The Female of the Species
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masahi Kishimoto. I only use the characters in my little fantasies to spice up my sad, sad life.
Spoilers: Up to whatever is the latest chapter of the manga that is out, not that it necessarily means I would put it in this story. Just that I'll be writing while keeping up with the latest storyline and I don't know what might slip out.
Author's Note: This plot bunny nibbled on my toe while I was thinking about certain rules and regulations that would be for female ninjas, and how their lives are like. It would mainly follow Tenten – one of the more overlooked characters in the series – since this story was originally designed as a Neji/Tenten one-shot. However, quite a few other pairings decided to crash this party and complicate things, and I will be devoting more time to them in other chapters to come…Unless I receive a whole barrage of objections, that is. Well, enough said, please read on and be sure to let me know if you enjoyed it or have any constructive criticism!
Chapter One: As Women
She'd thought that their team would be dissolved with the advancement of any one of them to Jounin level, but apparently she was wrong.
Neji, as expected, had been the first to obtain Jounin status, what with his bloodline abilities and, Tenten suspected, a pressing desire to be out from under the tutelage of Maito Gai.
Lee, whose injuries from the first Chuunin exam had taken a long time to heal – not helped by the fact that he insisted on pushing himself to his physical limit before full recovery – had followed a year after, not to be outdone by his team mate.
Tenten herself, who had passed together with Lee, had thought that with all the members of a team's ascension to Jounin, there would be no need for three-man teams anymore, since Jounins were capable of solo missions. A meeting with the Hokage after collecting her new vest soon disabused her of that notion.
"You didn't think we'd send rookie Jounins out on solo A-ranked missions, did you?" said Tsunade with an especially arch look at Neji, whose expression indicated that he had, indeed, thought just such a thing. "You've all been welded by years of training into a highly efficient team who can think as one," Here, Tenten saw Neji give an incredulous glance at Lee, whose way of thinking was alien even to her at times. "What would be the point in separating you once you've achieved that point? It'll be quite some time before you're sent on higher ranked missions, and even then, it'll be with someone you work well with. Even senior Jounin rarely work alone, as your sensei can tell you."
Gai, who had been standing in another one of his self-invented 'heroic' poses was reactivated at the mention of himself. "Exactly!"
Lee looked adoringly at his sensei; while Tenten rolled her eyes and Neji muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "Will I never be rid of him?"
The meeting did not last very long, with Tsunade informing the newest Jounins of their new responsibilities and what they kind of duties they could expect with their new status. As they turned to file out of the office, Tsunade said "Tenten, there's another meeting you have to attend tomorrow, for all the new female Jounins."
She nodded. "Yes, I know. We were given the schedule after the results were announced."
"I suggest you remind the other girls who are to attend as well."
Once outside, Lee looked at her curiously. "What meeting? How come the guys don't have one?" He turned to Neji, who was re-strapping his katana on his back and preparing to move off in whichever direction that was opposite of the one Gai was going to take. "Did you have one when you passed?"
Neji shrugged. "No." he said, looking unconcerned.
Surprisingly, it was Gai who interrupted, his face looking unusually sombre.
"It's nothing you need to worry about, Lee. They'll only be discussing female issues." He cracked a smile that looked as false as it was forced. "Probably about what to use for tampons if they run out while in the wilderness or which herbs will keep their hair silky and straight even after hours of sitting in a tree."
"Sensei!" Lee flushed, scandalised at the talk of tampons and sneaked a look at Tenten, who only retorted, "You should know, Gai-sensei, since your hair always looks as limp as a dead rat!"
The ensuing argument broke the rising tension, and it was only after she reached home before she recalled the look on Gai's face and his words.
Nothing you need to worry about, Lee.
Which only meant that she had something to worry about. What Gai had mentioned were the sort of tips passed down by the older kunoichi, though not covered in the normal syllabus at the academy. Surely they wouldn't hold a meeting for something so trivial – although the tampon tip could be rather crucial, since ninjas could track the blood – and she had seen the flash of seriousness in his face before he had attempted to cover it up by his joke.
She thought that it was time to pay a call to a few of the girls.
