Funny Facts and Silly Stories

Team Guy was created under the influence of nostalgia, malice and some level of intoxication on the part of the people present. Apparently all the Jounin had a big get-together during that year's gradation process and while Sandaime Sarutobi sorted the young Genin they started hypothesizing which children looked like they'd kill one another quickest. Thus, Team Eight, more recently known as Team Guy, was born. From the drawing board it had problems out the ying-yang, but they overlooked those because the idea of a Guy teaching a Hyuuga, a dropout and a Tsunade wannabe were just too hilarious to let go.

Strangely the Hokage looked over the dossiers and let it pass in the same fashion he lets Team Seven pass one year later, though his reasons for doing so will vary.

. . .

It's a well known little scandal among the Konoha gossip vine that Hyuuga Neji taught himself Hakkeshou Kaiten and subsequently pissed off a lot pureblood fanatics in his clan. Though this rumor is very safely true, one of the lesser known details considered in this little indignity is that the learning curve for such a technique is steep. Without some kind of helpful hints from the Byakugan's elderly masters, it's close to impossible. One does not simply teach yourself the Kaiten, but since it had never been attempted before Neji was none the wiser. The young prodigy had seen the technique done from time to time and – more frequently than he'd ever admit for fear of the consequences – spied on Haishi while he trained his daughters.

The Kaiten, in theory, is a relatively simple thing: Release a buncha chakra and spin around like a ballerina on steroids to successfully blow the enemy away. The Byakugan acts as a kind of stabilizer/control and allows what would originally be an impossible explosion of pure kinetic energy and chakra to be utilized as an ultimate defense. Neij figured he could handle that. Any real Hyuuga master would be appalled by the boy's hubris, but hell if a twelve year old knew that.

Little things like having no idea what he was doing never stopped Neji before.

Tenten presented some defendable reasons why he should at least try to ask someone to help him but in typical Hyuuga fashion he shirked any suggestion of vying for something lowly as study tips. Neji told his teammate to shut up and help him train and she agreed, curious as always to see what her residential team genius was capable of. With matters of the Byakugan in particular, he seemed to grow an extra couple edges to his usual arsenal when people suggested he might benefit from other's training him. It was an unusual paradox in a genius renown for being a quick study.

Well one thing led to another and after a couple hours of unsuccessful pirouettes Lee would have died to see his rival participating in, Neji managed the first of what would quickly become a trademark move. Usually such a brilliant accomplishment would warrant some kind of ovation from his teammate. After all, he'd done in two hours what took Hinata almost two weeks and Hanabi two days. But this time was a bit different. While Neji had really done his homework on the tenketsu control, technique in execution, balance, and Byakugan strength, he had not considered in detail why it was so crucial to have some kind of sensei present to keep you in order and give you insights.

While Neji's Kaiten would have successfully blown the cognitive daylights out of any unsuspecting enemy it also had the affect of tearing every stitch of clothing right off the shocked Hyuuga prodigy.

It was difficult to tell who was more horrified; Neji or his kunoichi partner.

To date Tenten is the only girl who's ever seen that much of Hyuuga Neji ever and because a humiliated Neji is an angry Neji she pretends discretely that nothing happened and they go on in mutual silence about the whole awkward affair. Since then, he's taken to packing extra clothes before training and developed a funny tic at the corner of his mouth that only becomes apparent when she asks him (with ritualistic habit) 'Kaiten practice?' If she says it just right, she can get him to flinch and pretend to re-tie his headband so he can look at the ground instead of her.

Secretly she's rather proud of that.

. . .

The Hot-Blooded Dropout was a cruel title benignly foisted on Rock Lee during his time at the Konoha Ninja Academy. Even from the start he began his education on tender hooks, a poor boy from a civilian family of no merit whatsoever, homely, unskilled in literally everything he tried. The only thing redeemable about him was his ability to just not ever friggin' give up and even that was bothersome on Iruka's off days. The Hot-Blooded Dropout seemed more than appropriate. Only the Sandaime and several of the Elite Jounin have any idea the true origin of the invective but those that do know have all shared a couple good laughs over it. The last kid given that title just went with it, dropped ninjutsu and genjutsu completely and went on to literally kick more collective ass than all the Elite Jounin combined.

Therefore, all the children in his graduating class were right: The Hot-Blooded Dropout is absolutely appropriate.

. . .

