Twenty Unknown Secrets of Maito Gai
Author: Kraken's Ghost
Email: On profile.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Non-profit, etc.
1.) Maito Gai's entire ridiculous façade is a double-edged sword from hell. The truth is Gai likes being Gai. He likes his hair and his style of dress. He likes gaudy entrances and making silly speeches. He likes teasing Kakashi and acting like a goof when people freak out in his presence. He likes hugging Lee and crying when he's too happy to hold it inside.
Gai likes who he is. More than that, he likes himself, and not one person who has ever looked down on him in his life can say the same. As such, he's the most accepting man in Konoha's forces. He loves life and seeing the many unusual people in it.
But at the same time, being Gai is a dangerous advantage. For example, the gorilla is a ridiculous animal. It looks goofy, acts silly, makes dumb sounds, and is overall a rather unimpressive critter. But just when its enemy thinks it's no threat, the gorilla roars and tears off his head with its bare hands. Not all that is silly and weak in appearance is.
2.) Gai spent the first quarter of his life in poverty. His father was indebted to a rich clan in Konoha and soon after Gai was old enough to walk, he was called upon daily to perform all the tasks an indentured servant is expected to. While they weren't slaves, they were little better off. Their family had no money, no social status, and was viewed with less respect than the Inuzuka's dogs. Needless to say, there was no one to lobby for his entry to the Shinobi Academy when he was of average age. Even if the snobs had allowed him entry, his family never could have afforded it.
His father never got angry about their lot in life. He never raised a fist against Gai or their social 'betters.' He bowed his head, did as he was told, and for the few hours a night they had to themselves, filled Gai's head with stories of heroes and legends and what it truly meant to be a human worthy of the name. He told Gai that this wasn't the life for him, that there was something better out there waiting. He said Gai just had to be patient and he would find it eventually. Until then, he should work hard with what he had.
3.) When he was fourteen, Gai was moonlighting as a janitor at the hospital just to help his father make ends meet. He was on shift the night the Kyuubi attacked. He had been listening to the growing rumbles and glass shattering roars while he mopped up the blood of screaming victims in the main lobby. The fluorescent lights died an instant before the entire world seemed to explode. When Gai dragged himself to his feet, he looked up at where the ceiling used to be. And kept looking up…
Great Kyuubi had just torn over half the hospital apart with a casual flick of one of its tails. Its fur crackled with fire and lightning and its burning eyes held a kind of indifferent malice as strode forward to smash apart a few buildings with their shrieking residents still inside.
No one ever noticed, but Gai was the only survivor in the damaged section of the hospital. Gai himself doesn't even know.
4.) Gai has never, to this day, seen such an incredible sight. Where the other civilians ran, he walked in the opposite direction. His mop clattered to the floor as he slowly walked out into the street and followed the enormous beast as if in a trance through the mobs of screaming, panicked people. He kept walking, staring at the endless nine tails that coiled through the air far, far overhead. He was still staring at them awestruck when one of them lashed down into the street not a meter in front of him.
5.) The doctors told him its called Sudden Daemonic Exposure Threat. They told him that the sudden immersion in the Kyuubi's aura had a devastating effect on his system. They told him that most of the effects would fade as the chakra dissipates, but the sterilization won't. They told him he's lucky. They told him he's the only person in that entire sector of town to have survived. They told him he's unique; a medical miracle. They told him he's Patient Zero of Sudden Daemonic Exposure Threat. They told him the most common symptom of SDET is being dead. They told him to wait, to come back and sit down, that they need to do more tests on him. They told him he owes it to society to let them study him. To experiment.
He stared them in the eye and told them he's leaving. He told them never to mention this to anyone or he'll walk right into the Hokage's office with news of patient confidentiality violation. He told them to get out of his way. He told them he needs to find his father in the rubble.
6.) There are only two humans in recorded history that have ever survived a complete saturation in the Kyuubi no Youko's malevolent chakra: Maito Gai and Uzumaki Naruto.