"So, any ideas what it's going to be about?" asked Tenten. She had invited the three other women who had passed the Jounin exams to a newly opened café where they could discuss things over a drink. She still felt amazed that they had all passed, although it wasn't the first try for some of them. The Chuunin exams were so stringent that rarely had more than a couple of people passed at one time, so they thought the Jounin finals would be the same, or worse. In fact, twelve had been promoted to Jounin this year, eight from Konoha, with half of those being women. It was the highest number in a decade, and Tenten wondered if so many had been passed because of the steady attrition rate of top ninjas from their village in the recent years. But as she looked around the table at those she had called, she decided that it was unfair to assume such things.
Sakura and Ino – who were best rivals as well as best friends – both shrugged.
"Who knows?" said Sakura, who had kept her hair long again. The length of it reached almost to her waist now, and was braided back to leave her pale, angular face clean.
"Who cares?" Ino was the more flippant of the two of them and showed it now, giving a one-shouldered shrug as her eyes studied a guy sitting at another booth. "Mm, not bad."
"What? You're looking too!"
"Maybe," admitted Sakura. "But at least I'm not drooling into my coffee while I'm doing so!"
"Oh, I am not," said Ino indignantly, and just when Tenten was afraid they were going to deteriorate into a juvenile squabble, added, "Well, maybe just a little." They grinned fondly at each other, showing how much their friendship had matured over the last few years.
The last member of their little group smiled shyly at them. "I'm sure it's not just about feminine tips if Tsunade-sama said it was important." Hinata was the only one of them who had made Jounin level on her first try, having been held back by her sensei until having been deemed ready. Those who knew her had been blown away when they observed her fight, as she had trained her bloodline ability to a much greater level – though not, perhaps, enough to rival her cousin. After Naruto's encouragement, she had acquired the determination that she first got when facing Neji in the Chuunin exam. However, she still remained the shy introvert when not in battle.
"I don't know," said Tenten. "What worries me is that Gai was worried, and that he tried to hide it."
"Wait, wouldn't Kurenai have told you if it wasn't anything good?" Sakura asked Hinata. The shy jounin frowned, her unique eyes narrowed in thought.
"She – before the exam she did ask me if it was what I really wanted, then said something about there being consequences for every action. I thought she was just giving me some advice, since I was the weakest out of my team, but now I'm not so sure. She did seem more worried than usual."
There were three seniors present the next day, and that was two too many for a simple meeting, as far as the new jounins were concerned. Tsunade herself was there, as was Kurenai, casting a worried glance over at Hinata, and surprisingly, Mitarashi Anko, who leaned against the far wall looking bored. It didn't escape their notice that all the instructors were female as well. What with the rarity of women becoming ninjas, the seniors in the room must have represented around a fifth of Konoha's female force, and all held rather high ranking posts.
"Tsunade-sama," said Sakura voicing their surprise, since she was the closest to the Godaime, being under her direct training. "I didn't expect you to be at this meeting."
The Hokage nodded at them. "I'm present here in my capability as Head Medic. I'm afraid there's something important you women need to know." She waited until all of them had taken to their seats. "There is a regulation for all females that attain jounin rank. All of you passed the test, and have met all the requirements necessary except one."
The women looked at each other in confusion. No one had said anything about requirements. Once again, Sakura was the one to speak out, getting straight to the point. "What requirement are you talking about, Tsunade-sama?"
"Recent medical records from the check-up you had to undergo before the exam shows that all of you are still virgins."
"But what does that have to do with anything?" asked Tenten, bewildered. Next to her, Sakura was moaning with horror as she began to put two and two together.
"It means," she said miserably. "That we have to have sex."
She was not the brightest student in her class for nothing, because none of the seniors disagreed with her.
When the uproar from that last statement had died down a little, and order had been restored – relatively – Tsunade observed the outraged, stricken faces before her.
"Let me explain the reasoning behind such a protocol."
"What, so you mean whatever Sakura just said is true?" sputtered Ino. Tenten knew just how she felt, and had to insert her own question though she already suspected what the answer might be.
"Do the guys have to fulfil such a requirement as well, Tsunade-sama?"
"No." she said, continuing more forcefully when Ino started spluttering again. "But let me explain why this is so.
"You will have noticed that there are very few female shinobi. Men outnumber us on a ratio of five to one. As ninjas, we all run the risk of being captured and tortured by the enemy. As women, that torture is most likely to be rape." She looked around the room. By the grim cast to their faces, they knew what she said was true.
"I'm not saying that rape is any less horrendous in any other situation, but it will be better if you have some idea of what to expect. Also, certain missions may require you to use the art of seduction to get the enemy to let his guard down. You cannot do this without experience."