There's one more person who knows the origin of the nickname. Umino Iruka, one of many teachers cycling through the shinobi educational system at the time, taught Lee more than any other teacher and knew the boy better than any other teacher. This is both a blessing and curse.

Since Lee lived on the outskirts of Konoha he had to run almost three miles every morning to make class on time. He often arrived hours before his non-commuter classmates and annoyed Iruka acutely by banging the door open just as the sleepy Chuunin teacher was settling back with his morning coffee. He'd lost more than a couple good vests to the boy's violent early morning entries and part of him took to wondering if perhaps that in itself alluded to his untapped potential in ninja stealth…then again Iruka was known to function on low gears without coffee in the morning. It was an addiction borne of compiled nights of insomnia. The hazards of being an educator.

He knows the origin of the nickname too, but he doesn't share the same view as his superiors. He knows all about the last Hot Blooded Dropouts and knows they have a legacy of dying spectacularly and ritually taking up space on the cenotaph. It's never occurred to anyone whose task it is to carve the new name into to the Hero Stone. Iruka likes his coffee. It makes up for the sleep he loses over kids like Rock Lee. The ones whose names he instinctively sees set in stone, written in artistic calligraphy that his brain starts picking out long before the young sensei gets to enjoy the pride of watching his student's graduation.

Iruka has a cenotaph arranged already in his head and he knows Lee will follow his predecessor straight onto the real thing.

. . .

No one knows this but Tsunade, but Neji at the age of ten was in possession of Chuunin level subterfuge, infiltration, and reconnaissance skills. Most people won't believe that, but it takes some level of real ability to spy on people who were known for literally having eyes in the back of their head. She knows. She's taken to utilizing his experience every time rival villages start getting snarky with her. Nothing makes her happier than smoothly scaring the living shit out of the other Kages and Shinobi Masters, presenting them with their own battle strategies and 'speculative' political upheavals that might be in the making. She lies shamelessly about the mission rank most of the time. She knows it won't make a difference to the young Chuunin. He's just happy to be doing something useful.

It's almost upsetting how desperately he wants to be useful.

. . .

Shomoto Tenten is the only member of her team to master the Jounin level art of Scroll Sealing. She did it at age twelve and she's only improved from there. In fact, some will say she's so good at it, she should really start look into a Special Jounin position as most Konoha ninja suck royal rat's ass summoning anything imaginative. This level of proficiency shocked everyone on the team from sensei to subordinate with a rainbow variety of reactions to match. Guy was naturally ecstatic about his student's unparalleled success, seizing her up after her first explosive rain of kunai sent enemy-nin scattering. He ignored the screams of pain around the battle field, hugging her, roaring his pride for all baffled Rain-nin to hear. Neji took this time to dispatch them and muttered jealous sounding things while Lee gaped, starry-eyed at his teammate.

Scrolling Sealing is like genjutsu in many ways: it takes brains to learn, it takes skill to use and it takes skill, brains and patience jammed in a blender with talent to make it work in combat. The fact Tenten was well accomplished in all three levels spoke volumes. This ruffled the feathers of their resident genius just a bit. In the back of his mind he'd kind of already decided she was just another silly tomboy substituting kunai for lipstick and punching people for kissing. He didn't compliment her, but after she could do something he couldn't he started treating her more like the kunoichi she wanted him to treat her like. Rock Lee, being Rock Lee, praised her from dawn until dusk that day until she never wanted to hear anything about 'explosions' or 'youth' ever again.

Lee asked her to teach him and, more from the goodness in her heart than any real faith, she agreed to show him the basics and broke out the paint, calligraphy brushes, and scrolls. Between his horrible artistic skills and ineptitude in chakra control he did little more than waste ink and paper. However, his miserable attempts piqued Neji's inferiority complex and in a casual accidental-on-purpose kind of way diverted Tenten from teaching Lee to teaching him instead. Soon all three of them were making fun of the boy's horrible penmanship, but he made up for that with flawless chakra control and produced a functioning weapon scroll: Twenty kunai and a short sword ready-to-stab for thirty seconds of solidity. Tenten's fifty-eight various weapons last nearly five minutes.

Despite his success Neji ended up giving the scroll to Tenten. In perfect honesty he didn't really know what to do with an arsenal of long range pointy things at his disposal. Tenten just smiled and told him he didn't have enough imagination.

. . .

The thing about Scroll Sealing though: there is a very delicate art to the meshing of metal and ink, paper and chakra. If done incorrectly one of two things will happen, one being nothing at all, two being a small calamity on par with the graduation of Uzumaki Naruto.