7.) Gai's first noticeable change occurred when he saw his father's bloodied arm sticking out from the shattered ruins of their shoddy apartment building. He began to dig with his bare hands and claw through the dirt and gravel to get to his parent. He paused and listened, barely making out the sound of his dad's labored breath underneath the piles of debris. With a surge of desperation, Gai grabbed the steel support pillar lying across his father and hurled it away. The rest of the rubble was cleared as easily. He lifted his father from the ruins and carried the larger man as easily as a giant carries an infant.
In the ensuing chaos of the demon's attack, all citizens were able to claim free medical care. Gai sat on a half-crumpled bench outside one of the large tents set up to tend to the wounded as he awaited news of his father. He kept praying and twisting a piece of clay in between his hands to keep himself from going mad with worry. When he received word the man would live, he finally allowed his hands to relax and dropped the lump on the ground. The sudden clang jolted him to the core and it was with wide, shocked eyes that he stared down at a twisted chunk of copper debris that had been resting on the bench.
8.) His father insisted he make the most of the gift, regardless of the expense. If the doctors thought the demon's chakra would eventually leave his system, then he needed to make the most of it while he had it. His body was soft, for lack of a better word. His muscles had become as malleable as the lump of copper he'd twisted in his hands. Under his father's watchful eyes, Gai molded every muscle in his body. He read as many books as he could on the subject of the human muscular system. He spied on practicing Jounin. He devoured scrolls on Tai-jutsu. He never rested and barely ate. A fire had ignited in him like he'd never known before. He didn't know when this gift would fade, but he would be a perfectly sculpted diamond by the end of it.
By the time the last traces of the foreign chakra left him over three months later, Gai had turned from a lightweight fourteen year old kid into an muscle bound nightmare. He had shot up in height till he was well taller than his father. He'd gained forty pounds, all muscle. More than that, his muscles were harder and denser than any of his peers in the arts of Tai-jutsu. He started off punching boards to toughen up his fists, then moved to logs when the boards broke. Then he switched to trees when the logs shattered, then boulders when the trees were uprooted, then steel girders when the boulders cracked. His long hours practicing his jerry-rigged martial arts had induced a muscle memory that was nearly perfect. Gai didn't have to think to fight, beyond developing strategies. His body already knew how to fight.
9.) What no one, not even Gai knows, is that in the ancient times, the great spirits and entities that roamed the world weren't as malevolent as they are today. Even the Bijuu were better defined as sentient natural disasters, rather than the walking apocalypses they are today. Some of the Tailed Beasts went so far as to have tribes of humans that they avoided harming and even protected on rare occasions. Bizarrely, among this number was the Kyuubi, despite it being the monster of monsters even back then. Its particular tribe was the Ainu, the indigenous Japanese, also called the Utari in the early 21st century. In times of sickness, they would call out to the great spirits of fire to heal them. Eventually, the greatest spirit of fire answered back. In that era, the Kyuubi's wrath could cool at times and during these brief periods of peace, it wasn't uncommon to find it lounging its massive body near encampments of the only group of humans it could tolerate.
During these times, enormous revels would form around the reclining beast, with Ainu coming from all corners of Japan to worship and delight in the presence of the King of Demons. In return, the Kyuubi would exert a small fraction of its nigh endless power and purge the illness and frailties from all the humans gathered. It was rumored during those days that the presence of an Ainu could actually restrain some of the Kyuubi's natural anger. While those rumors were never officially confirmed, it is true that the great fox seemed to enjoy the company of old Japan's tribes, in as much as it was able to.
When the Kyuubi finally rested during the early days of the Age of Madness, it chose mountains near what would eventually be Hokkaido, then still Ainu lands, to slumber for the next several millennia. When it awoke to the nuclear fires of World War III, it rose up to find that its people had been overrun, debased, and forcibly assimilated into the culture of a group of invaders called the Japanese. The few Ainu left in their northern island reservation soon died off from radiation exposure caused by the fallout spread from nuclear clouds hovering over China and Russia.
The rage that exploded in the Kyuubi is now an unforgettable legend almost worldwide. Nine out of ten of the Japanese survivors of World War III were killed. The cities were crushed and immolated into dust. Mountains were shattered and their fragments rained across eastern Asia with the force of meteors. Volcanoes ripped up through the crust of the Earth and poured lava across the plains, while incidentally forming new mountain chains. Entire Japanese islands crumbled into the sea while new ones arose from the ocean floor. The tsunamis formed from the onslaught battered coastlines worldwide, significantly dropping the already low global human population. At the dawn of the Age of Wonders, Japan was completely resurfaced into the small continent now so familiar to the shinobi nations.
