Standard disclaimers apply.


By Cassandra's Destiny


Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a young girl who dreamed of a happy ending.


Springtime in Konoha has always been interesting – the snow from last winter was beginning to melt, leaves were a vibrant shade of green, flowers were blooming, the air was crisp, and rivers and streams swell off with runoff and spring rains. It was the first day of spring, and a perfectly good day. No one was supposed to be spending their afternoons training or sparring.

Lee had to admit that there has always been something about the first day of spring that ignites the flames of youth in his being, making him want to run endless laps and do millions of push-ups to keep the fire burning. But Gai-sensei insisted they rest. Although they are already jounins, they still took their old mentor's pieces of advice out of respect for him, being older and more experienced. Gai-sensei, doing his nice guy pose, specifically ordered him and the others not to train, saying the start of springtime was sacred for those who worship the springtime of youth. Lee, even our burning youth deserves to stop and smell the blooming flowers at the first day of spring. Gai-sensei has always been his idol, and defy him, he shall never do.

Seeing the beautiful Cherry Blossoms had him thinking about Sakura-chan. He recalls how her skills as a medic ninja only ratified his belief that she need not be adorned with expensive jewelry or designer clothing, for he knew she was a beauty by her own standards. In all his years admiring her, he had to admit, at one point or another, that it was indeed a one-sided affair. And he accepts it, because the flames of youth does not burn for one person alone. He knows he will find his one true love – his former team mates have assured him that much.

He walked along the busy streets of Konoha, and it was hard not to notice that most plants were blossoming into beautiful flowers. Villagers, too, seemed to be blooming; they appeared happier and more cheerful in the bright rays of the sun.

Ichiraku's was packed as always. The aroma of the tasteful ramen Naruto loved whiffed into his senses. Surprisingly, it did not make his stomach growl in yearning. He was smart enough to have two helpings of Gai-sensei's rice cakes of youth recipe before leaving the house. Smiling to himself at the memory of the delicious rice cakes, he stopped walking and began jugging to cover more ground.

Reaching his destination, he first took a seat beside a rock. He recognized it to be the one where he usually does his taijutsu practice on. Sure, he had been pouncing on it in more than one occasion, but the rock stood still and strong on the area outside their training grounds.

So it's not his fault really, that he happened to observe a coincidental scene on the clearing where Team Gai usually trained. It was relatively empty, saved for two figures sitting under a Sakura tree. As difficult as it was to make out the figures due to the sun's glaring light, Lee was certain he knew them – it was the genius he calls his rival and the sole youthful flower of their once three-man team.

Their clothes were slightly torn and they had cuts and gashes all over. It was with those that Lee knew they defied Gai-sensei's orders. No one in Team Gai was supposed to train on the first day of spring, and Lee was aware they knew better than to ignore their old sensei's reasonable request. Why, the flames of youth in his soul began burning even more! He had to talk them out of training. He had to march right there right now and lecture them about following orders and how good ninjas always abide by instructions in order to maintain harmony and peace. But seeing the two of them sitting so close with a silent understanding between them, Lee had to stop dead in his tracks. He just had to give them their privacy. They deserve that at least, especially with the message he was about to deliver to them.