Yeah, that bad.

But like any technique the only way to advance it is to experiment with it and that means getting a little singed about the ears in the preliminary stages. After Neji made Jounin she attempted to seal fire in one of her scrolls, in hopes of compensating for her weakness in elemental ability. This was tricky; where mere metal and a desired shape had been enough before, she had attempted to somehow capture heat, substance, and reaction in her ink and paper. The first attempt resulted in nothing, the second in nothing, the third in that Uzumaki like catastrophe previously mentioned.

Neji and Lee returned from their trip collecting firewood to find the majority of the campsite either on fire or crumbling into ashes around the outside of a magnificent crater. Apparently whatever language she'd used in making the scroll had turned it into a big fat blast note and taken out everything in a fifty meter radius. Since then Tenten has taken to sealing nice inert metal things into her scroll until she discovers the wonders of bomb sealing and begins to consider that Special Jounin position Tsunade keeps tempting her with.

. . .

Of Neji, One thing is never questioned and that is he doesn't like people touching him. One exuberant group hug and one Kaiten completely snuffed any potential inquiries dead.

. . .

From time to time Neji is prone to sudden, blinding migraines. Usually they're triggered by the usual things like over-exertion, chakra deficiency or blows to the head, but with increasing frequency they strike without rhyme or reason: in the middle of the night, sparring, while simply traveling on the road. As it's unheard of to show weakness, Neji doesn't bring it to anyone's attention but the tells are there for Lee and Tenten to look out for. Sensitivity to light, frequent 'adjusting' to his hitae-ate, paleness, lack of sleep, sour grimaces with no apparent trigger, and occasional sudden sojourns into the woods that meant he was throwing up discretely behind a tree somewhere. Might Guy is careful to never bring it up in front of the others, more for courtesy than secrecy as he's certain they already know about it.

The headaches come suddenly and leave slowly, ebbing away from anywhere to an hour to a full day. Sometimes the spells come on so violently Neji will stop in his tracks and, without any care for who sees, hold his face in his hand and just stand there, eyes covered, teeth gritting so hard you can hear the squeak of enamel. So far they've never hit during a mission or any time inconvenient but they believe it's just a matter of time. At first he could hide the symptoms through sheer force of will, but over time his peers and his mentor managed to work something like an admission out of him, that 'yes' he did get headaches, but of course they weren't serious.

Meaning they were actually unbearable.

It's a delicate kind of dance the others have worked out to compensate for their teammate's condition. Tenten takes it upon herself to complain that she's weak and tired and she wants to rest, now. Lee courteously holds off challenging Neji to his daily sparring matches and insists he's too busy doing an inconceivable numbers of cartwheels or squats to possibly have a destiny-altering fight with the white-eyed shinobi. Guy lowers his voice a couple octaves and accidentally overstays his night watch before waking his student, if he does at all. Neji, for his part, pretends he doesn't notice.

. . .

Contrary to popular belief – and this is a surprisingly popular belief in Konoha – Rock Lee is not in anyway related to Might Guy. Not related. Not distantly, not closely, not genetically linked in anyway. (Save perhaps the fact they're both human and suck at any combat beyond punching the living daylights out of people.) Shocking, yes, but true. However, their curiously strong resemblance to one another and the hazy details of Lee's heritage did spark a slue of fantastically embarrassing misconceptions that led to a really impressive period where Might Guy was the talk of the town. Starved for nourishment, the local gossip vine picked up on Lee straight away and started off running with it. Within weeks of Team Guy's conception everyone had a theory about the Hot-Blooded Dropout and his Jounin mentor.

Anko was the original orator of the primary Lee/Guy conspiracies. It started out with Iruka's off-hand comment to the local sociopath that Rock Lee was really taking after his predecessor. She took this a little bit more intimately than the man intended and after gathering information managed to rope Genma and some of the local Chuunin into comparing notes. After various rumors and drunken blurtations about things people actually knew nothing about it became generally agreed upon that on some B-ranked mission into some backwater part of Konoha that the man had fallen in with some homely little civilian. Years later this one-night stand returned in the freakishly inept, incorrigibly determined form of Rock Lee. Details will vary.