"So what, we're just supposed to go out and get laid with the first guy we come across?" cried Ino, who was working herself up into a fine rage.
"No," said Kurenai calmly. "It will be best if you find someone you are close to, or comfortable with. Someone you trust, to bring you through this experience."
Hinata held up a hand, raising her eyes to look at her former teacher. "Um, how is it that we've never heard anything about this requirement until today? Surely there must have been rumours."
The other three girls nodded in unison. Kurenai sighed. "It is not a thing we talk about. There are no rumours because we do not spread any. Too few are becoming ninjas, and fewer of those women, to have another reason to scare them off as it is. I'm sure I don't need to tell you not to spread this around."
"How will you know that we have fulfilled the requirement?" Ino again, determined to find a way out of this quagmire.
"Probably through another medical evaluation." Sakura told her.
"Yes! But we can fake it! All you need to do is break the – the -" she trailed off, unable to bring herself to say it.
"Yes." said Tsunade, "You can. But what good will that serve you in the long run?"
"Geez," came a lazy drawl from the back of the room. They had forgotten that Anko was there. "I would've thought girls your age would jump at the chance to have sex."
"Not if it's forced!"
"In fact," she continued, as if she hadn't heard Sakura's outburst. "I don't think many women your age still remain virgins. You girls must be frigid."
"Frigid!" shouted Ino. "I'll show you who's frigid! Better frigid than a whore!"
Tenten and Hinata had to physically restrain Ino from leaping across the chairs to get at Anko, who was scowling at her coldly.
"Are you calling me a whore?"
"I'm calling you a b-"
Tsunade chose this moment to exercise her authority, before the name calling escalated into a fight. "Yamanaka, sit down. Now! Back off, Mitarashi. Girls, I know this is difficult for you, but we've all had to go through the same thing when we became Jounins. Even Anko."
Anko frowned at her Hokage. "There was no need to tell them that." she muttered, rebelliously.
"No one," she continued forcefully, "Is going to call you names for doing this." She gave a warning look to both Ino and Anko, who were casting smouldering glares at each other. They subsided. "If this is the best way you can serve your village, than all I can ask you to do is try." She saw her words sink into her audience, as they noticeably quelled their tempers, and felt sympathy for what they were going through. She remembered her outrage at the unfairness of it when she had first heard the news, so she knew exactly how they felt. But certain things had to be done, so she steeled herself for it. "Now, are there any questions?"
"Yeah," said Ino. "I understand your presence here since you're a medic, Tsunade-sama, and Kurenai-sempai is probably here to represent a sensei from the teams and she's the only female, but what does Anko-sempai have to do with this?"
"I can speak for myself, thank you," she said frostily. "I'm to be your guidance counsellor."
There was a moment of perfect silence before Ino blurted, "What qualifications do you have to be a counsellor besides the fact that you're crazy?" Tenten, Sakura and Hinata exchanged looks. Neither of them thought that Mitarashi Anko was the best choice for such a position.
Rather than get insulted however, Anko looked pleased. "Because Tsunade-sama is too busy, Kurenai is not experienced enough, and you won't feel comfortable talking to a female shinobi you are not familiar with."
"I'm not comfortable talking to you." muttered Ino.
"Besides," Anko continued breezily, ignoring Ino, "I can keep an eye on your progress, and I just love gossip!"
"That's not a good reason!" argued Ino. "Tsunade-sama, I-"
"Enough. Anko is more than capable for the job and I won't hear anything more on it." said Tsunade.
"How long do we have to fulfil this…requirement?" Sakura asked numbly.
"It will be six weeks before you are deemed ready to be sent on formal missions."
Six weeks. The girls sat stunned.
"Look on the bright side," interjected Anko into the frozen silence. "At least you're all of legal age."
To be continued.
Thank you for reading this to the end. I hope you do not think that I have used this so-called 'regulation' as a flimsy premise for romance and smut to come. (Although it is such a good excuse!) But I do believe that rape and sex are two important concerns that female shinobi need to address, and such things I find, are not well discussed (for good reason I suppose, so I'm doing it.) all we see are usually the aftermath. I believe that Konoha, being a hidden village of some renown, would have special precepts put into place to better protect their shinobi, or at least make sure that they are better prepared for what is to come. Survival is ensured in such ways.
Please review to let me know what you guys think about it, or if you have any questions or anything you feel might improve the story. I will take all your opinions into consideration.