Eventually, the Kyuubi wandered on to other parts of the world, but it now bore a special hatred for this land and would return every few decades or so to inflict misery on its inhabitants, all the way up to its eventual imprisonment.
10.) One of the last true Ainu to survive into the latter 21st century bore witness to the Kyuubi's wrath and was reminded of the myths his great-grandfather had shared when he was a child. By some miracle, this man survived the apocalypse that befell the entire country. In honor of the great beast that spared him and his family, he changed their name to Maito, for 'mighty.'
11.) Gai was no longer a janitor when the Sandaime Hokage approached him. He had gotten a better job as a construction worker and had become a well valued one at that. In the aftermath of the Kyuubi, Konoha had a lot of work to be done. Almost the entire village needed to be repaired, if not rebuilt entirely. Gai enjoyed his job and was finally making enough money for he and his father to live a comfortable, if still poor, life. That all changed when Sarutobi happened by a large construction pit and was witness to the sight of an untrained civilian teenager lifting one end of a twenty foot steel beam while a crane got the other. Needless to say, he had a talk with the boy's father and Gai was soon undergoing a crash course in shinobi training.
When Sarutobi suggested it was time for him to take the test and sign on officially, Gai said he would, on the condition that when he made Jounin, he could pick any Genin team he wanted, regardless of who else wanted it. Not wanting the boy's obscene potential to go to waste or, Kami forbid, be tapped by an enemy country, Sandaime agreed.
12.) Gai was made a Genin at the age of sixteen. Unlike every other nin in Konoha history, he had no sensei and no team. Between his late arrival to the armed forces and the social stigma that stayed with him even as a shinobi, no Jounin who could have taken him wanted to. So, he did what his father always did: be patient and work hard.
Every mission he took, he winged it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but regardless of the outcome, he always managed to pull through and with surprisingly few battle scars to show for his efforts. Whenever a mission required a skill he didn't have, he studied it, observed others performing it, and practiced day in and day out till he got it right. Sometimes Gai was a bit slow and it took an enemy shinobi with a battle-axe bearing down on him to force him to get a technique right, but still, within a couple months he had just about every skill a good shinobi needed. As such, when it came time for the Chuunin Exams and he realized he couldn't participate on the technicality of not having a team, he asked the Hokage for permission to take the Jounin Exam instead, as it could be taken solo. Sandaime agreed, if for no other reason than he wanted a chance to laugh at the looks on the exam proctors' faces.
13.) Gai's performance in the Jounin Exam would be unparalleled in its audacity until Uzumaki Naruto took it a decade and a half later. He either knew everything to do, came up with a ludicrous plan on the fly that somehow worked, or when all else failed, let his fists do the talking. More than one examiner walked away with a broken jaw and ribs after underestimating just what kind of a punch the sixteen year old kid could pack. In the end, they had no choice but to pass him to the final stage, regardless of what stigmas some of them held to.
The final test was to defeat or outmaneuver an existing Jounin. A young, but battle tested Jounin by the name of Hatake Kakashi was chosen to face off against the low-bred Genin upstart that dared think he was worthy of joining Konoha's Elite. The battle that ensued resulted in exactly three things: Gai's uncontested promotion, his declaration of Kakashi being his worthy Eternal Rival, and Kakashi joining the Anbu Corps for almost a decade.
As a side note, Gai and Naruto both tie for the records of the most headaches induced in the examiners, ever: Gai because of his unyielding fists and stubborn worldview and Naruto because of his unyielding worldview and stubborn fists.
14.) A seventeen year old Gai was forced to conclude that knowing how to use chakra had its advantages, when he opened a Celestial Gate for the first time and became the first person in history to jump from the base of the cliffs to the top of Shodai-sama's head in one bound.
15.) Gai's first impression of the Kyuubi kid is that he's awful small for his age. This idea is particularly reinforced when the little blonde bounces off his legs like a rubber ball bounces off cement, while the kid is desperately trying to evade his pursuers and not watching where he's going. Naruto barely even notices the large man. Instead he bolts upright and scrabbles off in another direction as four Anbu round the corner with murder on their minds.