Koketsu and Izumo didn't help matters by gravely claiming eye-witness accounts of the Jounin's drunken escapades with an unknown 'woman with an apron' or 'lady in a hat'. Every once and a while Koketsu would get over-excited and claim Lee was the long lost second nephew twice removed from some shirt-tail relative in the Might family tree. Their stories tended to vary from night to night and range in extremes parallel to their intoxication at the time. Either way, kunoichi on the fringe of these conversations thought it was very sweet the Jounin had taken his illegitimate son under his wing and for a while Guy received quite a bit of attention from the local women. He never figured out why.

. . .

Rock Lee gets wind of these rumors one day during a conversation with Tenten, who brings it up on account of overhearing it while she visited her mother at work. They'd just come back from a particularly wretched escort mission gone down the can and since Neji was still recovering from the concussion and Tenten the twisted ankle, Guy announced they have some down time. Shomoto Meilei revealed to her that most customers had it in their head that Guy was, in fact, his illegitimate father or at least some kind of uncle or something equally preposterous. Tenten, while explaining it, thought the whole thing was rather funny and presented it to her teammate while in gales of laughter.

She only stopped when he shattered the cup he was holding in his fist. She stopped dead, terrified, confused, but he didn't notice the cup, just stared at his kunoichi companion like she'd announced her decision to drown kittens in burlap bags. Then he got up and with an expression of excruciating politeness left the restaurant to 'take care of something'.

The rumors came to a violent end later.

Only Anko knows the exact details of it and for some reason she's not saying.

. . .

Tenten differs from Lee in this one way. She differs from Lee on other things, but on Neji…she differs the most. To Lee, Neji is a rival, an ideal, a friend and his unofficial measuring stick. He grades himself not according to Guy as some mistakenly believe – not that Lee doesn't value Guy's opinion in a semi-deified level – but to him Neji is the older brother he never had. The sneering, better, elder peer that indifferently tears him down, but builds him up because of it, ripping weakness out of him with a quiet 'tch', 'loser' or a cold look. He doesn't know it, but he's waiting to hear it from Neji's mouth that he is, in fact, an excellent ninja.

But Tenten is different. Hyuuga Neji is not, in some ways, human to her. When she first met him she did not like him. This would shock a lot of people to find that not only did she not like him; she hated him.

The beginning time with her team, supposedly the most innocent time for all Genin, was the closest she's ever come to the unspeakable crime, the ugly forbidden thing that even ninja – murdering machines – gaze upon in horror. But back then, before she knew Neji, she knew Hyuuga. The name, the clan, the legacy, the genius. Lee, at least, hated Neji because the young prodigy was everything he wanted to be telling him he'd never be. She just hated him for spite. And deeply hated him, loathed him, intimately imagined him dead. Some nights she'd sit up and stare at him while he slept, a kunai balanced on one finger, and as she gazed at him pondered sweetly her first kill.

When she remembers those nights she can't help the nausea

Unlike Lee, she understood the nature of what it meant to be part of a clan, not because she was part of one herself – she wasn't – but because her mother had instructed her carefully on it. A clan, especially one with a bloodline limit was valuable to all of Konoha; to give your life protecting one of them was an honor. It meant you died for your Village and the people that bloodline would protect in the future. To know them, to aid them in anyway, to let them walk all over you, spit in your face and rein over you was an honor. They were, after all, the Hidden Leaf's precious trump cards, God forbid they break a damn nail or something. To him, she and Lee were undoubtedly the lowest of the low, the mongrels to his purebred pedigree and she wanted to blacken one of those strange white eyes.

She understood that. Understood it and the understanding made her hate. Sometimes, some days, the days when Neji is acting like his old, arrogant, egotistical, fatalistic self she hates him again. She hates him for bringing Lee down, hates him for his hypocrisy, hates his name, his face, his smell, his look until she's ready to strike her beloved teammate down like dog. Then she remembers he's beloved. Lee's big brother and her friend, one of her best friends and the seething ugliness in her chest recoils. She feels shame sometimes, a nauseous, clenching sensation and she wants to apologize for something that's not even a controllable surface thought.

It one of many similar instincts she's kept secret.

. . .

Rock Lee, when drunk, is in fact capable of mildly worrying almost every one of the Elite Jounin and startling Tsunade into defensive action if he comes at her hard enough. The nature of Lee's ability to go beyond his normal facilities when intoxicated is a source of great amusement to all the older ninja. It was a topic brought up over sake and warm dango one night among the Jounin when Guy mentioned it had taken both him and Neji's combined strength to subdue the drunken boy without hurting him. Asuma joked that one day Lee would be stronger than all of them while completely shit-faced and the others looked at him funny.

