with medium low heat! The leg warmers, however, received Permanent Press treatment and high heat!
Gai reached in, biting his lip and tears nearly leaking out of his eyes. No! This was his Lucky One, too! It was shrunken, now! No way Gai would be able to fit it!
"Oh, shrunk something, did you?" Anko asked lightly from behind Gai.
"Yes!" Gai sniffled, brandishing the small suit.
Anko looked at it and raised an eyebrow. "Oh, well, it's just one of many, right?"
"No, it is not! Each one of my suits is special and unique!"
Anko glanced at the stack of neatly folded, completely identical green suits.
"If it meant that much to you," Anko smirked, "Keep it, or..."
Her smile grew wider.
"Or, you could give it one of your new students, eh? It looks like it would fit the average rookie genin."
Gai's eyes dried up in an instant. "You're absolutely right! That which was once so precious to me should be passed on, along with its importance and luck! Thank you, Anko!"
He flashed her the good guy pose, which only made her roll her eyes. Gai grabbed the rest of his laundry and jetted out of the building in excitement.
Ibiki glared at Anko. "What have you done? Now there's going to be some mini-Gai freak running around."
And so, the next day, Gai began his training with his young team, working them hard in physically and mentally, unsurprised when Lee was the only one to desire using the old-fashioned, but effective method of putting weights on his legs to increase strength and speed. TenTen's chakra control, and soon, her aim, began to perfect itself and Neji actually looked as if he was listening to Gai's words! Er, sometimes...
It took a few more months for Gai to decide which of his lucky students to give the suit to. For obvious reasons, he ruled TenTen out immediately (It would have been perverse of him to present such a suit to a young girl!). But between Neji and Lee, it looked like Lee would not only appreciate it more, but he had earned such a gift.
The day Gai gave it to him, Lee gave him their first hug. Gai tried very hard not to cry but...
Author's Notes: So, yeah, this silly little thing was done in about two hours because I was avoiding homework, AGAIN, and I wanted to add something to my C2 (My little Rock Lee community. Yes, that was a shameless plug!). This fic is most certainly not perfect. I'd like any constructive criticism I can get, so even if it's a one-liner, I'd like to hear some feedback. Thanks for making it this far through the fic!
SGL (Shamanic Guardian Lena)