They say the best lessons in life are learned through mistakes. But not all mistakes can be righted. More often than not, they stay etched permanently – like scars that bore in too deep to heal, marks that never fade even through time – eternal reminders of inadequacy and failure. Perpetually unforgivable. Indisputably irredeemable.
Follow Tenten as she uncovers the secret to her past and discover the true limits of her strength. Will she be able to atone for her mistake and build a life worthy of honor? Or will she remain shrouded by the guilt and regret of one grave mistake?
Chapter 1: Hospital
Beep… Beep… Beep…
Tenten opened her eyes slowly and saw nothing but swirls of bleak colors. She grimaced. Pain. Everywhere. Every inch of her body felt like melting iron – heavy, fluid and void of feeling. Trying her best to gain orientation, Tenten shifted her gaze from the blurry white moving figures to the large beeping equipment in the room. She shut her eyes and groaned in pain once again at the sharp seemingly radiating pain shooting up her spine. She wanted to curse but found herself unable to move her mouth. She heard hushed whispers, and upon closer inspection, she recognized questions.
"Tenten-san, are you alright?"
"Can you hear us Tenten-san?"
"She's in too much pain. We need to up the dosage."
Tenten gritted her teeth as she felt the white figures maneuver around her. She felt something sharp on her right arm but it felt like an ant bite compared to the pain on her back. She took desperate breathes. Slowly, the pain went away.
"Tenten-san?" Came a voice. It was still muffled but she could make out a few words and phrases.
"You are… Hospital… One and a half weeks…"
Tenten shut her eyes. So she was in the hospital? What for? She couldn't remember a-
"Lee!" Tenten screamed. She bolted up quickly causing the needle embedded on the back of her hand to fly off, carrying along with it a projectile of clear fluid mixed with her own blood. The bleeding didn't cease. She bit on her lip as she tried her best to ignore the sharp pain traveling through her body. Her sudden outburst shocked all the nurses in the room.
"Where?" Came her barely audible voice. "Lee. Take." The nurses couldn't make out the sounds she was making. "Take me." she yelled desperately but it only came as a harsh breath of air.
Tenten felt fresh tears in her eyes. Her vision deteriorated even more with the onslaught of tears. It was all her fault. She was to blame.
She did her best to fend off the restraining grip of the people in white. She felt weaker than ever, but there was no way she would allow anyone to stop her from seeing Lee. She had to know if he was ok. She had to see with her own eyes the damage she brought to him because of her own lack of power. She balled both fists, ready to pummel her way through the barricade of white. But before she could move any further, she felt another needle pierce through the side of her neck, then everything slowly faded to black.
Several explosions and the sound of stone breaking mercilessly were what greeted Tenten as she slowly opened her blurry eyes. Feeling an intense sharp pain, she winced as she gripped the sides of her head with both hands. She tried to ignore the pain as she squeezed her eyes shut in concentration. Looking at her bloodied hands, she cursed. She's lost quite a lot of blood. She looked at her surroundings. She tried to focus on something, anything. She tried to call out to Neji, Lee and Gai-sensei but even her own ears failed to hear her pleas.
She struggled to get up her to feet when a sudden wave of nausea engulfed her. The blood loss was getting to her. Blinking furiously, she tried another attempt to survey her surroundings. She could see better now. Neji, Lee and Gai were battling the Hidden Sound nins they were ordered to follow into their hideout.
Tenten cursed again. If only she hadn't been caught! The mission was now compromised because of her. She was nothing but excess baggage. If they all died here because of her, she would never forgive herself.
"Tenten! Get out of the way!"
Tenten watched as a green cloud of smoke whirled towards her. She wanted to run but couldn't. She was paralyzed both by blood loss and by fear. Everything was moving in slow motion. Was this how it felt like when you were about to die?
Tenten closed her eyes and waited for the impact. When suddenly, she felt the wind knocked out of her system. She was moving at a hundred miles a minute. Opening her eyes, she realized she was in Lee's arms as he tried desperately to dodge the cloud of poison. Tenten couldn't hate herself more.