This is because, they realize, one day that's going to be true.

. . .

The Chuunin Exams are held twice a year. When Team Guy failed to make Chuunin the first time even after taking an entire year off the exams to train it came as something of a shock. Guy insisted none of them get down about their failure to make the cut. It's common knowledge that during times of peace the Hokage and Chuunin Examiners get super finicky about who makes rank and start cracking down on the new Genin. To make certain only the best get through the maddening process. Veterans of Konoha often joke that if Ibiki and Anko are available to head the exams then the country is at peace. The literal version of this translates, 'If Ibiki isn't torturing captured enemies and Anko isn't killing anything without a Konoha headband then there must not be a war going on.' Peace means high standards.

The fact only one Genin, a super genius at that, made Chuunin concretes this theory.

Neji had a problem with that obviously. The year previous Might Guy had outright refused to let his team participate in the exams, despite everything the Hyuuga tried short of homicide to get him to change his mind. Fourteen now, he'd be damned if another year of D and C-class missions was all that waited for him. But being the only member of his team to make finals – and lose to that obnoxious orange prick! – he didn't have the right to complain or threaten his team with bodily harm if they didn't come with him to the second round of exams that year. Fortunately, the only rookies more rabid to make Chuunin than himself or any other of the Konoha rookies were his own teammates.

Their taijutsu expert had suffered near fatal/crippling injuries to Garra of the Desert. After high risk surgery and months of recuperation, he'd barely come back from the ordeal whole. Contrary to most human logic this didn't deter him from immediately setting up a new challenge for himself, namely make Chuunin immediately. (He also instantaneously challenged Neji to a fight where the young Hyugga introduced him to the rough version of the Hakke Kuushyou and put him through a wall. They went out for lunch afterward and all was normal again.)

Similarly, Tenten had fallen in a spectacular defeat at the hands of Garra's older sister, a hard-edged tow-head wielding grace, power and a fan the size of a door. The kunoichi had never quite forgiven herself for the loss, despite going down against one of the strongest female ninja in the Five Hidden Villages. In short both of them had more axes to grind than Neji cared to contemplate. Actually, when it came to threatening teammates with bodily harm, just a month before the Exams Tenten cut him off at the pass. After a particularly grueling mission the kunoichi crawled onto the exhausted Hyuuga's sleeping bag during the night and, kunai in hand, told him he was going to lead their damn team into the finals this year or she was going to stab him liberally in the face.

Lee, not knowing of this dalliance, tried something similar the night after and got a Juuken to the gut. But either way they agreed to try again for Chuunin immediately and Guy had another reason to publicly humiliate his subordinates, bawling over their bravery and youthful exuberance. It was his way of giving his approval. A month later the rookies set out for the Kirikagure, the only Genin team under the age of twenty that year, and came back a ranking Chuunin team. The other rookies sometimes wondered what kind of show they missed.

. . .

Among rookies it's common for the boys to randomly pick fights with one another, as young men must do in order to better understand the pecking order of their age bracket. Most of the male Jounin pretend not to notice because they did the same thing when they were kids and in the end it usually helped them better understand their fellow shinobi in a moment of very real crisis. Kurenai tries to sweet talk her two students out of silly brawls, but Kiba's been a brawler since he was born and Shino…well, Shino likes to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what he can do.

This is what led to the subsequent – but mostly unknown – showdown between the Aburame genius and the Hyuuga prodigy, Neji.

No one suspects that they've fought mostly because people are under the impression they're on good terms. They are, but that doesn't mean they haven't fought. It began innocently enough, training on the same fields or in the same forest, often returning to the village for a lunch break at the same time and thus eating together. They usually split the tab, in fact. This new alliance scared the hell out of their respective teammates (and a lot of restaurant owners), but all of them were too frightened to bring it up with either of them.

This peculiar symbiosis of training/eating habits continued on for nearly a month. Soon the two weren't just training in the same area, but with each other, then against each other to great sometimes terrifying affect. Subsequently Shino started taking on a more pronounced role as leader, much to Kiba's irritation, and Neji developed sudden impatience for particularly talkative opponents, as if accustomed to quiet during battle. Mostly he just socks them in the mouth before they get done. Finally, after a particularly grueling training round, Shino stopped Neji in one of Konoha's back alleys and asked the question.

"Do you want to fight?"

Neji didn't quite smile. "Yes, actually."