As neon orange paint runs off the Anbu as they pass him by, Gai concludes that his second impression of the Jinchuuriki is that the kid has style.
16.) Despite the fact that he considers him a weirdo and an all around goofball, Naruto has always trusted Gai more than all the other Jounin he knows combined, including his own. If someone ever bothered to ask him why this is, the only reply he will ever think of is that he just has a strange feeling in his gut.
17.) Gai's first impression of Rock Lee is that the boy doesn't know when to quit. His second impression is that's a good thing.
Coincidentally, Gai was still reeling from the loss of his father the year before. The man's death had left an imprint on his mind and a hole in his heart. His father's last words were, "You'll find what your looking for, Gai-kun. Just because you can't sire children of your own doesn't mean you won't know the joys of being a father. Just be patient. Your hard work will pay off in time." In his own quiet, reserved way, Gai's father was more of a prophet than Orochimaru ever deluded himself into thinking he was.
What attracts Gai to Lee more than anything else, is after he's given the boy the advice he needs to pass the Genin Exam, he suddenly knows for the first time in his entire life what it's like to have someone truly need him. Immediately after, he dares to imagine what it would be like to have that person need him for the rest of his life. The unnamable feeling that arises in his chest when he thinks that is half the reason he breaks down into tears so often around Lee.
The other half is that Lee reciprocates tenfold.
18.) Gai first notices Tenten when he hears some of the most vulgar cursing coming from a female's mouth ever over the walls of the Academy's ranged target course. He hops up on the wall and watches as a pretty young girl with her hair done up in buns hurls kunai after kunai at a circular target at the end of the course. Each time the blade misses the bull's eye by about an inch. This lack of absolute perfection is the source of the girl's ire and vile curses.
Gai is suitably impressed at her determination and, after scratching his chin in thought for a couple minutes, decides to offer some advice. He promptly introduces himself with an explosion of chakra smoke and a booming, "Greetings, youthful one!!"
The fact that Tenten manages to graze his ear with a shuriken whilst screaming in surprised terror impresses him even more.
19.) "Ah, but what if you can't touch an opponent? What then, my young friend?" Gai asks as he seems to blur into nothingness. The next thing Hyuuga Neji knows a boulder drops between his shoulder blades and he's eating dirt.
Gai watches as the Hyuuga boy glares at him fiercely as he drags himself up off the ground. Neji growls out, "I get faster until I can."
20.) Sandaime has almost forgotten his promise to Gai until nine years later when the man randomly strides into his office one day to hand him a paper with the official Academy border on it and three pictures printed near the top.
All he says is, "Them. I want them."
Don't know where this one came from either. Much like Matters of Pride, I woke up today with this thing already partially written in my head. I think it turned out well, though not as emotionally powerful as Matters of Pride. I'll probably do a third one, to make it a trilogy, about another character. In fact, I think I have another 20 truths half written already somewhere on this hard drive.
As a note, the Ainu section was not a huge political criticizing of Japan's racist tendencies. I merely had the thought that it would work out well to explain why the Kyuubi attacks the shinobi continent for seemingly no reason at all. Also it serves to explain why Japan looks so different today. For those that haven't read Foxhound, it's part of my idea that the Naruto world is set several hundred years into Earth's future, after a cataclysm or war of some sort crashed the population and resulted in a feudal, half-tribal half-industrialized society. I've seen others use similar ideas, with one author theorizing that the reawakening/introduction of the Bijuu and their collectively endless power into the world is the source of chakra and humans' ability to use it. Food for thought.
I went back and cleaned up some errors and did some general editing. I merged two stanzas together and split another one in the interest of emphasizing certain points and drawing emphasis away from others. I think this will be the final product this particular fic. I'm pretty satisfied with it the way it is.
Thanks for the positive feedback, guys. Not as unanimous like 20 MoPtHN, but then again, this isn't as emotionally driven a fic either and is about a far less popular character, so I expected as such. Anyways, to those who liked it, I'm quite glad.
Anyways, as always, let me know what you think.