Tatsumaru Lee: My first ever story posted and no, for the last time, I'm not Danko Kaji. He's one of my best friends.

And that's my friend quote and quote. (smiles) This story, plot, characters, and ideas aren't mine. I only revised it for him since he's a newbie writer.

And also, Kishimoto Masashi owns Naruto. Nobody else.

I was known throughout the village as the best taijutsu artist that ever graced Konoha in the country of fire, a master of the gentle and ferocious fist (courtesy of Maito Gai and my bloodline a.k.a the Byakugan).

I always disliked the indirect methods of genjutsu and ninjutsu... what a cowardly way, to attack somone who couldn't fight back. Plus, if someone ever riled you angry, a good slap or punch to the perpetraitor's face oughta sober 'em up.

With all this strength I possessed, I believed it would keep me away from meeting an untimely demise and instead defend my home, Konoha, and all the one I loved dearly. Too bad life had a tendency to be cruel toward even the strongest of ninja.

Beep... beep... beep... beep... bee-- SMASH!

Oh damn. I broke the alarm clock... again. I'm gonna have to beg Sachi to buy me another one and she hates it when I beg.

I sat up in bed, gazing at the darkness behind my closed eyelids for a really long time... or seconds, who knows?

Stretching my stiff limbs and rubbing my groggy eyes with the back of my wrists, I slowly dragged my lethargic body out of bed and slid my bare feet into my awaiting flamboyant baby blue bunny slippers. (Do not comment on the slippers, peanut gallery!!)

I yawned. "Man... the big mission is today and last time I checked... its an A-ranked assignment... shit..." Hmm... what did I dream of last night...?

Oh, yeah... about some ugly kid named Paul who got himself killed like... like... like a newb!

Man, he's so bad at being cool there's no words to describe it. Oh well, at least I saved him in the end... BEFORE I killed him... (I couldn't stop snickering now) I'm so evil in my dreams it's scary.

Approaching my dresser with a stationary mirror placed on top for visual conveniences, I rummaged through my bureau drawer until I finally pulled on a dark shirt over my bare upper body, also buttoning up my cameoflauge cargo pants. I didn't put any armor on except for my chain-mail since it usually ended up weighing me down. After tying the red headband around my forehead, I looked up into the mirror and peered at my reflection.

My short dirty-blond hair was in disarray, as usual and the cut above my right cheek seemed to be in order. "Ow." I exclaimed lightly, discerning the fresh cut I poked on my cheek as an apparently unhealed wound.

I simply stared into my very own deep gray eyes... they're stonier than usual today... strange. I sighed uncharacteristically.

This is not like me at all. Maybe it's due to my anxiousness concerning the A-rank mission today. After all, I'm usually brimming with boundless amounts of confidence to a point a mission will surely go okay.


I huffed. I pouted. I pulled at one of my dark blonde strands in agitation.

I'm just being paranoid. I smiled suddenly, lightly knocking the top of my head with my knuckles. I should learn not to get so stressed. Maybe speaking to my favorable exuberant pair Naruto or Lee could help... who knows? Slapping my cheeks together, I once again got rid of the foreign frown on my face.

There, that's better. Better get going before Sachi-sensei yells at me again. She almost made Daitetsu cry that one time and who could blame him? She's one scary hag.

I activated my Byakugan, looking passed the ceiling and to the sky, gazing upon the stars for some peace and solace. Quietly pressing my hands together, I prayed to my ancestors, praying for a successful mission ahead.

I hastily grabbed an apple from the mountain of fruit on the table, sprinting out the door and into the busy streets. Soon, my feet began guiding me in the long walk towards the ninja registration office.

Taking a bite of the succulent red apple and savoring the flavor in my every taste buds at the same time, I hummed contently. It was sweet and delicious... but I knew I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. An ever present bleak aura loomed over me, acting like a dark cloud over my usual good spirits. My mood could possibly signify something dangerous might happen later on. I guess today you could say I felt fear for what was unknown to come.

Maybe I should decline this mission...

Scratching my head idly in thought, sudden realization hit me when I noticed I had forgotten the watch I borrowed from Hanai. Maybe that could serve as my excuse for missing out on the mission...

NO!! I indignantly shouted in my head.

I'd be a coward if I didn't go on this mission and if my friends were going, I HAD to go whether I wanted to or not. My friends were counting on me and I'd be a fool to let them down... Hanai... Sachi-sensei... Kazuki... they had all proven their loyalty to me, bled for me, and would gladly die for me...

My eyes glazed over in shame from the dark thoughts, which went through my mind. I didn't deserve to have them as friends if I wasn't willingly able to do the things they would naturally do for me. I would be nothing short of a dispicable husk of a human corpse if I ever watched my friends die and did nothing to protect them.

Subconsciously lifting my occupied hand to take another bite from my apple, I smirked wryly. "Damn. My apple..." Just now I realized I bit at nothing but air, had continuously eaten my apple until only the core remained. Looking up to regard my current surrondings, I was already standing before the closed doors of the ninja registration office. I sighed in exasperation.

This was the nexus point for me. I knew I was going to die today. Don't ask me how I know, I just do. The moment I will walk forward and cross those two doors, I'll die, but if I don't go it might end up endangering the lives of my friends.

The mission could prove to be our downfall, and yet if I flake out on the mission now, the loss of my precious comrades will forever torment me in misery and grief. Funny, I'll die either way. The logical thing to settle for would be to go and leave this place as far as possible. It's too bad I wasn't known for my logic.

With both hands I gripped the slender door handles, using unneccesary force to push them ajar, the core of the finished apple lying on its lonesome self on the ground a few feet behind me. I stared at it for what felt like hours until finally I dismissed it, trudging through the doors as I voiced, "I wish I had some more of that apple..."

Then, the doors closed with me left staring at the door. I, Shinji, chose my fate... and even so I couldn't be any happier.