The resulting battle was hard to call without a ref or witnesses but passing civilians did begin to wonder where the hell some of those giant, even monstrous pot-holes had come from. A couple ninja noted what looked like a several human shaped imprints of varying size in various walls, but otherwise the battle was fought without collateral. The next day Guy mentioned it off hand Neji had a black eye, a fractured ankle and no chakra, but he wasn't saying why. Kurenai, passing, heard him and replied her Shino had unexplainable internal bleeding and couldn't get his bugs to do anything, as they were all so gorged on chakra they couldn't be bothered to move. He wasn't saying why either.

Coincidently the two boys were checked into the same hospital room and checked out the same day to get lunch. Everyone is still too frightened to ask anything more.

. . .

Rock Lee talks in his sleep. He says some very, very, very and very weird things. In unrelated news, Neji is the only light sleeper on the team.

. . .

Neji and Tenten share a distinctly baffling relationship if you ask anyone watching from the sidelines. Gossip advocates will swear on their mother's grave – dead or not – that there are romantic influences to it. More sensible acquaintances will tell you that's ridiculous as Neji and Tenten are both the two singularly unromantic ninja in Konoha, which leads directly into the counter strike: but that means they're perfect for each other! Only Rock Lee and the rumored couple themselves have any real idea about the nature of their relationship…and that's that they don't really think about the nature of their relationship.

When Neji can't stand another second at the Hyuuga estate it's Tenten's apartment he goes to, not Lee's. He sleeps on the couch and he lets himself in without knocking. When he needs someone to train with he asks her first and when they're exhausted they fall asleep under the same tree, sharing an apple because fruit is expensive. Tenten likes having Neji around because he's complicated without all the complications that implies. He insists he doesn't like to be touched but barely minds when she forces him to sit still during a movie to play with his hair. They don't talk much actually, rarely in fact do they have conversations but they are familiar with one another in a way that's strangely more intimate.

Lee's come across them from time to time in positions that would be suggestive for anyone but his teammates. They make it look like a brother and sister relationship…but somehow not. Like two siblings who didn't grow up together, but want to replicate the feeling. Lee wonders sometimes if that's just it. Tenten wants a brother and Neji wants a sister. Other times they treat each other like perfect strangers, nothing but polite conversation, mission reports, and business only. They come off barely tolerant of one another sometimes, like Tenten wouldn't mind putting a kunai between his eyes and he's deciding which of her organs to rupture.

Then they watch a movie together at Lee's apartment and Tenten is sitting on them, head pillowed on her teammates' shoulders and all is right again. It's one of those things no one can really figure out.

. . .

When Lee first met Neji, it's a personal secret that for a good long while he thought he was looking at a rather lovely girl. As Neji tended to say nothing during lectures and his fellow classmates abandoned pronouns in favor of 'that genius or 'the Hyuuga' he had no clues but the other ninja's hair-length. It was this mistake that led to his subsequent freak out when Neji followed him into the bathroom one day. Apart from the horror of a girl in the boy's bathroom, he was suddenly certain that said girl had become so incredibly infatuated with him that she'd deviously plotted a way to catch him alone in the lavatory.

It's fortunate Neji didn't understand a word the other boy was babbling or the fragile truce that initially held Team Guy together might have suffered further strain. Eager not to have a repeat of the experience, Lee 'made sure' with Tenten and was stabbed thrice and kicked between the legs. Only Neji wonders why Lee couldn't look at him straight for the first week of their placement on Team Guy or why Tenten walked around with a kunai in hand, glaring death at the other boy whenever he got close.

. . .

Most people don't know this, but Tenten is a huge fan of horoscopes and fortune telling. It's a hobby of hers that fills many an hour between dull missions and serves as a distraction before the tough ones. As a habit, she checks her daily horoscope before breakfast and, if times allows, checks that of her fellow teammates as well. Often she will attempt some kind of intervention for them if it happens to be an unlucky day for them or be particularly friendly if it suggests they are in a good mood. Sometimes she's spot on…other times not so much. One memorable misreading she sat down with Neji and asked him if he was suffering from some kind of 'romantic frustration'.

He didn't seem enthused. "No. Why? Are you?"

Neji finds her astrological assessments particularly irritating, but for some reason doesn't actively discourage her faith in reading the heavens. He's almost proud of her loyalty to it actually. Lee thinks it's cute, but doesn't believe any of it for a hot second. That would be liken to letting some kind of outside variable control the outcome of his life and Lee's never held with that. But whatever faults they have with her system of mystic mumbo-jumbo or her sometimes misguided faith in her readings, she is alarmingly correct from time to time. For example, one odd October day she read through the horoscopes and discovered to her alarm that it predicted a high chance of physical harm to those born in autumn months and some kind of emotional danger for summer birthdays.