"Lee!" Gai shouted sensing both his students were surrounded by the enemy.
"Gai-sensei! Focus!" Neji demanded as he blocked the attack meant to impale Gai.
Gai voiced his apology, his annoyance clearly noticeable. The head of the Sound nins was too formidable it needed both him and Neji to engage him in combat.
Tenten watched in desperation as Lee fought off three sound shinobis with her slung over his shoulder. She was yelling at him to put her down and forget about her but he wouldn't listen.
A loud explosion threw both of them into what seemed like oblivion.
The last thing Tenten saw before she slipped into unconsciousness was Gai cradling the seemingly limp and lifeless body of Lee, and the look of utter disappointment in Neji's piercing white eyes.
(End of flashback)
The impeccable sound of clicking heels echoed within the halls of the hospital. Blonde hair swayed in coordination with dangerously sexy hips as one medical staff from another moved aside to make way for the Fifth Hokage.
"Tsunade-sama!" Shizune acknowledged as she closed the door to a patient's room only to fall in step with the Hokage.
Nodding in response, Tsunade took a few more steps before stopping in front of a door. Holding her hand out, she felt a clipboard being placed on her palm. "How is he?"
"His condition is stabilizing, although no sign of progressive recovery is noted yet. It seems he may have to be bed bound for quite a while." Shizune replied as she eyed Godaime, watching her reaction carefully. "Gai never left the room. He refuses treatment on his own injuries and insists he be left there just in case Lee wakes up."
Tsunade let out a sigh. "I see." Handing the clipboard back to Shizune, Tsunade waved her dismissal as she opened the door to Rock Lee's room. "I'll handle this."
Shizune seemed to have more to voice out but was cut off by the slam of the door. She let out a tired sigh as she shook her head and left.
Tsunade raised an amused eyebrow at the surprised yet undeniably exhausted look the self-proclaimed 'beautiful green beast of Konoha' gave her. He stopped midway from pacing around the room frantically to give the Hokage a courteous greeting.
"Tsunade-sama, what brings you here? Is there a change in Lee's condition? Will he be able to wake up soon?"
"Hush Gai." Tsunade reprimanded. "You sound as if your disciple is dying."
Closing his eyes, Gai let out a sigh as he sat on a chair beside his pupil's bed. "He will be alright…" Gai began as he glanced at the Hokage with anxious eyes. "Won't he?"
Tsunade let out a deep breath. "The operation was a success. His condition is stabilized for now. I can tell you he's no longer in danger."
Gai let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "T-Thank God!"
"However." Tsunade inserted as she glanced at Lee's sleeping form. The relief on the Taijutsu master's face morph into concern once more. "As for when he wakes up, even I do not know."
Gai could only look at the Godaime helplessly. "W-What do you mean, Tsunade-sama?" He watched as the Hokage shifted her gaze from the Lee to him. "I mean, he's in a coma. He's alive yes. But as for when he wakes up, only time and his will to live will tell."
Tsunade watched as Gai silently approached Lee's bedside with tear-filled eyes. She let out an exasperated sigh as she noticed the large gashes all over the Taijutsu master's physique. "Get your injuries checked Gai."
"That's an order." Tsunade added as an afterthought. "I'll ask later tonight if you've had yourself checked." A subtle warning interlaced in her tone. Seeing Gai refusing to move out of his position, Tsunade let out yet another sigh. "Look at you, crying over him like that."
Gai shifted his gaze at the Hokage. "He's my most precious student!" He paused as he took Lee's hands into his own. "He's like a son to me."
Tsunade let out a sigh, deciding to say nothing further. Gai watched as the Hokage made her way to the door. Stopping midway, Tsunade gave him one last glare. "If he's your student… And if you think of him as your son, shouldn't you have a little bit more faith in him?"
Gai could only look back at the Hokage speechless.
"He's been through a lot worse." Tsunade added as she made her way out of the door with a smile. "You should know by now that that kid simply does not take no for an answer."