Neji (July 3) said he'd keep it in mind. Lee (November 27) wasn't concerned, even when she insisted that his reading was looking bad, unlucky on all fronts. 'Predictions don't hurt you,' he said. She countered with, 'Unless they come true.'

That day an average C-rank mission turned ugly. Team Guy found themselves completely outclassed, out maneuvered and out flanked by no less than three Grass-nin. Guy was otherwise distracted with a particularly nasty set of twin ninjutsu specialists while his three subordinates were left to fend off their Jounin leader. The man used summons, hawks and coyotes in freakish coordination and Neji was forced to waste nearly all his chakra using his rudimentary Kaiten while Tenten picked them off with her kunai.

Lee almost shattered his ankle in the first ever Primary Lotus and nearly tore the man's arm off when he opened the Second Gate. If he'd managed to reach the Third Gate, he might have been strong enough to stop the man, but the Grass-nin didn't let him get that far. He hit Lee with a genjutsu, followed by a rock to the head. Tenten went down when she took the fringe of a blast note to shield the unconscious boy. Fortunately the Grass ninja took this opportunity to deliver a malicious little monologue about 'pointless heroics' and futility… annoying crap like that. It was good thing. Neji took the man from behind with enough chakra to kill five Grass ninja. The man's ribs cracked open like a steamed lobster shell by the time Guy arrived to pull Neji off the corpse.

Lee had to be hospitalized. Neji stopped talking for a while. Tenten was treated for burns and bought more kunai.

She also started checking her teammates' horoscope first in the morning.

. . .

All the members of Team Guy have one thing in common: broken families.

Rock Lee doesn't share the details of his home life very frequently, but over the years his team as managed to deduce some solids about his family and why he stopped living with them after he made Genin. He mentioned off hand that having Tenten as a teammate was like having another big sister, only she couldn't cook, hated skirts and rough-housed on a regular basis. Tenten managed to divine from this conversation that Lee has – Neji was horrified to hear – five older sisters. Guy revealed that the moment Lee became a Genin and therefore acquired a salary, he rented an apartment a building down the road from Naruto's and stopped returning home. No one's had the courage to ask why.

Shomoto Tenten is a bastard. Her mother Meilei was a Special Jounin renown for her work in the Third Secret War as the one-woman explosive-tactician and firearms expert. She ran with ANBU's version of the village bomb squad when she was eighteen and saved thousands of lives disarming otherwise catastrophic booby-traps and sabotage efforts. The Hokage dispatched her on a mission deep into enemy territory and she didn't come back until treaties forced all villages to relinquish their prisoners. Meilei returned after the three month stint almost two months pregnant and lock-jawed about the details. Her family is not broken, per-say, but rather incomplete, riddled with flaws and sharp little secrets.

Hyuuga Neji's home life is arguably the worst of the three. The majority of his immediate family has the ability to kill him with a simple hand gesture and by ritual have to pull rank on him at every turn he makes. The ones that don't are either dead or effectively estranged due to Hyuuga politics. Hyuuga Hizashi died to save his twin brother in a suicide gambit to trick the Hidden Cloud. His mother Hyuuga Yuuki was not a blood Hyuuga and was given the option to either marry into the Head Family or be cast out of the Hyuuga and lose all contact with Neji completely. She accepted the marriage terms; bore her new husband a single child and pretends to this day her only son doesn't exist.

If anyone notices that Might Guy took in every fatherless bastard, orphan and charity case in the graduating class, no one mentions it to his face.

. . .

Hyuuga Yuuki had a different name before she married Hizashi.

Her maiden name was Uchiha and she's the last living female Sharingan user. But it doesn't matter that she is.

Only two living people know why.

. . .

About Rock Lee's ancestors. No one will know or admit this if they did know, but the first ninja were actually a bunch of poor farmers with no land, title or (more importantly) special abilities what so ever. This was during the reign of the samurai, when the caste system controlled the lives of everyone from daimyo to field hand. Eventually the members of the lower castes got sick of wandering bandits and rounin tromping all over them while the warrior caste did nothing about it, and decided to defend themselves. They learned bastardized forms of martial arts, assassinated corrupt lords in secret, and learned clandestine combat styles using nothing but field scythes, shovels, and vegetable knives. The first forms of taijutsu were introduced by these simple peasants who were the first to awaken chakra and utilize it in combat.

In the following wake of ninjutsu, genjutsu and bloodline-limits, such humble origins were shunned in favor of the new generation. The decades passed, the samurai became obsolete and the caste system collapsed like a house of cards. Daimyo started to horde clan abilities for their own personal gain. Then two brothers banded together and led a shinobi revolt against the daimyos of the Fire Country. This sparked similar rebellion in the Cloud, the Mist, the Wind, the Stone until ninja alone served as the countries primary military forces and the Five Hidden Villages were born. In official history records, it's listed as the First Secret War.

Not a single person recalls the poor farmers who first gave rise to the way of the ninja.

Rock Lee is a direct descendent of these original civilian shinobi.

For all their power and arrogance, the Hyuuga are inbred mutant freak shows and can trace their origins back to a daimyo's blind daughter born with a pupil condition. Defying nature, her eyes developed an opaque secondary lens behind her first, one that became a dominate chromosome mutation. With every generation the children developed increasingly resilient eyes to combat the lens until they could finally see through it…and pretty much everything else.

Tenten's ancestors (on her mother's side) were originally firework specialists, and knife-throwers on par with prostitutes and most actors. Some of them were actually foreigners of nearby countries who came to Japan to escape prejudices at home for their awakening chakra abilities and you can almost see the mixed blood in Tenten. The Shodaime and Nidaime took in anyone and everyone because the Second Secret War would be between ninja and they needed as many as they could get.

Lee's family is the only family of true ninja.

Ironically, Lee is the only one who takes no pride in his heritage.

. . .

Tenten is ambidextrous. She can also throw kunai with her toes as well as she does with her fingers, a fact that has served her well in battle and served to boggle her teammates.

. . .

The Konoha Academy is run in such a way that anyone with the sufficient amount of talent can qualify as a Genin no matter their age. Generally students are admitted at age eight and take the four year rigors of shinobi training to graduate at age twelve. However, should special circumstances arise a parent can waive to have their child graduate early. There hasn't been an early graduation since Uchiha Itachi because since then they've stepped up the requirements a child must meet to qualify for Genin at any age below twelve. The reason for this, ironically enough, is Uchiha Itachi who murdered his entire clan and raised some doubts about the wisdom of inflicting shinobi life so early on children. Since then they've added a psyche evaluation that only a waived student is required to take.

This isn't on any official records, but the last child to take the exams early was Hyuuga Neji. He turned in a slip signed in secrecy by his mother rather than his uncle, startling his teachers who thought up until then the young Hyuuga had no other immediate family. Officially, Hyuuga Yuuki is listed as his aunt, but on the form she checked the box as his birth mother and they were forced to allow the ten-year-old his shot at the final exams. To the shock of all, he all but aced every one of the finals and qualified above average in all fields as a more than capable rookie, scoring higher in fact than half the twelve year-olds taking the finals normally. He didn't score quite as high as their last famous attempt, but scored similarly to one of the Uchiha's previous early graduates. More than enough to qualify.

Unfortunately he failed to make grade in one of the last stages of the test, the assessment administered by the village's number one child psyche evaluators. Superior at the examination of junior mental capacities than even Ibiki, Umino Iruka is, in fact, practically Jounin level with his ability to read and understand the human psyche. He's not great manipulating it, though; which is why he never made Special Jounin, but he makes a perfect unbiased Genin Graduation Examiner. Iruka was the one who sat down across from the stony little boy, smiled and began the exam.

Once again it's not on any records, but not only did Hyuuga Neji not pass the psyche evaluation…he tanked.

Bottomed out with one of the lowest scores on any of the official records and the man was so shocked by the horrific score he made Neji retake it on account of recording errors. The results came back the same and Iruka outright refused to allow his graduation despite pressure from the other teachers to shirk a little on the results and just let it slide. As far as they know, Neji only barely missed the mark and assume it's due to inexperience. Iruka ignored them all and personally presented the results to the Hokage. It's because of this early red flag that Neji didn't get assigned to another team and why the Hokage lets the team selection slide despite its obvious problems. He knows that if any Jounin can read into a slightly unstable prodigy it's Might Guy.

He reads Kakashi all the time after all.

Author's Note:

Written because I just hella love these guys and I'm determined to write more about at least one of them later.